My Favorite Things: Star-Crossed Lovers, Romantic Fantasy, and High-Flying Superhero Television Shows

They might not be raindrops on roses or whiskers on kittens, but that doesn’t mean that we love them any less. Welcome back to My Favorite Things, a weekly column where we gab about the greatest in geek. This week, we’re falling in love with superhero television shows, a sci-fi comic about star-crossed lovers and bounty hunters (plus one cat), and a fantastic gay romantic fantasy series that you should check out right now. Read on for more!


Carey’s Favorite Thing is… Supergirl!

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Last Monday evening, Supergirl’s second season officially debuted on The CW. I am cautiously optimistic after the first episode; I hope the move does not mean the demise of Supergirl as I came to know and love it during its first season on CBS.

The short version: meek administrative assistant Kara Danvers, who hid her powers in favor of a normal(ish!) life on Earth, starts to forge her own path as a superhero, battling alien prisoners — including Kara’s aunt, a Kryptonian revolutionary — who followed Kara to Earth from the Phantom Zone.

Melissa Benoist is the perfect casting choice; the socially awkward Kara balances her newfound superheroism with her demanding day job as assistant to media CEO Cat Grant (played with delicious flair by Calista Flockhart), her sometimes rocky relationship with her secret agent foster sister (Chyler Leigh), managing her huge coworker crush on photographer James Olson (Mehcad Brooks), finding a father figure in her sister’s boss, Hank Henshaw aka Martian Manhunter (David Harewood); and her solid friendship with work-buddy Wynn (Jeremy Jordan). Yup. They pack it all in there, and do all of it well, and for the icing, Peter Facinelli plays the wily, devilish, friend-or-foe supervillain, Maxwell Lord.

As with any scifi series, episodes run the range from cheesy to outstanding, but overall the first season was excellent. (I watched it three times. It just… happened.) Supergirl is a female-driven show. The cast is excellent, individually and together. The stories round out Kara Danvers aka Supergirl, who deals with survivor’s guilt: she left Krypton when she was a little girl, so she sometimes has difficulty reconciling her life on Earth with her memories of her family and life on Krypton.

Fans were baffled by CBS’s inability to straight up renew the series toward the end of the first season, because Supergirl is a fantastic show — and the female-driven superhero series we didn’t know we were waiting for.

And now I’m off to watch episode 2.2.

 

Erika’s Favorite Thing is…. Saga!

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Saga is a comic series of star-crossed lovers, two soldiers thrown together from the wrong side of each other’s war. In an effort to escape the never-ending skirmishes of the planet Landfall and its moon, Wreath, and to simply be with each other, Alana and Marko find themselves the focal point of an angry Royal (with a television for a head) and a seemingly endless stream of bounty hunters (and one cat). The story is open and honest about the (albeit, fantastical) complications of relationships and family, of duty and personal morality. Brian K. Vaughan brings wit and warmth to his writing without compromising the action and consequence of a war-torn galaxy and a family on the run. Peopled with imaginatively diverse, yet relatable aliens — thanks to the beautiful artwork by Fiona Staples — the universe that Vaughan and Staples has created populates worlds so odd that the existence of a planet-based pleasure business lends enormity to the scale of possibility waiting within every volume.

 

Lane’s Favorite Thing is…. K.J. Charles’ Magpie series!

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K.J. Charles is a hell of a writer.  A Charm of Magpies is a gay romantic fantasy series that is frankly fantastic.  She posits an England where magic (or practice) is a known thing, used and abused.  She mixes that game-changer in among the class issues to really good effect.  Lucien Vaudrey is an aristocrat from an old, terrible bloodline. He comes home after his family dies and steps into a magical trap.  Stephen Day, justiciar, has to save him, which is a sore point because Vaudrey’s family ruined his father. Sparks fly. The romance is great. But the true winner of this series is the magic.  K.J. Charles has an amazing way of mixing in folklore and high magics to create a genuinely fascinating set of powers — from people messing with your mind with a touch (fluence) or magicians able to walk on the wind.  Magic really would change the way things work, and she acknowledges that.  The good guys aren’t all pure of heart, and the villains sometimes don’t know they’re being villains. There are multiple books in the series, yet they never feel like they’re treading water as romantic series can tend to do.

KJ Charles has great characters here.  Stephen Day the justiciar, small, slight, unremarkable — utterly deadly in the right moments. Vaudrey, an aristocrat in name only, an ex-smuggler with a violent past. Esther Gold, Jenny Saint — two of Stephen’s magical partners — both distinctly awesome women. Merrick, Vaudrey’s right-hand man, is both thuggish and sweet in nature. Charles spins off from her main duo to show you other facets of her world — a regular policeman, a unreformed but repentant thief, a blood and bone magician, and a working-class ragman.  The end result is a world that deepens deliciously with each book.  I can’t wait for the next one.  There are several short stories set in this world to whet your appetite if you’re leery of a whole novel: A Queer Trade and A Case of Spirits.


Any thoughts on the selections above? Let us know in the comments!

6 Comments

  • Nancy O'Toole Meservier October 17, 2016 at 9:13 am

    I LOVED the season premiere of Supergirl, and I am so excited for season 2. Bringing Kara over to the CW (and bringing on Superman!) seems like a good call so far.

    Reply
  • Carey Ballard October 18, 2016 at 12:51 am

    So far so good! The first episode looked a little rocky, but we enjoyed it. I’ll get to watch Episode 2 tomorrow night.

    Reply
  • Carey Ballard October 18, 2016 at 12:51 am

    BTW, Erika, I am a big fan of Saga. That comic is crazy good.

    Reply
    • Erika October 24, 2016 at 9:55 pm

      I read through the 6 available volumes as fast as I could!

      Reply
  • Lane Robins October 18, 2016 at 10:46 pm

    I watch Supergirl and most of the time end up grinning like an idiot. It’s just so satisfying somehow. And I love Melissa Benoist. And I adore the way they’re bringing Superman into it, without making her somehow smaller.

    Reply
  • Shara White October 24, 2016 at 11:27 pm

    I am so behind on Saga. My husband and I went digital/hardcovers only, so I’m slowly waiting for the hardcovers to catch up where I left off the individual issues. But Saga is definitely one of my favorite comics!

    Reply

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