Azn Badger's Blog

What About the Lysine Contingency…?

“I Don’t Like The Bad Guys Because They’re Bad.”

Of course they picked the ASIAN kid to pose with the robot....

A funny thing happened the other night.

I was helping out on a shoot for Hapstance Films while I was in Portland, and throughout most of the evening I found myself watching X-Men 2 with a little boy that was also involved in the production.

All night long he excitedly ran up to me to show me his robot collection, as well as to exhibit his best Spider-Man and Wolverine impressions.

Me being me, I took a moment to show him how to properly do the web shooting pose with his fingers.

Yup, this.

While I certainly didn’t mean to, I’m pretty sure I inadvertently fucked up his understanding of the Marvel universe.

From what I could tell, everything he knew of the X-Men and Marvel’s other characters was taken from the movies.

I’d imagine this is quite typical among the youth of today, as the comic industry has been dragging it’s shattered bones along from quarter to quarter, while Marvel Entertainment *cough!* DISNEY *cough!* has been whore-ing their products through Hollywood for over decade now.

Forgive me, I love comic book movies as much as the next man, I just can’t help but feel a little tired of saying to myself “It was good, but the comics were better,” every single goddamn time a new one comes out.

Back to the topic at hand.

Perhaps out of boredom, or simply because he kept asking me, quite excitedly, to tell him about every character that appeared in the X-Men films, during the movie I started feeding him factoids about the X-Men ripped straight from the comics.

I told him that Nightcrawler was Mystique’s son.

I told him that “Fire Guy” was named Pyro.

I told him that “Girl Wolverine” was called Lady Deathstrike.

I told him that Wolverine’s real name was James Howlett or Logan, depending on who you ask.

I told him that Cyclops was a lot cooler than he thought, not just because he was badass, but because he wore glasses like me.

At some point though, I stopped playing Yoda/Comic Book Guy and asked the kid if he liked any villains, in the Marvel universe or otherwise.

I was curious because I happened to notice earlier in the evening that whenever he played with robots, the “good” one would always win the fight.

To my surprise, the kid responded by saying:

“No, I don’t like the bad guys.”

So I asked:

“Why not?”

To which he responded quite plainly:

“Because they’re bad!”

I know it shouldn’t have, but this surprised me.

As I type this article, I hold in my hand a recently purchased collected edition of the early 90’s miniseries Venom: Lethal Protector.

Pictured: The cover of the one issue my cousin let me read back in the day. Been wanting to finish the series ever since.

While Lethal Protector is kind a bad example, given that I was much older than the kid in question upon it’s original publication, this does not change the fact that, even in my extreme youth, I always had an appreciation for some of the “bad guys.”

Soundwave was one of my favorite Transformers.

Gigan was one of my favorite Godzilla characters.

It might have been a sign of the times, but in my mind, villains and anti-heroes were very much “in” back in the late-80’s and early-90’s.

While I’m some would disagree, I’ve always thought of the villains as traditionally the more flamboyant and “cooler” characters when compared to their heroic counterparts.

Something about the villain’s ability to bend the rules, especially in regards to superhero stories, just seems to lend them a flexibility of character that makes them feel more three dimensional.

I don’t know if it’s a generational difference or what, but I found it interesting that this kid had his good guys and bad guys so cleanly divided.

I mean think about that, if you were able to look upon things in such black and white terms, things like war movies and professional wrestling would be infinitely more entertaining!

Being able to point at something and know, in your heart, that it’s “bad,” that it’s the enemy; is a luxury of fiction (or in this case, childhood) that I think a lot of people wish would cross over into reality.

When a threat is universal and tangible, it becomes far easier to deal with than the shades of gray bullshit of real life.

Anyway, I don’t really know where I’m going with this, as I’ve got some pretty bad writer’s block and a headache to boot, but I really this interesting.

Sorry for rambling.

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

Thoughts On The New TV Wonder Woman Costume

WONDAH' WOH' MAAAAAAAHHNNN!!!!!

As outlined in my post yesterday, I’m not what you’d call a Wonder Woman fan.

Truth be told, I know close to nothing about the character outside of the very broadest of factoids.

In other words, I know what she does, I have an idea of what she stands for, and I guess Im kind of familiar with the A-listers in her rogues gallery.

Huh, now that I think of it; even without reading any of her stories, I guess I know a little more about Wonder Woman than the average 20-something male.

One thing I cannot claim to know a whole lot about, or even anything; when it comes to Wonder Woman, is the evolution of her costume.

Oh, well I guess that fixed that issue.

In previous posts on this blog, I’ve voiced my opinions regarding the evolutions of numerous comic book characters, including the likes of Captain America, Spider-Man, Batman, and Venom, and while I’d love to do that for this post, unfortunately I feel unqualified to do so.

That being said, today there will be no history lesson; rather I’ll just be looking at the new TV Wonder Woman costume, and giving my honest opinion, not as a comic book reader, but as a dude with the bare minimum of fashion sense and eye for design.

Introductions aside, let’s get to an image of the costume in question:

Jesus FUCK, that looks like ass.

Seriously man, it not only looks cheap, but the design of it is dangerously uninspired to the point that I’m tempted to say it looks worse than you’re average Halloween costume.

Wow, I guess I can really be an asshole when I set my mind to it.

Anyway, I suppose explain where I’m coming from with all this:

The golden pieces on the costume look plasticky and cheap.

The seams on the bustier are obnoxiously front-and-center in their size and placement, creating distracting lines that hurt the cohesiveness of the outfit as a whole.

Not only that, said seams also make the top seem very restrictive and corset-like; a garment that seems a little strange for a character so representative of powerful femininity.

On that note, this costume reeks of being a bitch to move around in, suggesting whatever action scenes it’s used in will likely suck meerkat-anus.

Moving downward, the element of this costume that catches my eye first; and in deed grinds my gears the most, is the pants.

Maybe it’s just me, but the Wonder Woman in my head doesn’t wear pants.

No, I don’t fantasize about Wonder Woman; what I mean to say, is that I’ve always pictured Wonder Woman wearing star covered spanks, y’know; those pantie lookin’ things cheerleaders wear.

That being said, I really fuckin’ hate the pants on this Wonder Woman costume.

It’s clear the producers likely threw them in there for the sake of decency in our sexually repressed culture, but unfortunately; said pants have absolutely no character to them, making for a boring design element that feels pointless at best.

Seriously, if anything on this costume looks straight off-the-rack, it’d have to be the pants.

Probably the worst part of this costume though, is definitely the boots.

Seriously, who in the holy blue fuck thought it would be a good idea to have Wonder Woman’s boots be the same color as her boring-ass pants?

Nevermind that, who the fuck figured it’d be wise to give her high fuckin’ heels?

I’m not a woman.

I don’t know what it’s like to wear high heels.

What I do know though, is that when it comes to doing action sequences; high heels are a big hurdle to leap.

I have no idea how tall the actress playing Wonder Woman is, so I’m hoping the heels were a design choice meant to allow her achieve a stature appropriate of an Amazonian princess.

More than likely though, the heels, and indeed the boob-highlighting bustier; were likely thrown in there because some genius figured:

“She’s a girl!  Let’s make her all girly n’shit!”

Well, I think I hated virtually every element of the costume imaginable, to the point in which I’m pretty sure there’s not a single ornament or seam on it that I like about it.

In all, it’s an atrocious design that will probably do wonders to shit all over Wonder Woman’s reputation for years to come.

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I Just Bought My First Rare Comic

Pictured: Hopefully this won't be me in the near future...

I don’t consider myself a “collector” of comic books.

None of the comics I own are of any value, nor do I operate from the belief that any of them will accrue any value at any future date.

Comic’s worth are typically derived from their rarity, their condition, and ultimately how limited their production run was, all factors that the current age of mass produced collected editions has done well to eliminate.

Regarding my own comic buying habits, I’m a trade-only buyer of comics; meaning I don’t purchase loose comics off the newstands.

That right there is often viewed as borderline blasphemous behavior on the part of anyone that could consider themselves a comic collector.

Thank you Collected Editions for standing up for us trade-only guys…  Oh yeah, and for publishing my guest review awhile back.

When you factor in my trade-only habits with the fact that I buy comics solely for the purpose of reading and enjoying them, you have the makings of a man that is more of a casual comic enthusiast/reader than anything else.

That being said, today I received a package in the mail that represents my first purchase of what some would consider a fairly rare or valuable comic.

The comic in question, is the trade paperback collection of the 1996 Batman crossover, Batman: Legacy.

Mmmm, rare....

The story itself is not regarded as being within the top 25 of Batman’s best, however in my case; it was the premise moreso than the quality of the writing or art that drew me to Legacy.

Supposedly acting as a follow-up to the 1993 Knightfall storyarc, an epic and sprawling story that served as one of the most important of my youth.

As I’ve mentioned before on this blog, the early 90’s were a tumultuous and ugly period in comic history; one punctuated by the creation of outlandish and violent characters, as well as the implementation of more than a few shocking publicity stunts on the part of Marvel and DC in an attempt to sustain their dwindling sales numbers.

Needless to say, “shock” was the order of the day for 90’s comic books.

I grew up watching Doomsday kill Superman.

EPIC.

I grew up watching Bane break Batman’s back.

EVEN MORE EPIC.

I grew up watching Carnage cut a swath through the Marvel universe with reckless abandon.

Fun, but nowhere near epic...

These sort of “MTV Generation” characters, and their respective homicidal antics; served as my introduction into the world of comics, and as such; I bear a great deal of nostalgia for them.

As much as comic fans tend to deride some of these characters, I for one will never get tired of them.

Except maybe Carnage, he’s kinda’ overstayed his welcome…

*Sigh* Sadly, no one stays dead in comic books...

That being said, the major factor that drew me to Batman: Legacy, despite it’s fairly substantial (for me anyway) price tag; was the fact that it features the only legitimate rematch between Batman and Bane.

The 2 have encountered one another several times since Bane’s first appearance in Knightfall, though Legacy represents the only time they actually battle one another.

Ever since I heard of Batman: Legacy several years ago, I told myself:

“That’s something I have to see.”

Like I said, the story of Legacy isn’t supposed to be anything to write home about, but the prospect of a rematch between one of my favorite DC villains and my favorite DC hero was something I just couldn’t shy away from seeing.

Not from Legacy, but a fun image nonetheless.

In the comics, it was always speculated that Batman was physically on par with Bane, with the notable exception being a disparity in their physical strength levels when Bane was on Venom.

At the time Legacy takes place, Bane has long since renounced the use of Venom, which; combined with the fact that Batman is likely in much better physical condition than he was during Knightfall, (he was severely fatigued when he first fought Bane) adds up to a contest of equals that, in my mind; has all the makings of a terrific read.

Haha, listen to me ramble on about a comic book match up like it’s some sort of real-life boxing match or some shit…

Anyway, I’ve been waiting to buy a copy of Legacy for years now, with the price being the sole prohibitive factor in me doing so up until now.

I’ve seen Legacy listed for anywhere from $80-180.

I’m sorry, but as much as I love comics, I simply can’t justify that sort of expenditure for a book.

Then again, I am known to be Azn, and therefore CHEAP:

Too expensive. I'll wait till it's on sale... And a pretty lady is selling it...

Luckily, I happened upon a listing last week for $45, which while much more expensive than any of the other comics on my shelf, even the heft hardcover ones; was a price I was more than willing to pay for something I’d waited so long to get my hands on.

Hah, I hope this isn’t becoming a trend, otherwise I might just find myself happy and surrounded by comic books.

Oh yeah, and POOR.

Anyway, as of writing this, I have yet to so much as crack this bad boy open.

Hopefully Batman: Legacy proves to be worth all of it’s $45 price tag!

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

Best Boss Music #12: Spider-Man and Venom: Maximum Carnage

Maximum Carnage was a decent beat ’em up in an age when beat ’em ups were a dime a dozen.

Produced by LJN for the Super NES and Genesis, the game followed the storyline of the massive Spider-Man crossover of the same name, with the player taking on the role Spider-Man (duh), or in some cases; his nastier (and cooler) counterpart, Venom.

Aside from a rather harsh difficulty level, the only really glaring deficiency of the game, was it’s lack of 2-player simultaneous support.

Honestly, LJN product or not; nobody in their right mind should ever think it’s okay to release a beat ’em up without a 2 player function.

Behold, the rainbow of ass.

Despite this (huge) flaw, the game did offer some interesting innovations to the genre in the form of special items that bestow the player with aid from other superheroes, and Spider-Man and Venom’s decidedly spidery movesets.

The “superhero summon” system was a decent idea on paper, however the item pickups that activated the function were extremely rare, and often were only useful to the player in very specific circumstances.

I remember hating to use the “summons” sometimes, ’cause every time you did, it would trigger an annoying second or 2 long clip of the summoned character’s “theme music.”

That might not sound too bad to you, but try summoning Black Cat 5 times in a row, see what happens.

Yeah, pretty fuckin’ annoying, right?

*Ahem!* Moving on, the movesets for the 2 protagonists were pretty well thought out for their time.

In addition to the classic one button punch combos, throws, and 2 button screen clearing attacks; both Spider-Man and Venom had the ability to run, jump, backflip, (useful for finding items, hidden areas, and nothing else) climb walls in the background, block attacks with their webbing, swing from web lines, grab enemies with their webbing/symbiote, and even slam 2 enemies’ heads together ala Batman in the Batman Returns game on the Super NES.

While most of these features were elementary for the most part, the addition of the web based moves added a lot to the experience.

In addition to giving the player added flexibility to their approach to various fights, an important factor given how absurdly overpowered some of the bosses could be; the web attacks also served to make good use of the Spider-Man license.

On a side note, while some of the character art… and animations… and backgrounds; are kind of shitty, I’ve always felt that LJN did a pretty decent job with the Spider-Man, and in particular; the Venom sprites.

I said "decent," not "great"....

Not that they managed to do anything else right in the entirety of their game developing existence, but that’s besides the point…

Both are animated fluidly, though Spider-Man looks kind of weird given his oddly dick-shaped head and lack of web pattern on his suit.

I always thought it was cool how both had their own unique animations, with Spider-Man’s being more graceful and Venom’s being more brutish.

One thing that kind of sucked, was the fact that Venom was definitely the more difficult character to use than Spider-Man.

As a kid, I always picked him every chance I got, though his slightly slower attack speed and harder levels made for an experience I rarely made it to the end of.

Pictured: THE reason I rarely beat Maximum Carnage.

While Maximum Carnage was indeed only an average (at best) game, my memories of it run very deep.

I remember reading the comic arc around the same time I played the game, and to this day I feel the harsh atmosphere and violent content of the game do well to live up to the original story.

Nevermind that the comic itself was actually kind of shitty, but bear in mind; I was a young and mostly stupid Azn Badger when I read it, so Venom and a healthy dose of violence were pretty much all I needed to be impressed.

Besides my personal attachment to the source material, another silly little bit of nostalgia worth noting, was the fact that the game cartridge WAS FUCKING RED.

FUCKING. RED.

Remember the stupid fuckin’ gimmick of the golden Legend of Zelda carts?

Remember how many fuckin’ copies that game sold?

Well, my guess is LJN was hoping to cash in on the “colored cart” gimmick; and for all intents and purposes, it worked.

Just ask Killer Instinct

Biter...

I’m not saying the game sold all that well, (my guess is: it didn’t) but for me and my friends, the promise of a BLOOD/CARNAGE RED cart to shove into our Super NES’ was one that was awful tempting.

Anyway, another little gimmick, and one that I never really found any reason to get excited about, even as a kid; was the fact that LJN recruited the rock band Green Jelly to do some of the music for the game.

Now, I don’t know about you; but the only thing I really remember about Green Jelly, was the fact that they did that retardedly awesome rock version of “The Bear Went Over the Mountain” they used in Dumb and Dumber:

While that was indeed really fuckin’ awesome, please bear in mind that I hadn’t even seen Dumb and Dumber by the time I was playing Maximum Carnage.

Oh yeah, and I was a fuckin’ 7 year old kid that was still listening to a GREEN audio cassette of the Ninja fuckin’ Turtles in place of music.

Anyway, Green Marmalade did the soundtrack for the game, and I’ve gotta’ say; while I don’t really know what their songs are/were like, they did a pretty good job with the score for Maximum Carnage.

The score has an appropriately hard rock sound to it, in that the comic arc itself had a mosh pit sort of vibe to it, with Carnage’s mistress, Shriek; acting as the psychic ringmaster to an ongoing street riot in New York for much of the story.

As such, the soundtrack for Maximum Carnage has a very aggressive and sometimes dark sound to it that lends a sense of legitimacy to some of the more serious moments in the narrative.

Just listen the track they use during the cutscenes, it’s simple, but pretty fuckin’ sinister if you ask me:

Standing out as a highlight in the soundtrack though, is the boss music from Maximum Carnage.

Bearing a highly energetic tempo, the boss theme sounds very much the product of a hard rock band:

Truth be told, I really only like the first half of the track, when the primary (digitized) guitar riffs are front and center; however that isn’t to say the track isn’t great from a technical perspective.

My issue with the second half of the track, is that it comes across as being “too fun” for my tastes.

The first half sounds like the background to a fuckin’ supervillain beat down, while the second half sounds a little bit too colorful for it’s own good.

That’s just me though.

Anyway, this has been another (long overdue) installment of the Best Boss Music, tune in tomorrow!

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Venom’s New Look

I’ve always liked Venom.

While many comic fans dismiss Venom as a gimmicky, over-exposed, and somewhat one-dimensional element of Spider-Man’s rogue’s gallery; I for one have always enjoyed reading him.

Maybe it’s the 90’s comic fan in me, but the savage, hulk-ed out, part-time anti-hero aspects of Venom’s character have always appealed to me.

I found the original Eddie Brock version of the character to be a menacing and effective counterpoint to the typically colorful antics of most Spider-Man stories.

When Mac Gargan (The Scorpion) took over as the new Venom, I found myself impressed by the pathetic and almost pitiable aspects of the character that was seemingly at the mercy of the symbiote.

Despite the ridiculous amount of hosts that the Venom symbiote has occupied over the years, one thing that I’ve found myself looking forward to with each new iteration, was the artistic design of the character.

The original Todd McFarlane take on the character, is ironically one of my least favorite.

Pictured: Venom showing us his pedo-face.

The bulk of the character’s build was a good design choice, given the more direct and less finesse oriented nature of Eddie Brock compared to Spider-Man at the time; but the teeth and lack of tongue action were something that the character would benefit from immensely in the coming years.

Also, I know it’s nit-picky of me to say; but the small patches of white on top of Venom’s palms were an addition to later iterations of the character that made a huge difference.

Jus’ sayin’ is all…

Anyway, as time moved on, Venom’s appearance became even bulkier, more toned, while his face became considerably more vicious and animalistic in nature.

Also, his coloration became akin to the Batman comics of old, wherein the blue highlights started to take center stage.

Pictured: The Venom I grew up with.

While I preferred the black Venom, I have to admit that the blue did a lot to improve the detail of the character from panel to panel, making his appearance far more dynamic than before.

When the host for Venom changed over to Mac Gargan, we found ourselves faced with a brand new design for the character for a new age of comics.

Pictured: Venom, as brought to you by the UFC.

Bearing a much larger “spider” symbol on his chest, as well as a color scheme that would switch from purple, to black, to even green at times; the Mac Gargan Venom proved to be one of my favorite takes on the character.

With a persona that could be described as “brutish” in nature I.E. dumb and violent, Gargan’s Venom (as well as the Ultimate version) allowed for the artist’s to go wild, often times drawing the character as more alien than anything else.

Not only that, but many writers also found ways to take Gargan’s menacing appearance, and child-like intelligence; and create some truly funny moments for the character.

While not exactly "funny," watching Venom put on a guard's helmet after eating him was just plain silly. I loved it.

It’s this versatility, at least from a design standpoint; that makes Venom so much fun for me.

The Venom symbiote itself has such a wide array of capabilities, that it really just becomes a matter of the writer and artist picking which traits and abilities they find most interesting and running with it.

Depending on the team involved, Venom can be anywhere from 6 to 15 feet tall, can change shape and bulk at will, can shapeshift to some degree, can be colored anywhere from purple to green, and can even exhibit cannibalistic tendencies.

Pictured: One of my favorite moments in Warren Ellis' Thunderbolts.

It all depends on who’s at the helm in the design department.

Which brings me to the point of this post:

While Venom has been rather quiet in the comics these days, I happened upon this article at IGN the other day that made mention of the character’s future.

The story details are still hush hush at the moment, but Marvel was kind enough to release this image of the new look for Venom:

Apparently the story has the Venom symbiote being worn by a new host, for the purpose of black ops missions.

While the government agent angle honestly doesn’t really peak my interest all that much, I must admit; the Venom symbiote is a pretty good tool for military/black ops missions.

Remember the shapeshifting I mentioned?

Well, I’d imagine that, along with the inherent superhuman capabilities of the symbiote; would be quite useful for infiltration or assassinations.

The story arc (beginning in a brand new Venom comic) is going to be written by Rick Remender, and pencilled by Tony Moore; so I expect nothing but good.

That being said, here is impression of Tony Moore’s design for the new Venom:

In keeping with the black ops angle of the story, Moore’s design is subtle and devoid of flash.

Looking very much like the ultra-modern tactical armor that seems to be so popular with the kids these days, the overall package is that of a more streamlined and “practical” Venom.

All the key elements of Venom’s previous designs are retained, with the only significant difference being a lack of a mouth, (suggesting a more internalized, if not level-headed character for the new host) and highlighted outlines for the eye area instead of filled in blotches of white.

Overall, the design is simple and unassuming, making it solid; and very difficult to hate.

I do find it interesting however, that despite the superpowers the Venom symbiote imbues it’s host with; whoever the character is that is going to be wearing it in this story arc seems to have little confidence in it’s capabilities, as he is very clearly still wearing plate armor on portions of his body.

Based on the slim figure of the character, as well as the Venom symbiote’s recently more aggressive demeanor; I’m guessing that the inhibitor that was used to force Mac Gargan’s Venom to appear more Spider-Man-like during Dark Reign is still being used on this version of the character.

Pictured: Dark Reign Venom. Yes, I do have a thing for Mike Deodato...

It’s just a guess, but if I’m right; that could probably serve as a plot device that weakens the symbiote, or specializes it’s capabilities somehow.

In any case, those are my thoughts.

The design is solid, if unexciting; a combination of traits that I hope won’t be used to describe the upcoming comic it’s being used in.

 

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

Jack O’ Lanterns, Azn Badger Style!

Tonight was pumpkin carving night at the house of the Azn Badger.

I’ve been “a little too old” for Jack O’ Lanterns for probably 5 years now, but as long as my mother insists on keeping the tradition alive; I don’t think I’ll ever get tired of it.

That being said, this year my dad “acquired” (don’t ask…) about 6 big ass pumpkins, leaving me, my mother, my brother and his girlfriend with our work cut out for us.

As far as annual pumpkin carvings go, this one was a lot of fun.

Not only that, but as you’ll see below, the pumpkins ended up pretty awesome.

We’ll start off with the Azn Badger’s:

Don’t mind the smudged mess in the top-left corner. That’s just my brother…

BOO-YAH-KA-SHA!!

That’s what I call a mother-fuckin’ pumpkin!

In case you couldn’t tell, the face was somewhat influenced by the Predator of the franchise of the same name.

Oh yeah, and the eyes came from Venom from Spider-Man…

Yeah, I have no original thoughts whatsoever.

ANYWAY, next up is my brother’s pumpkin:

The first word that came to mind when I saw my brother’s pumpkin was “cute.”

That’s right, I called a man’s pumpkin “cute.”

I’m not a fairy or anything, I’m just calling it like it is.

Also, don’t go make any assumptions about my brother just ’cause his pumpkin’s cute n’shit.

My brother’s a fuckin’ PIMP, and don’t you forget it, son.

Not ghey.

Next up is my brother’s girlfriend’s pumpkin:

Described by it’s creator as looking vaguely like a “confused baby,” this pumpkin has as much capacity to inspire as it does terrify those that gaze upon it.

Honestly, looking at this thing gives me the willies.

It’s like one of those faceless white masks that that one breakdance troupe wore awhile back.

You know it’s a face, you know it’s female; but you haven’t the slightest clue what it wants from you/wants to do to you.

That being said, let’s move on to my mom’s pumpkin before I die a horrible The Ring-esque death as a result of looking at this pumpkin for too long:

My mom is… “Artistic”… Yeah, we’ll go with that…

This was another “cute” pumpkin, though “odd” would probably fit just as well too.

The construction of it is actually kind of interesting, as the massive “nose” of the pumpkin is actually attached to the lid portion of the top of the pumpkin, which causes the whole thing to look kind of like a Spartan helmet.

Again, I have no original thoughts of my own.  All I know is taken from movies and videogames.

*Ahem!* Anyway, my mom always goes out of her way to make fun and decidedly original pumpkins every year, and this time around was no exception.

Anyway, just thought I’d share some photos and save myself an evening of writing.

Take care this Halloween!

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Marvel’s Siege Review

I’m really fuckin’ tired tonight, so I’ll make this quick.

Oh wait, this is an event comic we’re talking about, so there’s no possible way I can say anything about it without first explaining a half dozen or so events leading up to it.

Man, I hate event comics

Anyway, Marvel’s most recent mega event comic, Siege, made it’s collected edition debut a weeks ago, and, fashionably late as I tend to be these days; I just got my hands on it a few days ago.

The basic premise of Siege, was to serve as that of a bookend to the era in the Marvel Universe known as Dark Reign, thereby kicking off the current era, The Heroic Age.

A tonal shift if I've ever seen one...

For those that are unaware, Dark Reign began after the attempted alien Skrull invasion of Earth during Secret Invasion, which ultimately resulted in the Norman Osborn AKA The Green Goblin, coming to prominence in the Marvel Universe as a legitimate public and governmental figure.

Hah, and I just happened to find a pic where George Bush was doing the Spider-Man hands!

Don’t ask.

Anyway, Dark Reign was an era that blanketed the entire Marvel Universe with, well, darkness.

Evil reigned supreme in Marvel from late 2008 to the beginning of 2010, when Siege was finally released.

The basic premise of Siege involves Norman Osborn and his Cabal (a secret collective of unified villains including the likes of Doctor Doom, The Hood, and Loki) attempting to “siege” Asgard, Thor and the other Norse God’s homeworld, which just happens to be floating 10 feet above Oklahoma.

Let it be known: Thor makes everything better.

Again, don’t ask.

While most of his Cabal scoff at Osborn’s ambition, and end up abandoning him, he nonetheless enacts his siege with the entirety of his resources, including the Dark Avengers, (evil replacements wearing the costumes and bearing the titles of established superheroes) several of The Hood’s otherworldly henchmen, all of The Initiative, and of course, the great golden retard himself, The Sentry.

Behold, the Meta Knight/Magneto/Chun-Li of the Marvel Universe... Broken-ass piece of fuck...

While Thor and the other Asgardians put up a decent fight, The Sentry proves to be too powerful to be harmed by anything they can throw at him.

Osborn’s victory seems to be in the bag until a few issues in, when Steve Rogers AKA Captain America, Bucky Barnes AKA Captain America with a Gun, Nick Fury, The Secret Warriors, The Young Avengers, and members of most of the other Avengers variants, decide to finally come out of hiding and assemble some bitches till they die from it.

Said panel of Assemblage.

Oh yeah, and then Iron Man shows up after finally waking up from his period of braindead-ery.

By "braindead-ery" of course I mean, "shrooming."

Go ahead and ask, don’t expect any answers from me.

Essentially, Siege is meant to serve as a massive culmination for all the conflicts brewing over the past year or so, as most of the battles that take place during the siege of Asgard have been long overdue.

By stories’ end, Osborn and his forces are defeated and/or repelled, however one final obstacle stands before our heroes…

A certain golden, retarded obstacles that’s just been given orders to kill…

At that point, The Sentry makes his long hinted at, and all too obvious transformation into his alternative EVIL persona, The Void, thereby resulting in a climax scenario that mirrors that of just about every major anime film since Nausicaa.

Pictured: The climax of Siege.

The world world crumbles, major characters die violent deaths… Oh whatever, I’ll just let Bill Murray handle this for me, he’s so much better at it:

CLICK HERE ‘CAUSE YOUTUBE FAILS AT EMBEDDING
*Sigh* Now that we’ve got all that goddamn explanation out of the way, let’s get down to how I felt about Siege.

I liked Siege.

It was straightforward, tautly paced, and reasonably approachable for the most part.

The whole thing is only 4 issues long, with an additional 2 included for the purpose of providing expositional padding for the collected edition.

Unlike say, DC’s Blackest Night (we’ll cover that some other time), which was 8 issues long, Siege had the advantage of being a streamlined, and simple event meant to appeal on the basest of levels.

Pictured: A similar ploy to appeal to said levels.

Probably my favorite part about Siege, was the fact that it really is just an “event.”

The whole story takes place over the course of a handful of hours, resulting in a scenario that feels focused and immediate to the point in which there isn’t really any room for plot holes to emerge.

On the downside, the relatively low page count also means that most of the individual battles you’ve been waiting all this time to see, the Venom vs. Spider-Man, the Wolverine vs. Daken, Iron Man vs. The Iron Patriot, end up being shown in the background of panels, but rarely ever explored in any sort of detail.

Sadly, this is actually kind of accurate...

That being said, Siege is an event that, like most event comics, seems to require the reader to take a look at some of the spin-offs and crossovers to get the whole picture, at least for the characters they care about.

Personally, I see myself checking out Siege: Battlefield and definitely Siege: Thunderbolts at some point, however I’ve heard Siege: Embedded is bad news.

Pictured: A woman receiving several copies of Siege: Embedded from an elephant.

While I haven’t personally read Brian Michael Bendis before, (remember, I’m not an Avengers guy) I can honestly say that after reading Siege, I’m thinking about taking a look at some of his other stuff.

While the plot progression was manic at times, due to the low page count, Bendis’ strength, in my opinion; is his ability to give a real sense of personality and voice to each individual character.

At the end of every issue of Siege, there are a few pages of text-only dialogues between some of the major players in the story regarding the events of, uh, the event.

I don’t know about everyone else, but I found these pages to be interesting throughout.

In particular, I was impressed by the first of them, wherein Osborn and his Dark Avengers sit down with Ares to plan out the actual siege of Asgard.

What? You didn't KNOW that Ares, the Greek God of war was a Marvel Comics character?

“Listening” to Venom and Bullseye bitch and moan about the inherent lunacy in taking on literal Gods on their home turf, was both funny and true to form.

Though each character’s speech is preceded by a note regarding who exactly is speaking, I bet most of us could read these scenes without such aides, as each character is written that sharply.

On the visual side of things, again, Olivier Coipel is not an artist I am familiar with, but, as with Brian Michael Bendis’ writing, I think I might have to check out his other stuff.

Coipel, who is apparently the current artist for Thor, has a style that is intrinsically geared towards the Asgardian aesthetic.

His men are burly and square-jawed, and his women are, well, burly and square-jawed.

Seriously, there’s a panel of Victoria Hand early on that is downright Xena in how butch it is.

Yikes! You could lose a hand to those cheekbones!

Anyway, outside of that one panel, Coipel’s work in Siege is gorgeous.

Aside from his very clean lines and wonderfully fluid character designs, the sense of motion and speed generated by his action panels is truly breathtaking.

Seriously, there were times in this comic that I caught myself being able to actually see the panels spring to animated life.

THIS my friends, is why I bought Siege.

Kudos definitely need to be given to the colorist of Siege as well, as the color palette is refreshingly vibrant and diverse throughout, with many of the earlier scenes being all blue skies and daisies and such, while during the later scenes, particularly the ones involving The Void, things take on an menacing and otherworldly tone.

Anyway, Siege was a good event comic for me, someone that doesn’t really care much for event comics.

It’s a shame most of the “slug-fest” aspect of the event was omitted from the core storyline, as unlike novels, comics are usually best crafted on the page rather than in one’s imagination, but oh well, I liked it anyway.

I’ll let yah’ know how the spin-offs turn out.

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

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…

Filed under: Games, Uncategorized, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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