Presented without comment…
I’ve started showcasing my photography over on DeviantArt. I’m also hoping to network with other artists and hopefully find a penciller for a comic book pitch I’m trying to put together. Anyway, cycle through my stuff if you get a chance. I don’t completely suck.
Ronin’s MMO Report
City of Heroes – Re-Inventing A Super-Heroic MMO
I have no content prepared so here’s an in depth look at some PAX coverage. Wait, that isn’t how this works, no content means random picture illustrating super heroic shenanigans or slightly relevant hot women. Meh. What with Reverend busy at the Comicpalooza and nothing to show for it (Don’t listen to him, he totally has nothing to show for it) I figure I’d make a little post over the things I’ve learned today about my favorite MMORPG, City of Heroes. What’s that you say? Why are you talking about a game with a few hundred thousand subscribers, none of which have probably even heard of this blog? Well, because I have nothing better to do.
So there was this little ol’ convention known as the Penny Arcade Expo, or PAX. For those of you unaware, I was being sarcastic, or facetious, I mix those two up. The development team behind the Super Hero MMORPG “City of Heroes” held a panel called “Re-Inventing A Super-Heroic MMO.” The panelists included Melissa Bianco: Lead Designer, Matt Miller: Lead Systems Designer, David Nakayama: Lead Artist, Eric Johnson: Art Producer, and EM Stock: Studio Community Lead. The whole affair presents plenty of information while keeping the tone lighthearted and adding doses of humor that the community has come to expect from the developers, such as dialogue about a new powerset featuring clowns.
There was plenty of info presented regarding the future of the game, and provided more info on the expansion “Going Rogue” the is set to release in the future. Things began with a few details regarding the developers “then and now”. They begun with the origins under Cryptic studios, the current team or Paragon Studios, and the future of the franchise. When the team switched names, every single developer was offered a spot on the new team, and everyone accepted. Since then, the producer NC Soft has been completely supporting of the team and the game, providing ample amount of funding. They switched topics to the near future, Issue 17.
Issue 17: Dark Mirror, the next massive free update to the game, is set to release relatively soon. With it it bring not only new contents for both Heroes and Villains, but it goes and revamps old content that the players and developers were not satisfied with. The Positron Task Force, a low-level, long series of missions that locked heroes into a team until they finish was constantly scrutinized by players. With this new issue it is being divided, and updated, much to the joy of players. And there is a new enemy group of Doppelgangers. Yup, an enemy that is your own reflection (with the ability to choose for them to look like you normally, or with an inverted color scheme). And this isn’t including all of the small “quality of life” improvements sprinkled throughout the Issue, or the grand graphics update found in the game’s soon to be released “Ultra-Mode”.
The Going Rogue expansion brings with a cohesive storyline set in an alternate universe comprised of brand new zones, and it provides four new powersets for both Heroes and Villains. Dual Pistols: a simple concept taken to majestic levels for any vigilante who wants a more natural feel for their character. Demon Summoning: giving the mastermind archetype power over not only the elements, but a horde of demons who embody those elements. Not to mention a hellfire whip. Kinetics Melee: what’s better than swirling your hands about and then knocking around foes with blasts of energy? Just ask anyone who’s ever wanted to Hadoken something… that, or be an Airbender. Electric Control: 1.21 gigawatts? 1.21 gigawatts? Great Scott! Providing a new powerset for every melee, ranged, control, and summoning archetype, the expansion surely won’t disappoint in that regard.
But the developers know that not everyone wants to hear about the totally awesome expansion pack that you have to buy, so they let loose a few details regarding the free updates, otherwise known as “Issues”. The game is currently resting at Issue 16 with 17 getting ready to enter open beta soon. But these folks are confident in their work enough to talk about Issue 19, an issue to be released after Going Rogue. This later issue, dubbed for now as Issue 19: Incarnates, brings something that player have been asking for since they first hit the level cap. While not raising the level cap, it does put in place a system where heroes and villains can gain more “levels” and powers after they have reached level 50, and is set to provide a challenge for anyone seeking one.
From all of the information Paragon studios has been releasing over the past few months (and all the yet unreleased information yet to come) it is clear that there has never been a better time to play City of Heroes. So I ask any reader with an interest in online gaming and superheroes, check it out. There is a free trial to be found on their website. Anyone who has played this game before but has left, take another look, for there is much more enjoyment to be found now. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ll be hitting the streets with my psycho-kinetic technomancer.
This weekend I was working a booth at the 3rd Annual COMICPALOOZA event down here in Houston. Our store was sharing a booth with the guys from ANGEL COMICS and I was on the ground floor wheeling and dealing. Luckily I had some time to sneak away and enjoy the convention a little bit, getting some face time with Humberto Ramos, Ben Templesmith, and J.H. Williams III.
I’m not going to bore you with anecdotes from the con, but I will say that everyone there went out of their way to be friendly and receptive. Templesmith, who I admittedly isn’t one of my favorite artists, as his style doesn’t really grab me, showed off some commission pieces that blew me away and straight up made me a fan. I was almost salivating over J.H. Williams’ original art pages for Detective Comics, and watching Ramos draw Impulse from memory is something to behold.
The long and short of this post is basically just to say that it’s nice to have a successful comic convention in my home town. A place that REALLY needs one with the number of fans we have in the area. I can only imagine what next year will be like.
(And yes, I did have Liefeld sign my Deadpool comics, but I gave him the evil eye. *_* )
Ronin’s Review #5
Ace Attorney Investigations: Miles Edgeworth
Available on the Nintendo DS
So begins Part One of a multi-part series called… “Gaming March Madness: When Everyone Decides to Release Their Games At the Same Time”. Sure it’s a long title, but then again so is the game I’m about to review. For those of you who do not know, Ace Attorney Investigations is a spin-off from the core Ace Attorney games, with protagonist prosecutor Miles Edgeworth. After getting swept up into events all concerning a particular smuggling ring, he and a couple of helping hand, leave the courtroom in order to do a little detective work.
A little history lesson is in order. The first game in the core series, Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney, was released as Gyakuten Saiban on the Game Boy Advance back in 2001.It didn’t get an English release until it was remade for the DS in 2005. The first three Ace Attorney games centered around defense attorney Phoenix Wright, while the fourth centered around his successor of sorts, Apollo Justice. A fifth Ace Attorney game is currently in the works, though the only fact known about it is in fact that it exists. There’s no word on whether it will continue the Phoenix Wright or Apollo Justice saga, or feature some new protagonist. But after the fourth Ace Attorney game was released it was announced that Miles Edgeworth, probably the most popular side-character in the series, was getting his own game. Edgeworth entered the series as the rival for Wright. Edgeworth starts out as the cold, perfection-driven prosecutor interested only in getting a guilty verdict, but as time goes on and the story progresses, Phoenix ends up making a dramatic influence on his behavior. By the time his own game rolls around, he keeps his regal presence and can still be rather harsh to his subordinates , but he now values the absolute truth over any sort of verdict.
The Ace Attorney games are a series of text-adventure games that emphasis critical thinking and logic while telling stories that are welcomed in both dramatic and humorous circles. The universe that the series takes place in is rather peculiar. The games generally take place somewhere around 10 years in the future, yet everyone still uses VHS tapes. The American justice system has evolved into one without a jury of your peers, instead defendants are guilty until proven innocent, and trials must conclude within three days because of laws passed to expedite trial proceedings. The American populace has suddenly become more influenced by Japanese culture, so I can only assume they have become the leading world power. Though this world may seem strange and confusing, it only stands to help the design of the game. One of the series’ most notable features has been its rather unorthodox cast of characters. The design and dialogue have been a high point of the games since the beginning and still carry through in Ace Attorney Investigations. Which is good since, well, dialogue takes up quite a lot of a game that is advanced primarily through text. It takes a certain kind of skill to make me laugh out loud when playing a game, and the Ace Attorney games deliver, especially Investigations.
While the original Ace Attorney games split up the action between investigation stages and courtroom stages, Miles Edgeworth spends all of his time in the field in his game. But he still takes a bit of the courtroom with him. When information needs extraction from a witness, it is taken in a process practically identical to previous courtroom interrogations. Listen to the person’s testimony, press where more information is needed, and present evidence when a contradiction is seen. The main difference between Investigations and the core series, lies in the ability to actually control a character. In the core series the gameplay amounted to examining crime scenes as static screens. In Investigations Edgeworth moves around within the scene and physically interacts with his surroundings. When a particular area needs closer inspection, it shifts to a static screen similar to that of previous games.
You might be saying, “it seems like you’ve spent more time talking about the older games than actually reviewing this one.” Well, I guess that is true. The gameplay is good. As is the story, sound, and presentation. The problem is that the only way I can describe this game is by comparing it with the ones that preceded it, and I can’t guarantee everyone has played those. There are many parts of this game that can only be fully enjoyed if the player has experienced the Ace Attorney games. I’d say that this is a game for Ace Attorney fans, except even Ace Attorney games are for Ace Attorney fans. But everyone I talk to that has experienced the series enjoys it, so there really isn’t a reason to not be an Ace Attorney fan after playing the series. While I can’t necessarily recommend this game to anyone who hasn’t played the Ace Attorney games, I can recommend anyone who hasn’t played them to give them a try. And then I can recommend this game. With five games in all, the series is certain to supply anyone with a DS with hours upon hours of enjoyment. Even those who do not own a DS can get the first three Ace Attorney games on the Wii thanks to the WiiWare downloads.
Verdict: This isn’t a game that I think everyone should play, it is in fact a series that I think everyone should play. This game improved and expanded upon its predecessor, just as that one did with its predecessor. The only way to enjoy the experience in its entirety is to seek out the original, and follow the lineage. Phoenix Wright : Ace Attorney, Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney: Justice for All, Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney: Trials and Tribulations, Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney, Ace Attorney Investigations: Miles Edgeworth. With than many colons and subtitles, you know a series is on the up and up.
Apparently she’s filming a remake of Hawaii Five-O, which I could care less about. This is the one time I’ve seen Boomer from Battlestar not covered in dirt and grease. [More Images at TheSuperficial]
I have no clue WHY Lexi Belle (twitter alias @OMG_LEXIBELLE) is dressed up like Harley Quinn. I’m assuming it’s for that forthcoming Batman porno parody I mentioned about a month ago. That having been said, there is no reason NOT to post a cute girl essentially cosplaying as the Joker’s main squeeze. So enjoy!
So after a casting search that included choices so bizarre that fanboy heads most likely exploded in a most literal fashion (I’m sure someone had a heart attack after that Will Smith rumor, and if not him then I’m sure the idea of Jim from the Office donning the shield caused someone to suffer a stroke) we have our Captain America, and he’s apparently also the former Human Torch.
I support this casting choice 100%. Evans is a fine young actor who I think is charasmatic and commanding enough to pull of Steve Rogers. But this editorial isn’t just me salivating over a decent casting choice for 1000 words or so. No, this editorial is a serious look at casting choices and their effect on the collective psyche of the pre-existing fanbase. I find the ways that the fans react to casting decisions outright hilarious at times. But in this instance we get a rarity. An actor who once appeared in a Marvel film as one character jumping into another franchise playing another character. OH THE CONFUSION!
Except it really doesn’t matter. Honestly, I think most of the general population has forgotten those Fantastic Four movies anyway. It’s only the people who have a regular and steady attachment to comics who would ever really give a damn. Do you think the average joe schmoe is going to give a damn whether the guy playing Green Lantern was also that sword guy from Wolverine Origins? I don’t think so, any more than they cared that Reynolds was in Blade Trinity before he was Deadpool. Remember that abysmal piece of trash? Yeah, you do. Because you’re a comic book fan and you can’t let it go. But the rest of the world has.
The truth of the matter is that for some reason, we as a community (I’m speaking of the comic collecting hordes) have a personal investment in the adaptations of our favorite characters. In our minds, anybody but the choice we have already picked out in our heads prior to the acknowlegement of a movie’s possibility of existence is considered a complete and utter failure before seeing anything in the way of evidence to support our claims. And so we have people saying that Evans will be a horrible Captain America because of the way he portrayed Johnny Storm. I honestly can’t see the connection. That’s like saying he’ll be horrible in the upcoming Losers adaptaion because of the way he was in Not Another Teen Movie. Or that he’ll reek in Scott Pilgrim because of his work in Sunshine. I don’t see the connection.
I remember people who I worked with in the shop talking about Robert Downey Jr.’s casting as Iron Man a few years back. People were saying that it would be a disaster. That he was a trainwreck of an actor who would never be able to pull it together long enough to make a decent Tony Stark. Fortunately, they later ate their words with a side of fries because I don’t think anyone will deny exactly how amazing Downey was in that role. Looking back on it, it seems as if Iron Man was created all those years ago just as an excuse to have Robert Downey Jr. play him on the big screen.
And who is to say that in a few years time we won’t be saying the same thing about Chris Evans. He’s obviously got some measure of talent to be racking up high-profile roles in multiple films even prior to this announcement. People keep mouthing off about how he’s in too many comic book films. With this and Fantastic Four plus Scott Pilgrim and The Losers; that’s like complaining that John Wayne did too many westerns and war films. Are you going to begrudge an actor taking roles that he genuinely thinks he can do service to based solely on the source material. How many damned Victorian era literature based films has Kiera Knightley done? Are we supposed to give her hell for that? No, we aren’t. We’re supposed to give her hell for looking like she hasn’t eaten since the last lunar cycle. (She’s really skinny, people.)
My point with this little rant is this; give the boy a chance. Don’t tear him apart before you see the film. Because if you pre-judge the whole affair before a trailer even airs, you’re gearing yourself up to hate it regardless of the quality that may be there when it’s all said and done. And I honestly think this kid has what it takes to hold his own in a scene with Downey when it comes time to do an Avengers film and that’s more than I can say for John Krasinski. (Sorry Jim.)
…Did Not See This One Coming!
Again, thank you Adam Hughes.
I’d just like to take this time to say that I really like Adam Hughes.
So, I have no idea why this exists or who made it or why every Batman comic isn’t centered around this very idea, but someone sent me the link and I felt compelled to post it.
Polaris. [Insert “visible bush” joke here]
The Black Widow. She sure does have a consistent wardrobe…
…Is A Little Bit Of A Stereotype.
Happy St. Patrick’s Day Everybody!
* * * * * *
Medusa, completely defeating the purpose of a Brazilian wax…
From Marvel’s Swimsuit Special back in the day…VAL COOPER IN A BIKINI EVERYBODY!
I am going to basically take the week off for spring break, but each day I’ll update with pictures of superheroes in bikinis. Because I have integrity.
Yesterday I did a little post about the creative shift on Power Girl, a book which I alone seem to be reading. That got me thinking about books that REALLY need to be getting some more attention. I thought I’d provide a public service by putting together a list of such books, in the hopes that you might put down that Avengers title long enough to read something a little different.
# 1 : POWER GIRL
This seems like the logical point at which to begin, considering that this is the title that spawned the list in the first place. The book is one of the best being published by DC at the moment and I’m not just saying that because of the boob jokes. I mean, yeah, they’re awesome. But the minute details thrown in to the characterization makes for a rich read without being too unwieldy. It’s not saddled with continuity, despite being about a character with the most convoluted history this side of Donna Troy.
I enjoy reading this book more than just about any other book out there, because the intent of the narrative seems to be to entertain rather than to advance some company-wide initiative or other such drollery. The book is able to stand on its own merit which is something a lot of titles nowadays seem to lack.
2: JONAH HEX
A western book that pushes the boundaries of what can be done in a book that doesn’t have the Vertigo banner on the cover. This is a gritty book with sharp writing and intensive art that doesn’t fit into any mold whatsoever. No other current western book has this kind of feel. Granted, there aren’t that many other western books, but in that short category, Jonah Hex is the obvious winner.
3: BOOSTER GOLD
I feel the same way about this book as I do about Power Girl. It’s one of the most entertaining books being published at the moment. Unlike Power Girl however, this book thrives on continuity. This is for the true geek out there, the one who has read every DC mega event of the last thirty years and loves alternative history books. This is for the true DC aficionado. And at the same time, it’s a great way for the newbie to learn about those same events without diving in head first. That’s the charm of Booster Gold; it’s a double edged sword of awesome.
4: SECRET SIX
No book on the market can merge dark subject matter and gallows humor into such a fun book. Gail Simone really does have an outstanding talent for creating something unlike anything else on the stands on a month by month basis. It’s no wonder that this book seems to inspire such amazing fan loyalty. And not just to the book itself or to the writer, but to the individual characters. Everybody has their favorite, and they will fight to the death over said character’s value and worth to the DC Universe at large.
Too late on this one, as the final issue just hit stands. You missed the boat on this one. But when that trade hits stands, I’m begging you to pick it up. As a bridge between the Dark Reign events and the cosmic universe being run by Abnett and Lanning, this is one of the most unique titles that Marvel published this year. It really is worth giving a read.
So if you get a chance, give those titles a try. Diversification, people. It’s important. Or else soon everything published will be an Avengers book by Bendis, and then I’ll have to punch myself repeatedly into a coma.*
*Please note that I enjoy Bendis’ Avengers titles but if you have steak day after day after day, eventually you’ll get tired of steak.
I woke up to find someone had e-mailed me a link to CBR where I read this shit.
Sadly, DC Comics announced today at MegaCon that the creative team that launched the title in May 2009 is leaving the book following the release of “Power Girl” #12. The new team replacing writers Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray (“Jonah Hex”) and artist Amanda Conner is expected to be announced next week.
You know, I’m not going to say that whatever creative team comes on next won’t be great, because they could be. But damned if they could live up to the exceptional style that has been present on this book since issue one. Palmiotti and Gray understand how to make the character work without falling into thirty two pages of boob jokes, and Amanda Conner is about as perfect an artist as you can get on any title.
What I’m afraid of is that all the life is going to get sucked out of this title and within another three issues it’ll get canceled. Probably one of the best books DC has launched in years will see the same fate as the other great books that get shafted for no reason at all.
If you look at the comic book industry through a long-term lens. This shit should be infuriating. A new title launches with a character you enjoy, and for once they put a competent creative team with an amazing artist on it. For a character like PG, who isn’t an A-Lister in any sense of the word, you hope for a kind of stability. Because, as I’ve said in the past, in the modern publishing climate, you only have a short while to establish yourself in order to not get canceled, and for PG to last 12 issues is a testament to the creative team doing something right.
Now, as a consumer you’ve invested 12 months into a title. Everything is established and you’re happy with where it has progressed, now the paradigm shifts and EVERYBODY on board from writer to inker gets shifted off. You have to imagine that at least a sizeable percentage of the readers of that book will decide to jump off at that very point. The hope, on the part of the publisher, is that the new team will bring in people to make up the difference. But, in today’s climate, not to many people like to jump onto a book at issue 13, even if it is a new creative team without having read what has come before it. And considering that the first six issues of this particular series haven’t been collected, there is no easy format for transition. Also, like I said, PG isn’t exactly an A-lister, so unless the new team is A-List talent, the ration of incoming:outgoing is going to be skewed.
Why does all of this matter?
Revolving door creative teams buttfuck small titles into cancellation. That’s why. It’s a kick in the balls to diversity in publishing. If this book gets canceled due to a new creative team not catching on, chances are the publisher will not want to place blame on the talent, they’ll say that “the character just doesn’t connect” and then that character, who a great many people have invested time and money in, get shafted because the publisher doesn’t want to invest time in him/her anymore.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I must go into the corner and weep.
Hey folks, sorry the reviews are going up a day later than usual because this week was mid-term week and I’ve been doing a lot of reading and writing that didn’t have anything to do with comics and thus my brain and resolve has been whittled down to a viscous goop.
ACTION COMICS #887 3.99
AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #624 2.99
BATGIRL #8 2.99
BATMAN AND ROBIN #10 2.99
JUSTICE LEAGUE RISE AND FALL SPECIAL #1 3.99
POWERS #3 (MR) 3.95
PRELUDE TO DEADPOOL CORPS #2 (OF 5) 2.99
PUNISHERMAX #5 (MR) 3.99
RED ROBIN #10 2.99
SECRET SIX #19 2.99
SUPERMAN LAST STAND OF NEW KRYPTON #1 (OF 3) 3.99
SWORD #5 (MARVEL) 2.99
ULTIMATE COMICS SPIDER-MAN #8 3.99
And here’s my piddling excuse for a review section:
AMAZING SPIDER-MAN 624
Have you ever been walking along enjoying your day and then been smashed in the face by a brick from out of nowhere? That’s kind of what this issue feels like. I knew from extensive spoiler-riffic media coverage last week that this issue would be the one where Peter gets “fired” or some such nonsense, but I didn’t expect it to be such a contrived and out-of-left-field development that left me feeling like I was reading a different book.
Up to this point in the Brand New Day era of Spidey books, the writers have seemingly understood that Peter Parker has bad luck that really only results in an “aw shucks, that didn’t go well” sort of way. Not the “ARGH! MY LIFE IS FALLING TO UNIMAGINABLE SHIT!” kind of luck that I just call “Matt Murdock’s Life.” And this issue falls firmly into the Matt Murdock level of life upheaval. I know that his uncle was murdered, I know that his girlfriend got chucked off a bridge, but aside from that, you don’t see the entire world coming down on Peter that often. Because as Marvel’s everyman character, nobody wants to try to relate to someone who is publicly shamed and maligned for making an error in judgment.
I’m not going to say that what Peter did to get fired was out of character. Not at all. Because Peter is kind of a dumbass who does stupid things on a startlingly regular occasion. It’s the resolution that sticks me as the wrong way to move the character and it feels like all these weeks I’ve been praising the work on this book is worthless if this is what they were leading to.
BATGIRL # 8/RED ROBIN # 10
This is what I like to read. The interaction between the Bat family is something that makes those titles different from other books. You don’t get this kind of interaction with, say, the Superman family. Nor is anything like what you get in a team book like JLA. There is a close-knit togetherness and interwoven history here that doesn’t get played out elsewhere. The closest to it would maybe be the X-Men, but with the revolving door and expansive cast list I would say that it’s too expansive to work in the way the Bat family does.
This crossover deals with the fallout of the intro arc of Red Robin, with Ra’s Al Ghul coming for his vengeance as well as resolving some dangling threads from the time Stephanie Brown spent as Spoiler. Perhaps its the nature of resolution that makes this crossover so worthwhile.
JUSTICE LEAGUE RISE AND FALL SPECIAL # 1
Where to begin? Okay, I only skimmed Cry for Justice. I didn’t care for the first two issues and wasn’t going to invest any money into the rest of the series. The ending, where Green Arrow straight up shot an arrow through Prometheus’ head was both jarring and stupefying. This follow up issue, where the JLA finds out about that event, is better written than the mini-series that established the need for its existence, but that’s like saying that getting shot in the arm is better than getting shot in the leg.
I’m conflicted here, because I pretty much concur with Ollie’s new worldview, but I’m not so sure if I could ever fully imagine him as a character doing these things. With all the continuity established, Ollie doesn’t strike me as the gung-ho killer type. I’m hoping that this is leading somewhere that I’m not seeing, otherwise I might be giving up on Green Arrow after several years of collecting monthly.
PRELUDE TO DEADPOOL CORPS # 2
This one didn’t suck. Mostly saved by Xavier trying on wigs and trying to bang Emma Frost. Reminds me of an episode of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia where Danny DeVito basically did the same thing. Except Professor X always makes any situation funnier. You know, because he’s a cripple.
SWORD # 5
I hate you Marvel. This book was beautiful and you tossed it aside like it was a bucktoothed hooker. For shame. Just, for shame.
And that’s all I have for this week. Next week I won’t have classwork to deal with and I’ll be able to give you some meatier writing, but for this week just be glad I put up anything instead of diving into oncoming traffic.
…and that is how you generate pageviews, my friends.