Monday, November 30, 2009

Do Over

Dear Pilgrims,
I accidentally fell through time and have become my younger self's stepfather. I honestly don't remember being such an immature, whiny, irresponsible asshat. Can you help teach the young me how to grow up a little?

First of what might be several posts in reference to Do, a game my friend Daniel is writing

Dear Pilgrims,
Due to some sort of accidental time warp, an older version of myself has become my stepfather. Sadly, I'm kind of an asshat in the future. Can you help?

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Personae Non Grata

See, Josh? I can use Latin too!

Okay, folks, here's the deal. I've got a gaming group that's been going semi-strong for a few years now. Life intervenes, but that happens when you're old. We've been running, jumping, climbing trees and putting on makeup while we're up there for some time now. Problem is, we ran out of makeup. So, we just ran, jumped and climbed more trees. But the luster had gone. We needed more makeup and I was gonna provide it!

So, whilst lamenting with Josh the utter encroachment of hack-and-slash style gaming in my once story-driven group, I happened upon an article by WotC describing the White Lotus Academy. Poof! Instant makeup! Opportunities galore for bigger, better story elements and infinite flexibility!

I ran my idea by Josh. He goobered all over it, stole it from me (as I stole it from WotC) and now here you go. Same premise, different results!

Each of the characters are attending the Academy (yet to be named something cooler than that) for "Master's Level graduate studies". Each has achieved an undergraduate degree in their chosen discipline from their previous educational institutions (ie, Magician Master, Convent, Monastery, etc). Each has been granted admissions to the Academy for different reasons. The Academy has all three levels of degree, Bachelor's, Master's, & PhD.

My company consists of:

One, the Eladrin Wizard (High Elf), is the academic achievement student. He is the proverbial elven mage with nose in the air. Snooty patooty. Book smart, but zero street smarts. Just begging for a beating. Which is funny because he plans on playing a "super mean" practical joke on the "biggest baddest" student there with the intention of demonstrating "his power". I see EPIC FAILURE in his future. But then, I've always been a meany.

Another, the Elf Druid (Wild Elf), is the Legacy student. Her family has attended the Academy for generations back and even donated the Aboretum to the school. She's a bit of an outcast from the family though. She's a bunny rubbing, dolphin kissing, tree hugging elf. All her relatives were arcane caster types and rather disappointed she's so different from everyone before her. Except her great grandmother. The Hierophant Druid. You know? The one that donated the Arboretum? Lots of story to play with here.

Another, the Gnome Sorcerer, is an escaped slave from the Formorians. She's super skittish, jumps at her own shadow, fights back only if cornered in a very bad way. She was accepted to the school for "doing something really cool". She's a bit of a thief and survived after escaping by nicking small loaves of bread, loose apples, etc and was caught, harassed and threatened over and above what was necessary, so she electrified the entire market block in an attempt to escape. It took the combined efforts of every arcane person in the town to remove the lingering shocking spell. One of these was an Academy instructor who persuaded the town not to imprison someone of her capacity, allow her to attend school where she could learn how to control her power and what it meant to be a free individual. I'm waiting for the school bully to do something stupid (not to her) but to someone else that is "weak" and see what she does!

The last, the Deva Invoker, is the scholarship kid. A divine caster from the poorest of poor towns, with the one room church/school/town hall, with great potential was granted a scholarship by the church to attend the Academy. He's the hardest one to judge potential story arcs for. The player typically goes for power characters with attitude (not necessarily arrogant, just powerful) and wants to play this one as a humble servant of the gods. We don't think he can do it, but are encouraging him to stretch outside his comfort zone. Should be interesting to watch. And I can't wait for the bully to start a pissing contest to see if this "humble servant" takes part or turns the other cheek.

The first game session went very well. It was very much an introductory voice over by me, talking about the town nearest to the Academy, having them spend one night there before checking into the school so that they could get a feel for the area. Having them attend the Admissions Day with the other eight new master's students (8 + 4 players = 12 total). Giving them the introductory speech by the Headmaster and ending with them meeting with the Bursar (a devil who is also the Infernal Warlock instructor) for room assignments, fees, banking etc. The highlight of the game came right at the end when the Deva was getting his room assignment.

The conversation started thusly:

Deva: "What kind of demon are you?" (Demon <> Devil; it's like asking an Australian what part of England he's from....really bad idea). It was a complete brainfart and unintentional, but I had the Bursar throw a fit.

Devil Bursar: "Demon?!?! Boy, get the f--- out until you can tell me what I am!"

The Deva decided to apologize rather than leave quietly like a good mook.

Deva: "I am terribly sorry to have offended you, sir. I didn't mean anything by it."

Devil Bursar: "Harrumph"

Deva: "I've never met a demon before, I was just making conversation."

Devil Busar: "OUT! GET THE F--- OUT!!!" Bamf! Small explosions. Sulphur smelling clouds. Mad dancing and jumping about! "OUT!!

Exit Deva like a good little mook.

It was priceless! My only wish was that the Deva was an Infernal Warlock. What a way to meet your major professor!

The next game is this Friday. And the fun continues.....

My cast of characters

Before I get into the actual premise of the game or start scanning in maps I drew freehand on notebook paper (sometimes I think I never stopped being in 8th grade) I'd like to introduce my cast of characters. So in no particular order, I present the miscreants and scofflaws that make up my personae dramatis.

William Donovan - Crown Prince of Avalon, heir to the House of Donovan, Duke of Someplace, Earl of the Other and a bunch of other titles as well. Will is the All Avalonian Boy; handsome, witty, athletic, rich and little embarassed by all the attention he gets. Will has some big shoes to fill at home...and it's honestly starting to make him a little nervous. Grandpa was known as King Donovan the Good by everybody but the nobles who rebelled against him. Dad is known as Donovan the Cadet due to the young age at which he showed spectacular battlefield prowess when he defeated the rebellious nobles that murdered his father. William's barely known as anything but the Crown Prince. He wants to make his father proud, hold up the proud heritage of his family and be as good a king as his father and grandfather. But he also wants to go someplace where he won't be treated like the Crown Prince all the time; someplace where he can get to know some people who'll be Will's friends, not the friends of the Prince. To further both goals he's been sent to the Academy to study in the College of Intrigue. On the inside, Will's a boiling turmoil of self doubt about himself and his abilities. You'd never know it to look at him; a cool and collected 14 year old, his trademark smoked glasses hide more than the glare of the sun.

Bink Q. Nimblefingers - A Halfling knave (do NOT call him a thief) who hails from the most hustling and bustling city his people have to offer, Halflington. Bink is an inveterate gambler, liar and...liberator of other people's stuff. He's lived to the ripe old age of 13 based pretty much on his amazingly affable nature and his ability to befriend nearly anyone even if he was caught with his hand in his pocket. Not much is known about Bink except that he arrived at the Academy with a letter from Dr. Adalricus Eitentho, the Dean of Shadows, and that he would be studying in the College of Shadows. Bink's got some secrets that he's keeping even from his new friends at the Academy, so this is probably all I should say about him right now.

Cronk Crushbone - An Ork (think Pict but with a face like this) Obeah, the youngest of six brothers and something of a disappointment to his family, Cronk was surprised to find he was an honored guest at the Academy. Cronk's dad is the war chieftain of Clan Crushbone which as risen to great prominence amongst the other Ork clans but that isn't why he's so special (after all, four of his brothers beat him to that punch at the Academy). Cronk has been accepted into the Apocalyptic College so that the more traditional wizards can learn about the shamanistic ways the Orks use magic. Cronk is a little put upon at home. His brothers pick on him because he's small and cerebral and will never make a good warrior. Although he wields considerable power as an Obeah, the majority of Obeahs are women and so he has spent more time at the feet of Mothers than he has wrestling and getting into trouble with the other boys. A lot of students at the Academy think Orks are just a step above wild pigs and Cronk is content to hide behind the literal mask that is his badge of office as well as the figurative mask of monosyllabic grunts and wild behavior. He's already been adopted by Bink which means he'll have more friends, and trouble, than he knows what to do with.

Hröthgar sone of Hrödegeir - For Hröthgar you need to picture Conan as a teenager and then try and picture that kid sitting in a classroom. Hröthgar is a true child of the Geats, a group of people who live in the frozen north and make their living as marauders and vikings. Hrödegeir has seen Avalon and Montaigne rise to prominence as true nations and wants that for his people. He's decided that a good first step is taking over some of the wilder country in the eastern reaches of Montaigne and a better second step is an economy fueled by something other than booty. Hrödegeir chose several of the most promising young Geats and sent them to the Academy to study in the Court of Intrigue in hopes that they'd come home and explain to the rest of their people how to be a nation. He also sent Hröthgar but that's mainly in hopes that the boy can learn a type of diplomacy that doesn't involve spitting and a two handed axe. Hrothgar is a mountain of a man and he's barely 13 winters. Lean and lanky, his height has so far outstripped his people's typical brawny physique. While not exactly stupid, Hrothgar is definitely more cunning than intelligent and about as simple as a sack of rocks. Hrothgar is a fish out of water that hasn't stopped flopping around long enough to figure out the environment's changed. For years he's been lauded as the next great chieftain of his people...right up until his dad decided to completely change the rules on him. He hasn't quite figured out what that means for his future, but getting sent to the Court of Intrigue is starting to make it obvious even to him.

Drem Bloodforge - A gifted dwarf and one of many sons born to the head of Clan Bloodforge, Drem hails from the Iron Heel Mountains just north of the Academy. Drem has a gift for engineering although, after blowing off half his face and causing several cave-ins, his father calls it "Gnome Shenanigans." And he only calls it that when he takes a break from swearing at the top of his lungs. On the suggestion of the Nigglewrench Head Mechanic, the leader of the Gnomish family that has been living and working with the Bloodforge for centuries, Drem is being sent to the Academy to hone his skills at forge and anvil. When it comes to his worldview, Drem can be as simple as Hröthgar, but Hröthgar would never figure out how to manufacture Gnomish Boom Powder and then use it to power a tunnel sled. Drem combines the bloody mindedness of every true Dwarf with a Gnome's willingness to strap himself to high powered machinery to stress test it before the ink on the blueprints has even dried.

The Flip Side

So anybody who ever visited this blog might see that we haven't updated in over two years. Speaking for myself that's because a little over two years ago I love 99% of comics and 99% of comics loved me. Flash forward a bit and the blush had definitely come off the rose. The way of the comics world is totally flipped and now the much larger percentage of comics don't love me so I don't love them back.

This isn't necessarily a reflection on their actual quality. That's a subjective standard that I won't even begin to fight about (although I'm always happy to discuss the merits of one or another specific runs, graphic novels or titles). But my perceived quality of the VAST majority of DC and Marvel is that it's all varying levels of crap. And for a variety of reasons, I want superheroes from my comics. There's good stuff out there but I'm taking the lazy infielder's approach to finding it.

In the meantime, I started writing for a roleplaying game publisher, Precis Intermedia the makers of many fine games including Two Fisted Tales. I haven't done much roleplaying in the last few years and some of that void had been filled by World of Warcraft. Well WoW started to feel like a job and the job I had writing for Precis started to feel like a bunch of fun I was making for everybody but me and my closest pals. So I first got in on a game, moved some atrophied muscles, blew the dust off my dice, that kind of thing. Then I offered to give the GM a break so I could run some stuff and it has been an amazing amount of fun.

I was going to run a superheroes game, naturally, but in speaking with my friend Rob he told me about a basic idea for a fantasy game. I vibed on it, we kept chatting and the more I thought about it the more clever it seemed. The group got sold on the idea and for the last few weeks I've been setting the stage for what we jokingly call Adventure Academy. In the meantime, Rob started with his group using the same basic concept but going in a wildly different direction.

I've been meaning to blog about the process a little bit to help flex those unused GM muscles even more and this seemed like a good opportunity to do so. Plus Rob will be joining me so that we can show how the same basic premise can end up in wildly different territory depending on players and GM. We hope you enjoy it!

Thursday, February 22, 2007


...must die for THIS!

If we had a Civil War on Earth-K, at least it wouldn't be this lame.

I think the company-specific proclivities of this site are a little obvious sometimes, but that's why I want to make this clear up front. Civil War, as a whole and issue seven in particular, sucked in a way black holes would envy. This isn't Marvel bashing, its a simple statement of fact. I can believe people enjoyed it up until the end, but now that issue seven is out, anyone who is still claiming they enjoyed it is either one of three things.

1. A Liar. Simple as that.

2. Does not, in fact, actually like comics (you can change comics to super-heroes if you think this is too confrontational).

3. A drooling moron.

You can tell, BTW, that it isn't Marvel bashing because I read SEVERAL Marvel books and so does the Cap'n. In my case, every one of them is a fringe book. She-Hulk is wonderful (although Civil War hasn't helped it), Immortal Iron Fist is the Sensational Comic Book Find of 2007 (I know the first issue came out in '06, but just barely), everyone knows how we feel about Daughters of the Dragon, X-Factor is brilliant, etc. We even still like the Ultimate Universe more often than not (after all, 616 FF has NEVER worked for me, but UFF did even under Ellis' sad handling). Also, while I enjoyed the ride a lot, I will freely tell you that Infinite Crisis doesn't hold together all that well when you're not swept up in the momentum of it. In fact, it really doesn't work at all and is not a fun second read.

All that being said, I don't have the emotional resonance with the MU that I do with the DCU. With that in mind, I can understand and sympathize with the people that were upset about CW (pre issue seven), but I couldn't really get upset with them. I understood the feelings, but objectively, like an anthropologist might understand a tribe's disappointment when their magic rock fails to glow.

Issue 7 changed all that, though. Now I'm upset, not because of the content but because of the total LACK of content. This is what we got excited for? This hollow excuse for a denouement? Again, IC wasn't very good once you got on the back end of it, but at least there really were some status quo changes. Heck, real and true fallout is STILL happening and not just in that boring excuse for a rag called 52. My erudite and good friend Zac says it this way:

Civil War somehow managed to break the fourth wall and show us a world where the government runs superheroes. When the government runs superheroes there will be lots of talking about things and principals, and then some really bland stuff will happen; and nobody will get too worked up or disappointed. Just like every other government program.

I just reread it and it's hard to even form a coherent thought about why I hate this book. It's just so wrong. And I honestly feel that the things that are wrong with this book are in most ways the reasons I don't like Joe Quesada. Lots of wishy-washy flim flammery, empty promises and hollow deliveries of non-ideas, seasoned with the occasional load of crap and unwarranted hype. At this point I would actually like a Clor book.

These are the words of a man betrayed by his love, and her name is the Marvel Universe. That vile temptress.

Here, just for fun, are my honest to goodness, page by page reactions to Civil War #7. The internet could break in thirds.

Page 3. Oh SNAP, Bishop! Take that, 90s!

Page 4. Black Panther = Deus Ex Panther (see: Morrison’s JLA, Batman = Deus Ex Batman)

Oh SNAP, Tony! Spidey is gonna getcha!

Page 5. It must be an Elseworlds story or something…Iron Man is scared of Cloak.

Page 6. Somebody just TRY and tell me Reed isn’t bitch slapping Sue!

Page 8. If any normal humans in the MU didn’t fear supers…they do now.

Page 9. Jokes about Spider-Man’s adjectives. And here I thought this was going to get silly. (side note: we get it, everyone underestimates Spider-Man…JEEZ!)

Page 11. Imperious Rex, indeed! This might be the only part of this whole mess that actually looked cool.

Page 12. Its Clor! And a bunch of nobodies! (yes, I’m aware Captain Marvel is in the picture. I stand by my statement)

Page 13 & 14. Well, Cap cheated…I guess. At least he’ll beat hell out of Iron Man for a while.

Page 15. Ben’s back from Paris! (who cares) Reed isn’t a total douche! (who cares)

Page 16 & 17. I knew Stan Lee, Mr. Millar. And you, sir, are no Stan Lee.

Also, Clor is a ROBOT? I call total bull$#!t! They did brain surgery on him and he BLED! BULL. $#!T.

Page 18. Oh bull$#!t AGAIN! Cap was never going to kill Tony, that’s just crap.

Page 19. Bull$#!t trifecta! The common man LOVES Cap and has for decades.

Page 20-22. What comes after trifecta? Cap CRIES? That’s the big finale? WTF? “We’re just fighting”??? I had no emotional connection to this story until now. My new emotion: revulsion.

Page 23. Even Frank thinks this is bull$#!t.

Hey, whaddya know, Reed is still a prick. “General hero amnesty” my a$$. God, what a mess.

Page 24. A FULL 93 minutes might not be enough crying for everyone who once loved the Marvel Universe.

Also, just what the hell is the Justice League Oklahoma going to do all day? Ugh.

Page 25. How will there be any super battles if the prisons actually hold the super villains? Maybe the fabric of reality HAS been altered somehow.

Page 26. Painful things we did on the way to respectability. Hey, Millar! Pull up your pants, your politics is showing!

Page 27. Well, at least Tony isn’t just a dick to his friends.

Page 28. So that’s what 42 means. Can he GET more sanctimonious?

Page 29. And condescending. I hate this book more than cancer.

That's honestly way more than I meant to say, but I got a little help from my friends AND a play by play of the crap. I don't even have a clever ending.

Friday, January 12, 2007

People who know me probably don’t think I can do it, but here it is! The All Positive Post coming directly from the Mothership, top of the Earth-K Galaxy! 500,000 keelowatts of four-color power! Giving it to you in your eye-hole!

· 100 Bullets continues on to its thrilling conclusion. I’m a trade-reader of the Bullets (so I’m exactly ¾ of the way through the story), but I can tell you that this book never does anything BUT fire on all cylinders. It has mutated from a morality/revenge tale into a noir conspiracy theory with roots in Colonial American history that guarantees a skyrocketing body count reached in unmatched style. Twists and turns abound in every arc, and even the arcs that don’t immediately make sense as part of the greater story are brought home eventually. The art is dark, dangerous and sexy as hell. The books are so gritty that even the toilet paper DC prints the trades on comes together with the art and story to be part of the experience. I’m still trying to figure out how I can need a shower after every story and yet continue to think it’s a world I wouldn’t mind living in… as long as I had a couple high-powered handguns to keep me company. Highest honors.

· My buddy and favorite cat to ring me up at my LCS, Rob Vollmar, is having some roaring success with the Bluesman Trilogy. It is sad, poignant, historical, the art (brought to you by Pablo Callejo) is beautiful and the whole reading experience should probably come with a soundtrack CD. In fact, I’m going to suggest that Rob have a playlist available to listen to while reading. Lastly, it’s been optioned for a film. Run and read the books before Hollywood spoils it with crass commercialism!

· Godland (no, I don’t know how to make that little crosshatch through the O), is like Kirby with none of the introspection or deeper themes. Or Kirby if he’d had a couple bad hits of acid. Wild ideas, crazy villains, cosmic beings; it sort of reads like early Marvel if they’d been more aware of what they were up to. Meta-Marvel you might say. I have no idea where it’s headed or what the story is really about, and when I can usually see a lot of the story beats telegraphed from six issues away, that shoots it to the head of the class for me.

· Casanova absolutely freakin’ rocks. The vibe is sort of a bizarre mix between Starlin and Steranko, a cosmic spy story with daddy issues. Gabriel Ba takes ridiculous scripts from Matt Fraction, a VERY limited palette and churns out art that seems simple at first, but then you start to notice how many details the guy CRAMS into every panel. The prose stuff in the back that explains what was going on in Fraction’s life, world and head when he wrote the book is even good. Normally that stuff bores me to absolute tears or ends up being like knowing a little too much about sausage manufacturing techniques, but here it is a bow on the special gift that is Casanova. And the whole damn thing costs two measly greenbacks. Buy it, you ingrates.

· The Black Coat: Call To Arms is the first in what I hope to be a long string of limited series. I thought it was going to be a Scarlet Pimpernel-esque thing set in the Revolutionary War…and it was. But then pirates showed up. And zombies. And Ben “The Original American Pimp” Franklin! This thing is like historical fiction by the guys responsible for Doc Savage and the Shadow. The book has so much pulp, it gets stuck in my teeth when I read it.

· Gail Simone is a Geek Goddess. All-New Atom, Secret Six and Birds of Prey are or were (Six is lamentably over) at the top of my reading stack every time they come out. Each of these is super-heroes done right, even when the book is about super-villains. BoP is in the midst of an internal shake-up and, usually, that would worry me. Status quo changes are rarely good news if the book was successful and a great read already, but Gail has earned the benefit of the doubt. More than that, she’s earned my complete trust. I have no doubt that, despite the sea change, BoP will continue to kick ass. At a DC where several of the OYL new launches have been abandoned (Sword of Atlantis) or are so crap they’re soon to be abandoned (Hawkgirl), I don’t doubt for a second that Atom will stick the longest. Lastly, while this may mean nothing to many, Gail has actually made me excited that there will be a Catman fig in the next Heroclix release; no mean feat.

· Justice Society of America is only two issues in so I can’t gush very much. I’ll be honest, though. Based on the Donner/Johns debacle and the mess Titans has become, I was worried that Johns couldn’t bring the heat anymore. I loved JSA LOTS and didn’t want to see it messed up. Well, I needn’t have worried. With two issues under its belt it is probably the best OYL launch DC has had (even though it isn’t technically an OYL launch) and it is kicking the crap out of Justice League of America. I mention the second only because of the handicap. The Justice League has all the cards in this game, but JSofA balls it out with pure chutzpah and makes the JLofA look even more boring and amateurish than it normally would.

· All Star Superman. What should I say here? If you’re reading it, you know how awesome it is. If you aren’t, you’re some kind of communist robot zombie from a totalitarian future who has been programmed not to like comics that contain too much awesome. This is a book that manages to take stuff we should all be sick of hearing about (Lois discovering Superman’s secret identity, Lex as criminal genius, Krypto) and manages to not just make them readable, but causes you to fall in love with them. Literally FALL IN LOVE between page 1 and page 22.

All that stuff from yesterday is really stupid and really pisses me off and makes me want to shake some editors/writers/Dan Didios until their necks snap, but this stuff is the reason I hang in there. This stuff, and the promise of more stuff like it, is the reason I show up every Wednesday and why I get all excited when the negative stuff happens (especially if it happens to something I was previously very positive about).

Talk back, our tiny audience! What examples of Radness and Awesomeitude would be in your All Positive Post?

Thursday, January 11, 2007

I return from Earth-K!

Well, it has been a WHILE, hasn’t it? I don’t think we had any readers anyway, but if we did, we’ve absolutely killed them off one by one with inactivity. Still with several of our fave blogs going the way of the dodo, I felt I needed to get back on ship.

Unfortunately, due to a ridiculous schedule (the downside of being a private investigator trying to catch scofflaws at nefarious deeds is that they don’t follow a schedule and might do said deeds at any moment, which necessitates you watching them morning, noon and night; Rockford never had to do stuff like this, that’s for certain) I haven’t had much time to ruminate on comics and due to starting the new business, I haven’t had much money for them either.

The other thing is, I kind of wanted to say some positive stuff about the comics I really like. Unfortunately, its hard to do anything interesting with “Birds of Prey is really great, if you’re not reading it you really ought to be” or “JSofA, although a needless relaunch, is only two issues in and already five thousand percent more interesting than JLofA.” See, even in the second one, I accidentally get some digs in on a stupid editorial decision and a book that SHOULD be the premier super-team book at DC but is, instead, lackluster, boring and stupid.

So, I’m going to say just a few negative things and not elaborate on them at all or back up my opinion in any way. It’s my blog, I can do that if I want. I suspect the good Cap’n might disagree with some of them and, if so, he can reply and a riotous debate will ensue! Also, if we haven’t bored any of our “readers” then I’ll expect comments. Again, unadulterated negativity coming at you…now!

· While I applaud the twin ideas of single issue stories and bringing Bruce Wayne back, Paul Dini’s issues of Detective Comics just aren’t that great. They aren’t bad, but he certainly isn’t God’s gift to Batman comics.

· Calling Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman the Holy Trinity of the DCU is insulting for two reasons. First, thanks for cheapening a core doctrine of my belief system. Second, and a lot more trivial but a lot closer to the heart of the matter, Wonder Woman isn’t very interesting and, I suspect, nobody really cares about her. Putting out her One Year Later book on a semi-annual basis isn’t helping this. From now on, all honest people will refer to them as the World’s Finest and Wonder Woman…when they bother to mention her at all.

· As lightly mentioned above, Meltzer’s JLofA is really boring and, I suspect, really stupid. I stopped reading after the nonsensical #0 and the plodding #1 & 2, so I’m guessing a little on the stupid part. Still, criminal mastermind Solomon Grundy and Not-Speedy being on the team certainly SEEM very stupid.

· Why isn’t Teen Titans good? It used to be VERY good and they certainly have potential. I’m very interested in all the junior versions of DCU heroes that have been mentioned. It takes a DCU staple to a logical extreme and maybe a little into the illogical (in a good way). Also, Kid Devil and Ravager are great!

· Bringing back Jason Todd didn’t have to be a bad idea, but it went ahead and became one anyway. A completely stupid re-origin based on a completely stupid plot point from a mostly stupid big event didn’t help this.

· Why is Jason’s costume still up in the Cave now that he’s a psycho killer? And why is Stephanie Brown completely forgotten? Out with the Todd outfit, in with the Steph outfit in the shrine. Two people live in that Cave and it’s about time they both get reminded of the person that actually had the potential of being a great Robin and how they both failed her miserably.

· In retrospect, Infinite Crisis wasn’t very good. I was carried through it, blind to most of its faults (until the rushed and terrible #7), through sheer momentum. The creation of a really expensive hardcover with the artwork actually finished and the tone and theme of the story more or less completely changed has NOT done much to make me feel like a valued monthly customer of DC either.

· 52 is boring and real-time comic book storytelling is possibly one of the least interesting ideas in comics right now.

· I was convinced on the strength of Daughters of the Dragon (Earth-K approved comic goodness!) to buy Heroes for Hire. Unfortunately, it isn’t what it ought to be. I think being mired in Civil War is a big reason for this, but losing Khari Evans on art is also a major factor.

· Astonishing X-Men is at best middling. Also, I suspect Whedon will be the death of Runaways for most of us that are currently fans. This upsets me as I am a big fan of most of Whedon’s tv work.

· Civil War is big and stupid, which actually apparently seems to be the point. So I guess that’s a win…ish.

· I love the new JSofA (see above and tomorrow), but DC’s current policy toward token lesbianism makes me VERY scared of where Stargirl and the underwear-less Maxine Hunkel are headed.

· Three words for the DCU: TOO MUCH RAPE.

· NextWave being canceled is a travesty as it is very possibly the best book Marvel was putting out. Plus, it was Warren Ellis being funny. That doesn’t happen very often…at least not on purpose.

· DC convinced me to pick up several new books OYL, but only one is hanging on and that’s mainly on the strength of Gail Simone (I’m looking at you, All New Atom!). Hawkgirl was just embarrassingly bad. Sword of Atlantis looked to be going somewhere, but the driving force behind it is leaving it before it’ll have anything like the needed time to breathe. I am now very leery of trying new DC things, and that’s too bad.

· I feared this when I first read about it, but Richard Donner really doesn’t have a clue what to do with Superman. Also, a modicum of continuity might want to be observed just in case anybody who actually reads Superman comics decides to check it out.

· Killing the Question and (probably) making the most annoying character created in the last ten years the NEW Question is a really stupid idea. Possibly stupider than killing the beloved Blue Beetle and replacing him with a token minority in high school wearing Kirby-tech.

· As I have made mention of token lesbians and token minorities, it is incumbent to say that I have nothing against some racial diversity in comic book universes; in fact I think it’s a very good idea. But when you see the treatment of Super Chief and Black Goliath, it is difficult for my cynical internal monologue to not assume that the well of minority characters is being refilled in order to have somebody to kill in ten years.

· The new Supergirl is poorly conceived and brings so much baggage with her that I would likely still find her unreadable even if they managed to put somebody on their book that knew their word processor from a hole in the ground.

Okay, that’s all my negativity. Tomorrow…POSITIVE things! Comics I love! Comics you should be READING! Comics that are doing it RIGHT, whatever that means!

Thursday, January 04, 2007

I Can't Wait to See What I Get Next Punishment Day!

A few months back, the incomparable Chris Sims of the indescribably awesome Chris's Invincible Super-Blog held the a Q&A contest in which his loyal blog monkeys could post random and creative questions for him, all of which he would answer, with the best question being rewarded with free comic swag, an autographed issue of Cracked magazine featuring an article by Mr. Sims, and, the pièce de résistance, a badly drawn crayon picture of the super-hero of the winner's choice.

My question was this:

Question: is this page from Punisher 2099 funny because it's funny, or is it funny because it's not?

Imagine my surprise when, after three days of answering some truly innovative and entertaining questions, the generous Mr. Sims named yours truly the winner with the following response:

Answer: I don't know, but that might be the single greatest page in comics history, and I am going to insert those phrases into every single conversation I have from now on.

"Hey Chris, how many donuts do you want?"

"Thirty six... CALIBER."

Congratulations, Cap'n Neurotic! You've earned yourself:
  • A poorly-done crayon drawing of the comic book character of your choosing!
  • A signed copy of CRACKED Magazine #2, featuring two and a quarter pages of all-new Chris Sims "humor!"
  • Max Collins and Terry Beatty's Wild Dog #1-4, where a vigilante in a hockey jersey kicks a terrorist in the face so hard that it breaks his neck!
  • And my personal copies of The Punisher #22-23, where Frank Castle attends Ninja Training Camp, as seen in the ISB's One Year Awesomeversary!
Soon after posting the results, The Expert on All That Is Awesome contacted me to get my mailing address -- he initially inquired if he should just mail it to "the edge" -- and find out which comic book characer I would like him to draw poorly; after much soul-searching, I finally decided on the ultimate kung-fu super-hero, Iron Fist.

Not too long after that, I learned that The Great and Powerful Sims had a MySpace page. After being added to his friends list, I left him the following comment:

Many thanks for the add, sir, even if your horribly fabricated profile means you're a filthy, filthy liar. Why, I bet the crayon drawing you promised won't even be poorly, poorly drawn. Let me warn you now: if I get a well-drawn picture, I will be sorely disappointed.

Unless it's of Iron Fist kicking MODOK in the head, in which case, all is forgiven.

Lo and behold, what should arrive in my mailbox a few weeks later but this:

It's hard to explain just how giddy this picture makes me. I'm just sorry it's taken me this long to get it scanned in for the entire world to enjoy.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Random Comic Book Panel Theater 2099: Half Insect, Half Man -- All Cop

Okay, the following has little to nothing to do with the actual plot of the issue of Ghost Rider 2099 it came from, which is all about the Cyborg of Vengeance jacking into the head of his comatose girlfriend, but that's okay: I think the sequence speaks for itself.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Random Comic Panel Theater 2099: Punishment Day!

Inspired by the "World Tour" storyline in Exiles, I've recently gotten my hands on a bunch of the old Marvel 2099 series. Overall, I've been pleased; Spider-Man 2099 and Doom 2099 in particular are both great series. Sure, there are some stinkers in there (Ravage 2099 and Hulk 2099 spring to mind) but I've have been pleasently surprised by a couple (Ghost Rider 2099 and X-Men 2099) . Today's Random Comic Book Panel Theater installment comes from one of the more uneven titles in the line, Punisher 2099, during that period in the series where our titular character has had a bit of a psychotic break. And really, what fun is a Punisher series without a psychotic break now and again?

And Lo, There Shall Come . . . an Indexer!

As if I didn't have enough on my plate already, I recently signed up to be an indexer for The Grand Comics Database project, which should put my skills as a librarian and my curse of borderline OCD to good use. Plus, it counts towards my "professional development" which means that, in a way, I'm finally getting paid to do comic book related work. Sure, it's not any more than I was being paid before I started indexing, and technically I'm not supposed to spend more than 5% of my time on it, but that's beside the point.

So without further ado, I give you my first indexed issue.

Please, hold your applause.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

These Random Thoughts Came From Earth-K!

As you might remember from a previous post where the Cap'n and I take responsibility for being slackers when it comes to posting, I'm starting a new business. This means that money and time are very tight and, unfortunately, comics have been the first thing to give. However, out of his great largesse, Zac Of The Great Heroes Quotes loaned me a FAT stack of books from the last few months so I'd have something to read. Naturally, they have elicited a response. I'm machine-gunning through the stack, so I'm having all kinds of thoughts that aren't worthy of a whole post BUT might turn into one later. They are as follows:

  • So Marvel is doing a crossover with Guiding Light. Frankly, the fact that this came from the most uninteresting manufactured event in comics (the totally organic, no you really should have seen it coming marriage between Black Panther and Storm) just makes it all the more fascinating to me. You can argue the finer points of cross-marketing all day if you like, but the fact is that this thing will probably work (depending on your definition) and here's why. If you take a long running super-hero comic and switch money for super powers and sex for fistfights, you've got a daytime soap. Deal with it.
  • What the high-falootin' HELL is going on with Supergirl? I understand that the original Kara we knew and loved is dead and gone forever (as much as anyone is in comics). Agree or not, I also understand that, while Peter David's Supergirl is a huge fan favorite and a tremendously well written comic, there were some who couldn't wrap their minds around an earth-bound angel mixed with a disenfranchised teenager and a glob of goo from a pocket dimension getting to wear the most famous set of super-colors in the world. But this bizarre thing we have masquerading as Kara now just floors me. She's Superman's cousin, programmed by Zor-El to kill baby Kal out of jealousy for living in Jor's shadow his whole life? And he does this while the planet is CONSUMED around him? Now that's petty on a magnificent scale. Then she goes to Kandor (which was not what I expected from the bottle city at all, did I miss a memo?) with a Supergirl we like, makes out with a guy she thinks is her cousin but who might be Ultraman from Qward or even from the original Earth 3 (since yellow sun works on him, see) and then goes home in a snit to date Captain Boomerang II. I have all the issues, I know I didn't miss one, but it sure FEELS like I missed at least two or three. This bullet will see a longer post in the future I think, because this is a giant mess.
  • Just what is Ultimate Fantastic Four up to being this damn good? This God War thing with Pasqual Ferry on pencils is just friggin' genius and the stuff before that ranged from pretty good reads to damn fine comics despite Greg Land's static art style. I've always felt like FF should work for me and I've been shocked when it hasn't. This, against all odds, is working for me.
  • I have no idea what is going on in Ultimate Power #1. Sometimes I consider this a strength in comics. The world is so weird and wild and wonderful, I SHOULD feel like I'm getting left out of the loop a bit by what's going on (see above about God War). I can't imagine me reading the rest of it even for free out of somebody else's long boxes. Bendis' typical nothing happens writing style + Land's prettiest art that doesn't seem to breathe = me being bored. The Serpent Society was sexy in a sideshow way though.
  • First the Dead Girl mini and now the Oath. Is Marvel working to make Dr. Strange an actual character we can enjoy reading about instead of a walking epiteph and exposition machine? I hope so, because I enjoyed the Oath LOTS.
  • I like Lone Ranger a lot, but it seems a little strange to take this long to retell an origin that almost everyone knows. Or maybe I'm projecting. Zac thought the bullets-as-eye-holes was a new addition to the mythos, so I might be in the minority of kowing the Lone Ranger story in such detail. The raggedy-ass mask in the cover of issue 3 looks great, though. Well done.
  • I'm still working my way through the Civil War core books. I can't say that I think its genius or even particularly good, but I am heartily amused. It's like watching two strippers wrestle in Jell-O while debating the finer points of our foreign policy. Then, in between each round of the wrestling match, they bring out some old men in military uniforms and kick them in the groin just for a change of pace. Gratuitous is the best word I can use to sum it up. Dammit, I'm still reading it, though.
I'm barely a third of the way through the stack, so I'm sure there'll be more random thoughts to come.