Monday, 11 June 2018

The Pitch: MMPR


So, previously I pitched a game based on Daredevil. Now, I've got another idea, so here we go.

As always, I work with RPG Maker 2003. I have been working with this program for a while, so most of my ideas begin with "How would this work on RPG Maker?" I'm hoping I can make an interesting game with solid core concepts regardless of the limitations of engine I'm using.

History of Power Rangers in video games.

Someone greenlighted this.
Okay, so like Daredevil, Power Rangers hasn't  exactly had a glowing history in the gaming medium. The most notable games in the franchise have been the Power Ranger games on the Super Nintendo/Sega Genises, and even those games were stock-standard beat-em-ups with no story and character models that were all recoloured versions of the red ranger- even the female ones!

In recent years, Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers: Mega Battle was released and it was absolutely panned for  uninspired gameplay, and a bad Megazord sections. Fans of the series exist, but they're yet to get a game that is even decent, never mind good.

The Challenge

Power Rangers as a TV show is a franchise unlike any other. Every season since 1999 has seen a new iteration of the concept, only to be dumped after two seasons at most. As such, it's gone in and out not just with fans, but with production companies as well. It's ping-ponged between Saban and Disney, and is now in the hands of Hasbro. This means that, even though Mighty Morphin' is considered the quintessential series, it's been difficult to really pin down what a true Power Rangers experience needs. In many ways, Power Rangers is whatever it's showrunners need it to be. Translating all of that into one game will be difficult to say the least.

You know how it is- you show up to a party and everyone's wearing the
same outfit.
Another problem for me is that because of the program I'm using, Zord combat is going to be challenging. Sprites in RPG Maker can only get so big, so communicating the sheer size of the Zords is not going to be easy at all. I've thought of some possible solutions, but so far, none come close to doing what I  need them to do.

Fortunately, I have an idea. One that should be able to fix most of my problems. It all begins with story.

Story

It occurs to me that the rangers look like they're just about to
form a dance troupe.
It's been hundreds of years since anyone even uttered the word Power Rangers. When the Rotlings came to earth, the planets last team of rangers were unprepared. They fell quickly, and the Morphin' Grid- the source of their power, was broken.

In a future where apocalypse is reality, humanity struggles to survive. Forced to hide from the Rotlings, our species works tirelessly to secure, food, water and energy wherever it can be found.

This isn't enough for Eustace, though. An artist in a world of warriors, Eustace reads stories of a time when humanity didn't just survive, they thrived. They progressed. They lived. Desperate for anything that remains of a better time, he ventures into the forbidden city of Angel Grove. While there, he stumbles upon a cave, awakening an ancient being calling himself Zordon. Zordon offers him a solution to mankind's predicament: restore the Morphin' Grid, become the White Ranger and gather other rangers to help him save humanity from the Rotlings forever.

Gameplay

I first got the idea for this game while, oddly enough, playing a Pokémon fangame and watching the original Japanese version of Power Rangers, Super Sentai. MMPR, as I'm calling this project is a mixture of gameplay styles from the original Resident Evil games and Dynasty Warriors.

When you're unmorphed, you're vulnerable and unable to inflict
major damage.
You assemble a team of three or four rangers and spend time playing in both civilian and ranger form. In human form, your goal is to avoid being killed by the monsters that plague your world. Your fighting skills are enough to keep monsters away from you, but you cannot deal damage. In this form, however, your power bar gradually increases. When full, you can morph into your ranger form. In this form, you use simple combo attacks to deal damage to and kill enemies. Your time in this form, however, is limited as your power bar will start to decrease. You will turn back to human form when your power is spent. This should turn the game into a careful strategy of morphing at just the right time.

Now would be just the right time.
Missions will be based around going to different cities throughout the Power Rangers franchise and restoring the Morphin Grid. As you do so, you will unlock new suits for the seven (yes, seven) rangers. Each one will be based on one of the teams in the show's history (with some changes to colours to fit the colours of the characters) and will bring new movesets and stats to the characters.
You have NO idea how long it took to make this screenshot.
Bosses will also be based on popular monsters from a range of seasons (the psycho rangers from In Space are totally making an appearance), and will be the basis of each area's structure.

Now, I will admit. Currently, I have no plans to use the Zords. My in-story excuse is that the rangers simply do not have the Morphin' Grid power to make the Zords work, but they may yet appear as special attacks that can clear a large area.

As with all pitches, I'm not certain this game will ever come to fruition, but I've had the idea in my head for too long, now. At the end of the day, never say never, but I'm glad to get this idea out there.

Now over to you- is this an idea worth pursuing or should I never touch this franchise again with a ten-foot pole? What suits do you think should make it into the game? Let me know, I'm interested in feedback.

Thursday, 7 June 2018

Secret Empire (Marvel) Review

Honestly, though? Most of theses
characters aren't in this book!
Writer: Nick Spencer

Artists: Andrea Sorrentino, Steve McNiven, Mark Brooks and Daniel Acuna

Background Information:

2017 was the year Marvel shot themselves in the foot more than barefooted man in a needle dump. Inhumans Vs X-Men was all about how evil the X-Men were for being gassed by the Inhumans- a claim that sounds a lot like blaming the twin towers for being in Al-Qaeda’s flight path. Various men over 38 complained that Thor was wearing lipstick and Captain America….

Oh, Captain America.

Review:

Captain America post Secret Wars was turned by Spencer into an agent of HYDRA. This pleased absolutely nobody. So-called “SJWs” hated the change because a character with a Jewish creator was now a Nazi and the “anti-SJW” community hated it because OF COURSE the straight, white, cis character was a Nazi because that’s what pop-culture does these days! That dedication to upsetting just about everyone continues in Secret Empire, which seems dedicated to driving away the last dregs of the Marvel fandom that still exists.
Remember how Marvel is supposed
to be the colourful one?

You know a book has a problem when the title bears no resemblance to what actually happens in  
 
the book. See, a secret is a fact or reality that is deliberately hidden from the public, whereas empire suggests a group of nations that is under the control of one larger, more powerful nation. Pay attention to that as we have a look at the plot of a book that is actually called Secret Empire:

The recently Hydrafied Captain America takes over the USA- and JUST the USA- and then makes everyone aware that Hydra is in charge by BLOWING UP WASHINGTON DC! So, Marvel, if this isn’t particularly secret and also not quite an empire, why are you calling it Secret Empire. Is it because you wanted to bank on the word “secret” that you’ve used in Secret War, Secret Warriors and Secret Invasion? Is it because the word “empire” sounds more like the kind of word used to describe the baddies than “kingdom” or “government”?
And how they had consistent art?

I mention this, because Secret Empire is a book that feels as though it’s more about PR than story. The book tries its best to put the focus on the new legacy characters- not because Marvel has any clue what to do with them (the characters do precious little in the story despite being given a huge chunk of page space), but so that Marvel can parade them around like so many Hollywood celebrities with Ugandan orphans. It’s more about how Marvel appears to the general public than where Marvel are going with the two years of monthly storytelling since Secret Wars.

I’ve heard rumblings amongst the community that Secret Wars is meant to be some scathing criticism of the Trump presidency. I for one am quite fond of Trump criticisms, but if Spencer wants this to be a Trump criticism, he’s absolutely failed at it. Before he got into power, Trump could be most charitably described as “not Hillary Clinton”. Captain America was considered to be an American hero by literally everyone. Furthermore, Cap is able-bodied, brave and intelligent! The only similarity between the two is the fact that they’re both terrible choices and there’s no way that’s enough for the metaphor to work!

And how that art was always interesting?
Nick Spencer isn’t by any means a bad writer. When he’s writing upbeat, humorous books such as his work with Ant-Man and The Superior Foes of Spider-Man, it’s pretty clear that he’s in his element. Secret Wars isn’t an upbeat book though, and Spencer seems to have no idea what to do with it. Most issues he starts out writing relatively dark dialogue which at worst is boring, but then something snaps in his head and he realises that if there isn’t a joke, he’ll likely develop a brain tumour. So he puts in the first joke that comes to his head, which is usually gaudy and instead of the issue just being boring, what we get is an issue that is painful.

If you don’t like to know the ending of books, stop reading now. I would call this a spoiler, but I get the feeling Spencer “spoiled” things enough since the beginning of the new Marvel NOW. One of the biggest kick to the teeth is the way that Secret Empire resolves itself. When HydraCap first started, Spencer insisted that this was the 100% real, cross-his-heart-hope-to-die Captain America. By the end of the book, however, we find out that HydraCap in fact isn’t the 100% real, cross-your-heart-hope-to-die Captain America and that the real version was inside the Cosmic Cube all along. Someone needs to tell Spencer that there is a difference between misdirection and flat out lying and that what he did was definitely the latter!

Actual footage of Nick Spencer in private.
I feel bad for criticising the artists here, because Andrea Sorrentino (who is one of my favourite comic artists currently in the industry) does at least a third of the art duties, but it honestly the worst Sorrentino art I’ve seen to date. Now, as I just said, Sorrentino is an excellent artist, but he’s an excellent artist when the writer knows what to do with him. When he’s working with Jeff Lemire, for example, you get a book that highlights just the right part of the action and it lends the book a kinetic, visceral energy the best example of which are in Lemire’s Green Arrow and Old Man Logan. In Secret Empire, there’s so little action in the issues that Sorrentino draws that we never get that feeling of primal brutality that makes him such an interesting artist.

The other problem is that this is an event book. Event books need big, colourful, artists who work with a sense of grand scale and that’s not Sorrentino’s wheelhouse. As such, the better art in this book comes from the other THREE ARTISTS. Each of these artists, though, have very different styles and as a result, nothing in this book feels like it belongs in the same story as anything around it, like a heroin dealer at a christening.

It’s been a long time since I’ve review a book this big and an even longer time since I spent this much time reviewing a book. But honestly, I keep finding things I hated and really nothing I liked outside of the artwork. It gets one out of five PR projects.

Wednesday, 11 April 2018

Death of X (ANAD Marvel) Review

Death of X (ANAD Marvel)

Writers: Jeff Lemire and Charles Soule
Artists: Aaron Kruder and Javier Garron
Collects:  Death of X #1-4

Background Information:

You know, for a company awash with "SJW" politics, they certainly like to let their non-mutant heroes beat up their minority metaphors. The Jew- I mean, X-Men- have had their numbers whittled down to two hundred in House of M and all the Avengers did was accept it as the natural order of things. Then they got punched in the face by the Avengers in Avengers vs X-Men because if Captain America didn't attack those uppity black peo- I mean, X-Men- they'd probably keep evilly disarming nuclear weapons and cruelly bringing water to drought-stricken areas (seriously, that's what they do in the book). At this point in my reading, I'm about to enter the Inhumans vs X-Men event where you can pretty much count on the Inhumans beating up the LGB- I mean, X-Men. At this point, you can colour me surprised if we don't get a Power Pack vs X-Men event where the team made up entirely of kid-appeal characters get to beat up the Musli- GAH; X-men!

Review:

In case I was being too subtle, let me make something very clear: I do not want Inhumans vs X-Men to be a real comic in the mainline continuity. Partially because I'm sick of the Mexic- wait; X-Men-being kicked around so easily when they're some of the most objectively powerful people in the Marvel universe, but mostly because I know this is isn't an event that comes naturally from good story writing. It's about promoting a team that Marvel studios can use in movies over a team they can't. Just like how Marvel cancelled the Fantastic Four because every time Kevin Feige saw it's poster on the wall, he'd start crying and listening to Good Charlotte.

That said, if this is how we have to have this event, I'm glad Death of X is the way we end up with it. It is, (and it's been a long time since I've said this about a recent Marvel book) a decent mini-series. The whole thing deals with the death of adult Cyclops (because we need to distinguish between him and young Cyclops these days). Basically, Cyclops is taking a group of Asia-- no; X-men- to Muir Island where his fellow mutants have been investigating the Terrigen clouds that have been giving Inhumans their powers and Mutants cancer. When they get there, they discover that ever non-MCU character still active in the 616 is now dead and the Terrigen cloud is to blame.

Somehow this all leads to writers Jeff Lemire and Charles Soule trying to convince you that Cyclops was the baddie in all this. See, we're lead to believe that Cyclops wants to destroy the cloud because he doesn't want other mutants  to die whereas the Inhumans want to keep the cloud because they think it's really super special. Juxtaposed against each other like this, it seems like Cyclops has the slightly nobler goal here. Sure the Inhumans see the cloud as sacred, but that seems pretty insignificant that the cloud will LITERALLY POISON ALL MUTANTS! I fail to see why I shouldn't like cheer for the Inhumans, Marvel, and their TV series isn't helping anything!

This could have been fixed by making the Inhumans seem to be some sort of underdog, but Lemire and Soule don't even seem to do that. In the first issue of the miniseries, the Inhumans, lead by Crystal, are talking about how hard it was for humans to accept them, but through diligence and hard work, the humans now cheer whenever they come to their town. On the other hand, the mutants have been hated and feared since the sixties and what kind of message are we trying to send there? See, minorities? If you just tried a bit harder you wouldn't be so oppressed all the time!

As writers, I really like Lemire and Soule so I'll give credit where credit is due. The action here is well-paced. Both writers do a great job of giving us these great moments where the characters use their powers incredibly well. There's also a plot twist at the end of this which is fantastic; partially because you don't see it coming, but mostly because for a good portion of the book, you think that one of the characters is just being written poorly. Then you find and why and I won't spoil it but it is pretty incredible. Despite everything I've just whined about, these elements do make up for them and it leads me to believe that a lot of the problems aren't the fault of the writers as much as they are of Marvel execs trying their best to get people to stop being fans of the Native Ameri- ... you know how this bit works by now.

The art is handled by Aaron Kuder an Javier Garron and it's does it's job. Both artists excel in action scenes and with the support of the colourists, it's these pages in particular that really stand out. It's when you get into calmer moments where character are allowed to show more emotion that it really becomes clear that Garron is the better artists. He's got a talent for making characters emote in ways that are emotionally relatable. Kuder, on the other hand, does something with his characters' eyes that make them look like someone has hit them on the head with a club made of concrete and hallucinogens before letting them speak. Their mouths are in the right positions, but as I was reading I kept having the sneaking suspicion I was about to join a hive mind.

Overall I liked Death of X. At the end of the day, though, it's hard to tell exactly what it is. It's either a last meal for fans before the Inhuman's bullet is put through their skull or it's bait to make us think the Indians- yes, you're getting good at predicting this now- stand a chance in the upcoming event. It gets a three out of five DCEU fans...
...
GAH! X-MEN!

***

Friday, 6 October 2017

Game Pitch: Here Comes Daredevil


So, I use RPG Maker a lot. I've been using it since I was 16 (For the record, I'm 30 now). And for the moment, I'm going to play pretend. I'm going to pretend that I was going to make a game based on Daredevil.

Before we go further, I should point something out: I'm going to pitch games based on my ability to make them. This means, unfortunately, no three-dimensional environments or characters. These games are going to be mostly 2D, and something that I may make later on- we'll see.

History of Daredevil in Gaming

Outside of games that feature the wider Marvel universe with Daredevil as an option for playable character, there has only been one game made for Daredevil (well, only one that actually got published). It was this one for the Game Boy Advance in the early 2000s:

If the game looks like a stock-standard beat-em-up, that's because it is. Every now and again, the screen will flash, indicating that Daredevil's radar sense detected something, but that's about it. There were  main console games planned for the PlayStation 2/Xbox and the PlayStation 3/Xbox 360, but they were both cancelled.

The Challenge

Thankfully, I don't have to try and make Daredevil popular at the moment. Before 2013, I doubt  I could say that, but thanks to Charlie Cox and his appearances on Netflix, Daredevil's gotten enough of a mainstream appeal that I don't have to sell the character's appeal to people who aren't comic fans anymore.

The problem instead, will be to deliver an experience that makes the player feel like Daredevil. The first-person Daredevil game is a meme that will never die as long as people are talking about superhero games. The thing is: just making a regular fighting game and putting a Daredevil sprite in it doesn't feel like you are playing as Daredevil. It makes you feel like you are telling Daredevil what to do from a distance.  Therefore, the first major challenge will be to put the player in a position where he feels he sees the world as Daredevil instead of someone who is looking at him.

The second problem, and this is one that is going to loom over superhero games forever, is that there's already been a game that does punchy-stealthy gameplay for a character with pointy bits on his mask that covers everything but his mouth. Which begs the question; how do you make a game that makes you feel as though you're playing as Daredevil without people thinking you just reskinned Arkham? The game needs to feel like it's distinctly its own thing, or what's the point of it existing, honestly?

 Story

Before we go too far into any of these questions, I want to get the story out of the way. Not because it's insignificant, but because it will set what kind of world Daredevil inhabits. It will also allow us to figure out what kind of bosses the man without fear will face.

It's a pretty simple one, really. While on a mission to find out why one of Matt Murdock's clients has been kicked out of his home, Daredevil finds the dead body of the Kingpin. Naturally, news of this gets out, and now everyone wants a piece of Hell's Kitchen- the Hand, the Serpent Society, Owlsley's gang- they all want to be in charge of the Kingpin's vast resources for different reasons. Daredevil's in for a long fight as he rushes frantically around trying to stop a slew of villains who have now taken a sudden interest in his stomping grounds.

World and Traversal

This sets Daredevil very firmly in his home turf of Hell's Kitchen. Visually, the world is going to look fairly minimalist. See an example of the environments below:



The look I'm going for here is Daredevil's vision from Mark Waid's run in 2011:

 The environment will fade in and out according to how much sound is in the area. As noise increases, secrets around the level will appear which will encourage the player to undertake various puzzles. Enemies and things with a more biological element can be smelt and they appear as a different colour to the background (Grey for unfriendlies, brown for trash cans and, yellow for friendlies).

Traversal will include certain things I've seen in cancelled Daredevil games, you will be able to travel on rooftops and "rail grind" over electrical cables between buildings. I'm going to avoid grappling hooks to stop the game from being "too Arkham-y".

Throughout the game, the player will be able to perform tasks for his clients- mostly evidence-gathering for clients who need help. As he gains them, he will earn points that can be used to upgrade Daredevil's stats.

I know the big question- will the game be open world? In short; basically. It will be open in the same way that The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past is open. You will still have to take on various levels, but the map will be more a matter of asking "what can I find here?"

Combat:

Okay, here's the difficult part. I had to form a system that was different to Arkham. So here's the way
things go. The three pillars of Daredevil's combat style are his own martial arts, his billy club and his acrobatics. Therefore, we have one key for a regular strike, one for a special application of the billy club (which can be changed with the number keys) and one to jump. It's a simple enough system that will progress as your repair the billy club that gets broken early on in the game.

Level Design

This is an action game, first and foremost. To separate the game from Arkham, I'm not going to include stealth sections. In it's place, I'm going to include tracking sections where you take advantage of Daredevil's sense of smell. Basically, you find something with a character's scent and follow it to rescue or attack them. Tracking will occasionally allow you to follow certain significant enemies at a far enough distance that they can't attack you.

Otherwise, the game will sell itself on combat against large numbers of foes. I'm thinking 10-15 at a time. The levels will also be puzzle-based in a way that requires clever use of movement to solve.

And that's about it. If I see enough positive feedback on this, I may even try for a tech-demo on this one.

Monday, 25 September 2017

Batman: I am Gotham (Rebirth) Review

Batman Volume 1: I am Gotham (Rebirth)
 
Writer: Tom King
 
Artist: David Finch
 
Collects: Batman (2016) #1-6, Batman: Rebirth #1 
 
Background Information:
 
DC gets very precious about Batman. It must be awful for the rest of the superheroes knowing that no matter what they do, they'll never be loved as much as papa WB's miracle child. It's only Batman that gets the hot new writers. Only Batman gets the weekly series. Only Batman that gets to beat up literally everyone else in the universe. Well, now Tom King has signed a permanent contract with DC, and guess who gets the grace of his widely-praised pen. Superman? Don't make me laugh!
 
Review
So now the man behind the much-gushed-about Vision takes the caped crusader and while I Am Gotham is certainly good, it would be a strain to call it original

"But T Vulture," Tom King protests with all the calm logic of a paranoid chimpanzee, " I'm the best thing to happen to Batman since two-for-one funerals. How could you not worship at my feet in the hope of my blessing?"
 
"Excuse me Mr King, but isn't the new antagonist basically Superman? And haven't we seen Batman fight Superman so many times that stale becomes an understatement, and we've now moved on the term "fossilised?"
 
"No, no, no," explains King as he pulls at his collar. "For starters, my character's name is Gotham and that's a completely different word. So there!"
 
"Is he super strong?"
 
"Yes..."
 
"Can he fly?"
 
"Yeah, but..."
 
"Does he fight a billionaire?"
 
"Well..."
 
"Does a have a blonde female sidekick who wears a skirt and is related to him?"
 
"Ummmm..."
 
"GO TO YOUR ROOM!"
 
"Okay."
 
I'm not exaggerating either. Gotham is basically what happened if Frank Miller got his way and Superman just realised that Batman is the most super-cool guy on the planet. Now he wants to help Batman with his sidekick... urgh... Gotham Girl.
 
That's another thing, Tom. Are so many possible super-hero names taken that we now have to call heroes after the town they came from? And if so, doesn't that limit them to defending their that town? For crying out loud; I can imagine the scenario if this guy ever joined the Justice League. Sorry guys, but if I go fight in Metropolis I lose the copyright. I guess Darkseid wins after all.
 
Thus far I've made it sound like I don't like I Am Gotham, but really, I don't. There's an interesting degree of psychology that's woven into Gotham and Similarly-Named-Girl so that the whole mystery around how they came to be becomes quite intriguing. On top of that, Gotham not being weak to a certain green McGuffin means that Batman really does have to use his wits to defeat him this time. Without spoiling too much, it doesn't go to well and this is where Tom King really highlights the main thing that has always made Batman feel realistic... well comparatively. There's a real sense of Batman being out of his depth despite the stakes feeling nowhere near as high as they did in Scott Snyder's run.
 
That said, though, it's not like King ignores Snyder completely. Right from the opening of issue #1, King references the major moments in the New 52 such as the Court of Owls and Zero Year. Batman even has a new sidekick in the form of Duke Thomas, an African American kid that Batman can use to prove to people on the internet that he's not racist. Though not in the field yet, Duke is highly likeable and his interactions with Gotham Girl are pretty heart-warming. He feels like a distinct person which, considering how each Robin has offered a take on "young sidekick" that many in the industry have tried to ape, is quite a feat.
 
Another thing that King does very well is action. He has this ability to put Batman in peril in such a way that I found myself thinking that this was it: they were really going to kill off Batman. That's something I almost never feel when reading comics and it was great to be taken to edge of my seat once again. David Finch's detailed-yet-dirty art style helps to convey this detail perfectly to such a degree that even though you first see Gotham and Gotham Girl looking very Superman-and-Supergirl-y, you still feel tense around them.
 
As much as I like the book, though, I'm not sure I can recommend it. As I mentioned before, the main villain is essentially a Superman clone and we've had this so many times. Between this, The Dark Knight Returns, the Injustice games and comics, last year's Batman v Superman and Hush I think I can safely say DC need counselling, or at least Tom King needs to go and get into a fight with his significant physical superior just to get it all out of his system. Batman and Superman fights are fun, but so is eating a whole cake. Eating six whole cakes makes you a diabetic, and that's essentially what Tom King has done here.
 
As much as I'm not ready to recommend this Particular volume, I do recommend that you follow King's Batman run. He's got a lot of talent for pacing and tension and what are you going to do anyway? Read something else? HA!
 
This one gets three out of five diabetics.

Wednesday, 23 August 2017

I won't review: August Edition

Welcome to "I won't review" A short series of paragraphs where I give an overview of books I don't wish to review in depth. Mostly because they're rubbish. It's a new idea that probably won't last into next month.
 
GYAHH!! NEVER SHOW ME THAT SMILE AGAIN!
Amazing Spider-Man 2014- the whole run by Dan Slott
 
There once was a hero named Spidey,
Who said "my best days are behind me.
My marriage is gone,
puberty is prolonged,
and that's why nobody will buy me"
 
One out of five limericks.
 
Waste of a perfectly good Venom


Guardians of the Galaxy vol. 3: Guardians Disassembled by Brian Michael Bendis
 
Okay Brian, here's something to consider. If a month from after reading your book somebody says "Hey, what's Guardians Disassembled about? I need something to fill in the time between sticking my tongue in the toaster and gouging my vitals organs out with a spoon." and I can't tell them what happened, you haven't written a great book. I'm not even sorry.
 
Two out of five vital organs.
 
Nyawww... look at the widdle Thanos!

Guaridans of the Galaxy vol. 4: Original Sin by Brian Michael Bendis
 
I was going to say that my experience reading Guardians thus far has been like an alcoholic swearing he'd never drink again after a rager only to find himself puking all over his hallway the week after. I've got a better one now, though; it's an embodiment of the old idiom "beating the dead horse". Well, except Marvel have not only killed the horse, they've brought it back to life, killed it again have beaten it, brought it back to life again, killed it again and are now trying to figure out new and exciting ways to keep beating it.
 
Two and a half out five horses.
 
Gee, it would be great to have more Fantastic
Four books, wouldn't it, MARVEL!?!?

Civil War: Fantastic Four by J Miacheal Straczynski
 
Remember how I said I wasn't reviewing these books mostly because they're rubbish? Well this is the exception: a book that takes actual time and effort in between mindless jokes an dumb action to deliver actual character development and depth. In case the title wasn't clear enough let me drop you a hint: It's a Civil War tie in. And by that I mean the good Civil War. No, not the one where Captain Marvel stole the treatment for Minority Report, that's the bad one. No, not the movie that final answers the "will they,  won't they" question Tumblr's been assuming to know the answer to for years now, that's also the bad one. I mean the one written by Mark Millar and actually dared to suggest that things were actually happening in the Marvel universe that wasn't going to be retconned  by the following Tuesday. The entire FF deal with the fallout of what is basically Sue and Reed's divorce and it goes about a smoothly as you would imagine. That is to say as smoothly as the end to this not-review.
 
Four out of five "will they; won't they" questions.
 
 

Friday, 4 August 2017

Old Man Logan (Marvel) Review

This doesn't come close to the amount
of blood in this book.
Old Man Logan
Writer: Mark Millar
Artist: Steve McNiven
 
So is this an argument to get rid of the X-Men or to keep them?

Either Old Man Logan shows what awesome stories can be told when all of the X-Men are killed off, or it’s a testament to the awesome stories that can come out of what is, ostensibly, an X-Men book. Either way, I’m surprised that I’m actually writing a review, because if you haven’t read this WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU!?!?

It’s sometime in the future and everything has gone to hell. The villains have taken over the world, the world is a post-apocalyptic nightmare and every hero in the Marvel universe is either dead or broken.

Wolverine is broken; he hasn’t popped his claws in years, preferring life on a family homestead with the name Logan. When his family find themselves in trouble with the Hulk’s redneck kids (yep, you read that right), Logan puts his hopes on a smuggling run across the US with a blind Hawkeye.

Okay, let’s get the one criticism out of the way: this doesn’t really need to be a Wolverine book. I could picture a Captain America or even a Hulk book being done to this plot without too many major changes. Nobody that is particularly important to Wolverine’s history makes an appearance here (aside from Hulk). We get only a passing reference to other mutants. Jubilee has, what, three lines in the whole book? The supporting cast for the story are otherwise almost entirely new characters save Hawkeye, who, again, could have worked with anyone and nobody would tell the difference.

It gets THIS bloody...
Luckily, Logan isn’t really the star of this book; the world that he inhabits is. It’s a little bit Mad Max, a little bit The Magnificent Seven, a little bit 1984. Villainous America (which, for once, isn’t a new name for the Trump administration… well… not explicitly…) is a bleak and barren landscape. I’ve only ever spent a short amount of time in the USA, but from what I saw, today’s America is geographically diverse and has just as many green places as desert. Not so for this future. Both the east and west coasts are almost indistinguishable from the Nevada. It makes you wonder what on earth these villains did to make the world the way it is. Trying to interpret old Westerns into the modern age doesn’t quite work the way that writer Mark Millar wants it to; everyone but Logan and his family end up coming off as more redneck than homesteader; but the sense of tension throughout in perfectly indicative of a gunfight in a dusty, one-street town. The whole world becomes the most enjoyable part of this book and I’m livid that the All-New-All-Different Old Man Logan ongoing has left that world behind.

... and THIS bloody
That’s not to say that Logan and other characters aren’t well developed. Millar really runs with the idea that the Marvel heroes are completely and utterly defeated. Logan’s reasons for not popping his claws are highly believable. Just as interesting is Hawkeye’s character. He suffers from survivor’s guilt after the supervillains ignore him completely (because, y’know… Hawkeye). In fact, there’s an argument to be made that Hawkeye’s life affects the story of Old Man Logan to a greater extent than Logan’s.

The art here is done by Steve McNiven who also worked on Civil War. McNiven has a way of drawing action scenes that somehow make you feel every punch to the gut. Every stab, slash and puncture comes across with painful kinetic impact. Being the bloody, violent book that Old Man Logan is, this makes the whole story’s emotional impact stronger, honestly, than any other artist would be capable of.

Overall, though, Old Man Logan is an absolute classic. Not to bang out a cliché, but if you only ever read one Wolverine story, make it this one. Nothing else starring the character comes close to this story that gets four and a half out of five redneck Hulk children.