Tuesday, September 29, 2015

$4.99 Should Really Not Be a New Price Point for Comics

This is Worrisome
There have been folk noticing that certain comics from Marvel are jumping up to $4.99 in a trend reminiscent of how some comics went to $3.99 with the standard number of story pages and a back-up strip before eventually losing the back-up strips and just costing $3.99 (a trick both Marvel and DC pulled some years back). That of course was followed by almost all the comics then becoming $3.99.

This has led to theorizing we could see average-length comics for $4.99 before too long. If you're something besides a big event such as "Secret Wars" #9 or a few other cases what I do say to such a proposal? No, just no.
Seriously, there are many interesting-looking comics I don't buy because even just $3.99 is just too steep a price-point for me when something that costs 4 bucks after taxes takes me all of 10 minutes to read if its mostly splash-pages. I know, I know, I should take my time and savor the artwork in a comic, but sometimes you just breeze through those suckers if the art is okay and the writing is minimal.

Now, I'm not utterly opposed to a $4.99 comic if I feel I'm getting my money's worth. Give me a 72-page magnum opus or even a meaty 48 pages and I'll be pleased (I even don't mind the $7.99 price-point for "Island", but that's basically a massive monthly graphic novel anthology). That, or you could look at the current "Providence" comic coming out from Alan Moore and Jacen Burrows which has a very detailed regular comic and then a great deal of prose back-matter that results in those five dollars lasting me a good hour in terms of time spent reading the book (and it is simply 40 pages or so each issue between the illustrated parts and prose sections).

The idea of Marvel or DC taking more (or all) of their books to $4.99 just absolutely disgusts me and even if the new relaunch of "Howard the Duck" (yes, the 2nd this year) is going to include a, "Gwenpool," back-up I'm seriously considering just not picking it up. "Howard the Duck" has tended to be a super-solid comic, but I don't know if this whole Gwenpool business of taking Spider-Gwen and Deadpool then mashing them up into a single character is going to have much in the way of staying power or entertainment value. I suppose time will tell and I should at least try the first issue of the new series, but I'm definitely wary.

This isn't just a concern with Marvel and DC either. I could picture some smaller publishers raising prices because it is admittedly harder for the smaller folk to turn a profit, and $3.99 or $3.50 has kind of become the standard price-point for a comic with a few lower-priced exceptions--and when something is only $2.99 that does in fact greatly increase the chance I may buy it and give it a read. That said, when the day comes a 24 page comic is $4.99 that is the day you can basically guarantee I ain't buying that book no matter what. Oh, and let's not even discuss $5.99 as a price-point for anything less than a solid 72 pages or so.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Double Take's "Genesis" Pack of Their 10 Debut Comics is Overwhelmingly Medicore--A Review of Each Book

What is Double Take and What are their Ultimate Night of the Living Dead Comics About?
Many people who follow comics have heard of Bill Jemas. The controversial former EIC of Marvel, Jemas had a hand in some unique and amazing things coming about and some truly awful stuff too (just think of "Marville"). Jemas disappeared for awhile and worked on translating the bible as well as other endevors. Then he joined Take Two, better known for their video-games and it came about they were working on something comic-related.

It turned out these comics were to be set in the public-domain Universe of, "Night of the Living Dead," yet were to also have no one from the film associated with the endeavor. That results in this already having an air of fan-fiction about it, as instead of an original idea we have a scene I can imagine going as such...

Executive 1: We make video-games and want to get into comics, what do we do?

Executive 2: Well, Zombies are popular, how about that?

Executive 1: That's genius! I don't want us wasting time coming up with a new idea that could fail, but I also don't want pay for the license to anything.

Executive 2: Well, its kind of a fluke but the original, "Night of the Living Dead," is actually in the Public Domain. As long as we were to only draw from that particular movie we could set our story there.

Executive 1: You're on fire today! Shared-universes are a hot new thing too, and if we want to make this into action-figures, television shows, movies, and obviously games we ought to make a bunch of these. Let's do that and get someone with a bit of a, "Name," in the comic's industry to be involved and make this look better than a cheap attempt to make a quick buck.

Executive 2: No one would take my calls except for Bill Jemas.

Executive 1: Hire him, and then get ready for your promotion!
At least the covers look moderately cool.
So here we are now, with these books that link to the first movie as everything else is protected by copyright. In order to make it more of an, "Event," all 10 first issues were released rogether a bit over a week ago. Available for separate purchase or as a part of a, "Genesis," pack, I have found it an interesting turn of events in that I actually haven't seen much in the way of reviews of the titles. I've seen a book here or there discussed, but I figured it would make sense to give each book a bit of a review, as if these turned out to be great people should know, and if they are terrible folk should be forewarned.

So, How Are the Comics?
Well, it turns out the comics are actually overwhelmingly mediocre, with some a bit better and others much worse, but in general these are below-average in terms of any enjoyment. I now present my thoughts on each of the 10 comics and then some overall opinions. Now, in alphabetical order:

Dedication #1
This is one of the comics that appears to be going for a horror-comedy vibe but instead just has jokes that fall horribly flat. As the ghouls (they are never called zombies) break into a grocery store the staff reacts at how they eat various objects in a silly fashion. This issue also starts the trend of us seeing a single character give a bizarre and random monologue to another individual (or a small group) where they tell us something about their past that seems to not really relate at all to what is going on. Oh, and the art in this one is pretty bland with the ghouls looking no different from regular characters, really.
2 out of 5 stars.

Home #1
This was probably the worst of all the books. It has a little girl character who seems to have everything she say be an insult or swear, but none of the other characters notice at all. It's kind of like how a variety of characters seem to not understand the threats made by Stewie on, "Family Guy," but unlike that show, nothing the girl says is particularly funny or makes her seem endearing. She just reads like a really mean kid and the so-called, "Joke," of how she's saying terrible things yet nobody understands wears out its welcome quickly. Assuming they keep this going in the future issues I can only picture this comic getting worse.
1 out of 5 stars.
Honor #1
Another comic with a character telling a rambling story, the police pulling a man over for speeding, an old guy running his tractor too fast and dying...and that's it. The art in this issue is abominable too and the only thing this comic really has going for it is the old joke about how a 68 is when, "I owe you one."
1.5 out of 5 stars.

Medic #1
This issue has the same, "Attempted horror-comedy," vibe but again struggles at it, and throws in a weird monologue by a doctor operating on a patient where he describes when he tried to get lucky with a girl but failed at it. I suppose that plot-point makes a little more sense here to have a kind of, "Death and sex," motif, but it still just seems to be a weirdly pointless monologue (and there are still more to discuss with us only half-way through these comics). The art is bearable here and one joke at least made me laugh with a man who wouldn't quit whining about his toe whilst other people are dying, so this is at least so-so in quality.
2 out of 5 stars.

Remote #1
Focusing on the radio station in town this is again an attempt at horror-comedy that fails miserably. The art here is pretty bad too and the only thing I recall is that we see a competent lady at the radio station alerting the town to the danger it faces while her boss chills by the pool with a bunch of women miles away. Dull, dull, dull.
1.5 out of 5 stars.
Rise #1
This one takes a big plot element from the start of, "Night of the Living Dead," and changes it. Barbara is of course a  main character in the original movie and her brother, Johnny, dies at the start. This issue asks, "What if Johnny didn't die, however?" and has him wake back up and rescue Barbara from near the end of the original move whilst they escape into the forest. There is a lot of silence in this issue except for when it also looks over to Washington D.C. with the scenes from the flick where it is discussed how the Venus Probe gave off radiation (a plot element attributed to causing the ghouls in many people's opinion, but also something I read the director of the original movie, George A. Romero, regretted putting in there as he preferred to have it be a mystery how the dead began to walk). As I was reading the issues in alphabetical order I found this one to be the first that was at least purely average in its mixture of plot, intrigue, and the like.
2.5 out of 5 stars.

Slab #1
Were it not for the incredibly twisted-seeming doctor in this issue who briefs people on the danger of the zombies (and has done a few experiments on the living cadavers too) this would be yet another dull first issue of the Double Take books. Thanks to him this issue actually reads with a darkly humorous tone that compliments the feelings of horror and results in another issue that thankfully isn't awful, if still lacking in too much enjoyment
2.5 out of 5 stars.
Soul #1
Similar to, "Rise," in that this comic more directly ties-in with the film, "Soul" features Ben surviving getting shot-at in the conclusion of the movie and we witness him trying to get his bearings. It riffs on some ideas about how the media would portray the zombie outbreak as well as touches briefly on the politics of what happens, but otherwise mostly is present to help recap some of the events of the movie. The art is actually decent in this issue too even if there is minimal plot. Perhaps one big element is that I already like Ben greatly as a character because I saw him in the movies and that makes him automatically more easy to relate to than other characters.
2 .5 out of 5 stars.

Spring #1
The shifting first-person viewpoints in this issue starts out as an idea that seems kind of fun, but then just gets confusing. It makes for an issue that is hard to follow and seems to basically be nothing more than a bunch of foreshadowing as folk down at the lake start disappearing--probably to later reemerge at zombies. It's a wholly unimpressive example of more pointless monologues, weak art, and otherwise being a bad comic.
1.5 out of 5 stars.

Z-Men #1
This issue shows how the U.S. Government reacted to the zombie outbreak, namely taking agents who weren't the best but competent enough to be sent out in the field. I suppose the idea here is to show how the United States grossly underestimated the ghouls and that led to the inevitable end of society that futures issues may show. This issue thankfully doesn't have any endless monologues and the art is passable, so unlike some of the other titles this was at least bearable.
2 out of 5 stars.

Overall Conclusions
Bland  as oatmeal without any fixings.
The issues that I enjoyed the most were the ones that either directly related to the movie ("Rise" and "Soul") or were able to get the horror-comedy premise to work ("Slab"). I still found it all to be pretty bland and otherwise unimpressive. I can honestly state that I do not have the desire to purchase any second issues, and that is kind of sad to say that this new publisher batted a 0 out of 10 with me. While I wish Double Take and their Ultimate Night of the Living Dead the best, I won't be purchasing their wares anytime in the immediate future.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

One Sentence Summaries...of Popular Songs!

Wait, for Music?
I've done my one sentence summaries of comic-books before on multiple occasions, but I've wanted to discuss music more on the blog (and have been doing so!) and thought it could be fun to create some summaries about my thoughts on various popular songs you can find on the radio/pandora/etc. right now.

Let's Get to Summarizing!
"679" by Fetty Wap
It seems all of Fetty Wap's songs involve either talking about making drugs or bragging that he is really, really good at sex...so basically this song is like the majority of rap music today but at least has a super-catchy beat.

"Wildest Dreams" by Taylor Swift
It pisses me off I used to hate Taylor Swift but now find this and, "Blank Space," to be really catchy.

"Love Myself" by Hailee Steinfeld
I'm not sure if this is an inoffensively dull pop song about loving yourself, or a more interesting slightly raunchy riff on, "Loving yourself."

"Honey, I'm Good" Andy Grammer
A song about not cheating on your loved one because they are so awesome is pretty rare in this era of jams condoning cheating on or with someone--such as the horribly grammatically incorrect, "Post to Be," rambling on about how fellas and gals should keep a close eye on their loved ones lest they stray.

"Good for You" by Selena Gomez
I feel like a woman should want to just look good for herself as opposed to any man, so even if a lady could do both as a friend told me she felt was being said, I still hate this boring song.

"Cool for the Summer" by Demi Lovato
I don't care how mainstream it is, this ditty is pretty darn catchy.

"Uma Thurman" by Fallout Boy and Wiz Khalifa
I love how the kids today act like its a new thing for rock groups and rappers to team-up.

"Flex" by Rich Homie Quan
I would comment on the lyrics in this song but Rich Homie Quan is more indecipherable than Young Thug with a mouth full of marshmellows, peanut butter, and anything else that makes it hard to speak clearly.

"Hey Mama" by David Guetta and Nicki Minaj
I truly wish Nicki Minaj would just go away.

"Watch Me" Silento
This song is so dumb but its worth it for videos of old people doing the dance.

"Know Yourself" by Drake
The melodic tune that comes in halfway through this song makes it pretty enjoyable.

"Blasé" by Ty Dolla $ign
A piece of junk song like this is emblematic of why rap music today is so awful with its mixture of non-stop bragging, insults to anyone who lacks your money or amount of women, and so forth; it is just disgusting to think only a decade or two ago rappers were putting out pure fire and inspiration and now we're stuck with this, and I know this is basically more than a sentence but I just really wanted to get across the point that other than a handful of older and new acts still around today I find myself really disappointed in rap--we need a new OutKast album now more than ever.

Summarizing Complete!
There, we are done. I realize in many of those summaries I come off as a cranky old man complaining music isn't as good as it used to be. That may be, but I still stand by my statements!

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Television Tuesday: My Big Fat Fabulous Life Season Two--4 Episodes In

I've written before about my fondness for Whitney Thore and her television show on TLC, "My Big Fat Fabulous Life." Well, the 2nd season kicked off early this September with two new half-hour episodes in the first week and the week after--now we have two more 30 minute shows coming tomorrow. This leads to the question of how it has been so far, and I'm happy to report it is still a delightful program to watch!

The key to the show being so fun is that Whitney is quite easy to like, with her positive personality, outspoken attitude, and general propensity to be fun. This season the show continues its careful balance of humor and seriousness, with the premiere tackling Whitney facing her increased risk for diabetes due to her larger weight caused by Polycystic Ovary Syndrome via a mixture of tears and coming to terms with how some further dietary changes will be needed (her, "Breaking-up," with carbs was hilarious). Since that episode us viewers have gotten the usual mixture of awesomeness from her dad and Babs AKA Whitney's mother and the 2nd funniest person on the show after Whitney, plus it is always fun to see the dynamic between Whitney and best-friend and former-lover/possible future love interest, Buddy.
I am aware that this review of the show is reading a bit more like a press release than a true review, but that is because I honestly don't really have any complaints. It is a reality show that actually does a solid job of showing the "reality" of everyday life from the funny moments to the sad. If this program had anyone else besides Whitney it would probably be a much less enjoyable television program as she truly is just so darn cool, and TLC clearly knows it considering how they've been the promoting the bejeezus out of the show between its actual episodes, the internet-exclusive, "Whitney reacts to the show," pieces and reruns that throw-in a few extra scenes and tweets people sent about the episode when it first aired. In other words, TLC ain't leaving any money on the table, which is understandable as they've struck gold in someone as awesome as Whitney.

"My Big Fat Fabulous Life," continues to shine in its 2nd season so far and pulls off a unique feat for a TLC reality show in that it has someone we root for and want to succeed, as opposed to the Duggars (who were just plain hateful and had some dark secrets), or Honey Boo Boo and her family (who were made fun of relentlessly and also harbored some dark secrets). It's probably the best show on television right now and you ought to watch it, because its either that or the Cake Boss if you want someone with a TLC show who doesn't have a dark secret. I mean, the Cake Boss didn't hide the fact he got that DWI, so it was embarrassing, but not a secret. Oh, and the Sister Wives show has a family pretty open about their lifestyle, but for years they were secretive about it, so yeah, Whitney or Buddy AKA the Cake Boss.
5 out of 5 stars (for the season so far).

Friday, September 18, 2015

Please Stop, Frank Cho, It Just Isn't Funny Anymore, And Now Updated with More Childish Insults!

I'm Not Really Laughing Much. At All.
Okay, see if you follow me here. Frank Cho is a comic artist who is quite well-known for drawing busty women and women with well-defined posteriors. Now, back some time ago (a whole year!) Milo Manara had a variant-cover for Spider-Woman that some objected to as being a bit too much. I myself would agree it is a hyper-sexual image of Spider-Woman, but then again when you hire Milo Manara you should know what you're getting into. The image is the one above and it is clearly quite saucy.

This drawing of a quite-limber Spider-Woman led to Frank Cho posting-up his own drawing of the growing-in-popularity Spider-Gwen where she posed similarly and a nearby Spider-Man remarked how it was, "Deja Vu!" Now, this led to some people being a bit upset stating that Spider-Gwen was meant to be under 18 so it was in bad taste, and others pointing out she was clearly over 18 in her comic, with that followed by others stating it still just seemed tacky. This is the discussed image:

We got to the point where the originator of Spider-Gwen's now beloved outfit, Robbi Rodriguez expressed he was upset with Cho for taking a character he thought of as one of, "His kids," and drawing a, "Dirty picture," of her.

This led to Cho creating yet another drawing with Harley Quinn making the pose whilst the Joker hints the idea is to make the internet mad (Comics Alliance breaks a lot of this aspect of the story down well). In case you haven't had your fill of butts pointing up in the air here you go:
It has now gotten to the point where Frank Cho has made a routine of drawing various popular female characters in sexy poses and having other characters comment on it--with Spider-Gwen often being in the image stating how she is outraged. It is a weird case of having his cake (or perhaps, "cheesecake,") and eating it too. I mean seriously, Frank Cho, if you want to draw cheesecakey images that some people love and other people dislike, go for it. Should you want to make a comment about sexualization of female characters in comics feel free too. Should you want to do both that's even fine, seriously! Go ahead and make a sexy comment that in the process of being raunchy discusses the male gaze or such, it would be cool.

If, however, you want to draw cheesecake and then pretend you're making a statement about political correctness or over-sensitivity while supposedly then going on to defend it as a joke, you're just being obnoxious. Which brings all this to the point where it seems like it could be coming to a head as Frank Cho went and posted this doozy up recently:
This resulted in Robbi Rodriguez half-jokingly observing on Twitter that he feels , "Frank Cho should send me a gift basket since I made nim [sic] more relevant in the industry then any of his last few projects." That's a pretty harsh burn, but also one Cho kind of deserves, as it feels like Cho is making an effort to make a joke about a joke and just sort of falling flat on his face while doing it. So, I just wanted to ask you to stop, Frank Cho, please, because it just isn't funny anymore.

Honestly, it was never that funny in the first place, but now any humor from this has been run into the ground by you. We are at the point where instead of, "Shocking," us with your supposedly edgy humor you're coming off like a middle-schooler who thinks drawing word, "Boobz," makes him the badass of 4th grade. In reality, however, we're all just shaking our heads and going, "Oh that Frank Cho, when will he grow-up?"
Really, "Edgy," Frank, I'm so startled.
Then again if these sketch-covers of his are selling for upwards of $800 in cash-money (one price I saw mentioned) as they get more and more press  perhaps he doesn't care what most of us think as long as somebody wants to pay him almost a grand for a lame gag. So yah for the invisible hand of the market theory of economics, I guess?

UPDATE: It seems things are only getting uglier, with Frank Cho stating he does has a gift basket for Robbi Rodriguez that consists of insult-items. Time will tell where this leads...

Sunday, September 13, 2015

I've Been Playing "Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain" and (Mostly) Love it

Good Times (Almost) All Around
There is a game that has been taking up a solid chunk of my time lately because it is quite fun. The game is, "Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain," or MGSV for short. It is immensely entertaining and a truly open-world in the sense of how those of us who enjoy video-games use the term (at least, it is after a long tutorial/prologue section). The fascinating thing about MGSV is that despite having the best gameplay of any title in the series, the story is overall quite weak, and basically unfinished.

As many have discussed, a lot of things are left up in the air in the main plot, and even though I have barely scratched the surface of the game I did something I never did with any other, "Metal Gear," title, and went and read-up on all the story for the game and spoiled myself thoroughly plot-wise. I did this because I had some concerns that the game was going to do something stupid with the plot, and sure enough it goes ahead and does so. I am now aware the ending is quite absurd, and puts the entire story into a new light, but in a terrible way.
Hideo Kojima
The thing about all this story-business however is that I don't care. The game itself is so fantastic that even though normally I played MGS-titles for a wild story I'm okay that this one apparently goes off the rails once you get further along. I mean, perhaps another game will come-out that puts this story more into perspective (after all, it took MGS3 and MGS4 in order for MGS2 to make a lick o' sense) but it is sad to think Hideo Kojima is of course no longer with Konami so even if we see another game from the studio (or even a different one if someone else buys the rights) the odds are very slim Kojima will be involved.

Again though, the game-play is amazing, so it ends up being perfectly okay that the story has immense issues. In terms of how much of the game I've actually experienced so far on the Playstation 4 it is an incredibly small amount even if I've put in a number of hours, so I won't post an actual review score. That said, this is one incredible time and I would highly encourage you to check it out.

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Rant-Reviews--The Overall Message of a Variety of Titles

The Point Is?
A lot of times comics that come out have some sort of underlying message, a point, something that the creators are trying to say. Let's examine some comics that I think are doing that right now, and one where 23 issues I'm still not sure what exactly the main idea is.

Figuring Out The Main Idea
Crossed: Badlands #84
I've been enjoying this story-arc, which since beginning in issue #81 has been telling an interesting story with one big dark joke forming the overall message. I kind of quit reading, "Crossed," comics after the initial story by Garth Ennis a long while ago, but picked up a comic related to the, "Crossed Universe," when Alan Moore did, "Crossed +100," for its first six issues. That said, I never really followed, "Crossed: Badlands," but when I saw a creator I really enjoy, Mike Wolfer, was both writing and illustrating it I hopped on that like nobody's business.

The main idea Wolfer is employing here is presenting us with a bunch of survivors during the initial, "Crossed," outbreak who have positioned themselves safely on a torn-apart bridge but in the process have also become sitting ducks for a group of especially nasty Crossed who have found them. Two sisters came along at the end of the first issue and joined the group and that's where it starts getting pretty interesting. These sisters basically are horror-movie buffs who figure that by using the knowledge they've gained from watching countless movies about zombies outbreaks along with a fiction-book by, "Brooks Maxwell [itself a clever allusion to a real writer]," everyone could be okay. The sisters' statements about what the group should do according to the book however are starting to create some friction among the survivors and I almost wonder if that is possibly part of their plan (who is to say they actually want to share all the remaining supplies with everyone else)?

Wolfer is making a clever comment with this story-arc, as we all have those friends who insist they would be fine if a virus occurred or zombies popped-up because they've watched a lot of, "The Walking Dead," or seen, "28 Days Later." Just because you've viewed a lot of television about zombies or read a couple pop-culture books that by no means can assure your survival, and Wolfer is telling us a really clever and twisted joke by having this group of survivors think that some horror-convention fans are going to possibly keep everyone alive. It's a bit meta--which I always love--and of course contains plenty of the requisite extreme and disturbing imagery that fans of, "Crossed," comics tend to expect. A solid read and one which I am eager to see the conclusion of--after all, maybe everything will work out for the best after all? Nah, this is a "Crossed" comic, so it'll most likely be pretty gruesome.
4 out of 5 stars.

We Stand on Guard #3
A strange sci-fi comic written by none other than Brian K. Vaughn with stellar art by Steve Skroce. This is an odd series, positing a future where the U.S. basically are the bad guys of this story (some people already think of Americans as bad guys, but roll with this) and have invaded Canada. It is interesting to see a story that posits the U.S. as imperialist invader with the twist being it isn't someplace far away things are happening, it is directed right at our neighbor to the North. From new slurs to dehumanize the enemy, to commentary on, "Enhanced Interrogation," also known as torture, it has been a clever comic that seems to be asking, "So it makes you uncomfortable to see the U.S. treat people who, 'Look like us,' this way, but how come you don't flinch when it's other countries?" At least, I think that is what Vaughn is driving at, but it remains to be seen.

Speaking of what I've, "Seen," this comic is just gorgeous. Steve Skroce apparently took a break form comics to work in the film biz and boy am I glad to see him return to drawing when he's so amazingly good at it. He makes something as simple as a person glaring at another with hatred so dramatic it strikes a reader even harder when things get absurdly violent. The clever twist of showing the U.S. as bad guys helps impart a message of why we don't mind when our nation behaves this way to those who are theoretically, "Different," and if maybe, just maybe, our country plays a big role in creating this view of people being an, "Other," when it needs an excuse to invade somewhere--be it far away in the Middle East or a tad North. Still, I wouldn't mind the characters feeling a bit more fleshed-out beyond the, "Cool," Canadian rebels and, "Evil," United States.
3.5 out of 5 stars.

Starve #3
The message here: Our future will be a terrible place full of rich mean people and poor hungry people--well, more of that than currently exists. Cooking reality shows will still be popular and take advantage of the fact that rich folk want fancy food. This will result in a famous chef named Gavin Cruikshank being forced to return to a cooking show he began, "Starve," and taking the whole television network down through the show, or something. That last part is still a little unclear how one man being a really good at cooking could destroy a T.V. network even if his ex-wife runs it and hates him (he married her knowing that he was actually gay, but wanted to hide it, and she is mad about being married decades to a man who never loved her, and basically left her with their kid so he could run off and tour the world). Still, the overall idea about how food should be enjoyed by all along with messages about the environment (tasty animals are going extinct even faster due to our actions as humans), and cool little scenes of cooking that feature intriguing dishes result in a great read.

I really like "Starve". I'm not sure it would be nearly as good without a character like Gavin--as I've discussed in a previous review, but thanks to him being so fascinating I quite enjoy the comic. It's weird mixture of cultural commentary and cooking has worked pretty well, and even if I still don't get quite get how cooking is going to fix society, perhaps the message is that a single person can't single-handedly fix everything, he can just fix a little. Hmmmmmm.
4 out of 5 stars.

War Stories #12
Garth Ennis loves to write war stories, and a comic titled, "War Stories," is a great way for him to do so. In this series Ennis can tell dramatic stories of war without having to work-in Nick Fury or The Punisher as when he does Marvel tales. Ever since this series came to Avatar Press with a new #1 Ennis has been following a format of three-issue arcs set in various conflicts but with a definite slant to discussing World War II more than anything else. The message in this series basically has been, "War makes monsters of us all, but some of us clearly are already pretty monstrous," and its' quite true.

Ennis has his usual tendency to give the reader a lot of interesting real-life facts about about various wars, breaks down the complex machinery of guns and tanks, and otherwise always turns in a solid read. Still, sometimes it can start to feel a bit routine how Ennis has these arcs go, and while this was a fine read I haven't been as, "Grabbed," by one of the arcs since the one about the Israeli-Palestine war. The message about how war is bad is a good message though, for sure.
3 out of 5 stars.

Sex #23
My weirdest comic of 2014 continues to both fascinate and confuse as we inch ever-closer to the Fall season of 2015. We've still got writer Joe Casey telling the story of multiple individuals all impacted by the retirement of, "The Iron Saint," who used to protect Saturn City. These folk include the rich Simon Cooke who himself was the hero, his former sidekick, lawyer (and best friend), as well as all the organized crime in the city. We also still have artist Piotr Kowlalski (in the majority of issues) creating artwork that is both at once stylized with a somewhat European flair, but also masterful at portraying such things as how wide and sprawling a city the home of all our protagonists happens to be. 

Oh, and what a strange place Saturn City is. Full of weird characters who serve as analogues for other heroes or whom are unique characters all their own, a strange variety of men and women have been serving to move the plot--whatever plot there is--along. This issue spotlights a variety of individuals and makes it clear we are on a slow but most likely assured path to seeing Saturn City enter terrible times, with the question of if Cooke will actually return to his (still never full-glimpsed) costume after all this time hanging in the air like an uncomfortable query no one wants to ask even though it is obvious (a metaphorical, "Elephant in the room," although in this case the, "Elephant," is a super-hero).

Whatever the case of just where the story actually is going, what will occur, and if eventually the weirdness will start making sense (as it kind of is lately, albeit slowly) I look forward to witnessing it. Whatever Joe Casey has in the form of, "Sex," is bizarre, confusing, and lacks a clear message, but I'll be darned if I don't kind of love it for that reason.
4.5 out of 5 stars.

Lessons Learned
I and many others could be wrong about what the main message is of these various comics is(or on the flip-side, someone could insist they know exactly what, "Sex," is about). That said, I think I generally have a mental-grasp of what's happening and look forward to seeing myself proven either right or wrong.

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Cover, Remix, Sampling, or Something Different? The Anomaly of Trey Songz New Single, "About You."

Trey Songz new single, "About You," is an interesting song. Before I discuss it further, in order to fully understand what I'm talking about you should probably give it a listen, here (the song starts after a short intro promoting his newest album):

How was that? Catchy, right? Well, if you're older or just someone who likes music a lot it may also sound familliar at some points, as the lyrics about a person thinking a song is about them of course were first sung by Carly Simon some time ago in her hit single, "You're so Vain," that to this day she continues to refuse publicly disclosing whom it was about (it was Warren Beatty though, obviously Warren Beatty). Again, press play and enjoy:

Another good song, eh? Well, clearly Trey Songz is riffing on the idea of this song, but has cleverly turned it from an insult-jam to a love-ditty. The question becomes however, would this count as a cover in any way? I mean, it is way different so that wouldn't make sense, just as calling it a remix would feel a little incorrect. Then again, this isn't just sampling Simon, as when I hear the word, "Sampling," I think more-so taking a few beats, a riff here, a melody there, etc.

Therefore, perhaps this is arguably something different. It isn't entirely original, but it also can't be called a cover, remix, or a simple case of a sample. I guess the best way I would describe it is with the oxymoronic, "Derivatively Original," with that not meant negative. Instead, I am just pointing out that this is an original song, but one that derives from something else. Yeah, let's go with that idea.

Friday, September 4, 2015

"Deus Ex: Mankind Divided" Has the Worst Pre-Order Scheme Possible

No. Just No.
This is absurd.
Hey, remember back in the day when you could pre-order a game and get a little trinket as a kind of, "Thank-you," from the publisher? A calendar, a snow-globe, something cute; it was fun, right? Well, do you remember when companies realized they could hold a game's release date hostage in order to theoretically get a bunch of pre-orders for it? Yeah, Pepperridge Farm remembers. I mean, wait, that's a slogan, and you shouldn't have a big struggle to remember such a thing because it is happening right now.

Square-Enix AKA Squenix has introduced a way to, "Augment your pre-order," and be given the so-called choice or choosing various rewards if enough people pre-order the game. Anyone who pre-orders currently can pick between three different outfits for your character. You can't have all three, just one. Should enough pre-orders be made that Tier 2 is reached a person can choose between getting a digital artbook or a sampler of digital music. Tier 3 gives everyone a bonus mission, Tier 4 allows you to pick between a digital comic or novella, and if Tier 5 is obtained, the game comes out 4 days early somehow.
You may be asking, "Wait, why is it when we reach those Tiers with different choices I am unable to have both things?" To this Squenix has basically said it is to simulate how you make choices about augmenting your character in the game, but really they're saying, "Why? Fuck you, that's why! Now buy our 'Collector's Edition' for $150.00 if you want everything or shut-up and play along with our stupid pre-order method!" Basically every article about this scam is negative and points out that the best solution is you, the consumer, don't pre-order games. If companies realize they will face more back-lash from taking stuff out of a game and holding it hostage than they do profit, they will stop (one can hope).

Until this madness ends, I'm going to continue to not pre-order games. There are always plenty of copies in-stock considering how many stores carry video-games. Seriously, if Gamestop tells you they can't sell you a copy of something because they only have enough for pre-orders, walk across the street to Best Buy; you shouldn't ever go to Gamestop anyways. This insanity needs to end before we get to a point where you can't even buy a game unless you pre-order it. Oh God, I hope I didn't give anyone any ideas.