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The Worst Comics I Own: Nemesis


Why I Bought It:

The irresistible writer/penciler duo of Mark Millar and Steve McNiven.

Mark Millar is far from my favorite writer, but he was on one helluva’ hot streak around the time Nemesis started printing, making it a must-buy book for me despite middling to fair reviews.

Why would I feel this way about a book written by a writer I’d describe as “far from my favorite?”

Well, shut up for a second and I’ll tell you.

The rule of thumb when it comes to Millar’s work, at least for me; is that many of his stories are only as good as his artists.

In this sense, when I heard Steve McNiven, one of my favorite artists in the industry, was going to be re-teaming with Millar for Nemesis, not just as the penciler, but as co-creator; I couldn’t help but be excited.

McNiven is a terrific artist, but he isn’t exactly the most prolific, making any work he does all the more special.

When the pairing of these 2 men results in the brilliance of Civil War, and Old Man Logan, one can’t help but have high hopes for their creator owned project involving a white clad “Evil Batman.”

Sadly, the resulting product was far from equal to the sum of it’s parts…

Why It Sucks:

To clarify, Nemesis is actually pretty far from “suck-y.”

In fact, it’s actually quite good at times, however only at the rate of about once or twice per issue.

Mark Millar’s strength’s as a writer stem from his tendency to test the creative limits of his artists in rendering Michael Bay-like set piece sequences and fanboy moments.

In case you forgot, he put VENOM on a T-REX.

His writing resonates most with an audience that isn’t afraid to tap their inner teenage self, and as such, his stuff can be a lot of fun if you’re willing to turn your brain off, laugh at poop jokes, and admire the pretty pictures for a few hundred pages.

That being said, Nemesis actually delivers in virtually every area you’d expect it to, however it does so clumsily and with less energy than one would hope.

The story makes itself out to be much more complicated than it actually is, and the characters are mostly bland, or in the case of the title character; impetuous and largely unlikable.

What’s more, backstory and history is largely ignored throughout, leaving most the characters feeling one-dimensional, and much of the plot feeling very much like like the writer is flipping you the bird and saying “Don’t worry, it’ll be explained in the inevitable sequel.”

Given that it’s a creator owned comic, consisting of entirely unique and unknown characters, I was totally prepared for generic characterization and poor plotting.

Like I said, Millar’s not my favorite writer, and as such, I was wholly expecting to have some problems with Nemesis on that end of things.

What really bugged me about Nemesis, was the fact that the art didn’t live up to my expectations.

Let’s get one thing straight:

By normal standards, Nemesis is one gorgeous fucking comic.

You could do a lot worse...

The problem is, when you’re dealing with Steve McNiven, normal expectations get tossed out the window.

I don’t know if he was working from a strict time table, or if the inker Dave McCaig fucked things up; but Nemesis just doesn’t seem to have the same love put into it that Civil War and Old Man Logan did.

It’s still great by most standards, but when you compare his pencils for Nemesis to his past works, they just don’t hold up.

Is It Still Worth Reading Anyway?:

Nemesis stands as a predictable progression of Mark Millar’s fascination with the concept of a realm of superheroes being dominated by it’s villains, (I.E. Wanted, Old Man Logan) and while it might not be the best permutation of it, it’s still fun in a brainless popcorn movie sort of way.

Like a big dumb summer blockbuster, many of the action sequences in Nemesis arrive without cause or meaning, robbing them of dramatic weight, however due to Steve McNiven’s stellar (but not exceptional by his standards) artwork; simply bearing witness to them can be thrilling in it’s own right.

While I didn’t care much for the characters or story, particularly the antagonist and title character, I can honestly say the brutal jailbreak fight sequence pitting Nemesis against 97 riot cops stands as one of the finest melees ever drawn in Western comics.

FUCK YES!

For this, and other such instances of over-the-top bloodletting, I’d say Nemesis is worth a read for anyone interested in that sort of thing (I.E. Me).

Just don’t expect to be sitting on the edge of your seat during the panels in between all the big action moments…

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Azn Badger’s Top 5 Songs That Keep Him From Stabbing People (Japanese Edition)

In light of my ongoing blood feud with my virus infected laptop, I figured it would be a good idea for me to take the time type up an article (or 2) regarding a therapeutic topic.

In this case, said topic would be songs that keep me from stabbing people AKA songs that, for whatever reason; make me feel happy.

Being as I am indeed an Azn Badger, with relatively Azn interests; much of my song library consists of Azn tunes.

That being said, I foresee this post being part of a series, so I’ve thusly labeled this one the “Japanese Edition” of this particular Top 5 list.

Anyway, the only requirements for entry on this list, are that the track must indeed be a song; meaning it must have lyrics, and in this case, it must also be Japanese.

Expect other versions of this post for the next couple of days.

Apologies in advance to those that truly don’t give a shit about music, much less of the Azn variety…

Anyway, let’s make with the list!:

*PLEASE NOTE, I DID NOT WATCH ANY OF THE VIDEOS BELOW, SO DON’T COMPLAIN TO ME IF THEY’RE OBNOXIOUS, STUPID, ANNOYING, OR ALL OF THE ABOVE.*

5. Sanpo (A Walk) – Azumi Inoue


That’s right folks, #5 on my list of Japanese songs that keep me from stabbing people is the opening song from My Neighbor Totoro.

Honestly though, you can’t mention “happy” without including Totoro, can you?

This song brought me much joy as a child, both in English and Japanese, and it continues to put a smile on my face to this day.

Hell, being as it’s written for kids, it’s one of the few songs on this list that I can actually understand 100% of.

Azumi Inoue has a wonderfully sweet voice that’s perfectly suited for the Blue’s Clues-y, Wiggles-esque, sugar-coated pre-schooler nursery rhyme feel of the song.

The only other song I’ve heard her perform was Chiisa Na Inori (Tiny Prayer) from the Guyver Image Album, (yeah, I actually went and bought it…) and I’ve gotta’ say, the woman’s got some pipes.

Not necessarily of the “strong” or “booming” variety, but I think “sweet” describes her sound pretty well.

4. Yume De Aeta Nara (If We Met In A Dream) – 175R


DISCO POP = FUCK YES.

Yume De Aeta Nara was a song featured in the first film in the Kamen Rider Den-Ou series.

Around the time the movie came out, I was knees deep in my own personal period of “Tokusatsu Revival.”

Just a year or 2 before, I had rediscovered Ultraman and Kamen Rider; and so when the movie came out, I was really fuckin’ excited.

Like, REALLY excited.

Anyway, while Den-Ou was perhaps one of the best Tokusatsu series I can recall, the first movie of course turned out to be kind of “meh,” leaving me with a sour taste in my mouth until fairly recently when the Den-Ou franchise miraculously resurfaced.

That’s a story for another day though…

So anyway, the movie sucked, but the one awesome thing I took away from it, was this song, Yume De Aeta Nara, by 175R.

I’ve never heard any other songs by the group, but honestly I don’t feel I need to, as this one has since provided me with more than enough enjoyment.

Like I said man, disco pop is THE SHIT.

When it comes to making an Azn Badger happy, few things do it better than a disco beat and nostalgic ties to Kamen Rider.

3. Yuke! Tiger Mask! (Go! Tiger Mask!) – Hiroshi Nitta


Tiger Mask is the fuckin’ MAN.

Initially starting as a manga, and then later serving as the inspiration for countless videogame characters, an anime series (or 2), and even a legacy of real-life pro-wrestlers, Tiger Mask is brilliant to the point in which I’m actually jealous that I didn’t come up with the idea.

Really, I ask you, who the fuck wouldn’t enjoy a story about a man in a tiger mask wrestling the shit out of dudes, while protecting the children of the world from an evil Illuminati-esque organization?

Anyway, the song I chose for this list comes from the 1980’s anime series, and as such, it’s sound bears the remnants of the enka style of vocalization that was popular in the post-war period.

By the way, enka is THE SHIT.

That being said, the enka style of the lyrics, combined with the almost spaghetti western-like music, make for a wonderfully cheesy and over-the-top theme song to a cheesy and over-the-top hero.

By the way, I should’ve included this song on my list of ways I keep sane at work; ’cause I have a tendency to sing it when I’m on the shipping line…

I’m not retarded.

I swear.

2. My Lonely Town (Mai Roneri Taun) – B’z


Oh B’z, how the fuck did I live without you?

Seriously, B’z is a Japanese band that’s been around FOREVER, but me being me, I didn’t find out about them until 2004 when their lead guitarist, Tak Matsumoto; composed the soundtrack for the movie Ultraman: The Next.

Come to think of it though, news of stupid-ass movies about dudes in rubber monster suits duking it out seems to be how I get most of my news from Japan, so I guess that makes a fair amount of sense…

Anyway, I was really impressed with the soundtrack for that movie, (another one that I eventually bought) so I looked up the composer, which led me to B’z, which led me to finding a mega-awesome band that I hope will continue being awesome for years to come.

My Lonely Town is an unbelievably awesome song from B’z(‘s?) most recent album, Magic.

When I first put this song on, I was reading the Wolverine comic, Old Man Logan; and I gotta’ tell yah’, it just fit too fuckin’ well.

Seriously, My Lonely Town has a big, loud, Bon Jovi-esque rock sound to it, but at the same time it also has some amazing string work that gives it an epic, again, almost spaghetti Western-like feel.

It was a brilliant case of right song, right book, right time.

1. Let It Go – Yuna Ito


This one is special.

I can’t really put my finger on it why, but for whatever reason; Let It Go has been my favorite song for almost a year now.

I don’t have “favorite” songs.

I have songs I like, but never “favorites.”

This song is one of the few exceptions I can name off the top of my head.

Songs from Transformers: The Movie and the Rocky series don’t count, ’cause those are built in.

Seriously, I didn’t “choose” to love those songs, they chose me.

*Ahem!* Anyway, Let It Go is sung by Yuna Ito.

While it lends no credence as to why I like the song so much, it’s interesting to note that she’s a hapa girl.

That is, she’s half Korean, half Japanese, raised in Honolulu.

Way to represent the local people… By leaving the country and making music in a foreign country.

All kidding aside, while the music is definitely the biggest selling point for me in this song, with it’s beautiful, and surprisingly almost country-esque string work coupled with an unrelentingly upbeat tune, I have to say Ms. Ito’s voice is pretty fuckin’ good.

I’ve never really paid much attention to vocals in songs.

Like I’ve said in previous posts, I was a “hummer” as a kid; and thusly kept music in my head rather than songs.

That is to say, while the other kids annoyed their parents by singing “Under the Sea” at the top of their lungs everyday, I was busy pissing off my folks by incessantly humming music from Snow Bros. and Mega Man 2.

I can’t explain it, but for some reason I have a lot of trouble understanding the lyrics to songs, regardless of language.

Despite this, from what I know of Japanese pop music, Yuna Ito is a rare talent.

Near as I can tell, most Jpop stars are, like our own American ones, studio musicians I.E. pretty people that can do just enough of everything to appeal to the core demographic.

They have flat voices, and more often than not; hide behind backup dancers, high production value music and voice modulation.

Ms. Ito, while most likely guilty of all of the above, actually seems to have a genuinely strong singing voice.

While I’m probably wrong, my first thought process was that it may be a cultural difference.

She may be fluent in Japanese, and indeed have lived there most of her life for all I know, but being raised in Hawaii, as an American; would most likely lend some boldness to her style of singing.

It seemed to be the case for Utada Hikaru, who was from New York; so I don’t exactly feel dumb for making this assumption.

Anyway, if ever the Azn Badger seems primed for a stabbing session, just remember to put on Let It Go, or any of the above mentioned Japanese songs, and chances are you’ll be just fine.

Don’t quote me on that though.

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The Best MAN!!! #8

Click me, I took hours to make...

Well folks, after a week straight of nothing but Mega Man related blogging, we’ve made it to the big finale.

That’s right, today we’re gonna’ be taking a look at the 10th anniversary game of the Mega Man series, Mega Man 8 on the Sony Playstation!

As previously explained Mega Man 8 will be the final installment in The Best MAN series, as I haven’t played Mega Man 9 or 10, and thusly don’t feel qualified to elect a Best MAN for those games.

That being said, let’s dive into Mega Man 8!

8’s story was, much like 7, somewhat more involved than previous entries in the series, largely due to the unprecedented inclusion of hand-drawn anime cutscenes.

At the time of it’s release, Full Motion Video (FMV) was already old hat, however after the release of the Amiga 32CD, Sega CD, 3DO, and other such CD based consoles, many game developers saw fit to include FMV in their games, resulting in the technology being en vogue for much of the 90’s.

Mega Man 8’s FMV sequences were fairly entertaining, and decently well-animated, however the English voice acting was absolutely atrocious.

For real man, Dr. Light sounds like fuckin’ Elmer Fudd after a stroke, no joke.

He also stutters.

Like a fattie.

The end result was a series of fairly entertaining, but often times, all too tempting to skip, cutscenes.

There was 1 scene in particular though that I remember keeping an extra save file (it was a Playstation game, of course you could save!) for just so I could watch it over and over again:

It seems kind of lame now, but when I was 10, that was the coolest thing ever.  Even though my Playstation would freeze during it just about 90% of the time…

Anyway, the story of Mega Man 8 is based around a capsule of “evil energy” that falls to Earth.

EVIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIILLLLLLLLLLLLLLL.

This energy grants it’s wielder great power, and multiplies by feeding off of it’s host’s evil intent.

Think the Venom symbiote from Spider-Man.

And now, gentleman, for your viewing pleasure: A T-Rex wearing the Venom symbiote.

Dr. Wily of course gets his hands on this evil energy and uses it to power his latest creations to tangle with Mega Man.

In the meantime however, an intrinsically “good” robot from outer space named Duo (the big dude in Dr. Light’s lab during the video) crash lands on Earth, only to awaken halfway through the game to serve as an ally to Mega Man.

That is, not before trying to kill him, of course.

On the side there’s also a very Dragonball Z-esque “Goku and Vejita” dynamic that plays out between Mega Man and Bass.

Basically, Vejita, I mean Bass; has an inferiority complex, which results in him attempting to use the evil energy to grant him the power to defeat Mega Man.

Oh Bass, we do this dance again and again, and yet you just don't seem to learn the steps, do you?

I like Bass, really, I do; but he’s a total pussy in Mega Man 8.

Haha, get it!? "Bass!"

Mega Man 8 was vastly different from any Mega Man that came before it.

From a presentation standpoint, it was easily the most graphically intense iteration of the series, well, pretty much, ever.

The animations were silky smooth, and the music was excellent all-around, with most of the tracks being quite memorable.

Although from a cosmetic standpoint Mega Man 8 was a drastic departure from the norm, and undeniably, an improvement, the gameplay was merely different, and not necessarily for the better.

One of the comments I received on my Mega Man 7 post from yesterday made note of the fact that the game was slower than the NES games in the series.

I failed to address this in my post, and for that I apologize, however it is an incontrovertible fact.

Mega Man 7 was a much slower-paced game than it’s predecessors, and Mega Man 8 followed suit by being even slower.

THIS FUCKING SLOOOOOWWWW.

The sprites in Mega Man 7 were very large, excessively so, and thankfully 8 addressed this by increasing the screen resolution, while at once one-upping their level of detail.

Despite being a sidescroller like every other Mega Man game, 8 was a much more vertically oriented game.

The screen orientation was “taller,” and Mega Man’s jump controls were changed so that he jumped higher than normal, however, due to his much slower walking speed, his horizontal jumping distance was toned down a bit.

While definitely a much slower-paced, and in-fact, much easier game than it’s predecessors, Mega Man 8 was still quite fun.

TONS OF FUN.

New gameplay features in Mega Man 8 were plentiful (for a change).

The shop from Mega Man 7 made a return, though this time around it was run by Mega Man’s sister, Roll, and the currency used there consisted of an extremely finite, and difficult to acquire, supply of bolts scattered throughout the robot master stages.

Items in the shop consisted of equipment to dampen the “knock-back” effects of getting hit, decrease the charge time for a Mega Buster shot, change the function of Mega Buster, and a variety of other things.

Part of the fun of the shop was the fact that not all of the items were all that useful, such as the one that increases your climbing speed, or the one that disables your Mega Buster!

I greatly preferred this shop system, as unlike 7, where all you had to do was “farm” for money by killing enemies, purchases in 8 felt much more strategic.

A Hummer: THE strategic purchase.

In addition to the shop items, there were also a total of 4 Rush items, all granted to the player after defeating minibosses during the robot master stages.

While virtually all of the Rush items were nothing more than novelty items that could net you a nice item or two here and there, I always thought it was a neat idea to turn Rush into a motorcycle and ride him into battle.

PIMP.

But, that’s just me.

In addition to the changes made to the overall pace of the game, Mega Man 8 also featured some truly inspired level designs.

No longer consisting purely of platforming action, 8 contained a several vehicle segments and a few maze-like stages that couldn’t be completed linearly.

While Mega Man 5 was the first in the series to feature on-rails vehicle sequences, in the form of a jet-ski ride during Wave Man’s stage,

Mega Man 8 took this concept and greatly expanded on it.

Frost Man and Dr. Wily’s tower both featured perilous snowboarding sequences wherein the player would have to alternately jump or slide to survive the course.

JUMP.

Tengu Man’s stage featured an extensive on-rails shooting sequence in the skies.

"FUCK YOU, WHALE!"

This sequence was one of my favorites in the game, as it had you riding Rush while shooting numerous enemies, all while gradually recruiting a huge DEATH SQUAD of Mega Man’s buddies to help you out.

The Mega Man Death Squad in all their glory.

Auto, Eddie and Beat all made appearances in this sequence, with Beat finally redeeming himself as the single most powerful ally you could acquire.

I'm lettin' you off easy this time... Chump.

Sword Man and Astro Man’s stages served as the first maze levels in Mega Man history.

While Sword Man’s stage was not really a maze, but rather a series of trials that had to be completed while making use of specific robot master weapons, Astro Man’s stage was one mother of a maze.

ARRRRRGHH!!!

Seriously, I fucking hated Astro Man’s stage…

Well, I think I’ve said more than enough about Mega Man 8, it’s time we got down to deciding who’s The Best MAN, for the very last time.

The Best MAN of Mega Man 8 is…

Frost Man

FROSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSST MAAAAAAAAAAAAANNNNN!!!!!!

Didn’t see that comin’ didja’?

You know why Frost Man’s The Best MAN?

‘Cause Mega Man 8 was the first game in the series to give it’s robot master voices, that’s why.

Okay, okay, that’s not the only reason I picked him, but it had a lot to do with it.

You see, Frost Man’s voice made me laugh as a kid.

His character was supposed to be that of a huge, powerful, dopey idiot, and his voice reflected this very well.

"I will love him, and kiss him, and I will call him George..."

Seriously, when the biggest fuckin’ robot master in the fuckin’ series leaps into the arena, smashing a bunch of Mega Man ice sculptures to show off his strength, only to yell out something retarded like:

“I’m gonna’, crush you! I will…… Beat, you!”

I just can’t help but smile.

Tune to 4:45 for example:

Seriously though, Frost Man has a lot going for him.

His “walking igloo” design is inspired and truly a sight to behold in-game with it’s vivid animations, his weapon, the Ice Wave is fun to use, (although much cooler looking when he uses it) and his stage is lots of fun to play with one of the better background tracks in the game:

If anyone could usurp Frost Man’s position as Best MAN, I’d say it would be Clown Man or Search Man.

Seriously, I actually had to rewrite a big portion of this post on account of me changing my mind about Search Man at the last minute.

The problem with Search Man is that, while he’s got personality up the ying-yang, and a cool weapon to boot, I didn’t care much for his stage.

You see, like Mega Man 7, 8 split up it’s robot masters into 2 groups of 4.

Because I rarely finished the game as a kid, the second group of robot masters were one’s I didn’t end up seeing all that much of.

Sorry Aqua Man, no one likes you...

On top of that, I’ve never actually fought Search Man without having the Flame Sword to pwn his ass with, so I’ve never really gotten to experience a real fight with him firsthand.

Clown Man on the other hand, while one of my favorite designs in any Mega Man game, suffered for exactly the same reason Frost Man was promoted.

His voice annoyed the piss out of me.

EXAMPLE

He had an extensive repertoire of interesting attacks, his stage was cutesy fun, and his weapon was not all that bad, but his voice was just painful to listen to.

Oh yeah, that and he was WAY too fucking easy…

Protip: Sticking your arms into the ground isn't a viable combat tactic. It just gets you shot. In the face.

Well folks, we’ve named our last Best MAN.

Hopefully everyone had fun along the way, I know I did.

See you tomorrow when I (hopefully) think of some other shit to write about…

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