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Review: Magneto, Vol. 3: Shadow Games

It took 20 years from Magneto to go from his first titled comic to his own ongoing series!

It took 20 years from Magneto to go from his first titled comic to his own ongoing series!

There are certain Marvel characters that you probably assume have had at least one ongoing series after four or five decades, but they can sometimes surprise you. As an example, Black Widow didn’t get her first ongoing series until 2010 despite being around since the 60s.

Magneto falls into that category for me. When his series was announced as “his first ongoing title” at the end of 2013, I did a double-take – fifty years and no ongoing? Yet, my comic collection tells me it’s true: the Master of Magnetism has had a handful of mini-series and one-shots, including his first – a beautiful, foil-covered affair that I have in mint condition somewhere in my attic.

Once that surprise wore off, cynicism wore in. Author Cullen Bunn has been hit and miss with me on his Marvel work, and his hits have been female-driven stories in The Fearless and Fearless Defenders. What could he bring to a Magneto whose motivation and powers were both feeling a little watered down from him playing second string to a resurgent, insurgent Cyclops for the past few years? Would this simply be a movie-fervor cash in with a hunky Fassbender style Magneto staring moodily off into the distance and pulling out people’s fillings?

Yesterday I caught up with the third volume of his edition…

Magneto, Vol. 3 – Shadow Games 45star Amazon Logo

Collecting Magneto (2014) #13-17. Written by Cullen Bunn with artists Javi Fernandez and Gabriel Hernandez Walta and color artists Jordie Bellaire and Dan Brown.

#140char review: .@cullenbunn’s Magneto v3 is must-read! A distinct un-@Marvel rhythm & deep story roots give Mags motivation. Herald of good to come on UXM.

CK Says: Buy it!

Magneto-2014-Vol03This is a chilling, down-tempo masterpiece of anti-heroic deconstruction. The only time I was tempted to put it down is to think about it before I turned another page! Cullen Bunn is making Magneto more fearsome and more human than ever, and it’s a compelling read.

The cleaner of Fernandez’s art in the first issue are a welcome site as the focus is on the mysterious Briar, wherein Bunn plays a Morrison-like game of building a sub-culture around villainy. If there were super-villains in your world, wouldn’t you be scouring flea markets for DVDs of their greatest destructions after the footage was pulled from YouTube as supporting terrorism? Would people be proud of their scars or angry? This is one of those perfect issues that implies those questions without every verbalizing them, and which deepens the suddenly quite-fascinating mystery of Magneto’s mysterious human benefactor.

Afterwards, Walta continues to lend a weariness to Magneto’s chapters with his sketchy lines portraying a certain rough-edged weariness, which Jordie Bellaire has long-since perfected a color pallet to accompany. Here we see Magneto turn on SHIELD after cooperating with them briefly in Uncanny X-Men. What follows is more interesting. Magneto is re-building some semblance of society on Genosha out of a lingering guilt that he’s let his species down. How to even choose the occasion of his deepest regret? Was it the slaughter just perpetrated by The Red Skull on the island? Or perhaps the genocide of millions of mutants in Morrison’s E is for Extinction. Or, were his failures manifest much earlier – during his first overt strike on US missiles during his original encounter with the X-Men and in his guilt for surviving the Holocaust? Some Nazi and Holocaust imagery here is truly nightmarish, but only once does it feel present purely for shock value.

What’s so fascinating is that all of our flawed protagonist’s decisions feel right – it’s what you might choose in the position of a beleaguered former super-villain, right down to the shocking final choice he makes to resolve the volume.

Bunn’s dissection of Magneto’s extended history feels inspired by James Robinson, who carefully disassembles all things Golden and Silver aged to construct his stories. Maybe Bunn was capable of this all along and never had a character with a rich enough tapestry of stories to draw from. Either way, against all odds Bunn has made Magneto both a nuanced character and a must-read series. If you’re not already excited for him to helm the next volume of Uncanny X-Men headlined by Magneto, then you absolutely must read this book!

What came before: Magneto, Vol. 1 – Infamous 30star >> Magneto, Vol. 2 – Reversals 40star

What comes next: Magneto, Vol. 4 – Last Days >> Uncanny X-Men, Vol. 4 (begins in November!)

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Friday Night Horror

2015-08-28 21.44.19It’s Friday night, and while we have to get up tomorrow at the same time we do every day because that’s how toddlers work, we’re still throwing caution to the wind and starting a game of Eldritch Horror after 9:30, which guarantees we’ll be up past midnight.

A few months ago E and I vowed to take one “non-screen night” a week where after EV was asleep we’d put down our laptops and turn off our Netflix binging to do something together. Except, the first few weeks were… well, a bit awkward. We don’t really like crafting or cooking together. Playing music could wake EV. I proposed a book club, but we were unable to come to agreement on what to read.

The answer was obvious: games. If we had more two-player games, we could turn no-screen into a game night. This especially appealed to me as an only-child with a mom who was mostly into very literal games like Trivial Pursuit and Monopoly. There’s a whole world of fantastical board games I’ve never had the chance to play! As I was beginning to press the game option with E, one of my favorite comic authors – Kieron Gillen – posted an Instagram shot of him playing Cyclades. My interest was piqued, and after researching it on BoardGameGeek I decided it was up my alley.

BoardGameGeek is the sort of website I can disappear into, never to return – combining thoughtful reviews with thorough data and user forums. Cyclades was every bit as beautiful and ingenious as I could have hoped, like a weird blend of Risk, Catan, and Jason & The Argonauts – and, I set out to find more games I might like just as much. I immediately purchased its exceptional expansions, Hades and Titans. Then we had a board game gold-rush weekend where we acquired Jaipur (2p, genius), The Castles of Mad King Ludwig (awful and fiddly), Kemet (brutal and satisfying), and Eldritch Horror.

I had read the warnings about the Cthulhu-infused Eldritch Horror. Complicated, involved to set-up, sometimes crushingly difficult – it sounded like a game I might like, but I wasn’t so sure about E.

I needn’t have worried. E could not resist a globe-spanning pre-WWII story of sealing away Lovecraftian horrors before they could destroy the world – especially in the form of a cooperative game full of powerful female characters. It took her watching just one game of my solo play to volunteer.

Fast forward a month: we have all three expansions, plus many accoutrement like special dice, card sleeves, and box organizers, and we are just getting back to it after taking a break after a week-solid sprint against the Ancient Ones. Tonight we’re facing Syzygy. Wish us luck! Perhaps if we survive I’ll come back with a more proper review.

Why female comic characters matter (to a baby)

If we were to look at the pie chart of activities of my life (which would still be a terrible use of a pie chart because even when looking at proportional representation out of 100% it’s harder to compare the relative sizes of things in that format – death to pie charts) it would be obvious that comic book reading takes up a not-insignificant amount of my time.

If we are in a room with this comic book EV needs to run to it and bring it back to me to page through. Spidey who is a girl AND is in a rock band? Is there any better thing in the multi-verse?

If we are in a room with this comic book EV needs to run to it and bring it back to me to page through. Spidey who is a girl AND is in a rock band? Is there any better thing in the multi-verse?

That meant that EV had a lot of comic books read to her from as soon as she could be propped up to semi-sit-up on her own. Yet, even when she didn’t even have the means to escape from my reading, her attention span wouldn’t necessarily last an entire issue, let alone a whole trade paperback. That changed quite suddenly when I read her Kelly Sue DeConnick’s Avengers Assemble: The Forgeries of Jealousy last summer, a story primarily staring Spider-Girl at its center. EV sat transfixed by the whole thing. She let me read the entire book to her multiple times in one sitting.

I didn’t think too much of it – I just love reading DeConnick’s dialog, so maybe that did the trick, which also explained EV staying put in the fall for Captain Marvel, Volume 1: Higher, Further, Faster, More. The realization didn’t hit me until I read her the critically acclaimed, newly-Hugo-winning Ms. Marvel, Vol. 1 (and to E, who lingered in the room, feigning not paying attention but actually listening quite closely).

That baby would sit still to read books with female heroines.

I tested my theory. Spider-Man? A few pages. Hulk? No interest. Thor? Barely a glance. Storm? Entire issues. The lady version of Thor? Glued to the pages. Spider-Gwen? She picks it up every time we walk up to the attic. Hell, one of her first few dozens words was “Lumberjanes” so she could request the comic of the same name (which I dislike; maybe more on that later).

Tonight we read the first few issues of Ryan North’s delightful Squirrel Girl (recommended highly for kids!) while EV spent the entire time hanging off of me and giggling with glee.

What’s interesting about those books is that they include varying amounts of action and extremely distinct artwork, but they are each about more than a superhero who happens to have breasts. They feature women being women. I don’t mean doing “girl” things. I mean as heroes, their women are distinct in their voices, actions, hopes, and fears from male characters. They could not simply be gender-swapped.

The exercise lead me to look through EVs other books with a critical eye. Most protagonist characters in baby books default to male – the female is almost always the mother! And do you know how many books we have that feature a father in something other than a vestigial, dismissal role? Only a handful I can think of – Sylvester and the Magic Pebble, Gaiman’s delightful Fortunately, The Milk, the classic Make Way For Ducklings, and my favorite, Maurice Sendak’s Pierre. However, of those, three of the protagonists are male and three have mothers as the primary female.

In case you are ever wondering – representation matters. Even a baby who cannot say a single word will tune in to media with a character she identifies with more readily than one she doesn’t. I didn’t have to run a very length or scientific experiment to figure it out. When we’re asking to see Black Widow on Avengers merchandise or wondering if we could see Miles Morales – a black, latino Spider-Man – onscreen, it’s not just because we like those characters or are demanding diversity for diversity’s sake.

We want the next generation of real life superheroes to see themselves in the media we allow them to consume.

(Little does EV realize that I have every issue of Wonder Woman from 1975 to present sitting in the attic, waiting to be read to her.)

(I’m also excited to capitalize on her Spider-Lady Love when Silk hits TPB later this year, since she is a rarely-represent female asian hero that’s not the sex-bomb yellow-face routine of Psylocke.)

RuPaul’s Drag Race Power Rankings, S7E12

A dull final challenge did nothing to shake up our ranks, though it did eject Kennedy from what looked like a surefire trip to number three. Here’s where we wind up, with the odds for each girl to take the win.

Here’s where I get to crow a bit – aside Fame’s strong showing in week one and brief Max insurgency, I’ve had Violet and Ginger pegged for the finals all season long, including last week. Furthermore, I’ve been obsessed with Violet since her nude walk of confidence down the runway on week one.

Now that they’ve reached their goals, what are the odds for their wins?

#1 Violet Chachki (avg 1.66, was #1, 1, 3, 1, 3, 2, 4, 1, 1, 1, 1)
Her odds? 8:5

I think everything will be coming up Violet in the finale. She is like an Adore Act / Courtney Delano mashup in many ways (except singing) – young and a little dumb but growing every week, plus fishy and high fashion yet not afraid to make a fool of herself. That’s a pretty compelling combo for Ru the starmaker, and Violet makes for a different kind of winner than we’ve had recently. When it comes down to it, she never left a detail unfinished this entire season – even her arguably weakest moment in the John Waters performance was controlled down to the thrusting choreography.

Why isn’t she a lock? This girl will go down as one of the most dominant queens in the history of the show, but so were the non-lip syncers Alaska and Courtney Act – and neither of them got the win. Sometimes dominant can be boring, and detailed runway looks aren’t everything. More than that, Violet showed a certain lack of imagination as a performer that doesn’t bode well for a champion. Also, there is the specter of Tyra Sanchez still haunting Ru – another fashion-forward and generally flawless young queen who fizzled after taking the crown.

#2 Ginger Minj (avg 1.9, was #2, 2, 1, 2, 1, 1, 1, 2, 2, 3, 4)
Her odds? 2:1

No one has ever walked in the Drag Race door as equipped for the win as Ginger except for perhaps the past two winners, Jinx Monsoon and Bianca Del Rio. Therein lies the problem. Ginger’s no Jinx – a magnetic star of Broadway caliber – and there’s a real risk is that she’s just Bianca Del Rio 2.0 – southern, red-headed, comfortable acting and proficient enough in dancing and singing, and wickedly funny. She might not be an insult comic, but that does sound a heck of a lot like The Return of Hurricane Bianca.

However, Ginger also has the big queen angle working for her as well as her unique “Glamour Toad” look, which was never same-y but always consistent. Its hard to imagine a big queen who will ever be a more beautiful woman and viable winner than Ginger.

Why isn’t she a lock? Ginger has some self-defeating tendencies when faced with a challenge. Her pagaent-centric vision of drag could be a little small-minded for Ru, as evidenced by the final boot of Kennedy. Plus, now that RuPaul has had the chance to see the entire series and fan reaction to it, this might not be the lady she wants to represent her brand for an entire year.

#3 Pearl (avg 6.33, was #4, 5, 6, 6, 5, 7, 8, 10, 9, 7, 6)
Her odds? 8:1

True to her namesake, Pearl is a rare jewel worked up from just a little piece of grit. The problem with that narrative is that Pearl isn’t all that rare or shiny. No final three queen has ever presented fashion as boring, repetitive, and just-plain-busted as Pearl, and finalists have seldom been so weak all across the board when it comes to talent. Yet, there’s no denying Pearl has a certain it factor, and it’s that factor that Mama Ru is so drawn to.

Can she really win? I can imagine some contexts where RuPaul decides neither of the other ladies represent the future of drag, but that involves a major roll of the dice that Pearl keeps growing and pushing the envelope. What’s the risk for Ru taking a chance on a queen on a positive trajectory and beloved by much of the audience? Potentially losing credibility with the hardcore fans of this show, who keep the buzz alive for the looky-loos who arrive each season. Yet, nothing could be worse for the show than this dud season as a whole, so why not end it on a cavalier note?

 

RuPaul’s Drag Race, S7E12 Recap: And The Rest Is Drag

Last week on Drag Race, Katya crushed Pearl and Kennedy and went home anyway, ending the show. This week’s episode is just an overlong epilogue, like in Return of the King.

After the Elimination

All four girls are clearly crushed about Katya’s exit, and Kennedy is maybe limping from her energetic lip sync? Ginger cries about it in her interview, while Kennedy takes all of half a second to congratulate Violet on her win before “NEXTing” her. Bold move coming from someone on the precipice of dismissal about two minutes prior. Pearl defends Violet, “Kennedy Davenport, your Hello Kitty was a Hell No, Kitty,” to which Kennedy responds, “This is not a sewing competition.”

What now?

Any time any of the girls utter the phrase, “this is not an XYZ competition,” you know they are high on their own fumes and headed for dismissal. It’s an everything competition – sewing, dancing, acting, being funny, being beautiful. It is clearly labelled as all of those things. The only time I have seen something on the show where it was straight up not that kind of competition is when the girls had to play basketball in All Stars, and they all thought that was hilarious.

Violet, appropriately, comes for Kennedy and Ginger and their hesitance to sew, and Ginger says, “I’m not a seamstress, I don’t know how to sew, but no other bitch on this show has been able to sing like me or act like me.”

What now?!

Did she miss the season with Jinx? Or the one with Courtney and Adore? Or the one with Latrice and Willam? The past three seasons have been lousy with amazing singers and actors. Did she see Darienne’s spectacular meltdown in the acting finale? Hell, even Sharon and Phi Phi turned out to be good singers when they were paired against each other. I can concede that Ginger ranks in the top group of actors on the show of all time alongside Jinx, but it’s not like she’s the obvious theatrical all-time champion. It’s just more huffing her own fumes. Continue reading ›

RuPaul’s Drag Race Power Rankings, S7E11

This week’s Hello, Kitty challenge only served to solidify last week’s ranking as we head into the penultimate episode, and gave Katya the unfortunate early exit I’d been predicting for weeks. Will this rank hold up next week as we see one last queen depart? We shall soon see.

#1 Violet Chachki (avg 1.7, was #1, 3, 1, 3, 2, 4, 1, 1, 1, 1)
With a second win in a row, seven of eleven weeks ranked #1, long-deserved adulation from the judges panel, and nary a weak spot in sight, Violet appears to have locked up her trip to the finals. She just needs to evade one more week of elimination, which she can likely do even if she gets handed a lip sync. Anyhow, at this stage the only challenge that can slay her would be writing her own comedy and I can’t imagine there’s going to be more of that. She’ll do just fine in the typical “make a Ru video” gauntlet.

#2 Ginger Minj (avg 1.9, was #2, 1, 2, 1, 1, 1, 2, 2, 3, 4)
Ginger has now spent nine consecutive weeks entrenched in my top two. If we’ve been reminded of anything this season, it’s that Ginger is one of the best strategists in the history of the game. She came with all the right skills, and when she’s feeling weak she reduces expectations right up until she hits the runway. What could keep this queen from the top three? Perhaps another dancing challenge, but Pearl would also be felled by that. However, the real question is if she can fairly defeat Violet or Kennedy in a lip sync if it comes down to a Jinx v. Detox style shocker.

#3 Kennedy Davenport (avg 3.2, was #3, 2, 3, 2, 5, 3, 4, 6, 2, 2)
Kennedy maintains her solid #3 spot after a trip to the bottom two and a harsh read from the judges about her unwillingness to change up her style. Why am I so sure she’s going to live through next week? Because she’s going to come out swinging after a trip to the bottom, and after that lip sync she’s now willing to show all of her cards. The only way she could depart is if Ru is forced to have her sync against Violet, who Ru might want to see in the finals just a bit more. However, the editing narrative and the averages both make clear this is going to be a Violet v. Ginger game at the finish-line, with the third girl just there for flavor.

From the start I was sure Katya wasn’t going to be Ru’s idea of a final three girl, and she did have a 4.8 average. Yet, I’m sad to see her exit on schedule this week instead of squeaking into next – it just didn’t feel like her time to go.

#4 Pearl (avg 6.6, was #5, 6, 6, 5, 7, 8, 10, 9, 7, 6)
It was (yet again) Pearl’s turn to go home this week due to a pair of underwhelming looks, but Ru insisted on keeping her in the game. I like Pearl – she’s smart, she’s sassy, she’s fashionable, and she’s growing every week. However, her weak Hello Pearl should have had her facing off against Kennedy with a noble exit. She’s in a harder situation now – she needs to win next week’s challenge or else she is a sure lip sync candidate, and she doesn’t stand a chance against these other girls.

RuPaul’s Drag Race, S7E11 Recap: Hello, Kitty Girls!

Previously on RuPaul’s Drag Race: we had another busted runway concept and the somewhat unfair dismissal of Trixie.

After the Elimination

Ginger is appropriately both sad about Trixie and congratulatory about Katya and Violet, but then brings up the elephant in the room – now that Miss Fame is gone, Violet is the only girl who has yet to lip sync!

Ginger claims she “just wants to see it,” but it’s hard not to react as if someone is saying they want to see you sent home. Violet fires back, “Ginger, how does it feel to have a weakness? I feel like you’ve been really strong this entire competition – but I felt that I really got to see this week.”

MROWR.

Ginger says she does all her crying after they head home from the work room, and then comes back with her game face on – which Pearl and Kennedy agree to. Nice show of solidarity and strategy there. Ginger does a lot of whining in the work room, but she doesn’t let us see her truly upset.

This was the best intro chat of the season. I think we’re going to see some great interactions in this final five that we probably wouldn’t have had if some of my other favorites like Trixie and Max made it this far. Plus, much as with last season, there are really no under-accomplishing villains – even Pearl on the weaker side has fought for her spot. Continue reading ›

RuPaul’s Drag Race Power Rankings, S7E10

This week’s challenge changed up our top spot compared to last week, eliminated a dark horse, and seemed to emphasize the futility of rooting for a certain fan favorite. The fight for the top has become so tight we’re going to start using decimal places in our average scores this week – only .1 separates our top two, but the gap gets much wider after that.

#1 Violet Chachki (avg 1.8, was #3, 1, 3, 2, 4, 1, 1, 1, 1)
Violet is back in the top spot with a second challenge win, a humanizing performance, and still no trip to the bottom two. If you put any stock in the editing forming the story of a queen, she is the one with the most momentum – we’ve seen her personality change and her abilities grow. With next week sure to be a solo challenge, it will be the true test of if she has what it takes to go all the way. It could also be a safe chance for Ru to put her in the bottom two against Pearl, which would be an equalizer heading into the top four.

#2 Ginger Minj (avg 1.9, was #1, 2, 1, 1, 1, 2, 2, 3, 4)
Ginger’s run has an air of inevitability after being saved again after a dreadful performance, but the shine is definitely off of this big queen at this point in the game. We’ve seen her fail, make excuses, and attempt to throw other queens under the bus. That’s not a great look on a potential winner, especially after a pair of very kind and gracious superstars. Ginger will be on stage at the finalé, but really needs to play to her strengths and likability in the next two episodes if she wants the crown.

#3 Kennedy Davenport (avg 3.2, was #2, 3, 2, 5, 3, 4, 6, 2, 2)
Kennedy is finally willing to show off some of her strengths with a bold dance performance, and she truly might have what it takes in both fashion and performance to knock off any of the remaining queens in a head-to-head performance. Yet, despite how much the judges enjoy her, there’s very little excitement about her run – it feels like just another pageant. Her one risk of not making the final three is simply lacking a convincing argument for Ru as we go down to the wire. We’ve already seen her go for inexperience over safety once with Sharon over Chad Michaels – and Chad was one of the most impeccable queens in the history of the show. Kennedy can’t claim that.

#4 Katya (avg 4.8, was #5, 4, 4, 4, 5, 5, 5, 6, 6)
Katya gets another win, but does it mean anything? Despite being the breakout star of the season, RuPaul has never shown a shred of excitement around Katya aside from telling her she’s addicted to anxiety. It’s as if Ru was expecting a gimmick queen due to Katya’s Russian theme, and when she didn’t show up with it Ru just gave up on crafting another narrative. Every single fan of the show would tell you Katya should be in the final three, but Ru didn’t know that when she made her decision last summer. If she truly goes out at the fourth spot the fan backlash will be impressive.

Here lies Trixie with her average of five. She absolutely deserved another week to play compared to Pearl.

#5 Pearl (avg 6.9, was #6, 6, 5, 7, 8, 10, 9, 7, 6)
It’s time to go home, Pearl. While this lady is super likeable, she has one of the weakest fashion senses of a top five queen. Ru is pushing hard for a caterpillar-to-butterfly transformation here, but Pearl is more like a snake that molts – we’ve seen her grow, but she hasn’t fundamentally changed into a new thing.

RuPaul’s Drag Race, S7E10 Recap: Prancing Queens

Last week on drag race: the queens had to do their best Divine-inspired performances for John Waters, and Fame just wasn’t the right kind of terrible – which meant Trixie is still in the competition and the ranks got shuffled.

After the Elimination

The girls are all giggles as they head back into the workroom fresh from the runway and Miss Fame’s elimination. Violet seems to have grown some genuine, Real Girl TM emotions and will miss Miss Fame, and Katya’s eyes tell the same story. Violet unintentionally calls back to the best Untucked of last season, interviewing, “Fame probably felt really attacked.”

Well, we all know how that can go, right Laganja?

Violet also feels how close her brush with the bottom was as the only remaining non-lip-syncing contestant – which maybe leads Katya to declare war on her? It’d be smart; Violet is the Top-3-bound lady who Katya is most likely to knock off head-to-head.

The rest of the queens seem to be over the elimination (and Miss Fame, in general), which isn’t a big surprise. Despite not being a villain in the slightest, Fame had a lot to say and never quite put her talent where her mouth was. Pearl, particularly, takes exception with Fame calling her out in the “Who should go?” quiz in front of the judges panel. She claims that the ire will only inspire her to greater heights.

A New Day!

The ladies return to their stations to discover Miss Fame left them all brief individual notes, because she is that thoughtful. Everyone is rude about it (Kennedy slightly less so, maybe because her note was so glowing, calling her a “class act”), because outta sight outta mind! They don’t want to be reminded of the girl they just left behind the day before. Continue reading ›

RuPaul’s Drag Race Power Rankings, S7E09

This week we got another funny challenge, and while the challenge itself didn’t shake things up too much compared to last week, Ru’s judging decisions did. What queens performed well but worsened their outlook?

#1 Ginger Minj (avg 2, was #2, 1, 1, 1, 2, 2, 3, 4)
As she hits the three-win mark we have Ginger back in the pole position and guaranteed for the final I was an early fan of her fashion, but I’m noticing a distinct lack of willingness for the judges to tag her on anything at all! Is this a free pass for a bigger girl who finally brought a closet full of silhouettes that can compete? Or, is that when she’s performing live her personality actually the biggest thing in the room?

#2 Kennedy Davenport (avg 3, was #3, 2, 5, 3, 4, 6, 2, 2)
Kennedy flew under the radar again this week, but much like Ginger the judges are seeing something special about her that isn’t shining through on this side of the screen. What fascinates me is the SHEER NERVE of her playing it coy this far into the competition. Any subtle performance or runway could easily yield another lip sync! I don’t think we’ve ever seen another competitor as unflappable, and none of the other queens are coming for her at all. Continue reading ›

RuPaul’s Drag Race, S7E09 Recap: Divine Inspiration

Previously on RuPaul’s Drag Race, all of the queens returned but only Trixie stuck around, while long-time fashion victim Jaidynn Dior Fierce said goodbye with Tempest Du Jour lashed to her back.

After The Elimination

The girls are disconnected from their departed twins and all wrung out. As Ginger approaches the mirror for the ceremonial wiping-away of the eliminee’s message, she owns up to how out-of-sorts she was for the twins challenge. “This was my wake-up call,” she interviews, “Ginger, you’re better than this, you need to make sure you pull it together.” She tears up a bit as a producer comforts her.

Trixie becomes the first queen in drag race herstory to be called back and then make it to the next episode! Trixie makes an attempt to laugh off the bad vibes from the other girls about someone coming back who skipped so many challenges, but the bad mojo is real from a few of them.

Katya interviews, “You can smell the resentment in the room as much as you can smell Violet’s BO.” Continue reading ›

RuPaul’s Drag Race Power Rankings, S7E08

We’re now past the halfway point in the season, and thanks to Ru’s ingenious method of bringing a queen back we didn’t even get any inflation. What we did get was a shake-up! Every queen is in a different position compared to last week, and not just due to Trixie’s return. However, as we inch closer to the final the top three seems more solid than ever. Will any of the top trio be unseated?

#1 Violet Chachki (avg 2, was #3, 2, 4, 1, 1, 1, 1)
Violet continues her ascent to likable, young, talented queen, and as the only queen not to hit the bottom (aside from Fame – we’ll get to her in a minute) she is back as the competitor to beat. This is the Adore story with a redemption arc and sans messiness, and it’s pretty damn compelling. Given that Ginger would be a repeat of Bianca’s mean red-head vibe, she ought to be getting a bit scared of an upset. Violet has some weak spots, but one of the next three girls are going to have to overcome some flaws to upset her march to the top three. And, not for nothing, but I discovered via YouTube that Violet is a lip sync addict who at one point was debuting a new song in her act almost weekly. She’s one of the few queens who could potentially survive a lip sync against Kennedy at full power.

#2 Ginger Minj (avg 2, was #1, 1, 1, 2, 2, 3, 4)
Despite hitting the bottom, Ginger really only descends a spot due to Violet’s continued strength. Why? Two words: Sasha Belle. Even though the silly idea this week was all Ginger, we’ve never seen her miss the mark on execution before and probably won’t again. Also, the “I don’t sew” came off as protesting a bit too much given the snugness of their costumes. If anything, I think a trip to the bottom ensures her trip to the finals as we seek to avoid a repeat of last year’s two never-bottom-two girls making it to the end. Plus, she’s an able lip sync artist who would only be slayed by a dancer dropping splits left and right – but, there’s two or three of those girls still in it. Continue reading ›

RuPaul’s Drag Race, S7E08 Recap: Conjoined Queens

Previously on Drag Race: Max fell impressively from grace while Ginger and Kennedy locked up their top spots with a shared Snatch Game win.

After The Elimination

The girls return to the room tired and seemingly bummed about Max, but neither emotion can top their ennui about the idea of a dismissed queen returning. Ginger wants Jasmine back (NO), which Fame quickly shoots down, proposing Kandy Ho. (Katya: “She can’t lip sync four times.”)

Katya interviews: “How can I say this delicately? I DON’T WANT ANYONE ELSE TO COME BACK. Nobody wants another bitch to come back! Nice to know you. You’re beautiful. Stay home.”

A New Day!

The girls enter the room expecting to be greeted by a returned queen or, preferably, a large gift box that they could set aflame. No one has positive feelings about the situation. Ginger suggests they all go on strike until the queen is removed and begins singing a protest song, which Violet finds hilarious.

RuPaul’s video message is a confusing mix of references to Wizard of Oz, bus-throwing, and hitchhiking – but it’s clear that the returned queen is meant to mess with everyone’s plans. Fame turns into a Katya-like cartoon character as she has an imaginary fist-fight with Ru.

Ru enters. “Are you decent? Because we’ve got company!” Everyone groans until Latrice MFigg Royale enters in her Tuckahoe County Prison uniform! The queens are more excited for Latrice than they’ve been for any actual star so far this season, because: LATRICE. Continue reading ›

RuPaul’s Drag Race Power Rankings, S7E07

This week was a second shocker elimination this season in that a great queen went home early, but it was also one of the worst single-episode descents in Drag Race herstory. And it wasn’t even that messy! Meanwhile, the ranks are all shook up compared to last week, and not just because of Ginger’s mediocre Elvis.

#1 Ginger Minj (avg 2, was #1, 1, 2, 2, 3, 4)
Ginger the studied Drag Race Herstorian was on display again this week, biting past inspirations in both Snatch Game and Runway. It’s getting really hard to imagine anyone else winning if she makes it into the top three. Despite my early love of Ginger, I’m growing slightly weary of her constant being-rightness, possibly because it’s paired with so much drawling cattiness. Now that we all know she can change up her silouhette, I’d like to see one truly eleganza runway. I also think getting to a solo challenge where she gets to pitch her own concept and its great will help cement her position up here at the top.

#2 Kennedy Davenport (avg 4, was #5, 3, 4, 6, 2, 2)
Oh, who the fuck knows!? Kennedy swings like a pendulum from barely getting by to slyly perfect, and I think at this point she’s probably headed for the final based on her range. It also helps that she’s a brand new archetype for the show – not quite Alyssa or Coco when it comes to pagentry but not really Latrice or Darienne when it comes to a heavy queen. But, she always seems to be the verge of getting the boot and some of her fashion is just a don’t. Anything can happen!

#3 Violet Chachki (avg 2, was #2, 4, 1, 1, 1, 1)
Violet is still my personal top girl, and this week brought an interesting story for her – she took Ru’s advice, and advanced because of it. I’ve always said the only winner’s arc for her is a “young girl shows growth” repeat of Adore but with better clothes, and here’s her big opening. She was also delightfully young and human in Untucked, being funny and even encouraging. Still, she needs another definitive win to shore up her chances – it’s been since week one. Continue reading ›

RuPaul’s Drag Race, S7E07 Recap: Snatch Game

RPDRS7Previously on Drag Race: More acting challenges managed to do in Kandy Ho rather than Jaidynn or Fame.

After The Elimination

No one seems terribly distraught about Kandy leaving, though even Katya as the challenge winner looks utterly exhausted. Jaidynn swears up and down she will not be lip syncing again, while Max concedes she’ll do one non-gray look and then head right back to her wheelhouse. Violet fires back, “Bitch, if they gave me specifics I would fucking do it.”

And, she’s right – they love Max and want to see one little thing. Just do the damn thing, Max. Kennedy agrees, in interview, in her shady way. Violet has some shade to throw back! “I’m over Kennedy missing the mark with these looks. She doesn’t look dead. She doesn’t look like a woman!” Pearl adds, “Kennedy looks like whaaaaat?” Back to Violet, “She looks like Tony The Tiger on crack.”

While they speak, Violet stands around looking drop dead gorgeous, neglecting to let out her waist despite ample opportunity. That’s a long day to spend cinched!

A New Day!

Katya: “It’s a new day, it’s down to eight girls. My game plan going forward is to kill a few of the girls to make it to the top.”

Katya can never be eliminated because I don’t know what I would do without her interview segments. She’s approaching Alyssa levels of interview insanity. Continue reading ›