The ever-growing glut of great new TV, movies, books, music, comics, and podcasts can be a lot to keep up with. So we here at Vox Culture — where our current obsessions include the return of a classic Marvel comic, the second season of Top of the Lake, and the Jennifer Lawrence–starring Mother! — have a few suggestions for how to make the best use of your pop culture–consuming time.
Here are seven items you should really consider adding to your pop culture queue.
Read: Marvel’s Runaways returns in style
Marvel’s Runaways is one of those comics that inspires fierce devotion, especially among those who first encountered it during its stellar initial 2003 run by writer-creator Brian K. Vaughn. After the title was canceled in 2007 following a decline in quality and readership after Vaughn’s departure, the Runaways themselves — a group of Los Angeles teens who run away from home after discovering their parents are secretly supervillains, and go on to develop their own special abilities — lingered at the edges of Marvel’s stable of characters, popping up individually here and there as a part of other storylines.
But now, 10 years after Runways ended, its core group has been reassembled in a new run written by novelist and YA superstar Rainbow Rowell. The new Runaways debuted this week, and it confirms the suspicion that Rowell and fashion-focused artist Kris Anka are the perfect team to revive this beloved group of stylish misfits; Runaways No. 1 is bright, bold, and immediately engaging, picking back up with the characters in their current Marvel chronology. That means it’s not the most new-reader-friendly title — all the more reason to read the original Runaways if you haven’t — but Rowell does a good job catching up newcomers as she sets the stage for a new storyline that reassembles this beloved team. —Genevieve Koski
Watch: Top of the Lake is back with a solid second season you can binge right now
The first season of Top of the Lake was one of the best surprises of 2013, a terrific mystery miniseries emerging from a great auteur director (New Zealand’s Jane Campion), one of today’s best actors (Elisabeth Moss), and a TV network that largely hadn’t been on people’s radar (Sundance).
The eagerly anticipated second installment, subtitled China Girl — six parts, all on Hulu right now — doesn’t quite match up to those first seven episodes, but it boasts Nicole Kidman and Gwendoline Christie in supporting roles and a twisty plot about a body that washes up on Australia’s Bondi Beach, prompting Moss’s detective Robin Griffin to dig into the case. As with season one, Campion’s true target is the all-pervading patriarchy, and once she sinks her teeth in, she doesn’t let go. —Todd VanDerWerff
Watch: Darren Aronofsky’s wild, wonderful new horror film Mother!
Mother! was one of the most talked-about movies at the Toronto International Film Festival this past week and is already opening in theaters. Jennifer Lawrence and Javier Bardem star in a whirling dervish of a movie that’s partly about being an artist and partly a grand mythological reimagining of the creation of the world. Critics seem to agree that it’s a highly metaphorical film, but in a surprising twist, none of us have been able to settle on what the central metaphor is. (Here’s my review.) —Alissa Wilkinson
Listen: Zola Jesus’s wild, witchy Okovi serves as fall’s dramatic entrance music
There’s something about Zola Jesus’s operatic strain of goth pop that lends itself especially well to the encroaching autumn and winter. The excellent new Okovi, her fifth studio release, is packed with dark, dramatic, death-fixated tunes that seem to beckon seductively to the darkening days and lengthening nights. Mortality and death are Okovi’s driving themes, but the album finds musical catharsis in its doom-centric outlook through its industrial synths, aggressively wailing strings, and Jesus’s powerfully mournful voice. Put on some black eyeliner, turn up “Exhumed,” and say goodbye to summer. —GK
Read/explore: the Lost Media Wiki offers a dive into a pop culture abyss
Whether you love film or TV, music or video games, there are some tantalizing projects within all those realms that never came together, some lost objects you’d love to find. (Me? I hold out hope — mostly pointlessly — that the original director’s cut of Orson Welles’s second film, The Magnificent Ambersons, will show up in some warehouse someday.)
The Lost Media Wiki is the place to indulge that interest. It’s full of great stories about lost art, with tales of works both major (like the original eight-hour cut of the silent film Greed that is now presumed lost forever) and decidedly minor (like the title cards from the “US Acres” segments of the old cartoon Garfield & Friends). It even has stuff you’ve maybe never heard of (like the above hamster-themed anime). The whole thing might leave you wanting to embark on a treasure hunt through Hollywood archives. —TV
Read: In Landscape With Invisible Hand, National Book Award winner M.T. Anderson gets dark and funny
YA author M.T. Anderson won the National Book Award in 2006 for The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing, Traitor to the Nation, a harrowing account of the life of a young boy living in slavery. His latest book, Landscape With Invisible Hand, is a lot sillier in premise and tone, but that doesn’t mean it’s not just as thoughtful.
It’s a slim little satire concerning a teenage boy named Adam in a world that has made contact with intelligent aliens. Despite the aliens’ apparent benevolence and well-meaning, their advanced technology rapidly destroys Earth’s economy. And while they claim to deeply appreciate traditional Earth arts and culture, the aliens are convinced that only the art and pop culture of the 1950s is truly authentic.
In a frantic attempt to earn enough money to keep his family afloat, Adam tries his hand at making art that will appeal to alien ideas about what authentic Earth art should look like. A web series about dating, 1950s sock-hop style! A still life of a bowl of pears! Buddha on the cross, in a representation of Earth’s god! Anderson’s distinctive sense of humor and rapid pacing keeps the whole thing zingy and fun, but at its core, the book is a dark satire of American imperialism across the world. —Constance Grady
Listen: Fave This gives podcast fans a peek into video game fandom — and online fandom more generally
If you, like me, find the world of online fandom fascinating but largely incomprehensible, the first thing to do is consult Vox’s many articles on the topic. But after you’ve done that, your next stop should be Kotaku’s Fave This, a new podcast (fewer than 10 episodes right now!) that begins in the world of video game fandom and then takes a more expansive view of fandom as a whole.
The podcast digs into the tricky problems of how to keep a fandom from becoming toxic, while still celebrating what makes large groups of people coming together to enjoy something they love so compelling. Hosts Patricia Hernandez and Gita Jackson know their stuff, and they have an easy banter that will guide you through even the topics you know nothing about. Their episode about finding ways to let kids explore online gaming spaces while maintaining those kids’ innocence (embedded above) is a must. —TV