Blog Archives

X-Men: The Arcade Game – theme vs mechanics

X-Men is one of the most popular beat-em-up games to have ever existed in the arcade. It helps that the game featured one of the most well known comic book teams and was often housed in arcade cabinets allowing 6-player simultaneous gameplay, but a bad game wouldn’t have managed to muster the staying power this game had. Actually, I should say has, as the game continued on in the minds of players who encountered it in the early 90’s. When perfect translations of arcade games starting finding their way onto home consoles, X-Men was one of the ones people were most eager to see.

In revisiting it on the Playstation 3, I found myself transported back to a more simple time in video game history. While each of the six characters – Cyclops, Wolverine, Dazzler, Storm, Colossus and Nightcrawler – were individuated by design, animation and the effect of his or her power, every character played almost exactly the same way. The point of the game, for the most part, was to clear the screen of enemies and move to the right. There was a story to follow, sure, but it’s not one that needed to be followed. Save Kitty Pryde and Charles Xavier from Magneto and other characters were comically made blatantly evil. Sometimes it seems like the game lampshades just how evil it made the characters, although this is made worse by the horrible translation. Magneto spouts some very infamous lines, but none more than, “X-Men, welcome to die!”

In retrospect, that’s pretty polite. Read the rest of this entry

The Superior Spider-Man

“That’s stupid!”

“It’s just going to return to the status quo in a year anyway!”

“Worst thing since ‘One More Day’!”

Those are the most common reactions to the conclusion of The Amazing Spider-Man #700. Read the rest of this entry

Avengers vs X-Men

This year’s Marvel summer event was Avengers vs X-Men, a series of missed opportunities and character derailment. Early interviews with those involved said that this event was supposed to finally lock the X-Men into the proper Marvel Universe instead of in their own bubble of experience. While that mission has certainly been accomplished, the execution certainly could have used some work. This series is probably the ultimate example of a plot driving the characters instead of the other way around. Read the rest of this entry

Avengers assemble a world

The opening weekend box office for Marvel’s The Avengers (yes, Marvel is a part of the title both for branding purposes and to differentiate it from poorly received The Avengers film of 1998, which was based on a popular British television series – which ultimately leads to the current film’s being titled Avengers Assemble in Europe…) pretty much means that a review is of absolutely no value to anyone. Everyone who wanted to see the film has already seen or plans to see it soon, and everyone who did not want to see the film really did not care. A review about the film is not beneficial because everyone’s mind was made up well in advance of the film’s actual release. Plus the film has so little in substance going for it aside from the action that there really isn’t much to mention.

Which is great because the circumstances of the film’s immediate success is incredibly interesting to me. None of the films in the Marvel Cinematic Universe come close to the gross profit of The Avengers‘ opening weekend in their opening weekends. Truth be told, aside from the spike in the almost miserable Iron Man 2‘s profits due to the popularity and accessibility of the first, each Marvel movie has done worse than the one preceding it. So it is clear that The Avengers is an amazing gestault film that truly is greater than all of the films before it. Read the rest of this entry

Buffy and attention whoring

From my February 9th post called “Buffy pushes boundaries”:

They’re not going to go through with it. No mainstream comic has the gall to go through with something so taboo. Something is going to happen to stop it, or she is simply going to change her mind. After all, it is probably a magical pregnancy, and Angel‘s fourth season shows how that can go.

But I just don’t think Whedon will do it. This strikes me as nothing but attention-seeking. It’s clearly working since I’m writing about it, but I’m mostly setting this in writing so I can call back to it in disappointment. I want Whedon and company to prove me wrong, though. How far are they willing to go?

As it turns out, not very far. Read the rest of this entry

Young Justice: Season One

The original Young Justice comic was the perfect source material for an animated series. It sadly never came to happen, but the Teen Titans cartoon was a good substitute. It still would have been nice to see Tim Drake’s Robin teamed up with Impulse and Superboy in an ongoing animated series.

A couple years ago an announcement was made for a Young Justice cartoon, featuring an Aqualad of color and a lack of overall humor. The latter was a deal breaker for YJ purists with the former being a deal breaker for DC purists. I was of course interested in the series, and it did not disappoint. Read the rest of this entry

Avengers Academy #26’s Letter Column

By now it is very clear to me that I have a favorite writer at Marvel Comics – Peter David. His work on X-Factor has been absolutely amazing. Not only has he really explored the character of Jamie “Multiple Man” Madrox, but he brutally brought up and answered the question of what would happen if one of Madrox’ dupes were to impregnate someone. He was willing to go somewhere no one else would have and concluded it beautifully. The baby was essentially a duplicate, and Madrox immediately absorbed it like any other dupe. This was within a hour of the kid’s birth. No one else does that.

David has also outed a couple of the members of X-Factor Investigations. Shatterstar and Rictor have been revealed to be lovers, but their simply being gay is not the whole story. What is being explored is the relationship of one man who recently realized that he prefers only men after several years of believing himself to be bi (Rictor) and another man who is not only openly bisexual but also seems to push in the direction of polyamory (Shatterstar). This is a layered relationship that unfortunately gets glossed over as just a frou-frou gay couple in superhero comics. Never mind how mindfully it is written.

From Avengers Academy #23

A year or so following this reveal, the revelation that two of the teens in the Avengers Academy book are not straight was not very shocking. In fact, it was quite mindfully done itself. Striker, a guy who repeatedly threw himself at women for 22 issues, opened up to Lightspeed, a girl still trying to figure out her sexual identity, it really meant quite a bit. It added depth to Striker and really laid out who his character was from the beginning. Meanwhile, Lightspeed is also being approached realistically, in that she knows how she feels and really would prefer to not be forced into choosing anything. She likes people, not genders. Read the rest of this entry

Buffy pushes boundaries

It’s starting to seem like Joss Whedon and company are going for shock value with the Buffy the Vampire Slayer comics. Last year they revealed that the big villain of Season Eight was Angel, somewhat possessed by an entity humorously called Twilight. Or not. It’s still kind of unclear, and it’s not at all clear how it fits into the Angel: After the Fall comic. Then there was flying super sex between Buffy and Angel. Then there was the head turning death of Giles. Ultimately we came unto the end of all magic. Read the rest of this entry

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles – Adding History

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is a story that has been retold more times than it ought to have over the past 30 years. Most versions begin with a premise derivative of the original Eastman and Laird comic, and the few differences have to do with whether or not Splinter was a originally a rat and who/what Shredder is. The tales spin out from there, each going in a different, pretty much meaningless, direction once the story reaches beyond the Splinter/Shredder revenge story.

The new comic by IDW alters the premise in such a way that it seems to provide a greater emotional depth to the central conflict between Splinter and Shredder. This one involves the turtles themselves. Read the rest of this entry

ANARCHY | Frank Miller Ink

ANARCHY | Frank Miller Ink.

For the past couple of years, people have been asking what has happened to Frank Miller. The Sin City and The Dark Knight Returns scribe met disappointment with his take on a young Batman and Robin in All-Star Batman and Robin. He followed that with the recently released critical failure (and utter piece of trash in this blogger’s opinion) Holy Terror. The man is completely entitled to his opinion, but he may have definitely put a final nail into the coffin containing a sizable amount of his fandom with talk of the immaturity and aimlessness of the Occupy Wall Street movement. Well, that and he peppered his commentary with more of the bigoted xenophobia found in Holy Terror.

The truth is Frank Miller has had some good story ideas (like the concept behind Batman: Year One and the whole approach to dealing with Silver Age Green Lantern in ASBAR), but he has never been a great writer and has always been insane. My primary issue with Miller’s writing is that it always falls back on “might makes right”. I’m not familiar with his CV, but I’m pretty sure it doesn’t include a run writing for any Spider-Man book or Fantastic Four. But how about a book with Batman laying the smackdown on Superman? How about kicking a dude down a pit? How about shooting off a man’s mutated testicles? He’s good at that sort of thing. That’s solid, immediately gratifying entertainment. That’s the kind of mind we’re dealing with here.

And as much as I don’t care for much of what Frank Miller has done, I’ll pay to see Sin City 2 as soon as it comes out in the theater because I like the style. I’m not buying his books, and I’m not even remotely agreeing with his stand on anything. The guy’s kind of crazy, so you should expect his work to be uneven and his opinions to be unpleasant.