Azn Badger's Blog

What About the Lysine Contingency…?

Manny Pacquiao vs. Juan Manuel Marquez III Prediction


Well, it’s finally here.

After over 6 years and 2 hotly contested contests, Manny Pacquiao and Juan Manuel Marquez are finally going to step into the ring for their long awaited rubber match.

Their first match, contested at Featherweight, ended in a draw; with Marquez being floored 3 times in the first stanza, only to dominate the remainder of the fight via brilliant offense and mid-fight adjustments.

The result of the fight is debated to this day, with many believing Marquez deserved the nod, myself included.

The second fight resulted in an extraordinarily narrow split decision victory for Pacquiao, with a 3rd round knockdown of Marquez creating the 1 point advantage needed to prevent a second draw.

Much the like their first clash, the result of Pacquiao-Marquez II is heavily disputed.

In the intervening years since their last battle, back in 2008, both Pacquiao and Marquez have been among the most productive fighters of their era.

As I’m sure you’re already aware, Pacquiao has gone on to ascend in weight with unprecedented success, snagging titles in every class from Lightweight to Jr. Middleweight.

Along the way he utterly dominated a wide range of “name” fighters including the likes of Oscar De La Hoya, Ricky Hatton, Miguel Cotto, Antonio Margarito, and most recently, Shane Mosley.

I mentioned I hate Ricky Hatton, right?

It’s worth noting however, that despite the fact that all of Pacquiao’s opponents post-2008 were of world class ability, one has to take into account that “were” is most certainly the operative word in that statement.

Without exception, all of the above fighters were either coming off of physically taxing, disastrous losses, or were altogether well past their prime.

A Shane Mosley that calls it quits and runs for 12 rounds is a Mosley that would likely get it’s ass beaten by it’s former iteration for ruining their collective “warrior” image.

That’s not a knock on Pacquiao’s esteemed legacy, as at 33 he has already achieved a number of feats that likely will never be repeated in the sport, but it is a knock on Bob Arum and the business of boxing.

In short, it’s readily apparent that as Pacquiao’s status as an international celebrity has grown, so has his management’s desire to direct his career with a safety first/money grabbing agenda.

Superman never would’ve been made without Marlon Brando.

Batman never would’ve been made without Jack Nicholson.

Similarly, Bob Arum has paired Pacquiao with known fighters that put asses in the seats rather than the hungry young bucks that as destined to play second fiddle to the current crop of elite fighters until they grow old or retire.

Such is the case with virtually every mega-champ in boxing history, however that fact alone does not absolve Arum and his boys from their blatant exploitation of the sport and it’s fan base alike.

That being said, Marquez’ post-2008 career may not have been as flashy or as groundbreaking as Pacquiao’s, but it’s been thrilling nonetheless.

Just 6 short months after his loss to Pacquiao in their second match, Marquez moved up in weight to Lightweight.

Beginning with an unprecedented knockout of Joel Casamayor, Marquez quickly installed himself as a force to be reckoned with in the division.

While back to back victories over Juan Diaz would be soon to follow, as well as over the tough but mercurial Michael Katsidis and unheralded Likar Ramos, in late 2009 Marquez would jump 2 weight classes, to Welterweight, for a horribly one-sided decision loss to Floyd Mayweather.

The fight was kind of like this, but ALL NIGHT LONG.

Many, myself included, felt that Marquez was largely outsized in the Mayweather bout, however given the prodigious nature of Floyd’s boxing skills, personally I don’t think the weight would’ve mattered.

Oddly enough, the controversy of the Mayweather weight issue has arisen once again, as tomorrow night’s rubber match is also to be contested at Welterweight.

While the issue of weight is no doubt an issue many cite as one (of many) factor(s) that will likely lead to Marquez’ defeat tomorrow night, in all honesty I think of it as very much a minor issue cast alongside a host of more important ones.

True, Marquez’ only other performance at Welterweight saw him lose every round and even get dropped once in the process, however one has to bring into consideration the fact that Marquez took that fight on only a few months notice, not to mention he was fighting a pure boxer with a penchant for making people look bad.

In other words, he took it upon himself to not only fight a stylistic mismatch, he also had to craft himself a Welterweight body within a single training camp.

This time however, Marquez was given the opportunity to take part in a tune-up match with Likar Ramos this past July, contested at Jr. Welterweight.

...Which only lasted 1 round and seemed a little fishy at that.

What I’m trying to say here, is that, while he likely isn’t nearly as comfortable at 140+ as Pacquiao is, he’s had much more time to work his way up to the weight the right way.

At least, one would assume that’s how a professional athlete would go about doing things.

That being said, as much as I love Marquez as a fighter, in all honesty I don’t think he’s going to be able to pull off a victory tomorrow night.

At 38 years of age, Marquez is noticeably slowing, and while his ability to adjust and trade punches in the pocket is legendarily formidable, I think Pacquiao’s slippery footwork is going to get the better of him.

To me, Pacquiao’s lucid footwork and ability to create angles are his greatest gifts as a fighter.

At the same time though, both Pacquiao and Marquez have a remarkable willingness to stand and trade punches just a little bit longer than most.

In their previosu fights, whenever the 2 of them decided to exchange combinations, Marquez was highly competitive due to his clever punch placement and overall ruggedness.

The Pacquiao of old was far too willing to play into Marquez’ game, resulting in the rough and tumble fights we’re all fortunate to have tucked away in the annals of boxing history.

In their second fight though, Pacquiao’s finest moments saw him clocking Marquez on his way in, and gracefully slipping behind him.

Given Pacquiao’s steady evolution into an undeniably better and more technically sound fighter in the years since he and Marquez’ second bout, it’s hard for me to see Freddie Roach allowing his fighter to make the same mistakes that even a blog writer like me noticed before.

I expect Pacquiao to work his angles and either box his way to landslide 12 round decision, or failing that, an 8th round TKO.

Though I wholly expect him to take some severe punishment, I don’t see Marquez getting a 10 count on the canvas.

Much like how you could count on Arturo Gatti’s face starting to swell up and/or bleed during his walk from the dressing room, Juan Manuel Marquez is one of those fighters that isn’t really in the fight until you knock him down.

Despite Pacquiao alone putting him to the canvas 4 times over 2 fights, the guy’s never been knocked out, and I honestly don’t think it’ll ever happen via a 10 count.

Congratulations, you've succeeding in pissing him off.

Going down for Marquez seems almost like a wake up call, like a signal to him that he’s gotta’ change his tactics or pick up the pace.

I sincerely hope Marquez wins tomorrow night, as most boxing trilogies/series arise due to a need to establish a clear victor due to both men trading victories.

Given that neither man won their first fight, it’d make for a good story if Marquez got a win in there somewhere.

Anyway, there’s my prediction.

Pacquiao by UD, or failing that, an 8th TKO stoppage.

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Filed under: Boxing, Comics, Movies, Uncategorized, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

“Bionic Mexican” Is Now Officially In The Urban Dictionary!

Pictured: Antonio Margarito, one of the more noteworthy examples of a Bionic Mexican.

A friend of mine sent me an Urban Dictionary link the other day to the phrase “he had a tremendous singing voice,” which, me being me; I instantly recognized as a Joker quote from the Tim Burton Batman film.

My friend and I… We have a special kind of affinity for Batman, such that random quote-fragments such as this rarely go unnoticed, if ever.

That being said, seeing that quote on Urban Dictionary put the idea in my head that maybe I should start plugging some of my random isms and in-jokes into their database.

Being as I used the phrase just 2 days ago, I figured I should start things off by throwing “Bionic Mexican” up over there.

Here’s the official link.

And if you’re genuinely too lazy to click the link, (it happens) here’s the definition:

“Bionic Mexican”:

A Mexican fighter capable of absorbing an inordinate amount of punishment, much like The Terminator.

Example:

John: “Hey Brian, are you rooting for Cotto or Margarito?”
Brian: “I want to root for Cotto, but Margarito’s got that whole Bionic Mexican thing going, so I don’t know…”
Anyway, just wanted to toot my own horn, (for once) have a nice evening!

Filed under: Boxing, Comics, Movies, , , , , , , , , , ,

The Top 10 Hardest Boss Fights, #10


Alrighty folks, I’ve been a lazy motherfucker over the past, uh, month; so I figured it was about time I buckled down and committed to cranking out some real posts for the blog.

That being said, I can think of no better source of motivation, than to start up another epic Top 10 list!

As you’ve probably guessed from the AWESOME banner at the top of this post, this time around our list is focused on a subject that is very near and dear to my heart: videogame boss fights.

For better or for worse, boss fights have been a staple of game design for nearly as long as the medium has existed.

Perhaps a product of the “quarter munching” aspect of arcade games, boss fights were at initially characterized as a clash with a unique character, who’s attack pattern and/or attributes often caused them to represent a significant spike in the games’ difficulty level.

Nowadays, what with the advances in technology and a fairly consistent trend towards favoring narrative based gameplay, boss fights have become increasingly irrelevant.

Hell, I remember reading an article on Kotaku awhile back positing the possibility that boss fights may be an unnecessary artifact carried on from a bygone era of gaming.

Despite being a fascinating read, the viewpoint of said article largely applied exclusively to story driven games, games that boss fights would feel “tagged on” or extraneous in.

Pictured: A good example of a boss fight that meant well, but ultimately didn't need to happen.

For whatever reason, I can’t find the article in question, but oh well; you get the gist of it.

Personally, my background in 8 and 16-bit gaming has left me with nothing but fond memories of battling big baddies at the end of every level.

Maybe it’s just the old school gamer in me, but I play most games expecting there to be big ugly dude with a bloated life bar at the end of every stage, level, chapter, episode, or what have you.

For me, boss fights are both the final obstacle prior to advancement, as well as, on occasion; a reward in and of themselves.

Good boss fights represent some of the finest moments in gaming history.

Bad boss fights can be anywhere from disappointingly shallow, to controller smashing-ly hard.

The latter, largely represents the contents of this list; though not entirely.

Tough boss fights are just another part of gaming, as natural pressing the “A” button to jump, and the “B” button to kill.

That being said, let’s get this party started as we delve in to the 10th hardest boss fight:

#10. Yellow Devil – Mega Man

Pictured: The Blue Bomber chucking a Thunder Beam into the cyclopic eye of The Yellow Devil.

I don’t know what it was about him, but for whatever reason the Yellow Devil from the original Mega Man game always stuck out to me as one of the hardest bosses I ever fought on my NES.

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve played plenty of harder games, especially on my NES, however in terms of hard boss fights; few put fear in my heart the way the Devil did.

Ninja Gaiden’s Jaquio and Jashin were tough, as was the sequel’s Ashtar; but I managed to beat both of them in my youth.

That's right bitch! I got yo' numbah'!

When I was a kid, I never beat the Yellow Devil.

I rolled over his cousin, the Yellow Devil Mk. II from Mega Man 3; but I never beat the original.

Encountered in the first stage of Dr. Wily’s fortess, the Yellow Devil was a wretched beast that kept me from beating the original Mega Man until well into adulthood.

Fighting the Devil was a fairly straightforward experience, but one made difficult by the tedious nature of the bosses’ pattern, as well as his fearsome attack power.

Basically, the original Yellow Devil only had 1 attack in his pattern, but it was a real pain in the pass.

Check it out here:

Disassembling his mustard-y yellow form into a series of cubes, the Devil launches his body, piece by piece; from one end of the room to the other.

While in flight, all of these pieces serve as dangerous projectiles that must be avoided by the player through careful jumps of varying heights and timing.

The actual pattern of the pieces’ dispersal isn’t quite random, however it’s complicated enough to the point of being easier to dodge through reflex than memorization.

The real problem with this pattern, is the fact that damage can only be dealt to the Devil one shot at a time, for only a brief moment following the completion of his reassembling phase.

Many bosses throughout gaming history have employed the annoying as fuck pattern characteristic of, “You Can Only Hit Me After I’ve Slapped You With My Dick For 5 Minutes” but few have done so with the audacity of the Yellow Devil.

With a rather potent weakness to Elec Man’s Thunder Beam, the Yellow Devil doesn’t take all that many hits to kill, however the time one has to devote to frantically hopping about in order to get into position to deliver said hits; more than compensate for any weaknesses he may have.

I was usually good enough to get close to taking out the Devil in Mega Man, but it wasn’t until I was much older, wiser, and entirely less interested in achieving victory that I would actually conquer the beast known in the states as the Rock Monster.

That being said, I feel the Yellow Devil’s #10 slot on this list is entirely warranted, however imagine my disappointment when I stumbled across the glitch/exploit featured in the video below:

Filed under: Comics, Games, The Top 10 Hardest Boss Fights, Uncategorized, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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…

Filed under: Comics, Uncategorized, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Thoughts On The Dark Knight Rises Rumor Mill

 

Jim Lee Batman FTW.

I happened upon an article on IGN earlier today that ruminated on some possible plot details of Christopher Nolan’s upcoming Batman three-quel, The Dark Knight Rises.

Said article made mention of Talia al Ghul and the League of Shadows (“Assassins” in the comics) likely having a role in the central plot of the film, which most likely points to Tom Hardy’s previously announced role as Bane taking a hit in screen time and dramatic relevance.

"Bane takes backseat to NO ONE!!!"

My personal objections to this potential snubbing of Bane aside, I honestly feel that Talia could be an interesting element to the overarching story of the Nolan-verse of Batman lore.

With Catwoman already announced for the cast of the film, we now have 2 very potent femme fatales of Batman’s rogues present in 1 film.

Combine that with a Bruce Wayne who’s very likely still shaky around the lady-folk due to his previous love getting, y’know; blown the fuck up in the previous movie, and you have the makings of a very intricate and deceptive love triangle.

Eew! Batman has cooties!

In addition to this, Talia serves as an effective anchor to Batman Begins in the form of her familial relation to the primary villain of that film, Ra’s al Ghul; making for an epic plot thread that, if executed properly; will lend a sense cohesiveness to the whole trilogy.

While nothing is certain, least of all the plot elements mentioned above; the thought of Bane being cast as anything less than a primary villain feels like kind of a letdown.

When Bane was initially announced as a villain for The Dark Knight Rises, I was hoping against hope that he was going to be the villain, that is; the main foil for Batman regardless of whatever notables of his rogues gallery ended up being cast in the film.

Upon reading that Talia was a possible element of the film though, it makes it hard to picture Bane as little more than the muscle, or worse yet; a pawn to the machinations of the League of Shadows.

Despite my personal disappointment in said news, (anything short of a live-action Knightfall will probably fall short in my eyes…) it’s interesting to note that this particular plot rumor actually follows the Batman comics pretty closely.

Not long ago, I was fortunate to acquire a copy of the somewhat rare Batman story arc entitled Legacy.

I PAID!

In Legacy, the Bat-Family (including Catwoman) is charged with preventing Ra’s Al Ghul, his daughter Talia, Bane, and the entire League of Shadows from unleashing a catastrophic plague on humankind.

While the story is indeed “comic booky” to the point of being unfeasible for live-action adaptation, the one element of the story that drew to pick it up, was that Legacy was known to contain the only legitimate rematch between Batman and Bane post-Knightfall.

While I honestly can say, grudgingly; that the rematch was not at all worth the considerable price of admission, it was fascinating to see Bane incorporated into a Ra’s Al Ghul story nonetheless.

In Legacy, Bane’s role was that of a stand-in for Bruce Wayne as Ra’s Al Ghul’s potential heir.

A key storyline that has often been used in interactions between Batman and Ra’s Al Ghul has always been that of Ra’s wishing to marry Talia off to Bruce and have him take control of the League of Shadows.

Hell, at one point Batman actually went through with all of the above; only to turn his back on Ra’s and Talia after a moral disagreement.

"Moral Disagreement" of course being code for "Naked Swordfight."

The point is, Bane is and always has been somewhat of a cracked mirror image of Batman, such that their origins and motivations are nearly opposite, but their abilities and steadfast natures are nearly identical.

Going with this line of thinking, the writers cleverly wrote Bane into Legacy as Ra’s new heir, as well as future husband to Talia.

If Christopher Nolan and his crew were to associate Bane with the League of Shadows in a fairly logical (by comic book standards) manner, such as the one listed above; I see no reason why it wouldn’t work out.

My hope remains that Tom Hardy is given free reign to take center stage as the villain of The Dark Knight Rises, but with Anne Hathaway’s Catwoman, the yet to be cast role of Talia, and Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s yet to be announced (or confirmed) role in the film also floating around somewhere in the script; it seems unrealistic to think that anyone will be claiming this film as their own.

Much like every Christopher Nolan film of the post-Batman Begins era, I’d expect The Dark Knight Rises to be very much an ensemble affair, making it unrealistic to expect a singular, commanding performance from anyone in the cast ala Heath Ledger and Jack Nicholson’s Joker(s).

Bane’s a heavy for sure, but his charisma and personality can’t hold a candle to the endless possibilities that a character like The Joker presents to actors.

That being said, I’m a Batman nut, and a Bane fanatic; so The Dark Knight Rises is basically the biggest comic book movie ever for me.

Gonna’ be hard to wait for this one…

 

 

Filed under: Comics, Movies, Uncategorized, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

The Azn Badger’s One Day Weekend Itinerary

Azn Badger got hit by truck… Truck was from company called “Wreck Your Shit Co.” Driver was named “Fatigue McRagealot.”

  1. Have looked like bum for some time now…  Shave and haircut = Priority.
  2. Tabemonos*….
  3. Beat Batman: Arkham Asylum.  Was knocking on the Joker’s door last time I played the game… A week ago… Will beat insane clown’s ass and complete game with all Riddler whatchamacallits acquired.
  4. Squander potential purchase of cheap Christmas gift in favor of using 40% off Borders coupon on comic book for self.  Azn Badger works hard, he deserves to be selfish every once and awhile…
  5. Tabemonos*…
  6. Watch shitty movie I’ve already seen 50 million times, only this time watch it on Blu Ray.
  7. Hang out with Mencius.  But only for awhile…  Azn Badger too tired to deal with people…
  8. Tabemonos* while watching Guy Fieri stuff his fat, greasy face for the 50 millionth time.  Thankfully, not in HD.
  9. WRITE FUCKING BLOG.
  10. Watch Amir Khan vs. Marcos Maidana, and Timothy Bradley vs. Devon Alexander on the HBO with the old man.  Khan’ll probably box circles around Maidana, but like they say; Maidana always has a puncher’s chance… Here’s hoping he puts the Brit to sleep, and Bradley ekes out another victory…  The Azn Badger also happens to be an Irish Badger, so hatred of Brits is to be expected…
  11. Attempt nocturnal activity known in most circles as “sleep.”  Most likely fail…

 

What the fuck did I do to my can? I tried to open it and the, uh, "opener thingy" bent all funny...

*Tabemono: Japanese word for “edible object.”  Pronounced Tah-Bei-Mo-No, though in this case the term is pluralized in the English manner of adding an “s” sound for the sake of cheap laughs.  My roommate and I used to do a lot of stupid shit like this to keep ourselves busy…

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Luthor Review

What the fuck kinda' 'roids is Superman on in is picture?...

Let me just start this review off by making it clear that I’m not all that familiar with Brian Azzarello’s writing.

My brother has told me (on numerous occasions) that I’d probably enjoy 100 Bullets, but to date I have yet to crack open an issue.

My only firsthand experience I have in reading Azzarello’s work, was his and artist Lee Bermejo’s more recent graphic novel, Joker.

I was deeply impressed with Joker.

From a visual standpoint, Bermejo’s painting and pencils served to give the story a striking, cohesive, and altogether unique look that in many ways make it one of the handsomest comics on the stands.

More importantly though, the writing was strong throughout.

The dialogue was sharp, with all the various character’s “voices” and diction coming across in the text boxes as if they were being read aloud by the cast members themselves.

The one aspect of the storytelling that really made it all work though, was the decision to cast an associate of the Joker’s, Johnny Frost; as both the narrator and main character.

Writing from the Joker’s perspective is one of those things that requires an insanely talented writer, either that or it’s just plain impossible.

The character is simply too impulsive, crazy, and altogether unpredictable, to the point in which reading his thoughts would probably as difficult a struggle as the process of writing them.

By using Johnny Frost as our ambassador into the Joker’s world however, Azzarello effectively gave us a ground level look at the seedier denizens of Gotham city; all while avoiding any of the confusion that may have resulted from trying to get inside their heads.

For Luthor however, Azzarello; once again teamed with Bermejo, chose to cast Lex Luthor as both the narrator and central character.

In case you haven’t figured it out already, this didn’t settle with me.

Lex Luthor is not really one of my favorite characters in the DC universe.

Most of the Superman stories I’ve enjoyed over the years barely included Luthor, and for the most part I think of him as a character that is doomed to be portrayed in the same fashion over and over and over again.

The Joker lends writers a degree of flexibility that makes him an intriguing figure to explore.

Sometimes he’s batshit crazy, sometimes he’s surprisingly lucid, sometimes he kills people with fish.

He’s a playground of insanity that writers are free to play around in and add to on a whim.

Lex Luthor however, is kind of one note.

He hates Superman, he’s rich as fuck, he has an ego, and occasionally he has goofy homoerotic moments with Supes that most of us would probably prefer to forget.

Outside of a brief stint as a red-head with an Australian accent, the only real difference between Luthors that I’ve read, is that sometimes he wears power armor, and sometimes he wears a power tie.

The version we get in Azzarello’s Luthor, is of course of the power tie variety.

Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

On the contrary, I prefer power tie Luthor.

What I don’t particularly like about the Luthor featured in, uh, Luthor; is the fact that despite the whole story being presented through his thoughts, he never really develops a clear voice.

Luthor’s voice in Luthor is written using vocabulary and pacing that is meant to appeal to the reader as being provocative and “deep.”

Sadly, as I made it through the first few chapters of Luthor, I became disenchanted with Luthor’s supposedly “heady” ruminations.

While I won’t post any spoilers here, the basic plot of Luthor involves Lex Luthor enacting a plot to eclipse the fame of, and potentially deface the heroism of the alien being known as Superman.

Using a variety of seedy connections, and equally seedy methods, Luthor establishes his own brand new defender of Metropolis, a super-woman named Hope, making a media darling of her in the process.

Long story short, Hope stands as a living metaphor for Lex Luthor’s aspirations, Superman fights Batman (briefly), and Lex Luthor whines and schemes for 90% of the book.

Luthor isn’t a bad story, nor is the writing anything less than average; my main issue with the whole thing is the fact that the center of the plot, our vehicle by which we explore the entire universe Azzarello has created for his story, is just not all that interesting to read.

Far be it from me to demand outstandingly cerebral writing and plotlines from my comic books, but I found Luthor’s voice to be more tedious than “deep.”

Tedious, and redundant, most likely due to the story’s original publication as a series of issues as opposed to a graphic novel format.

It’s funny though, most of the dialogue and storytelling outside of the stuff coming directly from Luthor’s brain and mouth is pretty solid.

In particular, Azzarello’s playboy-to-the-extreme version of Bruce Wayne is fun to read, and wholly believable given the way he is presented to us.

Much like Batman in Azzarello’s more recent Joker graphic novel, Superman and Clark Kent have almost no physical presence in the story.

In both stories, the characters are spoken of, hinted at, but rarely seen; giving them a sense omniscience and menace uncommon to both characters.

While the story is told from Luthor’s perspective, and it indeed makes sense to do so, I found myself smirking at the sight of Lee Bermejo’s flame-eyed and uber-pissed Superman.

Go ahead and call it blasphemy, but I’m one of those guys that still thinks of Christopher Reeve whenever he pictures Superman.

Seeing Superman portrayed as a total beast of superhero is both a striking visual, and a unique perspective on the character, but personally; I just couldn’t take it as seriously as I did in the case of Batman in Joker.

You look up badass in the dictionary, and I’m sure you’ll find an image of Lee Bermejo’s rendering of Batman from Joker.

Speaking of Lee Bermejo, his art is just as fantastic, if not moreso than was the case in Joker.

Bearing a borderline photorealistic style, Bermejo’s greatest panels are the ones that are painted.

In the case of both books, Bermejo painted a large number of the panels, however the ratio seems to be somewhat higher in Luthor, most likely a result of it’s gradual release schedule as opposed to the “all-at-once” format of Joker.

While I favor the creativity in the design, and the darker color palette of Joker, Bermejo’s renderings of the towering skyscrapers of Metropolis, and it’s delightfully fashionable citizens are still some of the best comic art around.

Additional kudos to colorist Dave Stewart, as some of the weather phenomena and night scenes really stand out thanks to his work.

While his angles and panel layouts may not be the most intricate or unique, Bermejo’s character art is his strength, and Azzarello wisely keeps his story grounded so as to allow his artist to shine.

Anyway, I really don’t know where I’m going with this review anymore.

Like I said, Luthor is a pretty enjoyable story, particularly if you happen to like Lex Luthor as a character; (I don’t…) but bear in mind there are some pretty heavy-handed (and redundant) metaphors, as well as some instances of “big words for the sake of big words” that you’ll have to get past to find said enjoyment.

Thanks for reading, hopefully you’ll try before you buy unlike I did!

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Let’s Play Contra III: The Alien Wars, Part IV

Well folks it finally happened.

Up until today, I had a perfect game goin’ on Contra III, only to have it all come crashing down at the end of stage 4.

Oh well, I didn’t expect to be able to pull off a perfect run on this game, but even so; it kind of sucks having your humiliation recorded on video for all to see.

I will promise this though:

I will complete this Let’s Play without continuing.

Anyway, enjoy the balls-out, over-the-top awesomeness that is stage 4!:

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Batman’s New Threads

I was clickin’ around on IGN earlier today, when I noticed an article in their comics section entitled, “Batman Has A New Costume.”

Being a Batman enthusiast, I naturally clicked it, half-expecting some sort of shocking redesign along the lines of Batman 500 AKA the Jean-Paul Valley Batman from the Knightfall story arc.

Pictured: The EXACT image that got me into comics in the early 90's.

You see, though I admittedly haven’t followed Grant Morrison’s recent work on the Batman series, least of all the death and return of Bruce Wayne portion of it, with all of the outlandish Batman costume designs being thrown around as of late, I figured we were due for even more craziness.

Goddamnit! I hella' wanna' hate on this image for being dumb, but it's so damn awesome!

Color me surprised when I discovered that not only was the costume redesign a helluva’ lot more tasteful than I was expecting, it was also done by Moon Knight and, *sigh…* Messiah Complex artist David Finch was responsible for it.

As beautiful as his art can be, GODDAMN YOU DAVID FINCH FOR TRICKING ME INTO READING MESSIAH COMPLEX!

That being said, let’s take a look at Mr. Finch’s work:

ART.

I have to say, not just as a David Finch whore, but as a Batman fan in general, I really don’t mind the new costume.

Most of the changes are quite subtle, with some elements, such as the classic; almost Tim Burton Batman-esque yellow chest emblem, actually being recycled elements from previous designs of the Bat-Suit.

Keaton Batman: The Finest Batman the Silver Screen Has Yet to Produce.

In some images I’ve run across, it seems apparent that DC was trying to cash in on the recent mega-success of the Arkham Asylum videogame, as both the beefier arm guards/gauntlets, the bulkier and more heavily ornamented utility belt, and the molded seam-lines of the suit seem very similar to the art style of the game.

No, the Joker is not about to suck Batman's cock. Buncha' dirty sickos...

Which reminds me, I simply have to play Arkham Asylum at some point…

The seam-lines I mentioned above are probably the one aspect of the design that I’m on the fence about.

How appropriate that that just happens to be the single most noticeable change from the current status quo.

To me, the best Bat-Suit designs have always been the ones that take advantage of the 2D, pen and paper medium.

Blue Batman = THE SHIT.

In comics, the artist has the ability to manufacture images of characters without having to take into consideration the physical properties of whatever materials their costumes are made of.

Depending on the artist’s sensibilities, or the mood of the story, Batman’s cape and cowl can be rendered as smooth and voluminous as silk, or as heavy and lustrous as leather.

Kind of like Spawn! You're not allowed to ask "why," you just kind of accept it...

In comics, Batman’s costume usually looks best to me when it’s portrayed as a skin-tight presence surrounding the character.

To me, Batman usually looks best when he isn’t so much wearing a Bat-Suit, as he is embodying it.

Jim Lee’s Batman always struck me as a fantastic, if not ludicrously beefy design.

Jim Lee's Batman is so fucking beastly, it should be spelt "Bat-MAAAANNN."

Aside from the utility belt and heavily detailed boots, every element of Lee’s Bat-Suit strike me as essentially being a part of Bruce Wayne’s anatomy.

At the same time though, I have to say I was very impressed with Lee Bermejo’s rendering of the Bat-Suit in Brian Azzarello’s excellent Joker graphic novel.

Not from Joker, but close enough. Did I mention this art is badass?

Essentially at the other end of the spectrum in terms of costume/character design, Bermejo’s extremely realistic renderings resulted in a Bat-Suit of tangible weight and bulk, so much so that it truly seemed like a suit of armor.

Not only that, but Bermejo’s design of Batman’s cape was truly striking, as it appeared leathery and almost obscenely heavy, such that it assisted in portraying the character as being almost inhumanly powerful and omniscent.

I’m rambling.

To sum up, Finch’s design of the Bat-Suit is honestly only a mild departure from the status quo, but it’s amazing how much an impact a few seam-lines can make.

Personally, I find the new design to be, how shall we say; “acceptable,” I wouldn’t be surprised if those seam-lines get the axe somewhere down the road, as honestly I find them to be somewhat distracting.

Much like pie... If anything can stop me in my tracks, it's the sight and/or smell of a delicious pie...

To me, it’s almost as if Finch is trying to straddle the line behind the Christopher Nolan movie’s Bat-Armor design, and the comic’s traditional Bat-Suit, with the end result being a costume that appears almost flight suit-ish.

So what if Batman has brown-guy hands. I'm lazy, so sue me.

While I find the design to be acceptable, I’ll end by saying this:

I’d take Jim Aparo or Jim Lee’s streamlined Bat-Suit over David Finch’s Bat-Flight-Suit any day.

That being said, here’s one more look at it for the road:

Cool enough, but nowhere Bat-MAAAANN levels of MAN-liness.

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I Have Too Many Gundams…

Today, I began the arduous task of cleaning up my room.

Well, maybe not the whole room, but the closet anyway.

Over the past several years, it has become evident that I simply have too much stuff.

There is a running joke in my family, about how my dad is a pack rat.

It’s gotten to be such a prevalent aspect of our family dynamic, that at one point, my mom and brother pasted a newspaper comic on our garage that pretty much sums up what’ll happen when my dad stops coming down for breakfast:

Bubble: Someday son, this "All" will be yours...

Thankfully, my brother has used his experience of growing up surrounded by this behavior as a means by which to avoid copying it all costs.

I, however, was neither as fortunate, nor as intelligent to take such preventative measures.

Turns out, I am indeed my father’s son.

In cleaning out my closet, I stumbled across a great deal of crap, as well as a few hidden treasures, many of which were originally my brother’s.

An example of the latter being Battle Damage T-800 from Terminator 2: Judgement Day.

"I need yo' clothes, yo' boots, and yo' motah' cycle."

I also found a shit ton of Marvel/Spider-Man action figures.

The Spider-Man cartoon on Fox Kids was kind of a big deal to me way back when.

Anybody Remember Eek! The Cat?

That show was THE SHIT.

From left to right: Jack Nicholson Joker from Batman 1989, Battle Damage Sabretooth, and Super Human Samurai Cyber Squad AKA Gridman.

Among the crap, we’re a pile of Crash Bandicoot action figures.

Honestly, I don’t know why I had these, or ever wanted them for that matter.

Yeah, I was so proud of these, that I took 'em to the Goodwill before I could take pictures of them!

I never played the original Crash Bandicoot, but 2 and Warped were awesome, so I guess that could’ve baited me into wanting the toys, but still, what the fuck was I thinking?

My guess is, it was that goddamn Crash Dance:

I was also fortunate to find my GIGANTIC collection of Megaman X3 gashapon, which has surprisingly managed to remain intact after all these years.

Allow me to be serious for a minute.

From age 9 to 11, I was a sick kid.

I had some sort of inner ear/stomach illness that caused a serious imbalance in my equilibrium, basically making me feel like I was on a boat all the time.

I swear, anybody makes an Andy Samberg joke and ‘imma tear their fuckin’ head off, and shit down their stump.

During this time I would throw up several times a day and generally feel like shit.

I did okay in school, but I was absent a lot.

Because of this, I spent a lot of time at Virginia Mason hospital in downtown Seattle, which was consequently, pretty close to the International District.

Every now and again, my mom would treat me to a gashapon as sort of a “get well” gift.

Even after I got over my illness, I went out of my way to spend my own money on those same gashapon for several years.

The Collection

After negotiating my way around boxes of Star Wars cards and high school logbooks, as well as the occasional rubber band gun, I finally managed to clear a space for my massive tower of plastic bullshit:

Behold, Gundam Tower!

Had I any friends to handle the camera for me, I would’ve stood in the photo to give a sense of scale, but just so you know, that’s about chest high on me.

Oh yeah, and did I mention that Gundam Tower has a sequel?

Well, it does.

Low angle money shot, always good for enhancing the package.

That one is what I call Mini Gundam Tower.

The Gundam Towers have horizontal cousins thought, about 3-4 of them I think.

Fuckin' Gundam Seed... Didn't even like the fuckin' show.

Note the massive number of Gundam Wing models... I wonder, did Azn Badger have Cartoon Network in the 90's?

Okay, maybe that’s more like 5-6, but whatever.

Anyway, this has been a truly pointless post, I’m sorry if I wasted any of your time.

I know I wasted mine this time around.

With that, I leave you with this image of Ultraman Towards the Future kickin’ it with a sumotori:

Damn, they should get these guys on HBO. Be a helluva' fight...

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