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Who's watching 'The War'?

Hey, is anybody watching Ken Burns' new 14-hour documentary, The War? So far as I can tell, exactly zero of my film school friends are, even though it's ostensibly the best (or one of the best) works by the best (or one of our best) documentary filmmakers. (That may have something to do with the time commitment involved, but that's what Tivos are for, right?) I'm just one episode behind so far, and am loving it: it's a history of the war from the soldier's perspective, not the generals' or the politicians', and Burns' overarching thesis -- that there are "no good wars, only necessary ones," as one of his interviewees muses -- really shines through.

I'm also probably a little biased: my friend Sarah produced the film, so for a few years now I've been hearing about the tribulations they underwent to get their hands on all this rarely- or never-seen footage: digging deep inside military archives; spending weeks at the Library of Congress; negotiating with German archivists for the use of their war footage (and getting royally overcharged for it).

Needless to say, the result is World War II as you've never seen it, and I can say for my part, at least, that I've come to realize just how alien the concept of "total war" is to me and probably many people my age: to paraphrase one War veteran, it's a profound and lonely feeling you get when, as a soldier coming from a society that emphasizes individual rights and freedoms as ours does, to realize in your icy foxhole in the dark of night, that your life is expendable. How many non-veterans can say they've felt that?

In case you've missed the whole darn thing (the series ends this week but will be re-run forever, I'm sure), here's a 27-minute preview. See if it doesn't hook you right away.

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The Origins of 36 Marvel Characters, Illustrated
Pop Chart Lab
Pop Chart Lab

No matter what their powers, every super hero has an origin story, from Spider-Man’s radioactive bite to Iron Man’s life-threatening chest shrapnel. In their latest poster, the designers at Pop Chart Lab have taken their infographic savvy to the Marvel Universe, charting the heroic origins of 36 different Marvel characters through miniature, minimalist comics.

Without using any words, they’ve managed to illustrate Bucky Barnes's plane explosion and subsequent transformation into the Winter Soldier, Jessica Jones’s car crash, the death of the Punisher’s family, and other classic stories from the major Marvel canon while paying tribute to the comic book form.

Explore the poster below, and see a zoomable version on Pop Chart Lab’s website.

A poster featuring 36 minimalist illustrations of superhero origin stories.
Pop Chart Lab

Keep your eyes open for future Marvel-Pop Chart crossovers. The Marvel Origins: A Sequential Compendium poster is “the first release of what we hope to be a marvelous partnership,” as Pop Chart Lab’s Galvin Chow puts it. Prints are available for pre-order starting at $37 and are scheduled to start shipping on March 8.

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