And you may find yourself living in a shotgun shack. And you may find yourself in another part of the world. And you may find yourself behind the wheel of a large automobile. And you may find yourself in a beautiful house, with a beautiful wife.

Or, you may find yourself browsing through the recent horror offerings on Amazon Prime and giving Texas-based writer/director Joseph Mazzaferro’s Dybbuk Box : True Story Of Chris Chambers a go simply because any movie that’s so sloppy as to omit an obvious “The” from its title is bound to at least be an interesting mess — and then, and only then, will you ask yourself “Well — how did I get here”?

That’s because this movie, in truth, isn’t interesting, occasional fuck-ups aside, such as our protagonist, Chris Chambers (played by — shit, you already know. The film’s only other “character,” Sarah Bently, “stars” as herself, as well) bitching about how no one on the “dark web,” where he purchases the purportedly “cursed” box in question, takes anything other than BitCoin before scoring it for $12,000 in cash. Those kind of brain farts are few and far between, though, and not enough to keep your attention between the lame dialogue, risible acting, shoestring production values (usually not something with criticize a film for around these parts), dull-as-dry-toast setting (get used to Chris’ apartment — it’s all you see), and stupid story.

Speaking of which — dude doesn’t believe the stuff he’s heard and read about Dybbuk boxes, buys one, records everything that happens after he gets it (and plenty before), his life goes right to hell, there’s your plot.

Could I say more? Sure. Do you need to know any more, though? Beyond “avoid this at all costs,” absolutely not.

I take no pleasure in slagging home-made efforts like this, but come on — if you’re gonna whip up a “mockumentary” that purports to show a true story — sorry that should just be “true story” — put forth at least a little bit of effort in making the illusion convincing. It needn’t be much — we all know the drill. But play along. Humor us. Show that you give even half a flying fuck about meeting the non-existent expectations of your living-room-sized audience. Otherwise don’t bother. Mow the lawn. Wash the dishes. Spend some time with the wife, the kids, your friends, anybody. Hell, do anything other than make a movie. Watch the flagpole rust. Time how long it takes your toenails to grow. It doesn’t matter.

And neither does this movie. It wouldn’t know how to if it tried. Which is really the crux of the problem here.

It doesn’t try. At all. No one involved with it does. And, as a result, you shouldn’t try to watch it. I mean, that’s only fair, right? Speaking of watching the flagpole rust or timing how long it takes your toenails to grow — you’d be far better served, and more entertained, engaging in either of those “activities” than you will be by Dybbuk Box : True Story Of Chris Chambers. If a worse film is made in 2019, then it’ll have proven to be one lousy year indeed.

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This review, and all others around these parts, is “brought to you” by my Patreon site, where I serve up exclusive thrice-weekly rants and ramblings on the worlds of movies, comics, television, literature, and politics. What I lack in knowledge, I make up for in attitude, and joining only costs a buck a month, so seriously — you’ve got nothing to lose. The beatings will continue until you sign up.

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Okay, so in truth I wasn’t aware that Nigel Bach had cranked out a sixth film in this, the most unlikely “franchise” series in cinematic history, and I usually pride myself on being on top of these sorts of things, but hey — when I learned that Bad Ben : The Way In had shambled its way from Egg Harbor Township, New Jersey all the way to Amazon Prime back on May 1st, I can’t honestly say that I was surprised or anything.

And, really, why should Bach stop? When he sub-titled one of his films “The Final Chapter,” it looked like maybe he was going to retire this admittedly played-out concept, but let’s be honest : these things cost no money to produce, he doesn’t necessarily “need” anything other than his iPhone to make them (although he’s expanded the cast a couple of time in the past, it’s not like anyone actually expects him to hire actors on even a semi-regular basis), and a new “production” can probably be completed in, like, and afternoon. Or an evening.

I’m not sure how much cash they make, but seriously — even if it’s only a few thousand bucks (not an unreasonable assumption), that still represents a very nice return on investment when that “investment” amounts to nothing but time. And not even much of that.

All of which is to say, yeah, these are pretty lousy movies, but if you came up with this idea, and it paid off even modestly, then you’d keep coming back to the well, too, even if only for beer money.

But dammit, just because Bach can (and likely will) keep this up until the end of time, that doesn’t mean I have to like his flicks. I’ve been marginally impressed, all things considered, with a couple of them in the past — check back through my old reviews if you don’t believe me — but this latest one represents the possible nadir of the franchise, a dull and un-inspired “found footage” romp that sees Bach’s Tom Riley character returning to the house he supposedly “left” (that being his own “real-life” residence) in order to rid it of its evil spirits (say it with me) “once and for all” before new owners take possession of the place. Things “don’t go as expected” — which is to say that they go precisely as expected — and Tom ends up in a battle for his very soul against nine separate demons that are all, ya know, him. Hey, look — it is what it is.

And you and I both know what that is, and yet here I am, once again, not only having watched the film, but having taken the time to review it. So I can piss and moan all I want, but who do I think I’m fooling? Bach has me beat. He’ll make another of these — and another — and probably another after that — and I’ll be back. I’ll moan and groan, sure, but does it even matter? He wins by getting me to press “play” on my screen. That’s literally all it takes. Bach may be the biggest grifter in horror, but there are plenty of willing “marks” just like me, and he damn well knows it. Who says you have to be a talented filmmaker to be a cinematic genius?

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This review, and all others around these parts, is “brought to you” by my Patreon site, where I serve up exclusive thrice-weekly rants and ramblings on the worlds of movies, comics, television, literature, and politics. My small-but-loyal legion over there seems to like the stuff I’m coming up with, and since I recently lowered the minimum tier price to a dollar a month, come on — what have you got to lose? Join up and help out yet out one more grovelling critic, will ya?

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Okay, so if you said you just knew the first season of the DC Universe original streaming series Doom Patrol was going to come down to a battle royale between giant mutated versions of the Curtis Armstrong-voiced Ezekiel the cockroach and Robotman’s rat nemesis Admiral Whiskers, you’d be lying — and yet here it is, the fifteenth and final episode of the first season, titled “Ezekiel Patrol,” delivers an ending no one could have predicted after an entire run of episodes loaded with “no one could have predicted.”

There’s more to it, of course : there’s the missing backstory that fleshes out the massive, and ugly, revelation laid on the team at the close of last week by Timothy Dalton’s “Chief” Niles Caulder; the uneasy detente achieved between Joivan Wade’s Vic Stone and his father, Silas (portrayed as ever by veteran hand Phil Morris); the failed attempt at a “normal” life undertaken — and subsequently given up on — by April Bowlby’s Rita Farr and Matt Bomer/Matthew Zuk’s Larry Trainor; the descent into addiction and self-negation (or should that be selves-negation?) by Diane Guerrero’s “Crazy” Jane while Brendan Fraser/Riley Shanahan’s Cliff Steele stands watch as her ultimately powerless protector; the possible end of the road for Tommy Snider’s Beard Hunter on Danny the Street; the emptiness of the hollow “victory” achieved by Alan Tudyk’s Mr. Nobody and his subsequent attempt to get the “one-up” on his mortal foe yet again; the return of Alimi Ballard’s Joshua Clay in a new context; the return of Jane “alters” Hammerhead and Penny Farthing in the same context — goddamn, but there’s a lot to unpack in this “committee-written” script by Tamara Becher-Wilkinson, Shoshona Sachi, and “showrunner” Jeremy Carver, is there not?

Mostly, though, it’s all about answering the question of how and even if the team moves forward now that they know they’ve all been betrayed by the man they trusted more than anyone. The man who brings them all back together for one final mission that involves a last-second nod to Grant Morrison and Richard Case’s “The Painting That Ate Paris” storyline — minus anything to do with Paris. Director Dermott Downs makes it all work, somehow, and even if the “method” of entering the painting is less than satisfying, everything else — including the method of getting back out — surely is.

But, really, who can ignore the low-rent Kaiju fireworks? I know I couldn’t, and roach vs. rodent was an absolute blast.

We’re all set up for season two, if DC wants to do it : a familiar name to readers of the comic, presented within the framework of an astonishingly different “secret origin,” is certainly a tantalizing note to close things on, and we still haven’t gotten to the bottom of Jane’s “Psycho Cyborg” painted premonition, nor witnessed the hopefully-inevitable tussle with the Animal-Vegetable-Mineral Man, nor seen the title of “General” placed in front of the word “Immortus” yet. I get the feeling there’s plenty to come — we’re all just waiting on word of an official renewal.

But hey, you know what? Enough with the speculation. What we know we got was the best season of super-hero television ever made — hell, arguably one of the best seasons of any kind of television, period. There’s no shame in wanting more — the ecstatic critical and fan reception to this first run practically guarantees it, anyway — but until that happy day arrives, I think a “binge” of season one would be a welcome way to eat up just about any weekend. Carver and his cohorts are free to take a bow anytime they wish; they’ve certainly earned it.

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This review, and all others around these parts, is “brought to you” by my Patreon page, where I serve up exclusive thrice-weekly rants and ramblings on the worlds of comics, films, television, literature, and politics. Lately, in fact, it’s been a lot of politics. Your patronage there not only keeps things going, it also ensures a steady supply of free content both here and at my fourcolorapocalypse comics site. I recently lowered the minimum-tier pricing to a dollar a month, so come on — what have you got to lose? There’s a ton of stuff up on there already, and needless to say, I’d be very gratified to have your support,

Oh, and I suppose a link would come in handy. Here you go :https://www.patreon.com/fourcolorapocalypse

 

 

The end, as they say, is nigh.

It’s been quite the first season for the DC Universe original streaming series Doom Patrol, has it not? And in the next-to-last (and fourteenth) episode, appropriately titled “Penultimate Patrol,” we’re treated to the return of old friends (Danny The Street) and old foes (Tommy Snider’s cringe-worthy, and now apparently reformed, Beard Hunter), but by and large the focus here is on the team — and, yes, now it really is a team — and the culmination of their own personal journeys, quite literally.

Yes indeed, everything “showrunner” Jeremy Carver has been building toward reaches a customarily-bizarre crescendo here, with Alan Tudyk’s Mr. Nobody being treated/subject to some revelatory period-piece “backstory” of his own here (superbly realized by director Rebecca Rodriguez) before placing each of our “Doom Patrolers” at the precise moment before the accidents/incidents that changed their lives and offering them, in a very real sense, a “do-over.” In other words, that newly-realized sense of resolve they’ve all got? It’s sorely put to the test here.

Notably absent from the inter-dimensional brouhaha (arrived at by — uhhmmm — unique means courtesy of Devan Chandler Long’s Flex Mentallo, who accidentally gives our heroes, and everyone else “on” Danny, an orgasm first) is Joivan Wade’s Vic Stone, who’s in for a historical re-write himself, courtesy of his barely-conscious father, Silas (played, as ever, by consummate pro Phil Morris), who reveals that the memories swirling in his son’s mind aren’t necessarily what really happened.

Which, as things turn out, ends up being something of a running theme here, but to say any more about that would probably be to say too much. What I can safely reveal is that if you think Mr. Nobody is dispatched too easily when the time comes, you’re absolutely right, and the “happy return” of Timothy Dalton’s “Chief” Niles Caulder comes with quite a price, as he’s forced to re-live a tragedy of his own — and, frankly, everyone else’s — again and again.

And again.

And again.

Until —

Yeah, the ending. That ending. The one I said I’d keep mum on, and shall. The one that ties into the episode’s over-arching theme of memory — or at least perceived memory — not being what it’s cracked up to be. But “cracking” may be precisely what’s in store for April Bowlby’s Rita Farr, Diane Guerrero’s “Crazy” Jane, Brendan Fraser/Riley Shanahan’s Cliff Steele, and Matt Bomer/Matthew Zuk’s Larry Trainor. We shall see.

Granted, those familiar with the Grant Morrison/Richard Case run on the comic will be far less shocked by the revelation/twist in question than those coming in to the series “cold,” but my money is on you grizzled vets still being surprised by the tonal difference that comes part and parcel with its, for lack of a better term, “TV version,” and will be equally confounded/intrigued by the possibilities it presents for next week’s big finale.

And, yeah, it’s definitely going to be big. I don’t do the whole “breathless with suspense” thing too often when it comes to television, but the next seven days can hurry up and fly right by as far as I’m concerned.  This has been a heck of a ride, and it’s all set up for a heck of a finish.

The end may indeed be nigh — but all indications are that Carver and company are determined to go out with a very loud bang.

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This review, and all others around these parts, is “brought to you” by my Patreon page, where I serve up exclusive thrice-weekly rants and ramblings on the worlds of comics, films, television, literature, and politics. Lately, in fact, it’s been a lot of politics. Your patronage there not only keeps things going, it also ensures a steady supply of free content both here and at my fourcolorapocalypse comics site. I recently lowered the minimum-tier pricing to a dollar a month, and given that there’s a lot of stuff up on there already, you’re sure to get excellent value for your money. Needless to say — but I’ll say it anyway — I’d be very gratified to have your support.

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And so the moment has come : the thirteenth episode of the DC Universe streaming series Doom Patrol, appropriately titled “Flex Patrol,” finally introduces us, in proper fashion, to Grant Morrison and Richard Case’s (and, some would argue, Frank Quitely’s) so-called “Man Of Muscle Mystery,” Flex Mentallo, after several hints, and an amnesia-riddled debut last week. Was the moment worth waiting for?

The quick answer to that is “yes,” not least because Devan Chandler Long really sinks his teeth into the role of the meta-human molded after Charles Atlas’ “Hero Of The Beach,” but also because script-writers Tom Farrell and Tamara Becher-Wilkinson imbue his backstory with a generous helping of legit pathos that sees him go from “Ant Farm” refugee to ebullient returned champion to unhinged vehicle of pure rage (and not without good reason) by the time all is said and done.

Except, ya know, nothing is said and done quite yet, with two episodes still remaining, and so “setting up for the big finale” is also the order of the day here.

On that score, results are a bit more mixed — we learn a little too quickly and too conveniently that Phil Morris’ Silas Stone is still alive, and while his hospital stay allows for some nice character development for his “on-screen son,” Joivan Wade’s Vic Stone, and Vic’s frequent de facto surrogate mother, April Bowlby’s Rita Farr (who’s probably undergone the most thorough-going transformation of anyone of anyone on the show — and no, I don’t mean that in the strictly physical sense, although the pun is there if you want it), the end result of it all, namely Vic re-synching with his “GRID” operating system, is basically a foregone conclusion.

Whoops, sorry, guess that counts as a bit of a “spoiler” — but, really, it shouldn’t.

Matt Bomer/Matthew Zuk’s Larry Trainor, Brendan Fraser/Riley Shanahan’s Cliff Steele, and Diane Guerrero’s “Crazy” Jane all get some minimal “arc” progression of their own as they play baby-sitter to Flex, but really, who are we fooling? This is is his story all the way, and it’s in the “period-piece” flashback sequences that director T.J. Scott’s precise attention to detail really shines. Some may argue that this episode is directed to within a an inch of its life, but “show-runner” Jeremy Carver has actually allowed his directors more leeway than one would expect, while still achieving a pretty uniform look and feel for the series as a whole. This episode continues that welcome tradition — even if there really is nothing terribly “traditional” about the show on the whole.

Perhaps the biggest surprise to be had here is in a bit of “stunt” casting, though, as Rita strikes up a friendly rapport with an elderly man at the hospital, who — hey, holy shit, that’s Ed Asner!

Except — and here we go with the “spoilers” again — it’s not, and the “cliffhanger” here features Alan Tudyk’s Mr. Nobody at his most “meta” yet, complete with plenty of DC product placement. No sign of Timothy Dalton’s “Chief” Niles Caulder, but one gets the sense he’ll be along again shortly, especially since the next episode carries the title “Penultimate Patrol.” This installment provided a nice lead-in for that, and given that was its primary function, Carver and co. can notch another creative “victory” in their collective belt.

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This review, and all others around these parts, is “brought to you” by my Patreon page, where I serve up exclusive thrice-weekly rants and ramblings on the worlds of comics, films, television, literature, and politics. Your patronage there not only keeps things going, it also ensures a steady supply of free content both here and at my fourcolorapocalypse comics blog. I recently lowered the minimum “subscription” price to a dollar, and given that there’s a whole bunch of stuff up on there already, I dare say you’re going to get about the best value for money any creator offers on that site from yours truly. I’d be very gratified indeed to have your support.

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When last we saw him at the end of episode eleven of DC Universe’s original streaming series Doom Patrol, Joivan Wade’s Vic Stone was in a bad place — metaphorically and literally. His increasingly-mechanized body and mind betraying him, he made the drastic decision to part company with his operating system, known as GRID, but any monetary respite he hoped to gain from such an action was quickly dashed when he found himself captured by The Bureau of Normalcy and imprisoned at their top-secret research/torture facility nicknamed The Ant Farm.

Not that this latest installment, entitled (appropriately enough) “Cyborg Patrol,”gives any concrete reason as to how and why the place found itself saddled with such a moniker, unlike the Grant Morrison/Steve Yeowell comic the idea was lifted from, but the principle nature of the operation remains true to its printed-page antecedent — even if it’s located nowhere near the Pentagon, much less under it as it was the original story. Honestly, though, the name of the place is about all the television story borrows from the earlier newsprint one.

That’s because, as any veteran reader can tell you, the character of Cyborg was never actually in the Doom Patrol in the comics, and so there was never any call for the rest of the team to do what they do here, namely pull of a super-powered jailbreak. They all have a part to play in the plan hatched by Vic’s father, Silas (played, as ever, by the great Phil Morris) to spring his progeny, but that plan is complicated when the elder Stone turns traitor and hands the team over to agent Darren Jones (Jon Briddell) — or does he? Silas’ lack of loyalty, and the consequently shifting nature of his transactional allegiances, plays a major role in Robert Berens and Shoshana Sachi’s script for this episode, and the fundamental and well-earned lack of trust between Stones elder and younger proves to be fertile ground for psychological exploitation by Alan Tudyk’s Mr. Nobody, who makes a brief-but-devastating appearance (hey, he can’t spend all his time tormenting Timothy Dalton’s “Chief Niles Caulder, can he?) in the final few minutes here after Cyborg has fallen for a sick ruse that ends up having both drastic and unforgettable consequences.

Seriously, friends, the ending this week — it’s positively devastating.

Before that, though, we’ve got April Bowlby being smuggled into the facility in the weirdest manner possible by Brendan Fraser/ Riley Shanahan’s Cliff Steele, Diane Guerrero’s “Crazy” Jane going from taunting her psychotic captor, Agent Dirk Ellis (Mac Wells), before going all Karen on his ass and making him fall in love with her, Matt Bomer/Matthew Zuk’s Larry Trainor being separated from the “Negative Spirit” energy being that’s made itself at home in his body for the past few decades, and an army of sentient, hungry, toothy backsides running wild in The Bureau’s very own — and in many respects very peronal — house of horrors. It’s to director Carol Banker’s immense credit that she can have people running down the hallways screaming “the butts are loose!”one moment, and Vic’s horrifying realization that he’s done something he probably can’t undo less than ten minutes later, and compel viewers to fully invest in both. “Showrunner” Jeremy Carver certainly knows how to pick his directors, doesn’t he though?

And yeah — after a brief little blip on the radar screen, we’re back in “best episode to date” territory, which I predicted last time out would likely be the case — not to toot my horn too much. After all, it’s Carver, his cast, his writers , and his just-mentioned directorial hires that are doing all the real work here — fortunately for those of us in the audience, I hasten to add, as it’s all been uniformly pitch-perfect. Friends who may be turncoats who may be friends again after all, a young half-robotic man’s internal demons, a heaping dose of “high weirdness” for its own sake — really, how much more can you expect from television superhero yarn? Oh, and that guy in the cell next to Vic;, the one who’s portrayed by Devan Chandler Long? Something tells me he’s going to play a big part in events going forward — but for now I’m just content to give this episode a richly-deserved second viewing.

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This review, and all others around these parts, is “brought to you” by my Patreon page, where I serve up exclusive thrice-weekly rants and ramblings on the worlds of comics, films, television, literature, and politics. Lately, in fact, it’s been a lot of politics. Your patronage there not only enables me to keep things going, it also ensures a steady supply of free content both here and at my fourcolorapocalypse comics site. You can join up for as little as a dollar per month, there’s tons of content posted on there already, and needless to say, I’d be very gratified to have your support.

Oh, and I suppose a link would come in handy. Here you go :https://www.patreon.com/fourcolorapocalypse

 

Say one thing for the DC Universe original streaming series Doom Patrol : its own internal tug-of-war, no doubt the design of “showrunner” Jeremy Carver, is working. Last week, we were pulled back into the ongoing psychodrama between Timothy Dalton’s “Chief” Niles Caulder and Alan Tudyk’s wonderfully depraved Mr. Nobody, and in the newest episode, “Frances Patrol,” we’re drawn back out in a major way, our focus shifted squarely back onto the makeshift “team” of super-misfits, who find themselves either “flying solo” or in hitherto-unseen pairings.

On the going it alone front, Matt Bomer/Matthew Zuk’s Larry Trainor (is he ever really “alone,” though, given the “Negative Spirit” he shares a body with?) has made the gutsy decision to meet, like it or not, with former flame John Bowers (played in the present day by Tom Fitzpatrick, in flashback by, as always, Kyle Clements), while the makeshift duos in April Fitzimmons’ script (the third to date not directly based on a comic from the Grant Morrison/Richard Case era) consist of Brendan Fraser/Riley Shanahan’s Cliff Steele searching for his estranged daughter, Clara (Bethany Anne Lind) alongside April Bowlby’s Rita Farr, and Joivan Wade’s Vic Stone trying to get a handle on the irregularities of his cybernetic body with the nominal “assistance” of Diane Guerrero’s “Crazy” Jane. Re-connection, then, is the theme tying all these disparate plotlines together — in Cliff’s case with his offspring, in Larry’s with the love of his life, in Vic’s with himself.

These are handled with varying degrees of success by the episode’s creative brain trust — both Cliff and, especially, Larry’s stories are imbued with genuine pathos, while Vic’s struggles seem almost an afterthought until the very end, when they make up for lost time in a hurry and put him in a situation even more precarious than the one he already found himself in. The next steps in his journey, combined with a few more tantalizing hints about the inevitable arrival of a certain Man of Muscle Mystery, ensure that the remaining installments in this debut season of the show look bright, but in fairness this one proved to be something of a mixed bag. It was great for human — check that, superhuman — drama, but pretty light on genuine dramatic tension.

Which doesn’t mean it was a waste of time by any stretch of the imagination, or even a lost opportunity — within the larger framework of the series its placement makes perfect sense, as do its narrative aims. It just doesn’t necessarily succeed in everything it sets out to do, though most certainly not for lack of trying. Performances are as solid as we’ve come to expect, and the direction, production values, and camera work are suitably cinematic in scope and feel. It’s really only the story itself that’s something of a hit-and-miss affair.

Fortunately, it offers more of the former than the latter, so don’t even necessarily expect to find yourself disappointed here — just less thoroughly impressed than you’ve been with parts one through ten. Is that fair?

Yeah, I think so. It almost runs counter to my nature to give to offer up a middling review of a Doom Patrol episode at this point, so impressive have all the others been, but judged purely on its own terms, that’s what this one has earned. I remain entirely confident that things will “bounce back” in seven days’ time — it’s not like it needs to leap back to form, just to make a few baby steps — so do join me here then, when we’ll see how right, or wrong, this assumption proves to be.

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This review, and all others around these parts, is “brought to you” by my Patreon site, where I serve up exclusive thrice-weekly rants and ramblings on the worlds of comics, films, television, literature, and politics. Lately, in fact, it’s been a lot of politics. Your patronage there not only enables me to keep things going, it also ensures a steady supply of free content both here and at my fourcolorapocalypse comics site. There’s a lot of stuff up on there already, so you’re sure to get good value for your money, and needless to say, I’d be very grateful indeed to have your support.

Oh, and I suppose a link would come in handy. Here you go :https://www.patreon.com/fourcolorapocalypse