Azn Badger's Blog

What About the Lysine Contingency…?

Thoughts On The Captain America Teaser


Though it hardly qualifies as “big news” in most circles, this past Sunday marked the television debut of the 30 second Captain America: The First Avenger teaser:


Oh yeah, and something called “The Superbowl” happened too.

The Packers won, the Steelers lost, and balance has been brought to The Force; at least until the next season.

Anyway, given that the Captain America preview was a trim 30 seconds in length, and was intentionally edited so as to keep most of the major details of the film foggy at best; here are my thoughts on what I saw:

The CGI used to reduce Chris Evan’s heroic physique to that of the undersized pre-Project Rebirth Steve Rogers appears fairly convincing at this point.

Well okay fine, it doesn't look perfect, but it looks better than young Jeff Bridges in Tron Legacy.

While most likely a minor element of the film, technical gimmicks like this have always fascinated me; particularly when they work, I.E. Lt. Dan’s amputated legs in Forrest Gump.

We’ll see how it turns out on the big screen.

Moving on, I’m pleased to note that nothing looks cheap about the movie as of yet.

Some of the costuming for Thor had an unfortunate, plastic-y look, but the period elements, and overall production design of Captain America seems pretty slick thus far.

Of particular note was the set for the Project Rebirth sequence, not only because it’s the only set we really get a good look at in the teaser; but also because it genuinely looks pretty good.

One thing I was afraid of seeing in a Captain America film, was gaudy or needlessly extravagant production design.

Thankfully, and remember this is just me going by what we’ve seen thus far; this seems to be a non-issue in The First Avenger.

Most everything in the teaser points to an almost Rocketeer-esque (also directed by Joe Johnston) marriage of the pulpy comic book aesthetic and appropriately utilitarian, or at least practical, design elements.

Truth be told, I loved The Rocketeer back in the day, so if Captain America can capture that same gleeful energy, I think we’re in for a good show.

Another thing worth noting in the teaser, is the brief glimpse we get of the Red Skull, as played by Hugo Weaving.

Red Skull is a character who has undergone a great deal of variations in his design.

In his early appearances, as well as the current Steve Epting version of the character; Red Skull had what I like to call a “toad face”.

 

TOOOOOOAAAADDDD FAAAAAAACCCEEE!!!!!

His eyebrows were exagerrated and protruding, like a neanderthal; but the “toad face” part of his design came from his broad, perpetually frowning mouth.

My personal favorite design of the character, was the one featured prominently in the early 90’s (go figure) that featured a very straightforward skull-shaped, well, skull.

In the case of the movie, it would appear that the design was designed primarily to capitalize on Hugo Weaving’s unique facial structure, while retaining some of the classic “toad face” features:

...And he tears off his normal face mask to reveal... A hideous skull mask!

In other words, expect a bug-eyed, big forehead-ed Red Skull that looks more like Agent Smith than, well, a skull.

I already voiced my opinion on the design decisions for the Captain America suit, as posted here; however there’s one last little detail I’d like to add to that, in the form of a comment from a friend of mine.

Chris Evans in the Captain America suit looks like Shaq from Steel.”

No Caption Necessary.

While I was (sadly) inclined to agree in some respects, I still remain hopeful that Captain America will turn out to be a better film than the almost ludicrously ass-tastic Steel.

Even so, if ever there was a comic character that was easy to fuck up, it’d have to be the Cap’n…

At this point, Captain America (along with Green Lantern) is poised to be my big summer movie this year, so keep your fingers crossed people, The Azn Badger commands it!

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Brain Fart

Today was a long day at work.

Like, “Holy Fuck, I Need A New Job/Life” long.

My brother and his girlfriend were over for the Super Bowl festivities, (that I largely missed out on…) resulting in much merriment throughout the remainder of the evening.

That being said, while my brother was kind enough to help me with coming up with material for a shit ton of future posts, my fatigue coupled with my limited time frame for writing this evening has resulted in me having neither the inspiration, nor time, nor desire to write anything tonight.

Unfortunately, I missed the airing of the Captain America trailer; which was something I was very much hoping to write about.

Oh well, maybe in a few days…

Anyway, I got nothin’ for tonight.

Here’s a stupid pic of Aaron Eckhart looking, well; stupid:

*Pfft!*

 

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Batman Games and the Azn Badger


Today, after more than a month since my last PS3 game purchase, (Demon’s Souls) I went out and bought Batman: Arkham Asylum.

This one has been a long time coming for me.

As you may have guessed, the Azn Badger is very much a fan of the Batman.

The comics, the animated series, the first 2 and last 2 live-action movies, (those other ones never happened…)  if it’s Batman related media; I’ve probably seen it or want to see it.

In my eyes, few characters in the realm of fiction better represent the embodiment of a persona crafted through sheer will than Batman.

He’s a man that chooses to be what he feels he must, and that simple element of his character has led to a seemingly neverending stream of great stories surrounding him.

It hasn’t however, led to all that many videogames that represented him all that well.

 

Batman Begins: The only game where seasoned criminals are paralyzed with fear at the sight of moving boxes.

The Tim Burton Batman movie-tie on the NES, and the Batman Returns game on the Super NES stand as my favorite Batman games of yesteryear, however aside from borrowing the sounds and aesthetic of their respective movies, neither really made use of the character of Batman in their gameplay.

The NES game was a handsome and vaguely Ninja Gaiden-esque shooter/platformer that still receives acclaim to this day.

It also has quite possibly the most awesome, and totally fucked up endings to a Batman story ever in the history of everything:

The Batman Returns game was essentially a sidescrolling beat ’em up with a few extra bells and whistles in the form of a mildly expanded repertoire of moves, (including being able to throw dudes into the background scenery!) but other than that; was little more than standard genre fare.

 

Pictured: The coolest element of Batman Returns - slamming 2 clowns faces together for twice the pwnage.

I love both of these games, and find them to be quite fun in their own right; (especially Batman Returns, which I own to this day) however I have to admit, neither game really feels like a Batman game should.

In the comics, Batman never jumped around giant factories with a laser gun strapped to this forearm.

 

Hmm, I don't remember this in the comics...

In the comics, Batman never walked from left to right and beat the piss out of a clone army of clowns for hours at a time.

 

Although I must admit, such a comic would definitely be on my "must read" list. Man, I hate clowns...

In the comics, the detective work to beating up of goons ratio is generally 2:1.

Let’s get one thing clear:  Batman is really fuckin’ strong.

Batman has told villains on numerous occasions that he could “crush their head like an egg,” and for all intents and purposes, I don’t doubt that fact.

Batman is supposed to be a man trained to the peak of human ability, so I would think crushing a human skull with his bare hands would be well within his capability.

When you think about it from that perspective, it’s hard to envision all that many people that could take a patented Batman Sucker Punch (TM) and not go right to sleep.

 

Pictured: The Batman Sucker Punch (TM) in all it's glory.

Though in many ways it might be a product of the unique and condensed structure of American comic book storytelling, I’ve always thought that Batman’s penchant for separating bad guys from their senses within a panel or 2 to be well in line with the facets of his character.

Batman is not a character that engages in dramatic and overblown, 5 minute kung fu brawls with his opponents, he is a silent predator that, more often than not, lays people out rather than battling them directly.

Although far be it from me to say that I don’t appreciate the few instances in which ‘ole Bats gets dragged into an all out slug fest:

 

Even though this was intensely one-sided, and I never got to read the rematch, this still ranks as one of most awesome moments in Batman history.

This is what initially drew me to Batman: Arkham Asylum.

Yeah, it’s been critically acclaimed up the ying yang.

Yeah, it’s gameplay is supposed to be a MetroidVania* mish-mash of backtracking heavy awesomeness.

Yeah, it even has always awesome Kevin Conroy and Mark Hamill reprising their roles from Batman Animated series.

 

"Always awesome" or not, Father Time has officially backed his truck up over Mark Hamill's face and taken the mother of all corn-filled shits on it for good measure

While I obviously don’t discount any of the above, as I did in fact just buy the game today; what really got me hyped for this game ever since it came out, was that most of the reviews I was reading about placed a great deal of emphasis on the fact that in this game, you really feel like Batman.

Everything from the exploration of the detective mode, to the stealth and counter heavy combat system has been said to reflect the Batman sensibilities we all know and love to a T.

Try saying that about Batman: Vengeance, or Dark Tomorrow, or any of the dozens Bat-Failures in videogame history.

 

I like how me and my friend used to pretend that this was fun... Man I was a dumb kid.

Every kid that loves Batman has wanted to be him at some point in their life.

We do it because goddamn it, he’s just a man.

Aside from the billionaire fortune, gadgets, and unlimited resources, at his core; Batman is just a man that woke up one day and committed himself to being Batman.

Even if it’s total bullshit, and has a 99% chance of never coming true, at some point in our lives, even if just for a moment; we trick ourselves into thinking that with enough time and dedication, we could be Batman if we really tried.

 

And there's kids like this that are destined to be loser-ly for the rest of their days. Seriously, who in their right mind would want to be Robin?

While I’ve long since grown beyond thinking that, it doesn’t stop me from thinking that playing a game like Arkham Asylum could make me relive those feelings in some capacity.

As of writing this, I haven’t actually started the game, but I was feeling nostalgic, so I figured a little Bat-Ruminating was in order.

Anyway, here’s hoping the game lives up to my insanely high standards!

*It should be noted that I am not a fan of Metroid, nor am I a fan of the Symphony of the Night style Castlevania games.  This could lead to some issues in terms of my overall enjoyment of Arkham Asylum, however I am hopeful my experience will lean towards the contrary.

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Guest Review Over At Collected Editions!

The Collected Editions logo in all it's glory.

Wowee, lucky me!

Last month, the webmaster of a blog I frequent, Collected Editions; put out a request for guest comic book reviews for the month of November.

Being as I have been reading Collected Editions for quite some time, I jumped at the opportunity to contribute in some way.

At the time I had just finished reading Brian Michael Bendis’ Dark Avengers Vol. 1, Assemble; so with it fresh in my mind, I set out to write a review on it.

It took some doing, but I think I managed to write an article that measures up to the standard of quality that one would expect from a Collected Editions post.

While I’m on the topic, I’d like to thank the webmaster of Collected Editions for requiring me to edit and revise my writing.

Since I started this blog, I’ve been forced to self-edit my work; meaning I’ve pretty much stopped editing altogether.

You hear that Lucas!? STOP. EDITING.

It felt good to get a jab from someone telling me:

“Nice job, but you’re better than this.  Try harder.”

Thanks again.

Anyway, I’m guessing it would be in bad taste to re-post my guest review here, so instead I’ll just throw you guys a link:

LINK

Thanks for reading, and thank you again Collected Editions for hosting my work!

 

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New Story Idea

BEST. COVER. EVER.

Well, it’s been about 2 years overdue, but I think I finally came up with a new story idea to keep me occupied for the forseeable future.

Bear in mind, when I say “story idea,” I’m referring to something along the lines of a concept for a comic book, short story, or *GASP!*maybe even a novel!

Pictured: "Novelists."

Don’t worry, I promise I won’t go all counter-culture hipster on you guys.

Anyway, at this point in time, with my idea less than 6 hours old, the whole thing is more of a concept than anything else, but even so I think it has a lot going for it.

In interest of saving some time, namely my own, here’s a basic rundown of what I’m shooting for:

Basically, you take the setting of that movie The Village, (I haven’t seen it, but I’ve had the ending spoiled for me)

... Yeah, chances are I'll never sit down to watch this one.

marry it with the aesthetic and monster populated world of Capcom’s Monster Hunter game series,

Haven't played any of these, not sure if I could put up with the grind-fest gameplay. Even so, the art and music alone have got me tempted to pick one up sometime...

and then give it the Dances With Wolves/The Last Samurai/Avatar treatment.

This may as well be the title of said movies.

Actually, now that I think of it, that doesn’t reflect what I’m shooting for at all…

Here’s my idea, in my own words:

Our hero is a young man that comes from a small village of pre-Dark Ages technological status.

The village is surrounded by wilderness on all sides, and aside from a small water source and a single mountain peak visible from over the treeline, completely isolated.

Basically, the villagers live on the assumption that they are the only humans in their realm; that there is nothing for them beyond the forest.

The reason for this isolationist line of thinking is due to the presence of some truly ghastly and vicious man-eating beasts that live in the forest, thereby making travel through the wild all but impossible.

There is a very distinct border between the territory of the villagers and these creatures, crossing it by even the slightest amount agitates the monsters, yet they never cross this border.

These creatures, the wild landscape they inhabit, should be viewed as representing nature, or rather “the wild unknown.”

The real meat of the story, at least at this point, comes from the fact that sometime in the past, maybe a century or 2 ago, someone from the village in question looked upon his surroundings and found them inadequate.

He was disgusted by the sad state of his village and the fact that it’s inhabitants had begun to turn to inbreeding as a means to preserve their dwindling numbers.

He looked at the mountain in the distance and said to himself:

“I want to see the other side of that mountain.”

He was the first man in the history of the village to adopt this progressive line of thinking.

Think of him as sort of the Prometheus of this particular account of human history.

After rallying others to his cause for a time, this man eventually ended up leading a small but determined expedition into the wild.

Most were eaten by the monsters, several became lost in the woods never to be seen again, and that one man, the one that was responsible for it all, found a new life in a clearing at the opposite end of the wild.

He would be the first human to do so in the history of the realm.

This man would be the founder of a new, expansionist and progressive-minded civilization composed people who, like himself, migrated from their respective “island” villages.

Of course, this particular civilization exists without our hero’s knowledge.

The aforementioned people that became lost in the wild would become consumed by the very landscape around them, transformed into horrific and violent man-beasts.

The “wild” in this story is special in the sense that, to most of the characters in the story; it’s still unknown, it’s still dangerous.

In that sense, the wilderness in this story should be regarded as a truly hostile environment, one that not only presents danger to the humans that venture within, but does so willfully.

In this story, the natural world truly hates humanity, such that it produces horrible creatures specifically for the purpose of keeping man outside of it’s borders.

Think of it as a sort of Gaia-like Earth-spirit that exists to keep man in his place, to keep man from discovering the true depths of his insatiable lust to consume and destroy.

Huh, now that I think of it, it’s kind of like Adam and Eve and the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil.

With monsters, lots and lots of monster…

Anyway, that’s where our Prometheus throws a monkey wrench into the mix by surviving what was supposed to be an impossible endeavor.

In a symbolic sense, I guess Prometheus’ victory is supposed to signify the power and mystery of nature beginning to wilt under the tenacity, determination, and ingenuity of man.

The man-beast population don’t exactly represent both parties, humanity and nature, as one would expect.

Rather, they are a doomed element in the story, a group of survivors that have grown powerful and ugly due to the harshness of their environment.

No longer fully human, they are nevertheless still regarded by the wild as intruders, thusly making them targets for the monsters, as well as complete outcasts to whatever human elements they may encounter.

They are physically powerful, but inbred and prone to illness and early death.

At some point in the story, they will probably engage in violence with the Promethean settlement, as that is simply the only way the 2 civilizations can encounter one another.

I think the angle I’m trying to play with the man-beasts, is to posit to the reader/audience the possibility that perhaps the various creatures inhabiting the realm this particular story takes place in are all actually cut from the same fiber.

That is to say, perhaps the vicious man-eating creatures of the wild are in fact mutated humans that were trapped in the forest for too long, or perhaps man is result of some of the monsters stepping out of said enviroment.

The world of this story is meant to have some subtle magical elements, (no spells though, I fuckin’ hate that shit…) so such transformations could easily happen over a reasonable period of time as opposed to through genetic/evolutionary means.

I’m rambling, I’m sorry.

Anyway, the story is basically about a young man, a hunter raised in a small tradition-oriented society, discovering the true breadth of the world around him.

At this point in time, the only background I have established for him, is that he is hunter who lost a friend to one of the monsters in the woods, thusly resulting in him seeking revenge on said monster years later.

Near as I can tell, it’s his quest to slay this beast that takes him into the wilderness and beyond.

What happens from there, and why, I have no fucking clue.

Anyway, that’s about all I’ve got for now.

Don’t steal my ideas.

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