Abraham Lincoln

Ken and Robin Consume Media: New Tim Powers, Justified: City Primeval, and Narnia

September 19th, 2023 | Robin

Ken and Robin Consume Media is brought to you by the discriminating and good-looking backers of the Ken and Robin Talk About Stuff Patreon. Each week we provide capsule reviews of the books, movies, TV seasons and more we cram into our hyper-analytical sensoriums. Join the Patreon to help pick the items we’ll talk about in greater depth on a little podcast segment we like to call Tell Me More.


City Primeval: High Noon in Detroit (Fiction, Elmore Leonard, 1980) Detroit homicide cop Raymond Cruz finds his cool detachment tested by the Oklahoma Wildman, Clement Mansell, in Detroit for a more dangerous version of the normal Elmore Leonard “idiot criminal over his head” spree. Leonard tries writing an Elmore Leonard Western set in an Elmore Leonard crime novel while deconstructing them both, which gets him points for ambition. —KH

Companion to Narnia, Revised Edition (Nonfiction, Paul F. Ford, 2005) Celebratory yet incisive essays surround an A-to-Z of every entity, location, and concept in C.S. Lewis’ beloved children’s series, with handy Biblical parallels in an appendix. Over and above its Narnian usefulness, this is what a reference book should look like in the age of Wikipedia: analytical and complete entries, informative essays, and launching pads for further research. Bump it up to the Pinnacle if you’re still a big old Aslanist. –KH

My Brother’s Keeper (Fiction, Tim Powers, 2023) When Emily Brontë meets a dark, wounded stranger on the moors, she discovers the secret history of lycanthropy that haunts her family. Powers returns to his classic form in this fantasy of secret history that delivers solidly on its promise. The only thing missing is the usual Afterword in which Powers tells you which bits are historical fact (hint: almost all of them) but a little research never hurt anyone, I guess. —KH


Batman: Last Knight on Earth (Comics, DC, Scott Snyder & Greg Capullo, 2019) Bruce Wayne wakes up in Arkham Asylum to discover he’s never been Batman, and also the world is ending in a super-apocalypse. With only the head of the Joker in a jar for company, he sets out on a pilgrimage to save the world. Superb art holds the book together through some wild swings and misses that becomes its own sort of magnificent ruin among the towers of some unforgettably cool ideas. –KH


Justified: City Primeval Season 1 (Television, US, FX, Dave Andron and Michael Dinner, 2023) After a chance contretemps lands him in Detroit, Marshal Raylan Givens (Timothy Olyphant) gets drafted into the pursuit of the Oklahoma Wildman, Clement Mansell (Boyd Holbrook). A few promising ideas about Raylan in a city full of Raylans go nowhere, dragged down by a visibly padded script. Olyphant tries gamely, but lacks chemistry with almost everyone except Holbrook – sadly including his own daughter, playing Raylan’s daughter in a tacked-on storyline. Oh well, this isn’t the first disappointing sequel to a best series on TV. –KH

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