Why ‘Brik’ Is A Comic Unlike Any Other


There are no superheroes here

In an age of corporatized superhero blockbusters, writers Michael Benson and Adam Glass tell nuanced narratives. The duo first met on a picket line during the 2007-2008 Writers Guild of America strike. Benson had worked on HBO’s Entourage while Glass was getting ready to write and produce the CW sleeper hit Supernatural. A friendship was struck and suddenly the two were writing graphic novels together. Their creative partnership for Marvel has created stories where Deadpool is reimagined as a Cold War pulp thriller, Luke Cage wanders through a Prohibition-era Harlem defined by institutionalized racism, and the Punisher remains permanently trapped in his past hatreds. Throughout these immoral worlds filled with moral characters, Glass and Benson infuse philosophy with historical research to create their own folklore. Their newest collaboration Brik mythologizes classic Jewish traditions while examining the ravaged socioeconomic landscape of modern-day Yonkers, New York, through the perspective of Drew, a teenager waging war against the Russian mafia with the help of a golem named Brik. We spoke to Glass and Benson all about building worlds through writing and their exciting new project.

How did the collaboration come about? 
Michael Benson: Adam and I met on a picket line... We talked about our interests. Adam mentioned he was a huge comic book geek and I was writing books for Marvel at the time. We instantly bonded on many things: New York, noir, movies. After that, we’d brainstorm on the Deadpool book I was writing. A few sessions later, I asked Adam if he wanted to join me on the book and from there started our collaboration. That book turned out to be Deadpool Suicide Kings. We then wrote two additional books we’re very proud of: Deadpool Pulp and Luke Cage Noir. We had a blast writing them together and wanted to create our own book. That’s how Brik came to be.    

At its core, what is Brik?
Adam Glass/MB: At its core Brik is a symbol. A symbol of hope. The story of the golem originated in the Kabbalah, a history of mystic lore, which came to be in the late Middle Ages and grew in stature during the 16th and 17th centuries. It was a time when the Jewish people needed faith and strength to endure their sufferings, so they created a mythical clay monster to slay their enemies. Brik is a source of inner-strength to those who have been persecuted and are in pain, both in the past and still even today.

How does Brik resonate in modern America? 
AG/MB: I think especially today, anyone who is struggling with inner pain, bullying, identity issues, and discrimination will be able to relate to Brik. The idea of Brik is you’re not alone in this world and, like Drew’s grandfather Sonny tells him, “There’s always a way.” For Drew, who is in an impossible situation, the golem is his way out of it. 

Why did you choose to set the story in Yonkers?
MB: My grandparents lived in Yonkers for 40 years, and as a boy I made friends with kids from all different backgrounds and cultures.   
AG: I grew up in the neighboring Bronx, so I knew Yonkers well too, mostly through the raceway. My grandfather liked to skip services at shul and take me to the horses instead.
MB/AG: Setting Brik in this melting pot of old world culture felt right to us. Yonkers had a lot of people who immigrated from Europe and other foreign countries and many first and second generation families were living on the same streets in the same houses. The elders would share stories from the old world. It just felt like the perfect environment to tell this particular story.   

Yonkers is periodically invoked as this land of opportunity that embodied the American Dream. Is the past overly romanticized? 
MB/AG: No, we don’t think it’s overly romanticized.  Back in the '50s and '60s, Yonkers was a city of opportunity. Many houses were newly built. Children from all backgrounds were able to get a good public school education and there were jobs for their parents. It was a place where a family could live the American dream. The '70s is when things turned and got rough around the edges.    

How do the ideals of the old world clash with the new world in Brik
MB/AG: Drew is obviously new world and faces problems any kid his age might face. He’s being bullied and feels he doesn’t fit in. Things at home are not ideal. Then his family comes into another new world problem; the Russian mob is leaning on his mother and grandfather to sell their building or suffer retaliation. So Drew uses an old school solution—brute force. He enlists an ancient protector to help defend his family and community.   

What is the role of the golem in this conflict? 
MB/AG: Brik is a number of things. Peacekeeper. Enforcer. Friend. In many ways Brik is everything Drew wishes he can be—powerful, feared, respected.  And after the two spend time together and go on adventures, Drew becomes closer to the kind of person he wants to become.   

The golem acts as this mediator to balance the forces of light and darkness. However, if you remove the golem from the comic, this is actually a morbid story about a young boy whose grandfather is murdered and mother assaulted. Is Brik intended to read as a tragedy? 
MB: We pitched Brik early on as History of Violence meets Iron Giant. Brik was always meant to have tragic elements to the story. That’s where our golem comes in.  
AG: When people are repressed and at their lowest point, they need hope; otherwise desperation sets in. So is the story tragic? Yes. But it's also fun, hopeful, and inspirational. 

Photo courtesy of Helen Sloan/HBO

"And now our watch has ended"

In a thoughtful tribute on Instagram, actress Emilia Clarke said goodbye to Game of Thrones, and her character, Daenerys Targaryen.

Clarke posted a gallery of photos including some group shots with the rest of the cast, as well as a closeup of Dany's intricately braided hair, and a still from the show. "Finding the words to write this post has left me overwhelmed with how much I want to say but how small words feel in comparison to what this show and Dany have meant to me," she wrote, continuing to say that "Game of Thrones has shaped me as a woman, as an actor, and as a human being."

"The mother of dragons chapter has taken up the whole of my adult life. This woman has taken up the whole of my heart," she wrote. "I've sweated in the blaze of dragon fire, shed many tears at those who left our family early, and wrung my brain dry trying to do Khaleesi and the masterful words, actions (and names) I was given, justice." She also gave a nod to her father, who died in 2016, saying that she wishes he was still alive "to see how far we've flown."

Clarke finished by thanking her fans, telling them that "without you there is no us... I owe you so much thanks, for your steady gaze at what we've made and what I've done with a character that was already in the hearts of many before I slipped on the platinum wig of dreams," she said. "And now our watch has ended."

Photo courtesy of HBO

Don't reusable cups exist in Westeros?

Apparently, no one could keep their drinks off-set during the final season of Game of Thrones. The show, which has been known for its meticulous editing, has featured a Starbucks coffee cup in an episode, and now, a plastic water bottle. Someone get these characters a reusable cup!

Yes, in the final episode of the series, there's a disposable water bottle hidden in plain sight in one of the scenes. If you look closely enough, you'll see the bottle peeking out from behind Samwell Tarly's leg in a scene where many characters were arguing about the fate of Westeros.

Another water bottle was spotted by someone else, hiding behind Ser Davos Seaworth's foot.

It seems that everyone was too parched on the set of the final episode to worry about a misplaced water bottle making it into the final shots. Some are speculating that the team left them in on purpose as payback to the writers for the series' ending.

We just really hope that everyone in the series recycles. If there are disposable cups and plastic bottles available in the fictional world, we hope that there's an ethical way of disposing of them. Otherwise, well, it might be more disappointing than the series finale itself.


Think about all the ways you've begged for ruin

I'll admit I can get a little possessive about full moons; I was born on a full moon, you see. I'll admit there's something that makes people go mad over a full moon and there's something in that madness that situates me, gives me a place to drop my anchor. I see the full moon, her one wide open eye, and think of the first gods—the cyclops and the titans—how they betrayed each other. The full moon reminds me that each of us walks this life having inherited the stories of the lives that brought us here, we carry moments of great suffering in our DNA and we carry moments of great joy too.

A Scorpio full moon is especially prone to these sorts of reminders, dancing partner to the Sun in Taurus, since both these stars are so devoted to the past, since both like to mine a wound just to see how deep it goes and how much they can stand to endure. It's true, too, that Taurus is the sign linked to the Hierophant in the Tarot. The Hierophant is a figure in service to Mysteries: guarding and teaching the sacred. The Hierophant is pre-occupied with devotion and desecration and so is Taurus. Steadied by worship and undone by violation, a Taurus knows that a cycle is a cycle, there's always a hunger that thrives in the devotional figure, that seeks to be defiled and, in that way, tested. What better consort, what better polarity, for an Earth sign like that than the watery depths of Scorpio? Scorpio, the sign of transformation, of the occult, of karmic debts, fertile and secretive darkness. Scorpio, the snake that eats its own tail, our sexual power and our sexual shame. Scorpio rules money and Taurus loves to feel wealth, to sense abundance, to roll around in the rich black dirt.

While the Sun goes down under the star of Taurus and Uranus activates Venus, so the planet of love can pour her light over the bull's horns, the Moon rises in Scorpio and we are tasked with acknowledging the many ways we begged for ruin. Is there a heaviness on your heart, dear reader? Wasn't there a time when, green as a new stem, you begged the world to give you something real to experience, to bring you to your knees with wonder and revelation? You must have known that you had to break the bud to bloom, you must have sensed—somewhere in that ancestral memory of yours—that to love something, to pour your life into something, is to prepare to lose it. That's the deal we've made with god, or what governs time.

Have you left a cup out overnight and awoke to find it brimming with memories of betrayal, of loss, of something you felt was owed to you and never retributed? You can drink from the cup of the past searching only for the taste of it, seeking only to sate your thirst for bitterness. It's your right to feel everything you feel, to remember everything that happened to you and everything you set into motion, everything you did. But, listen. The sun is warm and generous, calling new life out of the ground. You move over the Earth like a cloud heavy with emotion and memory, threatening pour, while night waits on the other side, smelling like freedom—sweet, sharp and ineffable—full of poison blooms. You can hold the truth of this wild living world, its sacred promise to consecrate you with beauty and ruin you with it too. You can sip from the cup of the past with gratitude for your past self—the one who gave her life so that you could rise again, three times as powerful and wise.

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Screenshot via YouTube

It's so good

Lana Del Rey released a cover of Sublime's 1997 song "Doin' Time," and she made it completely her own. That means it's the perfect combination of trippy melancholia and full-out lust.

According to Rolling Stone, the cover will appear in an upcoming documentary which will "[outline] the history of the iconic California band." In a statement, Del Rey said, "Not a day goes by that I don't listen to at least one Sublime song. They epitomized the SoCal vibe and made a genre and sound totally their own."

Bud Gaugh, a member of the band, "We are so excited to be collaborating with Lana on this. The smoky, sexy, and iconic sound of her voice breathes new life into one of our favorite singles." It certainly does.

My personal favorite part of the cover is the fact that Del Rey doesn't change the gender of the person the song is about, like so many musicians often do. Instead, Del Rey's intonation of "me and my girl, we got this relationship/ I love her so bad but she treats me like shit" is gay rights.

Listen to Del Rey's cover of "Doin' Time," below.

Photo by JP Yim/Getty Images

Sounds fake, but okay

In a new interview for Australian Vogue, Kendall Jenner makes the claim that being associated with the Kardashian name was a setback in her modeling career. Hmmm, that's funny, because power and influence usually works in their holder's favor.

In the interview, Jenner addresses skeptics who doubted that she would make it as a professional model. "A lot of people assumed that because I came from a 'name' that it was a lot easier for me to get to where I got, but actually it's the completely opposite," she says.

"I've always been the person to prove [critics] wrong, even when I was younger," she says. "I've always been a hard worker: that's in my blood. My parents raised me and my little sister to be that way and the rest of my sisters, too." In the profile, it's revealed that Jenner used to attend castings "simply as 'K' or 'Kendall' to distinguish herself from her famous family."

But keeping her name off her portfolio wasn't going to fool anyone, really. Her face has been on television for years, and it seems unlikely that a casting agent wouldn't know who she was even if Kendall didn't come out and say it. Perhaps Jenner was more closely examined and more readily criticized by people who doubted her, but I'm not sure I believe that she had a harder time gaining a modeling platform or booking big jobs, even if she didn't use her last name.

After all, Jenner was likely able to get into those big casting rooms right away because of her family's connections, and she was able to devote her time to pursuing that career because of the wealth they have. She would've had a much harder time making a name for herself if she didn't come from an influential family. She probably wouldn't get to be so selective about which shows she walks, and she definitely wouldn't be the highest paid model in the world.