Thursday, September 21, 2023

NFTs are Good For One Thing--They Taught Me What a Macy's Thanksgiving Parade Balloon Costs

NFTs have always been a terrible idea as they take one awful concept--cryptocurrency--and elaborate on it in even worse ways. NFTs were at one point seemingly, "Worth," money but a large number have been cratering and plenty have a value of maybe zero dollars now, according to new research. It's not all horrific news, however! There is going to be an NFT themed for a, "Cool Cat," this Thanksgiving, so yah?

"Cool Cats," are supposedly popular with the poor suckers who buy into NFTs and people could vote via a Macy's sponsored blockchain or some nonsense on the best one to have a balloon. It won and Comicsbeat's Heidi MacDonald wrote about how these balloons can cost $120,000-$300,00 and that's before the costs like costumes, helium, and manpower. Apparently, the amount of helium used for these massive balloons can cost $500,00 so to have a balloon in the Macy's Day parade will easily run you $750,00 to a million bucks. I didn't realize a balloon could cost so much and have NFTs to at least thank for learning something new. Plus, a Macy's Thanksgiving Day balloon is an actual tangible object, unlike an NFT. I suppose the looks of confusion on everyone's face when this balloon goes by will be worth every penny?

Wednesday, September 20, 2023

Almost Three Years and an Expansion Pack Later is, "Cyberpunk 2077," Forgiven?

I knew it was a mess when, "Cyberpunk 2077," first was released, but damn it I loved it. It was my favorite video-game of 2020, with numerous flaws and all. Since that initial release, a lot of updates have been done with a massive variety of tweaks made in the latest free update that everyone can enjoy--it also aligns with a major paid expansion, "Phantom Liberty," as well. With this Update 2.0 folks are basically judging everything as one package, and they are pleased. Nearly three years since it first hit shelves, is "Cyberpunk 2077," finally meeting expectations?

This has happened before. "No Man's Sky," infamously was a bit broken at launch but a number of years later seems to (mostly) be the game everyone wanted it to be. That said, the disastrous launch of, "Cyberpunk 2077," basically has served as a blueprint to other companies that they might be better off delaying games than rushing them to the market only to spur outrage from consumers. "Cyberpunk 2077," has grown despite all that anger it once faced, and now might be considered truly, "Done," with no other expansions or such on the way. 20 new hours of content is arguably a game in itself, and Idris Elba has joined the fun as a mysterious character as well so don't worry that this new expansion lacks for star power after Keanu Reeves made a big splash in the main game as Johnny Silverhands.

I can't say if, "Cyberpunk 2077," deserves an overall re-review, or if the, "Phantom Liberty," expansion should simply be judged on its own. I also don't know if all the fixes make, "Cyberpunk 2077," retroactively as good as it should've been or if we should only now consider it a truly complete game (thanks to all the updates even if you don't pony up for extra content). The only thing I can say for sure is that hearing, "Cyberpunk 2077," is polished and less broken does make me want to revisit it for the first time in a while, whether I pay for the expansion right away or not. If an update to a game can be good enough I return years later, that says something, I'd argue.

A Few Comic Publishing News Tidbits From The Week

I have three interesting stories regarding comics and publishing. I don't think they are weighty enough to be their own articles, but a combination post touching on all three sounds like a scrumptious idea--if you could metaphorically eat my content. Anyways, let's touch on some news...

Let's start with some fun news. A new publisher is entering the scene! Goats Flying Press plans to create, "Comics against all odds," and has a very realistic outlook on publishing stuff as opposed to some new publishers who burst onto the scene with unsustainable grand plans and then tragically fold a short time later. GFP will be solely publishing creator-owned comics, has a lineup prepped that they will run Kickstarter campaigns for to assist with costs, and the company is headed by a 15+ year veteran of comics, Sebastian Girner. I look forward to learning more about this new venture!

In an update that is a bummer but somewhat expected, IDW (specifically their comic publishing division) continues to have financial troubles. I've blogged about my concerns regarding IDW extensively, and things only are getting worse. The company posted a fiscal loss of $1.28 million at the end of their third quarter this year and it is part of a continuing trend of hemorrhaging money. The fact that IDW lost a lot of big licenses lately (Skybound picked up Transformers and G.I. Joe, for example) obviously doesn't help an already shaky ship stay afloat. Now we just await the next alarming update.

Closing on something good (we made a bit of a happy-sad-happy sandwich) Rick Remender is a talented comic-book writer who has done a lot of work for a number of publishers, but now he has signed a three-year exclusivity deal with Image Comics. It seems he'll have carte-blanche to make any comic he wants and Image will be happy to publish it (when you've been around long enough and are skilled enough you can get such a snazzy deal). As this is Image, Remender will maintain complete creative ownership too, which is one big reason Image seems to keep succeeding at snatching up talent and getting great books made. When the creators own the rights that is a big deal more and more with stuff getting made into movies, shows, and games. Congrats to Mr. Remender!

Monday, September 18, 2023

My Hope Springs Eternal for, "Titanfall 3," to be a Real Thing

"Titanfall 2," was a fantastic game. It had a superb single-player mode that was creative in its story of a man and his big mech-robot-thing called a, 'Titanfall." The multiplayer mode was some of the most fun I ever had playing a game online with other folks. It was my favorite game of 2016 and I continue to remember it fondly. There have always been rumblings of a, "Titanfall 3," possibly happening, but they always are for naught.  The company behind the series, Respawn, has their very popular game, "Apex Legends," now and it is a battle royale-style title. I tried it and found it wasn't for me. I keep on dreaming for, "Titanfall 3," to happen, and now we have the latest go-around before my hopes are crushed.

"Titanfall 2," can still be played online and the matchmaking was actually just updated. Plus, "Apex Legends," had a patch with little easter eggs in the form of hidden dates and code words that have folks convinced that, "Titanfall 3," is actually on the way. I know it is foolish to get excited about the possibility of this game only to end up disappointed, again, but I am prepared to believe again even if my yearning is for naught. Dreamers gotta dream, even if it is a long shot.

Sunday, September 17, 2023

"Avengers Inc." #1 Kicks off a Fun New Series!

Al Ewing is a stellar writer and Leonard Kirk is a fantastic artist. They have come together to bring us a new detective-styled take on the Avengers titled, "Avengers Inc." The first focuses on Janet Van Dyne AKA the Wasp as she tries to solve a murder mystery. The first big twist is folks are not as murdered as they might seem, but then some other fun occurrences happen with even more questions being raised. Plus, we got a surprise guest at the end that piqued my interest. If I may spoil the last-minute reveal, it seems Hank Pym might be back and finally is no longer stuck in that weird body-and-mind-meld with Ultron (it was a whole thing that started back in 2015). A man claiming to be Vic Shade appears too, but he was an alias of Vision in the past, so what exactly is going on? We don't know, but I'm excited to find out.

I'm a fan of mystery yarns and would also argue that Janet Van Dyne is often underutilized within the comics as a fascinating character with a rich backstory that deserves mining (she is a founding Avenger, after all). Ewing's writing fires on all cylinders as normal and Leonard Kirk's art is just stupendous. When a big fight scene breaks out in the middle of the comic with a bunch of characters a lesser artist would probably struggle to make it anything other than a big muddled mess, but Kirk keeps things clear and easy to follow.

The debut issue of, "Avengers Inc." has definitely piqued my interest. Between Ewing and Kirk it is a great read and looks gorgeous. I am excited to see where this story goes as the various mysteries that have been raised are explored!
5 out of 5 stars.

Saturday, September 16, 2023

They Announced a New, "Vengeance of the Moon Knight," Series Before He's Even Officially Dead

Marc Spector AKA Moon Knight will be killed off in issue 30 of the current, "Moon Knight," comic. That issue is not even out yet but Marvel has announced the same creative team will do, "Vengeance of the Moon Knight," right after the current series ends. Yeah.

Let me first say that I am happy Jed Mackay and Alessandro Cappuccio will be creating a, "New," comic featuring Moon Knight. The 30 total issues of, "Moon Knight," that will have been released (and some other random ones that tie in with events) will be remembered as fantastic. That said, it is funny how Marvel keeps killing off characters only to quickly announce they're back in a new comic. Kamala Khan/Ms. Marvel had barely been dead when it was revealed she was a mutant and a new comic with her then kicked off. Moon Knight isn't even dead yet and we've had it announced he'll be back in a new comic. That said, it is seemingly being indicated we won't have Marc Spector under the cowl in a newly redesigned costume, so that is intriguing.

I don't get why we need to end the current, "Moon Knight," run to do another volume of, "Vengeance of the Moon Knight." I guess enough is changing thematically with the comic that it makes sense and Marvel (along with other publishers if we're being fair) loves relaunching books with new #1s to try and bump up sales. Quibbles aside, I am excited for more Moon Knight-related content from Mackay and Cappuccio, as I said. It'll be a good time.

Friday, September 15, 2023

The, "Fables," Comic and Copyright Law--A Complicated Tale

Bill Willingham is a comic creator known for his work on the, "Fables," series. It took a bunch of old fairy-tale characters and put them in a shared universe. Folks really dug it. I have to be honest and say I never read, "Fables," or any books that tied in with it. There is no real reason why I skipped it, but I have so much stuff I already struggle to read and by the time I knew of, "Fables," there was so much content I just kind of shrugged and figured I could miss out and someday give it a read. Willingham has had, "Fables," at DC's Vertigo and then the Black Label. He has apparently been having a lot of trouble with DC so he got pissed off and said, "Fables," is now in the public domain. He told folks to do whatever with it as he surrendered the copyright to fans.

Willingham could be considered a complicated author. Depending on whom you ask he leans a little right politically but is an okay guy regardless of his politics. That, or he is incredibly far-right and a huge bigot, some folks might tell you. He has fans of all kinds of political persuasions thanks to, "Fables," so it has been weird to see some folks who don't ever get along uniting a bit to praise Willingham for this action.

The thing is, DC has already said, "Not so fast!" and is making it sound like this is more of a case where Willingham is doing a meaningless symbolic gesture than a real case of releasing his copyright to the wilds. DC has made it clear they co-own the copyright with Willingham and if anyone tries to make a single cent on the, "Fables," property without permission with a movie/television show/comic DC will take action--e.g. sue your ass. It is going to be a long and messy process that I'm sure has some copyright lawyers salivating at how much money could get tied up in all this. It's gonna be a process.

Thursday, September 14, 2023

Coke's New Y3000 Flavor is a Metaphor for Everything Wrong with AI


Coca-Cola has been creating a variety of special flavors lately. They don't have an official taste but instead are supposed to make your tastebuds think you're looking up at a starry sky, floating through a dreamworld, or other esoteric concepts. The latest flavor of Coke to hit the shelves is Y3000. It was co-created with various artificial intelligence programs that assisted in designing the cans/bottles and concocting the flavor. There is an app that uses AI to alter your photos in, "Futuristic," ways too, apparently. The claim that AI helped create this soda is possibly an exaggeration, but it would be fitting thematically. Like an AI=created picture/piece of, "Art," the Y3000 flavor seems okay at first, but the more you look at it/taste it the more apparent it becomes something is horribly wrong.

You know those, "Freestyle," soda machines some restaurants have? Imagine if you got the Coke soda and put in a bit of every fruit flavor mixed with Coke you could? A bit of orange, a dash of grape, and so forth until you're left with something that tastes like Coke with a bunch of citrus sludge. That is the Y3000 flavor. Much like how AI will give pictures too many fingers and just looks, "Off," once you study something created by AI closely, as you continue to sip Y3000 it obviously is a Frankenstein's monster of flavors in the same way AI, "Art," just rips off content it finds online to supposedly make something new. It's all oversaturated sludge both visually and in flavor. Some people seem to like the kitchen sink-style blend, but it isn't for me. At least it is still better than the Georgia Peach and California Raspberry flavors from some years ago. Not by much, however. I understand that Coke wants to, "Test boundaries." That said, this is one test they failed.

1 out of 5 stars.

Wednesday, September 13, 2023

Alan Moore Continues to Do His Own Thing

Alan Moore has written some of the most beloved and critically acclaimed comics ever. Alan Moore also is a man who was screwed over by the comic industry multiple times. He despises seeing his work adapted and almost always requests to have his name taken off of anything that is produced. In a recent interview with The Telegraph, a number of subjects were tackled including if he ever watched the latest, "Watchmen," adaptation and what he does with royalty checks he legally has to be sent for projects he wants zero involvement in. Apparently, he totally avoided the show but did hear about it and felt it missed the point of his work (fair enough). He also said he gives his checks to the movement known as, "Black Lives Matter." 

Moore was chewed up and spat out by the comic book industry and now writes interesting novels and does his own thing. He donates to causes he cares about and does not give a single care what anyone thinks about him anymore. He quit comics, will talk smack about it, and also will throw some shade at fantasy novels too because he doesn't give a care/hoot/fuck, as I stated. The man hates even going to comic-cons because people look at him as a religious figure instead of a writer to have a friendly conversation with. If you go on Twitter/X you can already see faux-fans mad at Moore for doing his own thing. Calling him, "Exhausting," or "Ungrateful," to the medium that, "Made him famous." Moore seems to enrage people by having convictions. I don't even agree with the man on plenty of stuff, but I admire him doing his own thing all these years.

Tuesday, September 12, 2023

Television Tuesday: Aaron Rodgers, the New York Jets, and Irony

The only sport I remotely follow is hockey. However, I am a person who lives on planet Earth so I knew of Aaron Rodgers. A man who is pretty weird yet you like him despite him sometimes saying really dumb things. He makes me think of Woody Harrelson with his odd theories about COVID-19, a love of UFOs, and so forth. My wife and I had seen the news about Rodgers joining the New York Jets and heard that a new season of, "Hard Knocks," on HBO/MAX had a lot of him and other interesting folks. We decided to watch the show and it was fun! It made us hopeful enough for the Jets that we watched their first game of the season last night, September 11th. Before the game could even get going we watched as Aaron Rodgers suffered a season-ending injury The man tore his Achilles tendon 4 plays in as the Quarterback. He was done while some fans still were making their way to their seats. The Jets really are gonna be Jets as usual, eh?

To the credit of everyone who was able to play yesterday, the Jets beat Buffalo in overtime. With it being the 22nd anniversary of 9/11 it was probably emotional to be playing a home game in NY too. That said, Aaron Rodgers already being done for the year really sets a sour tone. It is so horrendously anti-climatic to see all the news about Rodgers, watch, "Hard Knocks," focus on Rodgers, and then within 10 minutes of his first real (non-preseason) game as a Jet he's knocked clean off the roster? The whole thing almost sounds like a bad joke, with nobody laughing. This is what I get for even attempting to care about football to the degree I watched a game besides the Super Bowl (I always watch that and enjoy the ads). Perhaps the Jets could still have an amazing season via some miracle. It just sucks the only way Aaron Rodgers is going to be on the field now is if he's cheering from the sidelines. At least we'll always have, "Hard Knocks."