‘THE LEGEND OF KORRA’ BOOK FOUR: KUVIRA AND THE RISE OF FASCISM
By Juliet Kahn
In his 1998 essay, “The Five Stages of Fascism,” political scientist Robert Paxton defines the titular phenomenon as, broadly speaking, progressing through five stages of development and escalation. They are:
- “The initial creation of fascist movements,” wherein discussion of national decline and the failure of the existing order manifest.
- “Their rooting as parties in a political system,” wherein the fascist movement gains power and prominence.
- “The acquisition of power,” wherein the ruling elites, threatened by fascist momentum, invite the movement to share power.
- “The exercise of power,” wherein the fascist movement controls the state, in varying degrees of cooperation with traditional powers.
- “Radicalization or entropy,” wherein the fascist movement settles into authoritarianism or, as happened in Nazi Germany, veers into extremism.
The premiere episode of The Legend of Korra’s fourth and final season finds the Earth Kingdom navigating the choppy waters of the second stage. In the three years since season 3’s finale, Kuvira has gone from the seemingly content captain of Su Yin’s guard to the “Great Uniter” of a fractured world. She has 90% of the Earth Kingdom under her thumb and, as we learn over the course of the episode, has accomplished this through a campaign of forced labor, manipulation of resources, and a burgeoning cult of personality.
We watch as the governor of Yi, initially committed to independence, is brought to heel by the lawless reality of his state and the temptations of Kuvira’s “generous proposal” of takeover. Idealists like Bolin and Baatar Jr. have joined her cause, as have opportunists like Varrick. Figures of murkily extrajudicial power, like Kai and Opal, urge caution in the face of her might, but by the end of the episode, that’s all they can do—urge caution.
Kuvira, in contrast, can feed the hungry, roust the bandits, and bring order to forsaken states. Children scramble merrily over her mecha-tanks, mothers return to their homes with boxes full of fruit and grain, and Bolin smiles blissfully at the difference he has made. All is well. All is Kuvira’s.
‘ARROW’ SEASON 3 RECAP, EPISODE 1: ‘THE CALM’
The CW’s superhero series Arrow re-imagines Green Arrow for a TV audience as a tough, often ruthless vigilante bent on setting things right in his home of Starling City by punishing the wicked. ComicsAlliance’s Matt Wilson is back for the third season of the popular series in our recap feature we’re officially dubbing Pointed Commentary.
This week: Smoak and Oliver try going on a date (with explosive results), Dig becomes a dad, and Peter Stormare barely says one intelligible word.
AGENTS OF S.H.I.E.L.D. SEASON 2 RECAP, EPISODE 1: ‘SHADOWS’
Hello, friends. How was your summer? Good, I hope. But all that is behind us now; it’s time to get back to work. Deflate the beach balls; put away the flip-flops; unpack the waterproof poncho. Agents of SHIELD is back, and I’m back to recap it. (Inexplicably, I was not fired for my recaps last season. I was actually promoted. Sorry, everyone.)
Long-time ComicsAlliance’s Agents of SOMETHING readers will recall that my major objection to Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD is that it just didn’t make enough use of its Marvel Universe playground. It didn’t need Chris Evans pouting beautifully in every episode; it just needed to exploit the assets it had. Season one never did; yet everything I’ve heard about season two makes me want to give the show another chance. Because, like Doctor Doom, I’m very smart but I never learn.
When last we left the agents, SHIELD had been broken up following its infiltration by HYDRA over in the movies; boring Agent Ward was exposed as a more attractive villain; Coulson got promoted to director of an agency that kinda doesn’t exist anymore — hey, congrats; and techy Agent Fitz got wet and had to be packed in rice, and everyone was too afraid to turn him back on in case he didn’t work anymore.
Also, Guardians of the Galaxy happened, and Agent Carter got commissioned to series, so we can be sure to see something of the latter and we shouldn’t be surprised to see something of the former, especially given how this show danced around the alien stuff all last season. The duck’s out of the bag, Agents of SHIELD. Embrace the space weird.
I’ve come up with a brilliant new structure for breaking down the episodes this year, and it’s not at all contrived. I’ll examine each episode based on Story, Highlights, Lowlights, Explosions, Introductions, and Dumb Questions. Why? Because I really want the initials to spell SHLEID.
SUPERGIRL TV SHOW LEAPS TO SERIES IN A SINGLE BOUND AT CBS – WHAT DOES IT MEAN?
Last week there was talk that a Supergirl TV show was in development from Arrow and Flash executive producer Greg Berlanti. This week CBS has jumped straight to a series order for the show, meaning Supergirl is just about guaranteed to make it to air (or else the network pay a hefty kill fee) — and we can all start wildly speculating about who they’ll cast as the lead and which version of the character will make it to the screen.
Supergirl joins a couple of other recent announcements of DC-Comics-to-TV adaptations that could reach our screens around this time next year. Cable network TNT is working on a Titans show, focused on the character of Dick Grayson/Nightwing, and Fox is in development on a Lucifer show based on the character from Neil Gaiman’s Vertigo series The Sandman.
Greg Berlanti and former Chuck and Glee writer/producer Ali Adler will serve as showrunners on Supergirl, which was also developed by comics writer and DC Entertainment Chief Creative Officer Geoff Johns, and Variety describes the show as being about 24-year-old Kryptonian Kara Zor-El living on Earth and deciding to embrace her superpowers to become a hero like her famous cousin. Whether that’s an actual description of the show or just something Variety cobbled together from Wikipedia remains to be seen.
SETH ROGEN INVITES DUNCAN JONES TO DIRECT ‘PREACHER’ EPISODES VIA TWITTER
Writers Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg are slowly but surely working on the pilot for AMC’s new TV adaptation of the Garth Ennis/Steve Dillon Vertigo series Preacher, and as they write, it appears they’re also recruiting cool directors.
Rogen struck up a Twitter conversation with Duncan Jones, director of Moon (which is super great) and Source Code (which is flawed but well made) — and also, incidentally, the son of David Bowie — to gauge his interest. Right now, Jones is working on a Warcraft movie, but he seemed extremely enthusiastic about taking the reins on some Preacher episodes.
JOCK HELPS PROMOTE ‘GOTHAM’ WITH ANIMATED ILLUSTRATIONS
By Chris Sims
We are only a few weeks away from the premiere of Gotham, the Batman-adjacent television show focusing on a young Jim Gordon’s early days as a cop in Gotham City, and that means that it’s time for Fox and DC Comics parent Warner Bros. to ramp up the PR machine to get viewers interested in seeing what the Riddler was up to before he became the Riddler (he was talking about riddles a lot).
But while I may not have been too thrilled with the actual show, there’s one pretty awesome thing to come out of it. For a promo, the producers got comics artist Jock (of Judge Dredd, The Losers and Batman: The Black Mirror fame) to recreate key scenes from the pilot episode to use in advertising — which is a surprisingly rare thing in media based on comics.
THE ‘GOTHAM’ PILOT CAN’T DECIDE WHAT IT IS, AND WHAT IT IS IS NOT VERY GOOD [REVIEW]
By Chris Sims
If you’re the kind of person who looks at Batman’s origin and thinks, “Hey, I wish this was more convoluted and made even less sense than it already does,” then I have some good news for you. Gotham, the upcoming DC Entertainment television show on Fox that focuses on Jim Gordon as a young detective with the GCPD and definitely isn’t a Batman show despite having Bruce Wayne, Catwoman, the Penguin and the Riddler in the first episode, made its debut last weekend at Comic-Con International when the pilot was screened for an audience of fans.
The short version is that it’s not very good. The longer version is that while it tries to do a lot of interesting and engaging things with its roster of characters, the end result is a show that’s not really sure whether it wants to be a stylish, gimmicky procedural about quirky characters in a city of comic book villainy, or a by-the-numbers TV cop drama. The end result is — barring major improvements — a project that doesn’t do enough with either to be worth watching.
COLTON HAYNES DONS ARSENAL’S RED FAUX-LEATHERS FOR ‘ARROW’ SEASON 3
When Colton Haynes joined The CW’s Arrow in season two as Roy Harper, it was only a matter of time before he got gussied up in his best red Arrow cosplay as Arsenal — given that, you know, that’s who Roy Harper is in the comics. I mean, he could have been Speedy or, oh, Red Arrow, I guess, but since Speedy is a daft name and they don’t even want to call the main guy in the show Green Arrow, they kind of have to go with Arsenal, though that’s a rotten codename too. But I digress.
Entertainment Weekly has unveiled the first official look at Colton Haynes in his dark red Robin Hood suit. Doesn’t he look brooding and moody and serious? And isn’t that an awful lot of lacing?
GEOFF JOHNS SAYS DC ENTERTAINMENT’S TV AND MOVIE UNIVERSES ARE SEPARATE
If you were hoping to see Arrow‘s Stephen Amell make an appearance as the emerald archer in Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice or in the upcoming Justice League movie, DC Comics Chief Creative Officer Geoff Johns has some bad news for you.
“We will not be integrating the film and television universes,” he said at the Television Critics Association press tour for The Flash. Seems pretty cut and dried.
SUSAN HEYWARD CAST AS DEENA PILGRIM IN SONY’S ‘POWERS’ TV ADAPTATION
The cast for the Powers TV series from Sony Pictures TV is starting to take shape with the announcement that Susan Heyward will take the female lead role of detective Deena Pilgrim. The other lead role of Christian Walker has yet to be announced.
The series is being produced for distribution via Sony Playstation consoles, and is based on the Icon comic series of the same name by Brian Michael Bendis and Michael Avon Oeming. Powers tells the story of two detectives assigned to investigate superpower-related crimes.