Friday, August 31, 2012

Captain Marvel #2 - A Review

Captain Marvel #2 continues on from where the first issue left off, once again focusing on Carol Danvers as a pilot - not as a superhero. Still thinking of the female pilot who inspired her as a girl, Carol sets out to prove that it would have been possible for her to have broken a record that was never officially recognized. How? By taking the exact same plane out for a ride and tying the record herself before trying to break it!

I have no doubt that Kelly Sue DeConnick could have written an amazing story built around just this concept. Her take on Carol Danvers proves herself worthy of the name Marvel on every page- smart as a whip, tough as a two-bit steak, confident and powerful enough to back up her high opinion of herself. A story about her trying to prove herself as a pilot independent of her abilities as a superhero would be a fine ripping yarn. But things are rarely that simple for Carol Danvers and - naturally - there's complications to the flight that lead to Carol winding up captured by strange soldiers and having a run-in with a most unusual group of soldiers, whose presence suggests Carol may have gone even further astray than she thought.

I'll be sorely surprised and disappointed if Dexter Soy doesn't get an Eisner nod for his work on this book. His character designs are stylized without being inhumanly distorted and his color palettes are perfectly chosen throughout. His artwork perfectly matches DeConnick's scripts every one of his splash-pages is poster worthy.

How to sum up my feelings of this series? Three words: READ THIS BOOK.

Fallout: New Vegas War Journal - Chapter Sixteen


Me: This isn't working.
Boone: No.
Me: Clearly God, Destiny, The Fates and the whole damned 'Verse want this train to blow up.
Boone: Seems like it.
Me: Do you need to blow off some steam in a productive manner?
Boone: Yes.
Me: Great. Let's go kill some Fiends.

After reporting in with the Colonel and getting a reward for "doing our best" to save the train, we headed east into the ruins of South Vegas - Fiend territory. Word was they had set up shop in an old abandoned Vault and one of the Rangers hadn't reported back from being sent into the place to kill the Fiend's leader. Finding the vault was easy. Getting to it wasn't. Still, it wasn't long before we had moved on in and were stopped by a woman in skimpy leather armor and a skull helmet.

Fiend: Hold it right there! Have you got some kind of death wish, coming here?
Me: I'm selling these fine leather jackets!
Fiend: Huh? We've got plenty of leather jackets!
Me: Umm... Sorry... I had a flashback there.
Fiend: Ah. I know how that is. Lots of us have flashbacks.
Me: (Speech 60) Actually, I came her to sell drugs.
Fiend: Well why didn't you say so? Go see the main-man, Motor-Roller. He's down in the maintenance wing!
Me: Thank you, noble skank!

Me: Boone, I'm sensing you're not happy about us posing as drug dealers to get inside this wretched hive of scum and villainy.
Me: I'll let you get first crack at the Motor-Head.
Boone: *grunt*

A quick walk around the complex proved that this place was as bad as you could get and worse. There were a number of hostages in a central holding area, who begged us for help. Naturally I agreed to help... soon. As we were wandering around, I managed to hack the system and get into the old Overseer's office. I found mention of a weapon's cache but since it was in an area of the complex that was flooded with radioactive water, I decided against trying to get to it. The most curious thing was one door I found was behind one door, where the unattended corpse of a Fiend was just lying there. A quick search of the area found a trip wire at the base of a staircase and land-mines planted at the top of the staircase. It didn't take much to disarm them all and head up.

Bryce Anders: Huh? You're no fiend!
Me: Good eyes. The Colonel sent me.
Bryce Anders: Doesn't think I can do the job and kill the Fiend leader, does he?
Me: Nothing like that. You didn't report in so he wanted us to check up.
Bryce Anders: I'm fine! Just a little wounded, is all.
Me: (Medicine 30) That leg looks more than a little wounded.
Bryce Anders: Okay! I can still shoot just fine. Just a little slow.
Me: (Speech 60) You owe it to the NCR to see this mission done right, even if your hand isn't the one to pull the trigger.
Bryce Anders: *sighs* You're right. I can sneak out of here on my own just fine. Juse promise me you'll end that son of a bitch.
Me: Not a problem.

After making sure we'd have no more surprises, we walked into the lion's den... or the wolf's cave, as the case proved to be. Motor-Roller kept some rather sizeable dogs in his throne room but no extra guards apart from the ones outside.

The ones outside... the easily closed, heavy duty, vault-style security door...

Dogs and a chainsaw are fine things in a close-range fight... but the advantages tend to be negated when you're facing two men with rifles. The guards outside figured out something was up, showing uncommon intelligence for a pack of junkie thugs. Clearly Motor-Roller was keeping his best fighters close. We figured this out as we headed upstairs and noticed something odd...

Boone: Hmmm. Quiet.
Me: Guess the noise of the fight didn't carry up here.
Boone: No.
Me: Which means we have a fighting chance of taking out the rest of these punks and freeing the hostages.

Me: That's weird.
Boone: Huh?
Me: I just tossed a stick of dynamite into that room, crippled the limbs on that one guy, blew up another... and they haven't turned hostile yet!
Boone: They must be on the really good shit.
Me: I guess!

Eventually, the rest of the Fiends DID turn hostile. Still, we were able to free the hostages. What's more, we killed every last Fiend in the vault... even the ones that were lying asleep/passed out in their beds.

Me: You know, it's funny. Here I am, gunning down helpless drug addicts as they lie in their filth-encrusted beds... and I somehow feel like I'm a better person for doing it.
Boone: ... why wouldn't you?
Me: It just seems... unsporting, somehow.
Boone: Yeah. I feel bad trying to kill someone from ten feet away. There's no challenge to it.

By the time we got back to base, word had spread that The Fiend's were as good as scattered to the four winds and what few ones were left in the area were disorganized as all get out. Not bad for a night's work.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Supergirl #12 - A Review

The greatest weakness Supergirl has as a character is that it is virtually impossible to separate her from Superman. And when I say 'separate' I don't mean that she has to exist completely independent of the Kryptonian mythos and all that entails. That would be impossible. What I mean is that Supergirl is rarely considered as an independent being and attempting to define her as a character without the phrases "Superman's cousin" or "the female Superman" is difficult. Too many writers have failed to give Kara Zor-El any personality or definition beyond that.

Miraculously, Michael Green and Mike Johnson have been largely successful in presenting us with a Supergirl free of Superman over the first year of the New 52 Supergirl title. Apart from one encounter that ended in violence in Issue #2, Superman hasn't appeared in the title at all in the past year, giving Kara a chance to be defined independent of the usual "I must use my powers to protect mankind"motivation that tends to be the Alpha and Omega of all motivation in the Super Family. And I think the title has been richer for it, establishing Kara as her own woman - smart and ethical, but frustrated with the stupidity and selfishness of most of the humans she's encountered.

Supergirl #12 seems poised to change that, drawing Kara back into her cousin's orbit. After discussing why Kara seems to be so more powerful than Clark and another argument about Kara being too dangerous/naive to be allowed to roam the Earth freely, Supergirl goes off on a quest to find a piece of the wreckage from the ship that carried her to Earth from the ocean floor. It is here that Green and Johnson subtly separate Kara from her cousin again, allowing her to come up with a use for the solar energy she absorbed that is all her own. Indeed, I'm not aware of this power being suggested in any Superman story, though it is a logical extension of their being living solar batteries.

Mahmud Asrar continues to impress with his artwork. My one complaint, and it is a minor one, is that his Superman is somewhat inconsistent, looking as young as Kara in some panels yet looking more of an age with his thirty-something self from the pre-New 52 comics in others. Still, I suppose I can forgive it since nobody - not even the writers of his own titles - seem to be sure exactly how old Clark is supposed to be now. College Age? Mid-20s? Let me know when I'm close.

Supergirl #12 represents a dramatic shift in the tone of this book and it is not a change I can say I wholly approve of. Do not misunderstand me - the story presents itself well and the artwork flows as finely as ever. But tying Kara more firmly into the world of Superman - however briefly - seems like a step back. Like a college student returning to their parent's home for the first time after moving out, this issue feels oddly uncomfortable.

Fallout: New Vegas War Journal - Chapter Fifteen

Got quite a few entries to write up, but I thought we'd do the traditional Stat Update With Photo first.

Matt - Level 18


Strength: 4
Perception: 7 (Modified Up From 6, with Sheriff's Hat)
Endurance: 4
Charisma: 9 (Modified Up From 8, with Bounty Hunter's Coat)
Intelligence: 9
Agility: 6
Luck: 3


Barter: 35
Energy Weapons: 25
Explosives: 35
Guns: 70
Lock-Picking: 75
Medicine: 30
Melee Weapons: 10
Repair: 55
Science: 75
Sneak: 60
Speech: 75
Survival: 15
Unarmed: 11


Action Boy: +15 to Action Points in V.A.T.S.
Bug Stomper - Damage Bonus vs. All Insects
Center Of Mass: In V.A.T.S., you do an additional 15% damage with attacks targeting the torso
Comprehension - Double the bonuses from reading books and magazines.
Educated - 2 extra skill points each level.
Finesse - 5% increased chance to score critical hits.
Good Natured - +5 to Barter, Medicine, Repair, Science and Speech. -5 to Energy Weapons, Explosives, Guns, Melee and Unarmed.
Lord Death - 1% Damage Bonus against everything.
Ranger Takedown - Special attack to down humanoids in close combat.
Sniper - Better chance of hitting an opponent's head using weapons.
Spotter - benefit from partnering with Boone. Can spot targets more easily while aiming.
Sub-Dermal Armor: +4 to Damage Threshold, via surgery.
Swift Learner - 3 Ranks - 30% Bonus to all xp.
Wild Wasteland - magnet for weird things happening.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Robert E. Howard's Savage Sword #5 - A Review

Anthology titles are a difficult sell to modern comic book readers. It is difficult enough for a reader to justify purchasing a title starring familiar characters with artwork or scripting by a creator they enjoy in these tough economic times. It is harder still to convince an empty-pocketed reader to part with double the price of a regular comic for a collection of stories they might not entirely enjoy. Even the name of a respected writer with a rich body of work like Robert E. Howard makes such a thing a challenge. But sporadic though the publication of this book is, averaging two issues a year since it first premiered in late 2010, Robert E. Howard's Savage Sword has always proved an engaging read.

This issue offers less variety than previous installments, though the quality of workmanship remains the same as ever. This volume is almost entirely comprised of sword-and-sorcery tales. This doesn't offend me but it does seem to defeat the purpose of this series, which I believe was meant to draw attention to some of Robert E. Howard's creations besides Conan and Kull.

Even the one non-fantastic story in this collection has elements of the fantastic in it. I speak of In the Forest of Villefere -a historical horror piece adapted by that master of modern horror, Steve Niles. Paired with his artistic partner from Criminal Macabre, Chris Mitten, Niles borrows heavily from the original Howard text. This proves to be a wise move, though the twist of the story is rather obvious. Mittens does a fair job setting the moody tone of the story, though the protagonist looks just as warped and tinhuman as the foreboding landscape.

For my money, the best story in the batch is a retelling of the origin of Dark Agnes - a crimson-haired warrior woman who deserves far more fame than she's ever achieved. The script by Paul Tobin depicts Agnes as a woman ahead of her time, strong-willed and unwilling to be bullied into a marriage she doesn't want by her boorish father. The art by Francesco Francavilla perfectly depicts Agnes as a beautiful woman and a capable fighter - a feat that seems to elude many sword-and-sorcery artists, who draw every heroine like a supermodel. Those who dismiss Howard's writing as sexist purely because of his Conan stories would do well to check this issue out as well as the original stories.

Speaking of Conan, the one original tale in this anthology - based on Howard's characters rather than on a specific story - is a King Conan tale written and drawn by the legendary Howard Chaykin. The artwork is gorgeous but the plot - involving Conan's investigating the murder of a harem girl in his own palace - doesn't seem much like a Robert E. Howard story or indeed a Conan story. While Conan is far from the muscle-headed dolt many authors depict him as, puzzling out the details of a killing Sherlock Holmes style seems somewhat out of character for the world's most famous barbarian.

The first and last tales of this anthology are perfect bookends. The first tale, written by Ian Edgington with art by Richard Pace is an adaptation of Howard's Men of the Shadows - the first story to star his warrior chief tan hero Bran Mak Morn. The last tale, Kings Of The Night, is a reprint of a classic Roy Thomas adaptation with art by David Wenzel. I believe this story marks the only time that Robert Howard initiated a crossover between two of his own creations. In this case, King Kull of Atlantis is brought forward in time to aid Bran Mak Morn in leading a rough union of barbaric peoples against the invading Romans.

I cannot recommend Robert E. Howard's Savage Sword strongly enough, though at the same time I cannot recommend it to everyone. Like certain wines, this book will only appeal to those with a certain palette. But if you are the sort of reader who enjoys the kind of entertainment that might be more appropriately described as a ripping yarn than a story, I don't think you'll get better value for your money than you will purchasing a copy of this book.

Fallout: New Vegas War Journal - Chapter Fourteen

Player's Note This was partly inspired by a rather horrendous bug. There is no actual time travel in this game (as far as I know) and there's certainly no Donnie Darko style time warps that are trying to help me fix the problem.

I eventually found my way to the office of Colonel Hsu - the head man of the NCR base. I asked if I could do anything to help. Amazingly, he didn't give me the enlistment speech but said I should check with Captain Curtis regarding a saboteur and then check with Lieutenant Boyd regarding a Legion prisoner. I decided to see out Boyd first since I'm always up for anything that involves annoying The Cosplay Legion.

Boyd: Can I help you?
Me: Hel-loooooooooo soldier Nurse!
Boyd: Well, you stick out like a sore thumb.
Me: I'm sorry but it's been a few weeks since I've seen a woman who showers.
Boyd: Spare me. What are you doing here?
Me: The Colonel sent me. Said you have a prisoner giving you trouble.
Boyd: I'll say. He's a high ranking Legion officer. I talk a good game but he doesn't seem to take women soldiers seriously and keeps talking about how much better I'd look in a collar and nothing else.
Me: (whispering to Boone) He may be evil but he's a man of taste.
Me: Nothing!
Boyd: Damn right it was nothing. Now, the NCR rules keep me from torturing a prisoner. But YOU aren't NCR. So I figure that I can go in there, talk you up, and then let you beat the snot out of him until he's ready to speak.
Me: Ummmm... excuse me, but I have these skinny twig arms and I have no idea how to throw a punch.
Boyd: Yeah, but I just REALLY wanna see you beat this guy up.
Me: I don't think that would be very effective.
Boyd: Pull your shirt off dramatically... maybe oil up a little bit first.
Me: Uh... what?
Boyd: Maybe spank him a little because he's been so bad...
Me: ... oh, I get it. You're trying to make a point about inappropriate sexual imagery.
Boyd: You ARE smart. Maybe you can beat him up with your brain, somehow.
Me: ... you know, I think I can.

Silus: Oh joy. Another weakling who thinks he can scare one of Ceaser's Legion.
Me: Yeah. These NCR guys are paper tigers, aren't they?
Silus: None of these pitiful toy soldiers scare me!
Me: (Intelligence 8) What about a Legion Soldier, Silus? If one of them was trying to kill you, would THAT scare you?
Silus: Hmmph. You're not with the Legion.
Me: (Intelligence 8) Quisnam Custodiae custodie Tutela... bitch?
Silus: (eyes widening) Latin! Then you are...
Me: ... here to kill you for disobeying orders.

Boyd: What is it, Silus?
Silus: Lieutenant Boyd, you MUST get this man out of here. He is a Legion spy disguised as a mercenary who has been sent to kill me.
Boyd: Hmm. Gee. Well, I would see to hate you die. No wait, what's that word I'm thinking of? LOVE. I'd love to see you die.
Silus: I'm too valuable as a prisoner! It will be your career if anything happens to me!
Boyd: You know... somehow, I'm okay with that. Seeing you crap your leather kilt will be worth it. (to Me) Carry on.

Me: So what all have you told them, Silus?
Silus: Nothing! I'm no traitor.
Me: (Intelligence 8) True Legionaries die before being captured, Silus. Whether you lacked the courage to follow through or are an NCR spy, we have no use for you.
Silus: I'm too valuable as a commander to the Legion! It would be a waste of resources for me to die! Listen, I swear I haven't told them anything! If you can help me get out of here, I'll disappear. Leave the NCR. Grab a caravan east. Nobody will ever hear from me again.
Me: (Intelligence 8) So you're a traitor AND a deserter...
Silus: What?! No! Listen! I've already told you that I told them nothing! I didn't tell them we have a spy among their own officers here! I didn't breath a word about how Ceasar's illness is growing stronger. I didn't tell them about...
Me: ... how utterly gullible you Legionaries are? You were right the first time, hoss. I'm not with The Legion.
Silus: ... You! You!

Boyd: Nice job. Wish I'd seen you slap him around a little more but I can't have everything I want.
Me: Well, thanks but I've got to get to work. Colonel Hsu said something about a saboteur on this base... and if what Silus said is accurate, it's one of the officers. I don't suppose you've seen anything suspicious?
Boyd: Would be much of an MP if I didn't.

Boyd gave me leads on several odd things going on around the base. The one that sounded the most promising was that someone had been going into one of the watchtowers several nights in a row and that whoever was doing it had a command code to bypass the security system. This too suggested an officer was the spy since this tower housed the radio system used to send messages to other nearby NCR bases. I talked with some of the other men and one of the snipers told me that he'd seen lights on in the tower about 1:30 am while he'd been on watch the last few nights.

After a quick check in with Captain Curtis, who was officially heading the investigation into the spy, I got official permission to go wherever I needed to in the course of my investigations. I then set about setting up a hidden observation post near the tower and waited for nightfall.

Me: Boone, I just had a thought.
Boone: Hmm.
Me: There's a computerized login to get into the tower. Why don't I just hack the system and see who was in the tower at that time the last few nights?
Boone: Hacking a government computer is a crime in all NCR controlled territories punishable by a sentence of no less than five years hard labor.
Me: Yep. That's exactly why I don't do that. Say, why don't you go look over that way for our saboteur?
Boone: That way... away from the tower?
Me: ... yes. Just run a patrol out that way.
Boone: ... Right.

Me: What a gyp! This only gives the access numbers, not staff IDs!
Captain Curtis: What are you doing here?
Me: Ah-ha! Captain Curtis!
Captain Curtis: Civilians are not allowed out here.
Me: But... you gave me permission...
Captain Curtis: Stick to the script, son. Why are you out here?
Me: (Speech 60) Uh...It was hot in my room and I wanted to get some cool air.
Captain Curtis: Ah, well that's okay then. I know how good a cool walk at night can feel. That's what I'm doing right now. Just taking a cool walk. At night.
Me: Right. Well, you just uh... enjoy your walk, Captain.
Captain Curtis: Thank you. (enters the communications tower)

Boone: Didn't see anybody except Captain Curtis. And he's taking a night walk.
Me: Did he ask what you were doing out here?
Boone: I'm First Recon. Nobody asks me much of anything.
Me: Right. Come on. I think I know who our spy is.

Captain Curtis: ... just placed the bomb on the monorail to the Vegas strip. Don't think they suspect a thing.
Boone: Traitor!
Captain Curtis: What-


Me: Nice shooting, Tex. But I don't think his hat can be salvaged.
Boone: Bigger problems. Bomb.
Me: Good point.

Me: There it is!
Tram Voice: The tram to Las Vegas is now leaving.
Me: What? NO!


Me: Did you see that?
Boone: Bit hard with the flash of light but... yeah. Can just see the smoke against the dark.
Me: Oh crap, this is horrible! I mean, nobody was likely to be on the monorail this late but...

Me: Nice shooting, Tex. But I don't think his hat can be salvaged.
Boone: Bigger problems. Bomb.
Me: Good point.

Me: There it is!
Tram Voice: The tram to Las Vegas is now leaving.
Me: What? NO!


Me: Did you see that?
Boone: Bit hard with the flash of light but... yeah. Can just see the smoke against the dark.
Me: Oh crap, this is horrible! I mean, nobody was likely to be on the monorail this late but...

Me: Nice shooting, Tex. But I don't think his hat can be salvaged.
Boone: Bigger problems. Bomb.
Me: Good point - wait! Did you just get a feeling of Deja Vu?
Boone: What, the sensation that you're experiencing something you've experienced before?
Me: Yeah! Like we've been here before and were going to run to stop the bomb and...
Boone: Yeah. Maybe we should report to the Colonel first?
Me: Yeah. I mean, cool as we ware, probably some sort of bomb squad expert should go deal with the bomb.

Me: Colonel Hsu! There's a bomb on the monorail! And a possible distortion of the space/time continuum!
Colonel Hsu: What?! Well, why are you wasting time here? Go disarm it!
Me: But I'm not trained in bomb disposal!
Colonel Hsu: Do it or I'll have you drummed out of the service.
Me: I'm not in the service.
Colonel Hsu: Would you like to enlist?
Me: Sure!
Colonel Hsu: Great. Now, go deal with that bomb or I'll have you drummed out of the service!
Me: Yes sir!


Me: Okay. Talking with the Colonel is just going to waste time. We need to get to the monorail NOW!

Me: There it is!
Tram Voice: The tram to Las Vegas is now leaving.
Me: What? NO!


Me: Let's try something new this time.
Boone: Okay.

Me: Now, the tram doesn't seem to start moving until after I walk towards it, right?
Boone: Right.
Me: The tram has some kind of AI that senses when I approach so it plays the warning voice, right?
Boone: Right.
Me: Therefore, if I sneak past the sensor, I can get on the tram and disarm the bomb.
Boone: That's crazy.
Me: If I'm wrong, we'll probably get a chance to try it again.

Boone: I don't fucking believe this.
Me: (standing up) Yeah, well when you're as awesome as I am, sometimes...
Tram Voice: The tram to Las Vegas is now leaving.
Me: Ah, shine on you crazy monorail...


Me: What the?! But we disarmed the bomb! Let's try that again!


Me: This time we SNEAK off the tram too.
Boone: Whatever you say...

Boone: I STILL don't fucking believe this.
Me: (creeping off the monorail) Yeah, well I'm sure this time it will work...(standing up once off the monorail)
Tram Voice: The tram to Las Vegas is now leaving.
Me: Boone, no! You're still on the train!

Me: Boone! You just phased through the monorail! And are hovering in mid-air where the train was!
Boone: Yeah. Weird.
Me: *sighs* Here we go again...

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Kaze No Stigma: The Complete Series - A No Flying, No Tights Review

SOURCE: Kaze No Stigma: The Complete Series

For hundreds of years, the Kannagi Clan served humanity as protectors and guardians. Armed with the mystical art of Enjutsu – a.k.a. Blaze Technique or Fire Magic – the Kannagi Clan stood fast against all manner of rogue magicians and demons. Even in modern times, the Kannagi Clan is renowned for their skills and called in by the Tokyo Police to deal with supernatural threats the authorities cannot handle.

Kazuma Kannagi was not like the rest of his clan, having no affinity at all for the magic his clan was expected to master at an early age. The final humiliation came when he was defeated by his distant cousin, Ayano, in a ceremonial duel to determine who would be the head of the clan for the next generation. Kazuma’s father, the mightiest warrior of the Kannagi Clan, angered that his eldest son could be so easily defeated by a young girl, renounced him and cast him out into the wide world.

Four years later, Kazuma returns to Tokyo, having mastered the art of Fujutsu, a.k.a. Wind Technique or Air Magic. What is more, Kazuma bears the Stigma of the Wind – eyes as blue as the azure sky. This is the symbol of a “Contractor,”  a Fujutsu master entrusted by the Spirit King of the Wind with the full power of his domain.

Ayano is now a senior in high school and a master of Enjutsu, wielding the family’s sacred sword Enraiha in battle. A textbook example of a fiery redhead, Ayano is nevertheless a powerful mage and a dangerous warrior when she can control her temper. At first she cares little about the return of the cool-hearted cousin. Then other members of the Kannagi Clan begin to turn up dead, killed by wind magic. And that is all it takes to set Ayano on the warpath, ready to take her cousin’s life.

Now, in order to prove his innocence, Kazuma must make peace with the hot-headed heir-apparent of the family that disowned him. For there are other threats to the Kannagi Clan besides a mysterious wind-wielding assassin, and it will take a combination of the cleansing power of Fire and the subtle manipulation of Wind if the world is to be saved.

Kaze No Stigma has one of the richest mythologies of any anime series I’ve ever seen. The idea of families with supernatural powers fighting great evils and elemental magic is nothing new, but the execution is carried off very well. Indeed, the anime is so well-paced that one hardly notices that all of the characters are strictly stock anime stereotypes with Kazuma being your typical tight-lipped bishonen and Ayano being a textbook example of a tsundere.

The only real negative this series has is a gratuitous amount of fan-service. Ayano is usually dressed in a school uniform with the standard short skirt and it is a rare episode that doesn’t feature at least one panty shot as she is fighting. Several female characters have their clothing ripped to reveal their underwear and one of the villains in the later part of the series is a perverted classmate of Ayano’s who plants secret cameras in the girls locker room at school.

This is par for the course with romantic comedy anime, of course, but some of the nudity that takes place during scenes involving ritual sacrifice is intense enough to make me question the TV14 rating for this series as a whole. This is despite said nudity lacking definition and being limited to some far shots, naked backsides, and silhouettes. That being said, I would still recommend this series for older teens and adults looking for a good action-oriented urban fantasy series with a Moonlighting-style romance.

Kaze No Stigma: The Complete Series
Gonzo, Funimation, 2007
directed by Junichi Sakata
576 minutes, Number of Discs: 4, Season set
Company Age Rating: TV14
Related to: Kaze no Stigma by Takahiro Yamato, Neko Miyakai

Fallout: New Vegas War Journal - Bonus Material #1

Because I took this screen shot but couldn't think of an smooth way to work it into the narrative.

Me: Boone, I know they were the scum of the Earth, but could you at least allow them some dignity in death?
Boone: But posing the corpses is the only thing that makes the hurt go away...

Monday, August 27, 2012

My Thoughts On The New Justice League Team

SOURCE: Geoff Johns and David Finch Add Stargirl, Catwoman, And More To The Brand New 'Justice League of America'

I couldn't he happier about this.

I noted repeatedly in my reviews of the current Justice League book that Jim Lee and Geoff Johns - while both talented creators - don't play off of each others strengths very well. Johns has always been at his best focusing on the hidden depths of an ensemble cast (JSA, Teen Titans, Avengers) and Lee is at his best when he's allowed to depict big action scenes with larger than life characters.

I can see there will be some accusations of trying to ape The Avengers movie. You have a guy with a bow, a woman with no powers in a leather catsuit and the whole thing is led by a career military man who believes in the idea of superheroes being needed to face the threats the military can't deal with. And no doubt the Geoff Johns haters will scream about him playing favorites by bringing back Stargirl.

Let them squawk.

The fact of the matter is this has to have been in the works for a while. Saying that Green Arrow and Catwoman are the same as Hawkeye and Black Widow is to do a disservice to all four characters. And Stargirl was a great character, one of Johns' finest creations and we need all the strong, moral, competent female heroes we can get in American comics these days.

Besides... I don't think it's Justice League without Martian Manhunter. And I'd like to see Johns do something with Green Arrow because Heaven knows nobody else seems to know what to do with him! Ditto that for Hawkman. And the cynic in me just wants to see if someone can make Vibe work beyond a one-note stereotype in the same way that the recent DC Nation short did.

I suspect if anyone can it's Geoff Johns.

Fallout: New Vegas War Journal - Chapter Thirteen

No sooner did I start walking towards the lights of Vegas did I run into an old... well, friend might be a bit strong.

Victor was about as forthcoming as before about why he seemed to be showing up just after I got into a major firefight tracking down the people who tried to kill me. Still, he wished me well in finding Benny and went moseying down his own path.

Boone and I took a longer route just off the main roads. I'd seen the biker gangs ambushing people using the roads and with all the excess gear I was packing I wanted to avoid any fights I didn't have to finish. We headed north into the hills above Boulder City first, finding a nice view of the nearby lake and an NCR camp which had some interesting decour.

Me: Where do they get the working printing presses for this stuff?
Boone: Dunno. Same place they print the paper money, I guess.

At dawn we headed west, cutting across the main freeway again, passing a few interesting looking buildings. We came across the remains of a caravan that - somehow - I knew belonged to Cassidy, the caravan driver I had met at the NCR base near Primm. Amazingly, the carcass of her pack animal was amazingly undecayed. I chalked this up to the radiation preserving everything much better.

Eventually we came to Camp McNamara - the center of the NCR activities in the area. Boone was recognized by several soldiers, who commented on how lucky I was to have someone from the 1st Recon unit watching my back. Didn't I know it.

I was hoping to barter with the quartermaster or some type of company store but I couldn't find one. I did take a couple of bounties from the Major patrolling the yard. Seems - like every other damn base in this outfit - they couldn't afford to send any men out to deal with the three most dangerous members of The Fiends (a local gang notable for their heavy drug use) and lil' ol' me has to go out with my trusty sniper sidekick and deal with them. This was a particularly difficult assignment for Boone as we were under specific orders to bring back their heads... intact.

Me: Not shooting people in the head. Kinda feels unnatural, doesn't it?
Boone: Yep.

Our first target? A woman named Violet. Seemed she liked dogs more than people and lived on her own with a pack of wild dogs, west of the base. As I was gunning her dogs down, I suddenly got a feeling - like I was much more skilled at killing... everything.

Boone: Yep.

Next up? A Fiend by the name of Cook-Cook. All anybody knew about him for sure was that he was a rapist and he favored the flamethrower as a weapon. Tended toward raping the people he captured then burning them alive. The rumor was that he ate them too. Didn't know if it was true. Didn't much care. He was dying either way.

The final bounty was a bloke by the name of Driver Nephi, called such for his unique preference of killing his victims with a golf club. He was the easiest of the three to deal with.

Me: Hey! This isn't a driver! It's a 9-Iron!
Boone: Doubt anybody he killed or injured cared enough to note the difference.
Me: Yeah but... 9-Iron Nephi sounds so much cooler!
Boone: No it doesn't.

Somewhat richer after reporting back to the Major, we wandered around the base a bit more. I talked to a Lieutenant who asked if I could talk to one of his snipers who he knew wasn't fit for duty anymore but who refused to listen to him. For some reason - perhaps my way with words and my winning impression of a drill sergeant, she listened to me and agreed to check herself out for medical leave. The Lieutenant thanked me and asked if I could go to the clinic in Vegas and let them know that a new patient would be coming in. I pondered telling him to get on the radio and do it his own damn self but I decided against it.