“Marvel’s Iron Fist” — My Belated Review

Iron Fist Netflix logo
Yes, I know this review is coming quite late. I originally wanted to make it soon after I binge-watched Iron Fist Season 1 during its debut weekend, but too many things came up that ultimately sabotaged my intention to make a timely review of this somewhat misunderstood entry in the Netflix corner of Marvel Studios’ shared cinematic universe.
As we all know at this point, the critics mostly slammed the show mercilessly, and insisted it would be Marvel Studios’ first failure (before The Inhumans series over at Marvel’s ABC corner of the small screen came along to truly earn that negative distinction). This jumping-of-the-gun assessment was based on the critics’ preview analysis of the first 7 episodes of the show.
Then the full series was released shortly afterwards, and following its binge-weekend debut, it turned out the great majority of the fans vehemently disagreed with the critics. A major pissing contest between critics and fans erupted on Twitter and elsewhere in social media, and soon became one of the most high-profile examples of fan viewers and “professional” critics (some of whom are not necessarily among the ranks of the fan base) having a very serious disagreement. It also made clear the serious disconnect that can exist between professional reviewers (both self-proclaimed or actually hired) and standard but dedicated fans, and the way being the former can lead to much different criteria of judgment than the latter. 
Which leads to… What did I happen to think of the series? And perhaps just as importantly, what do I think was the main reason for the conflicting hoopla between critics and fans that erupted around it?
Iron Fist - Finn Jones taking a dump
Finn Jones trying to take a well-deserved dump in front of the property of one of the main Iron Fist critics. What goes around comes around, right?
I basically liked the series and enjoyed watching it. I think it was well-scripted and well-acted, with Finn Jones well cast in the title role of Danny Rand, Jessica Henwick doing great in stand-out fashion as the formidable female martial arts master Colleen Wing, and Sacha Dhawan performing admirably as the main character’s best-friend-destined-to-become-mortal-foe Davos (the pre-Steel Serpent version). And of course, Rosario Dawson did a typically great reprisal role of hero-tending “Night Nurse” Claire Temple, the glue who acts as a common link holding all the Netflix Marvel series together in shared universe fashion.

Frankly, I can care less about the nasty arguments surrounding how an Oriental actor should have been picked over Finn Jones to play Iron Fist. The character from the comic books was white and blonde, so it’s not like hiring a white and blonde actor to play the onscreen version of the Living Weapon was a political breach of etiquette akin to a white actor hired to play Luke Cage or a gender reversal casting choice turning Jessica Jones into Jeffery Jones or something like that. Marvel has given us plenty of good ethnic, minority thespians to provide proper racial and gender representation into its shows, even going so far as reversing both the gender and sexual orientation of the supporting character Jeryn Hogarth into Jerri Hogarth in favor of progressive sensibilities, and an alteration of such a minor but notable character was no problem.

Such diverse representation is a good thing, but when taken to PC extremes to satisfy the liberal mavens of identity politics you risk getting the “Comicsgate” debacle that has plagued the comic book branch of Marvel for the past few years. And which, in turn, led to nasty fights between the Marvel staff and the fan base on social media; the emergence of a staff that hated its own fan base; a policy of hiring staff more for their gender/race/ethnicity/sexual orientation & personal politics than anything to do with qualifications as writers & editors; major overall reduction in the quality of the books since they became enslaved to a reactionary “left” agenda; a serious diminishing of sales for the comics; and Marvel’s need to deal with all of that mess by declaring its “Fresh Start” overhaul planned for May of 2018. I’ll deal with all of this in a separate blog, though, as it threatens to go way off topic for a review of a single TV series. I just wanted to mention in passing why I put no major emphasis on this particular gripe that emerged in the back and forth social media fracas about the show.

The fight sequences weren’t the best choreographed among the Marvel series, but they were exciting enough and numerous enough to satisfy the action-lovers of the genre. The exposition and dialogue was good, and though again it wasn’t the best among the series, it was still good. I keep emphasizing that word for good reason, which will soon become clear.

Did the show get the character of Daniel Rand right? For the most part, yes. I strongly disagree with the contention of many critics that Rand was portrayed as an unlikable asshole. I think he was actually portrayed as a decent and endearing guy who found himself in a classic “fish out of water” situation when he returned to the society he hadn’t known since he was a child, following the traumatic loss of his parents and then spending the rest of his formative years in the hidden mythological society of K’un-Lun, which was utterly unlike that of the society he was born in.
Rand was also on a mission to discover the truth of his parents’ murder and his ousting from the company that was rightfully his after he went missing for so many years. Hence, he was often not exactly amiable in his behavior towards others who stood in his way, but still far from unlikable IMO.
Here are my four qualms with what I consider an otherwise good (though not quite awesome) series, for those who may be interested to hear them.
1) The circumstances of how Rand lost his parents were considerably less dramatic and heart-wrenching than in the comic book version (and a lot less bloody!), which did take away a bit of the pathos from the tragedy IMO. For a more iconic analogy, think of the pathos which may be lost from the Batman mythos if Bruce Wayne’s parents weren’t shot to death one after the other in front of the young boy, but he instead lost them via an airplane crash, and though young Bruce was present on the plane he wasn’t conscious when they died. The tragic loss and trauma is still there, of course, but… well, some of the pathos gets lost, if you get my gist. Nevertheless, this change didn’t have any serious impact on the overall storyline, and since Iron Fist is considerably less well known than Batman, the tampering with the origin sequence was likely considered to be forgivable among fan viewers.
2) We didn’t get to see Rand in his iconic costume at all, not even a teaser hint of it as we got with Luke Cage’s original ’70s stuntman-derived yellow-shirted garb. TV Rand did have the very iconic dragon tattoo embedded on his chest, but no sign of the costume whatsoever. This lack of a costume made him more like an action hero along the lines of the characters portrayed onscreen by Chuck Norris, Steven Seagal, and Jean-Claude Van Damme during the 1980s and ’90s rather than a super-hero. This did fit in with his street level character credentials, of course, and yes, both Jessica Jones and Luke Cage went sans costume in their respective shows without suffering for it.

However, Daredevil kept his costume, and like the Man Without Fear, the Living Weapon has been much more associated with a costume throughout his published career than either Cage or Jones. In the case of Luke Cage, he hasn’t had a costume associated with him since before the 1990s, and Jessica Jones never did (yes, I’m aware of her brief career as the costumed hero Jewel, but that was a very short time during her back story, and this costume barely even got a “teaser” nod in Season 1 of her show). 

3) We never saw the dragon Shao-Lao! The dragon was mentioned often enough in the show, so this important aspect of how Rand acquired the power of the Iron Fist was thankfully retained for the TV version; but the dragon was never depicted in any fashion, not even briefly! Would a ten-second appearance for a quick flashback origin sequence really have been too expensive, considering what many TV budgets are producing these days? I understand the appearance of a dragon may have compromised the street level tone of the show for certain tastes, but dammit, I wanted to see the freakin’ dragon!
4) Too much obvious filler, which is a problem plaguing Netflix shows in general, since the online network usually seems to insist upon 13 episodes of roughly 50 minutes of running time (with no commercial breaks) for its original shows. This can make some of the episodes appear to drag on needlessly, and though this problem was evident at times in all the Netflix Marvel series, it seemed to have hit Iron Fist particularly hard, particularly during the all-important first act of the season.
Beyond those four qualms, though, I still think Iron Fist Season 1 was a laudable entry in the Marvel stable that mostly did justice to this venerable second tier Marvel hero, who was an absolute staple of the Marvel oeuvre during the Bronze Age of Comics.
Iron Fist costume image for series.jpg
Will we finally see the iconic costume in Season 2? We’ll have to wait until 2019 to find out!
So, finally, why do I think the critics slammed it and presumed it would be the MCU’s first misfire? Two reasons, IMO, both of which were miscalculations on the part of the critics that represent common mistakes made by fans and critics alike. Also, the fan base had the advantage of seeing and considering the whole series, and didn’t have to judge based on the first 7 episodes only, a benefit that the preview critics lacked (which didn’t stop a segment of the critics from maintaining their stance even after having watched the entire season, however).
The first of these reasons was, I believe, due to the degree that Iron Fist, compared to its predecessors Daredevil Season 1-2 and the first seasons of Jessica Jones and Luke Cage, was bogged down by filler material. This required a level of commitment on the part of the viewer to get through the meandering parts of the narrative, a problem that decreased with the show’s second act. It can be argued that critics are less tolerant or patient with these details than a regular fan, since the former are more concerned with being critical than they are with being entertained. This is why critics can oftentimes seem to be unreasonably harsh, and there has long been a bias against sci-fi-related material among them, and why you will often hear so many fans decree that they prefer making their own judgments rather than rely on that of critics. Fans and professional critics seem to often judge based on different perspectives, which can result in differing tastes and levels of tolerance for flaws.
Iron Fist - Shou Lao01
The way-cool dragon Shou-Lao. Too bad his important role in the origin of Iron Fist’s super power didn’t warrant so much as a “blink and you’ll miss it” appearance in Season 1.
The second was an all-too common problem that many fans can be as guilty of as any critic: overblown expectations. Here’s the deal with that. Iron Fist had a “problem” that should not have been considered a problem per se: The series that preceded it, Luke Cage, was pretty awesome, whereas Iron Fist was “merely” good. Also, Luke Cage had surpassed the quality of immediate predecessor Jessica Jones, which was itself a good show that more than held its own in terms of worthiness for carrying the Marvel brand.
Therein lies the problem. Because Jessica Jones was good, and Luke Cage was great, the expectation was for Iron Fist to not merely maintain a certain level of high quality, but to actually surpass Luke Cage in terms of awesomeness. Because it didn’t, it was IMO unfairly labeled a “misfire” at best by some critics, while to others it just plain sucked in light of what came before it.
This biased form of judgment is far from a recent development, and existed long before social media came on the scene. How many times before have we seen this phenomenon of overblown expectations cause an audience to be dissatisfied with arguably good quality entries into a franchise because they didn’t outright surpass the spectacle of a previous entry? This is especially true if that previous entry happened to surpass the spectacle of the franchise entry that came before it, i.e., the first film in a franchise.
Iron Fist - dojo scene01
“See this staff, critics? Now, imagine it’s an extended version of my middle finger thrust into your faces.”
A stellar example of this is what happened with The Godfather III. Let me say off the bat that I did not think the third and (at least for now) final entry in that epic cinematic trilogy was the putrid bottle of suck that so many fans of the franchise have insisted to me that it was. By that same token, I do not think it deserved the so-so box office performance which was the unfortunate result of those overblown expectations, and has stained it with a very low level of respect compared to the high reverence allotted to the first two films in the franchise.
What was the main problem with The Godfather III as I see it? And how is it comparable with the situation of Iron Fist? Well, for starters, The Godfather was and is a classic that really made the genre of the violent but humanized crime family as protagonists. The Godfather II so happened to surpass the first one in terms of the spectacle it provided and the level of performance brought to it by all involved with the production, and how it was seen as taking what was established in the first highly respected entry to a whole new level. In other words, the first sequel wasn’t simply a great follow-up, but many felt it surpassed the original.
As a result, the third entry in the franchise was totally expected to be much, much more than a good, laudable finale to the saga. It was expected to totally surpass the second in spectacle and performance. In other words, it was expected to be something better than awesome. When the end product was merely good and laudable, it was seen as a huge let-down to the impossibly high expectations of the viewers. The end result? Viewers felt it “totally sucked ass,” as one dedicated fan I know so eloquently put it.
Now, don’t get me wrong, The Godfather III had its share of flaws that certainly may have been present in greater measure than the first two films, much as Iron Fist did in terms of having more bogus filler material than its predecessors. However, while I do not think those flaws came anywhere near ship-sinking level, the great number of viewers with impossible expectations naturally jumped on these flaws and insisted they were total quality-killers rather than forgivable flubs that could be overlooked with some patience and understanding.
Something similar happened with Christopher Nolan’s much-lauded Batman film trilogy. With how well-received Batman Begins was and what it did for legitimizing super-hero cinema, and how much The Dark Knight totally surpassed it in spectacle what with the late Heath Ledger’s incredible performance as the Joker, it was a foregone conclusion that there was almost no chance the finale of the trilogy, The Dark Knight Rising, would avoid disappointing much of the fan base and performing less than the first two films. This was simply because it was highly unlikely to actually surpass the spectacle of the second movie. However, fans would be totally expecting it to do exactly that despite how unrealistic and even unfair that would be. Of course, all Nolan could do was soldier on and conclude the trilogy with as good a movie as he could provide, even though I suspect he was well aware that whatever he came up with was almost certainly fated to be the least liked of his trilogy.

Now, don’t get wrong again: There are film franchises in which the second entry surpassed a terrific first film but the third was a truly suckish addition that ended the initial trilogy on a sour note. In my opinion, examples of that include the original SupermanThe Karate Kid, and Alien franchises. There are some laudable things that can be said about Superman III and Alien 3 certainly, but I strongly believe those movies were a huge and disrespectful let-down compared to their respective predecessors. As for Superman IV: The Quest for Peace and The Karate Kid III, the less said about those, the better.

The same principle held here for Iron Fist. Granted, it was the first season of its own show, but it was strongly connected to a franchise comprised of other interconnected series that were part of a shared universe, and it was already well known to the fans that Iron Fist was the final entry in a chain that would lead to The Defenders crossover series. Its major cardinal sin was that it wasn’t as good as the total gem that was Luke Cage, let alone better, and better was what was expected — because Luke Cage was better than the well-received Jessica Jones that preceded it.
So, should fans of the genre watch Iron Fist Season 1? Yes, I think you should. Simply go in without expecting it to blow Luke Cage out of the water, and show some patience getting through the filler material whenever it comes onscreen, and I think you will be well satisfied. Sometimes we can appreciate a show or movie for what it is, rather than what we were made to expect. I believe that Iron Fist is such an example, and it did not deserve the lion’s share of the negative publicity it received and sometimes continues to receive by professional critics. I further believe its success despite all the negative pre-debut press delivered by the critics attests to that.
Iron Fist Netflix logo

The Continuation of History: Future Societies in Fiction

Systemic Disorder’s blog includes an awesome review of two sci-fi novels (well, one is a trilogy) that explores in-depth fictional future socialist societies and what it may take to bring them about. Read, be enlightened, and ponder over the difficult questions that are posed!

Systemic Disorder

As a long-time reader of Ursula K. Le Guin, I was saddened to hear of her passing. The following essay, originally written in 2001 for the literary magazine BigCityLit, examines Ms. Le Guin’s novel The Dispossessed in conjunction with Kim Stanley Robinson’s Mars trilogy. The ideas expressed and implied in these works continue to be highly relevant for activists wishing to find a path toward a better world.

History has proven it hasn’t ended. The concept should have been too laughable to even been contemplated; the very fact that ever shriller cacophonies of propaganda are hurled at us ought to prove the point, if it needed to be proved at all.

No matter how many times Margaret Thatcher’s “There is no alternative” is pompously declared; no matter how many times Francis Fukuyama is invoked to declare the end of history — a quote sure to be one of the…

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Spotlight on… Kristi Belcamino’s Crime Thriller Novel GIA IN THE CITY OF THE DEAD


Gia in the City of the Dead is the first in a new series of crime thrillers by Kristi Belcamino featuring the character of Gia Valentina Santella. Who is Miss Santella? Four years earlier her wealthy parents died, leaving her a sizable inheritance. Like many trust fund babies, Gia decided to live it up and lead a fun but empty life, with San Francisco her chosen stomping grounds. Despite the loss of her parents, life may have been good (if on the tepid side)… until she discovered that her parents didn’t die in an accident, but were murdered. Now, not only must Gia find out who the murderer was, she must do so while dodging the guilty party’s attempts to do her in as well.

The care free life she once led has now become a simultaneous struggle for survival and vengeance, as the party girl and banal art student is forced to become something completely different: A gun-wielding dispenser of justice at any cost.

Best of all, the first in this compelling new series from Kristi Belcamino is free for the next few days from the posting of this blog (January 4, 2018)! Get it now and prepare to be taken on the ride of a lifetime! And you can get it right here.

Spotlight on… Trish Heinrich’s Urban Fantasy Novel SERPENT’S SACRIFICE

Serpent's Sacrifice - Trish Heinrich_cover

This blog is proud to announce that for the rest of the week following Christmas 2017, Trish Heinrich’s masked vigilante novel Serpent’s Sacrifice, the first book in The Vigilantes series that combines urban fantasy, dark villainy, sometimes equally dark heroism, and romance into a stirring brew of action and suspense is being offered in digital format for free. It’s brought to you by publisher Beautiful Fire, a term that aptly describes Alice, the book’s tough protagonist who takes up the titular mantle of Jet City’s feared multi-generational costumed vigilante in the 1950s, an era where women were still expected to be homemakers, not costumed crusaders against nightmarish criminal madmen.

This novel already garnered many rave reviews since its release early last October, as fans have already described it as, “a swanky, action-packed superhero novel!” And I must say I totally love the word “swanky”! You can’t go wrong with a book given an adjective like that. Nor with anything written by Trish, who is one of the chief purveyors of street level hero prose in the current market.

Other fans have given the book equal praise, referring to it as, “A thrilling action, love story” and “an amazing debut novel”!

It’s a book more than worth a couple of your hard-earned dollars, but as I mentioned before, the digital version for Kindle is free until January 1st 2018! Yes, you read that right the first time, and you just read it right again! Moreover, for those with a subscription to Kindle Unlimited, you can rent it for free and keep it in your Kindle library until you’re finished reading it. Do not plan on being able to put it down until you do!

So, if you’re a fan of the urban vigilante genre, or interested in taking a dramatic dive into the genre for the first time, you cannot go wrong with this offer! You have nothing to lose, and considering Trish’s recognized talent as an author, it will be one of the best introductions to either The Vigilantes series (for long-time genre fans) or to the genre itself (by those simply curious about what the genre may have to offer their reading palette). The second book in the series, Serpent’s Rise, is already on sale, and this is your risk-free opportunity to get in on the beginning of the saga. And you can get it free right here until the end of the month.

RELEASE: What Dwells Below | #Horror #Subterranean @Sirens_Call

My newest short story is available as part of the horror anthology WHAT DWELLS BELOW, the latest release from Sirens Call Publications, who I am proud to say has published several of my short stories over the past several years. My own contribution to this volume, “Melvin’s Disgusting New Job,” features an unfortunate bloke named Melvin (considering the title of the story, did you expect it to be Phinneus or Kabuba?) who takes a job working a lonely job in a sewer, with only the rats, clumps of foul-smelling sewage, and various floating pieces of discarded human refuse to keep him company during his rancid midnight shift work site. Well, not exactly, since he soon finds out he has some additional company down there, something decidedly worse than the plethora of foraging rats and floating used condoms already surrounding him during his nightly eight hours in that subterranean realm of filth. What could it possibly be? Melvin isn’t exactly certain upon seeing it, but he quickly surmises that whatever it may be, it’s nothing that he nor anyone else with a single shred of remaining sanity or sense of self-preservation wants to spend a single moment alone with in that fetid environment–let alone eight hours every single night.

What are the implications of this story on the shared pulp hero/horror/crime noir universe I call the Wild Hunt Universe? Time will tell, but that may be something quickly running out for poor Melvin.

The Sirens Song

Sirens Call Publications is pleased to announce the release of its newest anthology…

What Dwells Below


Have you ever walked over a grate in a sidewalk or passed by a manhole cover slightly ajar only to find the small hairs on your arm starting to rise, or terror washing over you at what may lurk unseen?

The twelve tales in this anthology explore urban horrors waiting just below our feet… Whether it’s the story of four boys who go searching for an urban legend only to come face to face with something far more sinister, or a man who watches those who dwell below under the cover of darkness while secretly coveting their subterranean existence, or tales of persons gone missing who disappear into the depths never to be seen again, there’s something in this collection to keep even the most staunch explorer above ground for a long time.


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MEGADRAK: BEAST OF THE APOCALYPSE — The Skinny on my Latest Kaiju Novel


Megadrak - Beast of the Apocalypse_correct byline cover



My newest and second novel in the kaiju genre has just been published by Severed Press, and it provides a further step in building what I call the Dragonstorm Universe, a shared kaiju/sentai/jaeger universe that will appear across many novels and short stories published by moi. The first story taking place in that universe was chronicled in my previous kaiju novel Dargolla: A Kaiju Nightmare, and in a short story “The Criminal and the Kaiju” published among the tales of many fine kaiju authors contained in Matt Dennion’s Attack of the Kaiju: Age of Monsters anthology.

For those not entirely in the know (or not in the know at all), a kaiju is a shortened version of the word daikaiju, which is used by genre fans to describe strange monsters of immense size and power. Think Godzilla, Gamera, King Kong, etc. A sentai is a Japanese word for super-heroes who battle monsters, especially those who can attain gigantic size to directly tussle with daikaiju. Think Ultraman, Dark Horse’s Hero Zero, etc. A jaeger is a German-derived term used to describe gigantic robots designed to combat kaiju. Think the Shogun Warriors, the Power Rangers’ Zords, Gipsy Danger and her mecha allies in the Pacific Rim franchise, etc.

Kaiju prose has been booming in recent years, thanks largely to authors such as Eric S. Brown, Matt Dennion, Zach Cole, John W. Dennehy, C.G. Mosely, and James Melzer. The popularity of kaiju in this long-uncharted medium was largely pioneered during the 1990s by the august personages of Marc Cerasini’s and Scott Ciencen’s separate series of Godzilla novels published by Random House, and short stories regularly contributed to G-Fan magazine by scribes such as Skip Peel and Neil Reibe. These paved the way for the kaiju genre to explode across the prose medium in the succeeding decades, and among their number happens to be this author.

So what is Megadrak: Beast of the Apocalypse all about, and how may it differ from my previous entry in the genre and Dragonstorm Universe, Dargolla: A Kaiju Nightmare?

For starters, it’s considerably longer than the latter novel, which was more akin to a novella in length. Megadrak, however, will be a reading size more apropos for a tale describing the havoc wreaked by a deadly monstrosity of skyscraper proportions.

Secondly, Megadrak will be a period novel set in 1954 Japan, exploring my idea of what may have been done with the genre by Toho during that era with an alternate take on the same concept. Accordingly, this book is a complete homage to Tokyo’s iconic Godzilla (1954) that made cinematic history, which had and continues to provide this author with immense creative inspiration.  It is intended to duplicate the deadly serious tone and anti-nuclear commentary of the first two G-films, while covering some additional territory that Toho didn’t, but which I think should be covered in retrospect. Like Godzilla in the Tohoverse, Megadrak will represent the first assault on an unsuspecting humanity by a daikaiju in the Dragonstorm Universe, and how the nation is affected.

For those interested in seeing how the nightmare began in the Dragonstorm Universe, and how the Earth in that reality found itself changed forever, then this is the book you do not want to miss.

Megadrak is every bit as large as Godzilla, and every bit as nasty a customer as Dargolla was in his eponymous novel. Death and destruction will outpace what was seen in the previous tome (just when you thought that wasn’t possible!). And this time around, rather than focusing on a single protagonist and his family’s desperate, tragedy-filled attempt to escape their home city after it comes under siege by the titular kaiju, I have the space to focus upon several individuals who become embroiled in the horrific series of events that unfold when the kaiju apocalypse begins. These individuals end up crossing paths along the way, and find themselves forced to work together for mutual survival, with a combination of impressive successes and tragic failures.

Also, there will be giant mutant bloodworms. Yes, you read that correctly. The hapless citizens of Tokyo and the islands surrounding the Land of the Rising Sun will have much more than just Megadrak to contend with, as the atomic forces that spawned the kaiju will be discovered to have spawned a diverse array of dangerous mutant fauna that are not averse to using humans as a food source. You can also look forward to the first kaiju battle on this world’s timeline, as Megadrak ultimately discovers that humanity isn’t the only rival for world hegemony that the great beast must eliminate to stand at the top of the proverbial mountain.

This book was a lot of work, and required extensive research into the politics, economy, pop culture, and honorific-filled lingo of Japan as of the early 1950s, when that nation was still feeling the effects of the post-war era. The hard work was worth it in the end, though, as it was a lot of fun to write, and I am very thankful that the good people at Severed Press, likely the foremost publisher of kaiju prose in the Western world, gave me yet another opportunity to fulfill a life-long dream under their banner.

Is the culmination of my dream worth its weight in readership gold? That, of course, will be up to you, my esteemed readers, to decide. Megadrak: Beast of the Apocalypse is now on sale at Amazon in both digital and paperback versions, and I look forward to providing my share of kaiju mayhem to each of you. So by all means, buy the book, enjoy (I hope!), and I welcome and encourage reviews!

My third novel for Severed Press is now in the works, so more on that soon! The Dragonstorm Universe is expanding just as the genre as a whole continues to do, and not only in prose, but also in the cinematic, comic book, and video game mediums. This is the best time to be a kaiju-fan since the genre’s previous heyday during the 1950s and 1960s, and I’m proud to be part of the devastation being wrought!