Thursday, December 31, 2009

New Comics Day - Special

Only one release this week, but it's a doozy - Blackest Night #6. I really enjoyed it -a lot of cool moments. I'm very sad that I'll have to wait two months for #7.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

New Comics Day - Christmas Week

Last week was pretty big - and tomorrow, Blackest Night #6 comes out.

  • Guardians of the Galaxy #21
  • Fantastic Four #574
  • Incredible Hercules #139
  • Angel Annual #1
  • Invincible #69
  • Irredeemable #9
  • Madame Xanadu #18
  • Jack of Fables #41
  • Willow One-Shot
  • Azrael #3
  • The Web #4
  • Gotham City Sirens #7
  • Detective Comics #860
  • Teen Titans #78
  • World's Finest #3
  • Wonder Woman #39
  • Superman #695
  • Justice Society of America #34
  • Green Lantern #49 - Holy crap! Driq!
  • Blackest Night : JSA #1

I was pleasantly surprised by the Angel Annual. The fake ads sprinkled within were chuckle-inducing. The fake ad in the back cover parodying the Kenner Super Powers line was excellent. But the direct art-lift of the Boulder Mountain headquarters of M.A.S.K. was the icing on the cake.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

New Comics Day

New comics this week - slightly delayed by having a long day yesterday.

  • Angel #28
  • PS 238 #42
  • Ex Machina #47
  • Fables #91
  • Incorruptible #1
  • Blackest Night #67
  • Outsiders #25
  • Streets of Gotham #7
  • The Brave and the Bold #30
  • Supergirl #48
  • Batman #694
  • Power Girl #7
  • Justice League of America #40
  • Green Lantern Corps #43
The teaser title for GLC #44 - best pun of the week.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Capital PUNishment

I am a pun addict. It's true. I revel in little clever bits of wordplay at every opportunity. And sometimes, that works its way into my roleplaying.

A few years back, I ran a series of campaigns in the superhero genre, and I managed to give every adventure some sort of punny title. Some were pretty thin, lame examples, to be sure. But adding the little titles really boosted my enjoyment of the game, and helped convey the episodic feel I was going for.

My favorite of these, incidentally, was for the adventure wherein an archaeologist friend of the team reports that he's lost contact with a friend and colleague of his that was supposed to let him borrow a jade heart, purportedly that of a demon, from Asia. That little encounter with a fear demon was entitled "Loaner of an Oni Heart", and inspired several sequels with 'Oni' puns in the title.

So now I'm back on that tradition for my Mutants and Masterminds game. I retroactively titled the first two sessions, and then this past weekend's outing with a mysterious alien virus striking as the team is in meetings to help shape their public image was entitled 'Viral Marketing'. A bit on the nose, but it's a good start.

I can't wait till I get to run 'Ronin Holiday'.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Comic News

I don't often pop in to gush about various comic news stories here, but one of my favorite things in the DCU returns next year.

To sum up :

1.) A Legacies mini-series.
2.) A new edition of History of the DCU.
3.) Who's Who, baby. Aw, yeah.

I love meta-materials like Who's Who.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

New Comics Day

A new week, a new haul.

  • Magog #4
  • The Shield #4
  • Titans #20
  • Red Robin #7
  • Green Arrow / Black Canary #27
  • Batgirl #5
  • Action Comics #884
  • Secret Six #16
  • R.E.B.E.L.S. #11
  • Doom Patrol #5
  • Adventure Comics #5
  • Booster Gold #27
  • DC Universe Holiday Special '09 #1
Batgirl is my unexpected pleasure of the week - Damian and Stephanie are hilarious together.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009


I need to get back on my 4th Edition discussion thread - I'll get there eventually. In the meantime, I was overjoyed on Saturday when my long-delayed copy of the Pathfinder core rules arrived. I had originally ordered the book from Amazon directly, at a substantial discount. I kept waiting and waiting, and the book never came back into stock - so early last week, I took a peek out at Paizo's website to see if there was news of a second printing.

To my surprise, the book wasn't out of print - I think that Paizo just couldn't fulfill Amazon's re-order. Perhaps the discount was too steep? So I canceled my order from Amazon and ordered from one of Amazon's affiliates who had the book in stock.

Fifty bucks was, I thought, a fairly hefty price tag for what I expected to be an equivalent to the D&D Player's Handbook. it was, however, a fairly inexpensive price tag for what I actually got - the Pathfinder Core Rulebook is a PHB and DMG in one. Full color printing, too. I may have to do a full review later on, but I have to say I am pleased with the initial quality. The Bestiary, which I also ordered, is likewise spiffy.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

New Comics Day

This week's comics!

  • House of Mystery #20 - should be the last.
  • The Incredibles #3
  • X-Babies #3
  • Absolution #4
  • Jack of Fables #40
  • Cinderella : From Fabletown With Love #2
  • Invincible Presents : Atom Eve and Rex Splode #2
  • Red Tornado #4
  • The Great Ten #10
  • Superman : World of New Krypton #10
  • JSA All-Stars #1
  • Blackest Night : Wonder Woman #1
  • Blackest Night : Flash #1
  • Knights of the Dinner Table #156
  • Empowered Special #1

Saturday, November 28, 2009

New Comics Day (Belated)

I'm sure the delay is understandable - this week's comics haul :

  • Guardians of the Galaxy #20
  • Fantastic Four #573
  • Incredible Hercules #138
  • Madame Xanadu #17
  • Tarot #59
  • World's Finest #2
  • The Web #3
  • Justice League : Cry for Justice #5*
  • Gotham City Sirens #6
  • Superman #694*
  • Detective Comics #859
  • Justice Society of America #33
  • Wonder Woman #38
  • Superman : Secret Origin #3
  • Teen Titans #77
  • Justice League of America #39
  • Green Lantern #48
  • Blackest Night #5
* So, James Robinson produces the worst comic moment and best comic moment of the week. What the hell, man? (That would be Arsenal and 'Mitch', respectively.)

Blackest Night continues to entertain. And I think I may be back on Fantastic Four for the long haul.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Toy Hunting, Addendum

Well! I found a great little site with good visual representations of the figures from two of the three lines I collect! Infinite Heroes, sadly, does not have pictures on the site, but Marvel Universe and DC Classics do!

DC Classics :
Marvel Universe :

So those are excellent resources for people who'd like to see the scope of the toylines in question.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Toy Hunting

I made thr rounds at the local Wal-Marts, Targets, and Toys 'R Us this weeknd, looking for new toys, after managing to score DC Classics Wave 1 Batman and Penguin from Amazon for decent prices.

One Wal-Mart had a new set of Marvel Universe figures - Wolverine (Blue and Gold costume, no mask); Jean Grey; Vision; Sunfire (listed as 'Marvel's Sunfire', perhaps for trademark reasons?); and Warpath (in X-Force garb).

And a Spider-Man (House of M variant). I admit it, I was weak.

Another Wal-Mart had four of the seven members of DC Classics Wave 10 - the Imperiex Wave. Picked up Batman (Black costume); Robotman II; Beast Boy; and Power Girl. Still need Forager, Joker, and Man-Bat.

All in all, good hunting.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

New Comics Day

Pretty good week!
  • Invincible #68
  • Irredeemable #8
  • Azrael #2
  • Supergirl #47
  • Batman : Streets of Gotham #6
  • Brave and the Bold #29
  • Justice Society of America 80 Page Giant #1
  • Outsiders #24
  • Superman/Batman #66
  • Adventure Comics #4
  • Flash : Rebirth #5
Wow. Brother Power the Geek! Outsiders and Adventure come with Violet and Blue Lantern rings, respectively. Azrael is really on the bubble for me, but it's not bad, just not terribly engaging. And of course, Flash : Rebirth continues to be awesome.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Venture Brothers 4.05 - The Revenge Society

I had to clean brain matter off the blinds behind my couch Monday evening, because my mind was officially blown. 'The Revenge Society' gives us our best insights yet into the Guild of Calamitous Intent since 3.11 - "ORB". As a matter of fact, this episode directly sequelizes :
  • 2.12-2.13 - Showdown at Cremation Creek
  • 3.01 - Shadowman 9 : In the Cradle of Destiny
  • 3.03 - The Invisible Hand of Fate
  • 3.11 - ORB
Fun bits :

We see the faces of two members of the Council of Thirteen - Councilman 3 "Red Mantle", and Councilman 8 "Dragoon". Phantom Limb returns. We learn the original purpose of the Guild of Calamitous Intent. We learn who is considered to be the rightful heir to the title of Sovereign. We learn the (well, one) secret of ORB. The peculiar genesis of the Guild's association with musicians is revealed. Most entertainingly, we get thirty additional seconds of the flashback featured in episode 3.11.

I didn't pick up on it when I watched the episode, but Wikipedia confirms - Councilman 3 and 8 are supposed to be Buddy Holly and the Big Bopper, respectively.

Things I liked, especially :
  • Rusty gives Dean an effective motivational speech.
  • Lloyd Venture's little secret.
  • The other members of the Revenge Society.
  • David Bowie screws with Dr. Venture's head.
  • Fantomas's musical inclinations.
  • Phantom Limb's new look.
Three more episodes until the mid-season break.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay

I roused myself from playing video games this weekend to attend a somewhat unique event. There's a group of guys working to bring a new comic and gaming store to Morgantown, and in advance of that, they're doing some thing to build.. buzz, or hype, or whatever MBA's and ad execs are calling it these days.

To that end, they'd arranged for space at the local public library to demonstrate the new Warhammer Fantasy RPG on Saturday and Sunday. I opted for Sunday, as parking is free on Sundays. The guys running the event seemed nice enough, though the Sunday event was more sparsely attended than was the Saturday, I understand.

I'll try just about any game once, and Warhammer wasn't bad. They have a novel compound dice pool used for resolving actions. The game has extremely high production values, too. There is a *lot* of kibble, though. Tokens, chits, cards, smaller cards, bigger cards. A lot of things waiting to be swatted off the table by a cat, or vacuumed, or stained beyond legibility by spilled soda.

We ran through a short combat encounter, and it was certainly novel. I'd probably play it again, but there's relatively little chance of me dropping $100 on the core rules set.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

New Comics Day

Decent haul this week. Big surprises with Blackest Night stuff!

  • The Incredibles #2
  • Sword #1
  • X-Babies #2
  • Fables #90
  • Batman / Doc Savage Special #1
  • Titans #19
  • The Shield #3
  • Green Arrow / Black Canary #26
  • R.E.B.E.L.S. #10
  • Red Robin #6
  • Batgirl #4
  • JSA vs. Kobra #6
  • Batman and Robin #6
  • Batman #693
  • Action Comics #883
  • Green Lantern Corps #42
  • Booster Gold #26

I picked up the first issue of Sword on the recommendation of my comic store owner - said it was reminiscent of Giffen-era Justice League. I can see where he's coming from, but it's too soon to tell what the overall tone of the book will be.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Marvel Action Figures

The Marvel Universe 3.75 inch line - pretty nifty, really. The figures are all decently articulated. If I have one criticism of the line, it's that there are too many repaints and variants of the same characters. So let's take a look, shall we?

Matt Murdock, Male Model

Matt Murdock, Male Model

Daredevil is a fairly typical figure of the line. His head sits on a ball joint, which gives full rotation and a little wiggle room for up/down motion. The torso is jointed below the ribcage with another ball joint - so you can angle him forward or backward a little, or twist him all the way around. Some figures in the line (Spider-Man, most females) also have a swivel at the waist.

Neaaaar.. Faaaar.. Wherever you arrrre..

'Neaaaar.. Faaaar.. Wherever you arrrre..'

The arms are pretty well-jointed. The shoulders are a standard swivel-hinge allowing full rotation and generally good back and forth movement at any point in the rotation. I say generally good because some figures are so muscle bound that getting their arms to lay close at their sides is next to impossible. Below the shoulder is another swivel joint - missing on the skinny-armed female figures. The elbow is a standard hinge, and the wrist is a full rotator.

I'm Ready for My Close-Up, Mr. McFarlane..

'I'm Ready for My Close-Up, Mr. McFarlane..'

The hips are ball-jointed, which gives a pretty good range of motion, though good luck trying to move the legs back further than the vertical. The knees are double-hinged, which is a nice touch. The ankles on most figures are swivel hinges, which is good for foot fetishists, I suppose? Ironically, the Silver Surfer, who could use the extra articulation to, I dunno, stand on his surfboard, lacks the swivel on his ankles.

Bub 2 : Bub Harder

Bub 2 : Bub Harder

And then there's the variants. Oddly, the 'Stealth' Wolverine came out before the regular one got a release in one of the Secret Wars two-packs.

Mecha Shiva! Mecha Shiva!

'Mecha Shiva! Mecha Shiva!'

Johnny Storm's 'semi-flame' variant is wholly uninteresting, but it was all I could find until the flaming variant became common with the Secret Wars two-packs.

You think this 'A' on my head stands for this pocket French Dictionary behind me?

'You think this 'A' on my head stands for this pocket French Dictionary behind me?'

Oddly again, Ultimate Cap was the first regular release, and regular Cap only appeared with the Secret Wars packs. They're both poor at holding their shields, regrettably.

Carol Danvers and Olivia Newton-John

Carol Danvers and Olivia Newton-John

I'm not sure why Ms. Marvel merits a variant. I'm not sure why her variant classic costume has bowlegs. I'm not sure I want to know.

Wonder-Ninja powers, activate! Form of.. Cannon Fodder!

'Wonder-Ninja powers, activate! Form of.. Cannon Fodder!'

I do like that there are variant Hand Ninja. The Red one was single-carded, the white one came in a three-pack with a SHIELD agent and a HYDRA Agent.

See No Evil, Hear No Evil, Smash No Evil

See No Evil, Hear No Evil, Smash No Evil

That's right. Three Hulks. Modern Hulk (single-card), Red Hulk (single-card) and Classic Hulk (Secret Wars two-pack).

The New Defenders

The New Defenders

Some figures have variants I don't buy. The Punisher has a single-carded modern variant and a single-carded Classic look. They're mostly indistinguishable other than a slight change in the uniform color and a slight recession of Frank's hairline. I'm not sure which one I bought. There's also a three-pack with an Iron Man variant (about which, more later) and Daredevil (Yellow Costume) and Silver Surfer (painted white instead of silver). Pass.

Stark Industries is not a Cheertocracy.

'Stark Industries is not a Cheertocracy.'

And Iron Man is the current reigning champ with five variants. Two of them are classic-look armors with different paint jobs, and three are modern/ultimate armors, with differing paint jobs. I skipped 'classic stealth' Iron Man in that three-pack. Of course, I would've thought they'd have done War Machine by now.



Spider-Man has fewer variants than Tony, but his variants are often packaged with other figures. There are, in fact, two distinct Spider-Men as far as I can tell, but there were three single-carded versions - one black and white, two red and blue. the only difference in the second red and blue, as far as I can tell, is that he was upside down in the package.

Here comes the Spider-Maaaaaaaan!

'Here comes the Spider-Maaaaaaaan!'

So, I have six Spider-Men. I'm weak.

Since there is, sadly, no 3.75 inch Dazzler figure to borrow one from as of yet, I had to construct the microphone pictured, myself.

Since there is, sadly, no 3.75 inch Dazzler figure to borrow one from as of yet, I had to construct the microphone pictured, myself.

Table Talk : Disapproval

My gaming group was at something of a loss this weekend. With one player missing, we didn't want to run a game where she'd created a character - which basically left us with one option, Eric's Stargate game. Which he didn't feel up to running.

So we had to have a brainstorming session about what would be run. Kurt and Eric presented several options, all new stuff that we hadn't touched. I briefly pondered doing a Serenity game, but quickly dismissed the idea. We finally settled on one of Eric's pitches - a low-power superhero-type game, somewhat like Heroes in tone. The game would be set in modern-day India.

After confirming that I could not have Peter Petrelli's powerset, nor Sylar's, I built my character - an American software CEO, Desmond Carter, who'd discovered he had shapeshifting powers. Kurt built 'Dr. Chakra' - a medical doctor and neighborhood defender with astral projection powers and martial arts skills. Desmond's combat skills were mediocre at best, considering he lacked any offensive capability beyond a simple punch. But his unusual physiology included some regeneration abilities, so he could take punishment.

We established that Desmond was going to India for a tech conference, demonstrating the new version of his company's hit translation software - there was talk of riots in the streets as racial tensions flared. I joked that I should have Desmond go down to put a stop to all that, to give the race rioters a stern talking-to, and that started the meme of the night :

Desmond Carter, AKA The Disapprover.

He doesn't fight crime, so much as he scolds it into submission. His finger wags.. for justice.

It was a good session, though, especially considering the level of improvisation that must've been going on. Eric even managed to get the two PCs to the same location and fighting for common cause. He's much improved since the olden days, in his gamemastering youth. A tale for another time..

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

New Comics Day

Not a bad haul this week, either!

  • House of Mystery #19
  • Cinderella : From Fabletown With Love #1
  • Angel #27
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer #30
  • Assault on New Olympus #1
  • Absolution #3
  • Magog #3
  • Red Tornado #3
  • Doom Patrol #4
  • The Great Ten #1
  • Superman : World of New Krypton #9
  • Secret Six #15
  • Knights of the Dinner Table #155
Free yellow lantern ring with Doom Patrol!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Crowning Moment of Awesome

So, I've been running my Rifts-like RPG - the second session was this past weekend. Having acquired their giant mysterious robot suits, the players were in for a VR training session. The cockpits of the robots were re-wired for simulations and we kicked things off.

The 'training session' adventure served the dual purpose of helping me and the players get used to the mecha rules, too.

The first scenario - a black and white battle against Godzilla - went off as planned, but unbeknowst to the players/characters, the second VR scenario was pre-empted by something like a shared hallucination of as-of-yet undetermined origin. They found themselves in an Earthlike but unfamiliar landscape, battling large bio-robotic alien things.

Now, these things were Power Level 17, and the mecha they were piloting were calibrated around PL 15. So the first one they took out was a little tough. Then they tried taking on two at once. It was a good fight for a while, but Eric's mecha took a damaging hit that forced him to make piloting checks to keep the thing moving, and then Veronica's took a disabling hit. Both creatures were still active, though both had some injuries and one was pretty badly off.

Eric got his crowning moment of awesome, though. He makes a piloting check, attacks the least damaged alien thing using Power Attack, and manages to get a critical hit - the creature fails its toughness save by enough to go down. Then the badly damaged remaining alien attacks, disabling Eric's mecha.

At this point in the narrative, I should take a moment to describe Eric's character.

Eric's character is loosely based on Apollo from the Star Trek episode 'Who Mourns for Adonais' and Goku from Dragonball Z. On his homeworld, the character was a powerful champion who ruled over vast numbers of 'ordinary' folk. His abilities were diminished when he came to Earth (since I have them at Power Level 8) but he is the kind of guy who used to wrestle dragons for a living.

So, instead of letting what they thought was a simulation end, Eric's character pops the hatch on his mecha (which would not have worked had they still actually been in a simulation) and gets out, engaging the PL 17 ginormous alien in hand to hand combat.

And wins.

The thing was on it's last legs, so the penalties to its toughness save actually made it a relatively even chance for him, but it was still surprising when it blew its toughness save and dropped into unconsciousness. With power attack, he had just enough damage to overcome the impervious rating on the creature's toughness.

Very cool little session.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

New Comics Day

Biiig week!

  • Invincible Presents : Atom Eve and Rex Splode #1
  • Guardians of the Galaxy #19
  • Fantastic Four #572
  • Incredible Hercules #137
  • Jack of Fables #37, #39
  • Madame Xanadu #16
  • The Web #2
  • Gotham City Sirens #5
  • The Last Days of Animal Man #6
  • World's Finest #1
  • Detective Comics #858
  • Teen Titans #76
  • Superman #693
  • Batman #692
  • Wonder Woman #37
  • Superman : Secret Origins #2
  • Justice Society of America #32
  • Ambush Bug #7
  • Blackest Night : Titans #3
  • Green Lantern #47
  • Blackest Night #4

Whew. Still reading..

Monday, October 26, 2009

The Chopping Block

I rarely cut titles from my pull list. Once I get started on a series, I find it very difficult to convince myself to drop it - it's the completist in me.

That said, with as many titles as I collect, there will be occasional drops. Today, I'm going to discuss the two most recent.

Vigilante - Holy 1980's, Batman! Marv Wolfman returns to the character he made.. readable.

Okay, maybe that's not fair. The 80's incarnation of the Vigilante was, essentially the Punisher - if Frank Castle were sane enough to contemplate the awfulness of his actions. It's a niche that was worthy of exploration. The 50 issue run of that version of the character culminated with the Vigilante committing suicide - which, again, is novel.

So, I guess DC was either A.) envious of the success Marvel has with the Punisher or B.) really struggling to find something for Marv Wolfman to do, because they decided to reintroduce the character. The person behind the mask is the brother of the 80's Vigilante, taking up his sibling's crusade against crime. Trouble is, there's no more of that nuance left. Dorian (the new guy) gets a few self-analyzing voiceovers every issue, but he's not really grappling with the problems of vigilantism so much as simply acknowledging them.

The emotional crux of the main character and the main appeal to the series seems to be nostalgia : "Remember that other Vigilante? This guy's not as interesting as him, but will think about him - a lot." I dropped the title after it finished the little crossover with the two Teen Titan titles.

House of Mystery - I just dropped this one this week. I may end up with another issue or two as the comic shop has likely ordered the next month or two worth, but I'm done. I badly wanted this title to be a new Sandman, and it just isn't. It started out promisingly enough as a kind of horror/fantasy/science fiction anthology title, with an interdimensional bar as a kind of framing sequence. Relatively entertaining.

Then, the series started to change - focusing more on the POV character and her strange imprisonment in the bar / house, and we get more of her backstory, and it's all interesting, but not especially entertaining, anymore. I almost dropped this series a few months back, but then they revealed that the titular House was, in fact, Cain's House of Mystery. And he's been looking for it. And he's pissed. So that renewed my flagging enthusiasm for a while, but I think it's time to let this one go.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

New Comics Day

And here's this week's!

  • Invincible #67
  • Ex Machina #46
  • Final Crisis Aftermath : Dance #6
  • Azrael #1
  • Superman/Batman #65
  • Outsiders #23
  • JSA vs. Kobra #4 (missed it previously)
  • Brave and the Bold #28
  • Supergirl #46
  • Batman : Streets of Gotham #5
  • Power Girl #6
  • DC Universe Halloween Special 2009 #1
  • Justice League of America #38
  • Blackest Night : Superman #3

Supergirl just keeps growing on me..

Sunday, October 18, 2009

New Comics Day (Belated)

I was out of town, and then I've been sick. So, a belated list from last week!

  • House of Mystery Halloween Annual #1
  • PS 238 #41
  • Fables #89
  • Incredible Hercules #136
  • Liberty Comics #2
  • Final Crisis Aftermath : Escape #6
  • The Shield #2
  • R.E.B.E.L.S. #9
  • Titans #18
  • Green Arrow / Black Canary #25
  • Red Robin #5
  • Batgirl #3
  • Detective Comics Annual #11
  • Batman #691
  • JSA vs. Kobra #5
  • Action Comics #882
  • Secret Six #14
  • Booster Gold #25
  • Adventure Comics #3
  • Blackest Night : Batman #3
  • Green Lantern Corps #41

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

New Comics Day

New stuff this week! Next week, I'll be picking them up later because of my vacation.

  • House of Mystery #18
  • Absolution #2
  • Angel #26
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer #29
  • The Incredibles #1
  • Irredeemable #7
  • X-Babies #1
  • Planetary #27
  • Strange Adventures #8
  • REBELS Annual #1
  • Magog #2
  • Red Tornado #2
  • Justice League : Cry for Justice #4
  • Batman Annual #27
  • Doom Patrol #3
  • Superman : World of New Krypton #8
  • Batman and Robin #5

Pretty big week. The REBELS annual was actually more interesting than I expected.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

4th Edition : History and Multiclassing

First, a bit of background. I started with roleplaying games in the late 80's. My first forays into the hobby were the Marvel Super Heroes game by TSR and Mayfair's DC Heroes. I quickly expanded beyond that, with the oversized Basic Dungeons and Dragons box sets and then the D&D Rules Cyclopedia, and then Advanced Dungeons and Dragons, 2nd Edition.

I was pretty content with AD&D. I logged a ridiculous number of hours playing it with my friends - running adventures, building my own worlds. There were quirks to the system - a dozen different things would each have a completely different mechanic. Multi-classing and dual-classing were just bizarre. But the game had a good overall feel. I wasn't sure anything could be better.

When 3rd Edition was announced, I was extremely skeptical - D&D had only recently changed hands from TSR to relative upstart Wizards of the Coast. The internet was abuzz with speculation that D&D would become 'Magic the Gathering : The RPG'. I am a cautious sort, but I like to give things a chance - actually read the final printed editions of the books myself, that sort of thing.

And I loved it. All the same feel and flavor was there, but the system was unified. The contradictions removed. Instead, what I had was a versatile toolbox for building exactly whatever kind of characters I could envision. I was a big fan of 3rd Edition. Later, the so-called 3.5 revision felt like to small a change to justify the new core rulebook release, but I could see that the changes were necessary.

So then 4th Edition was announced about six months after it was said there were 'no plans for starting a new edition until next year at the earliest.' Hrm. Off to a bad start, but I was willing to give it the same chance I'd given 3rd. I'd buy the books, and check them out. So, I did.

Needless to say, I've got a lot of issues with 4th Edition. Whereas the negative buzz that circulated around 3rd Edition was wholly unjustified, with 4th, I found that the criticisms were fairly spot-on. Now, I'd like to offer my thoughts on 4th Edition, somewhat belatedly. (Hey, I didn't have a fulltime nerd-blog then - cut me some slack!)

I'll cut right to the most damning flaw of 4th Edition in my mind - multiclassing. To wit, the absence thereof. 3rd Edition had blown the doors of what was possible by allowing one to pick and choose different classes at different levels, resulting in a virtually infinite number of possibilities. With 4th Edition, you were stuck in your cookie-cutter mold from birth - you could dip your toe into the powers of a single alternate class, but never undertake any serious combination. To make matters worse, the base classes all have a very similar feel. There's no escaping the sense of sameness that pervades the system.

Here's a fun little math fact for you. The 3rd Edition Player's Handbook has 11 Base Classes. Barbarian, Bard, Cleric, Druid, Fighter, Monk, Paladin, Ranger, Rogue, Sorceror, and Wizard. The number of distinct second-level characters you can generate (ignoring races and feats) is 66. Granted, 5 of those are forbidden by alignment restrictions (Bard and Barbarian don't go with Monk or Paladin; Paladins and Druids don't mix) - but that's 61 distinct characters out of the basic book. In 4th, you can't even look at multi-classing until the mid-levels, so the number of distinct 2nd level characters is the same as the number of distinct 1st level characters - eight.

Oh, sure, there are additional base classes becoming available with additional book purchases - and cynically, I think that's the motive. D&D 3E was a modular thing of beauty - you only need one core book to play whatever kind of fantasy character you want. D&D 4E straitjackets the characters so that if you want to play the rogue/warrior or the wizard/rogue or the warrior/wizard, you'll buy the new sourcebook containing a whole new base class that synthesizes the two.

When it comes to the flexbility to make distinct characters - both as a player and someone who enjoys worldbuilding for running campaigns - 4E is useless, and 3E is the platonic ideal.

Friday, October 2, 2009

4th Edition Dungeons and Dragons - Prelude

I've been puttering around the blogosphere, and I've been able to find several folks who have opined at length regarding just what 4th Edition is missing that sets some gamers' teeth on edge, including mine.

Is D&D 4e Really Role-Playing?
Losing My 4ginity
Dissociated Mechanics
What's Wrong With MMOs? D&D 4e Has Answers
My Stance on D&D 4th Edition
Why Complain About 4e? Stop The Edition Wars!

I'll get into my observations and thoughts soon, in another post.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

New Comics Day

I was just too busy to get this up yesterday.

  • Jack of Fables #38
  • The Last Days of Animal Man #5
  • Gotham City Sirens #4
  • Teen Titans #75
  • Superman #692
  • Wonder Woman #36
  • Justice Society of America #31
  • Justice League of America 80 Page Giant #1
  • Blackest Night : Titans #2
  • Green Lantern #46
  • Bomb Queen Vol 6 #1
  • Tarot #58
  • Knights of the Dinner Table #154

Surprise of the week - the cameos in Superman #692. Not the extra Legionnaire, but the robots stored at Project 7734. Was that Gernsback?

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Weekend Watching

A couple of fall premieres this weekend, and one special footnote.

Law and Order - I spent a little time with Law and Order Season Five, finally finishing up the last of it yesterday. I think I need to do a post all about Jack McCoy sometime.

Family Guy - Big season premiere. It was a Stewie/Brian episode, which is my favorite kind - 'Road to the Multiverse'. Basically glimpses of alternate universes including a Disney parody that had my sides splitting and a shot at Robot Chicken that was pretty entertaining, too. I love the friendly jabs those shows take at one another.

American Dad - It's basically the same show as Family Guy, of course, but I like'em both. I did not watch the new Cleveland show, because I think I've got enough Seth MacFarlane content to watch already.

Titan Maximum - The creators of Robot Chicken give us a genre-aware version of Voltron. It's definitely funny, but I'm hoping that subsequent episodes have a little more densely packed humor, now that the premise is fully established. The Sasha character - token 'Mean Girl' of the group - is pretty funny despite the age of that particular cliche.

From the ending :

(Titan Maximum has just defeated a rampaging robot - the robot's chest beam fires, blowing a hole through Titan Maximum and toppling it. The team gets out of the wreckage and assembles in stunned silence at their close-call, pyrrhic victory. Sasha breaks the silence, addressing the other girl on the team.)
Sasha : Look at what you did, Jodie.
I also like the monkey-janitor on the team, who reacts to everything anyone says with the same look of passive indifference.

I'm sure a lot of my watching this week will be 30 Rock, Season Three and Star Trek, Season Two (on Blu-Ray! Mmmm..) which arrived from Amazon yesterday.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

New Comics Day

Here's this week's haul!

  • Invincible #66
  • Nova #29
  • Guardians of the Galaxy #18
  • Fantastic Four #570 and #571
  • Incredible Hercules #135
  • Madame Xanadu #15
  • Final Crisis Aftermath : Dance #5
  • The Web #1
  • Superman/Batman #64
  • Supergirl #45
  • Detective Comics #857
  • Superman : Secret Origin #1
  • Power Girl #5
  • Justice League of America #37
  • Blackest Night : Superman #2
  • Wednesday Comics #12
Maybe some thoughts on some of them tomorrow, but I leave you with this image :

Martha Kent, Badass.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Weekend Watching

A new 'feature', wherein I briefly discuss what television show or movie had my eyeballs glued to it over the weekend.

Warehouse 13 - Saved on my DVR from Tuesday. I'm not excited enough about the show to need to watch it the night it comes on, or even the day after, but I do really enjoy it. If I could change one thing about it, I would stop the writers' herculean effort to push the two leads together romantically. It's not that the actors in question don't have chemistry, it just feels so predictable in a show that's otherwise pretty innovative. Wikipedia has a list of artifacts from the show so far. Saves me from having to put one together!

Law and Order - I'm a big fan of 'classic' Law and Order, mainly because Jack McCoy is the greatest District Attorney who ever fictionally lived. So I finally picked up some of the season DVD sets, starting with Season 4 which is the one preceding Jack's debut. Watched several episodes while working on painting pewter miniatures.

Important Things With Demetri Martin - Offbeat, funny. The first episode I saw on Comedy Central hooked me - I really like Martin's low-key comedy style. Picked up the DVD.

Anchorman - A friend of mine hadn't seen Anchorman, which I consider to be Judd Apatow's second funniest film, after Walk Hard. Mainly because of Steve Carrell as Brick Tamland. I love lamp.

Legend of Drunken Master - Local video store went out of business, and sold off their movie stock. The pickings were pretty thin by the time I got around to checking it out, but with movies at $4 apiece, there were still a few things I was happy to pick up, this among them. There's never a bad time for a Jackie Chan movie.

Pride of the Yankees - And this is another one I snagged for $4. Quite a shift, tonally, from most of the rest of the stuff I watched this weekend. But there's also never a bad time for a Gary Cooper movie.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

New Comics Day

Here's this week's haul!

  • Angel #25
  • Ex Machina #45
  • Fables #88
  • R.E.B.E.L.S. #8
  • Final Crisis Aftermath : Escape #5
  • Outsiders #22
  • Batman : Streets of Gotham : #4
  • Batgirl #2
  • Green Arrow / Black Canary #24
  • Brave and the Bold #27
  • Batman and Robin #4
  • Action Comics #881
  • Blackest Night #3
  • Wednesday Comics #11

Also picked up (finally) the Batman : Black Casebook TPB.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

DC Animated

DC has a proud tradition of solid animated adaptations of their work, dating back nearly twenty years, now. And in the last few years, they've been cranking out some good direct to video animated movies. With the announcement of the latest one, I wanted to touch on each of them briefly.

  • Batman : Gotham Knights - This is the only one I haven't seen, and don't own. Obviously, I can't say much.
  • Superman / Doomsday - It's a B-minus effort, really. Kind of a slow early showing.
  • Justice League : New Frontier - This is a very solid adaptation of Darwyn Cooke's acclaimed miniseries, and one of the best of the bunch so far.
  • Wonder Woman - And this is the other best of the bunch. It's hilarious, without being goofy.
  • Green Lantern : First Flight - It's taken some flack for a pedestrian storyline, but it's solidly acted and visually interesting. This is the first of the bunch I bought on Blu-Ray.
Superman/Batman : Public Enemies is the next one due out, and I plan to snap that up. But they've also just announced a future one - Justice League : Crisis on Two Earths. With a title like that, I was hoping for a JLA/JSA team-up, but it looks like they've giving us the next best thing - the Justice League vs. the Crime Syndicate. While the Syndicate has been homaged in DC animated projects before, it's never actually appeared, with the exception of Owlman on Batman : Brave and the Bold. So Ultraman, Superwoman, Power Ring, and Johnny Quick should all be getting their first animated incarnations.

I still want a JSA animated movie though.

Table Talk 2

In the last session of my D&D game, before I put it on hiatus, the player characters assembled their might to take down a red dragon. They'd been dealing with a family of dragons who were forming a power base inside the largest city in the land - one of the family turned out to be willing to help the PCs, though, and arranged for them to have a shot at killing her younger cousin.

So they trekked into the hills where the dragon made his home. He lived near a barbarian tribe that worshipped him as a semi-divine entity - bringing tributes to his cave, that sort of thing.

And the party was loaded for bear. Lots of preparation for the dragon's fire immunity and fiery breath weapon. Ultimately they prevailed in the battle - thanks to a surprisingly effective showing by the NPC Cleric as a front-line melee combatant. And once the battle was over, the dismemberment began.

See, my pal Eric often likes to play warrior-types with a thing for taking trophies of their kills. Teeth, claws, skulls. This is a tendency the rest of us tolerate in good humor. Eric's current character is no exception - in fact, he may be worse than usual, because as a warrior-wizard he's also looking for exotic spell components. So he began to chop up the dragon. He summoned up a mule to try and haul out some of the pieces.

Though what he said was :

Eric : "I attach the dragon's wings to the mule."

Which led to a round of amused speculation about animal hybridization experiments and crude stitches, and the laughter only intensified as he specified 'with hemp rope', leading us to envision the horrifically painful stitches such rope would form for the poor winged mule.

But that wasn't the really funny part.

Various bits of the dragon had been attached to whatever beasts of burden could be manifested and other bits were put on sledges for the players to haul out under their own power, when Kurt came up with an amusing mental image.

Kurt : "We'll probably stumble into that barbarian tribe of his. (tremulously) 'What are you doing to our god?'"

And as it sometimes does, musical inspiration struck me.

Me : (singing) "Stop draggin' our.. /stop draggin' our.. /stop draggin' our god around.."

And that was when the table busted up. Kurt even followed on with another line or two. I'm one bored evening away from writing out the rest of the lyrics to that.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

New Comics Day

Here's the haul for this week!

  • House of Mystery #17
  • Invincible Iron Man #17
  • Incredible Hercules #134
  • The Shield #1
  • Titans #17
  • Red Robin #4
  • Doom Patrol #2
  • Superman : World of New Krypton #7
  • Secret Six #13
  • Adventure Comics #2
  • Green Lantern Corps #40
  • Blackest Night : Batman #2
  • Booster Gold #24
  • Wednesday Comics #10
Thoughts later. Tired now.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Local Fandom

You know, I could continue to preface every post title with 'CandidGamera Vs.', but I think the big banner at the top pretty much covers that. Still finding my groove as a nerd-blogger.

I wanted to take a minute to talk about Fandom in West Virginia.

Honestly, a minute's about all it would take. The nerdly pursuits are all more popular in urban areas, or, at least, they have enough participants concentrated in a small enough area to hit critical mass - the critical mass necessary to sustain a long-term interest. West Virginia is decidedly not-urban.

West Virginia has a few comics stores - primarily concentrated around our largest urban areas. It has very few gaming stores - to buy roleplaying accessories, I tend to have to special-order or scrounge through local Barnes and Nobles. I'm fortunate enough to live in the Morgantown-Fairmont area, which is home to our largest and third-largest universities - I can only imagine how much more difficult it is to find stores in the rural areas.

And that's just the stores - then there's the matter of actually finding gamers. That wasn't too challenging when I was attending West Virginia University, but these days, it can be difficult.

All hope is not lost, however. West Virginia actually has an annual gaming convention, CharCon, and an annual anime convention - Tsubasacon. Near as I can tell, both conventions are under a thousand attendees, but growing a little each year. That gives me hope. Maybe I'll even get to one of them this year or next.

New comics are delayed this week, due to the Labor Day holiday - expect a list up tomorrow. And I'll probably do another Table Talk segment this week.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

CandidGamera vs. New Comics Day

It's that time again!

  • Exiles #6
  • The Incredibles #0
  • Irredeemable #6
  • Buffy : Season Eight #28
  • Strange Adventures #7
  • Magog #1
  • Red Tornado #1
  • Justice League : Cry for Justice #3
  • Supergirl Annual #1
  • Solomon Grundy #7
  • Batman #690
  • Wednesday Comics #9
And now, cryptic and not-so cryptic comments!

  • Dammit, James Robinson. I liked Tasmanian Devil.
  • Kinda figured him for the bastard who killed Cyrus Gold.
  • Always nice to see the penny.
  • Mace vs. Tyrannosaurus!
  • Oh, snap - Xander is in so much trouble.
  • Exiles #6 is a nice sign-off for a series that Chris Claremont ruined.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

CandidGamera vs. Follow-Ups

Funny that this news should come on the heels of my collectoritis post, but Heroclix is back. I don't actually play Heroclix, but I buy them. Because I bought one, and then needed more..

Maybe this time I'll pick up some more of the Marvel guys, too. In the past, I've mainly been a DC buyer, mimicking my comic interests.

Monday, August 31, 2009

CandidGamera vs. Collectoritis

I'm a collector. I'm driven to collect things. Not just random things, mind you. It has to be a set of things, and I'm usually able to resist until I buy the first one. Once I've got one, I have a strong desire to buy them all.

I'd been able to resist superhero action figures for a very long time, but then DC and Mattel came out with The DC Infinite Heroes line.

These are 3.75 inch figures (aka 'G.I. Joe scale') with good articulation and nice detail. What sold me, though, i s that they lead off the line with lesser-known figures like Adam Strange. They come as singles, 3-Packs, and 6-Packs most commonly.

The downside is that the female figures, in an effort to give them realistic proportions, have arms and legs too thin to support middle joints. So no elbows or knees for the ladies.

Complimenting that line is the Marvel Universe line.

Also 3.75" scale, the Marvel Universe line is slightly more upscale - the figures tend to have more articulation, and nearly all of them include an accessory. And like Infinite Heroes, the first batches included some more obscure characters like Union Jack. Of course, the price point is a little higher.

The Marvel Universe line includes mostly 1, 2, and 3-packs.

The downside here is that some of the accessories are pretty forced or lame, andthey've already shown a fondness for producing pointless variants. Two Spider-Men, Two Punishers, Two Hulks, Three Iron Men, Two Johnny Storms, Two Ms. Marvels.. The upside is that the women actually have the same articulation as the boys.

The last line I started picking up has actually been running for a long time, necessitating a lot of catch-up buying on my part - the DC Classics line. These are 6-inch action figures with excellent detail and articulation. They go for about $12 or $13 apiece, which isn't too bad. Collecting all the figures in a given 'wave' of figures give you the pieces to build a larger 'extra' character, which is fun, but hell on someone with collectoritis.

So, I will, from time to time, post some pictures to talk about these lines of toys. As soon as I get used to Blogger's picture-posting conditions so I can do it more creatively than I did this time.

CandidGamera vs. Corporate Takeovers

Disney to Acquire Marvel.

Fascinating for a couple of reasons. One wonders :

  • How much editorial meddling will Disney do in Marvel's day to day affairs?
  • Will Boom! Studios retain the just-acquired rights to publish Disney-branded comics?
  • Now that Marvel will have Disney behind it, DC's advantage of being backed by Time-Warner is matched. Does this change the landscape of the comics industry?

Thursday, August 27, 2009

CandidGamera vs. New Comics Day (Belated)

I was sick, yesterday, and in the evening I went to see Inglourious Basterds, so I didn't get to do my list yet. Here it is!

  • Guardians of the Galaxy #17
  • Incredible Hercules #133
  • Absolution #1
  • Red Circle : The Shield #1
  • Madame Xanadu #14
  • The Last Days of Animal Man #4
  • Gotham City Sirens #3
  • Detective Comics #856
  • Batman and Robin #3
  • Superman #691
  • Superman's Pal Jimmy Olsen Special #2
  • Wonder Woman #35
  • Teen Titans #74
  • Green Lantern #45
  • Blackest Night : Titans #1
  • Justice Society of America #30
  • Flash : Rebirth #4
  • Wednesday Comics #8

Two-word review of Flash : Rebirth #4 : Hell, yes.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

CandidGamera vs. Campaign Ideas

Dungeons and Dragons is a fun game to run. I love doing world-building in a sword and sorcery environment. And it's fairly simple to find players for any edition of D&D - at least, it's easier to find D&D players than it is to find players of other games. It's the common ground.

I've been running a D&D campaign of some sort virtually non-stop for .. fifteen years? Wow. Still, every now and then, I need something else. Something different. Usually, this something different comes in the form of a superhero game. Not always straight-up superheroics - I've done Pulp Supers, Noir/Investigation ("Dark") Supers, Iron Age Supers, and plenty of other variations. I've actually got a Golden Age Supers game idea that I want to run as well.

So, last Saturday, I put the D&D campaign on hiatus for a bit, because I wanted to run something else. And I pitched ideas to my players. (Eric, Kurt, and Veronica)

The Golden Age Supers idea was met with some enthusiasm - it's something I've been talking up for months now, and I think we could have a lot of fun with the concept. I'd be using Mutants and Masterminds, which I consider the gold standard for fast-paced* superhero RPGs.

* The gold standard for superhero RPGs in general is still Champions, but I can improvise better with a d20 game.

But the final decision was two to one for my other idea.

Many of you (of the three of you who read this) will no doubt be familiar with Rifts. It's almost infamous*. It's a post-apocalyptic RPG where a cataclysmic event opened up multiple 'rifts' on Earth, filling the planet with magical energy and allowing for the intrusion of various 'dimensional beings' from parallel Earths. It's the ultimate mash-up multi-genre game, because literally everything can be in a Rifts game. Magic, science, superheroes, whatever. I think it's a fantastic premise.

* (As Ned Nederlander defines it, "more than famous".)

Rifts, however, has two problems. One is the ruleset. The rules were quaint and archaic and derivative of Dungeons and Dragons when the game was released, twenty years ago. And they're just.. ludicrously bad. There's no reason for anything to be as it is, other than that it was decided to be that way. The other problem is the setting. It's got some very entertaining pieces, but some of the ideas are just very wrong-headed, or jarring, or illogical*. And it's complicated by the fact that every subsequent setting book for Rifts introduces more and more powerful things - power creep.

* A brief aside : one of my favorite perennial nitpicks about Rifts is that the setting's dragons are declared in the rulebook to be mammals. Egg-laying, breast-lacking, hairless mammals. Science : YOU FAIL.

My other campaign idea was, essentially, Rifts's premise, with a fresh start on a setting, using Mutants and Masterminds as the rules. I plan to start the group in Japan, and give them giant robot suits to battle the gigantic reptilian monsters that emerged from the Tokyo rift - the large, nigh-invulnerable ground monsters, and the speedy but awkward flying ones.

So, Gamera vs. Gyaos vs. Gundam, basically.

From there, they'll expand outward to explore the post-cataclysmic Earth.

I'm pretty psyched. I can't wait to snap up the new Mecha and Manga sourcebook for Mutants and Masterminds to support the campaign.

Monday, August 24, 2009

CandidGamera vs. Table Talk

Finally, I have an idea for a semi-regular feature on this blog apart from a weekly list of what comic books I've bought.

(I say 'finally', as if I had been writing this thing since time immemorial.)

Table Talk! Funny, sometimes out of context snippets from RPG sessions.

Our first example is brought to you courtesy of Kurt's Rippers campaign. For those unfamiliar, Rippers is a game of Victorian-Era Monster Hunters. My friends and I are sporadically indulging in a game set in India, battling evil serpent people. We have an alarmingly high tendency towards collateral damage, thus far, and may actually be doing more harm than good.

The players are myself, Eric, and Veronica, with Kurt as the Game Master. This was our second session, and we were all ready to play - except Eric. In a rare display of disorganization, Eric discovered he had forgotten to bring his character. The Rippers game is based on Savage Worlds, which is an exceedingly simple system, so it is decided that Eric will whip up a new substitute character for this session.

So he concocts an adventuring archaeologist, called Paul Hitchens, from Australia. Who wears a fedora. This means that the jokes that inevitably follow fall into one or more of these three categories :

  1. Crocodile Dundee
  2. Steve Irwin
  3. Indiana Jones
So there was a round of "That's not an Ark - this is an ark!" and "Crikey! Look at that bouldah trap. Let's go over and pick up this idol and see what happens!", et cetera. But that wasn't even the best part - no, riffing on Indy, I inquired as to the character's manly adventure name.

Me : "So, what do we call him? Queensland Hitchens? New South Wales Hitchens? Tasmania Hitchens?"

Eric : "Actually, he's from Victoria.."

Me : "Victoria Hitchens, it is! Not the most masculine alias.."
So, that became the evening's running gag.

Friday, August 21, 2009

CandidGamera vs. Comic Books

Just one review this time, I think.

Blackest Night : Superman #1.

I'll be brief. It's creepy as hell, well-written, and the art is fantastic. Zombie Kal-L's.. assistant is nice to see as well. A worthy tie-in.

CandidGamera vs. RiffTrax

I will be looking at a couple of comics to review later this evening, but I need to discuss what happened last night.

I attended RiffTrax Live. Mike Nelson, Kevin Murphy, and Bill Corbett of MST3K fame performing live via satellite in 400 theaters, mocking Ed Wood's Plan 9 From Outer Space. But that's not all - no, they included a couple of short comedy pieces from Rich Kyanka of SomethingAwful, and Jonathan Coulton performed 'The Future Soon' and 'Re : Your Brains', and most importantly, the guys riffed a short - 'Flying Stewardess'.

The evening was marred only slightly by the massive thunderstorm that interrupted the satellite feed to our particular theater, causing us to lose 5-10 minutes near the end of the film. The owner of the theater was kind enough to give us re-admit passes to get in to see another movie free, to make up for the loss.

I hope they do something like this again - awesome, awesome experience.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

CandidGamera vs. New Comics Day

This week's new comics haul!

  • Ex Machina #44
  • Invincible #65
  • Vigilante #9
  • Final Crisis Aftermath : Dance #4
  • Red Circle : The Web #1
  • Outsiders #21
  • Superman/Batman #63
  • Brave and the Bold #26
  • Batman : Streets of Gotham #3
  • Supergirl #44
  • Batgirl #1
  • Superman Annual #14
  • Power Girl #4
  • Justice League of America #36
  • Blackest Night : Superman #1
  • Wednesday Comics #7
  • Evil & Malice Save the World! (TPB)
I'll probably review a couple of them tomorrow, and try to do a non-comics post of some kind!

CandidGamera vs. Brand New Day

To summarize Spider-Man's Brand New Day, in a thousand words :

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

CandidGamera vs. Wednesday Comics

So, DC's latest weekly experiment is Wednesday Comics. For $3.99, you get a newspaper-sized issue containing a number of single-page serial entries. The format has some disadvantages - the cheaper newsprint is pretty difficult to keep in good shape. The size makes the book a little unwieldy. Still, there's no denying that it's pretty.

Let's look at the features, one by one.

Batman, by Azzarello and Risso - It's not bad, as far as the writing goes. Not as sure about the art - Risso's Bruce Wayne looks a bit off-model. Sort of a slower-paced mystery serial.

Kamandi, by Gibbons and Sook - This one's a winner, all around. The spiritual cousin of Prince Valiant, with an action beat in every installment. Nice to see one of DC's more obscure characters getting some screentime.

Superman, by Arcudi and Bermejo - It's pretty. But Superman being introspective about his isolation as an alien on Earth got old twenty years ago.

Deadman, by Heuck and Stewart - One of my favorites, but I have no idea what the hell is going on. It's not boring, though!

Green Lantern, by Busiek and Quinones - It's one of the lower-key installments, with action sequences being pretty sparse so far, but again, it isn't boring, and things look ready to kick into high gear for the latter half.

Metamorpho, by Gaiman and Allred - This is my favorite of the bunch. It has a wacky, Silver-Age sensibility that works very well for Metamorpho. I'd love to see this team do a Metamorpho miniseries.

Teen Titans, by Berganza and Galloway - The art style is kind of interesting. I haven't really made up my mind on this strip yet, but the reveal of Trident's identity in #6 does intrigue me.

Strange Adventures, by Pope and Villarrubia - It's not the Rann I know, but it's fun. This is the strange hybrid of Prince Valiant and something out of Heavy Metal. Definitely one of the better inclusions.

Supergirl, by Palmiotti and Connor - My other favorite, in addition to Metamorpho. Supergirl's comically escalating frustration with Streaky and Krypto is hilarious. And the depiction of Aquaman in #6 definitely got a chuckle out of me, and not at Arthur's expense.

Metal Men, by Didio and Garcia-Lopez - For me, this is fourth behind Supergirl and Metamorpho and Flash in terms of enjoyability. I've long been a fan of Garcia-Lopez's art. And the personalities of the Metal Men really shine through - no pun intended.

Wonder Woman, by Caldwell - I've begun skipping the Wonder Woman strip. The layout and crowded text make it too troublesome to read, and the first few strips didn't really hook me with anything. The art's not bad, if you can get past the mosiac of tiny panels.

Sgt. Rock and Easy Co., by Kubert and Kubert - Well, hell, this one's a no-brainer. Just look at the names. Plus, I have a soft spot for Rock and Easy Company. It's one of the strips that makes me wonder at the experiment's purpose, though..

Flash Comics, by Kerschl, Fletcher, Leigh, and McCaig - Karl Kerschl is the perfect artist for the Flash, and it's nice to see some of Barry's Silver Age adventures. It's got time travel, multiple Flashes, and Gorilla Grodd. What more do you need?

The Demon and Catwoman, by Simonson and Stelfreeze - Not bad - it's an interesting pairing of characters, The art's dark, evocative, and occasionally Kirbyesque. Solid B-plus stuff.

Hawkman, by Kyle Baker - Hawkman, doing traditional superheroics, without relying on his pathetic Rogues' Gallery, or his convoluted reincarnation and backstory? Sold. That it's set in the Bronze Age, Satellite Justice-League era is a solid bonus.

So, that's a brief overview of my thoughts. My confusion about Wednesday Comics is that I'm not sure who the target audience is. Is DC trying to expose lesser-known characters to existing comics fans? There are a lot of headline characters taking up space in the book. Are they trying to pull in new readers? The price point is too high for the product to be much of a draw, and there are elements that make it not appropriate for all ages - minor curses, some gruesome violence - it's not something you hand to a kid, I'd think. I'm left to wonder what the book's purpose is.

Still, it's a pleasant enough diversion and I'll follow it through to the end.

CandidGamera vs. DC's Solicits

Newsarama has DC's November Solicits up, and - holy hell!

Brother Power the Geek, AND J'emm, Son of Saturn? That's freaking awesome. Anyone want to bet on whether or not J'emm's appearance in Morrison's JLA run will be referenced?

Of course, they're not appearing together, but that's because it's too much awesome obscurity for one comic book. Maybe I should do some kind of semi-regular feature on obscure comic characters..

Look for my thoughts on Wednesday Comics later this evening.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

CandidGamera vs. Whimsy

Jim Henson's Nazgul Babies.

I think this needs to happen.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

CandidGamera vs. Chris Sims's Birthday

Chris Sims doesn't know me from Adam, but I've had a lot of chuckle from his Invincible Super-Blog. In honor of his birthday this week, I present the following.


Batman / Demon
has... mixed feelings about slash fiction.

From Detective Comics #603.

CandidGamera vs. Comic Books

Now I have a little time to take a look at some of the books I picked up yesterday, with an eye towards reviewing them.

The Incredibles - If you're a fan of the movie, I think you'll enjoy the book. Boom Studios is doing a pretty good job so far. The art style's a good match for the film, and the writing has the right feel. The first four-issue arc has filled out a little more of the Incredibles' super-universe, too.

The Incredible Hercules - I do not exaggerate when I say that this is the single best thing Marvel has ever published in the history of time. Not even a little. It's got the perfect blend of action and humor. The interaction between Herc and his de-aged dad, Zeus, is a laugh riot. Plus, the first page is a recap of Thor's origins, with Herc providing color commentary.

Red Circle : Inferno - I want to give the Red Circle properties a fair shot, but going into this, the only one of them that even interested me a little was the Shield. The Hangman one-shot last week was surprisingly solid, though - and apparently all the one-shots dovetail together, so I picked up the Inferno as well. It was not as entertaining - not by a long shot. Kinda forgettable, really. There are some teases at a mystery, but it's not enough to encourage me to read more about the character.

R.E.B.E.L.S. - I was extremely skeptical that this title would interest me, when it was announced, but I have to say, it's kept me hooked. It's not the best thing in my pull-list, but it's pretty solid. And this latest issue was no exception - it reads like real science fiction that happens to be set in the DC Universe.

Adventure Comics - The triumphant launch of a new, old franchise. Superboy and the Legion, sharing space in Adventure Comics. Connor is quickly re-established in the modern era, and we get some hints about a potential new enemy for him, as he undergoes a little self-analysis. Fortunately, Geoff Johns pulls that off without making him mopey. The Legion back-up is pretty light on content, but we're teased with a couple of Legion members in the 21st century who still have some business to attend to.

Blackest Night - Spoiler warning. I would give the first issue of Blackest Night a B+, but this second issue takes us right up into A territory. I counted one 'Aww, Yeah!' moment, two 'Hmmmm!' moments, and three 'Oh, S#!t!" moments - which are pretty good metrics for any comic book.

Spoilers On!

Aww, Yeah! : "Flash Fact."

Hmmmm! : Deadman's dual existence gives us a very interesting fact about the Black Rings. And "Don Hall of Earth. Ri- ... Don Hall of Earth at Peace."

Oh, S#!t! : Pariah?? "Crispus Allen of Earth. Rise." The last page - Ralph, Sue, Carter, Kendra, Ronnie, and J'onn, together again.

Spoilers Off.

Blackest Night #2 and Incredible Hercules are both vying for my favorite book of the week. And I really need to nail down a catchy format for these reviews, if I expect anyone to come read them.

Tomorrow, time permitting, I'll take a look at Wednesday Comics so far.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

CandidGamera vs. New Comics Day

So, for my first substantive post - new comics day. I pick up my books every Wednesday, sort them into a reading order, and while away the evening. I tend to sort them by publisher, and then within the publishers, sort so as to save the comics I most want to read, until the end. Better anticipation that way.

This was a BIG week for me, so I think I might have to split up any light reviews I do. Let's kick things off with the list :

  • The Incredibles #4
  • PS238 #40
  • Lockjaw and the Pet Avengers #4
  • The Incredible Hercules #132
  • Red Circle : The Inferno #1
  • Final Crisis Aftermath : Escape #4
  • R.E.B.E.L.S. #7
  • Titans #16
  • Red Robin #3
  • Green Arrow / Black Canary #23
  • JSA vs. Kobra #3
  • Batman #689
  • Superman Secret Files 2009 #1
  • Action Comics #880
  • Adventure Comics #1
  • Booster Gold #23
  • Green Lantern Corps #39
  • Blackest Night : Batman #1
  • Blackest Night #8
  • Fables #87
  • Knights of the Dinner Table #153
  • Wednesday Comics #6
I have a confession to make - I still haven't read Wednesday Comics #5, from last week. I like the novelty of the format, but without the DC Universe Continuity, I don't feel as driven to read the stories quickly, and the format can be a little unwieldy. I do like almost all of the strips, though the Wonder Woman strip sticks out as a bit too muddled.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

CandidGamera vs. Introductions

After much internal debate, I've decided to break into the fabulous, unpaid world of nerd-bloggery! It was touch and go for a while there, but I'm sure you're all relieved I have opted to share with you my over-considered opinions on such diverse topics as :

Television - Not really nerd-specific, no, but I fancy myself a but a bit of a media-junkie, and television's a big part of my all-consuming addiction.

Movies - Again, lots of people like movies. Pretty mainstream. Bear with me, though..

Video Games - Ah, here we go. Even if the mainstream has started to creep into video games like Halo, most video gamers are at least a little geeky.

Action Figures - Not dolls. Never dolls. Action figures.

Comic Books - Nerd paydirt! Of course, there are fifty million comics blogs out there, of which forty-nine million of them will probably be more well-written, but I'm sure a tiny segment of the internet population will be fascinated by my ramblings.

Role-Playing Games - Dungeons and Dragons, et al. The kind with real people, at a table, with dice.

And sometimes I'll just link funny things that have made me chuckle.

So I hope you'll join me in this experiment - I will try to ramble about something at least once a week. I do take requests. And bribes. And umbrage, at the implication I am susceptible to bribery.