Okay, so I lied.
But only a little bit.
I said I wasn't going to say anything about Heroes for Hire #13, and I didn't intend on doing so.
I've also avoided talking about the now-infamous "Mary Jane doin' laundry" Comicquette statue because, like the Heroes for Hire cover, I really don't feel I've much to bring to the table that hasn't been said by others in a more articulate fashion than I could muster.
And even now, this post really isn't about that. It's more about Marvel Editor in Chief Joe Quesada and his crazy antics.
The Fortress Keeper wrote an interesting response to Quesada's comments on Heroes for Hire #13. I threw in my two cents over there, but really, I went along my merry after that. It wasn't until I found the latest New Joe Fridays column from Newsarama that I was reminded of what a ridiculous huckster Joseph Quesada is.
First I'll begin with Quesada's response to the Mary Jane statue, the least offensive of the two:
When fans saw the statue was exactly the same time I was made aware of it, I have no involvement in that stuff and haven’t kept up with the brouhaha. It kind of floors me in a way because Adam Hughes is brilliant and is known for his amazingly sexy portrayal of strong women, so I’m not quite sure what people are up in arms about? Seriously, fill me in because I’ve literally been out of town and out of the loop.Quesada avoids the issue here by referring not to the statue itself, but to the art that the statue is based off of. My understanding is that the original Adam Hughes art wasn't seen as all that bad, and have seen some even refer to it using the word "cute." My understanding is that the issue people have with the statue is the slightly overexaggerated anatomy (Tom Foss used the term "terribly stretched-out," which I think is fitting), the well-placed rips in the jeans, and the ridiculously high thong peeking out from underneath the low-rider jeans.
I might be able to buy that Joe wasn't really aware of the statue until it was actually finished and ready to be solicited, but he's not really responding to the issue. By referring to the art the statue is based on as opposed to the statue itself, he's kind of misleading people. The Adam Hughes art is a bit sexist in the way that pin-up girls of the 1950's were, but it's not really that bad (in my estimation). It's the statue that people are up in arms about, Joe. The statue.
Immediately following that response, Newsarama asked him to respond to the Heroes for Hire controversy:
First, I think people are reading way too much into that cover than was ever intended. I heard terms such as “tentacle rape” being thrown around when that in no way is what’s happening, nor does it happen in the book. Those tentacles are the arms of the Brood who appears in the issue and is a major story point, the Brood have tentacles, sorry about that.
Secondly, the concept for that cover, soup to nuts came from a female artist. Thirdly, not being a deep follower of manga, I have no idea what recurring theme people are referring to or concerned with. While I appreciate the sentiment and the feelings that some may have about this, I honestly feel that there is way too much being read into this cover.
Also, HFH is a book that features two strong, lead female protagonist who kick major ass; somehow folks have forgotten to focus on that.
There is so much wrong with this response that I don't really even know where to begin.
Firstly, I don't buy the fact that Joe Quesada has never encountered "tentacle rape." I'm not saying that in any kind of derogatory slight against his character; just that, as the gatekeeper of the Marvel Universe and therefore each and every pop-culture icon contained therein, whose stories are told in a medium that's often associated or at least connected with anime and manga, I find it hard to believe that he's never once come across any instances of the tentacle rape phenomenon.
I'm willing to give him the benefit of the doubt and accept that it's possible, though - but in that case, when he heard of the fan outcry, why didn't he take any steps to actually find out what tentacle rape actually is? His stance is, essentially, "I've never really encountered this, so I don't really get why people are so upset." This is your readership, Joe. You should take it upon yourself to figure out why the fuck people are so upset and respond adequately.
So what is your response, Mr. Quesada? "Well, um, the tentacles belong to the Brood! And no actual rape takes place in the book! And these girls are kick ass!"
Ridiculous. Firstly, does the fact that the tentacles belong to the Brood even matter? Would it be more offensive if it were some anonymous monster or perhaps an octopus? The issue people have is not to whom the tentacles actually belong; rather, the issue is with what it seems blatantly obvious the tentacles are doing and not who they belong to.
And doesn't the fact that these girls are supposed to be "kick ass" make this cover all the more appalling? Sure, these girls kick ass left and right, but as has been explored ad infinitum, they, like many comic book heroines, find themselves in a compromising position that no self-respecting male character would find himself in (which opens the door for an entirely different kind of exploitation that I'm not prepared to discuss in this particular post).
Seriously, Quesada. How can you look at this...
...and then compare it to stuff like this...
...and NOT see the problem that people are having with this particular comic book cover?
Seriously. I mean, at the very least, that hentai DVD cover at least has a warning label: "Guess what, Mom? Don't buy this for your fucking twelve-year-old!" And yet, Marvel continues to label Heroes for Hire #13 as a teen (13+) book. Perhaps the content itself is more than suitable for any Little Johnny or Sally to pick up and read, but you wouldn't know it looking at that cover.
Seriously! Look at it. It's like publishing an issue of Amazing Spider-Man featuring Mary Jane or the Black Cat with a big, cheesy grin and a face covered in sticky white fluid on the cover, and then going public and saying "Come on, guys! It's obviously web fluid! What's the big deal?!"
These two little comments say a lot about where the head of Quesada and therefore Marvel is at these days. Firstly, it's a boys club. Sure, they're fully willing to put out quirkly little titles like Spider-Man Loves Mary Jane in order to draw in the tween girl crowd, but when it comes to a mainstream title rooted in the proper Marvel Universe, there's little, if anything, on the surface that would or should appeal to any female reader. Secondly, the fact that Quesada is completely unwilling to do anything but defend, defend, defend, and sell, sell, sell, as opposed to actually taking the time to address the issue at hand does nothing more than enrage intelligent readers - male and female - and show everyone exactly why he's qualified for little more than hype. Thirdly, that he's unwilling to do anything about it whether or not he actually gets it - change the cover, slap a "mature readers only" label on that one issue - shows that he's only looking at the dollar signs - because as we've seen various times in modern comic book history, hype sells and so does controversy. Add those sales to the sales you were already guaranteed with the regular readership and the misinformed teenage hormone bomb, and you've got an issue of Heroes for Hire that's poised to sell a hell of a lot more copies than originally anticipated.
I just wish that, for once in his career, Quesada would address the readers intelligently. As opposed to deflection, what about actual conversation? Then you might get to the root of the issue and figure out exactly what people are so up in arms about. And be willing to concede, dammit! When you or your company is in the wrong, fucking admit it. By constantly putting a positive spin on the negative or refusing to acknowledge it altogether, you prove to your readership that you're stupid, stubborn, or both. And when you wonder why it's so hard to obtain new readers, especially female ones, you really don't do anything but promote that idea in the minds of the readers.
Whew. That kind of took on a life of its own there.
I'm done ranting. I'm glad I decided to post about this after all - I feel better now that I've gotten all of that unbridled rage off of my chest...
Anyone who reads the mainstream Spider-Man titles these days is undoubtedly aware of the weird state of flux Peter Parker seems to be in these days.
First came "Sins Past." Then various power upgrades, a spot on the Avengers, and a couple of less than stellar crossovers. None of these have really set the world on fire. Add in Joe Quesada's self-made controversy surrounding Peter Parker's marriage to Mary Jane Watson, and you've got fans wondering why it is that the guys at Marvel can't manage to tell a halfway decent Spider-Man story that doesn't threaten to shake up the status quo.
And wouldn't you know, we've got another one of those coming up right around the corner. With "One More Day," Quesada and Strazynski promise to answer the "question" of the marriage once and for all as well as restore the character to glory.
What little fan response that I've seen of this story seems to be overwhelmingly negative - with Quesada's reputation as the Human Hype Machine and Strazyinski's Cardinal Sin, nobody seems to have much faith in the "event."
Despite three overwhelmingly successful movies and a household name, it seems like Marvel is constantly trying to fix some kind of percieved problem with Mr. Parker and his world. Either they're tearing down his past or constantly shaking up the status quo, and it feels like years since Marvel has put out a Spider-Man book that didn't promise to have long-lasting consequenses for years to come.
At the same time, it seems as though Quesada and his boys are constantly trying to bring Peter Parker back to some form of the character that they see as the Spider-paragon; some definitive interpretation of Spider-Man that is, like, the best one ever (and, consequently, the version they feel will be most marketable to the younger demographic). This paragon is young, hep, and above all, single. Quesada has repeatedly commented that he's in a bit of a pickle, however - he can't manage to figure out a way to achieve the "single" without sacrificing the "young" because, after all, there's no such thing as a twentysomething divorcee or widow. And what results is a Peter Parker who has this sort of identity crisis - he's a character who begs for forward progression, for the same kind of movement he's gotten in his 40-plus year history, but the higher-ups at Marvel seem to think that any kind of progression lies in a spiritual regression.
"One More Day" supposedly promises to fix all of that, but I guess we'll see.
I once saw it speculated - possibly on a blog, but more likely on a message board - that Spider-Man's role as a turncoat in Civil War would lead to neither side of the Registration Debate really trusting him, therefore forcing Pete to once again be the "loner" that he's been known as for most of his career. Obviously things didn't quite pan out that way, but I don't think this speculation was that far off the mark.
Some have speculated that perhaps "One More Day" will see some kind of reconciliation - or at least a bargain - between Tony Stark and Peter Parker, leading to his absolution of any crimes involving the Registration Act and therefore making him a "free man" - presumably for the sake of Mary Jane and Aunt May. I think it's likely that this will end up being the case. This will, of course, cause the anti-reg heroes (such as the Secret/New/Whatever Avengers) to see him as a traitor to the cause, putting him at odds with that side. On the other hand, I don't imagine that Peter will fancy being SHIELD's lapdog again, so perhaps the bargain will come with some degree of autonomy for Peter, thus leading to a certain isolation from the pro-reg heroes and the Initiative. Thus, Peter's "loner" status has been effectively restored without completely hitting the "reset" button.
But what of the marriage? This is the question that Quesada promises that this "ground-breaking" story arc will settle once and for all. So what becomes of it?
Well, we know that Mary Jane can't die, and the two can't divorce. Quesada has said as much and, while you can't normally trust a word that the man says, this statement holds some validity. After all, making Peter a widower and/or a divorcee "ages" the character, and idea of undoing or otherwise vetoing the marriage is all about restoring that younger paragon of the character. So what happens to the marriage?
Honestly, I can't begin to know. Aside from some kind of mystical mind-wipe, I don't know if there's any way to actually put an end to the marriage without death or divorce (maybe I'm just uncreative in that way). Unless Joey is pulling the wool over our eyes and plans on using this story to show us why the Spider-Marriage is awesome in a sort of enormous practical joke, I can't begin to wonder about the outcome of this particular storyline.
I suppose only time will tell. This time next year, will we see a Peter Parker dealing with the loss of yet another love of his life? Will we see the marriage of Peter and Mary Jane reinvigorated? Who knows?
I certainly don't.
But enough of my barely-coherent ramblings - what do you guys think? I want to hear your thoughts on the current state of Spider-Man, the marriage, and any kind of "One More Day" speculation you have to offer.
It's no secret to anyone that I've discussed it with that I've been utterly unhappy with the latest season of 24.
The pacing was sloppier than usual, the story arcs phased in and out of relevance as if the entire writing staff came down with a severe case of ADD, and nine out of ten character moments rang entirely hollow.
So naturally, I wasn't really expecting much going in to last night's blowout of a finale - after all, just two weeks prior we had been treated to perhaps one of the worst episodes of the season.
As the first episode passed and we reached the halfway mark, I found little to alleviate my fears. And then something beautiful happened.
The final episode of the season was amazing.
It wasn't the action or the various ka-booms. Granted, the action pieces were very well done and I enjoyed them, but when that oil rig blew, I still wasn't all that engaged. It was good eye candy, but not much else.
It was when all of that was over that the real magic happened.
The last twenty minutes of the episode delivered on so many levels, emotionally, that I was honestly floored. It's not simply that this episode offered character development and analysis that I've been craving all season; it may be safe to say that I've been craving this level of depth for the entire run of the series.
We don't often get to dig deep into Jack Bauer's psyche. Often, the severity of the plot dictates that Jack constantly be in a "work now, deal with shit later" mode. That's probably very realistic for what people like this have to actually do in order to effectively accomplish their jobs, but on dramatised television where you have a character getting off a plane from a Chinese torture camp and jumping right in to the action with no ill signs of his imprisonment, it feels a little unrealistic.
Jack's scene with James Heller was, simply put, beautiful. In those ten or so minutes, we saw the extent of the damage that his time in China - nay, his entire lifestyle - had done to him emotionally and psychologically. Jack was well overdue for an emotional breakdown/epiphany, and while I wish that we had gotten a few more looks at the cracks in Jack's armor throughout this season, I have to swallow my pride and say that the folks in the writer's room pulled off the payoff beautifully and proved to everyone that they've still got it, and they know how to use it when they want to.
I am skeptical for what the future holds for Jack Bauer and company, but with the way the year closed out I am hopeful. Where just days ago I was ready to walk away completely, now I'm ready to see what Day 7 has to offer. Here's hoping Cochran and Surnow don't let me down.
P.S. With finals over, I'm hoping to resume (or rather begin) posting with some semblance of regularity. Within the next couple of weeks I hope to have a few good posts up - especially ones that talk about - y'know, comics.
For the most part, the video game adaptation of Spider-Man 2 was everything a Spidey game should be. By taking the idea of a free-roam world (a la GTA) and applying it to Spider-Man and adding a solid storyline and satisfying gameplay, Spider-Man 2 for PlayStation 2 and Xbox was a winner from the get-go.
I had a chance to play the PS2 version of the Spider-Man 3 adapation, and I'm sorry to say that it doesn't live up to its predecessor (many would argue that it reflects the quality of the film in that way).
This game has the same basic engine of the previous game - that is, you swing around as Spidey and beat up on thugs and retrieve balloons and whatnot, and at your leisure you can complete missions which push the overall story forward. And for that, Spider-Man 3 is worth a good hour or so of gameplay.
But I find that once you break that barrier, once the random web-swigning gets old and you get tired of saving armored cars, the rest of the game is pretty shallow.
Maybe it's the fact that I played Spider-Man 2 on the technically superior Xbox, but it felt like the graphics for Spider-Man 3 were sloppy. Buildings look fake, and while that was a slight problem with Spider-Man 2, it's even more troubling here because the more complex renderings of buildings often don't appear until you're right on top of them. Pedestrians are once again rendered as weakly as possible, but the real kicker here is the main characters - they're animated well enough and they look enough like the actors, but in cutscenes they're so over-rendered that they just look ugly. It also doesn't help that each character literally has one outfit for the entire game - Mary Jane is forced to wear that "button up shirt and tie" ensemble throughout the entire game so that the final battle is as accurate as possible. And it really doesn't help that even the smallest side-missions come with load times.
Everything feels very dumbed down, as well. While the previous installment had a good deal of combos and attacks to be utilized against enemies, it feels like there are only four or five easy to use combos at work in Spider-Man 3 (granted, this was just in my two hours or so of playing; it's possible more moves are unlocked as the game progresses). Spider-Man 2 also had lots of cool little touches and side quests - for example, cleaning out all of the gang hideouts in the city, the races, and the various tokens. Spider-Man 3 has none of that, which makes the game feel very bare and limited - and it's not helped by the fact that the side-missions have little to no variety.
As usual, the game takes liberties with the basic plot of the movie, and that's both a blessing and a curse. For example, the pacing of the film is a bit off-kilter (the battle in which Spidey "kills" Sandman takes place directly before the final Venom/Sandman fight), but at the same time there are aspects of the story which the film improves on (instead of a random team-up, Venom coerces Sandman into helping him by kidnapping his daughter).
Overall, the game really just feels sloppy. Perhaps it's the fact that I'm playing a game that's really intended for the "next-gen" consoles on an "outdated" one, but my impression overall is that the game was rushed to coincide with the film's release. That's really a shame, because no matter the quality of the film itself, the game should've been something of beauty; instead, it's just a mess.
We can all agree on that, I suppose.
P.S. All images from PS3 version and may not reflect in-game graphics. Also, all images courtesy of IGN.
A little bit of hooplah has been raised about Bendis and Mighty Avengers and the fact that the uber-prolific writer has been using the long-thought-dead convention of the thought ballon.
Yesterday I happened across a copy of Mighty Avengers #2 at my local Borders. Not interested enough to buy, I figured I'd give it a read in the store (as I do with New Avengers, Supergirl, Ultimate X-Men, Justice League Unlimited, Green Lantern, and Teen Titans on a semi-regular basis).
And what I realized after setting the issue down was that while there was a dense amount of thought ballons (at least one per page for the most part) they were, on the whole, completely pointless.
Gee whiz! See how Bendis used thought balloons to humorously remind everyone that Tony Stark is a womanizing bachelor?
Golly! Isn't it great that, thanks to a little bit of thought-ballooning (and a trick that I remember from Buffy the Vampire Slayer), the reader is now even more aware of the fact that Ares is impulsive, brash, and says whatever is on his mind?
I don't mind a little joke now and again, but it felt like that the thought balloons were all bad humor and useless information and it became blatantly apparent that Bendis was using them simply because he could. If this is the "glorious" return of the mighty thought ballon, I'll stick to text-box narration, thanks.
And let's not even get into the fact that it was just a shitty comic book. It just reinforces my opinion that putting one writer on two Avengers books was a bad idea from the get-go, which is a shame because New Avengers hasn't been that bad lately (although it hasn't been great, either).
Beh. I'm done ranting for now, but what are your thoughts, about the Avengers books in general right now?
After months and months of hype, hooplah, and what have you, the Biggest Movie Ever is here - Spider-Man 3. I caught a midnight showing yesterday and considering the fact that I'm skipping all of my classes today because of it, I've posted this review for you - my Lovely and Devoted Reader.
You all know the story. "The greatest battle lies within," "Sandman kills Uncle Ben," "Emo Peter," blah blah blah. I won't bore you with those details.
At its core, Spider-Man 3 has a couple of major themes - the "darkness within" one, as you no doubt know already; but it's also a story about relationships - how they crumble, the longing of simpler days, and how they're rebuilt.
We see this most prominently in the relationship between Peter and Harry - the relationship has all of these beats, and in my mind it's kind of the crux of the film (although it can be easy to miss since it is kind of a crowded flick). All of it culminates in a sweet-ass team-up between the two that feels like it could have been torn from the pages of Movieverse Marvel Team-Up.
To a lesser extent, Peter and MJ have a similar arc, although there's really no "nostalgia" aspect and it primarily focuses on the "crumble." Mary Jane feels overshadowed by Spider-Man, which isn't helped by the fact that Peter always seems to make any issue about him and ignore how MJ might be feeling at a particular point. It is, quite honestly, the most interesting the relationship has ever been in the films.
Sandman's story was brief, but for the most part, emotionally resonant. Instead of making him the dim-witted goon he seems to often be portrayed as these days, the Flint Marko we see here is a man who, like so many, doesn't want to do the things he does, but feels he has no other choice if his family - namely, his daughter - is to survive. To me, it feels a bit less like the two-bit villain we're familiar with and more like the well-rounded character who eventually atoned for his sins before editorial mandate voided it.
Which brings us to Venom. Despite all of the nay-saying, Topher Grace does a commendable job at portraying Eddie as an arrogant, pretentous prick. Given the pace of the rest of the film (particularly the Harry/Peter dynamic), Brock's transformation into Venom seems a little sudden, but it works because in the film, Venom primarily serves to personify Peter's dark side (which I've always thought is when Venom is at his best) and to serve as the catalyst which brings the story to an emotional climax between the primary three characters in a sort of Ozymandian kind of way. Plus, I thought they managed to pull him off in a pretty cool way - although I thought that the "Venom face" was a bit too rare for my liking.
Spider-Man 3 doesn't take itself too seriously, and I like that. There are portions of the movie that were destined to be cheesy (in a bad way) no matter how they played it - take, for example, Peter Parker's symbiote-induced emocity. So Sam Raimi smartly plays these scenes up for laughs as opposed to playing them seriously, which no doubt would've illicted groans from the audience. Granted, there are a few moments that are intended to be serious that come off as unintentionally funny (I'm thinking Harry and the butler here), but that's been true of all the Spidey flicks so far.
Other various notes:
- I thought that the team-up between Venom and Sandman near the end felt kind of rushed. It seemed apparent that they needed to rush towards a conclusion that would resolve all of the emotional conflicts, but the set-up kind of came out of nowhere.
- For the most part his story was really cool and emotionally resonant, but I thought that Sandman spent a bit too much time pulling off the "sand monster" trick. It was sweet the first time, but I didn't like that he spent the final conflict of the film as a veritable "King Kong" - he even roared. Meh.
- Gwen. Oh, Gwen. Your story is great, and you are quite the looker. I'm just unhappy that this one teases us with some lovin' between you and Peter, and then essentially closes the door on it. Uncool, Sam Raimi. Uncool.
- I was really very wary towards the idea of Flint Marko as Uncle Ben's real murderer, and given the fact that it was revealed the way it was in the trailers and previews, I was fully expecting it to be some kind of fake-out to add to Peter's regret concerning his actions while under the symbiote's influence. However, I do like the way it ended up in the film - it was Marko, but it was fully accidental and he was intensely remorseful. It added to the sympathy of the character.
- I really liked that Peter used his brains to defeat Venom, as opposed to a well-placed goblin glider or electrocution. The thing with the poles was pretty nifty, and it was kind of a cool moment when I was like, "Ah, harmonics!" It seems like these days Marvel is so hell-bent on pushing the "everyman" status of Spider-Man that they forget that he's also extremely intelligent, and it was nice to see that reflected here.
What did you guys think? How'd you like the film?
Personally, I like it. I might've preferred a more "classic" suit as opposed to this one, which is derived more from recent versions. That's alright though, because it still looks pretty badass either way.
Count me in.
I know, I know. Heroes came back last week, and I wholly intended to do a post then, but a little thing called real life got in the way and well, here we are.
I think it works better to do a "welcome back" post for last night's episode, Five Years Gone, anyway. .07% was a fine offering, but it really just served as a bridge into the remaining four episodes of the season.
Let me just say this - Five Years Gone rocked. Honestly, I think it could be a contender for the best episode of the season (so far) along with stand-out episodes like Homecoming, Company Man, and Parasite.
Before I go any further, I feel I should preface this with a bit of a disclaimer - I'm a sucker for these kinds of stories. "What ifs," alternate realities, possible futures (especially dystopic and oppresive ones). Generally, this is the kind of story that I would at least marginally enjoy no matter what took place; that said, I think among all that this is just a damn fine episode of Heroes.
What I really like about this one is that it doesn't get bogged down by exposition. The audience gets just enough knowledge about what transpired in the lost five years in order to understand the state of the world and the events taking place on the screen. It doesn't matter why exactly Future Peter is so damn bitter; it just matters that he is. It doesn't matter how or when Sylar managed to slice open Nathan to get to his soft and chewy center; it just matters that he did. I think a lesser writer could have easily (and understandably) fallen into the pit of trying to explain as much as possible.
With that, allow me to go into a break down about my thoughts on the episode, primarily about the Future versions of our heroes:
- Future Peter Petrelli? Badass, plain and simple. He's everything that Present Peter isn't - calm, collected, in control. Watching him use the array of powers at his command with little more than a thought was pretty awesome. If I've one complaint it's that the character is a bit too bitter - I'd like to see Present Peter find a sort of a happy medium between his current self and the character we see portrayed here.
- Despite badassery and swordplay, Future Hiro was really my least favorite character of the episode. Maybe it's the fact that Hiro's "Find the Sword" storyline kind of exhausted me on the character, or perhaps the Future versions of the other characters just outshined him, but I just didn't care for him all that much.
- Niki was more likeable here than she has been for the entire run of the series. Perhaps it's because the character we see in Five Years Gone appears to be a nice balance between the two personalities - she's not overly bitchy and agressive (Jessica), nor is she overtly pathetic and prone to whining (Niki). It gives me something to look forward to for her character.
- Likewise, I really liked what they did with Matt here - he was slick, kinda badass, and confident. I generally like Present Day Matt, but it's hard to deny that the man can get just a little bit grating.
- I think big twist - that President Nathan Petrelli was in fact Sylar in disguise - was probably the most interesting part of the episode for me (even though I was a little disappointed; I thought that the previews for the episode kind of gave it away). I kind of wish there was more time, because I sort of would like to see this explored a bit more - although I think a good portion of it is more or less just a question of how Candace's powers work. I mean, can you keep up the illusion indefinitely, or do you have to recharge once in a while? What about when he's sleeping?
- The biggest disappointment, I think, was that the show continued in it's grand tradition of giving us tragically short confrontations between Sylar and Peter. Since we learned exactly how Peter's powers work, I've been itching for an all-out superpowered slugfest between the two characters. I'm desperately hoping that they're building up all of this anticipation for an enormous blowout in the season finale. Alas, if we aren't treated to something awesome in the next three weeks, I'll be sorely disappointed.
Anyone else watching? If so, what're your thoughts on this and other episodes?