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Blink the Series Review

on Mon, 05/27/2013 - 00:00

In the NBC television drama Heroes, ordinary people suddenly discover that they have extraordinary abilities. The transformation is part of mankind’s ongoing evolution, and the newly formed powers include the capacity to fly, turn invisible, read minds and alter time. Eventually these modern-day “heroes” are drawn together to defeat another of their kind—the villainous Sylar—while saving the world in the process. The web series Blink, meanwhile, contains a similar narrative when its own main protagonist suddenly discovers that he has the ability to “transport” himself through space.

While Heroes contained numerous characters spread out around the globe, the focus of Blink is squarely on Jon (Jon Amar)—the “hero” of the tale—and the city of Berlin. The Canadian native and his America-born girlfriend Kat (Christine Utterberg) moved to Germany to live a more old-school lifestyle while pursuing their individual artistic careers. It is against this backdrop that Jon wakes up one morning in nothing more than his self-created superhero underwear in a nearby park instead of his own bedroom. Later he experiences similar occurrences when he magically moves around his apartment from when spot to another, all in the blink of an eye, then disappears altogether while on the sidewalk outside.

Originally convinced he has suffered a stroke or, worse, gone insane, Jon soon realizes that his abilities are indeed real and immediately struggles with the implications. Why me? What does it mean? Being a fan of superhero comic books, meanwhile, only adds a new set of worries to the ones already growing inside him. “Government experiments,” Jon says to Kat. “Just think how valuable an army of teleporting soldiers would be.” Kat, however, is more pragmatic. “That’s a bit extreme, no?” she answers, to which Jon replies, “More extreme than teleporting?”

Jon needn’t worry so much about the government, however, as he should in regards to new acquaintance Annie (Vanessa Locke), the girl who found him almost naked in the park after his first “incident.” She is the only one within Blink the Series who does not seem concerned or even unnerved by Jon’s recently found supernatural abilities. The reason revolves around the fact that she is not such a “new acquaintance” after all, nor is Jon the only one with superhero capabilities. Although Annie may not be the equivalent of the sinister Sylar from Heroes, she is just as dangerous and far from innocent. Then there’s the mysterious “Crow” (David Masterson), an apparent homeless man living on the streets of Berlin who collects the artwork created by Annie instead of cash or coins. His role in the proceedings and true identity are left unanswered within Blink but he appears to be more protector than antagonist.

In the book Marvel Comics: The Untold Story, comic book writer Gerry Conway reflects on the rationale for killing Gwen Stacy, the girlfriend of Peter Parker, within the pages of The Amazing Spider-Man. “She brought nothing to the mix,” he explains. “It made no sense to me that Peter Parker would end up with a babe like that who had no problems. Only a damaged person would end up with a damaged guy like Peter Parker. And Gwen Stacy was perfect!” The same can be said of Jon and his own girlfriend Kat. Although initially frustrated when Jon keeps “disappearing” while she prepares for a gallery opening of her photography, Kat later becomes supportive and understanding when faced with the reality of Jon’s abilities—hardly the kind of attributes present in most superheroes’ lives.

Blink is a relatively short web series, containing only eight episodes that last a little over two minutes each. In this sense, Blink is not so much a full-fledged comic book but a shortened version similar to the issues created by all the major publishers for “Free Comic Book Day” in the United States. Blink the Series likewise ends on a cliffhanger, but an effective one nonetheless. Every superhero, after all, has an “origin story” that details their transformation as well as the requisite “tragic event” that completes their metamorphosis. Although short in length, Blink is still able to tell that tale, develop characters that viewers will identify with and care about, and create a world that feels both natural and real.

Heroes was able to do the same thing over a longer period of time and may have contained more characters and a multi-layered narrative, but Blink still serves as a nice alternative companion piece to the NBC drama and is just as compelling—albeit in its own smaller way—as well.

Anthony Letizia (May 27, 2013)

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