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Saturday, 20 February 2016 19:01

Mezco Wants All of My Money

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So Toy Fair 2016 happened last weekend, and while a lot of really cool stuff showed up (I'm looking at you, DC Icons) what really won my heart was a reveal that came just before the show, Mezco Toyz' expansion of their One:12 Collective line of action figures. Think of Hot Toys, with their remarkable likenesses and cloth outfits, only shrunk down to a 1/12 scale, a size similar to Marvel Legends. 

 

The One: 12 Collective first showed up early last year when Mezco revealed their Dark Knight Returns Batman.

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I was late to the party on this one, and its $65 price has ballooned on the secondary market since it's release, but even more than that it was never an aesthetic I was particularly drawn to. I was safe for a moment. 

Next came Dredd.

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And his Lawmaster...

 

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This is some fantastic stuff, it really is, but I've just never been a big enough fan of Judge Dredd to drop this kind of scratch on collectibles of him. Damn it looks good, though... but safe again! At SDCC 2015 they revealed some stuff that really did catch my attention, though:

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They had my full attention now. They're expensive, but they're damn nice. Could I resist? I mean, I didn't need these, right? The Space Ghost and Frankenstein are very well done, but not quite my cup o' tea. Easy passes. That Superman and Flash, tho...

 

And then, about a month ago, they showed off this:

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And this...

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And I am ruined. They are $75 each, but these pieces are so fantastic that I need to have them. I will have them. I have already pre-ordered them at Bigbadtoystore. Dammit. 

And then the floodgates opened.

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"Hello, Wells Fargo? I need to apply for a loan..."

 

Seriously, everything this company is putting out in this line looks top-notch. Is it worth the price they're asking? That all depends on how crazy you are.

As for myself, I picture myself living in a cardboard box some time in the future surrounded by 1/12 scale action figures in cloth costumes for warmth.

Dammit. We can't even pretend these aren't dolls anymore, can we?

Monday, 15 February 2016 00:17

Deadpool Review

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I’ve seen a superhero movie that I felt perfectly captured the true essence of its character just three times in my life. The first was Spider-man 2. No, the Raimi one, not that other piece of crap. From the everyday trials that Peter Parker must overcome to the realization that he has no choice but to be a hero because he couldn’t live with himself otherwise, that movie is a two hour synopsis of who that character is and why he exists. The second was Captain America: The Winter Soldier. Here we have the man-out-of-time who’s making progress finding his place in our world, but refusing to let go of the values he brought back with him. Values which the world desperately needs. I just saw the third one. It’s called Deadpool.

 

This movie is ten years in the making, and we can all thank Fox for that. No, seriously. Thank them. THIS is time for this movie. It absolutely depends upon the current superhero film culture for its relevancy. A great deal of the humor in this film comes at the expense of its own genre, and that’s a good thing. I’d be the last person to say that I’m sick and tired of all these superhero films, but Deadpool adds to the genre exactly by taking it down a peg. I’ve always thought a big factor in the success of the Marvel films was that they knew to not take themselves too seriously. We’re talking about people in colorful and often shiny costumes beating up on other people in similar garb only eviler. It needs a little shot in the arm (see Hulk punching Thor in Avengers) to make us forget how ridiculous this all is. That’s...pretty much all Deadpool does. But it works!

 

The plot? It’s simpler than Mad Max: Fury Road. I’m dead serious. There are two big set pieces edited with flashbacks every so often. That editing is kinda genius, but from a technical standpoint I think it leaves the movie a little disjointed. That said, it distracts you from just how threadbare the movie really is, so in the end it serves the movie very well. I’ve always been amazed at how Fox has never ever been able to make use of Colossus effectively. It almost makes me sad that he’s here to be made fun of, but it really is a great use of him. I thought the CGI was little on the weak side, but Deadpool is practically a cartoon character himself so I say let it go.

 

Now for what’s really important: the jokes. There are a lot of them. They start with the opening credits and don’t finish until after the end credits (and do stay until the credits are done). Are they any good? Listen, this movie is funnier than any comedy that I’ve seen in a long time. In some ways this movie is a one trick pony like that, but it does it really, really well. You will laugh. You will cry (because you’re laughing so hard). You’ll miss the first few seconds of dialogue immediately after a joke because the audience is laughing so hard and have to see the movie in an empty theater because dammit I want to hear everything.

 

If you’re familiar with the character and have anything resembling a liking towards him, see this movie. I’ve never been the biggest fan, never went out of my way to read his book, and yet I still had an amazing time. I suspect this is a property that works exponentially better on-screen than it does in print. It’s one thing to read the stuff that comes out his mouth, but it comes off a lot better when it’s spoken out loud and you have to ask yourself, “Did he really just try to talk that cabbie into murdering a romantic rival?”


Verdict: Deadpool gets 10 out of 10 chimichangas just for the fact that the crazy bastards actually did it.

Thursday, 18 June 2015 21:44

Indie-Velopment: We Happy Few

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Here we are with another installment of Indie-development! This time around I want to mention a little game called We Happy Few.

Here's the pitch: you wake up just outside of a small town in post-war Britain called Wellington Wells in a universe where the Nazis invaded the island. The residents of this town turned to drugs to cope with the horrors of war and everyone must take a little pill known as "Joy" which makes them feel happy and cheery. It's like Equilibrium in reverse.

What's really drawn me to this game is its atmosphere and tone. I'm very much reminded of a tv show from the 60's called The Prisoner about a spy who was imprisoned in a quaint little village where bizarre things happened to keep him there. We Happy Few will also make use of procedural programming. If you die, you restart outside of the town again, but a different town. Things have changed, and nothing is exactly as it was before. The gameplay also seems very unique. It's like reverse-stealth where you're tasked not so much with hiding from the populace but rather with blending in and hiding in plain sight as it were. The art style is somewhat cartoony, but in some ways a little grotesque. Here, have a gander at the announcement trailer:

And here's 15 minutes of gameplay:

      The game is being developed by Compulsion Games, creators of a well-received indie title known as Contrast where you run around in a 3D world, but can turn into a shadow which makes it into a 2D game. As of this writing the game is close to two-thirds of its goal with two weeks left to go. This is a title that I would really like to see cross the finish line, and in truth it seems to be pretty far along in its development as they've been showing off a very playable build. The cost of pre-ordering the title is $30, and I strongly suggest you at least give it a look.

-Jay

Friday, 12 June 2015 08:40

Indie-Velopment: The Bard’s Tale IV.

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Okay, so this is a new thing I hope to update regularly with news and tidbits about games that are popping up on Kickstarter, Indiegogo, or maybe even just “Early Access.” In theory I’d like to update it every couple of weeks, but it really comes down to when these things spring up. And how swiftly I can get my butt in the chair. Oh, and I know the title is really stupid but you can’t think of anything better.

Today I’d like to give a shout-out to The Bard’s Tale IV. This is a continuation of an old old old series that I had forgotten about before most people reading this were probably born. It was an old-school rpg with what we called “graphics” back when games started having them. You were an adventurer in Scotland and did D&Dish stuff yadda yadda yadda. Or maybe it’s set in Wales. I dunno, it’s hard to remember which is which and I’m not British so whatever.

Okay, so this is a new thing I hope to update regularly with news and tidbits about games that are popping up on Kickstarter, Indiegogo, or maybe even just “Early Access.” In theory I’d like to update it every couple of weeks, but it really comes down to when these things spring up. And how swiftly I can get my butt in the chair. Oh, and I know the title is really stupid but you can’t think of anything better.

Anywho, the people who made that have decided to do another one. Here are the bullet points in case you’re like me and hate being bothered to click a link:

  • single-player, party-based role-playing game, rich in exploration and combat 
  • Dungeons filled not just with dangerous fight but with challenging puzzles and devious riddles
  • Dynamic phase-based combat, where the pace of battle is animated and fluid, but still gives you time to think and respond to your enemies 
  • A game set to beautiful Gaelic music, where the Bard’s songs and melodies affect gameplay 

  • Co-funded by fans and inXile: if this game hits its $1.25 million goal, inXile will put in at least $1.25 million of its own money to double the initial budget! 
  • Built using Unreal Engine 4, for PC, Mac and LinuX. Available from Steam, or DRM-Free from GOG.com or The Humble Store 
  • Available in English, French, German, Russian, Spanish, and Polish
  • Built for and with the help of our fans. Your feedback and input directly impact the design and features of the game during alpha and beta stages

Okay, so this is a new thing I hope to update regularly with news and tidbits about games that are popping up on Kickstarter, Indiegogo, or maybe even just “Early Access.” In theory I’d like to update it every couple of weeks, but it really comes down to when these things spring up. And how swiftly I can get my butt in the chair. Oh, and I know the title is really stupid but you can’t think of anything better.

These crowd-funded projects aren’t to be taken lightly. You have every right to be very cautious when deciding to back these, as people have been burned before. That said, the developer of this game, inXile, has done this before. Wasteland 2 has already been released and Torment: Tides of Numenera, spiritual successor to my favorite RPG of all damn time, should be out soon. Take a look at Bard’s Tale IV and see what you think.

Okay, so this is a new thing I hope to update regularly with news and tidbits about games that are popping up on Kickstarter, Indiegogo, or maybe even just “Early Access.” In theory I’d like to update it every couple of weeks, but it really comes down to when these things spring up. And how swiftly I can get my butt in the chair. Oh, and I know the title is really stupid but you can’t think of anything better.

-Jay

Monday, 02 November 2015 16:47

The Secret Origin of The Mark!

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  I wanted to write serious comic books. Books that made you feel like there were real people behind the masks. I wanted villains you could empathize with to a degree, or at the very least understand, with more motivation than just being a bad person. I wanted real people who had superhuman abilities and chose to use them like people use extraordinary skills to make money. I had one character who had control over gravity. They made millions putting things in space for Nasa and large corporations. No, you can't use that. Copyright me. In summary: I wanted comic books that made you think, inspired by such classics as Marvels, Kingdom Come, Planetary and Astro City.

     I ended up making The Mark.

     A little bit about me: I don't watch comedy movies. Or sitcoms. Ask Eric or Marc or anyone else who really knows. The last one I saw in the theater was The World's End at the Alamo, and that was because Escape from New York was sold out. We got to see that one months later, so no need to be concerned for us. The reason I don't like watching that stuff is simple: I have to live with seeing that stuff everyday in my head. Through some cruel twist of fate I happen to see the world funny side up. If there's something in any given situation that can make someone laugh, I'll see it. It serves me well in my day-job at the DMV. 

     It kind of started with the (serious) idea of heroes locking other, destructive heroes in a pocket dimension. Yes, I'm describing Civil War. Get over it. Anywho, I think that makes for a good subject. Which was also kind of done by Kingdom Come now that I think of it. Okay, get on with it, Jay. SO. Somewhere the idea turned into two separate dimensions. The guys and gals were divided. Of couse at this point I'm picturing a hero who's on the "good guys'" sh!t-list just about to free those who have been wrongfully imprisoned and thinking to himself, "Waitaminute...a whole dimension with dozens of ladies. I'd be the only guy in there???"

     That right there is where it all started. I took something promising, something that could have been thought-provoking and high-minded and turned it into...The Mark.

     You're welcome.

Wednesday, 25 June 2014 21:35

Batman: The Court of Owls Review

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I haven't been reading comics for the past two years or so. At least. Maybe I snuck in an issue of something or other every now and again, but I fear I tossed my comic-reader ID card aside quite some time ago. Maybe the summer movies are to blame, but I started to feel a little bit of an itch and decided oh what the hell, let's find something fun to read. 

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After some glancing at the internets I had heard that this Court of Owls storyline that kicked off the "New 52" Batman series was actually quite good. In my most humble opinion it is OMFG THE BESTEST BAT STORY I HAVE EVER EVER READ IN MY WHOLE... *ahem*... setting aside hyperbole for a moment, it is very good.

Scott Snyder's story is very much about Gotham and its history, peeling back the surface and showing us a layer that even Bruce had thought to be nothing more than fairytale and myth. Even when it's obvious to the reader that what's happening is real, Bruce refuses to see it, and the reason why shows us a part of Bruce's past that Snyder creates to good effect. A belief was born in Bruce's mind when he was a child, and there's a struggle to rid himself of it as an adult. It's rare that we get to see him be so wrong about something, but here it is.

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Dick has a small role to play in this title, but a pretty massive revelation concerning his own past is dropped here. It's further explored in his own title from what I've gathered, so fans of the character might want to look into that. 

By the end of the story we have a villain who, just like Bruce, was led to believe something at a very young age that (probably) isn't true. He is formidable, as is the criminal organization of the Court of Owls of which Batman has barely scratched the surface.

My recommendation: read this. Read it now. I'l wait...

Wasn't that awesome?!? 

Seriously though, this story made me remember everything I ever liked about this character. It's a tale that challenges Batman's strength, intelligence, and even his (at times tenuous) grip on reality. It seemed in some ways to be everything that Loeb and Lee's Hush tried to be all those years ago (god I'm soooo old...).  I wish I could put this book up on the shelf with such Batman classics as Year One, The Long Halloween, and The Dark Knight Returns, but I cannot. I bought it digitally, so there is no book...

But yeah, it is that good.

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Saturday, 21 July 2012 20:00

Trailers for Zach Snyder's "Man of Steel"

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Take a moment to watch the two new Man of Steel teasers. The visuals are the same, but each one has a different voiceover.
 


 

Let me start with what I don't like. I think it's bad that your audience goes at least twenty seconds into it without realizing what the hell it's for. It wasn't until I saw Kevin Costner's face that it dawned on my dumb ass. Also, Gorton's fisherman Clark Kent has me scratching my head. Those scenes reminded me of Bruce's journey in Batman Begins, and I hope there aren't any more similarities than that.What I do like about these trailers is the emphasis placed on Kal-El's biological and adoptive fathers. These are (usually) the first men any of us know in our lives, and what they say and do can affect us in profound ways. The choice to do these trailers like this gives me the impression that Snyder wants to explore what an influence these voices have on our lives.I won't say I'm hyped to see this movie. Superman Returns was enough of a cluster**** to nibble down my expectations. At this point I'm more excited about a movie Marvel just announced starring a talking raccoon and a tree. But my mind is a little more open to seeing Clark Kent up on the big screen again. In time I may even be able to forget the open wound of a movie that introduced us to Stalker-Superman.

Monday, 21 September 2009 18:32

Heroes: Redemption Episode 1 (Spoilerific)

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I was actually looking forward to the season premier of Castle more than I was Heroes tonight. Nathan Fillion dressing up as a serial killer to meet his daughter's prom date? Priceless. But my computer's been mad at me and working well today, so I thought I'd see what the Petrelli's were up to tonight. I wasn't really expecting Heroes to pull out of its death-spiral. Here's how it did it:

1. Matt/Sylar - This was brilliant. It's like someone on Heroes saw Star Trek and realized that Zachary Quinto really is an actor. He gave Sylar more personality tonight than over the last three seasons, and I'm seeing that none of that was his fault. It reminded me of Farscape, where the main character has a neural clone of his nemesis in his head. Sylar's taunting was definitely the high-point of tonight.

2. Peter - Very Spider-man, but I'm okay with that. It's almost like a reboot of the character, taking him back to where he belongs so they can take him to more interesting places later more naturally. His obsession doesn't come off so well for me, though, but it doesn't hold the story back. Maybe if he explained it by talking about his father instead of the vague "company" it would have been more convincing. I especially loved his simple "Why not let them have it" argument to Noah.

3. Claire - This is one of the first times since season-friggin' one where I haven't felt as if Claire was a drag on the narrative. And there's really something off about her new roommate.

4. Noah - Christ, this guy's been through a lot. Much of it his own doing, but still... I really need them to give me a reason for why he's still doing this, because as of right now I have no clue.

There was one thing that didn't work so well for me, though. Nathan/Sylar. Leave this one alone. No need to bring it to a boil so damn quickly. Let this one simmer. It felt like they were rushing it a little tonight, and I didn't need that.

In conclusion... I haven't felt this interested in Heroes in a while and I'm looking forward to next week. And in case you're wondering I'm a little neutral on the Hiro plot.

Friday, 18 September 2009 20:00

Obama-Wan Kenobi

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obama LIGHTSABER

 

Coolest

President

Ever.

 
Sunday, 13 September 2009 21:24

Marvel Super Hero Squad

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I just finished watching the new Super Hero Squad on Cartoon Network. I loved it for some strange reason. The animation was very clean and polished. The jokes were often often funny and sometimes subtle (Thor uttering "So say we all?" Had to be a Galactica reference.) It's targeted at kids, there's no doubt about that, but there's enough substance here for me, too. Give it a shot.

Friday, 11 September 2009 20:00

Superman/Batman: Public Enemies Preview

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Here's a few minutes of footage from the new DC Animated Movie. After New Frontier, Wonder Woman and Green Lantern, I have to say that Warner animation is kicking all kinds of ass. The funny thing is I didn't like the original story in the comics all that much. Part of the problem is that I just don't like Jeff Loeb, but it was also way over the top. Supers and Bats take on several bad guys in one scene who normally give them a run for their money. The way it was pulled off just seemed to make them far too god-like than I can stand.

That said, I think this will make an excellent piece of animation.

Superman/Batman: Public Enemies