Marvel’s Daredevil

I’m a little late to the party on this one, but nothing in recent months (outside the increasingly, and brilliantly, insane third season of Hannibal) has grabbed me as hard as as Netflix’s first attempt at putting together its own superhero TV show. I resisted Daredevil at first; I’m not immune to the charm of a fun Marvel movie, but their relentlessly crowd-pleasing nature almost always turns me off around the time cities start disappearing in clouds of CGI explosions. But once I let my friends’ recommendations overwhelm me and gave it a try, I discovered that, outside of the first Iron Man, Daredevil is the best Marvel-related property to make it to the screen so far. Much has been made of Vincent D’Onofrio’s screen-stealing decision to play Kingpin Wilson Fisk as a man first and a villain second, but his appeal is matched by the show’s willingness to treat Matthew Murdock’s quest against him as equal parts religious crusade and self-destructive compulsion. Not every superhero property needs to (or even should) take time to acknowledge that dressing up in a costume and beating up criminals is insane, but the street-level nature of Daredevil’s vigilantism makes it the perfect vehicle for a story. Meanwhile, Matt’s ramshackle equipment—and Charlie Cox’s winning vulnerability—invest every fight scene with a feeling of real risk. Sure, The Devil Of Hell’s Kitchen isn’t going to die, but the show doesn’t shy away from the possibility that any battle could end in him getting hurt. Though the show’s final episode does spend 60 minutes ripping apart all that nuance and shading in favor of a big dumb superhero battle—proving that the curse of the Marvel movie apparently extends into its online streaming offerings—it can’t take away the thoughtful pleasures of the previous 12. [William Hughes]

Rising Thunder

When I write about fighting games, commenters often lament their lack of the manual dexterity and muscle memory that is sometimes needed to excel at complex punch fests like Street Fighter. At the heart of all those games, though, is a simple rock-paper-scissors-like battle for screen dominance. It’s about limiting your opponent’s options and reacting to the decisions they make. All the combos and arcane joystick motions are frills that obscure the finer game underneath. Recognizing the swathe of potential players these complexities keep away, the creators of Rising Thunder, a new PC game that’s currently in development but open for testing to the public, have built their brawler with simplicity in mind. It mirrors Street Fighter in many ways, but it removes that template’s complicated motions from the equation. Instead of flicking a joystick around to shoot a fireball or perform some other flashy maneuver, Rising Thunder just has you press a single button. It’s a smart deviation from what has become an accepted and revered formula, removing an unnecessary barrier to entry and exposing the delicate dance hidden behind it while in no way harming the creative freedom these games offer to the more skilled virtuosos of violence among us. Rising Thunder is currently in its “technical alpha” testing stage, and you can sign up and play for free at its website. [Matt Gerardi]


Declan Pocket Cloths

There was a brief period a few years ago when my partner and I got way too into supporting Kickstarter campaigns. It didn’t amount to much more than a pile of stickers and some socks, but the single gem that made it all worthwhile was supporting Declan’s microfiber pocket cloth campaign. We each received the Lisa pocket cloth, which is a thick, patterned microfiber cloth used to clean glasses. I use mine every day, usually multiple times a day—seriously, how do my glasses get so dirty?—making it well worth the $7 it sells for online. The company has grown a lot since its humble Kickstarter days; Declan pocket squares are now sold in Nordstrom, and the website has lots of beautiful microfibers to choose from. It also makes pocket squares that double as microfiber cloths for glasses cleaning, serving the dual functions of a snazzy accessory that can be whipped out to wipe your glasses sparkling clean. [Caitlin PenzeyMoog]