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.