Azn Badger's Blog

What About the Lysine Contingency…?

And Now, John McClane Blowing Up The Death Star.

The above is a video a friend of mine DEMANDED I put together for him.

As you can plainly tell, I spent barely 5 minutes doing so.

That being said, I think it’s kind of funny that the way I edited this together, it would appear McClane not only blew up the Death Star II, but himself as well.

That’s just plain fucked up.

 

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The Top 10 Manliest Man Moments #8: Han Solo, Army Of One


Yesterday we covered what I would argue was Arnold Schwarzenegger’s MANLIEST MAN moment in cinema history.

Said moment involved exclamation of the word “bullshit,” followed by the Austrian death machine hurling a steam pipe through an Australian girlie man’s torso.

Just in case you needed a visual aid...

That was MANLY MAN moment #9.

Now I ask you, just what the fuck kind of Top 10 MANLY MAN moments would place something as epic as the finale of Commando at #9?

A really MANLY fuckin’ list, that’s what!

While the next MANLIEST moment may be somewhat lacking in epic savagery when compared to it’s predecessors; it more than makes up for it in epic ballsy-ness and courage.

In that sense, our 8th MANLIEST MAN moment happens to be that one time in A New Hope when the apex of pimp himself, Han Solo, literally went solo and randomly bum rushed the fuck out of a battalion of Stormtroopers:

(Apologies for the very much unwarranted Chariots of Fire, it was the best I could find.)

You see, while Arnold utterly dominates the MANLY realm of badassery and epic savagery, Harrison Ford’s Han Solo represents a different school of MANLINESS.

Sure, Harrison Ford can’t throw a decent punch to save his life, but that’s why it’s called “acting.”

Han Solo’s what you’d call a “loveable asshole.”

Pictured: An asshole minus the "loveable" part.

He’s a silver-tongued pistolero that wears his ego on his sleeve and tries his damndest to put his foot in the cooch whenever the opportunity presents itself.

While any other character would just seem like a epic frat boy douche-rocket in behaving like this, perhaps Han Solo’s greatest strength as a character is that, while he’s certainly one scruffy looking scoundrel; there’s an inherently heroic and admirable person visible beneath all of it.

I suppose it’s also pretty awesome that his MANLINESS gives him the power to SHUT PEOPLE THE FUCK UP just by raising a finger:

Translation: "You shut your fucking mouth, son."

MANLY powers aside, the one thing that always put Han Solo over the top in my book of MANLINESS, was his ability to improvise and succeed on gut instinct alone.

When faced with the threat of having his ship blasted to pieces by a surprise attack from incoming TIE fighters, ‘ole Han just kind of shrugs his shoulders and says:

When forced to impersonate a Stormtrooper over an intercom in a desperate attempt to salvage his and the other Rebel’s infiltration into the Death Star, Han doesn’t just manage the task; he even takes the time to casually throw in a courteous “We’re fine, how are you?”:

That’s just how Han Solo rolls.

Off the cuff or from the hip, he rolls with the punches and always seems to come out on top.

Which brings us to the MANLIEST moment in his career, and the 8th MANLIEST moment in all of movies.

Not long after the above sequence wherein Han, Chewie and Luke utterly beast the shit out of the security staff of detention block AA 23, the 3 of them rescue Princess Leia and flee into the sewer duct.

After much hilarity and drama involving a nasty dianoga getting frisky with Luke,

Watch in horror as the dianoga claims it's next love sponge...

as well as the walls of the chamber being set to “compact,” the 4 heroes escape into the main corridors of the Death Star.

Unfortunately, the section of the space station that they happen to escape to just happens to be crawling with Stormtroopers.

While most men would turn tail and run in the face of overwhelming odds like this, Han Solo immediately caps one of the troops square in the chest and then proceeds to CHASE AFTER the remaining half dozen or so HEAVILY ARMED soldiers!

If that wasn’t badass enough, ‘ole Han doesn’t just run the sons a bitches down; he charges after them screaming at the top of his lungs like some crazy-ass William Wallace motherfucker.

It may take some serious balls to single-handedly face down a whole squad of armed soldiers, but it takes giant-ass titanium gonads of MANLINESS to fuckin’ rout them and then successfully chase their asses down.

Unfortunately, as is often the case for people who aren’t Arnold Schwarzenegger, the MANLIEST course of action proves to be far from the wisest for Han Solo.

After chasing the Stormtroopers for some time, wailing like a fuckin’ Jewish banshee all the while; Han turns a corner to reveal horrifying sight:

Note: This is one of the few scenes Special Edition actually made MANLIER.

Unfazed by the pants shitting-ly terrifying white and black wall of blaster toting death before him, Han attempts to overwhelm the Stormtroopers with the power of his MANLIEST of MANLY faces:

Despite the awesome power of Han’s MAN-FACE, the Stormtrooper’s collective morale holds fast, allowing them to miraculously power through it’s demoralizing/penis shrinking effects.

Immediately sensing that his gambit has failed, the ever resourceful Han Solo quickly falls back on his go-to plan “B”, that of shooting first and aiming/asking questions later:

Han Solo: Shoots So Well His Lasers Explode From The Inside Out.

With yet another Stormtrooper felled, Han makes the wise choice not to get greedy with his kill-streak, instead choosing to fall back and regroup with his compatriots.

Narrowly escaping from a hail of laser fire, Han Solo meets up with Chewie around the corner, and the 2 escape to the annals of MANLY sci-fi/action movie history.

Thanks for reading MANLY MAN moment #8, check back for #7 tomorrow!

Happy Easter everyone!

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Shadowland Review

Maximum Carnage.

That oft derided blood soaked comic book story arc of the early 90’s was what ultimately came to mind as I was reading through Marvel’s Shadowland.

Fortunately, I happen to be of the rare breed that, despite it’s flawed storytelling and absurd length; actually kind of liked Maximum Carnage.

Make no mistake though, Shadowland is by no means a well-liked crossover by most comic fan standards.

At least it's not universally hated like Onslaught... Onslaught sucked balls.

Written by Daredevil author Andy Diggle, and pencilled by former X-23 artist Billy Tan; Shadowland takes us into the dark territory it’s title suggest in the form of casting prolific crime-fighter and man without fear, Daredevil; as it’s central villain.

While this controversial storytelling decision has perturbed many a Daredevil fan since it’s publication, thankfully there is indeed a logical, though somewhat hokey explanation as to why Matt Murdock would suddenly turn heel overnight.

 

I don't know about you, but bad chili always puts me in a foul mood...

Leading up to the events of Shadowland, one of the Daredevil’s arch-nemeses, Bullseye; blew up a city block in Hell’s Kitchen, effectively creating a gigantic smoldering symbol of the hero’s personal failings smack dab in the middle of his backyard.

Having recently been offered the position as head of The Hand, a Japanese cult of ninjas and longtime opponent of Daredevil and Elektra; Daredevil ends up accepting the offer, in hopes of wielding the forces of The Hand to better protect the citizens of New York.

This leads to the purchase of the plot of land that was destroyed by Bullseye, and the erection of a huge Japanese fortress in it’s place; a territory that Daredevil dubs “Shadowland.”

Unfortunately, poor Matt Murdock didn’t count on being possessed by The Beast, a demon under the control of a splinter group within The Hand known as Snakeroot.

Said possession causes Daredevil to lose control of himself and his army, resulting in The Beast using him as a vessel to infect the citizens of New York with feelings of hatred and violence.

While many of the heroes of the Marvel universe tolerate Murdock’s actions, grudgingly; it isn’t until he does the unthinkable, and kills Bullseye; that his close friends begin to suspect that the devil of Hell’s Kitchen might be losing his marbles.

Thus sets the stage for a series of pitched battles between Daredevil and those that care most about him.

I assure it doesn't turn out like this, however it would be kinda' cool if it did...

A “mini-event” staged in the wake of Marvel’s most recent event comic proper, Siege; Shadowland represents the rather rare crossover event wherein the core players consist almost exclusively of  “street level” superheroes.

That is to say, despite a suitably epic storyline involving demonic possession and a mass riot across the Hell’s Kitchen section of Manhattan, the majority of the superheroes involved consist of low-powered, or in many cases; unpowered, individuals such as Iron Fist, Luke Cage, Spider-Man, and The Punisher.

Unlike many event comics, that raise the stakes to cosmic levels and beyond, a strong part of the appeal of Shadowland; at least for me anyway, is the fact that the story remains grounded in Daredevil’s niche in the Marvel universe, that of New York city.

While many of the heroes, such as Cage and Iron Fist; are personal friends of Daredevil, ultimately the one thing tying everyone together in the story is that they all share New York as their field of operations.

Early on in Shadowland we’re shown an overhead splash of the city, with several embedded panels serving to show us many of the New York-based Marvel superheroes as they all glare at Daredevil’s newly erected eyesore of a fortress and ponder on what to do of it.

Pictured: The splash in question.

It’s moments like this that serve to unify the cast of Shadowland in a much more satisfying manner than many other event comics.

With the exception of Ghost Rider and Moon Knight, (and a truly random Wolverine) both of whom have close to nothing to do within the context of the 5 core Shadowland issues, the vast majority of the cast feel appropriately cast.

That being said, what of the actual story?

Well, to be perfectly honest, Shadowland is one of those crossovers that seems to demand an unreasonable level of commitment from it’s readers, such that it feels like many important story beats are found only in tie-in issues.

That being said, questions arise every now and again when one is reading Shadowland, usually pertaining to where certain characters went, or how they knew some of the things they did.

 

...Or in the case of Elektra: "How are you still alive?"

In that sense, the storytelling and plot progression of Shadowland can feel fractured and abbreviated, however in my opinion this does not hurt it’s overall enjoyability.

Put it this way:

Shadowland is not a suspenseful story.

From it’s first pages, the “mystery” of Daredevil’s bloodthirsty nature are laid out for us crystal clear.

While the (surprisingly good) ending serves to shake things up a bit, there’s close to zero character development in Shadowland.

From the moment Bullseye gets shanked, we know exactly who our villains are, making for a story that does most what little “telling” it needs to as fists are flying and blood is spilt.

The real meat of Shadowland is in establishing Daredevil as a character poised to take a fall, and then watching as his closest friends band together to set him straight, not through superpowered might, or even magical exorcism; but through heart… and a shit ton of kung fu.

Martial arts have a way of making any story just that much better.

While it sounds corny, Shadowland is essentially the comic book equivalent of an intervention.

Hal Jordan fell prey to Parallax, Jean Grey turned into Dark Phoenix, every now and again one our most beloved superheroes finds themselves under the control of some malevolent force, ultimately resulting in their friends banding together (unsuccessfully) to stop them, only for them to choose redemption through the only means most superheroes seem to know:

Altruisticly Superpowered Suicide, better known as A.S.S.

Sorry, couldn’t resist…

Despite the frequently used storytelling formula listed above, one should note that I never said that’s how Shadowland ends.

I’m not a fan of spoilers, so I’ll let you read the story yourself to find out just what happens.

*Spoiler Alert!* The Death Star blows up at the end!

Anyway, it’s a safe bet to say that Shadowland represents a story that has been recycled in the world of comics more than a few times already, however the new coat of paint it throws into the mix, in the form of it’s cast and setting, make for a fun experience for those who, like myself; are somewhat invested in things from the get go.

In other words, Shadowland is hardly a jumping on point for those who don’t read any of the characters involved in the core storyline, but for those that frequently read tales from the streets of Marvel New York; it’s hard not to have fun with Shadowland.

...I mentioned there was fighting, right?

Coming into Shadowland, I honestly didn’t know what to expect from artist Billy Tan.

Normally, I am keen on looking up the work of artists for comics I’m about purchase, largely because I put a great deal of stock in an artist’s abilities when it comes to gauging my overall enjoyment of a book.

Most reviews I read of Shadowland prior to purchasing it were mostly negative, however nearly all of them made mention of the art being “typically outstanding” in reference to Tan’s body of work.

Don’t ask me why, but for some reason I came into Shadowland wanting to be surprised by something, given that most of the story can be spoiled by reading even the most vague of reviews.

Anyway, I was indeed surprised by Billy Tan’s art in Shadowland, but more importantly; I was impressed.

Impressive... Most impressive...

Like many of my favorite comic artists, Tan excels at drawing his characters with somewhat more realistically proportioned bodies.

Many of his figures appear lithe and flexible, which is a very important factor to consider when dealing with a cast of characters consisting largely of martial artists and acrobats.

Speaking of which, while his face work can seem a little off at times, Tan displays a penchant for illustrating figures in motion.

There are moments in Shadowland, particularly in the battle with Bullseye; where the action of the panels felt more like viewing an animation than reading a comic.

For your viewing pleasure, a full page of awesome.

Needless to say, Billy Tan’s artwork and easily deciphered layouts in Shadowland meet my approval, and quite handily at that.

I won’t be reading X-23 anytime soon, out of my general disdain for the character; but nevertheless, I look forward to more Tan projects in the near future.

Anyway, that’s about all I’ve got to say about Shadowland.

As mentioned earlier, it seems like Marvel expects us to read a lot of the tie-ins in order to get the whole story, but I myself can’t justify such an investment.

I will however be picking up the Moon Knight tie-in, as it genuinely looked pretty good to me, and besides; Moon Knight’s my boy.

Other than that though, I’m mostly happy with what I got from Shadowland on it’s own.

Hope this was helpful to some of you, thanks for reading!

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“I’ve Got A Problem Here…”

Ah, Jek Porkins; how we hardly knew thee.

To the scant few out there on the intersnatch that don’t know the story of Jek Porkins, I offer this brief history lesson:

From what I can recall from my Star Wars obsessed childhood, Jek Porkins was from the planet Bestine IV.

Where that is, or what significance that planet holds in the greater Star Wars universe, I have no fucking clue.

Pretty much everything you’ll be reading in this little bio section here came from a trading card and a handful of comics, so don’t be surprised if there’s a few holes here and there.

 

Pictured: Said trading card. I've got like a dozen of these...

Disclaimer aside, let’s continue with the epic saga of Jek Porkins, shall we?

A trader and a pilot before The Empire made him and his people refugees, Porkins joined up with the Rebel Alliance and became a pilot in their starfleet.

Due to his obese, vaguely Stay Puft Marshmallow Man-like physique, Porkins was awarded politically incorrect (and hilarious) nicknames such as “Belly Runner” and “Piggy” during his tenure in the Rebel starfleet.

 

"Sucks to your ass-mar!"

The highlight of Porkin’s career came tragically (and hilariously) at the end of his life during the Battle of Yavin, when while piloting X-Wing fighter Red Six along the surface of the Death Star, his ship malfunctioned, causing him to fall prey to the space station’s Turbolasers.

It was this moment, Porkin’s death; that immortalized the character of Jek Porkins in the minds and imaginations of sci-fi dorks throughout the world.

However morbid it may sound, there’s just something satisfying about watching a fat man die in a movie; particularly when he does so in such a pathetic manner.

 

Case in point...

To my recollection, Porkins accomplished exactly nothing at the Battle of Yavin.

Seriously, it’s a fuckin’ miracle that tank-ass Porkins even managed to get his S-Foils open without self-pwning.

Regardless of what the expanded fiction and lore of Star Wars may indicate these days, what I remember seeing of Porkins during the running time of A New Hope; consisted of him flying in formation, helping Biggs take out a tower, and then exploding in a fiery (and flabby) blaze of sad.

Hell, I’ve read that he took a Turbolaser up his ass, but based on what I remember of the movie; I always kind of thought his ship exploded on it’s own due to malfunction.

Now that I think of it, that actually kind of works out in some ways.

He was just so damn fat, and so damn sad, that his ship just up and FAILED itself into oblivion, thereby ensuring that if would never have to bear the humiliation of hauling his chunky ass across the galaxy ever again.

Anyway, consider this a tribute of sorts to the marvelous death of the fat sack of fail known to the world of dorkdom as Jek Porkins.

Salute to Porkins, salute to the equally humorously named actor, William Hootkins; that portrayed him (as well as many other memorable fat guys of the 80’s) in A New Hope.

More than anything though, salute to George Lucas, that evil greedy bastard; for having the balls to insert a blatant fat joke into an action-packed sequence of galactic warfare.

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Best Boss Music #10: Ikaruga

I loves me some space shooters.

Foh’ real man, if a game is vertical scrolling, and involves a great deal of shooting, chances are I’ve either played it, or would very much like to play it.

Ikaruga stands as a game that is at or near the apex of quality and ingenuity for the vertical scrolling shoot ’em up subgenre.

Right next to this beast...

Developed by legendary team over at Treasure, Ikaruga is an intensely complex and difficult game, that while actually quite short, even by shoot ’em up standards, is very difficult to complete, even for the most seasoned of veterans.

I myself have never managed to beat Ikaruga, only getting far enough to get to the first step of the final boss’ stoop.

"Haha! Stoop Kid's afraid to leave his stoop!"

Set somewhere amid the same mythology as the one conceived in Treasure’s earlier Radiant Silvergun, Ikaruga is one of the rare shoot ’em ups that actually has a legitimate backstory, albeit one that is completely omitted from the actual gameplay.

Similar to many of the older generation games, Ikaruga’s storyline was told, in detail; within the game’s instruction manual, as well as in cryptic messages that would flash on-screen briefly between each of the games 5 stages.

Yeah, 'cause I can read that...

While not nearly as deep as say, Konami’s Gradius series’, Ikaruga’s story is actually fairly intriguing.

The basic setup is that of a powerful empire discovering the power of God, only to wield it against it’s own people in an attempt to create absolute peace.

So, the evil empire discovers The Force...

This of course leads to a rebel faction taking up arms, only to be nearly completely annihilated in the process.

... And obviously the Rebels are fucking incompetent.

One pilot though, whom the player assumes control of, crash lands in village called Ikaruga (Mottled Finch).

... Said pilot crashes on a planet to acquire The Force...

The old people there, living in exile from the empire grant this pilot a ship imbued with a power similar to the power of God discovered earlier, though broken down into 2 separate polarities, black and white, or Yin and Yang.

Humor me and pretend you're interested.

With this power at your command, you the player dash headlong into the maw of the enemy forces on a suicide mission to turn the tide of the war.

The Yin and Yang concept mentioned above serves as the very core of Ikaruga’s unique gameplay.

Basically, every enemy and bullet in Ikaruga belongs to one of the 2 polarities of black or white.

With the touch of a button, the player is able to change their ship’s polarity back and forth between black or white alignment.

Pictured: The White and Black forms of the ship as rendered in pixel-format by Metaru.

When in either color state, the player’s ship becomes immune to all enemy bullets sharing it’s color.

Not only that, but purposely absorbing bullets of the same polarity slowly charges one’s special attack meter, which can be unleashed in the form of a massive homing laser attack that serves as Ikaruga’s equivalent to the classic shoot ’em up bomb attack.

Yup, that's a bomb.

At the same time, the player also has to take into consideration the fact that enemies take twice as much damage when struck by a laser of the opposite polarity.

This leads to occasional mental overload on the part of the player due to the constant possibility to trade the security of fighting an enemy of the same polarity, in favor of potentially destroying them faster by switching to the opposite polarity.

Now imagine this when you're EXPECTED to purposely run into half of this.

As mentioned earlier, Ikaruga is a very short game, at only 5 stages in length, however it’s difficulty stems from the intense level of strategic thinking necessary to maneuver each stage.

A huge element of the difficulty in Ikaruga springs from the fact that, in order to played correctly, one must effectively reprogram their most basic shoot ’em up instincts.

The one basic rule that is a constant in the vast majority of scrolling shooters, (well, except maybe Giga Wing) is that bullets are bad, and should never be touched due to the distinct potentiality that they might, I don’t know, KILL YOU.

Sadly, Takeshi Kitano forgot to un-learn the lessons taught to him by Ikaruga.

Ikaruga takes this most basic of concepts and throws it out the 3rd story window.

I think it goes without saying, I’m not very good at Ikaruga.

The game makes no attempt to cover-up the fact that it’s a shoot ’em up made exclusively for seasoned players of the genre with big hairy stones.

... Or failing that, one that can make fire from box-office success.

Hell, the game goes so far as to include a tiny animation for when you skim bullets with your ship, serving as a visual indicator as to exactly where the ship’s hit box is located.

Not only that, the game also grants the player special point bonuses for defeating enemies of the same polarity consecutively, as well as a particularly difficult to obtain bonus called “Dot Eater” that can only be obtained by beating a stage without shooting down a single enemy.

How is this possible?

Well, the stage bosses of Ikaruga all come with time limits attached, resulting in epic battles that can end in stalemate due to the retreat of the enemy unit.

Speaking of bosses, Ikaruga’s got some pretty neat ones.

Hey look it's a... Uh... Yeah, I got nothin'.

They lack personality for sure, but from a gameplay standpoint they are expertly crafted masterpieces of the genre.

The real star of the show during the boss fights though, is of course; the music!

That being said, let’s get down to our best boss track in Ikaruga:
Stage 1 Boss Theme: Butsutekkai

Though Butsutekkai gets the gold in terms of overall energy, I honestly feel that this next track is on par with it in terms of musical quality while adopting more of a sweeping dramatic sound.
Stage 2 Boss Theme: Recapture

Anyway, those are my 2 picks for the Best Boss Music in Ikaruga.

Tune in next time!

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