JUSTICE SOCIETY OF AMERICA #18
I like how it’s progressing, though for some reason I had a hard time remembering exactly where I was last time, perhaps because of the intervening JSA Annual with Powergirl stuck in Earth-2. The book’s as solid as ever, and I didn’t see a couple things coming, so it gets points for that. Recommended!
IMMORTAL IRON FIST #18
It’s not bad. Not bad at all. There’s a little of the Iron fist magic that’s subsided since Fraction and Brubaker left two issues ago, but, like the last issue, this one’s still running of their momentum and storyline, so it’s quite good. The art, sadly, has taken a downturn in my opinion, though some of that may be due to how the hell do you draw a dude with a head in his neck amirite? That said, if they keep the book going like this, I’ll happily keep buying it.
MIGHTY AVENGERS #17 SI
NEW AVENGERS #44 SI
These continue the trend of Bendis filling in the hows and whys of Secret Invasion, and I’m still enjoying them. New Avengers shows just how far the Skrulls went in order to enact this invasion, and I suspect if Reed Richards ever finds out, he’s going to get might pissed. The smartest man on Earth is the key to the Skrull invasion, though he doesn’t know it.
Mighty Avengers deals with Skrull Pym, well Pyms, actually, and how they keep going off the rails. Apparently there’s something inherent in Hank Pym that keeps making Skrull duplicates go native. Is it ‘cos he’s unbalanced, or is he maybe more heroic than we give him credit for? I guess we’ll find out.
I liked New Avengers better (which is a trend), but I’m also interested to see what Pym’s destiny is. Also, I’m fairly sure this issue is Bendis’ way of addressing a possible continuity gaff that showed up a couple months ago when Pym was in two places at once, but if so, that’s really impressive turnaround time.
Good books this week, overall.
I had a great time. As seen below, I got to try out Champions Online and chat pretty extensively with the lead developer.
I also got to meet perhaps my favourite artist ever, Adam Hughes. He seemed kind of shy, and I unfortunately arrived as he was being interviewed, so I didn’t really get to speak to him. However, his lovely fellow artist and girlfriend Allison Sohn was pretty wonderful, and they both remembered my ridiculous “Baroness in a Nun’s Habit” photoshopping of Adam’s rejected GI Joe cover.
On top of that, I got to see Alex Maleev again, and got a couple more signatures, though sadly I was too late to get a sketchbook, and too poor to get a custom sketch.
There was no sign of Alex Ross, whom I suppose had a private room or something, but I did manage to find Stuart Immonen, who was the artist on my favourite book ever, Superman: Secret Identity. Apparently, he no longer sketches at cons, which is sad, because I’d have loved to have had one, but I did buy a copy of his book “50 Reasons to Stop Sketching at Conventions”, which seemed ironic. He inscribed it, “I’m no fun”, and it makes me laugh.
Worth $25? Yup. I still don’t know how people spend three days at these things, though.
So I went to the Toronto FanExpo today and was able to try out the current build of the upcoming MMO, Champions Online.
I played a bit today with two characters; one was a kind of tech dude with a shoulder cannon and variety of palm and chest beams (let’s call him Iron Man), and the other was super-strength (or Might, as they call it). The majority of time I spent on Iron Man.
Iron Man was quite fun to play, but his powers really weren’t set up optimally. Normally, the first two attacks are end-building powers. This guy seemed to only have one (a melee attack), so when I used my ranged attack, it drained end. Once I figured this out, I was okay.
So, first off, the melee attack had a kind of sliding motion to it, so if I hit the button and had a dude targeted far away, it would tell me he was out of range, but still do the attack and I’d slide forward a bit. This became a form of locomotion for me.
Personally, I don’t know if I’ll play it with a keyboard or not. Picking up the controller seemed very natural to me and I’m sure once I learnt what everything does I’d be off to the races. When I put the controller down, I had a bit of a hard time switching gears mentally, but I settled into a groove. In some ways, the keyboard was actually easier, because you can click or tab-target. With the gamepad, you don’t really seem to target as much. On the other hand, you can switch targets much faster by just pointing at them.
I’m sure people will figure out for themselves if they like it.
Anyway, I played it both ways and I can say that I expect it will be perfectly fine both ways, though I would move the block button (which is currently on Ctrl), and the Q and E keys aren’t automatically bound for left/right turning. (E is actually the interaction key, used to pick up loot, use doors, etc.)
Power-wise, Iron Man had to build end with punches. It was maybe two or three hits before the other powers became usable from end gain. I rarely bothered to go to full bar, especially given that I was spamming only one attack to build end.
What’s interesting is that all powers have a tapped and held power execution. For example, if I tapped the 4 key (or Trigger + Y), which was bound to his shoulder cannon, it would fire a short burst at the targeted enemy. If I held it down, it would auto-fire until I ran out of end or release the key. Like I say, all powers seemed to have this, including his chest beam, hand beam, and the PBAoE Force Field push.
The Might character played like you’d expect, really. He had a couple different melee attacks, and a Hurl-type power. The Hurl tore up a chunk of ground and can be used anywhere, like in CoH. I don’t know how it compares to actually picking up an environmental object, sadly, as we were in a zone that hadn’t been completed yet.
Overall, I’d need more time to play the game to get a proper feel for it, but I was already having fun. There was more immediacy in the fight with the boss in the mine. She tended to drop a black hole type power that pulled me in and did damage, then would back away from me when I got close. I would usually hold block and trudge out of the black hole’s range, then ping her a few times. I could see how having a group would be cool, too. She was, perhaps unfortunately, a sack of HP, but that’s probably to be expected. Apparently, however, there are other boss fights where the key to defeating the boss is using the environment. For example, in the super jail, there are power dampeners that are malfunctioning, which you can repair during the fight, which helps you defeat that boss.
- Secret IDs are in the game. Right now, they are a separate costume slot specifically for IDs. He really wanted to say more, and I asked him if there were other gameplay systems associated with Secret IDs and he kinda of thought about it for a second before saying, “I can’t really say right now, but we’re working on some things”.
- Travel powers are currently teleport, flight, speed and jump. They just recently got these systems, so they’re starting to play with them. He was pretty certain and said a couple times that they intend to do variations on these at the least. I asked him if he just meant different poses but he meant more like (these are my examples, not his) stuff like super speed on a skateboard or whatever. Someone else asked about vehicles and he said not for launch, but probably after.
- We didn’t really talk about out of combat stuff, but he did say you can craft from the get go. If you saw the picture of the inventory with the space for devices, he explained those are basically powers you make or buy to be used by gadgeteer types.
- Related to that, he showed my their version of the enhancement systems, which I like. You can slot loot, basically, which has a level (green, blue, … red, purple?) that indicates how powerful it is. There are two types of enhancements, primary and secondary. Primaries tend to have additional effects (the example he gave was Stun), while secondaries just amplify stuff as far as I could understand. The part I like is that, while your enhancements have levels, you can’t outlevel them. If you slot a power at level 5, it will still work when you’re level 50. The difference between a level 5 and 50 enhancement is how powerful they are. A level 5 might be +1% to damage or whatever, while the 50 might be +10%.
- I briefly spoke to him about missions, but then we got sidetracked talking about instancing. He explained that there will be missions to do throughout the zones. The zone they showed today was a haunted mine where the evil sister of Witchcraft had raised ghosts. Apparently, there’s a mission to capture her. Anyway, unlike other games, you can apparently go anywhere you want, whether you have a mission in there or not. Also, instances are private so there’s no spawn camping, but teams can go in each other’s instances.
The game’s not out until sometime next year, so there’s still lots of time for things to change. You better believe I’m crossing my fingers for a beta invite.
I bought it ‘cos it looked weird, and had a Neil Gaiman quote on the cover. It’s a weird story about a flight attendant with acrophobia who ends up in a plot by an anti-terrorist group to hijack an airplane.
Yeah, so it is weird, but interesting and enjoyable. I’m interested to see where it goes, so I’ll pick up the next one, if I see it.
CAPTAIN AMERICA #41
What do you expect? It’s more pulp serial goodness, and after what seems like a year of being trodden down, this one ends with a pretty grand triumph. Which, of course, still leaves me wanting more, just like ever single issue of Cap since Brubaker took over.
BATMAN #679 RIP – Truly, I cannot look away from the car crash.
Oh Grant. Grant. Grant. Grant. You’re a crazy sumbitch. This book is markedly better than the preceding ones, in that it is actually coherent. (I was going to say “makes sense”, but that’s not entirely accurate.) There’s a bunch of interesting stuff at work in this book, and we find out the Batman of Zur En Arh is essentially Batman without Bruce; it’s a “backup identity” set up by Batman in case of extreme psychological attack.
Sounds cool, right? Until you think about it a bit. What the hell? Backup identity? Batman planned for what happens if he gets broken psychologically and somehow managed to arrange for himself to go crazy in a very specific way?
…okay. Also, Batman is carrying a baseball bat, which he beats people with, which is a great pun. Oh, Grant, you scamp.
GREEN ARROW BLACK CANARY #11
Another fun and light-hearted romping serial adventure. The League of Assassins has nothing to do with the Assassins League, and Batman’s got the R’as al-Ghul to prove it! Essentially, we find out how this whole arc began, though the big reveal at the end had no impact on me because I didn’t recognize the character involved. Oops. Way to not know stuff, Foo.
SECRET INVASION #5
This is still the best crossover / big event we’ve seen in years. Agents Brand and Maria Hill both kick some butt and the heroes begin to rally. There should’ve been more time invested in building up the Ronin / Mockingbird relationship again, but I guess there wasn’t time with so much going on. The result is still pretty satisfying, but could have been better. I still look forward to watching Clint go all Bullseye on everyone.
I can actually see how the heroes are going to get out of this, though I kind of hope they do something more interesting than “Let’s kill all the Skrulls!” I’m also surprised at how readily people seem to just off the invaders. I guess war is war, but at least I haven’t seen Spider-Man kill anyone.
SECRET INVASION RUNAWAYS YOUNG AVENGERS #2 (OF 3) SI
This book’s far better than the last, which was basically a recap of the main book with a couple side scenes of the Runaways and Young Avengers thrown in. Here the main thrust of the book is shaping up, and it’s looking to be a decent finish. As usual, the best scenes come from Molly and her awesome dinosaur hat. (“Princess Powerful Powers… Activate!!) Particularly good is the scene where she thinks the invasion footage on the TV must be fake.
ANGEL AFTER THE FALL #11
Angel is screwed. That’s really all there is to it. I keep wanting to drop this series, as it’s not nearly as good as the Buffy comic, but at the same time I find it’s not bad enough to give up on. It’s actually pretty good; it just doesn’t capture the feel of the show as well.
Anyway, I’m not sure what’s going to happen next, or how the whole thing is going to play out, so I’m putting that in the positives column.
Equals fuckawesome destruction of all your childhood nostalgia for the franchise by having death and destruction rain down upon the characters in ways that are sure to make the PTC have some sort of ginormous fit of apoplexy. (I thought about spelling that gynormous, as a reference to their being whiny pussies, but felt that offensive to whiny bitches everywhere. Also, too subtle.)
Here’s the CEO summary: Warren Ellis is the perfect crazy fucker to drag a children’s toy line and cartoon screaming into tormented and violent adulthood, and I will watch this.
Check out Warren Ellis‘ blog.
FINAL CRISIS #3 (OF 7)
Oh, Grant Morrison, pony dogs? Really? At least I understand the overall thrust of this issue, and get what’s going on from the macro perspective. So, for that alone, this one seems better than all the past issues, though I still feel mostly like I’m reading it either a) like a rubbernecker at a car crash, or b) just to keep up with what’s going on in this big DC event. I know people like to harp on Bendis for being the master of decompression sotrytelling, but I’m starting to think that’s Morrison’s realm, since he seems to get away with it.
Anyway, I’m actually interested to see what’s happening in the later issues, though I think the action of this issue could have occurred earlier in the series and cause less confusion overall.
BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER #17
Better than the last issue, which I thought was needlessly flashbacky. Buffy and Melaka figure out the basics of what’s going on, and we get to see Xander ride Dawn, and their reactions are hilarious. I think this arc will tie up the loose ends of the Fray mini-series rather well, though I wonder why and how the big bad is who she is. Like usual, worth reading, and one of the better books this week.
DETECTIVE COMICS #847 RIP
So much better than the actual RIP storyline, though I’m pissed at all these supposed RIP tie-ins that are in no way tied into that story. I’m sorry, but a mention of the Black Hand in the first issue doesn’t count. Otherwise, this is a good story, and gives you some insight into why Hush is the way he is, even if most of the answer is “because he’s batshit crazy”. (Get it?)
AVENGERS INVADERS #4 (OF 12)
Act One of the mini-series concludes, and it’s entertaining enough, though not a must-read so far. It’s nice to see young Namor and old Namor’s interactions are as dysfunctional as you’d expect. I’m most looking forward to Bucky and current Cap (also Bucky) having a little sit-down.
This is basically the most depressing book I’ve read in a long, long time. The entire world’s gone to shit, and the Authority couldn’t do a damned thing to stop it. Apollo lives above the clouds so he can constantly suck up solar radiation and keep himself alive. Midnighter’s on the ground trying to bring people to the downed Carrier, which crash-fused with London. All in all, this is a defeated and pathetically ineffectual Authority, and I’m not sure how this is going to be fixed, or if it will be. I’m kind of expecting a time-travel story.
SECRET INVASION FRONT LINE #2 (OF 5) SI
Decent, but ultimately, I’m not sure what the point is. Ben Urich constantly berates himself for being a coward and running from super-powered fights, and then interviews people. Will this book have a plot behind it other than that (as the Civil War Frontlines did?), or is it just going to be the man-on-the-street’s view of getting squashed by Skrulls?
The Eyes of Justice forum is down due to domain expiry. It should come back in a little while once we’ve gone through the usual rigmarole. Fear not!
In other news, I’m suffering from a little carpal tunnel, which is annoying. I’m trying to do exercises to work my way through it.
Also, on the comic review front, I had two very light weeks (I bought maybe two books), and didn’t really feel they needed a review so I skipped it. Horrifying!
Normal service will resume shortly.