Frustrated with “Scream” Season 3 being delayed indefinitely, I was excited to stumble across “Slasher” Season 2 (2017) on Netflix. Chiller’s Season 1 was strong, but Season 2 of Aaron Martin’s Canadian horror mystery series is better. It is gorier, with remarkably creative kill scenes, but it’s also a more compelling mystery that allows us to feel for – or be creeped out by — a lot of the characters.
The four-book serial novel “The Lost Slayer” (August-November 2001) is one of the grimmest “Buffy” stories on record, oddly taking place near the start of Season 4, a relatively sunny point in the timeline. It’s ambitious, as Christopher Golden brings our favorite Slayer into an alternate future, thus allowing for narrative freedom not usually found in spinoff fiction. But it also seems to have been written too quickly, as it has an unusual amount of errors and oddities.
For the third time, the Marvel Cinematic Universe gives a starring role to a superpowered New York City vigilante with “Luke Cage” Season 1 (2016, Netflix). Showrunner Cheo Hodari Coker, whose credits include “Almost Human” and the upcoming “Creed II,” brings a slightly different sensibility to the genre by name-dropping bits of Harlem history, music and art and showcasing live music at the club that serves as the main setting.
Often when a comic book series ends, that final issue will sit in its slot on the racks for a long time afterward, since there is no next issue to replace it. My enduring memory of “Tales of the Vampires” (December 2003-April 2004) is seeing Issue 5 on the rack for a year or so. It was the last issue of Dark Horse’s original “Buffy” run, leaving a three-year gap before Season 8 began in 2007. (It wasn’t a total dark age: There were “Buffy” novels throughout this time, and IDW’s “Angel” comics started in 2005.)
Director Steven Spielberg’s adaptation of “Ready Player One” – now available for home viewing — captures the spectacle and banter of Ernest Cline’s novel without fully tapping into the serious stakes nor the veneer of dystopian sadness. The 2-hour, 20-minute epic has the type of momentum a gamer could relate to after realizing the hours have just melted away as his quest went along. And the action is scored by classic arena rock. But what’s fun in any given moment adds up to something less substantial than it should be, even if there are a lot of cool moments.
Cameron Dokey, in her final Buffyverse novel (she also wrote the weak “Buffy” YA book “Here Be Monsters” and two excellent short stories in “How I Survived My Summer Vacation”), has the task of closing out the Doyle era in the ninth original “Angel” novel. She gives the half-demon his due, as Doyle serves as a guardian angel for a lonely woman. But the bizarre developments for some supporting characters make “The Summoned” (December 2001) weaker than most “Angel” books.
“Ant-Man and the Wasp,” a rescue story with personal rather than galactic stakes, could be seen as anticlimactic on the heels of “Avengers: Infinity War.” But to me, it’s refreshing. This second “Ant-Man” entry, again directed by Peyton Reed, knows its strengths: Action sequences in which people and objects can grow big or small at the press of a button or the toss of a disc, and lovable characters.
“Sharp Objects” (9 p.m. Eastern Sundays on HBO) takes a familiar genre – a crime journalist investigating small-town murders – and turns it into a gilded-frame French painting. The miniseries is stacked with talent at the top of their respective games, but director Jean-Marc Vallee – who helmed last year’s “Big Little Lies” – is the one I’m most drawn to talk about. In a mere hour, he immerses us in the Southern charms and chills of Wind Gap, in the bootheel of Missouri, and the beauty and tragedy of our heroine, Camille.
The most heavily marketed “Buffy” video game, “Chaos Bleeds,” got both comic book (June 2003) and novel (August 2003) adaptations. Usually video game tie-ins are red flags for readers, because there’s a danger they will be the literary equivalent of watching someone play the game. On the other hand, authors are often aware of this danger, and they have been known to dodge it. In “Star Wars” Legends, for instance, “Republic Commando” and “X-Wing” are among the elite book series.
Mel Odom pens another winner in the “Angel” book series with “Bruja” (August 2001), which blends a lot of story threads into a surprising yet natural conclusion. Without using the flashback device often found in these books, the author allows the story to serve as a parallel to Angel’s own feelings of guilt over killing his family and the search for redemption that gives his life meaning. Doyle and Cordelia play key roles, as the trio now operates like a well-oiled machine in this eighth original “Angel” novel.