Review: The Unsleeping City: Chapter II

For a multitude of reasons, I have been returning to previously viewed and still beloved media recently. Along with new works, past favorite books, music, films, television shows, and actual plays have been on my watch list, and Dimension 20’s offerings have been high on that list. I do not think there has been a single AP from that team that I have not thoroughly enjoyed. So, it is unsurprising that I went through The Unsleeping City Chapter II in a few days. Nor is it shocking that I found more jokes, quips, and moments that I ended up loving.

The second season continues the adventures of the Champions of New York minus Kugrash (as he ate the Everything Bagel and became one with the universe) and Rowan/Misty (as she is busy managing the new Fairy Court/Democracy she founded). However, the remaining party members are living their lives and dealing with the fallout of their defeat of the American Dream from the previous season. Kingston is still the Vox Populi and helping the many people of New York City while now making time for himself and his life with Liz. Pete is also still the Vox Phantasma but is now living a clean, legal life working at a bookstore instead of being the number one Plug of the city and dealing with being sober and having a much decreased income from his drug dealer days. Sofia is still on Staten Island and doing her best being the Chosen One of the Concrete Fist/First Fist of the Monastery of the Midnight Sun; as well as dealing with trauma of losing her husband, Dale Lee. Ricky is no longer a firefighter but has instead chosen to honor Kugrash by turning to helping the homeless and downtrodden of New York City as a Champion of the Hall of Heroes and living his best life with Esther Sinclair. Joining the past heroes are Cody “Night Angel” Walsh, a former mall goth/future Champion of Hell, and Iga “Anastasia” Lisowski, a 40 year old Polish immigrant who seems to have a deep connection to the power of story and potentially the deceased Dragon of Bleecker Street.

The Former and Current Champions of New York.

This new collection of heroes are met with a new threat to New York City on multiple fronts. In the waking world, Gladiator, an immense conglomerate that has connections in every imaginable industry from real estate to energy supplements to online commerce, is taking over various aspects and areas of the city pushing out beloved businesses (like Cody’s mall), landmarks (like somehow buying Ellis Island), and people. This intrusion is actively harming the city and its inhabitants drawing the attention and ire of Kingston Brown. In the Dreaming, an immense, ancient, powerful entity known as Null, an older sibling of Nod, is encroaching on the Sixth Borough destroying dreams, sleep, Nod, and attempting to consume the entirety of the Dream world. These simultaneous incursions are further complicated and exemplified by the impact they are having on the non Vox Champions.

An old monk of the Monastery of the Midnight Sun has returned to Staten Island with specific plans and goals that are at odds with Sofia’s philosophy and how she has run and altered the original mission and makeup of her order. As well, she has not moved on from her deceased husband and is having secret rendezvous with literal angelic Dale leading to further complications in her personal life. Ricky is untethered and unsure of where his life is leading after leaving the firefighter department and giving up the Questing Blade to Dale. He is a bit aimless and uncertain of what his role in NYC truly is. Beyond them, Cody is trying to save his mall and job from being taken over by Gladiator as he sees it as a fully New York institution. Iga is dealing with being an immigrant and raising two born and bred New York children who are not as interested in their family past and culture as she was raised up to be; as well, her literal family legacy (a nearly ancient, magical wooden chest) seems to be changing and altering as though under attack from whatever is affecting New York City. All these various attacks and conflicts are seemingly connected even if the involved parties are not aware of one another leading into a grand conflict for the very soul of the city.

Not even a global pandemic will stop a bunch of nerds from playing.

The real world parallels and allegories are not subtle as Brennan has always made capitalism the central enemy of virtually everyone of his campaigns. Well, that and the Church which is always tied to capitalism in his campaigns, so basically the same thing anyhow. Unsurprisingly, many elements of this season were directly drawn from actual events like Gladiator’s (Amazon, duh) real estate acquisitions, bribes and payoffs, various unethical/illegal business practices, and downright actual crimes. More significantly, the solutions done by the Champions of New York are on several fronts and involve both individual and communal victories that support and reinforce the history and community of New York City. Which is sort of the point and message of the Unsleeping City.

The rich and powerful and vicious will not be taken down by a single, lone wolf hero. There is not one or two or three court cases or convictions that will end their terror. It is only through constant community and care that we will stand a chance against what comes. Because at the end of the day, it was the relationships and good deeds and willingness to get involved that saved the day against Gladiator and Amazon. We have the blueprint; all that there is to do is follow it regardless of how long or hard the path may be. We can win as long as we keep going and not think that the fight is ever truly over. And that every small act is a chip in our favor.

So, highly recommend watching this one. It is among the best campaigns available and that is a high bar to cross.

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