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Sunday, June 30, 2013

Stuff and Things

Just gonna talk about things I've been doing the past few days. Not much.

Picked up a copy of Okage: Shadow King, an old JRPG for the Playstation 2 by Zener Works. $8 at Half-Price Books. I love that store. I remember playing it years ago as a kid and being really excited for it, but I never got anywhere in it. Now I'm older and can appreciate its cleverness and tongue-in-cheek humor. The battles are repetitive and arbitrary, but the story is unique with some witty dialogue. The story centers around a young boy named Ari whose father finds a mysterious jar. When Ari's sister gets attacked by a ghost and cursed to speak only pig latin, Father decides that the jar must be some sort of mystic artifact that can cure her. It does, but the ritual releases a demon by the name of Evil King Stan. Stan wants to reclaim his former glory as the Great Evil King, but he can't because his essence was spread over the years to many lesser Evil Kings. Stan merges with Ari's shadow and commands him to find these impostor Kings and slay them. It's all very interesting in a "WTF" sort of way. I'm really digging it.

I also got into the Final Fantasy XIV beta. It's pretty cool, but so far boils down to yet another WoW clone. Which isn't BAD per se, just that besides the setting of being an FF, it's nothing special. Yet. But I dunno if I'll stick around. I know I'll get addicted and be tempted to shill out the money for a subscription. Nope. Also my video card is either on its last legs or I just need to clean the fans. It crapped out on me once yesterday. And good GOD my computer chair is squeaking like mad.

I went and watched DC's animated film "Batman: Under the Red Hood" and I liked it. I want to read the comics it's lifted from, and I'm also digging around for the other pre-reboot Batman arcs that aren't written by Grant Morrison. I've got my fill of him for a while, since I'm almost caught up with Batman, Inc. I've also gone back to re-read the New52 Swamp Thing and Animal Man, since I wanna catch up with those, as they are both amazing books. Swamp Thing is written by Scott Snyder, who's been having a great run on Batman stories the past few years, and has done American Vampire, so he's no stranger to dark stories. Yanick Paquette is the illustrator for the first chunk of issues, and the arts is gorgeous. Vibrant colors, thick lines, creative panel placement makes everything flow. Animal Man is also great, with a story by Jeff Lemire (also no stranger to the horror genre), and art duties by Travel Foreman. This is a much more, um, visceral book. It's quite explicit with the imagery, where Swamp Thing is more tame. Both books deal with the world of the Green (plants, Swamp Thing) and of the Red (animals, flesh, Animal Man). They individually tackle the hidden third world of the Black, aka the Rot (dead stuff, naturally). You can imagine the kinds of things the Rot would be. Both books illustrate the Rot as macabre and gruesome, but Animal Man's Travel Foreman draws some truly disturbing imagery. Both books are creatively and visually gripping, and I'm waiting on the second collection of Animal Man to reach my doorstep so I can catch up. They are both books that people need to read if they haven't already.

Finally, next week I'll be hitting up an anime convention in Rosemon, IL called Anime Midwest. Last year was really fun, even though I really didn't do much except hang out. This year I plan on actually attending some panels, as there are a bunch about webcomics and voice actors. I plan on having a write up of my experience next week.

That's about it for now. Just stretching my typing hands tonight.

__________________
I become the distance.
I am the sober and irrelevant.
I don't feel part in this,
What is there to believe?

Thursday, June 27, 2013

*Clever Title Here*: Comic Review

Every Wednesday, new comics hit the newsstands and comic stores. Every Wednesday I have a pile of new comics to read either physically or digitally. So every week, maybe on Wednesday, or maybe the next day, I'll try to pick out one issue to go over and talk about. Ideally, this would be a 1st issue, a last issue, the start of a major arc or crossover event, or something other than just "the next issue". But today, since it's my first installment of this, and that I couldn't get said comics yesterday in a timely manner, I've got two issues to really go over. Otherwise, I'll give my brief thoughts on the many other issues I've read this week. So let's get to it.

The first proper review is for DC Comics' 1st issue of "Larfleeze", written by Keith Giffen and J.M. Dematteis, and illustrated by Scott Kolins. Larfleeze is a character created by Geoff Johns during his acclaimed run on Green Lantern. In his expansion of the GL mythos, Johns created more colors of the Emotional Spectrum, such as Red Lanterns stand for Rage, Blue Lanterns stand for Hope, etc. Larfleeze was the single holder of the Orange part of the Emotional Spectrum, Avarice. His whole thing was that, unlike the other colored Lantern Corps., he was the only wielder of the Orange light. His Power Ring could increase its power seemingly without limit and his ring's "constructs" were the bodies of those he has killed with his Orange power, effectively creating and controlling an army of constructs. The flip side of this was that Larfleeze was perpetually greedy and a bit dim. After the events of "Wrath of the First Lantern" (Johns' big finale of his GL run), Larfleeze was basically sent to the edge of the universe nearly powerless with only his alien butler for companionship. This story picks up after that, much like the other titles in the New52 Green Lantern group of books.

This first issue reestablishes Larfleeze's character with a (possibly inaccurate) life story reiterated by the sleaze himself to his butler, since at the end of the universe there isn't much better to do than tell stories. However, at the end of the issue his story gets interrupted by something that calls this part of the universe home. It's not a very eventful first issue, but it sets up the character of Larfleeze for anyone who doesn't already know about him (and let's be honest, if you don't know, then you don't care about the GL part of the DC Universe too much and this book on the shelf won't attract someone who isn't already terribly familiar with its continuity). What we get from it is the setup for what would make a decent mini series of maybe 5 issues instead of the ongoing series it's supposed to be. I really don't see how they can make this character into something readers will come back for each month. But I've been wrong before. So far we've got the makings of a clever romp through the outer reaches of space with a greedy little monster and his companion/slave.

Keith Giffen is a writer I've not read much of, but I have heard good things about. His issue of Green Lantern: New Guardians was not what I expected, but it was setting up a new series called Threshold which has since been cancelled, I believe. With Giffen on the plot and Dematteis writing the scripts, however, we get some clever dialog and an interesting set up for the rest of this particular story. Giffen also wrties Larfleeze like he was depicted in New Guardians; as a conniving, greasy, and sometimes amusing ball of greed as opposed to the more sinister version that Johns wrote before the reboot. Scott Kolins' art is actually pretty good too. It leans ever so slightly towards the cartoony than many more realistic approaches the Green Lantern books have had over the years. The colorist makes good use of the various colors and glows of the Orange light, and the whole thing has a unity in its orange gutters and dialog boxes.

All in all, for the Green Lantern fan this offers a more focused look at one of the lesser known Lantern colors with not much to offer right away. But, with good back-and-forth between the two main characters, some well timed gags, and a sudden appearance of conflict near the end, this COULD be an interesting title. But with all of the problems DC has been having, trying to make this a continuing story could prove difficult. Even if Giffen manages to get a huge arc out of this I have little faith in DC keeping this around for long.

The second book I picked up to review was Marvel's "All New X-Men" #13, written by Brian Michael Bendis and art by Stuart Immonen. The main idea behind this book is that, after the events of the Avengers vs. X-Men crossover, Hank McCoy (Beast) traveled back to the past to recruit the original team of X-Men (Cyclops, Marvel Girl, Beast, Iceman, and Angel) to come to the future with him to shame the main timeline's Cyclops into... I dunno, undoing all his actions from the aforementioned conflict? It's confusing to explain, and silly when you ask why is this a good idea. But the status quo is that the young, original team of X-Men are now living in the current X-Men continuity. Meaning some amusing or depressing conversations between a young Bobby Drake and his older self, or a young Angel asking his future self why he suddenly has metal wings. Bendis writes these conversations amazingly, since his forte has always seemed to be dialog between confused teenagers (great for Ultimate Spider-Man, silly and grating for Avengers). Bendis is basically in control of the X-Men corner of the Marvel universe for now, and ANX-Men, along with his also ongoing run on Uncanny X-Men, show that it is actually in capable hands. The past team getting timey-wimey'd off to the present is hard to get over for the first few issues, but it actually works out.

Anywho, the story right now is that Mystique is up to her old (or new) tricks, using her shape-shifting ability along with Lady Mastermind's illusion abilities to make it seem like this old team of X-Men have been robbing banks and dealing with HYDRA. This issue focuses on Wolverine, Kitty Pryde, and the original X-Men finding their hideout to bust some heads, without spoiling too much. Stuart Immonen has been on art duty for all 13 issues, and it has been really good. Just good design, layout, and action in the whole package, as you can see from this spread near the end of the issue (forgive my poor scanning abilities).

There's not much else to say on this. It's continuing Bendis' plot and developing how these younger X-Men interact with a confusing modern world. It is an interesting status quo for the X-Men, but all the time travel antics in this and many other books are setting up for something big in the Marvel U.

So this is roughly what I'll be doing each week, hopefully. With my work schedule never being totally set in stone, I don't know if I'll be able to make this every Wednesday, as this post clearly illustrates on account of it being Thursday. But at some point each week I will try to pick out an issue to review in such a way. Since I'm sure I'm boring anybody reading this by now, I'll leave it at that.

Yay, comics!

Saturday, June 22, 2013

On comics

Hey again everybody (all... zero of you probably).

One of the big things I wanna do on this blog is talk about comics. I want to offer my opinions on various titles, books, authors, illustrators, etc. I'd like to review them occasionally and talk about what's going on with them. But first a little about comics and I.

As a kid I read comics a lot, mostly collections of funny pages strips like Garfield, Calvin and Hobbes, and Foxtrot. I'd find my way to reading through Star Wars and X-Men comics on and off as I grew up, but I've always read comics in some capacity. But a few years ago, my sophomore year of college I believe, I really dug into them. I had stopped reading comics for a while, and just read books about the various Marvel and DC heroes such as the DK collection of guidebooks so I'd know about the increasing amount of comic-to-film adaptations I was interested in. But on a whim I decided to get back into X-Men. I knew about some of the big events at Marvel such as the Civil War and House of M but I didn't know what they were. So I managed to dig back into X-Men by reading the second volume of "New X-Men" by Craig Kyle and Christopher Yost. Reading through that got me to read through House of M, and reading that got me branch out to other X-titles, as well as going back to read through Grant Morrison's run on "New X-Men", the re-naming of the core X-Men title that was launched in the 90's.

And from there, well, I read a fuckton of other comics. I made my way to DC comics and read though Geoff John's run on Green Lantern (having just finished this past month with his final issue of, what, ten years?). Likewise, I found my way to other DC comics like Batman, the Flash, etc, etc. Now I have a decent collection of comic trade paperbacks.


As you can see, I've got three almost-full shelves taken up with just my Marvel and DC stuff. Top shelf is DC (52, Animal Man, Batman, Doom Patrol, Green Lantern, Seven Soldiers, among others), middle shelf is assorted Marvel (Annihilation, Captain America, Daredevil, Fantastic Four, Iron Man, Spider-Man, etc), and the bottom shelf is JUST X-Men related material, in (mostly) chronological order instead of alphabetically.

 
This shelf is dedicated to comics of other publishers like Dark Horse, Image, and whathaveyou. I've got stuff like League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, Maus, Penny Arcade, Scott Pilgrim, Sin City, Star Wars, and The Walking Dead. Along side that are two cardboard boxes of single comics I have been buying for a few years. That is just my physical collection. I've also got about 18 gigs of comics on my computer, some of which I haven't even read through yet.

So I've crammed a lot of comics into these past few years. I hope to post my thoughts on various comics in the future, and I'm going to kick myself to really keep this going and maybe make something of it. Like many comic readers, I've had my share of thoughts for my own comics, but I haven't done much with them besides what's in my head, since my writing and drawing skills lack on account of my spending five years on a college major in the natural sciences. Hrm.

But in the future expect a lot of comic discussion. For example, next week Wednesday the new comic issues hit the stands. One of the handful I'll be picking up is the first issue of DC Comics' "Larfleeze", a major character spinning out of Geoff Johns' "Green Lantern" run, and I'll be talking about it a little either that day or the next, along with the rest of my haul that day (All New X-Men #13, Uncanny X-Men #7, and Wolverine and the X-Men #32 (my gosh, that is a lot of X-titles)). I hope to do this sort of thing every week by picking my favorite issue of the week and talking about it.

But that's not all this blog will have. It won't all be about comics, but also video games, news, whatever the heck I feel like posting, reasons why I say "heck" and "gosh" when in this same post I use the word "fuckton", as well as other junk.

I guess stay tuned for more things???

_________________________________________
I am Iron Man

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Holy first update in like two years Batman.

I'm gonna try to actually post shit here now. Instead of blurbs on facebook, I'll try actual sentences here. Well, not well-written sentences, but sentences nonetheless.

We'll just do an easy write up of the events of last night. I drove out to the nearby Applebee's to hang out with good friends Brock, Chavez, and Evan. While waiting on the other two, Brock and I ran through what we've practiced for our karaoke song for Anime Midwest in a few weeks. Got some beers. Yet again tried to convince Chavez to come to a future anime convention in September. Ordered some half-price appetizers. I got a plate of sliders with fries, and, like any type of "slider" *cough White Castle*, it only SOUNDS like a good idea.

Once all four of us were comfortable with our drinks and/or food (or Chavez's glass of water), Brock decides to ask the waitress if she could whip up an Adios Motherfucker. Imagine a Long Island with more booze, and blue. It was actually quite tasty. I'm sure if you asked, Brock will regale you with the tale that he already heard secondhand about three dudes who had several of these drinks.

It was actually not bad at all. But shared between the four of us instead of Brock drinking all of it. This is also when we discovered the best name for a shot; a "Lactating Hermaphrodite". It exists.

Back to Brock's house for Vesper Martinis (the "James Bond" martini; they're gross don't ever drink them), but this time half drunkenly blasting Rocky Road to Dublin by the Irish Descendants and singing along. More hanging out at Brock's place until near 2 am and we all head home.

I wake up and feel awful. I didn't drink a lot so it's probably not a hangover but what do I know.

So I'm gonna try to post more here, but on what I'm not quite sure. I'm sure I'll discuss school and "learning" more about Conservation and Environmental Sciences (my major that I will be getting a B.A. in in the fall), how I wish I took a long hard look at what I actually want to do with my life, what I may end up actually doing (or not doing, and that is a looooong list), how scary the future is, talking about art, comics, games, toys, and maybe posting up some of my own of the above for critique or review or whatnot. We'll see what happens.

_____________________
"Hunt the hare and turn her down the rocky road, all the way to Dublin. Whack ful lul de ra."