DID YOU READ

Adapt This: “Absolution” by Christos Gage and Roberto Viacava

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With Hollywood turning more of its attention to the world of graphic novels for inspiration, I’ll cast the spotlight on a new comic book each week that has the potential to pack a theater or keep you glued to your television screens. At the end of some “Adapt This” columns, you’ll also find thoughts from the industry’s top comic creators about the books they’d like to see make the jump from page to screen.


This Week’s Book: Absolution by Christos Gage and Roberto Viacava

The Premise: In a world where superheroes are part of a sanctioned law-enforcement unit, John Dusk is a veteran good guy with amazing powers.

After years of putting down society’s most heinous criminals, Dusk encounters one too many repeat offenders and kills a murderer during an encounter. Instead of feeling remorse about it, he feels good — so good that he begins taking down more of the city’s most sadistic perps… permanently. As his new “hobby” finds its way into the headlines, he’s forced to keep his extracurricular activities a secret from his fellow policemen, his super-powered partners, and his detective girlfriend.

But how far is too far when it comes to ridding the world of evil?

The Pitch: Absolution writer Christos Gage has already made a name for himself scripting episodes of the hit crime drama “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit,” as well as celebrated runs on “G.I. Joe: Cobra,” “Stormwatch: Post-Human Division,” and “Avengers: The Initiative” — so it’s no surprise that his work lends itself well to the screen. A procedural fan who knows his way around real-world law enforcement and investigation, Gage has crafted an excellent story in Absolution that manages to balance both superhero elements and crime drama masterfully.

In many ways, Absolution is exactly what one might expect to see if super-powered characters were introduced to the world of “Law & Order.” John Dusk is what “S.V.U.” mainstay Detective Elliot Stabler (Christopher Meloni) could indeed become if he was given similar abilities and finally reached that ever-present breaking point that he often nears, but never crosses.

With the exception of a few characters, Absolution also manages to keep many of the powers wielded by the world’s superheroes and superhuman villains fairly manageable (from an effects perspective), though the most difficult one to bring to the screen could be Dusk’s ability. In the series, he’s able to manifest a field of blue energy that he can manipulate however he wants — forming a shield, a weapon, or a form of transportation if he so desires. Dusk’s power is similar to that of DC superhero Green Lantern, though it operates on a much smaller scale in the world Gage has created for Absolution.

And while Absolution is stocked with graphic, violent action sequences, it remains a drama at heart, and a study of the criminal justice system and the people who work within its structures. When I spoke to Gage about the book several years ago, he indicated that the concept for the series came from a conversation he had with a real-world police officer who worked in a department not unlike “S.V.U.” and dealt with the sort of terrible crimes perpetrated by the worst criminals society has to offer. Faced with one atrocity after another, some law-enforcement personnel lose their ability to separate themselves from their professional life — and Absolution explores one of the many potential outcomes of their traumatic day-to-day routines.

Absolution would probably work best as a movie or television miniseries, as the narrative has a well-defined set of acts that explore the story’s theme and offer some — if not many — conclusions about the consequences of John Dusk’s actions. To extend it beyond the narrative of the original comic would likely dilute the powerful message it conveys, though the right writer could certainly find new avenues to explore.

The Closing Argument: Much like Brian Michael Bendis’ Powers comic book series — which follows a branch of law enforcement charged with investigating superpower-related crimes — Absolution manages to have that rare hit potential for both procedural drama audiences and fans of science-fiction or other, more fantastic fare. Gage’s work in television clearly factored into the story’s structure and pacing, so it’s not difficult to look at the collected edition of Absolution as a storyboard for a potential film or television project.

In the end, it really comes down to one question: Do we want to see a superhero version of “Law & Order: SVU”? If the answer is yes, then look no further than Absolution.


Would “Absolution” make a good movie or television project? Chime in below or on Facebook or Twitter.

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Hard Out

Comedy From The Closet

Janice and Jeffrey Available Now On IFC's Comedy Crib

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She’s been referred to as “the love child of Amy Sedaris and Tracy Ullman,” and he’s a self-described “Italian who knows how to cook a great spaghetti alla carbonara.” They’re Mollie Merkel and Matteo Lane, prolific indie comedians who blended their robust creative juices to bring us the new Comedy Crib series Janice and Jeffrey. Mollie and Matteo took time to answer our probing questions about their series and themselves. Here’s a taste.

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IFC: How would you describe Janice and Jeffrey to a fancy network executive you met in an elevator?

Mollie & Matteo: Janice and Jeffrey is about a married couple experiencing intimacy issues but who don’t have a clue it’s because they are gay. Their oblivion makes them even more endearing.  Their total lack of awareness provides for a buffet of comedy.

IFC: What’s your origin story? How did you two people meet and how long have you been working together?

Mollie: We met at a dive bar in Wrigley Field Chicago. It was a show called Entertaining Julie… It was a cool variety scene with lots of talented people. I was doing Janice one night and Matteo was doing an impression of Liza Minnelli. We sort of just fell in love with each other’s… ACT! Matteo made the first move and told me how much he loved Janice and I drove home feeling like I just met someone really special.

IFC: How would Janice describe Jeffrey?

Mollie: “He can paint, cook homemade Bolognese, and sing Opera. Not to mention he has a great body. He makes me feel empowered and free. He doesn’t suffocate me with attention so our love has room to breath.”

IFC: How would Jeffrey describe Janice?

Matteo: “Like a Ford. Built to last.”

IFC: Why do you think the world is ready for this series?

Mollie & Matteo: Our current political world is mirroring and reflecting this belief that homosexuality is wrong. So what better time for satire. Everyone is so pro gay and equal rights, which is of course what we want, too. But no one is looking at middle America and people actually in the closet. No one is saying, hey this is really painful and tragic, and sitting with that. Having compassion but providing the desperate relief of laughter…This seemed like the healthiest, best way to “fight” the gay rights “fight”.

IFC: Hummus is hilarious. Why is it so funny?

Mollie: It just seems like something people take really seriously, which is funny to me. I started to see it in a lot of lesbians’ refrigerators at a time. It’s like observing a lesbian in a comfortable shoe. It’s a language we speak. Pass the Hummus. Turn on the Indigo Girls would ya?

See the whole season of Janice and Jeffrey right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib.

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Die Hard Dads

Inspiration For Die Hard Dads

Die Hard is on IFC all Father's Day Long

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Photo Credit: Everett Collection, GIPHY

Yippee ki-yay, everybody! It’s time to celebrate the those most literal of mother-effers: dads!

And just in case the title of this post left anything to the imagination, IFC is giving dads balls-to-the-wall ’80s treatment with a glorious marathon of action trailblazer Die Hard.

There are so many things we could say about Die Hard. We could talk about how it was comedian Bruce Willis’s first foray into action flicks, or Alan Rickman’s big screen debut. But dads don’t give a sh!t about that stuff.

No, dads just want to fantasize that they could be deathproof quip factory John McClane in their own mundane lives. So while you celebrate the fathers in your life, consider how John McClane would respond to these traditional “dad” moments…

Wedding Toasts

Dads always struggle to find the right words of welcome to extend to new family. John McClane, on the other hand, is the master of inclusivity.
Die Hard wedding

Using Public Restrooms

While nine out of ten dads would rather die than use a disgusting public bathroom, McClane isn’t bothered one bit. So long as he can fit a bloody foot in the sink, he’s G2G.
Die Hard restroom

Awkward Dancing

Because every dad needs a signature move.
Die Hard dance

Writing Thank You Notes

It can be hard for dads to express gratitude. Not only can McClane articulate his thanks, he makes it feel personal.
Die Hard thank you

Valentine’s Day

How would John McClane say “I heart you” in a way that ain’t cliche? The image speaks for itself.
Die Hard valentines

Shopping

The only thing most dads hate more than shopping is fielding eleventh-hour phone calls with additional items for the list. But does McClane throw a typical man-tantrum? Nope. He finds the words to express his feelings like a goddam adult.
Die Hard thank you

Last Minute Errands

John McClane knows when a fight isn’t worth fighting.
Die Hard errands

Sneaking Out Of The Office Early

What is this, high school? Make a real exit, dads.
Die Hard office

Think you or your dad could stand to be more like Bruce? Role model fodder abounds in the Die Hard marathon all Father’s Day long on IFC.

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Founding Farters

Know Your Nerd History

Revenge of the Nerds is on IFC.

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Photo Credit: Everett Collection, GIFs via Giphy

That we live in the heyday of nerds is no hot secret. Scientists are celebrities, musicians are robots and late night hosts can recite every word of the Silmarillion. It’s too easy to think that it’s always been this way. But the truth is we owe much to our nerd forebearers who toiled through the jock-filled ’80s so that we might take over the world.

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Our humble beginnings are perhaps best captured in iconic ’80s romp Revenge of the Nerds. Like the founding fathers of our Country, the titular nerds rose above their circumstances to culturally pave the way for every Colbert and deGrasse Tyson that we know and love today.

To make sure you’re in the know about our very important cultural roots, here’s a quick download of the vengeful nerds without whom our shameful stereotypes might never have evolved.

Lewis Skolnick

The George Washington of nerds whose unflappable optimism – even in the face of humiliating self-awareness – basically gave birth to the Geek Pride movement.

Gilbert Lowe

OK, this guy is wet blanket, but an important wet blanket. Think Aaron Burr to Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Hamilton. His glass-mostly-empty attitude is a galvanizing force for Lewis. Who knows if Lewis could have kept up his optimism without Lowe’s Debbie-Downer outlook?

Arnold Poindexter

A music nerd who, after a soft start (inside joke, you’ll get it later), came out of his shell and let his passion lead instead of his anxiety. If you played an instrument (specifically, electric violin), and you were a nerd, this was your patron saint.

Booger

A sex-loving, blunt-smoking, nose-picking guitar hero. If you don’t think he sounds like a classic nerd, you’re absolutely right. And that’s the whole point. Along with Lamar, he simultaneously expanded the definition of nerd and gave pre-existing nerds a twisted sort of cred by association.

Lamar Latrell

Black, gay, and a crazy good breakdancer. In other words, a total groundbreaker. He proved to the world that nerds don’t have a single mold, but are simply outcasts waiting for their moment.

Ogre

Exceedingly stupid, this dumbass was monumental because he (in a sequel) leaves the jocks to become a nerd. Totally unheard of back then. Now all jocks are basically nerds.

Well, there they are. Never forget that we stand on their shoulders.

Revenge of the Nerds is on IFC all month long.

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