Sunday, October 30, 2011

The Walking Dead: Season 2, Episode Two: Bloodletting

Here we are again, folks, it's time to make the doughnuts, another week, another episode of The Walking Dead. I'm going to be reviewing them one at a time this year, grimly slogging through each one, each week. You can read the other reviews here, if you want.

So, nearly a week late yet again, with the third episode now a bare few hours away, I'm sure the big question on all of your minds is: What took you so long, Jon? The answer: None ya'. Moving on. So, the second question no doubt on your minds is probably: Was the second episode better than last week's let-down, go-nowhere snoozefest of a premiere?

Read on, my dear Blog Visitor, read on...

THE WALKING DEAD, SEASON TWO, EPISODE TWO
"Bloodletting"


Short and sweet: This was a much better episode. Still not a good episode. It still showcased all the same horrible and unnecessary bad writing and mistakes as previously noted, but it was a better all around attempt. Better pacing, better decisions, better storytelling, better moments.

How is this possible?

Well, the obvious answer is that, with the dismissal of Frank Darabont, the last vestiges of the old production house, and all the bad choices that came hand-in-hand with that house, are now gone and it's a new day on set. And it shows.

That's the obvious answer, yes, but is it an accurate one? I can't say. I don't have any behind-the-scenes information that I can personally vouch for as valid. Neither do I have anything against Frank Darabont. In fact, I'm a fan for the most part. Among his many projects, just like all of you, I really enjoyed the Green Mile and The Mist was also a pretty fun little horror flick (and if you want to make it really creepy, try watching it as the black and white version found on the two disc collector's set), so it's not like my opinion is coming from anywhere personal or whatever.

But the fact remains: For most of last season, up to the previous episode, this show has been sub-par. Actually, it's been bad. In the common parlance... it has sucked balls.

And this first episode without Darabont and the old staff?

Not great, but better, which is a good start.


The story picks up mere minutes after last week's "cliffhanger" where young Carl got shot. Turns out, it wasn't the deer who shot him, as it first appeared last week, but was actually due to another man, Otis (played by the always welcome, Pruitt Taylor Vincent).


Otis, as it turns out, lives on a farm with his girlfriend (the soon-to-be-hated-more-than-Lori) Patricia, a man named Hershel (who is a secret nutball... Shhhhh....SPOILERS), and his passel of farmy-type children, all of whom are Redshirts of the worst kind (Except for Maggie, of course, whose single-gal vagina and continuously fragile emotional state is apparently all that's needed to give current back-grounder Glenn a reason to be included in future episodes... CHARACTER SPOILER!). So, anyway, luck be the devil tonight, as Hershel is a Vet and he sets about using what skills he has to save the dying Carl.


This is something everyone is thankful for, except for Lori, of course, because whenever there is something stupid or unnecessary to say or there's fake drama to provide or someone just has to be contrary for the sake of being contrary, then Lori is the writing staff's go-to character. I don't know why, but it's true. Maybe once Rick reached her and she ceased to be an object of obtaining meant to drive the initial story arc, they forgot to give her another, more three dimensional purpose, but whatever. It doesn't matter. The point is, in a show of generally poorly written characters, Lori is the worst of the bunch, without a doubt, not just poorly written, but inconsistent and scattershot to boot. She's awful. Anyway, Lori screams at Hershel for becoming a Vet instead of a Doctor, I guess, or something, like I said, she makes no sense ever. And then, even worse, nothing happens with her big snit-fit. She flips out and then the scene just ends. We move on. Nothing is accomplished, it isn't mentioned again, nothing except the adding on to our collective and already massive "Lori Sucks" pile of hatred.


Meanwhile, one of the only interesting characters on the show, Shane (who is undeniably now mere moments from his death and removal from the show), decides to take action.


You see, Hershel needs some medical items in order to save the confusingly ungrateful Lori's only child from death by gunshot. Rick is drained both emotionally and sanguinely, as he is the only one with the same blood type as Carl. Shane and Otis are the only available gun-hands in the immediate area, as the other "characters" and Daryl are off milling about on the highway by the RV, and the only place to get the medical supplies is at the old high school, a place which has been overrun by the walking dead... or as any veteran video game players will no doubt recognize... Side Mission!


This, of course, is the best moment of the show. While Rick and Lori and them wait and the others continue to look for the little girl whose name I can't remember, since the biggest contribution she's made to the show and the comic book is getting lost in the premiere episode, Shane and Otis raid the school. And like these things always go, it starts out okay and then it spirals out of control, the episode ending with our two heroes stuck with their backs to the wall, surrounded by a horde of zombies, and screwed big time.

All in all, not a bad way to end this week's installment.

Yeah, there's a few crappy bits, but those aside, this episode showed improvement. Better pacing. Better interacting. Better character moments. Better tension. It still looks great, at least as far as the special effects are concerned, but then, it always does. More importantly, this episode, for the first time in a long time, finally looked more like a show that I would like to keep watching.

We'll see how tonight goes.


Fingers crossed.
Jon

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Dragon Age: Redemption - Josmael (Episode 3)

LARPfest 2011 continues and it is a doozy, folks! Thrill to amateur mixed martial artists as they carefully telegraph their attacks! Chortle with delight at the somewhat excessive banter. Marvel at the "special" effects!

Prepare yourself, friends, for the wonder and spectacle of Episode 3: Josmael!



So... was it me or did they stroll through a field of marijuana at one point?

Anyway, after years of watching different movies and TV shows and things like this on the web, I've figured out that there's one thing that will always and unerringly tip you off right away as to the level of quality of the thing you are about to watch. What's that one thing, you ask?

Lighting.

Here's a hint for all you DIY filmmaking mother fuckers out there working on your little indy movies and webisodes and most likely ridiculously cliched and completely unnecessary horror flicks and what not, but if you light your production like they do in this series or like on old sci-fi TV shows or any number of low budget, straight-to-DVD films, then you are making a low quality product. This is maybe the one thing that will always trump story and acting and directing right at the start.

Meaning: it doesn't matter how good you are at everything else, if your movie looks like it was shot on a camcorder in a friend's backyard, even if it's a really nice camcorder in a really nice backyard, then well, sorry, but you suck.

I know it's expensive, but really, folks, the old adage is true: You get what you pay for. Know what I mean? Because after watching tons of these things, let me assure you, professional grade Lighting is worth every penny. Every penny. Take my word for it as a quasi-professional connoisseur. Your first step should be to write a good script, but your second one should be Lighting. Then you need a good camera, of course... but I digress. Honestly, I think good lighting is that one bit of unheralded professionalism that will instantly move your film from something that is automatically considered to be pedestrian to something that might be considered worthwhile, depending upon your talent level, of course. That's on you. But hey, at least with good lighting you can showcase your ability on a stage it deserves and sink or swim based on your own merit, instead of being discarded for looking like crap right out of the gate.

Just a friendly tip from me to you, kids.

Well, so anyway, that was fun. Hey, how about some good fan-art, you know, just to clear your palette? Check out this awesome fan-made poster for Drive.


Fantastic. That's some sweet fan-art, folks.

Later,
Jon

Monday, October 24, 2011

The Walking Dead: Season 2, Episode One: What lies ahead...

Hey there!

Alright, so, it's that time of year again and this time I've decided to try to review this season of The Walking Dead as each episode comes out, instead of doing it all in two big shots, like I did last year. Here's Part One and here's Part Two, if you need the refresher. Don't get me wrong, I liked last year's recap and while it's not as big a hit-count draw as the legendary siren song of this little baby here, it certainly brings in some respectable numbers of its own, internationally even... But just one episode at a time? I figure that's just easier to digest. See, what I'm doing is, I'm thinking of you, my dear and constant Readers, I'm trying to consider your feelings. No big deal. That's just me. You can thank me at your own convenience.

Unfortunately, I'm already off like a herd of turtles, as the first episode aired last Sunday night and the latest episode aired... oh... last night. This is a portent of things to come, my friends, take heed. I don't have cable, so I'll be downloading them, which means I'll be at least a little late each week. I hope you can deal.

Anyway...

THE WALKING DEAD, SEASON TWO, EPISODE ONE
"What lies ahead..."


The joke is readily apparent:

"If this is what lies ahead, then this is going to be a somewhat lackluster season..."

If you're anything like me and you've been reading my blog for awhile, then I'm sure you know all about The Walking Dead. You'll also probably remember that while I thought the pilot episode of the first season was really well done, well paced, creepy and cool and a really good mix of the comic's storyline and original content, I also felt like the rest of the season very quickly dove head first into crap city... and then it wallowed there. And oh, how it wallowed, people! I was flabbergasted at how much time they wasted on nonsense and dead-ends and red shirts. They had six hours of TV, six hours to tell a story and set up their world, and they failed. At least, in my opinion. And I wanted it to be good, too. The season finale was such a complete narrative waste of time though, so ridiculously ham-fisted, uninteresting, unimportant, and not in the least bit cool, gory, or scary, that I almost wrote the show off entirely.

But then the trailer for the second season came out.



Not bad, right? It actually looks kind of good, right? But then so did the run up to the first season. There does seem to be some really tense moments going on there, so maybe this here, coupled with the news that Frank Darabont fired all the writers from last season and the news that AMC then turned around and fired Frank Darabont... maybe the show could be getting on track finally. Maybe the problems were noticed and the ship has been righted? Maybe?


Nope.

Now, in all fairness, it should be stated that this episode was Frank's last one, basically the reason that he was fired. Word around the campfire has it that this season's premiere ran at an extended length not just because it was the premiere, but because it was actually two different episodes torn apart and welded together. Also, the premiere was written by creator Robert Kirkman, which could be considered a good thing, because he's pretty awesome and a great comic book writer, despite his tendency to get a little hammy when it comes to dialogue, except for the fact that the last episode Robert wrote was the horrible fourth episode from last season: Vatos. So, we're off to a bad start before we even begin...

Then I watched the episode.

The story picks up a few moments/days after the brain-numbingly bad final episode last year. The survivors are leaving Atlanta, at least until they get caught in a traffic jam, and then a massive herd of zombies show up, forcing them to hide among the wrecked vehicles.


As the herd shuffles by, the little girl of the group panics and runs and then the group has to look for her... for about 40 minutes. They don't find her. Then they see a big deer and the episode ends with SPOILER! Carl gets shot! Duh! Duh! DUUUUH!

It was slow, boring, and even though it went nowhere, it was all over the place.


It wasn't horrible, mind you, but it wasn't good either. It looked great, of course, but it always does. There are some great effects and it had that one pretty good traffic jam/herd of dead set piece, but otherwise the episode was slow. Slow, slow, slow and unfocused. What was it even about? What's the episode's arc? Things happened, sure, but nothing "happened", know what I mean? Sure, sure, there were some awkward attempts at character interaction and development going on, but it was on the level of TV writing akin to a nervous 14 year old boy going in for a kiss and then chickening out. Shit, man, a little light petting does not a sex-date make, you know? It wasn't real enough. It wasn't deep enough. It wasn't backed by enough emotional motivation. It was all together, not enough.


The traffic jam and the herd of dead was great, don't get me wrong, it was definitely cool looking, but you know what would have made it unbelievably awesome? If I had cared, even a little bit, about any of the characters. As it is now, they're nothing but hollow mouthpieces waiting for their turn to go on and on and on about who cares what in a really melodramtic fashion. In this episode alone, no less than three different characters had a heart to heart with a giant crucifix in a church they come across while looking for the little girl. Three different characters? And all of them basically saying the same hammy thing? Can you say: Waste of screen time? Robert Kirkman can, I assure you, and it takes him forever to do it, too. How come no one looked at this and thought. "Hmmm... You know what? All this wasted screen time could be used for some meaningful character development instead."

At this point, I think it's a good thing Darabont was let go.


It's funny, because I don't get mad about the characters making stupid decisions (ok, it bugs me a little bit), but what really drives me up a wall is how annoying and haphazard and inconsistent the characters are and it's all due to the subpar writing. Take Lori, for instance? (Please...)


She's the worst. The absolute worst. She hasn't done anything of substance in seven hours of show. She makes no sense, says the stupidest shit and whines and whines and whines. How two guys fell in love with her, I have no idea. And her worst moment yet was in this episode. They're stuck in the traffic jam and everyone is about to go scavenge for supplies and food and gas, you know, things that they desperately need and she goes, all whiny: "This place is a graveyard. I don't like this." Why? Why would you say that? They've been living in a graveyard for months! For months!

Lori, and this moment in particular, is the perfect example of what is wrong with the show, of where it fails. She says this stupid bullshit and the other characters don't pursue the discussion or remind her that the whole world is a graveyard or even acknowledge that she even said anything in the first place(which is probably the most realistic response, if they were real people and stuck living with stupid Lori...). No, instead it's just a piece of shit throw-away line, no value, no meaning, no worth toward the greater story, no point at all. It's just wasted nonsense and hollow bullshit, like you can just hear some pissy little weiner in the writers' room with his pinched little lemon face, wearing his stupid little rectangle glasses and carefully picked out vintage tees, feeling faux-deep and pseudo-literary one day, saying:

"How comes these characters don't acknowledge all the horribleness?"

Or something to that effect...

And instead of everyone yawning or throwing things at his stupid little pinhead, or making him explain himself, thus exposing his bullshit, they wrote in this one half-ass limp-dick line as if it's anything, as if it's an actual real moment, as if it's some kind of emotional exploration of the characters.

Hacks.


It's funny, at this point, the only good characters on the show are the ones who aren't supposed to be there--at least, as far as the original story is concerned. Shane is the only one with any depth, with any inner conflict, with any motivation. And besides Shane, Darryl is the only other character who ever makes any good decisions. I don't know why this is, it's not like the writing is particularly better with the two of them. I assume it's just an accident. That somehow their backstories naturally provide extra layers of character that even this show's writing staff can't fuck up or something... heh, funny. Not funny-ha-ha, more like unemployed clown getting an empty beer can throw at his head while trudging home funny, so more funny-sad, I guess...

The really sucky part is that I wanted this show to be awesome and fun and scary and cool, and it's just not. And there's no reason why it has to be either. But there's no use denying it, the show just isn't very good. Of course, it was also the most watched basic cable premiere in the history of ever, so what the fuck do I know, right?


I entered into this season with trepidation. I really liked how last season started and I hated where it ended, but the trailer for this season gave me some hope. Unfounded hope, for the most part, as it turned out, as I found this episode to be pretty weak and slow and generally without much going on. Basically, if things stay like this, I may not make it through the whole season.


And I still think this guys sucks...
Yours,
Jon

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Dragon Age: Redemption - Cairn (Episode 2)

Here is Part Two of these things, starring professional nerd Felicia Day as a sassy elf tumbler. Part One can be found here. Yes, I know this series is silly, silly looking too, like Xena and Star Trek had several gangly, socially awkward babies and those babies grew up to become a bunch of LARPers with disposable cash who liked to spend their weekends out at a buddy's Grandpa's field with a video camera and an abandoned Ren Faire costume trailer, but what can you do? It's an "adventure" web-series set in a video game's world, so I think it's safe to assume that the super cool quality boat has already set sail, my friend.

Anyway, for your viewing pleasure...



Come on! He can do what? What can he do? What was that? Was that one of those hairspray in the palm fireball tricks? Those exist, right? Or did I dream it up? Ooooooh, damn you, cliffhanger, I need answers! Damn you to hell!

I guess I'll just have to wait...

So, what else... Hey, I know! Do you guys want to see something that might be neat? Hmmmmmm? Well, too bad, because I'm gonna show you anyway!



Alright, alright, that looks alright, maybe. There's some cool stuff going on in there, some pretty good effects, and a little "absolute power corrupts absolutely" for the storyline... I'm interested. Looks like it could be fun.



Oh, ho-ho! How deliciously ribald!

Now, I know some folks were down on the first film, and I will concede it had some pacing problems, but... I enjoyed it. I liked Downey and Law, I think they had a good chemistry. I liked the look as well, even though I'm pretty down on steampunk in general as a (non)genre, I think it had the right balance of that kind of stuff. I also liked the interpretation of the character, not so stodgy, not so stiff, a little dramatic license, sure, but also true to Doyle's original version. All in all, a good time. Ok, yeah, sure, the drag joke sucks, sue me. I'm still gonna go see it.

Finally, this last one is one of the best things you'll see today. I love that people do this kind of thing. So, what this is, is the "sweded" version of the Avengers trailer. Watch the real version first. You can see it here. Then come back and watch this. Then laugh and laugh and laugh... Ah, good times...



Good times.
Jon

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Ultimate Spider-man


I suppose you've all heard by now that Spider-man is dead.

No? Do you remember now? No...? Well, alright then.

Ok, so this isn't really news, mostly because Spider-man is a fictional character, so... you know... he was never really alive in the first place, but also because, technically, it's not even true, since the character that everyone would consider as the "real" Spider-man (meaning the one created by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko in August of '62) is still alive and kicking, catching thieves just like flies and appearing in at least half a dozen different titles each month. It's also not true, because the Spider-man the not-really-news news item is actually referring to is from the Ultimate Universe, which is an off-shoot, or separate, universe from the regular/"real" universe. It's kind of like an alternate history of the regular universe, familiar faces, but updated and slightly different. So, the real headline should have read: "Alternate version of Spider-man is no longer going to be used, Real Spider-man appears in at least seven different titles a month." But then, that's not very punchy and still not really a news story. It's also not a story because, as any comic fan can tell you, characters die in comic books all the time. I mean, all the time.


Really. It's no big deal.

It's pretty much common place and it's often used for cheap drama, especially in alternate universe stories (or in the common parlance, Elseworld or What if... stories) where things are generally dark and wacky and anything goes and characters usually have eye patches and/or goatees. It's a thing, a by-product of the never-ending serial, of the revolving door of creators. Things change, the center does not hold. These days, the only folks who actually get upset about a character's death are just the really stupid long time fans, the cliches, the ones that... well... there's some personal issues going on there, and I know they can't really help themselves, but honestly, they're a good portion of the reason why the Internet sucks in the first place, but whatever... these days, when a character dies, most comic fans think:


Give it a year.

You see, there's no budget in comics. In comics, you can do anything. More importantly, in a place filled with alien races, all powerful sorcerers, ancient gods, cross-dimensional bleeds, time-traveling dictators, the ability to move faster than light, and people who wear nothing but spandex twenty-four/seven, you can undo anything. Even death.


Especially death. Death is small potatoes. For example, I'm sure you can all probably remember where you were the day Superman died... No? No one asked you. Shut up.


Anyway, DC introduced a character called Doomsday, (a cheaper, less interesting pastiche of the Hulk...) and he and Superman basically beat the ever-living tar outta each other for six or seven issues. It was a pretty big deal at the time. The end of an era. Superman was dead. Good night, sweet prince, we hardly knew ye, blah-blah, blibbety-blah-blah-quack-quack. Six pages later, he was split into four different versions of himself. A mean vigilante version, a boy version, a cyborg version, and a black guy in a suit of hi-tech armor. Turns out.... these guys were not really Superman. Also... spoiler.... Superman was not actually dead, he had simply depleted his solar energy... to death! Eventually he recovered and started fighting crime again and the only sign that he died and had probably gone to Hell (or at least Branson, Missouri) was the fact that he now had a mullet. It was terrible, terrible thing, but hey, it was the early 90s, what can I say, we didn't know any better. Those were the dark days. The people loved Achey-Breaky Heart. The people loved it. The point is: He ain't dead no more.

Remember when Captain America died?


I know you must, because pretty much every single one of you out there e-mailed me a link to the story as if, between the two of us, I was the one who wasn't aware of what was happening. Anyway, he's not dead anymore, either. You see, instead of brainwashing Cap's girlfriend Sharon Carter into shooting him with a .38 revolver, the Red Skull brainwashed her into shooting him with... I can barely type it... a time-displacement gun or something and it shoved his soul, I think, loose into the time stream and he relived some moments from his past and meanwhile, the Red Skull was busy trying to download his digitized self into Cap's empty body, I guess. I don't know. It got kind of... weird, but whatever, so anyway, Cap ended up... you know what? Forget it. Doesn't matter. He is also no longer one of the dead.

Batman died a year or so ago, you heard about that, right?


True story. Or actually, not a true story. You see, he had been hit by one of Darkseid's Omega beams which only looked like they had killed him, but they didn't. No. Even though they have always killed every one else they have hit... This time they didn't. Instead, they... uh... knocked him loose in time (It happened about the same time as Cap, too... must have been something in the water) and the corpse you see above was... um... not him... I guess... ah... I don't know. Anyway, for awhile he was a caveman with a dead bat tied around his neck and then he was a pirate for awhile. And... uh... while he was jumping back through time, he was setting up some kind of Bat cult that was supposed to trap the Joker in the future or something, but... uh... Moving on, he's not dead anymore.

Remember when Hawkeye died?


Who, you say. Well, if you've watched the Avengers trailer I posted a few days ago, you probably saw Jeremy Renner as Hawkeye, the guy with the bow. Well, Hawkeye died a few years ago, too. Blew up. Jet Pack malfunction, surprise, surprise. Anyway, when the Scarlet Witch lost her mind and used her reality warping powers to reshape the universe into a twisted mirror image of mutant domination, Hawkeye was very suddenly no longer dead, because the moment that killed him had been wiped from the timeline, I guess. Anyway, so, when the Heroes undid the damage the Scarlet Witch wrought and everything went back to normal... Hawkeye was alive again... for some reason. Anyway, now he's alive.

Did you hear about the big storyline where one of the Fantastic Four was going to die?


Long story short? It was the Human Torch. Spoilers. But guess what? He's not really dead. You know how I know? 1. Like I said before, he's a fictional character, pay attention. 2. We never actually saw him die, we only saw him get overwhelmed by Annihilus's forces in the Negative Zone and later, we weren't ever shown a body, only his ravaged uniform. So, even though everyone believes him dead, he's probably just chained to some kind of power generator or something. Also, just today, I saw an ad for a new comic that featured all four of the original members of the Fantastic Four, so... yeah, not dead.

You know the X-men, right? Well, they died too. Right after the Fall of the Mutants storyline back in the late eighties and guess what... they weren't actually dead either, they just moved to Australia...


Never mind...

Ok, so those are just a few examples, I didn't even mention the time Daredevil faked his own death and became a three card monte dealer, or the time the Flash supposedly died, but in actuality he was just running really, really, really fast for like, thirty years... I mean the list goes on and on and on and very quickly dives head-first into Soap Opera Crazy Town. Like I said: In comic books, dying is commonplace.

But guess what isn't common place.

Staying dead.

For a long time the old adage was: Nobody stays dead but Bucky, Jason Todd, and Uncle Ben. But then Bucky came back as the brainwashed soviet super assassin The Winter Soldier and eventually took over the mantle of Captain America when Cap was "dead"... of course now Bucky's dead again, but that's a whole other thing and I digress... Jason Todd came back, too, after fans voted him dead, and now he's running around, all angry and bullet-ballet as The Red Hood. So that leaves Uncle Ben. He's special, ya' see. In all the many multitudes of multi-universes, only Uncle Ben still languishes in his cold, four-color grave. Besides him, no one else ever stays dead.

Except...

Ultimate Spider-man. Ultimate Peter Parker. He's still dead. And by all appearances, it looks like he's going to stay dead. Why? He's been replaced.

Enter Miles Morales.


Spider-man is dead, long live Spider-man.

The news broke the Internet. Mostly because the Internet, and comic fans in general, are made up of stupid morons, and being as such... they went wild.

They flipped out, as the kids say.

Why did they flip out? Well, as far as I can tell, they seemed to flip out because Peter's story had a beginning, a middle, and an end, instead of continuing on and on, forever and ever ad nauseum without any consequence or change until we all die. They flipped out because a new character was wearing an old mask, despite a long history of characters passing their masks down to the new generation. They claimed they were the "real" fans. They said that Peter spoke to them. They said they understood him. They said they identified with him. They said they "loved" Peter.

They were Peter-lovers... so they claimed.

But it quickly became apparent that they mostly flipped out because Miles Morales was half African American and half Puerto Rican.

In the common parlance, they didn't like an uppity minority being Spider-man. It was ugly and sad and gross. The asswipes tried to claim that it was a terrible idea and only existed for political correctness, like they always do. The non-stupid people tried to explain to the asswipes that they were incorrect. They talked about the Donald Glover as Spider-man campaign and how the writer, Brian Micheal Bendis has adopted children from Africa and blah, blah, blah and finally asked them, why do you even care? Even if it was for political correctness only, what was wrong with that? What was wrong with having an alternate version of a big name hero be a person of color? Especially when the "real" version is still out there. Why is that bad? The asswipes then switched course, as they always do, and tried to claim that the book was pandering and that the story was forced and that it didn't work, so the non-stupid people had to remind them that the comic hadn't even come out yet, that no one had even read any of it, and that the only thing anyone really knew about the character was his race, which said a lot about the social worth of the character's critics at that time.


See, all of this happened while Peter was still alive, during the death of Spider-man story. It was a long arc about sacrifice and heroism and big fights and explosions, lots of good stuff. There is a point where a very badly injured Peter sees his worst enemies go by and he knows they know where he lives, and that they're going there looking for him and that his Aunt and his friends are there, but he also knows he's gut shot and bleeding and that he should go to the hospital or he will die.

He goes after the villains.

He couldn't have done anything else, really. You see, Peter's story started when he let a crook get away, "Not my problem" and then that same man ended up killing his Uncle Ben. With great power, comes great responsibility. Peter never forgot that lesson, it drove him to do what he did, to become Spider-man and so, his life ended on his front lawn, defending his friends and family, putting their lives above his. It was so very heroic. And after his death, the world learned his story.

And that story inspired Miles Morales to become a hero.

But all this was unknown at the time that the Internet was snipping at each other. Would the book be any good? Could it stand on its own? These were the questions. After ten years, will the book survive changing it's main character, it's entire cast?

MY REVIEW OF THE NEW ULTIMATE SPIDER-MAN #1-3
by Jonathan Hansen (finally...)


Ultimate Spider-man is by writer Brian Micheal Bendis and drawn by new artist Sara Pichelli. It's the story of Miles Morales, a 13 year old boy from Brooklyn. I had planned on giving you the "our story up till now" bit first, but instead, I think I'll just hit the important parts.


1. The writing is great. This is Bendis's character, he knows it and it shows.

2. Sara Pichelli's art is perfect for the book, fast and expressive, but detailed oriented. I love it.

3. Miles, the new Ultimate Universe's Spider-man, is free. Without years of continuity binding him down, who knows where he will go? But at the same time, he's also part of a legacy, connected to a rich past Bendis can draw upon, if he wants. Miles' origin and the way he gains his powers is tangled with and dependant upon Peter's origin and yet, it makes complete organic sense. It's certainly not like how Wally West got his powers, which is a relief.

4. His parents are alive and married and normal. Which is a breath of fresh air, as most super hero parents are dead or evil or both. And if the character is a person of color, a big, broad stereotype is usually part and parcel. Like say, an African-American hero's parents would be a pimp and a hooker or an Asian hero's parents would be uber-demanding taskmasters and math whizzes. You get the idea. So good on Bendis for making Miles' parents just people.

5. Finally (for now), there's a point where Miles is freaked out, having just learned about his powers, where things between his Dad and him have boiled over because Miles doesn't understand why his Dad doesn't want him to hang around with his Uncle (it's because the Uncle is a super-thief... it is a comic book, after all), and so the two of them sit in the park and talk. His Dad tries to explain about his life, who he used to be and why he changed and how important Miles and his future is. It's a conversation that builds to a point where Miles is about to tell his dad everything. And right at that moment, right when Miles is about to start talking about his sudden powers, about the big spider with the number 42 on it's back, about how it crawled out of a package in his Uncle's apartment and how it bit him and how he can now stick to walls and turn invisible and sting people...

The Human Torch and Iceman go rocketing by and Mile's father reveals just how much he dislikes all the mutants and weird-os and monsters running around NYC and... well, Miles says nothing. How can he? The fear of disapproval, of not being good enough, of his father suddenly not loving him? He doesn't say a thing. I love that addition to the classic superhero motivations.


Now, some folks have complained that the story is moving too slow, that they haven't seen Miles in costume yet, or really doing any super hero stuff. To that I say, those people are morons. There's only been three issues! Bendis is laying a story foundation, laying a story foundation is like laying the foundation of a house. It takes knowledge and skill and time and planning and lots of bricks and you have to lay those bricks carefully if you want to build a strong house. Bendis knows how to build strong houses, unlike say, the writers of the Walking Dead TV show or the early seasons of Lost, where they just tossed their bricks into a big pile and hoped they might be able to stand on them at some later point. This book is going somewhere. Where, I don't know, but if the last ten years of the previous volume has shown me anything, it's that it's worth my time to stick around and find out.


I have radioactive blood,
Jon

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Dragon Age: Redemption - Tallis (Episode 1)

So, yeah... I've been posting a lot of videos lately, I know. What can I say? Sorry, kids, but this is what passes for content around here lately, talk to management if you don't like it.

Anyway...



Dragon Age is a well known video game/book/RPG/comic book/geek hive-mind central/etc. Felicia Day is the geek girl de rigueur these days, a total cutie-pie, and possibly best known for her work on the God damn brilliant Dr Horrible's Sing-along blog, which is one of the best things ever.

What? Don't believe me?

Fine, watch this then, you butthole!



In your face!

Anyway, this is the first episode of the Dragon Age: Redemption webseries, entitled: Tallis. There will be more to follow. Watch for them.

Also, a Life of Jon Fun Fact Anecdote: I met the Director of this series, a gentleman by the name of Peter Winther, in L.A. a million and a half years ago at an art opening for his then girlfriend. It was so long ago, we geek-bonded over the fact that Peter Jackson had got the rights to Lord of the Rings and the greenlight to make it into three films. Anyway, at the time, he was working with Devlin and Emmerich (this was in the days before the world knew better) and he had been a co-producer on Godzilla. So, as any good movie geek is wont to do after a few vodka rocks, I ragged on him pretty hard core about some of the very obviously terrible choices they made while filming that cinematic turd. And he could only hang his head in shame and agree.

"What about the Atomic breath, Peter!" I said at the last, looming over him at the bar, my tirade having run its long-winded and sharply cutting course. "What about the Atomic breath...?"

He had no answer.

Point: Jon

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Richard K. Morgan's THE COLD COMMANDS



This is the book trailer for The Cold Commands, the second volume in Richard K. Morgan's A Land Fit for Heroes series.

The story kind of goes like this:
Set in a noir, far future world--maybe our world's future--it is a world that has recently won its Great War. The Lizard folk invaded and the people rallied, put aside their old hatreds, and cast the invaders back into the seas from whence they came. Huzzah! ...Then they all turned on each other. Alliances crumbled and petty squabbles over the lines on a map soaked the ground with the blood of warriors who were once friends and stalwart companions. It's a world where stubborn ignorance and religious driven hatred rule the day and the moment where good stood together and the world could have been something great is now long gone. And no one knows this better than the world's heroes, beaten down and scattered, their golden moment of glory has given way to the long dark of smoky bars and regret tinged ghosts.

They are:
Ringil Angeleyes, a once storied Hero-of-Legend whose homosexuality drove him into exile, he is now forced to live off his reputation at the edge of the world.
Egar Dragonbane once saw the great cities and once rode a Dragon down to its fiery death, he now wallows in boredom amongst his nomadic, superstitious hick kin.
Archeth Indamaninarmal is the last of her kind, a half breed left behind by her Father's mysterious and technologically advanced people, she is now serving an Empire she no longer believes in and an Emperor barely worth his crown.

These three former companions now find themselves on a path towards a new war, a war against a darker evil, a more powerful and more dangerous foe than the Lizards ever were, with a world that none of them are even sure is worth saving hanging in the balance.

It's good and after a long wait, it's finally out. You can get it here. My own copy is currently winging its way toward me as we speak. Can't wait. I'll planning on reviewing it over at the Scribblerati in a few weeks.

Stay tuned.
Jon

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

The Avengers


May 4th, 2012

Seven months from now, give or take.

That's how long I have to wait. Seven months. Seven months before the Avengers finally hits theatres. Am I excited? Mmmm... Yes. Yes, you could say that. You could say that I am... a little bit... excited. Or you could say: a lot. I am a lot excited. I can't help it, you see. It's deep in me. I was born with it. It's ingrained in me, you see, it's down in my bones, ya'know? Bone-deep, as they say, I have a bone-deep excitement for this movie here:



This movie is something I never thought/expected/dared to hope to see, so "barely constrained giddy excitement" is now my middle name. I am Jonathan Barely Constrained Giddy Excitement Hansen... nice to meet you. I watched this trailer, wide-eyed and hunched over my computer, and all I could do was squeak... once... quietly... It was either that or explode, spewing Geek juice and Olive Oil from last night's dinner everywhere.

I don't want that. Do you want that? You don't want that. No one wants that.

Imagine the clean-up. Ick.

So I squeaked.


So excited.

But wait, you say... who are the Avengers?


First off, congratulations on moving away from that desert island.

Secondly, in a nutshell, the Avengers are basically Marvel Comics' version of the Justice League (DC Comics' version of the Avengers). It's a gathering of heroes who have come together to take on the threats that no single hero could face alone. It's explosions and fisticulls galore! It's more bang for your buck. It's the biggest, baddest, and brightest galivanting around town in their fancy outfits, willy-nilly and handing out the big beatdowns to whomever comes askin'. It's a woo-hoo good time, folks.

In the real world, The Avengers is that, plus the biggest summer movie ever made, ever attempted even. It's the culmination of four major film franchises (Thor, Iron Man, Captain America, and The Incredible Hulk) crashing together into one giant-ass, money-gobbling monster. Try to deny it, you can't. You're powerless before the coming PR storm. Kneel! Kneel before the rise of the Whedon!


Oh, yeah... This is going to be good. Anyway, you'll probably hear me talk about this more in the coming days and weeks, just FYI.

Assembled,
Jon

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Young Adult



I've really enjoyed Jason Reitman's films and I heart Diablo Cody big time. The last time the two of them worked together, we got Juno, which I loved, and this is their latest effort, the story of Charlize Theron as a drunk asshole Judy Bloom returning to her home town in a misguided attempt to fix the reasons why her life sucks.

Love it. Can't wait.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Solo

The Internet is full of stupid. It's made of stupid. Without stupid, it could not be. But sometimes it has good things, too. Big things, little things, funny things, kitty things and sometimes... it has awesome things.

This is one of those things.


I don't know where it came from or who brought it into being, but... I salute you, Mysterious Internet Nerd-artist. Well done, sir or madam. Well done.

Jon