Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Thoughts on the first batch of comics from Castalia House

I'm talking both Arkhaven and Dark Legion here, and we've got four books to discuss.

Quantum Mortis: A Man Disrupted #1: Well, Ethan van Scriver and Diversity and Comics both gave this one such a bad time. It didn't deserve all of that. The art is not great, true, but there's no problem with the text heavy spots. It's a different book. They are kind of right on the generic panel bit happening, which might work well if they decide to eventually take this another direction: motion comics, which are part comic animatic(easier with simpler styles/figures), and part audio book. I could see that working well, actually.

Right Ho, Jeeves #1: A Binge at Brinkley: I'd not read any Wodehouse before, and honestly wouldn't have, but Chuck Dixon adapting this with Gary Kwapisz on art, his collaborator from Civil War Adventures? Sure, I'll check it out. And I'm amazed. This is light, funny, and the art is top notch and filled with detail, yet more caricatured than Kwapisz' other work. I look forward to the rest.

Rebel Dead Revenge #1: Stonewall's Arm: Mr. Gary Kwapisz with a solo work, and the first Dark Legion book, which Vox has stated is done and I believe about 300 pages. The art here is far more realistic in style. The story in just issue one has enough racial material that I doubt any other publisher would touch it, never mind the story's quality of art and writing. Yeah, this is a really well done book. I believe the phrase is, "Shut up and take my money!"

eCONcomics: Well, this is interesting. The art, from what I can tell, is there to keep your attention, and help focus on concepts. And yes, there are some sequential sections, but Mr. Keen doesn't quite get to presenting concepts in the comic book idiom. The concepts are all in text, which is fine, and his writing on economics isn't a problem. I'm less convinced that economics is a subject that can be well done in comics, that is properly using its unique advantages. This book certainly did not to that end.

Now, overall, I'm really happy with these. The pricing might seem a bit high, but there are NO ads, which typically litter comics every few pages. I'm interested in what the physical will look like, but will wait until the collections hit most likely. Is it a great start? No, but I'd say it's very solid, with only eCONcomics being one I wouldn't recommend, and Quantum Mortis less strongly recommended, only because so many comic fans are art focused.

When you play Social Justice, the world loses.

Sunday, February 11, 2018

DC Animation makes a mockery

I will make no effort to hide the fact that I really dig the old DC Elsworlds titles. For the uninformed, these take the characters of parts of the DCU and put them in a different time and place. The first one was Batman: Gotham by Gaslight. The DC animated films group decided it was time to make an animated version of the classic, and with my enjoyment of the orignal(and its sequel), I thought I would give them a chance, even after the debacle that was Batman and Harley Quinn.

And having seen the film, I can now solidly say they have lost the entire idea of what the DCU characters are, what heroism is, and are perfectly happy to throw the original under the bus to tell the subversive story they want to tell. Do NOT see this film. This will have spoilers.

As a piece completely apart from any version of the DCU, with NO knowledge of the characters, it might be fine. But give me the original by Mike Mignola, Brian Augustyn, and P. Craig Russell over this. That had great art, knew how to place a story in history, and willingly placed extra characters in the mix.

The film didn't even really try to match the mood the art set, just some mimicry of the costuming. Here's a panel from the original:

And now the costume from the animated:

Yes, its similar, but the animated version is very bright in comparison. There's also the fact that the stories deviate greatly. In the comic, Bruce Wayne starts in London, and returns to Gotham by ship, where he encounters an old family friend and lawyer. None of this is present, nor is the lawyer, who ends up our villain. So instead, we jump to the Gotham World's Fair being part of our setting(which is in the sequel), and instead of a villain outside Batman's circle, they turn one of Batman's supporting cast into the villain.

One HUGE problem with this: Elseworlds aren't about completely changing characters, they're about moving them to other settings, and giving them different backgrounds. This is a massive change to the character. Because the villain is changed to Jim Gordon, who in the comics is a hero, and not given to fanaticism or murder. If the role had gone to Harvey Dent, who is also present, I could maybe have dealt with it. But of course, both of these deny part of the original premise: that Jack the Ripper not only got away, but went to Gotham after his crimes in London, which weren't even talked about in the film.

There's also a great deal of fixation on sex in the story, which I do not recall from the original. Of course, given the other deviations from the original story and plot, I shouldn't expect any uprightness to be left in the work when they're done. And there was plenty of story to fill time if they simply told both Elseworlds books as one film. in fact, I'd guess enough for an hour and half to two hours of animation. So why bother changing it? They hate the content, they hate the history, and they hate the geeks that actually know the stuff they deride.

Save yourself the time of watching the film and find the original book.

When you play Social Justice, the world loses.

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Modiphius' John Carter of Mars

So Modiphius Entertainment finally launched their Kickstarter for the John Carter of Mars RPG. At this point, I have to say I'm not interested. Not because I wouldn't enjoy playing in the world. The Conan RPG from them has some nice ratings but is unranked on RPGgeek.

As someone that digs John Carter, why am I not that into this KS campaign?

Because they announced the project over 2 years ago. It, and the boardgame, and the miniatures they announced? Should already be out according to the announcements. What happened? They decided to push it back for the Star Trek RPG. It was announced at GenCon 2016, and they pushed Barsoom aside for Trek, instead of putting Trek in the queue. I'm honestly surprised they haven't for the Fallout miniatures game. And where's the John Carter boardgame?

So yeah, starting your production several months after your announced release date loses some of my interest and trust. What happened to the rest? Quite simple. Somebody else did a similar KS launch without prior hype.

Pinnacle Entertainment launched and ran a campaign for a game that, to my was unknown to the public beforehand. Flash Gordon is getting an RPG, and it looks like the people involved have a great love of the character and property, giving it lush art, and even getting a foreward by Sam Jones, the last actor to have the opportunity to play Flash.

From what I've seen, Modiphius is also run shoddily. Which can be par for the course in a niche industry, when you're pushing product for an even smaller niche. This is not saying that Pinnacle doesn't have it's own issues. But they know that the fans want their stuff once it's announced.

When you play Social Justice, the world loses.

Monday, January 22, 2018

Crowdfunding worth a glance 1/22/18

There's a blizzard outside, so I've got some unspent energy to use on a post instead of the moving stuff or work, which is closed. How much snow? I dread digging out my truck. I dread digging out TO my truck.

Let's ignore that for now, and look at some cool stuff.

First, I'm going to mention the Arkhaven Comics campaign Vox(and others) put together for Will Caligan, who was fired from Short Fuse Media as an artist for saying a straight guy shouldn't want to kiss a transgender "woman". I REALLY wish I could back this, but my money setup is awkward currently. But Vox also posted this nice list of possible adaptations to be done by Will and Chuck Dixon:
Nick Cole (The End of the World as We Knew It)
Peter Grant (Rocky Mountain Retribution)
Lawdog (The Lawdog Files)
Rolf Nelson (The Stars Came Back)
Kai Wai Cheah (Flashpoint: Titan)
Rawle Nyanzi (Sword and Flower)
John C. Wright (Swan Knight’s Son)

Another one that's late in the campaign that will be great value is the Spring/Summer Cirsova subscription .  It's got Dominika Lein, Abraham Strongjohn, Nathan Dabney, Donald Jacob Utivlugt, and possibly more of James Hutchings' My Name is John Carter. Give the man a buck for digital!

Now for some games.

Scott Almes is going into the overtrod theme of zombies with Tiny Epic Zombies. That said, the game is relatively inexpensive, and ITEMeeples are cool. Also, there tends to be a lot of game in those little boxes, and this one's got five game modes built in.

Like resource management, and wish deckbuilders did more? Well, Seize the Bean might have what you want. Upgrade your coffee shop, attract more customers, and avoid bad reviews.

Most music games have nothing to do with music. Re-Chord uses actual guitar chords in play, and has secret goals, chord creation(for a version of contract fulfillment), and might get some folks into it just because they know guitar.

Break out the Queen soundtrack, and prepare for the Quickening. Highlander: the Board Game might be another game with mild mechanics from this company(they also did Labyrinth, and a My Little Pony RPG), or it might be a surprising take on player elimination. You can likely wait to find out.

Dark Flight Games has a Tokyo Games trilogy. There's a train game, a dexterity real time game about building small houses, and a game set with lots of rules for a pop bottle and vending machine set of pieces, with rules for everything from stock market game to a dexterity game.

Western Legends is a game about choosing which side of the law to be on and building your legend. Some of the board locations have options that further these choices, and the playing cards function as poker cards and as action cards.

While I'm not a fan of boardgames that require apps, UBOOT might fill the spots that can make it work really well. This looks like it might be a reasonable cross between the tow, with the app generating hazards and events as well as providing atmospheric sounds.

I would be remiss if I did not mention the new edition of Triplanetary. This is definitely for old school gamers, and doesn't look to have any graphics upgrade(not a big deal to some, but others will be turned off by them). Personally? I have no experience with it, and would have to see it played.

Now, I have plenty to say on the John Carter RPG. But, I think it's enough that I might say it in another post.

When you play Social Justice, the world loses.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

The new 30 Days of Night comic: worthwhile or cashgrab?

Admittedly, with only one issue out, it's a bit early to tell. This is not a new story continuing the original, but a reboot of the story/world. Here's a post I wrote looking back at the original lightly. So what's with the new book, is it any different, and any good?

Well, I will start with differences. The new story is definitely written with new details and scenes, so it's not just new art on the old script. From my reading, I'm guessing the new version will be more filled out than the previous one. Steve Niles is clearly not the same writer he was at the start of the original, and that's fine, though I will say some of the timing in the new book has me confused.

Now, as to the art differences. WOW, that's a big change. The first was Ben Templesmith's impressionist horror in muted colors. The new book? Gotta say I'm not a fan of the art style. It's well done, but feels like a reality show.

Compare this to the original's art(I am solely looking at the first story here, not even the other two volumes done with Templesmith, nevermind the others):

Now, the new art doesn't make it bad, but it does turn me off a bit. And with the original books, I was turned off once Niles and Templesmith weren't working together. Some of the other artists did fine work, I'm sure, but the combination created something unique and not just another vampire story.

And now, 15 years later, I don't know if the new one is different or just another story. The art certainly doesn't make it stand apart, and I'm not yet convinced it isn't an attempt at a cash grab by Niles and IDW. I'd prefer they instead just work together and return to their roots with all new material personally, though I'll give the new book another shot at least.

When you play Social Justice, the world loses.

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Injustice Book Review: Grey Cat Blues by J D Cowan

Cower not, fierce readers! Today we have The second novel from J D Cowan. And well, like the best stuff coming out of pulprev, this doesn't fit one neat box. And while I enjoyed his Knights of the End,  this is a completely different feeling book. Let's take a look what will make the dregs of SFF howl in pain.

First, this story has some REALLY strong male-female character roles. The jobs of each are quite clear, and the book not only isn't afraid of traditional masculine and feminine roles, but embraces them fervently. It pulls from an old story type not seen much, the youth gang story, and the male female dynamics of those seems to come through here.

Which of course, leads to: It pulls heavily from a genre abandoned by crime fiction, even in the resurgences of pulp stylings. Why? Because the genre had romance and was driven toward a future the characters may only have had a glimpse of, fumbling around in the darkness of their fights and neighborhoods.

Third, the sff parts are more decoration than anything else, and the author has no problem leaving things stated matter of factly. No detail oriented laundry list of events or theories. The milsf crowd? Not for them, but if you want a bit of style and visceral fights that feel more like the blur in a Mickey Spillane novel, you might dig this.

Yeah. In fact, I'll put it like this:

Picture a punk going right from a Spillane novel. Take out the sex, keep the romance. Put him in a future that is both familiar and different, more a high tech street punk setting. No, No cyberpunk, this is strictly cats that fight for territory, and looking to carve out a place for themselves.

Yeah, this was a cool novel. Get some music on, and picture this cat in both fights and dancing with his girl. 9 of 10 fell deeds.

When you play Social Justice, the world loses.

Monday, January 8, 2018

Comic book Review: Doctor Radar

This work arrive to us in translation from Titan Comics. We face no superheroes or supervillains here, but rather we have a sense of old pulp adventure set in the time just after World War I.

If you're following or are a part of the PulpRev crowd, this is a book worth looking into. Scientists killed in exotic ways, an amateur detective of renown as a fighter pilot, henchmen playing roles to complete their jobs, and more.

The art is a bit impressionistic, and the story makes wonderful leaps that manage to not jar the reader.  But this goes a long way in demonstrating that good work in comics can avoid capes and tights, and the imagination can be thrilled greatly with old style stories in any medium.

Here's some pics of the art. I am no photographer, and am just using my computer's camera.

The story is only two issues long, but leaves plenty of room to return at a later date with another adventure. Titan also advertises a collection out due in April. 

When you play Social Justice, the world loses.