Tuesday, March 29, 2016

A Quick Thought on DC's Rebirth That Morphed Into An Angry Essay

I've Got Just One Thing to Say
I had just one quick thought on DC and their rebirth that I wanted to share. Namely, that the only book I actually am interested in enough this moment to go and buy when it comes out is--of all things--"Deathstroke," because they got Christopher Priest (Christoper Priest!) to write it.

I Lied
Fine, I lied, as soon as I typed that single quick thought a bunch of other things occurred to me, and only one of them is particularly positive. The other optimistic thought was that Tom King is a great writer, and now that he is exclusive to DC, if I want to enjoy his writing I will need to maybe try out the new, "Batman," book, which hopefully will succeed under his pen. Besides that, there is the consideration that DC has indeed utterly lost its mind, but this maybe, just maybe could work. I'm starting to think it might go horribly wrong however.

I mean, when your company embarks on a big relaunch in 2011 and then  Editor-In-Chief Dan Didio calls it, "Losing our way," a bit later that kind of reads as a slap in the face to everyone who made or bought your books for the past five years. True, the whole thing spiraled out of control to the point I was reading basically zero DC books, but to think you're going to get me reading one now (again, yah Christopher Priest) thanks to another gigantic overhaul ain't that impressive, ya dig?
Do we really want this title?
I mean, think about the other time a Batman book had, "All Star," after all.

When your amazing, earth-shattering, "We're destroying it all and building it back up!" re-launch seems to occur every five or ten years it quits being impressive and becomes more of a nightmarish hassle than anything else. I mean, seriously DC, the idea of, "Legacy," plays a role in your re-launch? That's hilarious considering that you wiped the slate clean five years ago, and to this day people still aren't quite sure what did and didn't, "Happen," from the old continuity within the Nu52.

You can't sell me on the idea that you're sorry for this little experiment, because you're the one who said the past was all outdated, lame, and otherwise not working as recently as 2011. However, suddenly now you're proud of your legacy and want to reincorporate that whilst keeping the small number of things that worked in the Nu52 (Scott Snyder is now DC exclusive, Harley Quinn will still have her own comic)? Nuh-uh, that ain't how this works. You can't have one kind of ice cream, toss it all out in the garbage saying its terrible, buy a new brand with some similar ingredients, decide it isn't working for you, and then go back to the old ice cream while declaring how you're excited to honor your years spent enjoying the first one before that awkward half-decade where you treated it like trash.

Another metaphor: If DC were able to have a physical romance with its publishing line, it would be the definition of an abusive relationship, "I love you; I hate you and found someone new who is a younger and hipper version of you; I can't stand the new person, please let me come back even though I attempted to bury you deep and forget you ever existed," and us readers are the uncomfortable witnesses to this conversation at dinner, sitting there awkwardly knowing that no matter how ugly it gets between DC and its comics we're going to be expected to pick up the check while they go have sweaty rage-sex in the car outside the restaurant...or something, this metaphor kind of went off the rails but you get my point.

It is possible that re-launching yet again and incorporating more of the past could work for DC. It is also possible taking a big chunk of their books to a schedule of coming out every-other-week could suceed too. Hell, it even is just maybe possible DC won't feel the urge to chuck everything that's occurred out the window in 2021 and start fresh yet again. I'm not sure, but dear  God am I annoyed, and this quick little thought morphed into one big angry essay.
"Ugh, and sigh," is a good way to summarize all I just said. At least we get a new comic written by Christopher Priest and some, "Batman," by Tom King out of this whole fiasco, right? Oh, and it isn't related to, "Rebirth," but there is finally going to be a season 2 of, "Teen Titans: Earth One." That makes me less crabby.

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Film Friday--Er--Film Sunday: Batman VS Superman

Bats and Supes
So it's Easter and everyone is talking about a controversial return from the dead. No, not Jesus, DC and their big, "Rebirth," they've got going on now that the New 52 has kinda-sorta failed. I haven't had the time to properly consider all that so I shall pass on talking about it for now, but I will eagerly discuss the other big thing that DC has got going on. The other big thing is of course the release of their big, "Batman VS Superman," movie, which despite middling reviews did sell its tickets like hotcakes, so DC and parent company Warner Brothers are probably breathing a big sigh of relief. As to my opinion about the general quality of the movie....

I Didn't Hate it, but I also Didn't Love it
Who will win? The investors.
I liked, "Batman VS Superman," but  I did not love it, Again, I was not overly impressed by it, but I did like it. I just want to emphasize that as some people have apparently absolutely hated this film. As for me, I find it takes the DC mythos and alters it ways that are interesting--Wonder Woman is cool--and also in ways that are dumb (so now we've got a Batman that kills? Okay then). A lot of time is spent building-up the fight between Batman and Superman that ends up being less impressive than it is two men punching each other a bit before realizing there is a bigger threat (I would say that's a spoiler, but the freaking trailers showed-off Doomsday, so don't get mad at me).

Speaking of the plot and fighting, some of the story beats just don't make sense, and some subplots drag on forever while others are quickly breezed over. One other annoyance? The movie is overly reliant on dream-sequences, with there being by my count at least 4 that occur, with one being an annoying, dream-within-a-dream. Oh, and Henry Cavill's Superman really is stiff and lifeless, much like in, "Man of Steel."
Eisenberg does a fantastic job as Luthor.
That all sounds quite critical, but there were elements to the movie I greatly enjoyed, such as most of the actors. Ben Affleck's Batman is delightful in his mixture of Bruce Wayne charisma and vigilante-rage, Gal Gadot makes a stellar Wonder Woman, Jeremy Irons gets in some great quips as Alfred, and Jesse Eisenberg's Lex Luthor was probably my favorite character. There was a lot of concern about if Eisenberg would do a good job, but his evil-hipster-genius Luthor absolutely is modernized version of the classic baddie that excels. The special-effects are incredible too and one plot element that I found interesting was how the start of the movie showed the big fight from the previous flick ("Man of Steel") at a ground-level perspective, really getting across the fear and shock at us mere mortals watching these god-like figures fight above.

Some of the thematic elements work well too, with the treatment of Superman as a God-like figure by some being an interesting concept that sadly is only minimally explored at the start of the movie before it switches its focus to Batman and Superman making threats at each other before engaging in fisticuffs. I was sad there really wasn't as much of Wonder Woman as I expected and this movie very clearly is setting-up future flicks--sometimes so obviously it is borderline obscene. We have one character who literally stares at video-clips of the other heroes we will see in future, "Justice League," movies, almost as if we the viewer were watching preview-clips online too.
Gal Gadot's Wonder Woman gets sadly little screen-time.
Taken on its terms as simply being a fun movie, "Batman VS Superman," is clearly enjoyable despite its flaws. The issue is that many people have spent years of their life mentally building up a movie about these characters that the final product could never, ever live up to. Plus, it doesn't help that the final product is merely good as opposed to great--people could maybe excuse a movie that isn't the second coming of Jesus (I'm really tying-in Easter today!), if it was still amazing, but to have the thing you loved turned into a product that is just a pleasant use of 2+ hours? Yeah, that's gonna cause some anger, hence the low-to-mediocre reviews, I would figure. As I said though, this is still a good movie, and one that is worth watching, just keep your expectations at a reasonable level.

"Batman VS Superman," is a good movie. It has a number of problems, but also a good chunk of stuff that I liked. It wasn't amazing, but I had fun. The foundation set by this movie gives DC and Warner Brothers a solid amount of material to build off of, so hopefully the future flicks in this continuity won't just be good, but will actually be great.  This though? It's fine, if not amazing.
3 out of 5 stars.

Friday, March 25, 2016

Links for March

Links!
I saw, "Batman VS Superman," earlier today and hope to get a review of that up not too much later on. In the meantime though, how about we look at some links?

As I Said, Links!

I just said I saw BVS and as this article discusses, a lot of the super-hero movies this year (at least the big ones) seem to be discussing fascism, and the possibility of (or current occurrence of) America's descent into it.

I of course love Kanye West, but the question is often raised about whether he is in fact a genius, or is simply just an asshole.

I and others would argue that the Republican Party began its descent into madness, infighting, and general insanity with the nomination of Sarah Palin as John McCain's Vice-President. Now we've got theories of brokered conventions and all sorts of craziness due to the party not liking what erupted from the muck (Donald Trump) after it sowed its hateful seeds.
I remember reading about this, "Wizard of Oz," amusement park that closed decades ago and the photos of it are indeed creepy. Then again, the park has had some upkeep, so it isn't nearly as covered in foliage as some of the shut-down Disney parks that another photographer has captured (with his photos in fact getting him banned from Disney, they don't appreciate painful pasts being drugged-up I guess).

HP Lovecraft has a complicated history to say the least. He created some amazing and horrifying creatures within his stories but was also a pretty terrible person in general too. What I find fascinating is how there are author's today who are able to take the good aspects of Lovecraft and build upon it to make something just as incredible, and without the miserable baggage attached to his stories of old.

I'm just not that excited for VR headsets with my games. Even if people like Sony want to convince me its cool, or I hear about interesting games, I just shrug and think about how its another bunch of money I don't really want to have to pay to enjoy my games. Perhaps if I give it a try I'll think differently, but for now...meh.

"The Room," is by no means a good movie, but it is a fascinating one to watch, with an also incredibly interesting book about how it was made. Is it any wonder such an amazing disaster is also beloved if not in part because of how gosh-darned earnest it is within its failure?

"Fallout 4," now allows you to build robots and customize the ones you already have (if you pay for the downloadable content, at least). Therefore, "Sexy Codsworth," is now a popular meme that is apparently making a lot of people equally confused and aroused.

Lastly, Marvel is teasing, "The Death of X," as an event. Unless this, "X," is meant to be a placeholder for whichever character is going to die, I assume it represents the X-Men, who Marvel has basically left to wither on the vine as they struggle to make the Inhumans a thing people care about. We shall see.

There were your Links
I hope all that makes for good reading. Enjoy your weekend!

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

I Visited "Westfield Comics" in Wisconsin and it Was Great!


As my readers know, here in Saint Louis I greatly enjoy being a patron of Newcastle Comics and Games. However, when I go on a trip (as I did last week when I was in Wisconsin for a bit) I like to check out other local comic shops in the areas I visit. Therefore, when I was in Madison I had a chance to stop by the, "West," location of Westfield Comics (they have an, "East," location too in the city). When I walked in I was warmly greeted by an associate of the store, and he was eager to hear about my blog (which I always tell stores about before offering them some of my cards).  As I looked around I was impressed by various selection they had of mainstream and indie titles, including a sizable, "All-ages," section, which is always good too see in my hopes we will continue to get younger folk into comics. The store also had a nice clearance section full of comics and other assorted items.

Overall I was quite impressed with Westfield Comics, between their friendly staff, big assortment of comics, and well laid-out (and brightly-lit) store, I would say they are a  snazzy shop that is definitely worth a visit should you be in the Madison Wisconsin area sometime. Next time I go up there I'll try and stop-by the, "East," location!

Thursday, March 17, 2016

A Scholarly Reading of, "Mighty Bubble," a Free Comic That Comes with Bubble Bath

I have a friend who likes to de-stress by taking bubble baths. One brand they will use is Mr. Bubble, "America's Favorite Bath-Time Buddy." They noticed with their most recent purchase of bubble bath that it actually came with a comic covering the adventures of, "Mighty Bubble," as he tackles, "The Moontastic Mess." My friend figured, "Hey, David loves comics, I'll give him this," and here we are.

Mr. Bubble is in fact a brand that is over 50 years old and apparently prides itself on making bath-time extra fun, as well as providing fun activities on the website to do for the moments of your life you're not in the tub--you poor fool, you could be soaking in bubbles right now! Anyways, it seems that recently Mr. Bubble developed a heroic alter-ego known as, "Mighty Bubble," which grants him the ability to help make things clean. I would make fun of this super-power but considering how Batman doesn't even have powers and succeeds pretty well at brutally beating-up criminals, I can't hate on Mighty Bubble for succeeding at his niche of keeping things bubbly and fresh.
Mr. Bubble has got bath-time covered, clearly.
Anyway, the comic, how is it? Well, considering it is a free comic that comes with bubble-bath mix it is a little surprising to state it actually is well above the quality of a decent number of things I've read from everyone such as smaller publishers to Marvel and DC. True, it does open with the hackneyed plot-point of the whole story taking place in form of a flashback, but Brian K. Vaughan's beloved comic, "Ex Machina," did the same thing, and if having your whole story take place via flashback is good enough for BKV it's good enough for Mighty Bubble.

As I stated, we open in the present with a young boy sitting in the tub whilst he's covered in grim being asked by his mother, "How did you make such a mighty mess?" The young man, named Jake, proceeds to tell his mother about how he and his friend Olivia were having fun on the playground when the jungle gym which resembled a space-ship turned into an actual ship and blasted them off into space towards the Moon. This of course raises the question of if Jake and Olivia somehow discovered the way to activate a secret spaceship hidden in plain sight by the Government, or if Jake is just a Goddamned liar. Us readers must suspend our disbelief at Jake's claims, however, lest his whole story fall apart.
So, Jake and Olvia land on the moon, and discover some friendly space bugs who enjoy sloshing around in the strangely-colored goo on the moon. The bugs want to play, so Jake and Olivia leave the ship and proceed to jump directly into some hideously-orange space goo. I couldn't help but be reminded of how the last time I saw an astronaut exposed to space-goo it was in the movie, "Prometheus," and that resulted in a whole bunch of hideous deformities and aliens, so at this point I was worried the kids were either going to start puking-up their guts or have an alien burst from their chest (thankfully neither of those things occurred as the goo was safe).

Things get weirder however, as Jake and Olivia realize the moon is actually made out of cheese and proceed to throw the sticky cheese at one another--thankfully they know better than to eat moon cheese, even if they aren't smart enough to avoid mysterious space-goo.
You may have noticed now we are about 1/2 of the way into the comic and Mighty Bubble has yet to appear. I too observed this, and was pleased when on the next page of the comic the kids get stuck in some purple alien goo and the mysterious Mighty Bubble appears to save the day. Using my scholarly-reading skills I can determine that much in the way that the popular series, "Marvels," had the reader view heroes from the same perspective as everyday folk, "Mighty Bubble," is taking a similar tone. It keeps us--the reader--out of Mighty Bubble's head, instead presenting him as a surreal and imposing force, not unlike the Superman comics that treat the character more as an otherworldly deity as opposed to the tales where we have first-person narration from the heroes' perspective.

By making Mighty Bubble a character that only appears for a shorter amount of time in the comic, it emphasizes how rare and special a moment spent with him is, much in the way a regular civilian would be in awe of a super-hero (hence my comparison to, "Marvels.") Despite Mighty Bubble being the primary character, we actually witness the story from the perspective of a secondary character, itself a clever plot mechanism, and one I applaud the comic's writer, Alex Gaterud, for doing.
In case you're wondering if I'm being sarcastic with my praise and comparison of this book to popular series, the answer is, "Actually I'm not," as this in fact really is a better constructed comic than a lot of other books out there (I mean, I'm reading zero DC books and can count on one hand the ones that I maybe would be interested in reading if I had a never-ending budget). Sorry for that digression there; so we pick-up with Mighty Bubble appearing and bringing with him the ability to fly and produce bubbles. He uses this power to free the children and aliens from the space-goo, fly them over the sticky Moon-mountains to their spaceship, and then gives them bubble guns so that they clean the ship up.

Following the cleaning of the ship it blasts-off back towards Earth (with a space-alien in the ship too!) and we re-enter the present where Jake has now become clean and his Mother observes that getting clean, "Is just as much fun as getting dirty," which makes me think his mom is a liar too, as while I enjoy a good bath or shower it is extremely fun to just jump in a big old mud puddle when you're a kid, even if your parents scold you for getting your clothes dirty after they explicitly told you to not jump in the mud (as happened to me). The story then concludes with Jake stating how he can't wait for his next messy adventure.
Oh, and the space alien that had been drawn as being in the ship that I figured must have been forgotten by the writer and/or artist (the art is by Spectrum Studio), actually then appears on the last page chilling by the tub--whether it is an actual alien or just a toy is left unclear, again making it up to us if Jake's story is real.

The fact that the writer and artist actually gave their comic enough of a continuity to have the alien appear on the last page after hitching a ride on the spaceship shows incredible forethought compared to say, Marvel's X-Men comics, which recently started making a big deal out of how the Terrigen Mists that turn people into Inhumans is harmful to mutants--which would have been a good story-element to mention when the mists first spread across Earth something like three fucking years ago and only suddenly became a relevant plot-point in the last 6 months, maybe.
If a free comic that comes with bubble bath has a more concise and logical plot than the stories found in the comics of popular characters such as the X-Men, than clearly either we have some true talent writing the, "Mighty Bubble," comic or the X-books just really are getting shitty lately--maybe it's a little of both?

In closing, this comic that comes free with bubble-bath mix is better than a number of comics found on the newsstand for $2.99 or more (generally more, what with prices going up). I'm not sure what that means other than that it gave me the opportunity to diss other comic companies in this article, but should you be looking for something entertaining to read whilst you fill your tub up before adding bubble bath, I would recommend finding some Mr. Bubble that comes with this comic and buying it. Should you especially enjoy the book you can actually buy a Mighty Bubble towel-cape and mask.
I'm seriously considering doing so and then running around my house wearing nothing except for the cape and mask yelling, "I'm Mighty Bubble, dirt's worst enemy!" My wife is a very patient woman, as you can imagine.

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Daylight Savings Time Needs to Be Abolished

Turn your clock forward and then get ready for at least a week of misery!
Today we had a, "holiday," I despise. Yes, Daylight Savings Time, and it is a terrible joke of an idea. Besides the states that don't observe Daylight Savings time, everyone in the USA gets to enjoy feeling like an absolute wreck for a week or so--even when we gain the hour (because our body-clocks are all out-of-sorts regardless). It basically was created by ol' Ben Franklin as a joke, reduces productivity, raises electricity costs, and is terrible, just terrible. Did I mention it can literally kill you? Again, it is awful.

I feel like every year there is talk about cancelling this absurd process, but then people forget and until we get a little thrown-off in the Fall and really messed-up the next spring we forget. I honestly am to the point where I believe a Presidential candidate could run on the platform of getting rid of Daylight Savings Time--with that as their sole policy-goal--and win in a landslide. I can only hope this madness ends someday soon. Now if you excuse me, I'm going to try and go to bed even though my body thinks it's an hour earlier than it is. Sigh.

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Rant-Reviews of Some Science-Fiction Comics I Liked (and a Dash of Horror Too)!

Sci-Fi and Scares
When it comes to, "Genre," works people will generally discuss science-fiction and horror in the same breath, be it to promote them as quality pieces of entertainment or denigrate them as, "Lesser," works. Now, while both can involve themes, characters, and ideas that are outside our so-called norm, science-fiction and horror do often stand apart, but to be fair it isn't unheard of for them to co-mingle--after all, isn't, "Alien," as much of a horror flick as it is a piece of sci-fi? With that in mind  I have some comics that fall in various spaces on this spectrum, with some being your general sort of science-fiction works, others being straightforward horror, and of course those comics that straddle the line between the two.

The Comics
Raygun #1
A new digital release from publisher Alterna Comics (who make physical and digital comics), I quite enjoyed the first issue of this comic geared toward young adults. Focusing on a young boy named Matthew who is sent to live with his estranged Father by his mother (who is having some problems of her own that inform a lot of his personality), the comic follows Matthew as he stumbles upon an old weapon that despite its age is still well ahead of its time thanks to being kept secretly safe by its original creator, Nikola Telsa. Telsa is portrayed as a bit of a madman in this comic, which is odd as historically he was actually a kind and caring person, but for the sake of this story it makes sense he is shown in a more dangerous manner. Basically, the comic opens with Telsa, we jump to Matthew, and by the end of the comic we get the, "High-concept," of Matthew discovering the laser-gun (or, "Raygun," hence the title of the comic) and wondering what he might do next.

As we all have been young kids there doubtlessly have been times in our lives where we wished we had some amazing device that could help solve our problems, so this comic touches upon that childhood fantasy of being able to go wherever we want, do whatever we want, and strike fear into the hearts of  bullies (as I imagine Matthew might do next). The only odd thing is that it is made clear Matthew's father is a bit of an inventor himself, which slightly takes away from the, "This kid could be you," feeling of book, but probably will be important later if Matthew shares his discovery with his Dad.

The artwork is solid and gets across both the mundane aspects of everyday life as well as delightfully illustrates the more exotic and bizarre elements of the story such as robots and Telsa's inventions. This is a stellar debut issue and I am eager to see just what kind of mischief Matthew gets up to with his new, "Toy."
4.5 out of 5 stars.
Note: The first digital issue of "Raygun" can be found at this link.

Saga #34
The fantastical series from Brian K. Vaughn and Fiona Staples continues to impress with its mixture of surreal sci-fi, and mixture of characters dealing with the same stresses many of us all know so well from friendships and relationships, to child-rearing, and etc. As we near the end of the latest arc it is becoming more and more apparent just how everyone's story is going to sync-up, with some characters evidently cruising-for-a-bruising and others possibly about to happily reunite...or also have to get in a tussle. Vaughn and Staples have created a fantastic series that consistently impresses through its mixture of wild ideas, down-to-earth emotions, and gorgeous artwork, even if this issue is mostly set-up. Comics that are a, "Sure thing," for bringing entertainment when you pick-up an issue are few and far between, but basically with any issue of, "Saga," your're guaranteed to have a good time, even in quieter issues such as this one.
3.5 out of 5 stars.

Mercury Heat #8
This series started out as just being straight-up science-fiction, with its discussion of colonies on Mercury, implants in bodies, the usual socioeconomic allegories, and the like. However, with the end of issue #7 and now during this eighth issue a surprise cross-over has occurred with another entity from Avatar Press--the, "Crossed,"--now appearing in this comic set well into the future, and in a world where, "Crossed," is little more than a piece of fiction just as within our world. "Crossed," was of course much more of a horror-comic with some science-fiction leanings (with certain off-shoots of the main comic exploring the sci-fi concepts to a greater or lesser degree as with, "Crossed +100,") so it is interesting for this mixing of intellectual properties to suddenly come out of left field.

It could be discussed that, "Mercury Heat," deserves more than just a single story-arc to establish itself before getting all tied-up in mixing with other intellectual properties, but writer Kieron Gillen actually has written, "Crossed," comics before too, so it makes more than enough sense for this to occur, and I'm more on the side of believing he knows exactly what he's doing than worrying this is some kind of company-mandated cross-over with, "Crossed." I say that because we still are getting some solid plot advancement, the comic is maintaining its quirky ultra-violent humor even in the face of the terror that is the, "Crossed," and Gillen has more often than not taken whatever writing concept he's doing and made it work. With all that said, I look forward to just how it will be explained these different, "Worlds," are co-existing.
3.5 out of 5 stars.

InSeXts #3
From newer publisher Aftershock, this is my favorite lesbian-romance-body-horror-science-fiction-comic coming out currently. Well, it's probably the only comic that quite fits into that category on the stands at the moment, but that doesn't subtract from the fact that it's great! The plot continues to thicken with this third issue, as threats to our main characters simmer and bide their time, and the delightful scenes of sexiness that morphs into abject disgusting horror continues in this issue too--I don't want to spoil too much, but let's just say a vagina grows to make up the whole torso of a woman and then bites the arm off of someone...okay, I just spoiled it, but you still have got to see it for yourself. I believe the 4th issue is out today and I know I'll be eager to read it so that I can witness what terrifyingly fascinating events occur next.
4.5 out of 5 stars.

The Discipline #1
I'll be honest, this isn't particularly science-y as this is more just an odd mixture of horror and sex with a little bit of sci-fi in the form of ancient orders ("The Discipline") and long-kept secrets. Such as it is, Peter Milligan brings us a story about a bored woman who meets a mysterious man and all sorts of dirty and surreal things then occur involving imaginary beasts, nightmares, and vague discussion of the aforementioned Discipline. This first issue raises a whole bunch of questions--as first issues of comics are wont to do--but thankfully they are the kind of questions that I want answers to and would be willing to keep reading a comic to find out (as opposed to the kind of questions some comics spur such as, "How did this book even get made?"). Milligan is notoriously hit-or-miss for me, but if this book can maintain its intriguing tone with the mixture of horror and eroticism we may have a winning series on our hands here.
4.5 out of 5 stars.

Karnak #2
Now we close-out my reviews on a Marvel comic dealing with some science-fiction style aliens that came out some weeks ago, but considering how it took from October 2015 till late February of 2016 for another issue to finally come out I think we can excuse my slight tardiness in discussing this (if you're wondering what the cause of the delay was, it seems the artist had some issues that necessitated someone new coming onboard). Anyhow, Karnak is of course one of the Inhumans that Marvel is so desperate to make become, "A thing," and in a funny twist the, "Karnak," comic at the same time makes the best argument for this and mocks the reader at the same time for liking such a horribly mean individual as Karnak.

This second issue picks-up with Karnak working to find and rescue a young boy who was stolen from his parents due to being a latent Inhuman...or something like that; remember when all the Inhuman-making mist spread around the Earth so Marvel could move the X-Men to a place literally called, "Limbo," due to the mist hurting mutants and made a bunch of new characters nobody cared about besides Ms. Marvel? Yeah, it is from that mist-spreading business. Anyways, the comic is about half one long fight-scene with fantastically abstract artwork and half philosophical discussion about the human desire to have faith and something to believe in (this is where the comic almost seems to be making fun of people for thinking the Inhumans could become popular). Warren Ellis is the writer, he writes angry and cynical characters well, which describes Karnak to a, "T." Therefore, this is a good comic thanks to Ellis and some spectacularly bizarre art.
3.5 out of 5 stars.

No Matter When or Where, There Will Be Conflict
As all of these comics illustrate with their mixture of science-fiction and horror, no matter when or where a story takes place, there will be conflict, and it will result in (hopefully) interesting reading. It is good I liked all these books though, that's always a nice thing to have happen.

Monday, March 7, 2016

The End of An Era: Lionhead Studios (Most Likely) Shutting Down

I saw some saddening news today, discussing how the game, "Fable Legends," had been cancelled and the developer behind it, Lionhead studios, was most likely to be closed. Lionhead was a studio that made some of my favorite--if heavily flawed--games such as the, "Black and White," series, games in the, "Fable," Universe, and other titles.

For a long time headed by the infamous Peter Molyneux, he left Lionhead to form his own struggling game company, 22 Cans, and to this day it feels like Lionhead never really created its own identity after he departed. Perhaps that was the crux of the issue, and now Lionhead never will be able to make its own name, Molyneux-free, it appears. I offer my sympathies to the employees who will be impacted by this and wish everyone the best.

Thursday, March 3, 2016

An Examination of Daily Fantasy Sports Part 2--My Experience with Daily Fantasy Sports

Diving-in to the Madness
I imagine you have read my first post as a part of this two-part series about daily fantasy sports, and in that post I explain just what daily fantasy sports are (should you be wondering). Once I figured out how they worked I decided the best way to be a good journalist was to roll-up my sleeves and tread into the raging river of stats, odds, and bizarre screen names (if you can think of a pun, it's probably a screen-name). So, I took some scratch from my Paypal account (I'd sold some old comics and used a bit of that profit) and began taking part in the art of examining player statistics so that I can carefully estimate who will get me the most fantasy points, or as the less-knowledgeable call it who don't know about how Fantasy Sports are officially a game of skill--gambling (so shut-up Nevada).

Let's be real here though, this is so gambling. Yes there is skill involved, just as with Poker, yet that counts as dirty and naughty gambling as I discussed in the first post. This though? this is of course an esteemed game of skill. How did I actually do?

I took my dollars and spread them out between some NBA & NHL games, choosing various tournaments, leagues, and 50-50 options. I used a mixture of examining past stats, figuring if someone would do well, and picking players who looked happy to place my wager. I mostly lost, pretty badly. One person I did a head-to-head, "Duel," with did worse than me however, so I guess I had more, "skill," than him or her.
"Make so much money it makes random women gasp in attraction towards you,"
is what I think is being said here?
I had a little left, so tried to again study the stats for guidance, but this time I did one huge thing differently--instead of picking players who looked happy, I chose ones who appeared sad in their profile pic thinking that in some metaphysical way that would help make them happier. Sounds stupid, doesn't it? It doubled my (admittedly small as I'd already lost most funds) wager.

To review, I used my minimal skills of looking at stats and balancing the, "Cost," to pick a player with how happy they looked and lost. I did the same thing but went by how sad they were and won. There was a mixture of skill and pure luck. So, if this counts as a game of skill than poker does too, as both clearly involving a mixture of knowledge and good ol' dumb luck. Again however, poker is filthy, naughty, illegal gambling and this is a game of skill.

But wait, it gets more interesting! You see, to be a good reporter I went and scoured the websites dedicated to fantasy sports and found people who would post the line-ups they were sure would be a good pick for upcoming games--especially with a technically lower-risk wager like the 50-50s. These people must be incredibly skillful, considering they have websites dedicated to listing optimal line-ups as well as other features you can subscribe to for a low monthly fee (kind of like music or porn!) to increase your, "Skill," even more. I thought that these guys and gals must know what they're doing so I used their advice for a series of matches as well as making my own line-up. Both lost, but my own line-up did a lot better. Again, before you say I had bad luck or those sites made a bad guess, this isn't a game of guessing or gambling, THIS IS A GAME OF SKILL!
These aren't used in games of skill on the internet;
just awful and illegal gambling, okay?
In all honestly though, I kept trying using a mixture of statistics, tips from the internet, and hope, and after a mixture of winning and losing, and losing, and thinking I'd win but then losing, I am at this point, "Down," from my initial investment. Also, I can say without a doubt I absolutely suck at fantasy basketball and rarely have done okay with fantasy hockey.

From this time playing daily fantasy sports I have discovered that it can help me be a bit more interested in a game (when you're hoping a player does well enough to boost your points you pay closer attention), and honestly is as much about luck as it is skill, resulting in my firmly believing that this should count as gambling, but that's perfectly okay, if people want to gamble a bit on the internet that's fine and they should be allowed to play poker too--Hell, people with a terrible, "Poker-face," like me would probably stand a better chance than in real-life.

After all of this I don't know if I plan to play daily fantasy sports too much in the future, but have some friends who do fantasy sports as a hobby without the high daily costs that I might join-in the fun of. I would tell anyone interested in DFS that as with any hobby things can get pretty expensive for people if they aren't careful--so if you choose to dip your toe into DFS do please play responsibly. It is something with a theoretically big reward, but that possible reward is outweighed by the immense risk of you winning nothing.
The moral of this chart?
You're going to lose, badly and often.
The biggest thing with gambling that you should keep in mind is that the house always wins. Should you calculate all the entry fees everyone pays versus what is won, a whole lot of money is leftover and going directly to Fanduel, Draftkings, etc. Plus, that, "Pool," of winners is pretty small and generally made-up of people who have a ton of time and money to dedicate towards winning--e.g. having a lot of that skill element that is admittedly in play with DFS (and poker, if we're being honest).

That's my in-depth examination of fantasy sports. I hope we've learned, laughed, had fun, and that no one lost too much money in their hopes of having the perfect fantasy team that in fact failed atrociously. Thanks for reading my posts and good luck to any of you who decide to try out daily fantasy sports.

An Examination of Daily Fantasy Sports Part 1--What Are Daily Fantasy Sports?

Explanations
Because I am someone who is always looking for something interesting to write about, and someone who enjoys watching television or surfing the interweb, I have of course seen the advertisements for daily fantasy sports. Also, on the rare occasion I frequent a sporting event (for my idea of being athletic is running when something is chasing me) I've found stadiums absolutely saturated in ads for--you guessed it--daily fantasy sports. All these print, digital, video, and audio ads led to me eventually asking one very important question:

What in the Hell are daily fantasy sports?

Well, there are fantasy leagues where a bunch of friends get together, picks players from different teams to draft their own imaginary, "League," of sorts and depending on how the player does that season they gain or lose, "Points," with some players ending up on top and others failing horribly. This involves looking at the odds, considering how well a player might do based on your own studying, and then drafting a team. With daily fantasy sports you do the same thing with players, but your team only exists for that day before you start fresh. You might think it kind of sounds like poker, with you having a hand, determining your odds, and acting accordingly, but this is nothing like poker, because fantasy sports--including daily fantasy sports--are a game of skill, a point that those behind daily fantasy sports are eager to state.

Skill Vs Luck Vs Logic

What's that? You're saying that poker is a game of skill too that involves a degree of luck in the same manner of fantasy sports? Well, I can't hear you if that's what you're saying because this print-out of  the, "Unlawful Internet Gambling and Enforcement Act of 2006," I'm using as ear-muffs makes for great insulation with its clause that a game of fantasy sports, "...has an outcome that reflects the relative knowledge of the participants, or their skill at physical reaction or physical manipulation (but not chance), and, in the case of a fantasy or simulation sports game, has an outcome that is determined predominantly by accumulated statistical results of sporting events," so suck on that, people who point out that realistically games of skill also involve a degree of chance too....because um, you're wrong?

Anyways, when it comes to playing DFS, as they are called for short, different games have their own setups. For example, if you were doing fantasy hockey (on the website Fanduel, I know it varies a bit by sites) you select two left-wingers, two right-wingers, two centers, two defensemen, and a goalie. Each player has a cost and you have a set, "Salary," you need to keep at or under budget in order to make a usable team--so no, you can't just stack your team with only star-players. Also, you can only have so many people from the same team (about 4) in your own fantasy-league for any sport. Once you've made a team and the game begins you're unable to change anything else and its all up to luck your skill at choosing to determine who wins.

Depending on the sport, websites have different ways of awarding and subtracting points. Let's say your player score as goal/touchdown/basket, that's some points there! Perhaps your player has the football intercepted/a score on their goal, that's points deducted. It is a bit like a video-game you're simply spectating as you watch your little ticker move around on the board to either making you a profit or losing your money. Odds are you will lose your money, just warning you.

End Results
Although for most people it's, "Watch, play, lose."
Once the end of all the games is reached and the scores are finalized everyone sees the points they have and winners and losers are declared accordingly. Should you have played in a big tournament you might have placed in the higher-ranks and won some good money, or perhaps you did 50-50 contests where as long as you've scored higher than 50% of the entrants you double your money. Of course, maybe you just picked a really sucky group and came in dead-last, which is in and of itself kind of an accomplishment (except you don't win anything for that, so you're just shit outta' luck). Whatever the results are, that's your daily fantasy game, so pat yourself on the back, collect your winnings (or lick your wounds) and get ready to come back tomorrow or whenever the next games are held to do it all over again.

That's a break-down of daily fantasy sports, but in order to truly understand them one should take part, so in my next post I'll discuss my own experiences fiddling with DFS and how it went.