Tuesday, April 30, 2019

"It Had To Be You," by Nick Edwards is a Wonderfully Dark and Trippy Read

I love a lot of what Germany-based publisher Rotopol puts out (they publish internationally so much of their work is also in English, which I appreciate as my German is nicth gut). One of the newest comics to be published by them (it officially comes-out May 11th, 2019) is the delightfully dark and equally psychedelic book, "It Had to Be You," by creator Nick Edwards. The comic follows an assortment of vaguely human-shaped characters who are, "Friends," in arguably the loosest sense of the word. Much of the comic is focused on Ob, a very nice circular gent who considers a noodle-like fellow named, "Eck," a great friend along with the melon-sized, "Alm." The problem is that Eck is prone to fits of rage and just as likely to attack someone who offends him...or if he's in a better mood he might just steal a supposed chum's car. Alm means well but is a habitual loser himself too. Oh, and there is  a pet named Ubu who Ob acquires later in the comic that seems nice at first but is honestly just plain mean too. This may sound depressing, but within this comic it is actually all quite hilarious.

Edward's has worked on numerous cartoon programs according to his bio-page I read for the comic, so he clearly knows that the tonal clash between cute-and-nasty is one that can be quite funny. The world of, "It Had To Be You," is full of adorable and squishy people, animals, and objects, but is actually a pretty brutal place. It has great technology that makes life better, but everyone is just nasty no matter how swell life is and how cute they look. Yes, some people try to be nice, like Alm, but it usually ends up failing--such as when Alm bakes a cake for Ob upon learning Ob is ill and needs to go to the hospital, Alm ends up getting the cake smashed in his face via an accident both equally tragic and humorous.
Eck is not a good friend to Ob.
Another interesting thing about this world is even if everyone is kind of awful, some residents are pretty optimistic. Ob can only smile and remind himself how he considers Eck a friend whenever Eck treats him terribly, and Alm doesn't let any awful incident that occurs to him stop his positive thoughts. It is both sweet and kind of tragic to witness these hopeless happy characters stuck in a world that's cute at first glance, but full of sucky people.

As I mentioned, Edward's gives us some incredible art in this comic. His creations are cute and fun-looking but have that glimmer of mischief in their eyes that is made quite evident upon one's reading of the book. His characters look just humanoid enough to be recognizable as living beings but still have all kinds of abstract shapes and features that make them incredibly striking. The mixture of recognizable-and-avant-garde works perfectly and gives the art a perfect abstract touch whilst still being easy to follow for readers. It's fantastic stuff.
When Alm tries to tell someone they were rude he gets stabbed for his trouble,
it's par for the course as Alm never seems to have things go his way.
Between the extremely funny (and dark) story and some stupendous art I loved, "It Had to Be You." Nick Edward's has spent a lot of years in the field of animation/drawing/artwork and it shows through his skillful creation. I unquestionably rate this comic 5 out of 5 stars. I want to thank Rotopol for providing an issue for the purpose of review and would encourage you to get yourself a copy to read and enjoy via pre-ordering it on the Rotopol website or from any other fine book and comic retailer.

Monday, April 29, 2019

Brad Simpson is Out Here Coloring Like a Boss

I recently read two trade paperbacks written by Joe Casey that were each quite good if very different tonally (interestingly enough, both are also from the great publisher Image). They also each had two different (and stellar) artists. One thing that took the comics over-the-top however is how they shared in colorist Brad Simpson doing his thing on them. I've said that colorists don't get enough recognition in the field of comics because often if a colorist is doing a good job you (the reader) don't notice. However, when a colorist does a stellar job, that makes an impact you take note of. Joe Casey works with an assortment of great artists, but he's wise to usually have Brad Simpson present for his color-work as it fits so many books so well.

The two trade paperbacks with Casey and Simpson involved are, "Sex, Volume 6: World Hunger," and, "Jesusfreak." "Sex," was a monthly comic that wasn't cancelled so much as put on a hiatus to then have it be attempted to release it in trade-paperback installments. Featuring the art of Piotr Kowlalski this is the first of those new straight-to-trade editions. "Sex," involves a man named Simon Cooke who made a pledge to quit being a superhero within his home of Saturn City and all the fallout that has resulted from that years later. "Jesusfreak," involves Joe Casey telling a 1970's exploitation-film styled tale of Jesus Christ and has the artwork of Benjamin Marra which fits the tone perfectly. Marra is not someone who usually collaborates with a writer, generally writing and drawing his own work, but he and Casey meld together well for this original graphic novel. Two very different tones tackled by a great writer and amazing colorist, and man does Simpson color like a boss.
"Sex," and its sixth volume involves former masked hero Simon Cooke leaving Saturn City to explore a mysterious group with Illuminati-esque intentions. Meanwhile his former sidekick, Keenan Wade, and other associates try to keep their lives together as Saturn city is falling apart without Cooke's alter-ego, "The Iron Saint," present to help fight assorted super-villains there. Saturn City itself looks like a cross between Las Vegas and New York City with its towering buildings and neon-drenched streets. Simpson portrays it all with a wondrous and sickening glow, one which is expertly countered by when Simon ends-up in a cold and quiet resort in a foreign country where the colors shift to a much more muted tone except for the occasional brilliant burst of light from a fire or such.

With, "Jesusfreak," we get a psychedelic tint to the early Common Era that is excellent at furthering the surreal vibe of how the story takes place thousands of years ago but has a sensation as if it were a 1970's exploration film (as I earlier mentioned). Marra's artwork often has a stark and imposing form, and Simpson's colors mesh with it indelibly. Simpson is able to go from coloring the sleek and modern, "Sex," to the strange mish-mash of ancient times and modern vibes in, "Jesusfreak," with ease. He's just that good.
I love much of Brad Simpson's work and have been a fan of his for some time. He continues to do amazing stuff whether it is with a writer such as Joe Casey on these two books or the many other titles he colors. Between Casey's great writing, Simpson's incredible colors, and some damn fine artwork from Piotr Kowlalski and Benjamin Marra, I loved these books. Brad Simpson is one of my favorite colorists, and anytime I see he did his magical skills applied to a comic I know its time to get extra-excited to read it!

Saturday, April 27, 2019

"Master," is Another Stellar Comic by Dale Forward

Back in February I reviewed the comic, "Warlock," by Dale Forward and enjoyed it a great deal. In that work Foreward utilized an included pair of 3-D glasses not to present the comic in 3-D, but to have it so that looking through the same page via the different lenses would result in different imagery appearing. I was extremely impressed with this clever element in Forward's art and was eager to review the book, "Master," when he told me it was completed and available for sale. Having now read, "Master," I am pleased to say it is yet another stellar comic by Mr. Forward.

"Master," uses the same storytelling element of the 3-D glasses, but instead of giving an in-story reason for it (within Warlock it involved enchanted eyes) it simply serves as a tool to allow the story to move ahead in clever ways. If, "Warlock," had the 3-D glasses and their as the star of the show then, "Master," is more designed to use them in the service of its story--both methods work great in the end, of course. Master takes place in a fantasy world quite like the one in, "Warlock," and they may even share the same universe (it is unclear) and follows a character known as the, "Master," who has tired of fighting countless foes and always winning. He wants to finally be defeated and die after years of conquering daemons, goblins, serpents and other monsters.
We witness as the Master eventually learns some deep philosophical truths about the World I won't fully spoil in case you read the book, and I was pleased to see the book go in this introspective direction as opposed to simply having the climax being the Master having some huge bloody fight (although he does have a few earlier in the story). Forward's artwork continues to be incredible, with the mixture of red, blue, and black resulting in the 3-D glasses making pages fascinating whether it is a cool trick where we peer through one lens and see a closed door only  to then check the other lens and witness it flung open, or the lenses being used in other clever ways such as the world swirling around the Master whilst he, drawn in black-and-white ink, remains immovable no matter what challenge comes his way.

"Master," by Dale Forward is another fantastic comic that illustrates how Forward is a stellar creator. I enthusiastically rate it 5 out of 5 stars. You can get yourself a copy of, "Master," via his Bigcartel store, and check his work out on his Facebook page, Instagram Page, or say hi on Twitter.

Friday, April 26, 2019

Film Friday: In Case You Somehow Forgot, "Avengers: Endgame," is Officially Out

On the off chance you've been living under a rock, deep within a nuclear bunker, with your eyes closed, fingers in your ears, and loudly yelling, you might be unaware of, "Avengers: Endgame." It has been hyped relentlessly, been getting mostly glowing reviews, and is going to make record-breaking amounts of money now that it is in a theater near you. I have not seen it yet but did read some spoilers as I don't mind them (sometimes I even enjoy a flick more knowing some of what might happen) and it sounds pretty cool. I hope to see it sooner than later and wish everyone who does go to see it a fun time--also, it's like 3 hours long so make sure you pee before the film if you're worried about missing anything.

Thursday, April 25, 2019

Mini-Run Review: "Immortal Days," Episodes 1-8

As my blog continues to gain more and more awareness from folk all over the world (hooray for slowly gaining relevancy over these almost-nine years shouting into the void of the internet) I get contacted by various people about their comics and if I'd like to read them. Sometimes it is indie creators and other times various small publishers. One interesting thing that occurred was a man named Michael Song who works for the digital comic platform, "Lezhin," emailed me to ask if I was interested in reading the initial issues/episodes of an English translation of a Korean Manhwa (in Japan it would be called Manga, Korean-based is Manhwa, if you wondered) titled, "Immortal Days." The overall sci-fi concept appealed to me so I eagerly dove-in and read the first eight issues, or, "Episodes."

"Immortal Days," is a story about a world where immortality was discovered. People found way to live forever and now basically everyone never dies. You get older but don't get ill. You can be shot, stabbed, blown into pieces, or anything else drastic but your body will eventually heal and you'll be good as new (although you might need assistance gathering body-parts if you are blown-up). In a clever twist this hasn't ushered in some golden-age of prosperity and enlightenment--no, people are continuously self-centered and focused on their own well-being. There is still crime, with the comic casually mentioning it actually got worse because with murder no longer being a concern thieves have to basically give a person what would in the past have been deadly wound to be able to rob them. The world gained immortality and now that people can live forever they're just extra big jerks knowing there aren't consequences for being violent at one another. It is a plot element that is both darkly hilarious and kind of depressing. There is a twist however, in that with any drastic changes in biology there are bound to be mutations.

Myeol, or, "Fall," as his friends call him is a mortal. A relatively young guy, he has had to train his body to withstand all kinds of danger because he can die. In this world where people will fall from the top of a building or can be hit with a bunch of bullets and shrug them off Myeol can be bruised, scarred, and killed. He meets a private detective or, "Troubleshooter," as they called named Phil who is astounded to learn he and Myeol both share their unique gift/curse of mortality. This results in Phil hiring Myeol as an assistant both because Myeol's physical skills are impressive and because Phil admits as much of a removed and tough-guy act he puts on he's lonely and a bit fearful being able to die. These initial issues set-up much of this plot and then have the two embarking on a case to figure out what kind of trouble a cult focused on bringing about the extinction of humanity (e.g. making everyone no longer immortal) could be trying to cause.

Creator of the series, Heo Gin Gae, gives readers some fantastic artwork in the comic, with moments of violence especially being both comic and a bit grotesque. People get blown-up after all, but as nobody (besides our main characters at least) can die, it results in some strikingly silly imagery such as a torso with just a head hollering to an EMT how an arm with a star tattoo belongs to them. The scenes of action and fighting are delightfully frantic, and the comic's mixture of heart, humor, and a dash of sadness result in a stellar plot to go with the great art. My only real complaint might be how I would love to see more of this kind of world where people are now immortal, and get some details about that. I mean, if people can't die but still get hungry, will you never starve to death but just be miserable? Has immortality resulted in a lot of crowding in the world? It is such a clever concept that I want to know more about it! As this web-comic is an ongoing that will be updated weekly (it launched with the initial eight episodes/issues I was able to review) I bet this plot-point will be explored further, and I'm excited for that.
The first case Myeol and Phil investigate.
I really enjoyed, "Immortal Days," and eagerly rate it 4.5 out of 5 stars for the eight episodes/issues I have read. I would encourage people to try out the comic-website Lezhin (it can be utilized in Korean, Japanese, or English) and buy some issues of, "Immortal Days," in addition to checking-out the wide-range of titles this website and its web-reader provide (I did not know of Lezhin till recently, but know of some other Manga and Manhwa sites and am aware these can be pretty popular). I'm pleased to have been reached-out to by Michael Song and look forward to reading upcoming episodes/issues of, "Immortal Days," as well as other cool-looking comics on the Lezhin site!

Note: The ability to access and read, "Immortal Days," on Lezhin was provided for the purposes of review.

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Some Ignorant People Are Mad about the Plot of a Mortal Kombat Game...Yeah

You know a game series that has never been especially known for its plot as opposed to lots of tongue-in-cheek jokes and violence? If you said, "Mortal Kombat," with its infamous, "Fatalities," you would be right. Through its decades (yeah, I know, I feel old too) of existence the games have often been very bloody and utilized silly jokes. It is an extremely self-aware series. The latest game, "Mortal Kombat 11," has made some people angry due to an alternate ending for the character Jax (who is black). You see, he gets the ability to travel through time and uses it to prevent the trans-Atlantic slave-trade before it can begin, sparing millions of people from the horrors of slavery. Jax wants to keep his ancestors from suffering and uses time-travel to stop slavery in a sweet alternate ending for a silly fighting game, and this is making some ignorant people mad for...reasons?

Apparently some people think it is racist for a black man to stop African slavery because of that old chestnut, "Irish were slaves too!" as if Jax just ignored that (we can assume he stopped all slavery based on the ending). Also, some people think it is unrealistic and historically inaccurate to have Jax travel through time and do this. Yes, people are complaining about the historical accuracy of a fighting series where people summon magical bolts of lighting or fight multi-armed monsters in-between ripping each others' spines out. I'm just going to put it out there that anyone who wants to argue that, "Slavery wasn't that bad," or wants to nit-pick the realism of, "Mortal Kombat," is probably someone you should avoid associating with for the sake of your sanity. Oh, some people are angry that the female characters are now dressed more like actual fighters than strippers in this latest game, but that is a whole 'nother subject for a different time because we can only handle so much idiocy in one day.

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

I Like Matt Leblanc but Hate His Character Joey

I like Matt Leblanc. The bits I've seen of his latest work, "Man With a Plan," are pretty funny, he was one of the small shining moments (besides Bernie Mac) in the movie, "Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle," which was otherwise a garbage fire, and some may remember from early in his career when we was a recurring character on the zany sitcom, "Married...With Children." The thing is, I like Matt Leblanc in these roles as well as others, and anything I have read about him as a human being paints him as a very pleasant and friendly guy, but I hate what is arguably his most famous role, Joey Tribbiani, on, "Friends."

I have watched a chunk of, "Friends," to the point where I would never win a trivia contest dedicated to the show, but I have a general idea about the characters and their struggles/successes. With that said, Joey generally annoys the Hell out of me. He's always trying to impress everyone and craving affirmation for his crappy attempts to become a famous actor. He's dumb as a door-nail but thinks he knows better than everyone else, often to a degree where it gets him in trouble. He's a shallow, vain, narcissist and the rest of his friends seem to not so much like him as put-up with the guy and/or pity him. I just don't like Joey.

"How you doing?"
Perhaps this is a credit to Matt Leblanc and how much I've liked him in other roles that he's doing a stellar job making Joey so unbearable. I think the more upsetting thing about Joey is how much some fans of the show seem to like him, to the degree a spin-off starring Joey was attempted after, "Friends," wrapped (it was cancelled in the middle of its second season, so apparently a plenty of people dislike or are indifferent to the character of Joey as well). I may hate Joey, but I continue to enjoy the work of Matt Leblanc and hope he continues to enjoy entertaining us with further episodes of, "Man With a Plan," and any other creative endeavors he embarks on.

Monday, April 22, 2019

Please Consider Donating to Assist With Bill Mantlo's Care

Michael and Bill Mantlo.
Bill Mantlo is the creator of fan-favorite character Rocket Raccoon as well as other great characters such as Cloak and Dagger. He worked on a number of quality comics including runs on, "ROM," and, "The Incredible Hulk." He earned his law degree and worked as public defender for The Legal Aid Society as he was that kind of caring person. In 1992 he was the victim of a hit-and-run driver while rollerblading. He was comatose for some time and upon waking was left with permanent brain-damage. His younger brother, Michael, assumed the role of being Bill's caretaker. Michael is been in charge of making sure Bill receives full-time care due to having cognitive damage severe enough he is, "unable to reason or understand his situation, and he struggles daily to maintain any control over his own mind." Considering how much money some of the properties Bill created have made you'd think there would be ample funds to give him top-notch care in a private residence. Sadly, in this field of comic-books where creators have so often been screwed-over, that is not the case.

Michael Mantlo has gone over 100,000 dollars into debt over these years making sure Bill is given not just passable care, but excellent care. Michael has stated, "I have been attempting to bring my brother home from the nursing home he has been placed in for the last 10 years.  It has been a difficult struggle, filled with numerous pitfalls and obstacles, but I gave my word to him that I would do everything in my power to make it happen so that he could live out the rest of his life with dignity, and peace.  It has become painfully obvious to me in the last few months that the powers that be will not let that happen." Michael has created a GoFundMe to assist with the costs of paying-off the debt he has gained working to get Bill stellar care and situated somewhere else besides his current nursing home.
Without Bill Mantlo there simply would be no Rocket Raccoon.

Michael is completely upfront in his GoFundMe with the fact that Bill is financially stable and thanks to the compensation he does get from Marvel/Disney and Bill is at no risk of being denied care where he is. Still, Michael wants Bill not to simply waste away, but actually get to live life to the best degree he can. I understand that Bill does receive royalties (which Michael is in charge of making sure are spent appropriately as Bill's caretaker) but it is depressing to think a man who worked hard to give the world such beloved characters and suffered this terrible injury still lacks enough funds to receive the kind of assistance that would prevent Michael from having to go so deep into debt. It is just disgusting how the comic-book industry has treated so many people, and Bill deserves better--the very, "Better," Michael is trying to provide for him. I would encourage anyone who is able to donate anything, even just a dollar, to do so for Bill and Michael. I'd also encourage you to make Marvel/Disney aware that if they can manage to make trillions off of the work of creators such as Bill, they could afford to give him more money to prevent such a situation as this one from occurring in the future.

Sunday, April 21, 2019

Happy Passover and Easter!

As of today, April 21st, 2019, we are in the midst of Passover and today is Easter as well. If you celebrate both, either, or neither, I hope you have a great weekend. Whatever the case, be sure to slather your doorway in lamb's blood if you're the firstborn and also be on the lookout for zombie Jesus.

Saturday, April 20, 2019

Being the Neighbor of Someone Trey Songz Has Sex With Sounds Very Annoying

I enjoy the music of Trey Songz AKA Tremaine Aldon Neverson, but one of his new jams makes me wonder if it would actually really suck to be a neighbor of someone he's seeing. The song, "Neighbors Know My Name," involves him singing about how he and a ladyfriend have such loud and rambunctious sex it results in the neighbors banging on the wall (I assume they are in an apartment or condominium) and even coming-over and pounding on the door to demand that Neverson and his partner quit having such loud relations.

Lyrics in the song discuss how they go, "So hard," they damage a new headboard on the bed, and she often shouts a number of things from obscenities to, of course, his name, "Tremaine/Trey." One verse involves Neverson outright stating that while the neighbors, "Be dreamin', you be screamin' now they bangin' on our door," which is Neverson essentially admitting that he and his female lover  chose to have sex late at night knowing full well based on past evidence it would be disruptive.
"Good morning! Sorry about all that noise last night."
Now, I don't want prevent Neverson from having sex as many of his quality songs involve the subject of love-making and I want him to continue having inspiration for his music. I also admire that he wants to make sure both he and his partner are satisfied as sex is of course something that should be enjoyed by all parties involved (too many heterosexual relationships involve men solely focused on their pleasure and not the lady being happy too). That said, I would maybe suggest that if he is going to be so thorough in his romantic encounters with this woman that perhaps they have sex during the day when it wouldn't wake people up, or maybe if he does not live with this woman (the song never specifies if he's a resident there or just visits often) maybe this ladyfriend can come over to his house/apartment/condo sometime and his own neighbors can put-up with the loud sex (I'd assume they are used to it).

I know this is just a song and I imagine Neverson is a thoughtful enough person he would make sure his sex is not actually disruptive to others. Still, anytime I hear this on the radio I can't help but wonder how enraging it might actually be to live next door to whomever Neverson is having sex with; at least, that's my general takeaway from this ditty. Laslty, I like the line where he says the woman's body is, "A Problem," and that, "They call me the problem-solver," which doesn't relate to the noise-issue, but is a very clever line.

Thursday, April 18, 2019

A Review of "Wulfborne," #2 and #3

A bit ago I had a review segment where I talked about an assortment of indie-titles I was enjoying, including the first issue of, "Wulfborne." Its creator, Brian Middleton Jr. liked my review so much he asked if I would be interested in reviewing the second issue that had recently been published (it came out 3/27/19) as well as the upcoming third and final issue, due for release 4/24/19. I told Mr. Middleton I'd be happy to review the other issues and was provided a digital copy of the other two issues. Having now read the rest of, "Wulfborne," I would say I enjoyed issue #2 and #3 immensely!

The first issue of, "Wulfborne," has a more minimalist plot as an adventurer named Branwulf travels to meet a mysterious witch who can possibly heal his heartache. The later issues flesh things out a bit more, showing that Branwulf and a young woman shared a deep love, but she had to leave him to be the Queen of her people and now he rarely is able to see her. This has made him angry and lonely, so he's been seeking out a mysterious witch with an ethereal voice that has been calling to him with promises of being able to heal his heartache. Even though Branwulf encounters others who warn him the witch is not someone to be trusted (as well as violent guards of the witch), he fights his way to her and in the third issue they finally meet. The ending (which I won't spoil) actually surprised me a bit as I expected one element (Branwulf is a pretty violent guy) but not another (he can be surprisingly caring too).
The art in issues #2 and #3 is stellar (as it was in the first issue), with Middleton illustrating everything in a style that is a bit abstract and cartoonish to some degree thanks to some very strange creatures, yet still has enough of a gritty, "Oomph," you really feel the damage done to Branwulf or his opponents during scenes of combat. The comic is in black-and white and Middleton uses this to great effect, with light from eyes or magical beams looking striking against the deep blacks, and other little touches (such as Branwulf gritting his teeth in the image above) creating gorgeous contrasts between the white, black, and mixture of grays.

The second and third issue of, "Wulfborne," were both a real treat to read, with my earlier criticism of the plot seeming a bit too minimal/lacking fully addressed--and the fantastic artwork continuing to impress. Brian Middleton Jr. has crafted a stellar read and it is yet another example of the amazing books put out by publisher, SCOUT Comics, who clearly should be proud Middleton has his comic being published with them. I rate these two issues both 5 out of 5 stars, and would encourage you to ask your store to pull the upcoming third issue. You could also ask your store to order the previous issues, and if you lack a comic store, SCOUT has a helpful web-store with copies of the first issue and the second issue for sale). I look forward to seeing what Middleton does next, be it a sequel to, "Wulfborne," or something entirely that will doubtlessly be awesome as well.

Note: As mentioned in the article, digital copies were provided for the purposes of an honest review.

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

They Kept a, "City of Heroes," Private Game Server Secret for Six Years...What, How?

One of the first Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Games (or MMORPG) I ever played and enjoyed was, "City of Heroes," or, "COH," for short. I had tried, "Ultima Online," over dial-up but was miserable at it. However, when I later had broadband-speed internet and found myself in a colorful world of heroes and villains just like in my beloved comic-books, I adored it. I made a bizarre-looking character with a robotic face but a snazzy two-piece brown suit whose name I sadly am unable to recall. Rest assured though, he looked both imposing and classy when I'd hover him around, beating-up the underlings of assorted zany bad-guys.

As with many online games, "City of Heroes," was shut-down when there wasn't enough money to be made from it by its developer, NCSoft. It officially ceased to exist November 30th, 2012. I went on to play, "World of Warcraft," off and on for some years and haven't done much with MMORPGs since besides a short stint trying not to constantly die in, "EVE Online." There had been efforts by fans to make an approximation or some kind of private server of the game for years, but nothing had really come along especially well--it was all quite basic or got hit with a cease-and-desist letter from NCSoft who didn't want anyone messing with their intellectual property, even though they'd basically killed it. That was it then, right? Actually, there has been a fully-functional private server of the game kept secret for six years with all the original data so that you could actually get your old character and bring it back. Wait, what?
A screen-shot from the game's final day it existed...officially.
It is the 20-teens, as some folk call them. Nothing stays hidden. Top-secret political documents get leaked all the time, celebrities with high-tech encryption still get their phones hacked and nudes posted online against their will. Hell, if I even mumble out loud how I need a new frying pan, it seems like either my phone, Echo Dot, or some other device hears this and as if by magic within a day my Facebook feed is splattered with advertisements for frying pans. Nothing can be kept a secret now, and you're telling me there was a group of individuals who for six years (forming not too long after the game shut-down) were able to have thousands of people keep this huge secret? Everyone manged to keep their mouth shut that they had acquired numerous pieces of code and data through their own work and the assistance of people who had been employees at NCSoft developing the game? This is both fascinating in that these people should probably be put in charge of our Nation's secure documents and enraging in that I would have loved to know this and, you know, played the damn secret game. The mixture of shocked delight and anger about, "COH," having been secretly alive all these years with the code-name, "SCORE," has ripped the small community of people who fondly remember the game apart.
One fan of the game expressing their anger about the secret server;
there are many, many posts on Reddit and Twitter like this.
For all this time anyone who thought such as SCORE existed but weren't privy to the secret were called conspiracy theorists, making it darkly funny how all along this utterly insane theory was true. This is akin to finding out that Tupac has been alive all along and releasing music to a select group of fans who refused to share the news/music with anyone else--it is startling and it makes you mad for being left-out and called insane all these years you argued Tupac was alive (disclaimer: I do believe he is dead, no matter how sad that makes me). How did the truth come to light, however? As with most of the time when sensitive documents leak, someone had an ax to grind.

A Youtuber named Destoyer Stroyer who gained access to this invite-only server has stated he felt uneasy about all the secrecy, and was under the impression that if the people behind SCORE had access to old character data they might have their hands on other more-private information from people who used to play, "COH," such as names, addresses, and old credit-cards. Therefore, believing this whole thing felt wrong--and quite possibly realizing it would also get him a ton of viewers--Destroyer Stroyer made a video revealing the existence of SCORE to the world. Now the people behind SCORE are doing damage-control due to all these angry fans of the game upset they were left-out and for fear of getting hit with a big ol' lawsuit from NCSoft (the PC Gamer article I linked to earlier and will re-link right here goes into this further).
While I mourned the game others were making new characters in secret,
I'll admit I'm a bit jealous.
I am one of those players who would have appreciated even the chance to revisit, "City of Heroes," had I known about this huge secret server of the game that functioned perfectly whilst everyone else barely had their attempts at an emulation or server out of the early-planning stages. It makes me a bit sad, but it also is just fascinating this secret was kept for so long, with it thought around 3,000 people, "In," on this. Now as everyone gets over their surprise about this server existing, I only wonder what the fallout of such a wild reveal will be. Now if only Tupac would reveal he's been alive all along and this will be the most shocking week ever.

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

I Don't Know if I'd Use a PlayStation 5 Much at All

The company behind the PlayStation consoles, Sony, has begun revealing some specs for a potential PlayStation 5. It has been emphasized how much of anything definite materializing is still at least a year away, but some stuff has been revealed, namely it will be faster and better (kind of what one expects a new console to be). There are folk who have said this sounds a bit boring, but I myself don't need a game console to have all kinds of fancy bells and whistles (I recall how nobody wanted a Kinect with their Xbox One), I'm just happy for it to run without crashing/bugs and play fun games. That said, would I even use a PlayStation 5 much for the actual purpose of playing games? I mean, in our household we often use my PlayStation 4. It is great for watching the occasional DVD or Blu-Ray, it streams Youtube, Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime wonderfully, and oh yeah, it can play games. The thing is, I rarely have much opportunity to play games on my PS4 now, often using the bits of available time I do have for other endeavors.

The last game I actually played on my PS4 was, "Red Dead Redemption 2," and it has been months since I booted that game up. There are other games that sound kind of fun, but frankly the one titles I'd give-up my available time for to play are maybe, "Cyberpunk 2077," and, "Vampire: The Masquerade--Bloodlines 2." Otherwise when I'm not busy with Clarkson as a stay-at-home-Dad, spending time with Clarkson and Samii, or doing some part-time work, I really would rather use my free time to read, watch something, or work on this ol' blog. I don't have time to spend hours learning a so-so game, it has gotta be amazing, and preferably not too time-consuming. Therefore, do I really need a potential PlayStation 5? If I can use the PS4 to stream everything we need and barely play games, it is not especially pressing, is it? Perhaps once in a blue moon when a title I really want to play comes out it'd be handy, but the idea of eagerly buying a PlayStation 5 is low on my list until it has been out a good long while with some price-cuts, most likely.

Monday, April 15, 2019

My Proposal for the, "Game of Thrones," Finale

Yesterday was the premiere episode of the final season of, "Game of Thrones." There are six episodes making up this eighth season and people are going wild with excitement, theories, and many debates about who will end up claiming the Iron Throne. I have not really watched much of the show and only have some passing familiarity with it as someone who tries to keep-up with all of popular-culture in order to discuss with some knowledge (or an attempt at knowledge). Yes, I am not a huge fan like some people who are annoying in how all they talk about is the show, but I also am not one of those almost equally annoying people who like to make a huge deal out of how they don't watch the show--you know the type, they've been on Facebook making passive-aggressive jokes about how, "I must be the only one who doesn't care about the, 'GOT,' premiere, LOL!" We get it, Karen, you don't have HBO. With all of this said, I have an idea for how to make a, "GOT," finale that would be both ingenious and enrage probably everyone, or least almost as many people who threw a fit over the, "Lost," finale.

My proposal for the, "Game of Thrones," finale is simple and an idea I've seen some people mention before as well with rumors of it even happening in the past: Reveal that the entirety of, "GOT," has taken place in one of the previously-unseen theme parks from  another HBO show, "Westworld." It can be revealed how basically everyone is a host who started doing their own crazy thing once the park, "Broke," at the end of season 1 and the entire series has been a show-within-a-show. Yes, "Game of Thrones," started running long before the, "Westworld," premiered, but the concept of, "Westworld," actually is far older than, "GOT." "Westworld," was originally a film directed by author and occasional filmmaker, Michael Crichton, way back in 1973. George R.R. Martin did not release the first book until August of 1996, and the show started in April of 2011. Therefore, "Westworld," quite officially did come first in terms of existing.
Inhabitants of the Fantasy World of Westeros, or malfunctioning hosts within Westworld?
Why not tie together two great shows inspired by the works of two amazing creators and simultaneously look clever while pissing everyone off? It isn't like it will ruin the still-unfinished books as Martin has stated the show has always had a bit of its own path. It will probably result in a barrage of angry tweets at HBO, but is there really anyway whatsoever that, "Game of Thrones," can have a finale that lives-up to the immense hype?

Let's be honest, how many shows have actually had a satisfying series' finale that pleased almost everyone (I can think of maybe just one show, "Breaking Bad," and then I go blank)? Why not tie, "Game of Thrones," and, "Westworld," together in a bit of a meta-wink/middle-finger at viewers. If nothing else, it'll allow HBO to maybe dip back into the show a smidgen in future seasons of, "Westworld," as it explores the ruined park of Westeros and essentially forces fans of either show to watch both in order to fully understand everything. It would be clever and a a bit of an evil-genius move. I know with 99.9% certainty this isn't going to happen, but if it somehow did, I'd admire the chutzpah of HBO for sure--it would quite possibly utterly break Twitter. I've written this article with my tongue firmly in my cheek, but a little piece of me does fully believe this would be awesome in a really twisted and messed-up way. That, and I just really like, "Westworld."

Sunday, April 14, 2019

The Big River Comic Convention Was a Blast!

An Awesome Time Was Had!
Yesterday the Big River Comic Convention was held for the first time and it was a spectacularly fun time. I arrived early in the morning with a friend who joined me shortly before the show started at 9AM. The location had been changed due to flooding concerns a couple weeks earlier to the Tabernacle of Praise Recreational Complex, but even with that shift in location everything was still very impressively organized--especially considering this was Hannibal's first comic-convention! I left in the early afternoon (it ran until 5PM)  but there was already a line before the show started (see the below picture) and as the day went on it got very busy, with tons of fans and families in attendance.

There was a line to start and people kept coming!
I enjoyed chatting with guests at a variety of booths, got some great comics from an assortment of vendors, and saw some stellar cosplay! In alphabetical-ish order here are some highlights of the day:

The Folk I Met and Stuff I Bought!
Alex the Comic Hoarder 
I met YouTuber and vendor Alex the Comic Hoarder. He has been doing Youtube videos for about three years discussing comic-books he told me, and was at the show selling some of his collection to make some more space. I was happy to assist him in his efforts through purchasing an assortment of great books including a handful of, "Avengers," comics, in addition to an older, "Ms. Marvel," a, "Batman," issue from Grant Morrison's run, and some other stellar books. I'd encourage you to visit his Youtube page and subscribe, I already have done so myself!

Amy Hale
Author and my friend Amy Hale was at the BRCC and excited to discuss her books for sale as well as ones she was in the process of working on with attendees. She is always great to see and you can visit her site here.

Better Together Creations
The good folk of BTC had a variety of cool stuff, from magical wands to wood-burned items, and their original comic, "Lame Brains." It was great chatting with them and I'd recommend visiting their Facebook page!

Bishop Stevens
I always enjoy seeing former pro-wrestler and current actor Bishop Stevens at shows. He is very friendly and loves talking about the art of acting. You can say hi to him on Facebook here!
Blonde Bombshell Cosplay
BB Cosplay was at the show and led the cosplay contests. She was dressed as a really neat Elsa from, "Frozen," at the show. She is on Instagram here.

Bob Hall
Famous writer and artist of comics Bob Hall was present with a wide range of his work. He was extremely friendly and had an assortment of cool stories. It was really cool to meet him and chat about our shared birthplace of Lincoln, Nebraska (its a cool place)! His website is here.

Comic Grind (The)
I always love seeing The Comic Grind at conventions and shows! A bus that has been changed into a mobile comic store that also serves coffee and treats, it is both ingenious and just plain fun to be in (or buy from). I encourage you to visit its website so you can stay updated on all its future, "Stops."

Costumers for Christ
The non-profit Costumers for Christ had a free comic about Jesus as world's original and greatest hero and were very pleasant to speak with. Their website is here (here is the Facebook) and has some unique interpretations about a variety of comic-book subjects that are interesting to think about from a religious standpoint (e.g. how nobody stays dead in comics/all the resurrections).

David Gorden
My good friend and comic creator David Gorden was at the show with his fantastic comic, "Kwame Hightower and the Man With No Name." He was a pleasure to see as always! He's on Facebook here.

Geek Chic
David and Dawn of Geek Chic had a ton of comics, toys, and other awesome stuff for fellow geeks. I was able to purchase some great old Moon Knight comics from them, so that made me very happy. Their Facebook page can be found here.

Graflex Shop (The)
The Graflex Shop had super-cool replica lightsabers that were really impressive to look at. Their website can be found here.

Heroes for Kids
Heroes for Kids is a non-profit dedicated to, "Bringing together Law Enforcement, Firefighters, EMS, Military, and costumed heroes to bring smiles to people while bolstering community relations and raising money for different charitable organizations." They were at the show with a variety of cool comic and movie items (many signed by notable celebrities) and were raising funds at this particular show for Backstoppers. They also let me take a picture with their booth's Superman, which I appreciated! Check out their Facebook here.

Jacob Bouvet
Jacob Bouvet is an indie comic-maker who had some cool comics, mini-comics, and zines. I was eager to buy some of them and they are really good! Visit his website here and get some for yourself too!

J.E. Nelson
I met Ms. Nelson previously at a Toyman show and was happy to see her here at BRCC too! She is an author whose book, "Daphne's Adventures," follows the adventures of a young girl with ASD as she survives a zombie apocalypse. You can visit J.E. Nelson's site here!

Lorenzo Lizana
Lorenzo Lizana is another awesome comic creator I am honored to call my friend. He was hard at work drawing and chatting with attendees. He's on Facebook here.

Monroe Street Press
MSP sells reprints of 20th and 19th century books covering a wide-range of subjects. Their books were really high-quality and a great way to see old texts in format that you can read without worrying about old pages crumbling into pieces! Their site is here.

National Fire Safety Council
Members of the local National Fire Safety Council were at the show handing out fire-safety information (check those smoke detectors, people), and letting folk take pictures with Firepup.  As you can see I was eager to get a snapshot taken!

Poison Ivy
This cosplayer's take on Poison Ivy was neat, I loved the little plant as an extra element!

Raven's Loft
A store located in Lebanon, Missouri, Raven's Loft had a booth full of comics (new as well as old) plus other goodies such as Funko Pops. Their Facebook page is found here.

Steampunk Robot
This cosplayer dressed as a wild steampunk robot had a really cool outfit.

The good folk from Tech-Outreach had some stupendous stuff that they 3-D printed--even their business card was made on a 3-D printer! Check-out their site here.

Closing Thoughts
A great future for the show ahead!
The first-ever Big River Comic-Con was a smashing success in my opinion. Others seemed to agree with me too,there was stellar attendance with rave reviews, and I both overheard in-person and read online people saying how this was a much needed event for Hannibal that allowed everyone to have a stellar time. Now I can only excitedly wait for the show next year!