Azn Badger's Blog

What About the Lysine Contingency…?

Okay DC, Now You’re Starting To Piss Me Off

Superhero comics are always in flux.

Story arcs come and go, new characters are introduced; and for the most part things just keep chugging along, regardless of past successes and failures.

It’s been said “No one stays dead in comics except Bucky, Jason Todd, and Uncle Ben.”

This phrase is of course a reference to the ongoing cyclical nature of superhero life and death.

Unfortunately, it’s relevance is rapidly evaporating, as Bucky’s death has since been retconned, and Jason Todd’s has been overwritten as a result of some sort of bullshit multiverse continuity overlap.

... And of course, Pa Kent died, came back, died again, and fought God himself with a magic shovel.

To my knowledge, Uncle Ben remains the only member of this exclusive fraternity to truly remain dead.

The point I’m trying to make with all of this, is the fact that superhero characters tend to receive major changes to their characterization quite regularly, making characters that reliably remain in a certain state somewhat of a rarity.

Barbara Gordon AKA Batgirl, is one of those rare cases.

From the day the Joker put a bullet through her spine, thereby rendering her a wheelchair bound paraplegic; Barbara Gordon has never regained the use of her legs.

The scene unfolds, courtesy of the artful pen of Brian Bolland.

This was back in 1988.

Despite this, her relevance and usefulness in the Bat-Family of comics, and in fact the majority of the DC universe, has remained unaffected.

In fact, I think few could argue her presence and standing in the cast has actually grown since she made the transition from Batgirl to Oracle.

Over the years I’ve really grown to like Barbara Gordon as Oracle.

Despite her disability, her character has continued to arc, and she has emerged as one of the more consistently interesting (and well written) characters of the DC canon.

To my knowledge she’s one of the very few paraplegic characters in superhero comics, right next Professor X, who I might add; actually did regain the use of his legs at one point.

In case you couldn’t tell where I’m going with this, DC has announced that, as part of their upcoming universal reboot; they are going to be reinstating Barbara Gordon as Batgirl.

Given that this is part of the reboot project, this of course means Gordon’s gunshot wound will effectively be erased.

I’ve been very proud of DC for having had Oracle remain disabled, (a fate Batman managed to escape within a year or 2) and it would be very hard for me take it seriously if they were ever to reverse her condition.

Rebooting her character arc is nowhere near the same as reversing it, but even so; it kind of bothers me that they’d be so audacious as to even attempt it.

I understand her relevance to Batman’s history, but plenty of other characters have worn the Batgirl costume over the years; such that I think I’d actually prefer it if they cast someone else in the role.

As long as it's not Alicia Silverstone.

Truth be told, I think my main objection to all this, is the fact that in getting back Barbara Gordon as Batgirl, we’ll be losing her as Oracle; a character and role I think I actually prefer.

Maybe it’s just me, but ever since Cassandra Cain’s tenure as the girly bat-person, my respect for the character has kind of crapped out.

Anyway, this has been a rant, I apologize.

DC better get their shit together though, and fast…

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Batman: Arkham Asylum Is Good. Like, Really Good.

So, Arkham Asylum is a good game.

Like, really good.

Last night I parked my butt in front of the TV for a good solid 4 hours straight playing it, and by golly, I enjoyed every minute of it.

4 hours might not sound like a helluva’ long time to some of the more hardcore gamers out there, so allow me to elaborate.

These days I’m what is commonly referred to as a “casual gamer.”

Pictured: The Exact Opposite of A "Casual Gamer."

Not only that, I have this weird personal issue where after about an hour or so of playing videogames, I start to feel anxious; like I need to get up and do something else RIGHT NOW.

More often than not, I tend to prioritize activities like working out, going to bed early, or writing this fucking blog, over playing videogames.

In the case of my maiden voyage on Batman: Arkham Asylum last night though, this was not the case.

Near as I can tell, the game’s greatest success, is the constant feeling of progress and accomplishment that the game imparts to it’s player.

Last night I mentioned how I really don’t care much for Metroid-style games.

Like many non-Metroid fans, my biggest objection to the structure of those games, is not the fault of the designers, but rather my own stupidity.

Thought I’ve always said that Zelda games made me feel dumb as a kid, Metroid games made me feel downright “special.”

Like, helmet “special.”

Stone Cold demonstrating the image crippling power of The Retard Helmet.

Something about the layout of the map, and how the player was expected to wade their way through shit storms of enemies and hazards without knowing where to go, just never did it for me.

Though I’ve heard Arkham Asylum referred to as a Metroid-Vania style game, (a description which is fairly accurate) the experience is nowhere near as lonesome, nor the map layout as cryptic as either of those games.

Trust me, having Oracle on staff to order you around via radio every now and again is a godsend for exploration newbs such as myself.

Well hello there madam. Feel free to call me on my Bat Phone anytime you like...

In short, it’s similar to a Metroid-Vania game, but with a more structured and objective based progression.

Which is a good thing, seeing as I can think of no dumber element to a Batman game than having the player get lost.

Think about it, would the fuckin’ Batman ever get lost, much less at Arkham?

Pictured: Batman upon realizing he is in fact, a retard.

Batman is a man on top of shit in any situation, so I feel it is a wise decision on the part of the developers to have made the game’s structure reflect this.

Aside from the strength of the layout of the game, I feel that the games 240 or so collectibles really add a lot to making the player feel like their making some headway into the game, even in it’s early stages.

While part of me wants to say that, like Mega Man X3, there are in fact too many hidden items in the game, to the point in which you literally can’t turn a corner without accidentally bumping into something useful, thus far I think I actually like this element of Arkham Asylum.

It is kind of silly, walking into a room and finding Riddler trophies n’shit strewn about; but in a game with a map as large as this, any form of progress, no matter how minute, goes a long way towards making neurotic players like myself feel like they know what their doing.

Near as I can tell, this is Batman’s greatest success:

Spoon-feeding the player little rewards throughout the entire game so as to effectively stamp out the possibility of frustration.

It’s an incredibly elementary approach to game design, but it’s working for me so far.

As of writing this, I have had firsthand encounters with 2 major supervillains of Batman’s rogue’s gallery:

The Scarecrow, and Bane.

The developers take on Scarecrow was mighty impressive.

Both the level design and his costume for his sequence reflect a definite Freddy Krueger-esque sensibility, but given the seedier nature of Arkham Asylum’s art design, I feel it works very well.

Ninja + Freddy Krueger + Batman Begins Scarecrow + Psycho Mantis = Arkham Asylum Scarecrow.

From a gameplay standpoint, I found this “boss fight” (wasn’t really a fight…) to be quite entertaining.

Shifting the game into 2-D sidescrolling mode so as to allow for more streamlined movement and coordination really worked, and I applaud the efforts of the developers.

Bane, on the other hand, was a fun battle on a visceral level, however the comic fan inside me was kind of miffed by his brutish persona.

Bane as envisioned by the marketing department of the UFC...

As a kid that grew up reading Knightfall, Bane has a special place in my heart as one of my favorite Batman villains, and yet every time he’s used in media other than the comics, his character is grossly misinterpreted.

Um... No. Just, no...

Bane isn’t a massive brute or meathead, he’s a cunning and wily villain that could be called Batman’s equal on almost every level.

Oh well, my inner-comic dork’s objections aside, I’m happy that Arkham Asylum took a few seconds to at least explain why Bane suddenly went retard, not to mention Hulk-ed out beyond the realm of believability.

Essentially, Bane serves as key element to the game’s plot, not as a mastermind, or even hired hand; but as an instrument forcibly implemented by the combined will’s of The Joker and a mysterious Dr. Young.

From what I know at the 4 hour mark, the plot involves Joker using Dr. Young to extract and deconstruct the Venom Derivative from Bane, which they then mutate and enhance to create a more powerful Titan Formula which causes people to Hulk Out.

Basically, Joker plans to use the Titan Formula to create an army of Hulk-ed Out thugs to let loose on Gotham.

It’s kind of stupid, in a Silver Age comic-y sort of way, but the real experience of a game is playing it, and the minute to minute experience of Arkham Asylum thus far goes a long way towards making up for a slightly retarded plot.

Anyway, I’ve said about as much as I feel I can about Arkham Asylum for now.

I will say this though:

The combat system is a little simplistic for my Devil May Cry trained thumbs, but it’s rewarding in a “look what I just did with 2 buttons!” sort of way.

Now excuse me, I’m gonna’ go beat the shit out of some more Bat-Villains…

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Moon Knight, Thank You For Being So Freakin’ Crazy.

Marvel Comic’s Moon Knight is fucking badass.

Until recently, Moon Knight was always just a niche hero to me, a cheesy Batman clone with a cool costume and D-List villains to go with his D-List superpowers.

Moon Knight's gadgets range from a spermicidal bodysuit, to a portable stripper pole.

By the way, his “powers” consist of augmented strength in synch with the phase of the moon.

Oh yeah, and his “powers” don’t work anymore.

And his fighting technique is described as “hurting peoples fists with his face.”

Kind of like these guys.

So why is it that I like Moon Knight anyway?

About a month ago, I read my first Moon Knight story, and I’m kicking myself for having waited so long to do so.

It wasn’t until November 2009, when I saw Jerome Opena’s incredible interior artwork in the current “Vengeance of the Moon Knight” series, that I made the conscious decision to find a nice jumping off point to start reading Moon Knight.

Yeah, it's cheesy, but goddamn I love it!

Hell, I figured that, if the art was that good, Moon Knight had to be doing something right over the years.

My first Moon Knight story came in the form of the Charlie Huston’s 2006 relaunch of the series, “The Bottom.”

“The Bottom” was a violent and gritty character study of Marc Spector AKA Moon Knight.

Marc Spector: The Avenging Hobo.

Let it be known, that when it comes to “violent” and “gritty,” David Finch’s artwork is a perfect match.

Oh yeah, make sure to add “stylish” to that pile of adjectives too, ’cause yeah, Mr. Finch does stylish, and he does it well.

Even when he’s drawing stuff for that pile of ass-fuckery, X-Men: Messiah Complex.

Pictured: Messiah Complex.

Seriously, fuck Messiah Complex.

Fuck it with fire.

And rhinoceros cock.

And a dental dam.

Hmm, sexual....

ANYWAY, “The Bottom” begins with Spector crippled and dispirited due to horrible injuries inflicted on him by his lifelong nemesis, The Bushman.

You see!? THIS is what happens when you give cocaine to Joe Pesci!

The Bushman and Spector were originally partners in crime in a mercenary unit during the Gulf War, (in the original, 1970’s version, they were in Southeast Asia) however due to moral differences, they’ve been at each others throats ever since.

In any case, Bushman throws Moon Knight off a roof, shattering his legs in the process.

No way in hell this guy didn't get paid to take this photo. Douche-Rocket...

Despite this, Moon Knight manages to stay in the fight long enough to, literally, cut Bushman’s face off.

"I want to cut his faaaaaace... Off."

Did I mention that Moon Knight was badass?

It was moments like this that cemented my love and appreciation for Moon Knight.

That and the fact that Moon Knight is perhaps the only “superhero” I’ve ever read, that was completely bat-shit crazy.

I mean, check out his bio:

He’s a former mercenary that hated his father, got shot to shit in the Middle East during the 90’s, then found himself brought back from the dead to serve as the earthly avatar for Khonshu, the Egyptian god of the moon and, apparently, vengeance.

At least that’s what he thinks anyway.

As Moon Knight, Spector is unforgivingly brutal and over-the-top in how he handles criminals.

Trust me, that red shit ain't strawberry jam...

Early on in The Bottom, Spector makes a side-comment regarding his status as a street-level crime fighter, something along the lines of:

“Someone has to do this, someone has to do the fun stuff.”

That sums up Moon Knight pretty well.

He’s the living embodiment of vengeance.

He regards the very concept of it as spiritual, holy.

To him, busting heads and cutting bitches, no matter how inconsequential or petty, is like going to evening mass.

Mr. Ike Turner here knows what I'm talkin' 'bout.

I gotta’ say, it feels sick of me to think it, but I love reading Moon Knight, because deep down I know his moral compass, his concept of justice, are both totally fucking wrong.

Try saying that about your average superhero.

"Superman, you're WRONG! You're... Oh, I can't stay mad at you Christopher Reeve. You handsome devil, you."

In “The Bottom,” Huston cleverly makes use of the fallen (and still faceless) corpse of The Bushman to serve as a representation of Khonshu’s influence on his thinking.

Think it as an homage to the “Jack” character in An American Werewolf in London.

Oh Jack, you were alive what, 10 minutes of the movie?

Spector’s interactions with Khonshu serve as a highlight to the story on many levels.

From them, we learn that Spector is conflicted with his identity as Khonshu’s servant, as well as the fact that Khonshu may or may not be a manifestation of Spector’s own mind.

From what I’ve read, Marc Spector was originally written as having multiple personalities, and in many ways, I feel that Charlie Huston managed to do more by simply alluding to this, than in actually implementing it as a plot point.

In The Bottom, we learn that Spector’s support system, his Alfred Pennyworth and Barbara Gordon, have left him due to his “retirement” and general lack of self-worth.

And if THIS is the only way you know these characters, you can go right ahead and continue to suck cock.

If you don’t know who either of those two characters are, get the fuck off my blog.

Seriously folks, it’s fucking Batman.

If you don’t know FUCKING BATMAN, then congratulations, your life has been a big waste.

Anyway, back to Moon Knight…. Yah, bunch of retards.

For the most part, I was very impressed by Charlie Huston’s handling of the ancillary characters in Moon Knight’s universe.

From his use of them, I felt I got to know them, and their respective histories with Marc Spector, without them ever having to come into play in the main storyline.

By stories’ end of course, Marc Spector again assumes the mantle of the Moon Knight, leading to a confrontation with a stunningly original villain, The Profile, who has the ability to literally “read” people with pinpoint accuracy.

Now THAT, is one sketchy motherfucker. Seriously, he looks like a cross between Hunter S. Thompson and Donnie Brasco. Oh wait, that's Johnny Depp.

Oh yeah, and the always enjoyable Taskmaster also makes an appearance as during the climax of the story in a rare, action-heavy role.

Goddamn, Taskmaster is pimp...

Despite the bombast of the Moon Knight’s return to ass-kicking form, the ending ultimately turns out bittersweet for our hero, as he finds himself still under Khonshu’s thumb, friendless and without even himself to trust.

Unlike THIS GUY. THIS GUY knows EXACTLY what he's doing...

“The Bottom” was a riveting experience that goes all too well with my collection of MAX Punisher and Thunderbolts books.

Violent, and full of questionable morals and stellar artwork to boot, Moon Knight is fucking awesome.

These days I’m reading “Midnight Sun,” the second volume in the 2006 Moon Knight series.

And so far, I’m still loving it.

Charlie Huston drops off as writer after this volume, as does artist David Finch, so I’m not sure the series will retain it’s quality after this point, but even so, I’ll be happy with just the two books regardless.

My “Moon Knight Plan” after reading “The Bottom” was always to read Huston’s work, and then move on to the first arc of the brand new “Vengeance of the Moon Knight,” then maybe give the new Secret Avengers a try.

After all, “Vengeance” apparently deals with the resurrection of The Bushman via the combined efforts of The Profile and The Hood, so I guess by the time I start reading that, I’ll be all caught up anyway.

Yup, it's true, nobody stays dead in comics.

Anyway, enough gushing and comic bullshit, have a good night everyone.

Hopefully we’ll hit 500 hits tomorrow, that’d be a milestone worth celebrating, right?

With that, I leave you with this awesome (and officially published!) Moon Knight cover in which our heroes battles a pair of Luchadores.

In a word: AWESOME.

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