Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Starman Plays Skyrim Special Edition - Part 102

In which we return to Solitude and retrieve not one... not two... but THREE of the Stones of Barenziah before indulging in some extreme rock climbing and dragon fighting.


Monday, July 24, 2017

Friday, July 21, 2017

Starman Plays Skyrim Special Edition - Part 100

Tonight on Skyrim Cribz, we tour the many manor houses of The Dragonborn. Then, on a new CSI: Windhelm, Matthias the Dastard plays a deadly game of cat and mouse with a serial killer.


Thursday, July 20, 2017

Starman Plays Skyrim Special Edition - Part 99

In which we seek more of the stones of Stones of Barenziah, committing a bit of honest burglary before raiding a major bandit stronghold.


Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Starman Plays Skyrim Special Edition - Part 98

In which we start searching for the fabled Stones of Barenziah and stop a mad necromancer's plot at the legendary tomb of Ansilvund. Partly because we hate the undead. Mostly for the money these Stones are worth.


Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Starman Plays Skyrim Special Edition - Part 97

In which we open with a sudden simultaneous attack by a dragon, an assassin and a team of necromancers! Burdened with glorious purpose (and dragon bones) we then tackle the lost temple I meant to explore in this video before all Oblivion broke loose!


Monday, July 17, 2017

Detective Comics #960 - A Review

As Batman continues to win-over Zatanna, the rest of the team in The Belfry explore the mystery of Jean Paul Valley's Azrael armor and the intricate artificial intelligence hidden inside the seemingly ancient suit. Unfortunately, another sort of intelligence seems to have taken over Jean Paul himself...


Many great artists have tried to capture the mood and spirit of Gotham City over the years. For the life of me, I can't recall any of them doing so fine a job of it as Alvaro Martinez, Raul Fernandez and Brad Anderson. The ennui and depression inherent to the setting of Batman has rarely seemed so strong as it does here, with most everything rendered in muted blues and greys with shadows that seem far deeper for not being ebon masses.

James Tynion IV is an equally amazing writer but his work on Detective Comics has suffered somewhat as he has taken on more and more subplots. The interplay between Batman and Zatanna and the revelations regarding "Zee" are far more gripping and exciting than the rest of the team and the business with Azrael. This is particularly vexing as Jean Paul himself seems removed from the action of the issue and is a supporting player in what is meant to be his story!

The Final Analysis: 8 out of 10.


Starman Plays Skyrim Special Edition - Part 96

In which I try a Tom Baker voice to narrate this episode for about a minute before we finally find the Priest of Arkady and start investigating the cannibalism problem in Markarth's tombs.


The Flash #26 - A Review

The Reverse Flash has revealed the truth to Iris West - that her boyfriend, Barry Allen, is The Flash and that he has been lying to her for years! That's just the start, however, as Eobard Thawne plays professor yet again to show Barry and Iris the dark future that is now forged from their relationship. Will Barry and Iris have to sacrifice their love for the sake of Tomorrow?


Ironic as it may be to say this, The Flash #26 may have moved too quickly. Last month's issue presented an interesting conceit - that Eobard Thawne is uniquely suited to note the changes to the time-stream forged in The DC Universe Rebirth reality. Apart from the amusing metatextual gag of turning the comic world's most obsessive fanboy into a continuity cop complaining about how everything changed and is ruined forever, it's a heck of a story curveball.

Unfortunately, that conceit - and our brief glimpse of a dark future where Barry and Iris' kids became Rogues due to Barry's neglecting his family for The Flash - are quickly tossed aside in favor of what seems to be "The Real Plot". Unless there is another swerve coming, which is entirely possible with Joshua Williamson's writing.

The artwork is similarly uneven. Howard Porter is a great artist and the colors by Hi-Fi are nice and vivid. Unfortunately, there is some discontinuity between the story and the artwork, as in one panel where The Flash is being dragged off by The Reverse Flash when the dialogue indicates they ran off together. There's also a few bits where the bright colors don't quite match up with the heavy inks indicating deep shadows.

The Final Analysis: 7 out of 10. A serviceable issue, let down only by some quirks in the artwork and a story that is moving a bit to quickly.

Friday, July 14, 2017

Starman Plays Skyrim Special Edition - Part 95

In which we continue cleansing The Reach of Foresworn - this time specifically setting out to rescue a little girl so that she may assume the role of Chosen Of The Lust Goddess and begin training as a sacred prostitute. The game dances around the subject but that's totally what's going on here. And then we go searching for that damned Priest of The Death God for a while...

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Starman Plays Skyrim Special Edition - Part 94

In which, after helping Make Markarth Beautiful by tossing some corpses into the river and gazing into infinity as the water goes weird, I showcase the wonders of Dragon Bone Armor and rob the temple of the Goddess of Lust.


Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Injustice 2 #14 - A Review

Oliver Queen and Dinah Lance lost each other once. A twist of Fate brought them - or alternate universe versions of themselves, technically - together again, giving new meaning to the old Sinatra song about love being better "The Second Time Around". Unfortunately, someone is about to ruin their wedding day as Batman simultaneously fights a battle for his own family...


The one problem with Injustice 2's weekly format is that sometimes the action is broken up in unfortunate ways. In this case, there's little punch to the story as all of the moments that should have hit the reader hard either came at the end of the last issue or are telegraphed far in advance of this issue's ending. Thankfully, there's still a lot to admire in this book even if it lacks any real surprises.

The artwork, for instance, looks amazing. Bruno Redondo's fine eye for detail is out in full-force and there's some surprisingly subtle visuals here that I frankly love. From the bandage under Black Canary's eye to the epic ballroom blitz that breaks out as the party-crashers arrive, every page of this issue looks amazing, with Juan Albarran and Rex Lokus offering up some fantastic finishes in the inks and colors.

As for Tom Taylor's script... well, if nothing else, he deserve praise for writing a Green Arrow/Black Canary wedding that does not reduce Dinah Lance to the role of an inactive participant during the inevitable fight scene. No ring-chasing bimbos here, folks. Just Dinah Lance, kicking ass in a wedding dress, as well as she should. I know that's a strange point to harp on but it seems like 95% of the time when there's a superhero wedding the bride becomes a distressed damsel more concerned with her looks than fighting villains. That is not the case here, thankfully.

The Final Analysis: 8 out of 10. No real surprises but damn solid work all around.

Starman Plays Skyrim Special Edition - Part 93

In which we explore a haunted house only to wind up beholden to The Daedric Prince of Bondage and Discipline. And we get to flog a priest to death and take his soul!

(Yeah. This is why this game has an M rating.)


Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Starman Plays Skyrim Special Edition - Part 92

In which, imprisoned for a crime we didn't commit, we join the actual Foresworn Conspiracy (Still Not A Novel By Tom Clancy) and enjoy a bit of random mayhem and killing the town guards while strutting around basically naked. Shame the whole game can't be like this without mods...


Saturday, July 8, 2017

Thoughts On Spider-Man Homecoming

THE SPOILER FREE REVIEW

Is it good? Listen bub - while I'm torn on the subject of this being the best Spider-Man movie ever overall, it has some of the best aspects of any Spider-Man movie ever. Tom Holland, for instance, is easily the best actor to ever play Peter Parker.

I laughed at this movie. I got teary-eyed during this movie. It provoked the full gamut of emotional responses at the appropriate times.

One bit of advice. There are a lot of differences from the original comics, so don't go in with a purist mindset. Think of this as Earth C-137 and just relax.

There are two post-credit sequences.

(SPOILERY COMMENTS TO FOLLOW AFTER THE IMAGE)





EASTER EGGS AND STUFF TO MAKE PURISTS ANGRY

No Spider-Man movie has ever had quite so many nods to Peter's high-school classmates and his love interests from the Stan Lee days. While some may grouse about  Flash Thompson being a mathlete instead of a jock, he's still the same jackass bully who devotes his life to making Peter Parker miserable. And that, ultimately, is the point of the character.

The best gag in this regard? The newsreader on the school news station is Betty Brant - Peter's first love interest, who was J. Jonah Jameson's secretary in the original comics.

Best Casting Gag?  Jennifer Connelly as the voice of Peter's suit AI. Why's that funny?  She's married to Paul Bettany - the voice of the Jarvis A.I. and Vision.

A close second? Donald Glover, who lobbied to play Spider-Man before Andrew Garfield was cast for Amazing Spider-Man and voiced Miles Morales in some of the cartoons, has a part as a long-time Spider-Man ally.


BEING PETER PARKER SUCKS. BEING A TEENAGER SUCKS MORE.

More than any Spider-Man before, Homecoming captures two facts the earlier movies didn't. It sucks to be Peter Parker and it sucks to be a teenager.

That's a thing a lot of adults forget. Being a teenager sucks. You're continually pushed to grow-up and act-your-age while simultaneously being reminded that you're a kid with no rights and no respect.

Peter's conflict with Tony is a mirror of that grand societal paradox. Tony only treats Peter as an peer when it is convenient for him. Like how most parents only hand over the car keys when they need the teenager to run an errand they don't want to deal with.

More than any other actor to play Spidey in live-action, Tom Holland captures that frustration. Not just about being a teenager but how much it sucks to be Peter Parker in general. All the moments where we see him looking wistfully on other teens getting to do teen stuff and wishing he could be with them... before going off to do the right thing.

On that note - props to the script depicting life in an urban high-school accurate, right down to them using outdated materials because they can't afford anything more current. (i.e. Captain America's inspiration videos being used, despite him probably being a terrorist now.)




THE TWO SPECIFIC COMIC HOMAGES - ONE OBVIOUS AND ONE NOT

The Obvious One - Peter digging himself out of the rubble while giving himself a pep-talk is a clear nod to Amazing Spider-Man #33 - considered by many to be the best single issue of the original Stan Lee/Steve Ditko run.

The Not So Obvious One - The whole sequence with Peter having trouble moving around the suburbs and running through backyards isn't just a nod to Ferris Bueller's Day Off.  It's also a nod to Amazing Spider-Man #267 - "When Cometh The Commuter!" - which is all about the problems Spider-Man has trying to operate after chasing a baddie into The Burbs.


Okay, he doesn't get asked about borrowing a Big Wheel. But he does shoot webs up at nothing!


HONEST SURPRISES

The movie honestly surprised me at two points. I'm not going to say which two. If you haven't seen the movie, you need to go in clean on these points. And if you've already seen it... well, you probably know.  Pop me an e-mail if you want to talk about them.


MY ONLY TWO COMPLAINTS

1. Much as I loved the shout-out to Damage Control, it's a little hard to believe the anti-government Tony Stark of the time post-Avengers would work with the federal government on anything.

2. I'm not Peter David's biggest fan but given everything lifted from his Spider-Man stories for this movie, he damn well could have been credited along with Dwayne McDuffie.


Friday, July 7, 2017

Starman Plays Skyrim Special Edition - Part 90

In which - having retrieved the three parts of The Gauldur Amulet - we set out for Reachwater Rock to reforge it. And then - when that turns out to be WAY easier than expected - we go off in search of the pieces of a magical weapon.


Thursday, July 6, 2017

Starman Plays Skyrim Special Edition - Part 89

In which we continue into the ruins of Saarthal before leaving for Gerimund's Hall - one of the many Divines-forsaken barrows that seem to surround the village of Ivarstead - in search of the third of the three amulet fragments.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Starman Plays Skyrim Special Edition - Part 88

In which we head back to school and join the other young wizards of The College of Winterhold - nominally to excavate a lost ruin but truly to steal the second of three magic amulet shards we need.


Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Starman Plays Skyrim Special Edition - Part 87

In which, having uncursed the orcs, Mjoll and I get our kids a dog and head off to explore yet another Nord ruin with an unpronounceable name in search of one of three mystic amulet fragments.


Monday, July 3, 2017

Detective Comics #959 - A Review

The Order of St. Dumas - the mysterious cult responsible for creating Azrael - have returned to Gotham and their ultimate weapon has been unleashed. As Jean Paul Valley prepares for the fight of his life, the rest of the team learn of his odd origins. Meanwhile, Batman seeks out his old friend Zatanna to seek her aid on another case that requires her magic touch.


Detective Comics is my favorite Batman book and that's almost entirely due to James Tynion IV. His grasp of these characters is phenomenal. While a flashback to a young Bruce Wayne and Zatanna Zatara discussing magic might seem indulgent under a lesser author, here it is a joy to read even if it ultimately has little to do with the main plot. Such is the magic of Tynion's pen and his gift for gripping dialogue.

The artwork is as excellent as the story. I'm hard pressed to think of any artistic team who has captured the savage beauty of Gotham City as well as Alvaro Martinez, Raul Fernandez and Brad Anderson have here. I regret that Martinez' gorgeous two-page layouts cannot be properly conveyed due to the size of my scanner but they are simply gorgeous and guide the reader's eye perfectly.

If this issue has a flaw it's that for all the focus on Azrael and revising his background for the reality of DC Rebirth there's surprisingly little of Jean Paul Valley in it outside of the fight scenes. It does make more sense for Batwing to be explaining the Azrael costume's AI given how taciturn Jean Paul is but it still seems a bit odd.

The Final Analysis: 8 Out of 10. A solid issue that suffers only in its inaccessibility to new readers.

Batgirl #12 - A Review

Batgirl doesn't usually take requests when it comes to her work. But when a local family recreation center finds itself besieged by a seemingly spectral figure, the threat to the community and the mystery is too much for her to resist. Of course Barbara Gordon doesn't believe in ghosts but can she get to the bottom of things with a clicks-crazy ghost-hunter getting in her way?


Batgirl #12 is easily the best one-shot comic I've read in recent memory. Hope Larson spins a riveting ghost story and it's an interesting twist to put Barbara outside of her comfort zone - both in operating publicly and throwing her against a seemingly supernatural threat. Still, Barbara's character comes out in subtle ways and the same idealism that made her seek training as a librarian to serve her community comes into play in this story.

Eleonora Carlini's artwork proves the perfect match to Larson's script. I've greatly enjoyed Carlini's previous work on other series and her work here is up to her usual high standard. Colorist Cris Peter does a fantastic job varying the palettes based on location and time of day. A shame they aren't sticking around for next month but I hope these two are paired together again soon.


The Final Analysis: 10 out of 10. A perfect entry point for those who have yet to give this amazing book a chance.

Starman Plays Skyrim Special Edition - Part 86

In which I show off my latest manor house and defend my first manor house from bandits alongside my war horse before getting on to the serious business of helping an orcish stronghold rid themselves of a dreadful curse.

Saturday, July 1, 2017

Starman Plays Skyrim Special Edition - Part 85

We're back into the Dwarven ruins this time, seeking to return an ancient codex to the place from which it was stolen.