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I know you don't like to miss these

Paul O'Brien's October Marvel sales analysis.

By fnord12 | November 28, 2006, 4:56 PM | Comics | Link

The political affiliations of your favorite super-heroes

From Dave's Long Box. I agree with them all*, but Batman is the funniest.

*Update: On the way home from work, i decided i don't agree with Superman's.

By fnord12 | November 28, 2006, 4:12 PM | Comics & Liberal Outrage | Comments (3)| Link

Who needs sleep?

We are having a video game revival over here. We're a generation behind, but we are tearing through some games. I've just basically given up sleep and have been a zombie at work, but my philosophy has been if i'm going to be miserable i ought to be tired as well.

Monsters first, and then get the treasure, dammit!
We just played through D&D Heroes for the X-Box. When we first played it, i thought it wasn't as good as the Baldur's Gate games for the consoles, but it's actually just a slightly different style and once you accept that it's great. It's more action/arcade oriented than the Baldur's Gates which makes sense because it is four players and with four people sitting around you don't really want to click through a ton of dialogue - you just want to go on a rampage. Or at least, 3 of us wanted to go on a rampage. The 4th - and i won't say who - just wanted to smash all the boxes and open all the chests and grab the loot while the rest of us were occupied.

The only bad thing - and i see this a lot in all different types of roleplaying games - is that by the time we got to the end of the game we were super-powerful and there wasn't really a challenge anymore. We had millions of heal potions and raise dead amulets, super-mega attack spells, and even my wizard was killing the bad guys in a couple of hits. After we beat the game on Hard, we unlocked the Nightmare level and we started that up and loaded our characters... and it wasn't much of a Nightmare at all.

Blue Valkyrie shouldn't shoot food. Yellow Warrior shouldn't shoot potions. Red Knight shouldn't shoot--- are you people even listening to me?
So we've moved on to Gauntlet: Dark Legacy (I am noticing that GameSpot is totally not liking these games that i think are great, which is interesting.) I played through this once before but the others have not, which is cool cause now i get to play as one of the characters i unlocked along the way last time. This is (nearly) pure arcade style fun, especially when you switch the controls to "Robotron Style". Damn right. We're playing on Hard, which means all the treasure chests and barrels are full of Poison Apples and Junk, but we're getting along.

There's a Secret War in my Xbox, and everyone's invited!
Meanwhile, we're playing through Marvel Ultimate Alliance. Yeah, it's for the original Xbox (I'm not moving on to the next video game generation), but i still think the graphics are fine, plus, who cares... you can be like every marvel character, and you get to fight the rest of them. We've fought Dragon Man, and Modok, and Fin Fang Foom, and Radioactive Man, and tons more. It's like they made the game for me! Oh, the game's actually pretty good, too. The controls are pretty intuitive and you need to have different sorts of strategies for fighting different types of charagers. About half of the boss fights aren't straight button mashers, either. There's lots of little variations and tricks to them. And you get to create a "team" - you pick a logo and enter a name (we're Power Pack, of course) and you can earn a reputation by being heroic, and you use those points to buy benefits for your team.

The only real problem is the upgrade system - sometimes when you go up a level you get a point, and sometimes you don't. Sometimes you use points to upgrade your powers, and sometimes you have to pay money. And some powers you can't upgrade until you are a certain level, which is odd (they should just make it so that it costs enough points that it's restrictive to buy at lower levels, just for consistency). But that's a minor complaint; superheroes don't really "upgrade" their powers very often anyway.

Who will be master Baten?
Meanwhile meanwhile, when the whole group isn't here, me and min are playing Baten Kaitos Origins. It's a non-action roleplaying game, which i usually don't like to play cause there's not a lot of strategy or anything involved, but we were trying to find some games that don't make certain people dizzy. And it's actually pretty unique - instead of selecting moves, it's got a Yu-gi-oh style card system where moves come up on your "deck" and you have to pick them in the right order to execute combos. And it's real-time turn based, which means you have to pick the cards quick. So it's not billed as a two player game, but i really do need a wingman to tell me what the hell is going on while i'm picking my cards. The only weird thing is, i'm a character in the game. I'm the spirit that lives in the main character's heart (uh-huh). So he keeps turning around to ask me questions. But what i've learned is, i have to always agree with what he's saying. If he asks me a question (What do you think, Chumley? Should we trust her?), if i say i don't trust her and he wants to trust her, it means we don't get certain bonuses. So it's sort of like fascism, or maybe like getting an essay assignment in school and having to answer it the way the teacher wants instead of what you think.

Using an X-X-A Combo to Fight the Power!
This post may look like a bunch of video game reviews, but it's actually a political post. This is my new manifesto. I've decided i'm not going to put my life on hold just because i'm working at a crappy job. I'm gonna stay up all night playing video games if i want to, dammit. I'm gonna enjoy my life. I'm gonna --- zzzzzzzzz...

By fnord12 | November 19, 2006, 12:06 PM | Comics & D&D & Liberal Outrage & My stupid life & Video Games | Link

But i still like comic books

Other than Iron Man, everything i've been reading lately has been great.

I just read all the Brubaker Captain Americas, and not only do i no longer mind that they brought Bucky back, i actually think it is cool. They made Bucky a cooler character in general, and the story as a whole is fantastic. I also read Brubaker's Daredevil, which is also really, really good.

And i finished reading the Runaways, which is also great. I read series 1 after series 2 because i had some trouble finding some series 1 issues, but it was actually kind of cool seeing a lot of things being set-up that i probably would have missed if i read them in the right order.

Unlike just about everyone on every message board or blog i've seen, i am loving Civil War. I think it's a great story, i think it's as tightly knit and consistent as a crossover this large can possibly be, and it seems like this event is going to have long term repercussions that are going to be very interesting.

I'm also reading Astonishing X-Men, Dr. Strange, Eternals, and Annhiliation and they're all at least very good. It's a great time to be reading Marvel comics, in my opinion.

Just wanted to share a little comic book love since my last post was a complaint and i see so many complaints about the direction of Marvel right now.

By fnord12 | November 18, 2006, 7:19 PM | Comics | Comments (1)| Link


So in Iron Man #210 (1986), Happy Hogan was training a promising young boxer, and he went to Tony Stark to ask if he could lend him the money so that he could become a boxing manager. Unfortunately, the boxer turned out to be the Spymaster, who trapped Iron Man. But Happy Hogan, using his boxing skills, was able to beat up the Spymaster. It's not a great story, but it was pretty good. just a random issue of Iron Man that I had as a kid so it stuck in my head.

In the most recent issue of Iron Man (#13), the Spymaster show up and tried to kidnap Happy to use as bait for Iron Man. But Happy Hogan, using his boxing skills, was able to beat up the Spymaster. During the fight, Happy talks about how he still keeps up his boxing, and then says "I just knew... someday I'd get a change to rip one'a you pantywaist super-goons a new one."

So i looked it up and it turns out the original Spymaster died in Iron Man #220 and this is a new guy. But still, Happy's comments are totally oblivious to the fact that he had essentially done this before.

I guess i shouldn't demand that writers and editors be familiar with every issue of the characters they are writing, but i nonetheless do demand it, dammit. Both Spymasters have a total of about 35 appearances. It doesn't seem to be too much to ask that writers do their research before writing a character. I dunno, tell me i'm wrong.

By fnord12 | November 18, 2006, 7:03 PM | Comics | Link


5 of first 10 posts on racmu are currently about the Heroes tv show. Screw that, i wanna read about comic books!

By fnord12 | November 8, 2006, 1:51 PM | Comics | Link

Comic Rage

Wow. I've never seen Paul O'Brien so angry:

Happy New Year! Yes, in the warped world of comic book indicia, it's now January 2007. And we all know what a new month means - a whole new set of adverts!

You can probably guess where this is heading, can't you?

In October 2005, Marvel shipped a month of comics containing a frankly outrageous quantity of adverts. In some books, the adverts actually outnumbered the story in terms of page count. Not surprisingly, there were complaints. Adverts are distracting, quite intentionally. They disrupt the flow of the story. A certain amount can be screened out, but when the adverts outnumber the story pages, you've got a real problem in terms of readability. The quality of the product is seriously compromised.

Marvel apologised, and cheerfully announced that it wouldn't be happening again the next month. Of course, on a close reading, that was partly because they just didn't have as many advertisers lined up for next month. But still, they acknowledged the problem. They apologised to readers. Joe Quesada ended up telling Newsarama that it wouldn't happen again.

Now, if recent history is anything to go by, Marvel will probably deny that they ever said any such thing. So, just for reference, here's the passages.

Joe Quesada, on 21 October 2005:-

"We're very aware of the problem, and we're going to rectify it. ... We've heard the fans and will make sure that their reading experience is the number one priority and not the ads. They will be seeing short and long-term resolutions in the next couple of weeks."

Joe Quesada, on 11 November 2005:-

"We've been looking to resolve this as quickly as we can, which is why I'm proud to say that come December, all our books go back to their normal page counts. And in the future, if we ever find ourselves in this sort of dilemma again, we will place the bulk of the ads towards the back of the books so as to interrupt the stories as little as possible."

I'll just repeat that last bit in case you didn't get it.

"In the future, if we ever find ourselves in this sort of dilemma again, we will place the bulk of the ads towards the back of the books so as to interrupt the stories as little as possible."

Well, once again we have a vast quantity of adverts this month, and it turns out Joe Quesada was not telling the truth. No effort whatsoever has been made to group the adverts at the back of the book. Not only that, but Marvel themselves have made the situation even worse. This comic contains 23 pages of adverts between the first and last page of a 22 page story. Of those adverts, one is a double-page house ad for Incredible Hulk, one is a full-page house ad for newuniversal, one is a half-page house ad for Iron Fist, and one is a half-page house ad for Bullet Points. The half pagers may just about be forgivable, because they're needed to fill out the page due to the dimensions of the paid advertisements. But three pages of house ads in the middle of a 22-page story already fit to burst with adverts? A full spread house ad in a story that already contains no less than three double-spread paid ads? Are they on crack?

Nobody could seriously argue that this story is unimpaired by the adverts. Take, for example, page 15 of the story. It's a big explosion that's meant to be a cool, dramatic moment. But it's stranded miles away from any sort of context - the preceding two pages are adverts, and so are the next three.

Here's the thing. Marvel acknowledged, just twelve months ago, that this was unacceptable. They accepted that it damaged the quality of their product. They claimed to have heard the complaints. They said that if they had this many adverts again, they'd group them at the back.

Well, so much for Marvel's word.

And do you know, it's the strangest thing. Because Marvel love quality. They tell us so, every time one of their flagship titles is running several months late. It's because something unexpected has come up, yet again, and Marvel is willing to stick with the creators, because they care so much about quality.

Heaven forfend anyone should suggest that Marvel has a chronic lateness problem because they indulge primadonnas who think their Jerry Bruckheimer story is Citizen Kane; artists who somehow find time to draw magazine covers when their regular title is six months late; and TV writers who put their TV work first and have no discernible intention of handing in their scripts on anything remotely resembling a deadline. Heaven forfend anyone suggest that Marvel's scheduling department appears to consist of six monkeys and a dartboard, and that the company persistently announces comics on schedules that it knows full well will never be achieved. Dear me, no. It's all because the unexpected continues to occur with clockwork regularity, and Marvel care so terribly much about quality.

Well, if Marvel truly care that much about quality, why are they shipping comics with 23 pages of adverts in 22 story pages, something that they've previously acknowledged is unacceptably damaging to the product? Why didn't they keep to their word and put the adverts at the back of the book? Why didn't they just turn some of the adverts down? Come on, you're always telling us how you're willing to sacrifice short term profit when it comes to indulging your big name primadonnas! Where's the same effort when it comes to the adverts? You people do realise that at the end of the day, paying customers are supposed to read these bloody things?

I'm not a happy customer. I'm a seriously angry customer.

Of course, it could be worse. You could be reading Ant-Man #2. That book contains a 22 page story interpolated with 25 pages of adverts - and since that apparently isn't bad enough, they've chucked in the letter column to make it 26. So the adverts outnumber the story pages by 18%.

Look me in the eye, Joe, and tell me this is acceptable.

By fnord12 | November 8, 2006, 12:45 PM | Comics | Link

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