Archive for September, 2012

Born Yesterday?

So it looks like DC put a “Who’s Who” page in the back of this month’s Zero issues, as a way to re-introduce the rebooted characters to readers. Seems a bit of a foolish idea, since the creators should be introducing the characters in the regular issues, and if they can’t do that effectively, there are some bigger problems ahead.

The biographies for Power Girl and the Huntress in the back of this week’s Worlds’ Finest #0 (I hope to get to a review of that sometime next week, but I will say I thought it was a good comic) were… acceptable. Again, I think not really needed, since the title has only had four issues prior to this one. But it was mostly… acceptable.

But one thing really, really bugged me — something that I suspect is replicated across all of the “Who’s Who” features in the Zero issues:

No, DC Comics, I don’t care how much you want us to love the Reboot and accept that as ALL THERE EVER HAS BEEN, it just ain’t so. Power Girl’s first appearance was in All Star Comics #58 in 1976, and Huntress debuted in DC Super Stars #17 in 1977.

On one hand, I want to consider this a minor issue, but it does point up a certain tendency in the Nelson/DiDio/Johns/Lee era for the company to exhibit a lack of pride in their own long history, as well as a belief that the current leadership team is going to “fix” its comics by getting rid of the things the bigwigs are, for some reason, embarrassed about.

So please take some notes, Diane, Dan, Geoff, and Jim:

  • Your company’s previous 74 years of history are really not anything you need to retcon away.
  • Cassandra Cain, Stephanie Brown, Wally West, Lian Harper, Donna Troy, Misfit, and the original Justice Society were actually excellent characters who don’t deserve to be ashcanned.
  • Splitting up Clark Kent and Lois Lane is just plain stupid.
  • You should really stop treating Alan Moore like crap.
  • Barbara Gordon was a better character as Oracle.
  • Secret Six was better than nearly every comic you’re printing now.
  • Vertigo and Wildstorm characters really do not fit in the DC Universe.
  • Jim Lee’s costume design skills ain’t all that.
  • It genuinely will not make you look less manly if you hire more women to create your comics.
  • Beast Boy is actually green, not red…
  • …and nearly all of your characters were actually created prior to 2011.

Grow up, DC. You’re embarrassing us.

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Last Week’s Comics

Yeah, I’m super-late with reviews, and I just don’t care. After cutting my pull-list in more than half, I ended up getting just four comics — the fewest I’ve picked up in months. And they were all pretty darn good. So, very quickly, let’s look at what we got.

Axe Cop: President of the World #2

It would be impossible for me to describe what goes on here. But there are giant robots, a giant gorilla, an attempt to stab God in the heart with Seattle’s Space Needle, a robot mustache, and a chee-rex, which is a cross between a cheetah and a T-rex.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Wonderfully mad, as expected. And by all means, let’s take a moment to praise the artwork by Ethan Nicolle (That’s the older brother in the team) — everything he does always looks awesome, and I can’t imagine anyone else who could draw a chee-rex so completely perfectly.

The Goon #41

Most of the story focuses on the disgraced Zombie Priest, trying to build himself back up to a position of power by doing magic for others — always supposedly in their favor, but it always turns out bad for everyone. And the second part of the story features a deranged bog lurk with a mad-on for knocking the Goon’s head off.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Nice to see the Zombie Priest returning to become a major threat. And the seriousness of the first story is nicely offset by the wonderful goofiness of the second one.

Captain Marvel #3

Carol Danvers is stuck on an island near Peru during World War II, defending a small all-female squad of Allied saboteurs against Japanese soldiers armed with Kree war machines. And while she can handle one of the alien mega-tanks, is she going to be able to survive a horde of them?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Good fun, nice art, and a few extras that help make it a really entertaining story.

American Vampire #30

Henry Preston is still gravely injured after an attack by vampires, and his wife Pearl and Skinner Sweet hunt the vampires hiding out in Hollywood. They get ambushed by a bunch of vamps just as Henry starts to recover — and just as another terrible twist drives itself into Henry’s and Pearl’s lives.

Verdict: Thumbs up. The action is pretty good, but the emotional whammy of the story, from the beginning all the way to the end, is what really sells this one. It’s an incredible piece of storytelling.

Today’s Cool Links:

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City of Heroes to Hang up its Cape

This weekend, I fought my own evil twin, a giant squid, and three giant robots. I traveled through time and to alternate dimensions. I beat up ninjas, steampunk automatons, ghost pirates, zombies, murderous gnomes, alien invaders, and a homeless guy wearing a broken TV over his head.

I’m going to miss “City of Heroes” so very much.

Last Friday afternoon, those of us who are players on “City of Heroes” got a very unpleasant surprise — the publisher, NCSoft, was shutting down Paragon Studios, the game developers, as well as the game itself.

In a realignment of company focus and publishing support, NCsoft has made the decision to close Paragon Studios. Effective immediately, all development on City of Heroes will cease and we will begin preparations to sunset the world’s first, and best, Super Hero MMORPG before the end of the year. As part of this, all recurring subscription billing and Paragon Market purchasing will be discontinued effective immediately. We will have more information regarding a detailed timeline for the cessation of services and what you can expect in game in the coming weeks.

It looks like the game servers will remain operational through the end of November, but that hasn’t done much to pacify the game’s players, who are reacting with a combination of complete shock, furious anger, and abject sorrow. And I can’t say I can blame them.

I wasn’t able to play the game from the very beginning — I was actually waiting for a new computer to be delivered so I’d be able to play — but I’ve been a loyal player for over eight years. I never managed to get a whole lot of characters to the level cap, ’cause I’ve always been afflicted with alt-itis — addicted to creating more and more and more characters, too many to give them the right amount of playing time to get them to Level 50.

To say that I’m disappointed that the game’s going to be shut down in a few months is a vast understatement. It wasn’t as popular as games like World of Warcraft, but I thought it was a lot more fun, more innovative, with better storyarcs — it’s definitely light-years better than Champions Online and DC Universe Online, the other two superhero MMOs. I don’t know why NCSoft decided to shut the game down — they say it’s strictly a financial decision. That may be so, that may not be so.

This has been a game that let me fly around a giant city in colorful spandex, living out all my superhero dreams — and supervillain dreams, too, since you can play as a good guy or a bad guy. I got to beat up monsters and villains and gangsters, make awesome costumes in the best costume creator of any game out there, run missions that are exciting and funny and scary — and even cooler stuff than that.

Some of my best memories of the game aren’t even related to virtual crimefighting. I once attended an in-game wedding for some friends who were about to get married in real life. I once attended a memorial service for a player who had died — at least a hundred other players turned out to remember him. I once got hit on by a teenager who was hilariously horrified when he found out that, though I was playing a female character, I was actually a man. I made some great friends online, and I made some great friends who’ve since vanished and who I’d love to try to find again. And the best job interview I ever had in my life was for a position where I would’ve been working for NCSoft’s Austin office writing for the “City of Heroes” website. I didn’t get the job, but I never enjoyed an interview more, thanks to all the comics and game memorabilia scattered around the building.

So I want to thank the developers for making a great game and keeping it great for over eight years. I wanna thank the players for being awesome and fun and friendly and cool. I’ve never loved a game as much as I’ve loved this one, and I don’t know that I’ll ever find something as great to replace it with. I’ve got three months before the first and best superhero MMORPG goes away, and I’ll do everything I can to enjoy it while it lasts.

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