Friday, September 30, 2016

Rating Sony's Future First Party Titles

Quick writing exercise while my laptop is down.  Inspired by Kinda Funny's list, here's my ranking of Sony's upcoming first-party titles.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Bottom of the Pile: August 31st, 2016

Article 3 of 4...

 Avatarex: Destroyer of Darkness
This is still one of those books that's straight-forward enough that it feels like there's nothing going on, but is actually super-busy if you're paying attention.  I'm not sure if I like that less or more than Grant Morrison's usual "this book was made on so many drugs the author must've seen Star Fleet 7 when he wrote it"-style work, but I'm definitely still enjoying this book as a whole.

The idea of a literal god-like being needing a "mere" human to maintain his power on Earth during this fight against the tide of darkness threatening to claim human civilization as we know it is entertaining enough, but what's more noteworthy is that Avatarex is a jerk, basically.  He needs the help of this "mortal" just as much as humanity needs him and yet here he is sulking like a child, lamenting that his partner sucks and that humanity almost doesn't seem "good enough" to be worth saving.  What I'm saying is even though the partner he was meant to have got injured at the end of last issue, it feels more like this is the one he actually deserves. 

At any rate, this issue was still kind of slow because it's basically part two of the origin story.  Grant's in this for the forseeable future so I'm looking forward to when he starts expanding the universe outward and introducing some of the characters he mentioned at SDCC.

Future Quest
Ugh.  I just...fuckin'...ugh.

It's times like this I question my ability to be a writer.  Do you know how many times I sat around my house as a teenager trying to find the perfect story that would combine all these cool-ass, 1960's Hanna-Barbera characters?  They did crossovers in the original toons every now and again so a working universe made all the sense in the world, but the perfect story always seemed right out of my grasp.   Which isn't all bad--it means I get to enjoy this instead of agonize over every painstaking detail necessary to make a comic like this work.

Y'know, there are actually people who feel like this is the weakest of the Hanna-Barbera revivals, and that's how I know that I'm an oddball.  Because the other H-B properties have all ventured deep into "Ow the Edge" territory and I feel like ten years from now that'll be obvious, as we look at panels where "Yabba-Dabba-Doo" is a focus word for people going through PTSD.  Meanwhile this series sees stone age superhero Mightor battling interdimensional "outer beings" threatening all of humanity...and that's just in the first three pages.   The literal ONLY way this book could be better is if they dragged Ruby-Spears characters into this, so I could get the Centurions.  Which is probably for the best, since my brain would melt out of my ears if they did, I think.

Ms. Marvel

If you're not keeping up with Ms. Marvel, its currently in tie-in phase alongside multiple other Marvel comics for Civil War II.  For her part, she's been assigned to be in charge of a group of teens/twentysomethings who are using Ulysses' powers in order to stop crime before it happens.  Things were going well enough...until suddenly her best friend got himself injured trying to save a fellow student of theirs after he was tossed in jail for something he hadn't even done yet.  This month's issue opens with Kamala praying her unconscious friend actually heals and makes a recovery, while realizing how everything up until now has been more "playing" at being the hero, and finally understanding the consequences of putting on the costume.

This is the benefit of having one creator shepherding a character over multiple years.  Kamala Khan has grown ever so gradually since her introduction in 2013, and gone from a girl who wanted to be different so badly she literally used her shape-shifting powers to become caucasian, to someone proud of her family and its rich heritage.   She's grown from someone who could barely handle an eccentric builder of shitty robots to an Avenger, and someone trusted enough to lead her own squad under Captain Marvel.

And now, writer G. Willow Wilson is guiding her into the second phase of her career.  Where heroes experience loss and Kamala realizes what it is to make hard decisions that go against what the popular opinion might be, or even against one's best friends...or role models.  It's an obvious story--what's the protege do when the person who inspired her is going down a wrong path--but its a good one, and one that makes me wish Kamala played a larger role in Civil War II rather than this being just an ancillary tie-in.  Still, it's a good tie-in, and this trainwreck of a crossover could definitely use more of those. 

For Miles Morales' part in Civil War II, the primary conflict is a lot more internal than with other people.  He's watching things that are definitely wrong happen as a result of Captain Marvel's stance on all this, and so far the only thing he's been able to do is stand by and watch.  

Ultimately he does need to stay out of it, and that's where I hope Mark Waid's new teen-focused team book Champions goes rather than what it seems like from the preview pages which feels more like kids whining at adults for stuff they don't understand yet.  

Sidenote: Bombshell's argument is overly reductive.  Yeah Tony's totally a rich white guy but this is definitely down to more than just "Iron Man told me to do thing, I'm going to do thing".  Captain Marvel is literally deciding the fate of people based on stuff that may not even happen, and even though she's been told time and time again how dangerous a precedent she's setting, she's still making excuses and claiming "we'll fix that later" without realizing that later slips up on you real fast and a year later the argument can easily become "Well, its been working fine so far why change anything" and by the time it'll be too late for the heroes to do anything at all.  

And we haven't even gotten to what happens when the government steps in and starts utilizing Ulysses for more than just "the greater good".   Civil War II is once again a case where the person who's right is going about it in such an asinine way that governmental abuse is the only real end. 

Spider-Man 2099
Meanwhile, in the future Peter David's Spider-Man is confirming what I already knew: that Ulysses powers are the fucking monkey's paw of future-sight.  With the exception of that very first prediction, everything he's predicted in the main book and even some of the tie-ins has changed to create a future that's not much better (if better at all) than the one we saw in the first place.

Hopefully that's where this eventually leads us, because all this talk about predictive justice makes my skin itch.


This issue of Transformers introduces the G.I. Joes into the IDW Transformers universe proper, and I'm still not sure if that's a good thing or not.    Honestly, the current story is already busy enough with former Autobot "leader" Sentinel Prime having returned from the dead and seemingly attempting to take control over all of the Titans in order to wipe out anyone aligned with the Decepticon cause...and whoever made peace with them.   Adding in this set-up for September's Revolution event seems overkill.   I love continuity and expanding universes...but not when they get in the way of decent stories.

Bottom of the Pile: August 24th, 2017

By the end of the day, I should have all of these up except for this week's. Probably a weekend thing.

Action Comics

Mercifully, this three month/six issue fight scene has finally come to an end.  When you think about it, Superman has basically been doing the same thing since it got launched as well.  Eradicator should take all of a page or two for Kal-El to knock into some other solar system, but somehow it took six issues.  I wouldn't even say the difference is a focus on family as Lois and Jon are front and center in both, but people have received Superman far more warmly than they have Action Comics.  Personally?  I can take or leave them both--having *my* Superman back doesn't work when he's removed from all the things that connected him to this Earth.

As for why I used this otherwise unrelated image?  Well, it's because I think Wonder Woman's a bad-ass and I love that it's only because of her Superman didn't get fucking wrecked this issue, even if this version of Supes shouldn't have any trouble beating Doomsday.

Bottom of the Pile - September 14th, 2016

Last week's.  I'm gonna say this week's hits this weekend but if it doesn't happen pretend like this was a mirage.
Astro City
Astro City's overarching plot since it returned--about The Broken Man and whatever mysterious, all-seeing threat he's fighting against--started out being one of the things I was most excited about.  But ever so gradually, that excitement waned as I remembered that Astro City isn't that type of universe.  It's the type of place where you focus on the mundane in the fantastic--one where the story of heroism is less important than who that heroism affected.  If anything, the most interesting thing about a potential fight against an unseen foe is how that would cause the already complex world of Astro City to change.  

And on that note, that's why this second part of Broken Man's story is a bit more interesting than the first--to learn that Astro City/Romeyn Falls once had a protector that was a living personification of the music of the time.  Of course, that leaves the question: what would that protector have looked like through the eras of rock-and-roll, or hip-hop?   And what would they look like now?  

The next Astro City comic is a two-parter starring the Hanged Man, so obviously we won't get that answer today.  But I'm absolutely hoping we're not left hanging for too long.  (Ugh, I do apologize for that awful end pun...)

Bottom of the Pile: Sept. 7th, 2016

Woo-hoo~  Made it!  ^_^

All-New All-Different Avengers
When I first read this comic, this scene was probably the most powerful thing in it--it gave me chills--and on the whole, I'm completely on board with the new Wasp.  Nadia Pym seems like a real sweetheart and I can't wait to see what she's like when interacting with the rest of the Marvel Universe.  Still, I can absolutely see how one could see this scene independent of the comic itself and see it as over-the-top and melodramatic.

So let's set the stage and talk about it.  The girl here is Nadia Pym, the heretofore unknown daughter of Hank Pym that's spent her entire life training in the infamous Red Room that gave us characters like The Black Widow, until she got a hold of some Pym Particles and used them to escape, joining up with the newest incarnation of the Avengers.  This issue is meant to be both her first focus issue that leads into her ongoing The Unstoppable Wasp and a Civil War II tie-in, as after saving herself and Janet from nearly being kidnapped, the pair learn about the fight breaking out between the heroes and Nadia has a break down.

To be fair though, Nadia absolutely has a point.  Though the fights are over big philosophical differences, its absurd that none of the heroes can seem to have them without ending up punching one another in the face.   It absolutely would be more heroic if they could just discuss their differences like adults, but...that would make for very interesting reading, I suppose. 

Sage, The Broken Gamer: Not Pro Enough

I think this generation of gaming has finally broken me.