All About bacchus2
Once again it's been a while. My interests have shifted away from games a bit and more into comics and graphic novels. I got half a dozen games around Christmas, and I've finished Gears of War 3, and I'm still playing Demon's Souls. I've also had a few ideas for graphic novels, so I've been trying to do a bit of research on how to write them (I don't want to illustrate them, because I am horrible at drawing). As such, I went to my first Comic Con here in Adelaide over the weekend.
Despite going on my own as none of the friends who I thought might be interested were able to, it was still a great day. I saw Bill Farmer, who has played the voice of Goofy for the last 25 years, Sean Schemmel who plays the voice of Goku and various other Dragon Ball Z characters, and Debi whose last name I forget. She plays the voice of Jimmy Neutron. While this panel wasn't something I was particularly interested IN, it was still pretty interesting nonetheless. Dragonball Z fans seem like they can get pretty crazy...
I briefly saw Sean Astin, I didn't go to his panel, just saw the end of it. He was mainly talking about Lord of The Rings, though he did field a question about Toy Soldiers, and I'm keen to see that movie again now. I went to a panel for Matt Doran, who is not a major actor but has been in some big films. He was a regular quite some time ago on Home and Away, an Australian soap (as Damien for those who know it), he also played Mouse in The Matrix, been in Thin Red Line, and played a small role in Stars Wars 2. There were only about a dozen people in the audience, and I had to leave about halfway through to get a train... I felt like such a bastard having to leave halfway through with an audience like that.
The setup of the place was pretty good, though I don't have anything to compare it to (note to self : Buy ticket in advance next year so I don't have to line up for 45 minutes). There was a massive blister pack for want of a better term for Star Wars, so you could stand inside it and have your picture taken, as though you were an action figure hanging on a shelf for someone to buy. I had a brief nerd moment when I saw some original animation cels for He-Man, but decided against it. Cosplay was out in force, and I saw Batman, Robin, The Punisher, Thor, Captain America, Naruto, Ellen Ripley with an alien bursting from her chest Alien 3 style, various zombies, Wonder Woman, storm troopers, Mario, Link, Master Chief, a Minecraft person and a bunch of stuff I didn't recognise, in particular all the manga I'm not familiar with. It was also cool that some of the security were dressed up as SWAT.
I had a good talk with Dave DeVries, a long time Adelaidean author of comics and screenplays. I found this really useful, he was more than willing to give me his time and I appreciated that. He also threw in a comic of his that I was willing to pay for, so that was awesome. I think what I got from the majority of the panels is that a lot of people are interested in drawing, but not so much the writing side. As I want to learn the craft, one of the ways is to examine what I'm reading, and the best way for me to do that is to write about what I'm reading. So here goes for some stuff I've been reading lately.
NewUniversal – Warren Ellis
I've really enjoyed what I've read by Warren Ellis so far (The Authority & Planetary) so I checked to see what my local library had. I understand that this is like a 'remake' of a previous series with the same name. This collects the first 6 issues. Something called the White Event occurs, some sort of cosmic event. Select individuals seem to be imbued with superpowers after this event. Some sort of sentience is trying to integrate our universe into the NewUniversal structure, and those imbued with those superpowers are the tools required to help do so. Meanwhile, covert government agencies have implemented certain protocols for instances just like this... because they have happened before. It seems that the premise of the book may be survival, because the protocols implemented indicate that if superpowered beings are allowed to thrive, then Darwinism will dictate humans are no longer required.
The storytelling is well done. There is nothing terribly subtle but nothing beats you over the head either, and Ellis trusts the reader to be able to put everything together. Every page or two something else is revealed about the players involved, which keeps you wanting to turn the page. At the end of the last issue in this collection, the government has decided on their next course of action, and I'm interested in seeing how that pans out. The library doesn't have the next collection, but I'm happy to buy this collection of books.
Fell – Warren Ellis
A search of Warren Ellis also turned this up at the library, a detective noirish book. Detective Fell has just moved to Snowtown (which I expect is a fictional US town, it isn't the Adelaide one infamous for its murders). At first I wasn't loving this, but the further I got into it, the more I enjoyed it. It's certainly got a lot of quirk, and that is the charm of this book. What is exceptional is the dialogue. Out of context, lines like "He was an alcoholic son of a **** Satan's going to be humping him right in the bunghole for the next million years, you mark my words. I love Jesus." sound ridiculous, but in context of the whole story and alongside the art, it really works. It's not just the stuff that Detective Feel investigates, it's that the rest of the world is populated with weird characters, like the PD receptionist whose husband left her for the dog, and the coroner who eats a piece of tomato after it falls into a corpse. Once again, I'd love to see more just so I can see what other weird characters Ellis comes up with that cross paths with detective Fell.
I've realised I haven't really touched on the story itself. Snowtown is a hole. For reasons not yet made clear to us, Detective Fell has been transferred to Snowtown, the impression given is that something went down and he isn't welcome across the bridge (where that is is unknown, supposedly to imply that it could be the closest dank suburb to you).Corpses turn up dead on the banks of the river frequently, and many residents of Snowtown are cagey or dodgy. Fell is a good detective, and he doesn't want to let things slide like everyone else does in Snowtown. So it is about his struggle with that, and figuring out where he belongs in Snowtown. From mad bomb men to wine enemas and poop injections this book is a bit of a trip.
Batman : The Killing Joke – Alan Moore
Alan Moore is one of the most well known comic book writers (Watchmen, V for Vendetta, From Hell). I'll admit that I'm not that familiar with Batman when it comes to comics. Sure, I've seen Batman Begins and Dark Knight and loved them, but I don't know how far removed they are from the comic books they are based on. As is implied by the title, the main adversary in this story is The Joker. The book wastes no time getting into things. Batman goes to Arkham Asylum and sits opposite The Joker. It's an interesting attempt by Batman to confront The Joker, Batman has made an assessment, figures that if they keep doing what they are doing one day one of them will kill the other. He doesn't want it on his conscience that he didn't at least try and prevent that from happening. Turns out it isn't actually The Joker, but someone dressed as him, and The Joker has escaped.
The Joker is really the star of this book. We see some flashbacks into his past, which fill us in on what led to his damaged psyche up until the day contaminated water changed him forever. And he wants to prove that good men can become mad if they have a bad day, and Commissioner Gordon bears the brunt of this attempt. We are all just a bad day away from being mad according to the Joker. His dialogue as he tries to prove his point is well thought out and provides depth to his character. I won't give away the end, but it left me wondering exactly what Alan Moore was trying to tell us. But I think I like those open ended stories because it provokes thought.
Any comics or graphic novels that you guys are reading?
It's been a while. I think my last several blogs have started off with a similar sentence...
I went away to Vietnam in November, and since then I've not been on Gamespot so much. I'm almost up to date with reading blogs, but haven't really commented due to being a bit behind. I've rarely read any gaming news since then, and I used to check the daily updates every day.
I've been playing games, but a bit slower than usual. over Christmas and my birthday got 6 games; Gears of War 3, Demons Souls, Dark Souls, Dead Space 2, Skyrim, and Batman : Arkham City. Since then, I've finished GoW3, and all I've played since then is Demons Souls.
And I am freaking loving it. Been playing for about 35 hours and have defeated 6 bosses so far, though a couple of those I used some cheap tactics. Absolutely love this game. And I've heard Dark Souls is even better. But I'm in no hurry. At this rate these 6 games might last me til the end of the year, plus what I already had to play.
What I would like to find out from you fine people, is whether any of you utilise any electronic lists for keeping movies, TV shows, and books. Preferably apps for the iphone, but not entirely necessary. I've found something for movies and TV shows that seems to be decent, from memory I think it was imovielist. If anyone knows one for comic books/graphic novels that would also be really cool. And maybe even games! I just want to keep some lists of what I want to watch or see. If I don't record them when people tell me about them, then I am likely to forget.
So what games have you guys been playing that I probably haven't even heard about now that I am out of the loop a little?
It seems to be a while in between drinks these days. Either I can't think of much to write about, or I don't have time to research and write about topics. So I'll do an easy topic, stuff I've been reading playing or watching semi-recently. This includes a bit of a resurgence for me in graphic novels (sorry JBul).
Let's start with games. I hadn't played games on a console for a few weeks. I tried to figure out what the deal was, and any time I had an inkling to play a game, I thought about the game I last played and just couldn't be bothered. This is part of my intention to try and finish one game before I start another. In the end I decided that the reason I wasn't playing games was because I was trying to stick to this rule, but just didn't really want to play that game. That game was Mass Effect 2.
I can see that it is good in a sense, but it just really isn't dragging me in the same way the first one did. I'm not sure what the main difference is for me, but it just feels... clumsy for some reason. Oh, well. So I decided to put in Halo 3 : ODST. I loved Halo 3's campaign. After playing this for an hour or so, I felt much the same way as I did about Mass Effect 2. Nothing in particular stood out as bad. I just didn't feel any need to play it.
So the game that has actually held my interest that I've put many hours into, is Picross for the DS. If you like Sudoku or Hashi (Bridges) then this has a similar appeal. You are given a grid of varying sizes, and each row and column has a bunch of numbers. The numbers represent how many consecutive squares are filled in. If there is more than one number for a row or column, there has to be at least one space in the middle. So for example, if you are playing on a 5 by 5 grid and one of the rows has 2 2 next to it, the only way that can work is if the first two squares are filled, the third is empty, and the last two are filled. Once you've completed each row, the filled in squares make up a picture. That might sound complicated, but it's no more complicated than when you played your first Sudoku (actually, probably less so). If you don't have a DS, you can find free ones to do online.
This was a rollercoaster ride of a movie, and quite thought provoking. It got a lot of hype so most people probably know about, if for nothing more than a hot lesbian sex scene. While that is all well and good, the metaphor of the movie itself is stunningly portrayed. While Natalie Portmans character (I've forgotten her name) is the main lead in Swan Lake, a story about a black swan stealing the white swans (her twin) love and causing her to commit suicide, her character is herself tearing herself to pieces, acting out the role of the swans throughout the rest of the movie as well as on stage. It's a startlingly well portrayed story, with brief moments of fantasy that accentuate the theme. A well recommended watch.
I saw an advert for a documentary by this chap, called Lous Theraux and the Nazis. He met with Tom Metzner, a previous leader of the KKK and a well-known white supremacist. The documentary approach brings things to light, and while it leans towards being more tolerant, it still leaves a lot up to the viewer to make their own decisions. Especially interesting was when Tom visited a 'friend' to repair his TV (Tom's main job) who happened to be of questionable race (I think it was Peruvian), and Tom claimed to consider him a friend. He tried to retract the statement later when Louis tried to press him about the conflict and inconsistency with his views. A mother who was interviewed said that if her twin daughters, who were 11, had a black boyfriend, they would be disowned and she would never talk to them again. It was confronting stuff.
Perhaps more confronting for most people, was A Place For Paedophiles. I've already talked about paedophiles once before, and this certainly raised issues for and against what should happen to paedophiles who are or should be on the road to recovery. As a quick snapshot, 800 or so people are forceably sent to an institution, and this is after serving their sentence. They have to undergo a program to then actually be released into the population. To date, only 13 have been released. One member has been approved for release, but has been looking for housing for over a year. He has applied for over 1100, and they have all been rejected. When it was advertised in one area that housing was being sought, the property owner received threats, including rattlesnakes on his doorstep, as a warning to not accept his request. That is pretty intense. What I find most interesting is that they have already served their sentence in jail, but may then be held indefinitely for a crime that they could commit. On that basis, why doesn't everyone committed of a crime get a life sentence just in case they were going to do it again? There is a lot more to ponder here, and this is one of those topics that I might revisit. Next on the Louis Theraux checklist which I've recorded but not yet watched is to do with brothels. I expect this to be the least interesting of those I've seen so far, but don't expect it to be dull either.
True Blood Season 4
It's been a while since I watched season 3 of True Blood. Megan and I soaked up this season in about a week. I don't think it's really as strong as the previous seasons, but still good nonetheless. I don't want to raise any spoilers for anyone, so I will keep things vague. As it is a year since the end of the last season, certain shifts in power prove interesting. Some of the character development seemed a bit forced though. I'm guessing that a lot of actors contracts were up, were asking for too much money or just didn't want to do Season 5, because a lot of people die towards the end of this season, but a number of those deaths also set up interesting situations for the next season, like what is going to happen with Sooki's love life (I'm assuming her final act will still mean she will end up in the werewolf's arms though). A number of old characters appeared and seem set to wreak some havoc. Jason's genitals gets him in trouble in a few different ways in this season, but I think what happens between him and Hoight seems like something that legitimately happens to mates and breaks friendships. I must say though, I miss Jason playing a complete imbecile, he is so much more entertaining. I don't know the actors names, but those who played Marni and Lafayette really showed they are great actors in this season.
After borrowing The Authority from someone, I've been feeling like getting back into graphic novels. The only problem is, they are expensive. So, I found out that my library carries a decent selection, which is awesome. So I've been scouring top 100 lists and whatnot, and they seem to have a lot of it.
Venom : Dark Origins
I've always been a Venom fan, so I thought I would start with a Venom tale. While it does cover the 'origin' as far as how Eddie Brock gets to bond with the alien symbiote that is effectively his suit, the first couple of issues (this is a collection of 5 comics) really focus on who Eddie is and what has made him the man he is. Eddie has a jaded view of the world. He wants people to think highly of him, and he is quite deceptive about getting that recognition. He steals a girls pom poms in high school so he can say he found them. He says he lives somwhere he doesn't so he can walk a girl home. Thugs attack them and Spiderman comes to their rescue. The girl who had been knocked down asked Eddie how he managed to beat them all, and he took the credit rather than give it to Spiderman. The art is very exaggerated, and works well. When it comes to the full Venom suit, it is more extreme than I've seen it; it's changed a lot since the last time I read a Venom comic which is from over a decade ago, with massive bulk and a more angular look. The story covers Eddie Brocks fall from grace in the media world, which he blames on Spiderman (I won't go into why). Once him and the suit bond (and this used to be Spidermans suit before he realised it was an alien) they share a common enemy, as the symbiote feels rejected by Spiderman. It's a retelling of the original story (which I haven't read so can't compare) so it ends up the same, with Venom eventually beaten and stored safely by the Fantastic 4 (until he inevtiably escapes at some time in the future of course so Marvel can release a whole bunch more stories). I wouldn't say I was amazed but it was decent.
Thunderbolts : Caged Angels
I'm still getting used to the more recent events in the Marvel Universe. One of the main ones is the Civil War, which I haven't read yet. Basically a Superpower Registration Act gets passed where it becomes law to have your true identity known if you have superpowers, and heroes fall down on both sides of the law. As I understand it, the Thunderbolts after this event are mostly made up of reformed villains who are secretly employed by the government to hunt down those who don't register. Jumping in at this point is a little bit of a trial by fire since I don't know the full details of those events, or the history of this series. Nevertheless, the premise sounds solid. Given that the members are generally reformed villains, they seem to be on the verge of tearing themselves apart at times (and sometimes do). Amongst the team themselves there is a jostling for power and manipulation. Meanwhile, some telepaths have allowed themselves to become captured by the team, and then use their abilities to manipulate them into attacking each other. I also discovered that a character from my old collecting days, Speedball, shows up as Penance in this series. Speedball always seemed really goofy in the New Warriors, and as I understand he accidentally killed a whole bunch of people and has since become Penance. I think this has shown that comics have come a long way in the last decade in making characters more multi-faceted and not so fantastical, with slightly more grounding in reality, and a little gritty.
I'll leave it at that for now, I've read a few more, and not just Marvel, and there are some pretty decent ones, but I don't want to make this too long.
Had any games that you felt you were good but still just couldn't play for one reason or another?
Any graphic novels or trade paper backs that you've read that you love?
JBul, why are comics yucky?
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