Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Green Lantern #11 - A Review

Green Lantern #11 is Geoff Johns at his best. Johns can spin an intergalactic space opera like no one else but his greatest strength lies in his dialogue. The best bits in any Geoff Johns story are the ones where he just lets the players converse and the dialogue reveals the characters naturally.

It is a credit to Johns' skill as a writer that he can so effortlessly slip exposition into an argument while keeping the dialogue natural and within the "voices" of Hal Jordan and Sinestro. There's quite a lot of plot revealed here, yet this issue is also a good jumping-on point for new readers. This is partly due to how well the status quo between Hal, Sinestro, The Guardians and the rest of the Green Lantern Corps is laid out and partly because of how effectively artist Doug Mahnke is able to give us a prophetic preview of what is to come, subtly hooking us into continuing the saga.

I still mark Green Lantern Corps as my favorite Green Lantern title at present but this book isn't a bad one by any stretch of the imagination. If you have yet to give Green Lantern a chance, do so with this issue. With a great script and solid artwork, you'll be glad you did.

Trailer for "Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, Part 1" Released

My apologies for not embedding the video here but MTV is keeping a pretty tight grip on it for now.

Visually, this looks impressive. They've captured Frank Miller's early art style and made it flow well. It looks like Miller's artwork come to life but it's not quite so sketchy or stylized. The bigger problem is the voice acting which - granting that we don't hear much dialogue here apart from the Mutant Leader - seems awfully lackluster.

Any thoughts, you all?

RETRO: Fallout 3 War Journal #15

I decided to head southwest from the old robot factory to a place on my map called Tenpenny Tower. I get there just in time to overhear an argument between a ghoul named Roy. Seems he's trying to move into the town but they don't take ghouls.

Thanks to my speechifying skills, I manage to talk my way in, convincing the guard at the gate - Chief Gustavo, it turns out - that his boss, Mr. Tenpenny wants to see me. Walking around the place and talking to people, it becomes clear that I'm in a neo-con paradise. Everyone is well-off, white or "acceptably ethnic" and scared out of their wits that the ghouls are going to eat them. Grim security guards walk the halls with the finest high-power weapons, unwilling to talk to a simple traveler who needs directions.

So yeah... in case you missed the subtle metaphor, the big white tower is an Ivory Tower, Mr. Tenpenny is The Man, most of the tower residents are the usual bunch of deviants who inhabit gated communities fearful that the poor/minorities are going to rise-up and kill them and the ghouls are your minority of choice.

Still, I go up and see Mr. Tenpenny and it becomes clear that he's the worst of the lot. Not only is he a rich elitist and a bigot but he's the one who hired the guy that tried to hire me to blow up Megaton. Why? It offended his view of the wasteland from the top of his tower.

Mr. Tenpenny: It is regrettable, but occasionally some must die for the benefit of the better people. It is survival of the fittest.
Me: Really? Well, I never thought of it that way. Hey! There's a puppy and kitten ranch being built in the distance!
Mr. Tenpenny: Where? I don't recall authorizing the zoning for that!
Me: (pulling grenade from pocket) It's WAAAY out there. Keep looking that way...

For blowing up a defenseless old man who wasn't expecting it - Good Karma!

I go back into his suite, expecting a firefight. Amazingly, the guard right outside the door either didn't hear a big kaboom or he doesn't care. But surely the guards outside heard that, right?

Not so much. Even Chief Gustavo seems rather blase about somebody dying on his watch, much less the guy who would sign his paycheck if they still had paychecks these days. I ask him about trying to reason with The Ghouls. He laughs this off and says if I want to get eaten alive, be his guest.

One sojourn into the nearby train tunnels later - after having discovered that with all my gear and all my bonuses, I am now capable of sneaking up on someone with their back-turned and hitting critical-damage sneak-attacks from point-blank range. With a shotgun.

I also discover realistic physics as my shooting at a ghoul while standing in the middle of a gas jet results in my being knocked down and set on fire. Amazingly, the fire kills the ghouls and only mildly annoys me. Thank you amoral mad scientist who gave me the powers of a fire-proof ant!

Eventually, I find Roy - who it turns out is leader of the local non-feral ghoul community. He's agreeable to trying to work something out with Mr. Tenpenny (apparently word hasn't reached the sewers yet) but how if that fails, he wants me to unlock a security door in the tower's basement so that they can unleash a horde of feral ghouls into the tower and then move in themselves.

Considering this as a last resort since there are a relatively few decent people in Tenpenny Tower who don't deserve to be the first against the wall when the zombie revolution comes, I go back and talk to Chief Gustavo, who still hasn't put 2 and 2 together on "stranger shows up saying he needs to talk to the boss" and "boss mysteriously explodes". In fact, the only acknowledgment of Mr. Tenpenny's passing is Chief Gustavo's assertion that he is in charge now.

Me: I talked with the ghouls. They're peaceful. They're friendly. They're just folks trying to get by. They'll pay rent same as everyone else - they just want a place to stay.
Chief Gustavo: Like hell! The only way those hideous freaks are coming in here is over my dead body.
Me: You feel that strongly about it? You sure there's no other way this will happen?
Chief Gustavo: Yep. Only way ghouls will ever live in this place is over my dead body! Now drop this nonsense! I have my eye on you...
Me: (pulling my sniper rifle) Really? Do you have eyes in the back of your head? If not, I can put them there.


Random Guard: Get him!
Me: Ah hell... (running inside)

Another Random Guard:
He's in here!
Me: Oh come on! I kill the boss on his balcony with an explosive in broad daylight and nobody says anything! I snipe the head of security, in the dark of night, from a distance, and suddenly the security team wakes up! (running for basement door)

Me: Okay. I've got 20 mines, 15 explosives and about 50 Stims. I think I can take on the entire security team, not to mention every single crazed bigot in this place who probably have enough guns and ammo in their underwear drawers to make Ted Nugent weak in the knees with joy. Or I could just unlock the doors down here and let the zombies do it. It'll be a karma hit, but hey - there's always beggars who need fresh water.

(fiddling with door) Dammit. This door must open someplace else. No switches obvious. Guess I'll have to become Death, Destroyer of Worlds

Me: (running through door) Yippie Kai Yai Yay, Mamma-Jamma!
Security Guard: Hey! How's it going?
Me: ... the hell?

Yes. Apparently all it took for me to be forgiven for shooting the sheriff (but I did not shoot the deputy) was to hide in the basement. After I exit, I find that not only are the security guards smiling and friendly, but that I have apparently been granted Superintendent powers. Every bigot I talk to afterward curses me and my ghoul friends for destroying their paradise, asking where they are supposed to go now.

Me: Not my problem. You can live with it... or you can live somewhere else. Don't hurt my feelings none if you leave.
Bigots: You bleeding heart do-gooder! My death will be on your head! We'll get you next time, Captain Planet!

For evicting a bunch of rich white pricks - Good Karma for each one!

So yeah... the non-bigots are quite happy with their new neighbors. Ghoul women in sun-dresses walk the halls freely. And me? Well, I'm moving on - my only regret that I didn't follow the bigots out of town to laugh as they get mauled by a giant scorpion and loot their bodies.

The Moral Of The Story? The best way to combat racism is not through education but by blowing up the rich white guys in charge, shooting their bodyguards in the head and forcing the rest of the rich bigots into the streets to live like mangy dogs.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Red Sonja #67 - A Review

On rare occasions, I come across a comic where the disparity between writing and art is so great as to be unbelievable. A illustrated story where the level of quality is first-rate for one aspect and piss-poor for the other. Red Sonja #67 is such a comic.

Our story begins with Sonja and her companions heading east across the sea. Fresh from an adventure in Stygia, the rough sea voyage is a welcome change of pace from the dark sorcery and plots within plots the party recently dealt with. Sadly, the voyage proves to be anything but restful as Sonja and her company must face monstrous animals, a shipwreck and hostile natives.

Eric Trautmann's story is simple but strongly told. It would be difficult to suggest a standard sword-and-sorcery story but this tale comes close, being full of comedy, action and daring-do. And in these days when decompressed storytelling is the norm, Trautmann deserves high praise for putting more action in a single issue than many comics manage across a six-issue storyline.

Would that the art was the equal of the story! The artwork by Marcio Abreu is as weak as Trautmann's story is strong. It's not that Abreu is a bad artist but his character design is incredibly inconsistent. There are several points where Sonja's face seems to be an afterthought compared to the rest of her body. As a result, Sonja's face looks different from panel to panel at some points.

More worrying is Sonja's ever-shrinking chainmail skirt and Abreu's apparent inability to avoid drawing up-skirt shots on every other page. Granting that the sword-and-sorcery genre is rife with fanservice, much of this artwork is just plain ridiculous. I do not believe it is possible, even through dark sorcery, for any wind to be great enough to move Sonja's breechcloth upwards while her hair hangs straight down, unmoving. Indeed, I am torn between what is more incredulous - how frequently Sonja's bare ass is seen from behind or how she miraculous manifests white schoolgirl panties whenever her skirt blows up from the front.

I want to recommend this book. I really do. More than any writer since Mike Carey, Eric Trautmann has presented a Red Sonja who is strong, capable and progressed past her origins as a female Conan equivalent. Sadly, the artwork of Marcio Abreu is so poor as to drag this entire book into the gutter.

RETRO: Fallout 3 War Journal #14

I actually start out exploring a little bit closer to home. I return to the Bed and Breakfast to find that the raiders are back. And their little dog too. And by little dog I mean vicious pit bull. I get another flame-thrower, a nice pile of ammo and I encounter my first slaver. Damn friendly fellow who doesn't say much other than "Shame About The Slaves - would have made a fortune in Paradise Falls." At least, that's all he says before I end his sorry life. No sign of the dead slaves he was talking about, though.

Ah yes... Paradise Falls. The mythical city of the slavers. I've heard of the place but haven't heard where it is. Maybe we'll find it on the way to the military base to the west I heard about? I heard rumors the slavers all came from the west of Megaton.

Turns out the base isn't so abandoned after all. Seems the Talon Mercenaries had been using it as a campsite. They keyword being had. I'm not sure these guys are as bright as they are ruthless. since one of them had a rocket launcher and attempted to shoot me with it through a chain-link fence and almost point-blank range. Another ammo dump. Another trip back to Megaton to sell guns and ammo I don't need.

The road to Oasis was littered with Super Mutants. I rescued another three captives, including my first male captive - just as I was starting to think that every single person I had to rescue was a helpless woman. Of course the ratio so far is running about 6:1, so... yeah. Not a very progressive view of the apocalypse. I mean to say, you'd think there would be some boy whores in all of this...

(Little Firefly reference for you all. Moving On.)

I also wind up fighting a ton of mutant bear monsters, more giant scorpions and even another robotic brain. I also wind up discovering a nuclear waste dump site that was - in a fit of irony, I assume - named the Greener Pastures Waste Facility.

Eventually, after much walking and rock-climbing (Rock-climbing, Joel...), I found a mountain pass guarded by two people in brown robes who were wearing twigs. One of them - an older man - greeted me and told me that my coming was foretold by Him and that I was to speak to Him.

Well, I'm allowed into the city and it is - as promised - a green paradise with water that's only slightly radioactive. I talk to the old man who reveals that he is father to this group of Tree-Tenders. A speechifying check and he tells me that Him is a tree. A talking tree and god of nature who has blessed the grove and taught them to live in peace with nature, free of the corruption of technology. Well, all technology except guns - they need something to protect themselves with from the Outsiders, after all.

So yeah... Oasis is basically a hippie commune, only with a serious lack of uninhibited young women and recreational drugs. Well, except for the tree sap that causes me to pass out after the Father insists on me undergoing a purification ritual before I am allowed to see Him. The ritual consists of listening to the rest of the Tenders recite bad poetry and then drinking their magic tree sap.

When I wake up, I'm in a grove with a big damn tree. With a face. He says his name is Harold, but the plant growing out of his is named Bob. It becomes readily apparent that Harold is going out of his mind. It seems that he was human once, contact with some radioactive waste caused him to start sprouting plant-life and now "Bob" has grown so big that he's enveloped Harold completely. He's also somehow keeping Harold alive, since Harold has been rooted in place for the better part of 200 years, thus creating all this wonderful greenery whenever his seed spreads.

Yeah. I'm starting to wonder about that tree sap too.

Anyway, his connection to the local environment allows Harold to see most of what goes on around him - since why my outsider self was allowed into Oasis to speak to Harold and do him a favor. He wants to die and he wants me to kill him. I try to talk him into continuing to live and trying to convince him that his lot is not so bad. But he's having none of it and asks why the first outsider he's seen in months has to have a conscience. He then asks me to go into the caves under the city, find his heart (it's in his roots) and kill him. I ask why I can't just set him on fire but it turns out that Harold is afraid of fire and that he doesn't want to die THAT way.

I head to the caves and walk in on a conversation with Father and his wife, Mother. It seems Father is concerned about the outside world and fears that unless Oasis is kept contained, it will become tainted. Mother, on the other hand, thinks that Harold is a means of salvation and that their duty should be to spread the greenery to the rest of the Capitol Wasteland. They both ask me to help them, with Father giving me an elixir that will stun Harold's growth and Mother giving me one that will accelerate it, hopefully restoring the ecosystem of the Wasteland within decades instead of centuries.

Well, no choice really - needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few and all. I decide to help Mother. But first, I have to go into the caves. Caves full of not just Mirelurk crab men but also Mirelurk Hunters and Mirelurk Kings. The Hunters are bigger and tougher. The Kings have some kind of sonic/psychic attack that hurts like hell. Thankfully, they have relatively human heads so they are a LOT easier to kill than even regular Mirelurks.

I wind up using the "growth" formula on the heart and return to Harold. He asks me why I did what I did and I explain to him that it would be cruel of me to deny the tree-tenders their purpose in life. Actually, I could care less about the hippies being content with their lot - I want to save the world and let my grand kids have a green lawn to play on. Regardless, Harold accepts this and decides to try and take joy in the happiness he gives others.

Speaking of giving, Mother thanks me for my help and says that some of the other Tree-Tenders would like to thank me too.

I wind up getting a lucky charm that boosts my Speech skill by 10 points, a hood woven of Harold's bark that increases my agility by 1 and my sneak skill by 10 (goodbye Shady Fedora) and one of the brothers who used to be a member of the Brotherhood of Steel gives me his Outcast Brotherhood of Steel member armor.

Now, I actually got into a talk about this yesterday with my friend Patrick. In the first 2 Fallout games, it was all but IMPOSSIBLE to get Brotherhood of Steel armor. Even if you joined the order (which was a tasking task in and of itself), you still had to do several quests to prove yourself worthy of a set of Knights armor. Patrick said he had heard in the game that it was insanely easy to get the armor and that the Brotherhood seemed to die a lot easier.

I confirmed the later point - all but one of the Brotherhood I've seen so far were corpses slaughtered by Super Mutants - but I hadn't tried the armor since it lowers your agility while boosting your strength and I'm a fighter who is built for movement.

Still... this outcast armor I considered. It only boosted strength 1 point, but the agility penalty was only 1 as well. Easily balanced out by my new Hood of Stealthiness. And it also gave me radiation protection AND a bonus to using Big Gun weapons.

What a shame I can't wear it without special training...

So yeah. Not quite as game-break as we'd hoped. Still, if I can find someone to train me in wearing an armored suit...

Sunday, July 29, 2012

RETRO: Fallout 3 War Journal #13

Right. So I only have one more job from Moira for the book - investigate the old abandoned robot factory and reactivate the machinery there.

I think you can all guess where this leads - me shooting my way out of a factory as it turns out that - in spite of all Moira's evidence to the contrary - the robots are quite hostile when they wake up. Luckily I have tons of EMP-generating grenades on my person. Unfortunately, I probably just unleashed certain doom on the future since I don't have the mad science skills to hack the computers and reprogram the robots to be peaceful.

Still, have some fun along the way to said factory. I kill a lot more raiders who are camped out in an abandoned drive-in. By some miracle, I managed to walk their mine-field without setting anything off.

And I found a town full of very friendly, happy folks. Two typical 50s families... except for the fact that they live in a perfect three-house block in the middle of the apocalyptic wastes. And then there's the one old man who keeps telling me to get out of town while I still can. Well, naturally that piques my curiosity and I pickpocket the key one of the sleeping fathers since all of my lockpicks are broken.

Surprise surprise. It's "Motel Hell" meets "The Stepford Wives" and I'm suddenly shooting it out with two middle-aged women with bee-hive hair-dos and carving knives after I stumble across the shed where all the "new people" come looking for their perfect gated community wind up.

Takes all kinds of critters to make Farmer Vincent's fritters.

ANYWAY, I get back to Moira, get a portable mini-nuke as a reward for all my efforts and the first copy of the book as well as a HUGE bonus to all my survival skills.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

RETRO: Fallout 3 War Journal #12

It took about two more hours of fighting raiders for me to finally get to the library. Well, 10 minutes to fight the raiders, a team of Talon Mercenaries I managed to sneak up on (thank you Stealth Boy) - and a GIANT giant scorpion that some random twit died trying to fight with a tire iron. The remaining 1 Hour and 50 minutes was devoted toward looting bodies, looting raider camps and then then stashing excess loot on the giant scorpion body as I dragged myself back to Megaton to sell loot. THEN dragging myself to Big Town once all the merchants in Megaton ran out of cash. Even after I bought "My First Labratory" for my house, which gives me every single item I can buy for improving my home, I was still up 1500 bucks. Woot!

Still, I finally got to the library. And oh this was anti-climatic. Seems the entire library is under lockdown by The Brotherhood of Steel. They claim to be what remains of the US Army, re envisioned as the neo-Knights of the Round Table. Either way, they're cramping my style with their metal power suits and laser weapons. Thankfully, the scribe watching the door is reasonable about me coming in and making a copy of the database archives since they're trying to fight their way to the main computers themselves. Seem the place is swarming with *laughs* radioactive roaches and raiders.

Now, I know what you're thinking - how can giant roaches and a bunch of punks in leather armor possibly stand up to a bunch of people in metal strength-increasing armor and laser cannons?

They can't. I'm lucky to get a shot in and earn xp for killing any of the raiders with two paladin's stomping around each part of the library that I enter. On the bright side, I have no problems getting to the archive wing, getting the information Moira needs and getting the hell out of there with a spattering of loot. I even manage to get the BoS Scribe to pay me 100 bucks per intact book I bring her. If I ever get strapped for cash (unlikely at this point, but you never know), I could easily come back here and clean up.

And as I head back over to Vamp town to unload all the blood packs I am carrying, I get ambushed by another 3 Talon Mercs. And that pushes me over the edge to leveling.

Yay Level 12. And now I'm a Paladin. Definitely "Have Gun, Will Travel" and not D&D.

Friday, July 27, 2012

RETRO: Fallout 3 War Journal #11

Next up: The journey to the Arlington Library

Make a long story short, I didn't get there, but I did discover two very important things.

1. Cars can explode if something else explodes near them. This is very cool when you're throwing grenades at the two mercenaries who are trying to kill you as they take cover behind a car. It isn't so cool when a cannibal raider with a missile launcher manages to kill you, separate your drumsticks from your thighs AND flame broil you to perfection in five seconds.

2. The Game World map actually shows areas that are blocked off by rubble and can only be accessed - relative to where you are - by an underground tunnel.

This later point would have saved me a lot of legwork before but hey... it DID result in me freeing another hot redhead enslaved by the Super Mutants. So hurrah for that.

So, where were we? Ah yes...

LAST TIME: I had just turned in the Declaration of Independence and parted ways with Sydney the hot mercenary chick. I sold off my excess loot and proceeded to head back to Megaton. As I left the city, I saw Sydney leaving town as well. Remember that she said she was going to Underworld and thinking "Hey! I promised the ghoul bartender in Megaton I'd look someone up for him but have no idea where Underworld is..." decided to follow Sydney. The fact that she's a smoking-hot ass-kicking babe in tight leather pants had nothing whatsoever to do with this decision. No no no...

Good thing for her that I did follow her though. Soon as she got to the nearest tunnels, three men in the same cheesy black leather armor came out. They recognized me, said they were with the Talon Mercenaries and that I couldn't just go around doing good and expect not to get noticed. And it was in this ensuing firefight that I discovered - cars blow up. They blow up good. It took me three minutes to find a piece of the mercs so that I could loot their bodies.

Yeah - another nice bit of game logic. If you blow someone's head off and can only find their body, you can still steal the helmet. :)

I follow Sydney through the tunnels - dispatch another raider in the process - and grab some excess loot I lost before. It's slow going as I become overburdened very quickly but I manage to keep up. And then on the other side of the tunnel, I discover something shocking.

Underworld? It's the Museum of History I walked right past when I was looking for the archives. Seems they set up shop in a wing that was devoted to a "History of The Underworld in Mythology" exhibit and the name stuck. Good news is that there's a thriving service industry here (goodbye excess guns and armor) and the ghouls are cool about smoothskins like me coming in as long as I don't shoot anyone. Suits me.

Sydney didn't take long to lose her share of the reward but she did invest part of it into becoming a guns and ammo saleswoman herself, operating out of the one bar in Underworld. What I couldn't sell to the local drug lord, she takes easily.

I leave Underworld behind, loot the rest of the Supermutant bodies I left behind while I was here and head back to Megaton. It won't let me tell Gob the bartender that I found the woman he was looking for - the woman who was basically the closest thing he had to a mother. Suckage. But I have enough money saved that I do manage to buy a personal infirmary, workbench, soda machine and jukebox for my house.

So yeah - no more wasted money on radiation detox or "all or nothing" healing for this boyo. I can patch myself up at home now.

So as I said... I still haven't made it to the library because it turns out that it is a LONG walk from Megaton and there's no fast-travel stop points along the way. Well, none I've found... and that long walk is full of tons of raiders.

Not much else to tell for the rest of the night. Fighting raiders. Lots of raiders. And no sooner do I bring down another raiding party, I have more armor and excess guns to haul back to Megaton to sell off, bringing about yet another round of enthusiastic pleading from Moira (No, I don't know if you can still check out books there! Just fix my armor, woman!)

Oh, and I encountered my first feral ghoul. Remember the really fast zombies in "28 Days Later"? Like that. But worse. I also fight - for some weird reason - a radioactive two-headed cow.

I can accept this. I'm just wondering... why NOW two-headed cow?

I quit for the night after a game glitch somehow put me into the editor - I think. Alt-Tabing out and tabbing back in seemed to work, but once I unpaused the game, THAT was when I discovered the pile of cars behind me blew up and once the glow died down I saw my carcass, up in the air, going what could be described as head-over-heels if I still had heels. Or calves.

Miraculously, my fedora (aka Shady Hat) stayed on the whole time. :)

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Rob Liefeld to leave DC Comics?

SOURCE: Rob Liefeld Planning On Leaving The New 52?

And there was much rejoicing.

Green Lantern Corps #11 - A Review

Every month for the past few months, I've said good things about Green Lantern Corps. How wonderful Peter Tomasi's writing is. How great the artwork by Fernando Pasarin, Scott Hanna and Gabe Eltaeb is. How this is, to my mind, the best of all the Green Lantern books DC Comics is publishing right now.

I don't have a lot to add to that having read Green Lantern Corps #11. Except this. Salaak is pure, unadulterated awesome.

The jail-break action from last issue continues. As their comrades cover their escape, Earthmen Green Lanterns John Stewart and Guy Gardner - rather than fleeing the planet - instead flee deeper inside the Guardian home world of Oa. Their goal? A hidden bunker, discovered during the War Of The Green Lanterns storyline where the Guardians store their earliest experiments in creating a peace-keeping force for the universe.

As you might have guessed from the previous summary, there's a rather involved storyline leading into this issue. This is a great comic but this is a bad issue to start reading it, if you aren't already. I highly suggest you newcomers pick up Green Lantern Corps: Recharge and start from there.

RETRO: Fallout 3 War Journal #10

Next up - retrieve The Declaration of Independence from the National Archives.

It took me forever to figure out how to get to the blessed National Archives in the first place. And I had my first encounter with the bane of Oblivion - the invisible force-field and the game message that says "You cannot continue this way. Please move another direction."

Eventually, I do find a subway station that leads in the right direction. It takes two trips back and forth through the tunnel for me to gather up all the loot dropped by the raiders living in the tunnels. And then it takes another two trips for me to gather up all the loot once I get to the other side of the tunnel - just outside the National History Museum - and wind up fighting eight Super Mutants at the same time.

How did I survive? Fragmentary grenades are my friend.

I also run into my first living member of the Brotherhood of Steel, but he's not very chatty. Indeed, he refuses to say anything other than the area is in lockdown. Not that he does anything to stop me from entering the Archives. Lazy ass knights...

No sooner do I enter the archives, I find myself paired up with an attractive Brunette named Sydney. Seems that Mr. Lincoln - the museum curator - hired her to go after the Declaration as well. After fighting off a sudden invasion of Super Mutants, I suggest an alliance and a splitting of the reward. Sydney agrees and I make Level 10 by disarming landmines around the room Sydney set up as a barricade against the Super Mutants. :)

And this is where I max out my Lockpicking skill so that I never again have to dive through a toxic river again. Probably. I also take a feat called Finesse - I get treated as if my Luck were 5 points higher for the purpose of landing critical hits.

Another trip back to Rivet City to sell off loot and I wind up running into a woman who asks me why I'm asking so many questions about this missing humanoid. I answer that I'm looking to help him - that's it. She explains that she's with a group called "The Railroad" and they they are helping escaped android slaves keep hidden - as well as fighting regular slaving organizations. She gives me a micro-circuit unique to that type of android and tells me that giving that to Zimmer should make him give up the chase. I ask about joining the Railroad and she says they'll consider it IF I do this job for them.

Well, Zimmer cheaps out - seems he doesn't care much about the dead on the "dead or alive" thing. But hey - 300 xp for doing the right thing strikes me as being a much better reward than 50 bucks, anyway.

Sydney and I wind up blasting our way through more mutants and - on the bottom level - a lot of robots. There's not much style except for one part where I pick a lock to get into the maintenance tunnels - in order to cut down on the number of robots I HAVE to deal with. Eventually, we get to the vault room... and find that the last guardian before the vault is a robot who has been programmed with the personality of the second man to sign the Declaration.

Okay - little bit of style here. I manage to con my way PAST the robot with my mad speechifying skills by convincing him that I am - in fact - Thomas Jefferson and that I have come to pick up the Declaration in order to deliver it into the safekeeping of the new President. The robot is overjoyed, inquires as to it's service. I thank him for his service and give him permission to "retire" gracefully.

We head back and I get my loot. I ask Sydney if she'd like to keep teaming up but she says she wants to relax and enjoy her wealth for a bit but she invites me to look her up in Underworld. Seems she likes hanging around the ghouls because they don't flirt with her.

So... yeah. Level 10, two more quests done. Three if you count the "mess with jerkass" quest because - as I was walking around selling things - I found out that I couldn't do a blessed thing with the information of the true history of Rivet Town. No blackmailing of the corrupt councilmen or anything.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

New Arrow News From Director David Nutter

Legendary Director David Nutter Talks About Launching Arrow

And suddenly my worries about the show are fading again. In brief...

* The show is definitely going to be more mature than Smallville.

* The pilot is DEFINITELY inspired by Green Arrow: Year One. - “The entire sensibility of the show is really based on Green Arrow Year One. We kind of took it from that as our perspective, in some respects, and the look of that opening sequence is one that I wanted to really mix it up. I wanted to make you feel like you’re a part of it...”

Regarding Other DC Comics characters showing up - “You will be seeing DC Universe characters and Green Arrow characters in the series for sure, but it’s really going to be a ‘peel of the onion’ situation, and you’ll see them in a realistic light. They’ll be real people. They won’t be walking in the episode in a crazy outfit or something. We want to make this as grounded as possible, and make it as believable as possible..."

* On that note, apparently Deadshot will be showing up in the third episode.

RETRO: Fallout 3 War Journal #9

Last time, I had just finished eeking out some justice to an amoral scientist and blowing up a lot of ants. Not wanting to go back through a ton of caverns, I opt to take this strange tunnel exit I found with a sign reading "Church Falls"

I walk up and find myself in the middle of a fire-fight between.. well, someone who is firing a laser gun and a butt load of Super Mutants. Pretty soon, the Super Mutants are charging me and.. make a long story short, I'm quickly carrying more hunting rifles and boards with nails in them than I can manage. Quick sidetrip back to Megaton (No Moira - I STILL haven't gotten to Crabmen - now give me my 8 bits for the board!) and I return to tell the orphan that I've avenged his family. He confirms that whatever the mad scientist did to calm the ants wound up making them go crazy and start killing each other.

Color me shocked. Still, problem solved. I ask if there's anyplace he could go and he says his dad talked about having a sister in Rivet City, but he has no idea where that is. Neither do I. Huh.

Ah well - no sense in putting it off anymore. Time to die.

I begin the death march toward the crab-man lair. Amazingly, I have a very peaceful time of it. I run into a nice old lady with a shotgun (she calls herself Grandma Sparkles) who tells me that she saw a group of mercenaries who were looking for "some do-gooder from the Vault". This can't possibly be good. I also run into a group of ghouls trying to find a place that will take them since they're having no luck finding The Underground - a city run by ghouls, for ghouls.

Funny - in my real life and my virtual life - the most polite people are the freaks.

The ghouls are actually standing right on top of the lair. I quickly abandon the stealthy approach for the time honored method of running like mad, jumping down three stories into a pool of radioactive, egg-infested water, planting the camera and then running like all the demons in Hell are chasing after me - which was not too far from what WAS chasing after me.

Still, I actually get a halfway decent reward for this. A hat! A spiffy black fedora which has the neat effect of boosting my stealth skill 5 points AND my perception by 1. Oh, and some invisibility cloak device called The Stealth Boy, which I haven't used yet as it only has four charges and I haven't run into any missions (well, apart from this one) where stealth would be more useful than running like hell or guns-a-blazing.

This job done, Moria asks me to start work in the final chapter, which will be all about how to rebuild society in the wake of Armageddon. First task - go to Rivet City (the most successful post-apoc town) and find out the history of how they were founded.

Good news! I now know how to get there so I can track down the orphan's aunt. Bad news! It's ALLL the way down in the SE corner of the world map and the closest place I can fast travel to is... the spawning pool.

*sighs* At least I don't have to go inside there. I do, however, have to cross a radioactive river. Luckily there's a shallow spot where I barely get wet running across. Unfortunately, I wind up having to fight off two crabmen and a centaur. There's also a few giant roaches but I avoid them. Turns out they don't bother me if I don't bother them and I don't have the ammo to waste for a 2xp kill.

Getting across the river, I wind up discovering the Tepid Sewers (the place Moria wanted me to go to find giant mole rats... HA!) and someplace called Dukov's Place. Dukov, it turns out, is the most intelligent man I've met so far. Rather than try and eek out an honest living like all the other poor slobs, he has renovated an entact government building into what is basically the Playboy mansion and is now spending his days drinking, eating and screwing the two ladies who are with him because - well, screwing an odious Hugh Hefner wannabe with the voice of Lonod Mollari beats having to do honest work. At least, that's what one of them (Fantasia) thinks. The other (Cherry) quickly bends to my Speechifying ways and agrees to leave.... if I escort her to Rivet City.

Me: Great! That's where I'm going anyway.
Cherry: Super. But I'm not sleeping with you on the way there.
Me: Awwwwww!

Oh well - here I am. Wandering through the wilderness - weapon in my hand and a redhead in a teddy at my side. Why do I have the feeling I've had this dream before?

Cherry goes running as we find a raider camp. Bad news is that - unlike most of the raiders I've seen so far - these guys are smart enough to use guns. Assault rifles even. Good news is that a raid of their camp and a looting of bodies after I end them leaves me with so much loot, swag and excess weaponry I'd look something like Jayne Cobb if my avatar reflected just how much crap I was carrying at any given time.

I recover Cherry and keep heading south. Stumble across a Scavenger who seems like a might friendly guy. We do some trading, he repairs my guns and I ask Cherry to stay put while I scout ahead.

I wind up stumbling across a Super Mutant camp right off the road. Thankfully, I spot them way before they spot me. Actually, I spot their captive first and THEN the big green Hulking guards. Because apparently my ability to see hot redheads in need of assistance is now extending into the game world. I rescue her, gather up more loot and then follow her to see where it is she is running off to.

Surprisingly, it is ANOTHER Super Mutant Camp. I follow after the mysterious redhead, downing Supermutants all the while as I run across this scaffolding. It's dark, so I don't make out much of the scenery, but I am suddenly informed that I am standing on the Jefferson Memorial. Cool.

I chase the redhead again until she doubles-back almost all the way to where I left Cherry, taking a path down another road. Suddenly, she stops. Won't say a word as I try to talk to her. I sense enemies close though. Looking around I don't see anything.... walk forward... and then I look up. Catwalk above me, two super mutants begin talking. One complains of how he keeps trying to remember their old life - they remember a woman - or maybe being a woman. Thinking hurts. I cure this existential dilemma the only way I know how. Sniper rifle fire to the brainpan.

Following the road and checking my map, I find myself close to the National History Museum but see no obvious path there through the rubble. I do, however, find a bridge going back over the river. Resolving to explore this later, I go back to Cherry and - one more Super Mutant ambush later - we make our way to Rivet City.

Rivet City is - it turns out - an entire city built into the back half of a wrecked aircraft carrier. I quickly introduce myself to the lawman guarding the bridge and find out that most of the decisions regarding the city are made by a Dr. Li. I resolve to go see her after I sell my excess loot.

Cherry thanks me for everything but tells me not to get too big a head even though "oh yay, you're my hero and everything." But hey... another Karma boost. At this point, I don't think I can go any higher than Very Good.

The market square does have everything - including a lot of potential quest stuff that we're not going to mess with. Why? Well, to be quite blunt, everyone in Rivet City is a jerkass.

* There's tons of cops, but most of them are leaning on the walls and act like it's a major imposition to even give me directions.
* The owners of the local pharmacy are obviously sampling their own wears and nobody seems to care that one of them is about to go over the edge.
* Bannon, the fancy man who runs the clothing store AND represents the merchants in the city council - makes it clear that he'd be very grateful if someone found something incriminating in the quarters of the head of the general store, who is challenging his seat.
* Angela, one of the local teenage girls, is looking to score some ant pheromone to try and win over Diego, a priest in training who loves her, but has been convinced by the local priest that Angela is a test he must overcome on the road to holiness.
* The town drunk is abusive to her son, who everyone is convinced is a total brat. Nobody seems to think that - hey - given that his mom actively mocks him every chance she gets, he has a good reason to be a hostile little smart-ass.

I ignore all this - apart from asking everyone about the history of Rivet City - finding out little more than Bannon claims to be responsible for everything, most nobody else really cares and the old lady running the bar tells me that a guy named Pinkerton - who is probably dead but if he is still alive he's living on the far end of the ship- can tell me the truth.

Stumbling around, I find a museum of sorts devoted to American History. Talking to the guy who runs it - Abraham Washington - I find that he knows very little about the city history but he is in need of a brave soul to break into the old National Archives - all in the name of reclaiming the Declaration of Independence. I agree to help, simply because breaking in and entering is sort of my thing... even if I am a Very Good agent of Law and Order. Besides, apparently the place is crawling with Super Mutants and they're always good for loot.

I meet a woman who claims that this man named Sister is a slave and that she's afraid he came for her. Having little love for slavery or slavers, I give her 25 bucks to buy herself a gun and decide to deal with this guy. Bad news - I find him at the inn and he doesn't give me any good reason to have it out there. Can't get the option to say "Have at you you flesh-peddling scum!" or some such. On the bright side, the inn-keeper is the Orphan's aunt and she's more than happy to take in her brother's son.

I also find the science lab and Dr. Lee. It turns out - hey - she knows my father and he was just here trying to revive something called Project Purity. Seems the whole reason my dad was sneaking in and out of the Vault was to try and solve the problem of cleaning up the toxic, radiation soaked water and that he's gone back to his lab in... wait for it... The Jefferson Memorial to work on it.

While in the lab, I also meet a jackass named Zimmer, who comes from some big fancy town up north. Seems they've perfected the art of robotics to the point of creating realistic androids. One of them, apparently sick of being a slave, fled southward and has apparently erased his own memories and had surgery to change his features. I nominally agree to help look for this android but honestly... I'm going to seek this guy out to ask if I can help with freeing the rest of his robotic brethren if only to spite this Zimmerman jackass.

Having talked to everyone in the city now, I go off looking for this mysterious Pinkerton fellow. Good news is that the game quest journal will tell you where to go if you're not sure how to find something. Bad news is that... well, I think the thing is bugged as the way it is showing me lies beyond that radioactive deadly water.

For the first time since starting the game, I cheat a bit and check out an on-line hint guide. Seems I'm not alone and that NOBODY knew how to find this guy. Eventually, you can walk around and find a metal walkway that leads to a door that requires a 100% Lockpicking skill to bust open. Or, you can just dive into the radioactive water, swim through a tunnel into an underwater maze and fight several Mirelurks in close-quarters while trying to get to the same point. Because, you know, it's totally logical that you'd go swim around a radioactive lake full of mutant monsters looking for a tunnel entrance that isn't on your map. :P

Regardless, I finally find Pinkerton and he gives me the real truth on how Rivet Town was founded as a scientific outpost and how he was the original founder, but he was forced out of the city council and out of town by Dr. Li and her gang. He gives me the notes that prove he is telling the truth, which I file away to use for making certain jerkasses very uncomfortable later on.

So... after swimming back through the same radioactive waste because the jerkass won't unlock the door for me even though he no longer objects to me coming to visit, I take a quick trip back to Megaton to tell Moira the good news, get my next assignment (look for books at the Arlington Virginia Library), sell more excess loot, stop off by the giant ant city to tell the orphan he has a home and stop off by the Church Falls train station (closest point to the library, which is where I want to go next) where I discover that the things the Super Mutants were fighting, which I didn't investigate in the dark, were apparently members of the Brotherhood of Steel - i.e. the power-armor wearing Knights of the Round Table wannabees well familiar to regulars of the Fallout series.

Man... and I just got done selling excess loot. Now I have to go back to Megaton to sell these damn plasma cannons and power armor suits....

Justice League #11 - A Review

Two things have become clear to me, reading Justice League #11. The first is that a good villain requires some definition in order to be truly effective as a character. This issue finally let me pinpoint precisely what is what about the villain Graves which bothers me so much. Namely that it's taken us five issues to find out what the hell he was, what his powers were and precisely why he blamed the Justice League for the deaths of his family. And that knowledge instantly transformed Graves into a much more compelling villain.

The second thing that became clear is that Geoff Johns really should not pair up with artist Jim Lee under any circumstance- their styles are too different. Heaven bless him, Johns has tried to bend his scripts to meet Lee's strengths... but it just doesn't work! Johns is at his best when he is writing conversations between characters and Lee is at his best drawing splash pages. Tellingly, the best bits of this book are when Johns explores the conflict between the various personalities of the Justice League and the best bits of Lee's art are on the pages with no dialogue.

Justice League isn't a bad comic, per say. But it is a troubled one. The artwork is gorgeous, but there's little story to hold it up. The character dialogue is snappy but the good moments are all too brief. Frankly, if it weren't for the promise that next month's issue is going to boast major consequences for the new universe, I'd probably drop it. After next issue, I still might.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Supergirl #11 - A Review

Supergirl #11 starts off with a big event - Kara's first date on Earth. It goes about as well as can be expected when the date is with her new friend Tom, who can barely speak English. He's still somewhat better off than Kara, who can't speak English at all and has yet to grasp the concept of having to pay for food. Apparently Krypton was an anarcho-syndicalist commune.

This might be a fine hook for a story by itself but this wouldn't be much of a superhero comic if there weren't a little action to round out the drama. The date becomes even more awkward when a hired-gun in a nano-tech suit shows up wanting to fight. As will happen when you're Supergirl trying to relax. The action here is well laid out by artist Mahmud Asrar, who economically fits a lot of story into every page.

Michael Green and Mike Johnson have created a quiet classic with this series. Kara continues to impress as an intelligent, compassionate heroine. We also learn a lot about new cast member Tom here, seeing that he's bold enough to attack a super-being to protect a friend... even when the friend is a young woman who can break buildings with her pinky.

If you aren't already reading Supergirl, you should give it a shot.

RETRO: Fallout 3 War Journal #8

So I head to the S-Mart - the closest Fast-Travel point form which I can start walking to the crabman lair. No sooner do I step out of the parking lot than this boy runs up. Seems he's from a town to the south that is under siege by giant fire ants. He isn't sure where his dad or his neighbors from across the street or the scientist they were renting a room to are. Having fought a few giant ants before, I agree to help out. Anything to stave off the insanity of sneaking into a crabman lair.

I quickly find out that these are literally fire-ants. That is, the ants can breathe fire. Like a flame-thrower. I take a quick spin around the town blasting the things while trying to find the kid's house. I wind up finding an abandoned train station in the middle of this and wind up circling around the whole town trying to get to where I need to go. Luckily the kid has a good shelter to hide in. Unluckily, his dad died taking the ants down with him. The kid takes the news about as well as you can expect - thankfully he was all cried out. He asks me to figure out what's caused the ants and keep them from hurting anyone else. I agree, of course. It's what a sheriff would do.

Dad had a key to a newly constructed shack out behind their house. Seems this belonged to the scientist. A quick examination of his notes (he left his password written on the desk - not smart) reveals that the ants are HIS fault. Apparently he was trying to shrink the regular giant ants back to normal size and.... well, silly him he somehow gave them the ability to breathe fire. His notes also tell how he was working on his experiments in a lab he built... inside the train station.

So yay! More tunnels! More ants! And a virtual depletion of most of my guns, ammo and land mines. The only interesting things of note I find are a tunnel that says it leads up into a church and a room full of loot and swag, including a safe containing "Naughty Nightwear". No sooner do I swipe it, a raider type comes in demanding that I return it. My speechifying skills convince him to let it go and that I am in fact the rightful owner of this sexy lingerie.

Sad how the most reasonable person I've met today is an underwear-stealing maniac in a hockey mask.

Eventually, I find the scientist. It quickly becomes apparent that the not so good doctor has gone past being a mad scientist and has now entered Dr. Moreau territory. It doesn't matter that he just killed an entire city and destroyed two families (I found the dad from the other family down here in the tunnels as well - no sign of his wife or kids...) - he must solve the ant-shrinking problem. He says that he has created a device to make the ants docile but that he needs a clear path to the ant queen's lair. In exchange, he offers to use his science to enhance my genetics.

Guess who gets recruited to go kill the ant queen's five personal guard ants to get that clear path made? Guess who came back and - after making sure the ant-calmer was turned on - blew the head off the pencil-neck geek who thought ant shrinking was more important than people? Guess who went back and killed the ant queen... just to make sure? Guess who made level 8 and - despite a karma drop for killing the amoral scientist - is still very good?

Monday, July 23, 2012

The Dark Knight Rises: A Review

It is good. Damn good. Don't wait for it to come out on DVD. See it on the big screen. The performances are all top-notch and the script by Christopher Nolan and David Goyer still managed to find ways to surprise me. All in all, it's a fine conclusion to the story Christopher Nolan started in Batman Begins and one of the greatest Batman Elseworlds stories ever.

I really can't say any more than that without unleashing some massive spoilers. So I won't. Just trust me when I say that if you're any kind of Bat-Fan, you won't want to miss this one.

RETRO: Fallout 3 War Journal #7

I head back to Megaton to cash in my loot before heading off to mine town and it occurs to me that I have been remiss in my sherrifly duties in my adopted town as I've been running around and saving the last two towns - three if you count the vampires.. ha ha - Count. Vampires? Get it?

Colin, the guy running the salon, is a bit of an information merchant. In addition to keeping a ghoul as an actual slave and forcing a woman named Mona into being a virtual slave for anyone with 120 bucks for a room with companionship (wink wink), he's reportedly blackmailing half the town. I decide to deal with this the only way a frontier sheriff can... after making sure there's no dialogue options for me to convince Colin to give up his wicked ways.

I luck out - I go to the bar and find him luxuriating on the front porch, enjoying a smoke. Three shots from my pistol and his head gets neatly separated from his body (I just LOOOOOOVE that Bloody Mess feat) and I get a drop in Karma for the first time ever.

Wha? But... but he's a pimp and a bully and a criminal! He's a bad, bad person. I am the law!

Ah hell. *RUNS*

I decide to go for a quick stroll northward to collect my thoughts, regroup and outrun the lynch mob. I wind up getting all the way to Big Town, stop in and rest for a bit (there's always a mattress in the street for you to sleep on, our hero!) before heading back to see if people have calmed down.

Good news. They have. Things have adjusted themselves real well. Mona has taken over the inn/bar and is still renting rooms for the same 120 bucks... WITHOUT companionship. Weirdly, she still refuses to help me with hacking Colin's computer. Gob, the ghoul bartender, isn't taking to freedom as well and indeed seems to have developed some form of paranoid psychosis. That is to say, he greets me by shouting "Don't shoot! Please!", says "Anything for you, friend." when I ask about getting a drink and then begs me not to hit him when I say goodbye.

Ah well... you try your best. I decide against getting into Colin's computer on my own even though I have his password (it was written on something and he had it on his body...) since I don't care to know all the dirty laundry he may have been sitting on unless the town is in danger and it isn't. Yet.

I run into Lucy West on my way back home. She doesn't have anything to say about me delivering her letter except that she totally forgot about that with everything else going on. She asks me to look her up next time I'm in town but... eh... won't say anything else after that. Stuck up priss.

Ah well... at least the townsfolk know how to show their appreciation. I get some more ammo for a gun I don't have and a Stim from grateful random villagers as I get up in the morning and walk to Minetown from the Police Station/Supermutant base.

Well, the name isn't misleading - the whole town is SWARMING with mines in the streets. I even have a few proximity explosions blow up a few cars that nearly end me a few times. Luckily I'm fast enough and (thanks to me buffing my Repair Skill last level) skilled enough that I can move in and deactivate the things before they go off.

Eventually I find the source of all this - a man I somehow know is named Arkansas who shoots at me from atop the remains of the tallest building in town. Checking the tower reveals a sizeable ammo dump as well as a sniper rifle. I help myself to it because in this county, "You can take my gun from my cold dead hands." isn't just an expression.

I check around a few of the houses - find one full of giant roaches and some loot. Find another one full of loot and no roaches. And a third one filled with a raider's dead body and not much else. I wind up with more loot than I can carry and head back to Megaton and Moira the Crazy Lady.

Well, she's overjoyed by my gift of a disabled mine and the information I give her. It's enough to get Chapter One of the book done... which leads to her asking if I'd like to help with Chapter Two. I agree - simply because the sherrifing isn't the most profitable gig in the world what with the one criminal mastermind in my town dead.

The first task is to test a new mole-rat repellent she invented. I express concerns about the safety of the chemicals involved but she reassures me by saying she works with them all the time and she's fine.

Ha comma ha comma ha.

You ever notice how you can never find the one enemy you need to find in an RPG when you need to, even if they were swarming you in packs earlier? I get attacked by two radioactive scorpions before I get attacked by mole-rats so I could test the repellent.

Well, the good news is that I don't get killed by the Molerats. The bad news is that the Repellent-On-A-Stick isn't so much a Repellent as it is a glorious Mattock of Mole Rat Crushing +5. Why is that bad news? Well, there's already lots of ways to kill Molerats, Moira says but she does give me what remains of the chemicals she used to make the bat after taking it away. I'd rather have the bat.

Ah well - another day another job. This one is much trickier - she wants to measure the affects of pain and crippling injuries that can occur in the wasteland. The reason this is trickier is that I have to get to at least half health (preferably have at least one limb crippled) and the game system won't let you Fast Travel when there is a hostile nearby - much less actively gnawing on your scant tender bits.

And then it occurs to me - I never quite did finish cleaning up Minetown.

One selective and carefully timed injury later, I'm raking in the cash for my hideous injury AND the rest of the loot I couldn't carry before. And that is when Moira asks me about the final thing she needed help with for Chapter Two.

Sneak inside a crab-men lair and plant a monitoring device in their spawning pool so we can observe their mating habits.

It is at this point that I try to use my speechifying powers to convince Moira that this book is a bad idea and that all she is going to do is get people (besides me) hurt. All this does is increase her resolve to make everything as accurate as possible - which means answering for all time the question - are crab men intelligent?

Well, they're more intelligent than me - I'm about to go sneak a nanny cam into their bedrooms so that a crazy lady can enjoy the finest mollusc porn Post-Apoc technology can provide.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

REVIEW: Cinematic Titanic - Rattlers

Rattlers is the most recent DVD release by the crew at Cinematic Titanic. Founded by original Mystery Science Theater 3000 creator Joel Hodgson and starring the original cast of the show during its' KTMA season (Trace Beaulieu and J. Elvis Weinstein) as well as Frank "TV's Frank" Conniff and Mary Jo "Pearl Forrester" Pehl, Cinematic Titanic has been performing live shows in venues across the United States for several years now and offering periodic DVD releases of their live shows.

Rattlers, as the name suggests, is a horror movie about killer rattlesnakes. The action, such as it is, centers upon herpetologist Dr. Tom Parkinson - a man who would be the Indiana Jones of snake experts if Indy liked snakes and Tom were played by a better actor. Lured away from the halls of academia for the princely sum of $200, Dr. Tom is brought into investigate a series of mysterious deaths in the Mojave desert. After confirming that the victim's wounds do look like rattlesnake bites, Dr. Tom does nothing much but drive around in the desert with photographer Ann Bradley as more and more people are killed by the snakes in increasingly unlikely fashion.

The trail eventually leads them to the local military base, where commanding officer Colonel Stroud tries to distract Dr. Tom with free helicopter rides and amusing conversations with the base doctor - the finest drunk to command an army medical unit since Hawkeye Pierce. But the drunken doctor has a secret that has nothing to do with the world's greatest martini recipe and it will fall to Dr. Tom - and to a lesser extent Ann - to expose the truth about how a secret government project created a horrible menace to society.

Even by the standards of MST3K, Rattlers is a bad film. There is not a single part of it's production that is not handled in a ham-fisted or half-assed manner. Say what you will about "Manos" The Hands of Fate but at least Hal P. Warren tried to recruit the finest actors that the El Paso Community Theater had to offer. With Rattlers, you doubt they went through that kind of effort. Every performance feels like it was delivered by someone who was a friend of the director.

There are scenes where the boom mike operator couldn't be arsed to follow the actors. The There are scenes where the camera man forgot to remove the "day for night" lens. The storyline resembles a sin wave more than an arc. And the characters - if I may use that term - are all bland, lifeless stock figures with the exception of photographer Ann Bradley, who is either a stereotypical angry feminist or the typical wilting-flower horror movie heroine depending on what scene we are in.

Sadly, there is only so much the CT Crew can do with a movie this dull. While there are numerous WTF moments and numerous bits of slopping editing that add to the humor, you can't avoid the fact that long stretches of the movie are of people walking around in the desert while nothing happens. This isn't a bad episode, by any stretch of the imagination and there are a lot of funny riffs. It just seems that most of the riffs are what we long-time MSTies call "waffle" gags.

A quick explanation: waffle gags are a reference to the classic MST3K episode Viking Women vs. The Sea Serpent where, for some reason nobody seems to recall, all of the skits involved waffles and there was a running gag throughout the movie about waffles. Why? Because 'waffles' is a funny word and it seemed funny at the time to talk about waffles instead of the movie.

That is what many of the riffs here feel like. There's a lot more random non-sequitur lines than usual (i.e. Joel screaming "THE GORILLA IS LOOSE!" after a voice over an intercom requests the attention of all the Zoology students). It's also a bit like the classic episode Lost Continent, where half of the movie is spent trying to desperately think of things to say as we watch several men go rock-climbing.... VERY SLOWLY. This isn't bad, to my mind, but I do know some MSTies who prefer things to be a little heavier on the pop-culture references, as they were in the later Sci-Fi channel episodes.

Despite this, I have no trouble recommending Rattlers to any fan of quality riffing. It's not quite as gut-bustingly funny as recent videos such as War of the Insects or Danger on Tiki Island, but Rattlers is still a solid piece of entertainment that is well worth purchasing. It is available exclusively from Amazon.com.

RETRO: Fallout 3 War Journal #6

I have amazingly little trouble getting to the police station the Super Mutants use as a base. Well, okay... there's something called the Robo-brain - a Robby the Robot body with a human brain in the top which screams "I was programmed to loooooove!" as it shoots lasers at me. Freaky, even by my standards. There's also the Centaur - some Lovecraftian abomination that does not resemble the beloved horse people of lore. I also manage to sneak attack a super mutant and read a disturbingly depressing computer journal belonging to an army nurse who tried to treat the survivors of the bombings that ended the world at a make-shift hospital/army base that was built around the police station. No other signs of mutants around the place, I find a staircase leading up to an inside door on the top floor.

I'm lucky enough to walk in on two of the mutants talking. They wind up discussing where both the hostages are and -thankfully - it looks like the people are only being eaten. How is that a good thing? Ask a Firefly fan about everything The Reavers do...

I sneak around the place, disarming land mine traps and shooting roaches. I wind up with a small pile of hunting rifles by the time I'm done with the mutants and done saving the two townsfolk that are left. I escort them back to Bigtown and am told that - well, the townsfolk want me to help figure out a way for them to be safe-ish forever. A few things come to mind but I opt to teach them the ways of small guns. More effective than trying to teach them how to sneak around, I figure.

Bad news - the shooting training winds up burning up all of my rifle ammo. Good news - I don't need it. The newbies manage to down all the mutants swarming the town without my help. I'm thanked profusely for teaching them how to defend themselves, promised cheap medical care any time I need it (the woman I saved is the town doctor) and generally made up to be a big damn hero.

NEXT TIME: I go to a place called Minetown to look for land mines, all in the name of science! Science and a book deal, but science none the less!

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Man of Steel Trailers

TRAILER #1 - Jor-El Voice-Over

TRAILER #2 - Pa Kent Voice-Over

Color me underwhelmed.

Thoughts On The Colorado Theater Shootings

I wasn't going to write anything about this here. My emotions were too raw yesterday and I was in a state where I thought it was best not to say anything, lest I say the wrong thing. A day later we are still gathering all the facts and there's way too many conflicting reports for any of us to get an answer to the big question - Why?

This is a tragedy, any way you slice it. And there's too many people who are seeking to exploit it for their own personal pet causes.

I've seen Marvel Comics fans boasting about how this sort of thing didn't happen at Avengers.

I've seen DC Comics fans joking that the shooter must have been a Marvel fan who couldn't cope with the thought that a Batman movie might unseat Avengers as the highest-grossing movie of the summer.

I've seen liberals proclaiming that the shooter must have been a Tea Party member with more guns than sense, spurred to action by Rush Limbaugh's claims that the Batman movie was liberal propaganda manufactured to make Mitt Romney look bad.

I've seen conservatives declaring that the shooter was an plant from the Occupy movement and that this is all clearly an Obama plot to take our guns, ala Fast And The Furious - Part 2.

I've seen numerous cosplayers decry the action of one theater chain, who has declared that they are banning costumes and fake weapons from their theaters in the wake of this tragedy.

I've seen numerous NRA members decry the ban most theater chains maintain on concealed weapons, even if the local laws do allow for licensed conceal carry.

This has got to stop. For a few days, at least... can we stop this?

Can we just be united as decent people in the face of madness for a little while?

Yes, there are a lot of heavy issues at play here. And we do need to have a discussion about a lot of things. But not right now. It isn't the right time.

I had a talk about all this with one of the teenagers I work with yesterday after he cracked a joke about the tragedy that I said was made too soon. I told him I understood the need to try and lighten the mood and that I've got a rather dark sense of humor myself. (My friends and regular readers are right now are probably thinking "Now THAT'S an understatement.") But time needs to pass before a comedian can hope to bring comedy out of tragedy and right now everyone was in a state of shock about the whole thing.

We talked about all the people trying to blame someone or something for all of this and he asked me that big question again - Why? Why is everyone looking for a conspiracy of liberals, conservatives, Marvel fans, DC fans, gun lobbyists, cosplayers, gamers, rappers, heavy metal fans, celebrities, religious zealots or terrorists when it was more than likely the action of one lone person with mental issues?

I told him that I think it's easier for most of us to cope that way. And disturbingly, as I was explaining this, a quote came to mind. From the last Batman movie...

"You know what I've noticed? Nobody panics when things go "according to plan." Even if the plan is horrifying!"

Nobody wants to think that these things happen randomly - that one guy just snaps one day and decides to go out and hurt people. Because if it happened once... it can happen again. And the next time it happens randomly, it might happen to you or someone you know. Much better that there be some organized conspiracy out to do this sort of thing - some enemy you can put a face to.

That is also why we fall back on these arguments. This wouldn't have happened if everyone was armed. This wouldn't have happened if our gun laws were stricter. This wouldn't have happened if everyone went to church. This wouldn't have happened if there weren't violent video games. On and on and on. Because we need to feel like Something is being done.

That's why the theater chains are banning costumes and fake weapons now. Because it's Something that can be done. It's not Something that's going to be useful, but at least Something is being done. As George Carlin once noted, it's all about providing the illusion of safety... whether your idea of safety involves.

I can't pretend to have an answer for all of this. As I said, there's a lot of complex issues here and this isn't the time to try and discuss it. Now is the time for healing and there is a lot we can all do to help that.

So please, if you're able - sometime this weekend or in the next week - find a place where you can donate blood and do so. And if you can't donate blood for whatever reason, pass this information on to those who can.

Thank you.

RETRO: Fallout 3 War Journal #5

It took me two trips to get all my loot out of the S-Mart, but I finally made back half the money I spent on decorating my house. Retired for the night, woke up early and was met by another townsperson who gave me some free Radiation Treatment drugs. I expect the old lady with the pie will show up any day now to apologize for the "Up Yours, Vault Dweller" remark.

Okay, no old lady made that remark. But I still want pie!

I decided to get back to finding Lucy's missing brother, so I went back to the movie theater - the closest point to this Hamilton's Hideaway place I had heard about and had a rough location for but hadn't found yet.

Luck isn't with me. I get there and I'm immediately attacked by a giant mole rat, a bloat fly and... as I bring down the fly with one critical hit... a super mutant with a gattling gun.

That fight winds up attracting his friend - a super mutant with a board with a nail in it - as well as another one of those damned protector robots. Luckily the robot distracts the mutant with the gun long enough for me to run for a defensive position, turn around and blow away his friend with the board with two shots. The robot chose to chase me but the super mutant's gunfire brings him down as I duck for cover again. That just leaves me and one super mutant. Ducking down, I low-crawled for the one bit of cover I had - a large rock. I was winged running for it but it was a minor wound. I waited for the gunfire to stop before stepping out and aiming for the head.

My fifth critical of the day so far and oh what a beautiful thing it was coming then. I may break the bank again yet.

Eventually I find the Hideway. It's a slag-heap surrounded by mole rats. No sign of The Family, so I go back to the train station. Find two guys in blue suits. Try to strike up a conversation but it turns out they're treasure hunters searching for a place called Oasis but they don't want to share, so they decide to kill me.

Never decide to kill a man who is holding a hunting rifle at close range. Two shots - one in the head to each - and they're dead.

I'm getting to like this sheriff gig. Incidentally, I'm now Level 5 - a dignitary - and my karma is ranked as very good. My Pip-Boy icon also looks like a little Jesus. :)

Back into the tunnels and I find a passage I missed before as I was running around with my head down looking for trip wires and mines. I follow it around... dodge a few more traps and run into a guy in camo. He asks what I'm up to and I say I'm looking for Ian West - got a message form his sister. My speechifying gets me through and into The Family's lair.

Well, it turns out The Family didn't exactly kidnap Ian. More that he came willingly after talking to their leader. Seems they recognized Ian as a kindred spirit and wanted to invite him in. He's in silent meditation and isn't supposed to see anyone.

Of course when you're as good at the speechifying as I am, it's a simple matter to charm not just one but TWO of the cultists into giving me the password to open up the isolation room.

After pausing at their one store to unload my excess gear and buy some ammo, I head upstairs and talk to Ian. It is then that I discover the horrible secret of The Family. They are not, as I feared, a bunch of murderous religious fanatics. It's much worse than that. They're Twilight vampires.

Okay - maybe not Twilight vampires. They aren't sparkly or any such. In fact, they're more like cannibals who really like blood. But between Ian's talk of the all consuming hunger that he's barely kept in check since he bit a raider as a boy, the insanity that made him kill his parents, his sister keeping his secret and how he can never go back home because his sister will never forgive him... well, cry me a river.

I deliver his letter and hey - I don't even have to try and deprogram him! He wants to come home and asks me to tell the cult leader Vance (yes, Vance the Vampire) about his decision.

Well, make a long story short, I tell Vance the news fully expecting a drag-out guns-a-blazing battle to the death with five enraged vampires. Vance, with a noble dignity, accepts Ian's decision and apologizes for all the inconvenience he's caused. I say "Not so fast, Sparky! There's still the matter of the city you keep raiding. He says that it is regrettable but necessary.

Using my mighty brain (I actually get a conversation option that just says Intelligence) I point out that with all the other threats in the area, the city is in big trouble and that if it dies, poof goes the buffet. I suggest they look into the possibility of a blood bank - get the city to donate blood as often as possible - in exchange, the vampires agree to protect the city from... well, everything else. Vance agrees and asks me to run the idea by the Mayor.

Well, amazingly, it all worked out. The mayor agreed to the plan. Asked me to deliver the news to Vance myself and BOOM! - I'm Level 6, got ANOTHER Karma boost and now I'm listed as being Very Good and a Peacekeeper.

Which makes my choice of the Bloody Mess feat all the more ironic. Everything and everyone around me that dies does so in the most gory fashion possible AND I get a 5% bonus to ALL my weapon skills?

Reminds me of a line from my favorite cheesy post-apoc movie - "This sword has much killing left to do. Now go in peace."

Ah, which reminds me - my full Feats list thus far, not including Bloody Mess.

Swift Learner - additional 10% XP from every quest completed and every monster slain
Thief - +5 to Sneak and Lockpick skills
Scoundrel - +5 to Speech and Barter skills
Educated - +3 skill points every time you level
Rad Regeneration - when suffering from advanced radiation poisoning, destroyed limbs will automatically regenerate (thank you random mutations!)

Even cooler - I deliver the news to Vance and not only is he happy with the new arrangement and ready to buy any bloodpacks I find for 15 large each, he offers to teach me the ways of the Vampire if I ever become interested.

Nah. Too hard to find decent black clothing around this wasteland.

The townsfolk are happy too and reward me with.. a bottle of wine, a fresh-baked cookie, a whole HOST of map locations for me to go explore and a discount on repairing some of my gear.

It's a good thing I'm a Man of the Law who fights for good or I'd be sorely annoyed given the money I was promised for this gig. I guess I'll just have to comfort myself with a trip north to find these mutants kidnapping the folk of Big Town.

A hero's work is never done...

Friday, July 20, 2012

And now - despite our better judgement - Red Dwarf, Series X

The fact that this is Series X and that they are apparently continuing on with the "it's been done" gag regarding the missing Series IX that we never saw but which was referred to in the Back To Earth special... not getting my hopes up that this will be a return to better days. Never mind that Chris Barrie and Craig Charles are really starting to show their age...

RETRO: Fallout 3 War Journal #4

Walked past where I encountered the Super Mutants before. Looted everything I couldn't lift before and moved on. I found an abandoned drive-in theater nearby and a baseball field with two particularly stupid raiders who brought baseball bats to a gunfight. I headed north a bit, but ran for it after I encountered both a laser-shooting robot (looked like Robby the Robot) and a giant crab-man mutant near the lake. The former because the lasers hurt and the later because none of my weapons could break the thing's shell.

I found more raiders taking a detour to the south, camped out around a fallen highway overpass and an abandoned bed and breakfast. It took me two assaults (one picking off their sentries from a distance - the other an assault on the house itself in the middle of the night) but I managed to clear them - and their stash of loot - out after a few trips. Took most of my Stims to keep body and soul together, but I did get a nice flamethrower for my trouble.

Heading back toward Lucy's parents town, I encountered another robot. With nothing else for it, I opted to fight. Amazingly, my .32 and called shots to the head did wonders so long as I kept slapping on the Stims to heal up. Eventually, I got to the town and was immediately enlisted by the mayor/sheriff - guy named Evan King - to check on the rest of the towns folk while he guarded the road. Seems they are under siege from a gang called "The Family", who - for some weird reason - are less interested in killing or enslaving the populace and seem content to just tear stuff up and kill their animals.

Good news. Most of the town is okay. Bad news is that the entire West family, save for Lucy's brother, is dead. Worse news is that I don't have the medical skills to look at their bodies (horribly burned) and figure out exactly how they died. King suggests that The Family took them and gives me a list of places they might be hiding out.

One of them is the drive-in I already found. I go back there and move north, trying to find someplace called Hamilton's Hideout. I don't manage to find it, but I do find a boat full of ammo and manage to stay away from the crab men. Avoiding the giant mutant naked mole rats and bloatflies is a bit more difficult but I do eventually manage to get to the third location - an abandoned train-station.

Unfortunately, the tunnels are full of more giant mole-rats and a machine generating a LOT of radiation. Luckily for me, as I fall back to try and shoot the mole-rats, I get help. Two ghouls (i.e. people scared by radiation exposure who look like walking corpses) are living down here and they handily kill anything that chases me back to them. One of them, Murphy, is a chemist who is making homebrewed medications. He asks me to help him with making a new drug called Superjet. I turn him down politely and decide - since he saved my butt - I won't dispense with my own brand of justice... yet. Murphy helpfully tells me that The Family lives somewhere to the east and he thinks the tunnels under the train station lead to their hideaway.

After making my way through a radioactive tunnel filled with more crab men (who are somewhat easier to kill using a flamethrower at medium range) I find a lot of booby traps. Another shot of intelligence-enhancing medication gives me the skill I need to disarm the bear traps and deactivate the mines so I can pick them up and reuse them myself. All this and I emerge at the end of the train-station to find... no obvious The Family hideout. Down to one hit bar, out of Stims and almost overburdened with loot, I head back to Megaton (thank you Speedwalk Feature) to restock.

Not two minutes back in town and one of the townsfolk offers me a reward for all I've done to help. It's 7 bucks, but that's something... especially when I have to go to the town Doctor, the town general store AND the restaurant to sell off most of my loot. The Doc has restocked on Stims and I manage to get some new ammo from the general store. Since I'm out of leads on finding Lucy's brother and since I'm getting sick of Moira (the lady at the general store's whining) I decide to go investigate the Super-Mart east of town and see if it is a nice, safe place to scrounge loot.

Nice, no. It's freaking S-Mart and the shelves are mostly empty.

Safe, no. Somebody who - according to his corpse - was named Mel is lying here. I also find what is left of two raiders following what appeared to be a fire-fight with one of the Enclave flying-eye robots, which destroyed everyone.

Loot? Only off the backs of the numerous cannibal raiders hiding out inside the place. Thankfully, the fight goes a little bit letter since I'm now armed with a hunting rifle and some land mines. Another pop of Intelligence enhancer (amazing I'm not addicted to this stuff yet) and I manage to hack the computers to get into the backroom, allowing me to find both the medical and food supplies Moira wanted me to get for the town. I still need to make a trip back to finish picking up loot but Moria was happy enough to offer me another job that didn't require me leaving town.

Unfortunately, the job involved getting radiation poisoning so she could chronicle the effects and test her radiation cure. Getting the poisoning was easy enough - just stand next to the still radioactive bomb in the center of town for a few hours. Luckily, the cure mostly worked... I wound up with a mutation where I can regenerate any limb I lose due to radiation exposure. Useless, but at least I also got some radiation exposure drugs for my trouble.

I also finally had enough loot to sell and money from elsewhere to buy a theme for my house. I chose Wasteland Explorer, which now has my house looking like a Western Lounge. Lots of cow-skulls and whiskey bottles.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Batgirl #11 - A Review

Last week, I happened across an article which rated which characters had been the best and worst served by the New 52 Reboot. I was astonished to find that the author had put Batgirl on the list of the worst served.

Worst served than Catwoman? Worst served than Starfire? According to this author, yes.

"The book that makes no one happy. We went from goofy Barbara Gordon as '60s Batgirl to mega-competent Oracle then back to goofy Barbara Gordon as New 52 Batgirl who apparently forgot what it was like to be mega-competent Oracle. I'll even suspend judgment on the whole "getting-out-of-the-wheelchair" thing because, you know, comic books. But the aloof Batgirl just doesn't cut it once we've seen Barbara Gordon absolutely rule everything thrown at her back in the old DCU."

Wrapping my brain around this, a thought occurred to me. He must not have read the book since the first issue! Yes, that issue was a little heavier on the humor than usual. Yes, that issue did end with Barbara Gordon freezing up at gun-point and a cop dying as a result. And yes, Barbara has been spending some time - no pun intended - finding her feet since then.

But to say that Barabra Gordon has been completely goofy? To say that she's no longer mega-competent? To say that there's no bit of the woman who was Oracle left? There's no way he's been reading the same comic I've been reading for the last year! And this last issue proved it.

In the opening battle scene, Barbara holds her own against three metahumans for several minutes. She does eventually get brought to heel, but it's through no fault of her own. Later on, Barbara shows that she's still a genius when it comes to computers and that she's every bit Batman's equal as a detective, deducing from a few things in a woman's apartment that there's far more to the cop with a vendetta against her than meets the eye.

Praising the art of Adrian Syaf may be too-little, too-late as former Birds of Prey artist Ed Benes is poised to take over the art on this series with Issue #13. Still, Syaf is a talented artist whose work I have enjoyed immensely over the past year. Hopefully he'll find a new monthly gig elsewhere at DC Comics in the coming months.

If you're a Birds of Prey fan who has been reluctant to give this title a shot or was turned off by the first issue, come back. The Barbara Gordon you loved hasn't gone anywhere. Indeed, she's waiting for you to discover her again.

RETRO: Fallout 3 War Journal #3

Last time - I became the sheriff of a small post-apocalyptic, by dent of being there by when the last sheriff got shot (kinda my fault) and taking his stuff, including his cool jacket and hat. As I'm cleaning up the bar (i.e. looting corpses) I meet a young lady named Lucy from out of town who looks and sounds a lot like Hayden Pantierre. Seems she wants a letter sent home. Faster than you can say The Postman, I'm agreeing to deliver it. What the heck. Sheriff and Postmaster General of Megaton has a nice ring to it.

Later, I run into the old sheriff's son, who tells me he gave him some things to give me if/when I finally disarmed the big atomic bomb in the center of town. He is the only one to acknowledge my new station - saying that while I may have his father's badge, I'm not his father. Yeah. I'll bet HE wasn't your real father either, kid. I heard things about your mother that would make Mona the actual town whore blush.

Going back to the last lead I had on that - see the guy who runs the one diner in town if you don't know how to disarm a bomb (I don't) - I go and start pressuring said diner owner about his drug problem.

Skilled in the speechifying as I am, I stage an impromptu intervention, get him to realize the error of his ways, realizing that he was hurting his family as well as himself and talk him into revealing the location of his stash to me. Hello Karma-boost. Hello a small cache of cash and various sundries. Hello Intelligence-Enhancing Superdrugs!

Yes, I know. Talking a junkie into reforming only to start using the drugs I just condemned as self-destructive. Dirty pool. But I am the law in this town... and I just disarmed the bomb and (with my super brain) fixed three leaky pipes the town's plumber refused to work with because he was "busy repairing the water purification system. Still, he's now willing to buy any scrap metal I bring him... which is a fair bit of the junk I am carrying right now.

I see the kid and he gives me my reward - deed of ownership to a house in town and the right to call myself a citizen of Megaton. I'm calling myself a bit more than that, too... but that's neither here nor there.

So yay... I now have a house, which the crazy chick running the one store can help me decorate. I can't afford anything yet, except maybe a jukebox, so I decide to hold off and stock up on Stims at the Doctor's office. I do check out my house and drop off some of my excess clothes (never know - I might need the jumpsuit that increases my Science skill someday) and find out that not only do I have a house - I have a robot butler named Wadsworth who sounds vaguely like Tim Curry!

I head northwest from Megaton, heading back the way I went originally. I get back to the Super Mutant bunker without incident, sneaky as I am. It's nearly dark when I get there and that is when I notice the fire to the south.

Silly me - somehow, I missed this settlement before. Even sillier, it's called Big Town even though the town is - at present - five people. Between the Super Mutants dragging people off alive for god-knows what reasons and the gangs of slavers dragging other people off for... well, we KNOW what reasons, the town is in pretty bad shape. People are desperate. The town cynic has depressed everyone except the town bimbo. Looks like they're in need of a hero too.

Well... who says I can't Sheriff a principality rather than a city?

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Captain Marvel #1 - A Review

I must confess I only bought this book to make a statement. To prove a point. To strike a blow against the male-dominated Powers That Be in the comic books industry in general (and at Marvel Comics in specific) and all the trolls who declared this book Dead On Arrival.

I'm doing this despite my personal ban on most things Marvel in the wake of One More Day. I decided to lift it to support this book. Because some things are more important than my own vendettas. Because while I still can't bring myself to buy Spider-Man comics when the people running Spider-Man believe his defining trait to be youth rather than responsibility, I can buy a book to show that there are readers out there who want stories with strong female characters. That we want books written by female writers.

In saying all that, I must also say this: this book is well worth buying even if you don't want to make a statement, prove a point or strike a blow.

Carol Danvers is not a character I've ever thought about much. I know her back-story - USAF pilot is infused with alien DNA, gaining superpowers in the process. One of Marvel's first ham-fisted attempts at creating a feminist superhero, back in the 1970s. Part of what was easily the most sexist, disturbing storyline in comic book history. And she had a storyline in the Avengers where Tony Stark confronted her about her alcoholism. She's a notable character but not one I've ever been a big fan of.

This issue doesn't discuss most of that but it does lay clear who Carol Danvers is outside of a series of statistics and storylines. She is tough. She is no-nonsense. She is capable. She shouts orders at Captain America and can match him in tactical knowledge. She snarks back at Spider-Man and can hold her own in a fight against him. She loves flying under her own power but missing flying in an airplane.

All of this and more is revealed to us through Kelly Sue DeConnick's masterful script. Broken into four rough acts, we see Carol fighting the Absorbing Man alongside Cap, discussing her new costume and taking up the name of Captain Marvel with cap later, sparring with Spider-Man in The Avengers gym, checking up on a cancer-patient friend and thinking about her hero, record-breaking female pilot Helen Cobb. There is Ethos, Pathos and Logos - all in balance.

The artwork by Dexter Soy is nothing less than amazing. Reminiscent of Tony Harris' work on Starman, though with brighter colors and less heavy inks, Soy's artwork throughout changes palettes as needed. More muted tones are used in the flashback scenes and more vibrant shades are used in the scenes depicting superheroes in motion.

I may have bought this book to make a statement. I will continue to buy it because it is damn good.