Friday, June 22, 2007

Comic Reviews - Week of 6/20

Pretty big week, so be ready for it.

The Flash: The Fastest Man Alive #13
"Full Throttle" Conclusion
Writer: Marc Guggenheim
Artist: Tony S. Daniel

Opinion: Buy It

All I can say is that we pretty much saw it coming. Bart did indeed die at the end of the issue. We see a flashback to what Iris told Bart when she first arrived and it was that Bart was going to die no matter what he did. There was a point in the issue where Bart thought it was going to be Inertia that was going to die and presumed that Inertia also saw the Black Flash (who always appears to a speedster when they are about to die). Needless to say Bart had no chance and the Rogues ended up killing him even though Piper tried his best to stop it from happening.

If we are to believe Dan Didio, this whole Flash series was supposedly planned ahead of time. I would believe that Guggenheim's time on it was planned, but when the series first started there was no way this ending was planned. After the outrage readers had with the Flash TV writers writing the story and how poorly it was done, chances are Didio decided he needed to end the series ASAP and brought Guggenheim in to do so. It is sad that many people didn't jump on board when Guggenheim started writing, there was a marked upgrade when he came onto the book and he did the best with what he had.

I certainly hope this is not the last of Bart...what a crappy way to die. He gets to stand out on his own as the Flash and then he is sacrificed to make the Rogues look all the more dangerous so the next Flash (who we'll get into in the next review) can put a beatdown on them? I just don't understand why Bart needed to die. Why not send him back to the future or something? Why kill him? If I was Tim (Robin) or Cassie (Wonder Girl) I'd be watching my back because it looks like the Post-Crisis Teen Titans are being taken out.

In the end this comic was really top notch except for the somewhat rushed ending. I give DC and Guggenheim credit for holding onto the secret for so long. The art was also excellent and there is a great interview with Tony Daniel about it on Newsarama. Now we wait for All-Flash #1 next month before we revert back to the Wally West numbering.

RIP Bart. I wonder if Val is going to end up pregnant by Bart or not...

Justice League of America #10
"The Lightning Saga" Conclusion (Part 5 of 5)
Writer: David Meltzer
Artist: Ed Benes

Opinion: Read It

I had to read this comic 2 times in order to even come close to understanding all that happened in it. There is a LOT of story contained within a small space here and it almost makes Parts 3 and 4 of this arc even more aggravating to me with the slowness of them. The Legion (and I'm still not sure which Earth this Legion is coming from and what Earth the current Legion book comes from) plays their endgame here and in the end 2 Legionnaires are left in our time: Starman and Karate Kid.

There is still a lot of interpretation to be made toward the end of this book. I agree with a lot of people that believe the Legion came back to catch Barry Allen and bring him to the future. The foreshadowing of this idea is found in this book. Hal Jordan makes the astute observation that the Legion sets each member in a specific place where Barry Allen's DNA would be (the lab, where Batman saw him in CoIE #2, Blue Valley, etc.) in order to maximize their chance of catching him.

In the final pages we see that Wally West and his family rode the lighting from the future to get back to the present. It is also my belief that Barry Allen came back as well and is housed in the lighting rod held by Brainiac 5 in the future. Brainy says something akin to, "well, at least we got the person we wanted." Wally has become part of the JLA now (thank God a Flash is back on the JLA), but there is no indication of whether he still has the Speed Force or not other than the must have ridden the lightning with his family.

I'm happy to see Wally back simply because he is my generation's Flash. I love Barry Allen too and wouldn't have cared either way of who came back. It looks like both came back though; or at least that's what we're all hoping. Meltzer only has 2 issues left before McDuffie takes over, so it will be interesting to see where he goes from here. I can only guess Wally's story is going to spill out into the Flash books coming out and may not be talked about in JLA, but who knows. In the end the arc itself was slightly above average at best, but the ending was a pretty big payoff and somewhat rights what DC did wrong at the end of Infinite Crisis.

Once Wally finds out the Rogues killed Bart there's going to be a big beatdown coming, but Piper should be happy again now that Wally and Linda are back.

The Amazing Spider-Man #541
"Back in Black" Part 3 of 5
Writer: J. Michael Straczynski
Artist: Ron Garney

Opinion: Buy It

So far this is probably the best part of the "Back in Black" arc. The decisions Peter makes are written very well and based around the whole immediacy of the situation. MJ tells Peter that eventually with them paying cash for May's care that red flags will come up and their cover will be blown, so Peter decides he is going to try transfusing his blood into May and see if that makes her better or not. He had tried it before way back and it had adverse effects, but he feels this is a last ditch effort that must be made. Pretty powerful stuff knowing that you could be killing your closest family member even faster if things go wrong.

In the end Peter has a face-to-face encounter with Wilson Fisk at the end, but no punches are thrown yet. One of the negatives of this arc is that it is happening between Daredevil #92 and #93 (an editoral mark about it is here) and now we are up to #97 in that book. In Daredevil #93 we see Fisk outside of the prison and visiting Vanessa's grave, so obviously nothing adverse is going to happen to him in his encounter with Peter. This kind of leaves the next issue as not that exciting as we move into the last issue of the arc with Peter looking at a body under a white sheet on the cover.

This was a really well written and penciled book, but the whole situation lost a lot of air given the Daredevil editorial mark in it. In some ways maybe they should have left that out because that book is farther in the future at this point and there is a good chance some people may not be reading that book either and will now go and hunt out the comics and see that nothing is going to happen to Fisk in the end.

Captain America #27
"Death of a Dream" Part 3 of 6
Writer: Ed Brubaker
Artist: Steve Epting

Opinion: Must Own (Comic of the Week)

So, how does a writer create a fantastic comic where the title character isn't even alive anymore? I don't know, but Ed Brubaker certainly seems to. This is easily my pick for Comic Book of the Week. It has now been 2 issues since Steve Rogers was killed and I am more engrossed in this comic than any other one I'm reading. Brubaker deserves whatever titles he wants to write because he is simply that good.

I always thought Bucky's return was done better than Jason Todd's return on the DC side and this issue just solidifies it that much more for me. There are more flashbacks from Bucky's early days of being the Winter Soldier. We now find out that he helped train the Black Widow when she was young AND that he was romantically involved with her back then. The Black Widow has slept with a lot of people in the Marvel Universe, so now Bucky can join the others.

This part revolves around Bucky trying to get Cap's shield back from SHIELD. He goes to check out the exhibit that Tony has set up and realizes the shield there is not the real one, something he already assumed since he knew Tony couldn't leave it out in the open. When he tracks it down it ends up that the Black Widow is the one charged with keeping the shield safe. Bucky knocks her out and takes the shield while Falcon and Sharon decide to follow him to see exactly what his plan is.

I can't wait to see what the ending of this arc actually is. I'm still wondering if someone is going to take up the guise of Captain America or not.

Fallen Son: The Death of Captain America - Spider-Man #1
Writer: Jeph Loeb
Artist: David Finch

Opinion: Read It

The delays on this series has been pretty agonizing. I'm not sure whether Loeb is at fault or the artists are. My guess would be the former just because there are different artist attached to each issue while Loeb is the constant through the whole thing. Whatever they have planned for Loeb in the future I certainly hope he can be more timely than he has lately. I still don't buy that the final part will be out the first week of July, especially with Cassidy on the art.

Outside of that this issue was very good and sees Peter mistakenly taking on Rhino at the cemetery. Both of them were there to see loved ones, but Peter reacted poorly and took on the Rhino. We then flashback to a time where Captain America helped Peter take on the Hulk and we see parallels between that fight and the current one that Peter is fighting.

At the end of the issue, Peter gets an unwanted heart-to-heart talk with Wolverine about Captain America that brings a sense of closure. It was a really well done issue as has most of the parts in this arc so far. Now we just have Iron Man left and that should also be quite interesting.

David Finch's art should be given a special note here as it was excellent as always.

X-Men: Endangered Species One-Shot
Writer: Mike Casey
Artist: Scot Eaton

Opinion: Buy It

I'm not a huge X-Men fan. I lived through years where nothing seemed to go on in any of the X books while they were the top selling books around. Nowadays there are some quality X stuff out there, most notably Astonishing X-Men, X-Factor and Morrison's run to close out New X-Men's last iteration. For a while now we've known there will be a huge X event later this year. Last week we got a title for it, Messiah Complex. The one-shot I am reviewing today is the opening chapter to the event and this will spill out to 8-page backup stories in the next 17 X books to come out and then Messiah Complex will start.

This book was an excellent introduction to what the X books are shooting for in the coming months. It has been nearly two years (our time) since House of M ended and I believe we are on the cusp of finally answering all the questions people have had about it when it applies to the X books. Endangered Species revolves around one of the students from the school's (and one of the 198 mutants left after Wanda's spell) funeral. It is said he dies normally being run over by a truck, but the issue itself is set up so the key players can question exactly how to keep the mutants from being an extinct race. They've already lost 99% of their original population, all it takes is for that last 1% to be killed and there certainly won't be any more mutants.

Beast finally decides it is time to solve the problem of extinction however he can and even at the end of the book where they show the upcoming 17-part backup story it sounds like Messiah Complex shall revolve around Beast. Could we be seeing Morrison's future at the end of New X-Men where Beast is the alpha mutant? Who knows, but I am interested in seeing what happens.

This book is a good set-up and hopefully Marvel is finally going to set the table correctly on the X books as we move out of this and into Messiah Complex. I will continue reading the backup stories in all the X books and I can only guess there will be a TPB coming out with the whole thing in one place before the next event begins.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Comic Reviews - Week of 6/13

Taking a page from one of my favorite sites, Evil Avatar, I've decided to start doing Comic Book reviews along with my regular posts on all things comics. I will attempt to not duplicate the books that EA covers, but for this week we'll cover pretty much the same stuff. I will be rating each book into 5 categories: Must Own, Buy It, Read It, Skim It or Skip It.

World War Hulk #1 (of 5)
Writer: Greg Pak
Artist: John Romita, Jr.

Opinion: Must Own (Comic of the Week)

To say I was a bit apprehensive about this event is an understatement. I loved the Planet Hulk story by Pak where the Illuminati sent the Hulk to what they thought was a peaceful world, but the ship went off its course and ended up on a warring planet. I am apprehensive because I just don't think a lot can change to the status quo. I don't see Iron Man, Reed Richards, Dr. Strange or Black Bolt actually dying, do you? I see a lot of destruction happening, but I don't see any major deaths or major upheaval in the Marvel Universe.

The Hulk is returning to Earth with his Warbound pals in tow. He's about to exact revenge on the 4 people responsible for putting him on the warring planet he spent Planet Hulk on and also for (supposedly) blowing up the ship and killing a lot of people, including Hulk's wife: Iron Man, Reed Richards, Dr. Strange and Black Bolt. In the latter's case we see the result of the Hulk battling him on the moon, but we don't see the actual fight go down.

The other really interesting thing to come out of this issue is that Iron Man allows the New Avengers to help them stop the Hulk from destroying everything with the promise that everything will be forgiven if they register after the whole event is done. Tony's a smart man, he realizes why the Hulk is back and needs all the help he can get to stop him.

This issue was far more action than I thought there would be. This could be more exciting than Civil War was, although that series also started off really well and then slid as it continued on. I can only guess that there will be a lot of destruction left by this event, but in the end I'm sure we'll find out the Hulk's Warbound friends are the ones that set off the bomb that destroyed Planet Hulk just so they could continue fighting and not be bored to death by the peace the Hulk initiated. It's the only logical ending, but Marvel has been known to take chances lately, so who knows.

New Avengers #31
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Artist: Leniel Yu

Opinion: Skim It

Marvel has touted this issue for months as "No hype! No BS! The most important last page of any Marvel comic this year! Do not miss it!" Well, I got to the last page (actually last pages because there are 2 reveals) and was not moved by it. The Elektra that was running the Hand was a Skrull and on the very last pane of the comic we see that Luke and Jessica's baby has green eyes, making it seem like there is another Skrull. To me it was a "meh" ending and really fell short of what Marvel and especially Joe Quesada had been hyping it up to be. Yes, there are obviously characters out there in the Marvel Universe that are Skrulls and now Marvel is into the whole, "Who do you Trust?" thing.

I hate to say it, but maybe Marvel is really pushing too many major storylines in tandem or sequential order and there may be some burnout from comic buyers out there. There's WWH, the new Annihilation, the upcoming X-Men blockbuster and now the Skrull story that supposedly will intertwine with all of the Marvel Universe. Yeah, that sounds like a bit of overload even though Quesada swears up and down that sales are showing that this is what people want. Eventually a wall will be hit, it's just logical.

My other problem with this overall arc is that it lasted too long. Bendis has been accused of decompression before and usually I blow it off, but when there is such a delay between issues it becomes that much more pronounced. I mean it's great that we finally know that the new Ronin is Clint Barton and even I would say that was more of a shocker even though it was the worst kept secret in comics. The Skrull ending will have greater implications as we move through this year and into next, but at the moment it just wasn't even close to what was hyped.

Green Arrow #75
Writer: Judd Winnick
Artist: Scott McDaniel

Opinion: Skim It

The final issue of this series is an example of schizophrenia and parallels a lot with the last issue of Nightwing before the One Year Later jump when Dick proposed to Barbara. The parallels are that the majority of the issue is really good, but the last part feels so jarring and forced that it makes you feel dirty inside.

Here Deathstroke is back to top form (look at Identity Crisis for the last time he acted like this when he took out the assembled JLA members). An all-out fight with Ollie and Dinah, although I question Dinah just standing there with Slade's sword in her throat on two occasions. Slade is good and all, but how exactly can he perfectly get the sword in there without damaging anything...twice. The fights are wonderful, but then at the end Ollie proposes to Dinah and that's how the series ends. Soon we will have Green Arrow: Year One and the Black Canary/Green Arrow series. It is cool if they do end up getting married, but there is still a lot of baggage in Ollie's past and I can't believe Dinah has forgiven him for all of that. In the end this was a good issue, but just a weak ending for a series that started off with a bang (Kevin Smith writing Ollie's return to life) and coasted for the rest of the run.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Comic News from the Weekend

Lots happened at the Cons this weekend. Let's look at the major stuff point by point. All news items are linked to my favorite comic site, Newsarama

1. Amazing Spider-Man News: Although it is tough to pick this one over #2, I'd have to say this is the bigger news. The only minus here is I can already see from the Newsarama boards that some people are confused by the whole thing. Marvel is canceling Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man and Spectacular Spider-Man after JMS' final arc, One More Day is done. Then starting the next month Amazing Spider-Man will ship 3 times a month. Basically Marvel is doing a switcheroo, but one that is pretty logical. Amazing is the flagship title and easily outsells the other two comics, so Marvel is betting that people will pick up 3 of the flagship a month. This also allows Marvel to have a cohesive storyline around their #1 player instead of having different storylines going on at the same time. It is a gamble, but I think it will pay off.

2. Flash News: If it wasn't for the news above, this would easily be the biggest news to come out of the Cons this weekend. The new title ends this week with Flash #13 and recently DC showed a teaser with Bart laying on the logo looking defeated and possibly dead. This weekend DC showed off the final cover for Flash #13, and things aren't looking so good:

Along with that news, we have the news that Mark Waid will be coming back to write the title and it will be going back to the old numbering system that Geoff Johns left off with (so the next issue is Flash #231). The internet is abuzz (and I tend to agree) that Wally West will be coming back and filling the shoes of the Flash. Waid writing and them going back to Wally's numbering just points to this fact. I just honestly hope Bart doesn't die at the end of the issue this week. He was great as Impulse and I'd hate to see him gone.

3. Dwayne McDuffie new writer of JLA: This is good news in my mind. McDuffie will take over after Meltzer's issues are done. It also looks like the Injustice Gang will be making a comeback which is always a good thing.

4. Peter David new writer on She-Hulk: At least they are replacing Dan Slott with a capable writer. They have yet to announce the new team(s) on Amazing Spider-Man, but I can only guess that David and Slott could be part of that.

5. X-Men Event Finally Named: It will be called Messiah Complex and it will pour out of the One-Shot Endangered Species that comes out this week.

Those were the major news stories from my perspective, I'm sure there are some others that people would be interested in. Check out Newsarama for all the updates.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Rescue Me is Back

Bad news is that The Sopranos ended, good news is that Rescue Me's new season started just a few days later. There are a bunch of other summer series coming up as well (Dead Zone, The 4400 and Entourage's new seasons start this Sunday; Monk, Psyche and Dr. Who start up next month), but Rescue Me is easily the one to be most excited about in my mind.

Last night's episode was great just because we were coming off a really good cliffhanger from last year. Since it was written by the two creators (Peter Tolan and Denis Leary) the writing and acting was simply excellent. It is too bad the seasons didn't start off right from Tommy being in the fire, but I think they handled it just fine. I have heard that there is a death of a main character coming up and it would be sad to see one of the gang die off. I can only guess it is the Chief, but who knows.

If you haven't seen this show before, be sure to get the previous seasons on DVD. This is one of the FX Network's best shows they have to offer.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Guitar Hero II Save Games: A Frustrating Experience

I've basically loved Guitar Hero II since I picked it up a few days before its actual release in stores. I've been enjoying my time with the game and was just about to start hammering into the Hard mode (remember, this is my first experience with a GH game, so I'm starting off from scratch) this weekend, but it was not to be.

I had 3 songs left on Medium (Madhouse, Psychobilly Freakout and The Trooper I believe) to get 5 stars on to unlock that achievement plus whatever guitar is unlocked as well. On Thursday night I decided to delete the band that I had set up so a friend could play the game. Chances were they wouldn't be back to play the game since they got it themselves, so I deleted the band through the menu and shut off my Xbox 360. When I came back to the game on Saturday night I turned on the game and it locked up at the "Loading" screen. My initial fear was that my launch system was getting close to a 3-ring death and I just wasn't prepared to pay the money to have my 360 fixed or replaced. Before going into full meltdown mode I decided to go looking on the internet to see if other people were having the same problem. It seems that it is a "flip of the coin" chance that your save can become corrupted if you delete or change a band. Well, I flipped the coin to where it corrupted itself, so I had to start all over again.

It is excruciating to go through the Easy mode again, but I started with that. Easy is just so slow when you've spent most of your time in Medium and I expect to feel the same about Medium as I go into Hard and Expert. I went through Easy just to unlock the guitars for finishing it and getting all 5 stars. Then I started through Medium and am about halfway through now. I believe I am getting better scores than I had before, but I also remember I had at least 12 perfect songs in Medium (this includes Xbox Live downloaded and purchased tracks from the Store in-game). My goal is to at least duplicate that, but we shall see.

This whole thing is a bit frustrating though with having to go through it all again instead of being able to continue from where I was. In the end, the moral of the story is to be sure to copy your saved game to a memory card (if you have one) for backup purposes. I still love this game, but we're going through a "difficult" period at the moment.

Monday, June 11, 2007

A Fitting, But Possibly (for Many) Unlikeable, Ending

Obviously I have to point out that I will be revealing spoilers in case you have yet to watch the final episode. All I can say is "Wow" at the ending of The Sopranos. After taking some time to reflect on the episode after the big "WTF is going on" cut to black of the final scene, I have to say that the ending was pretty darn good. Just by reading some forums I lurk at it seems that the ending is left to your interpretation of what it actually means.

Opinions vary from the family dying to the fact that Tony will be looking over his shoulder for the rest of his life to the whole restaurant being blown up as Meadow enters. I take the ending a different way. Debunking the above ideas is pretty simple:

1. The Whole Family Dying: If someone was going to shoot, they would shoot only Tony because it is the mob way. Tony even talked last week about how they don't go after the family when trying to tell Carmela what to do.

2. Tony Always Looking Over His Shoulder: Who is left that wants to take Tony out? Phil was whacked and his right hand man gave Tony a handshake and told him he could do whatever to Phil. Carmine, Jr. probably stepped up to the plate to take over New York (something Tony was pushing him to do this season) or NY is just bossless...who knows. Fact is Carmine, Jr. is on Tony's side no matter what, so NY shouldn't be a threat anymore. This thought process is thrown out in my opinion given how much more "in the public" Tony is after Phil is whacked. He has no reason to look over his shoulder.

3. The Restaurant Being Blown Up: This is credible, but this ties into #2 as well. I think the beauty of the final scene is that we (or at least I) was gullible enough to believe that any of those guys coming into the restaurant were there to kill Tony. I wasn't thinking about the fact that he really had no one who wanted to whack him, but the scene was set up so beautifully to make us believe he was about to be killed. It was set up much like last week's Bobby hit where we knew he was going to get shot dead. This time David Chase did a swerve and basically laughs at us going, "why the heck did you think anyone was after Tony now?"

You also have to remember in this scene there are camera shots of everyone: each Soprano member coming in (first Carmela as Steve Perry sings, "Just a small town girl, living in a lonely world", then AJ and finally Meadow after she parallel parks the damn car...although we don't see her come in and sit at the booth), the guy with the boy scout troop, the boyfriend/girlfriend having dinner, the black guys coming in, etc. Those were the shots of everyday America and relationships (remember, the title of the episode is "Made in America") and Tony had no worries at all. In fact he seemed at ease as he picked "Don't Stop Believin'" by Journey on the table jukebox. The song is about everyone doing their thing - sometimes they win, sometimes they lose - but they just keep "going on and on and on and on".

This series finale was not the best one I've ever seen. Another HBO series, Six Feet Under, topped this one. Not that I'm saying 6FU's was the best I've ever seen because I'd have to think about that. Before watching this episode I was secretly hoping Chase would do something akin to 6FU at the end there. I think that finale totally turned around that series, the difference is that Alan Ball decided the 5th season was it for the series and that last season more than made up for the 2 before it. David Chase on the other hand kept coming back to the table with HBO clamoring for more Sopranos.

I still expect there to be a lot of people calling their local cable company and canceling HBO. I did not get a chance to watch John from Cincinnati yet, but the reviews I have read have not been very good. That does not bode well for HBO and its new Soprano-less lineup. Once their returning 4 series are all done (Entourage, Curb Your Enthusiasm, The Wire and Big Love) - and that could be a while - then it will be interesting if HBO has anything to hang its hat on.

In the end, the door is left open for a possible movie or made-for-HBO special in the future. Given what James Gandolfini and David Chase have said in the past and recently, this sounds like the end...but you never know what could happen.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

The Final Sopranos Tonight...the End of an Era

Tonight is the end of an era...the final episode of The Sopranos is shown tonight at 8pm CT (my time zone), followed by the debut of David Milch's John from Cincinnati. It is weird that one of the best TV series ever ends while a new series by the man that made (and killed) Deadwood starts after it.

With the end of The Sopranos so ends HBO's heyday and there are countless articles about whether HBO is going to be able to survive with Sex and the City and The Sopranos now gone. My guess would be they will survive, but they probably won't have the same number of subscribers as before. Chances are good that calls will be made around 9pm CT to local cable companies with people ending their subscription to HBO.

That's a sad state of affairs considering HBO still does have some great ongoing shows: Entourage (short season during The Sopranos final episodes, next full season starts next Sunday), Curb Your Enthusiasm, The Wire and Big Love. The first of those easily takes over as HBO's centerpiece until possibly one of the new shows hits so big that it takes over. I enjoy the other 3 shows and Big Love starts its second season tomorrow, but even it paled in comparison to The Sopranos and Entourage as a "centerpiece" show. Maybe John from Cincinnati or some of the other shows coming up will hit a chord, but I don't think many subscribers are going to stay around for them. Maybe they'll come back if critics praise the shows, but who knows.

Hopefully later tonight I can give my thoughts on the final episode and what I thought of John from Cincinnati, since I will give it a chance given how good Deadwood was. Also, for those that missed out on it, the excellent show The Tudors ends its first season tonight on Showtime. It has easily gotten lost by The Sopranos and Entourage (who it is in direct competition with), but it is good nonetheless. Comcast was nice enough to have this week's finale up last Sunday on On Demand, so I've already seen the season ender and thought it was quite good.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

PC Gamer Editorial on Penny Arcade

Bill already beat me to it (check out his opinion piece from today), but I wanted to talk about Greg Vederman's editorial that will accompany the July issue of PC Gamer with a cover story about Penny Arcade's upcoming game, Penny Arcade Adventures: On the Rain-Slick Precipice of Darkness which is being developed by Hothead games with Ron Gilbert (the man behind most of LucasArts greatest adventure games) lending a hand.

You can read the editorial, along with Scott Kurtz's (PvP Online) rant on it here. I'm not exactly sure what Mr. Vederman is trying to convey in his editorial. First off, it is poorly written from a structure perspective. He talks about Garfield for close to, if not over, 50% of the editorial. He says he enjoys some of PA's comics, but then roundhouses them by saying he blows it off when his friend asks him whether the comic is funny or not when he points it out.

The key problem with his editorial is that he is comparing something from his (and my) childhood and comparing it to a webcomic that is 20 years younger than Garfield (it debuted in 1978, PA debuted in 1998). With 20 years of experience under his belt before PA even debuted, chances are good that the eyes of an adult are going to be far different than the eyes of a child.

I'm going to guess I am around the same age as Mr. Vederman. Gabe (Mike Krahulik) is a year younger than me and Tycho (Jerry Holkins) is a few months older. Fact is all 4 of us grew up in the same pop culture lexicon. I know I can sit here in 2007, go to On Demand on my cable box and watch some of the cartoons I used to watch in the 80s. I remember how awesome they seemed back then, but watching them now through adult eyes makes me wonder what the heck I saw in them. A perfect example is I recently watched the Transformers Movie again and it just wasn't as special as it was when I saw it in the theater. Doesn't mean I'm any less excited about the live-action version coming on my birthday (July 4th) though.

Mr. Vederman's editoral simply has a disconnect when trying to compare things that are 20 years apart. I know I also loved Garfield in grade school and I remember picking up the combined strip books (I think I have Books 1-21 or something of Garfield) at my local bookstore when I was young. I would spend hours reading those along with my comic books and playing video games. I probably liked Garfield longer than Mr. Vederman given his words in the editorial, but much like him I eventually found out the strip just wasn't as funny as I got older. I still read the strip today, but it is more out of habit than anything else.

I think I've been reading PA since the beginning or very near to it. So, I've been reading it for almost 9 years; chances are that is longer than I religiously read Garfield, but I'm not positive. I will also continue to read PA until it is no more. Mike and Jerry have built a successful company from nothing. They even went through a time where things were so bad that they had to ask for donations and gave back to their donators by sending out exclusive prints and other items. They made bad business decisions before Robert Khoo came on and took over that side of things.

Since then they've created PAX, a convention I'd love to go to one of these years. With the classic E3 gone, PAX has become one of the biggest conventions around. It is so big they had to put it in a new building this year. They also created Child's Play, which made over $1 million last year in donations to many Children's hospitals around the world. Of course Mr. Vederman makes no mention of that last part, only about the "fanbois" that follow PA like a cult. Thing is PA really isn't a cult, it's a cultural phenomenon.

Penny Arcade IS the trendsetter in webcomics. They have connections with many companies; and unlike the game magazines out there they don't have to say a thing about the products they are sent. When a product is talked about it's free hype (or free death if they are negative) for the product maker that can reach out to millions of people per day that check out the site. When we contrast this with PC Gamer's latest known subscriber base (250,147 as of Jan-Jun 2006) my question is how can millions of people be wrong?

Then again, maybe Mr. Vederman is trying to strike the fire in us with his editorial. He should be careful though because he could find himself out of a job if people cancel their subscriptions or enough of an uproar is unloaded upon this editorial. As was pointed out in the comments section on PvP Online, you wonder if he will have the same sort of nasty editoral based around StarCraft II, which is next month's cover story. Chances are good he won't since Blizzard and Vivendi are probably big advertisers for the magazine whereas PA is not.

The fact is many people will pick up all 5 covers of PC Gamer and his job will probably be saved for the moment. The editorial was just a bad idea, he probably should have had a second version of it without the Garfield comparison. Heck, he could have just talked about how he is not a fan of PA, but understands there are a legion of people that are fans and still find the comic funny even to this day. It does put a sour taste in people's mouths when the people behind their cover story are being outwardly hated by the Editor-in-Chief of the magazine. Maybe he should have just stayed quiet.

Chances are Penny Arcade Adventures: On the Rain-Slick Precipice of Darkness will be a good game. Both Mike and Jerry have said on multiple occasions that they wouldn't allow it to be released if they thought the game sucked and with Ron Gilbert helping I can't see it not being above average at best. It's just too bad this major cover story is brought down by an EIC that is not a fan of the webcomic. Trust me Mr. Vederman, PA is going to last for a long time after you are long gone as EIC of PC Gamer...that I can promise you.

What Have I Been Doing in Gaming?

Since it's been almost 8 months since I last blogged, many of you may be wondering what I've been playing over that time. With my busy work schedule I haven't had a ton of time to play games, but you can always keep up on what I'm playing on the Xbox 360 on my Gamercard to the right.

Over these 8 months I've gone back to some 360 and PS2 games and played what I had missed. I am almost done with Fight Night Round 3 and I blew through NBA Street Homecourt over a number of weeks. I like both games, but their inherent problem is that after a while they can get boring. The ability to double-dunk in Homecourt really hurts when online. Once you get the hang of how to time the double-dunk you become that much more dangerous in an online game. When I played my brother-in-law I destroyed him and I tried to not do the double-dunk, but the timing in my hands was so ingrained that I let a couple slip out accidentally. I think without the double-dunk that Homecourt would easily be the best game in the series. With the double-dunk it kind of fits in with the last iteration as being the best.

I did pick up God of War 2 when it came out, but I have yet to play it. With work being so busy I never felt I could give it the time I needed to give it. In fact, my Playstation 2 has not been plugged in for a while, but I will soon plug it in to play this and finish up with Final Fantasy XII. The rest of my time I've spent playing Guitar Hero II, the Shadowrun beta, Crackdown and the Halo 3 beta on the 360 side.

GH2 was my first time with the series and I have to say it is awesome. I'm still trying to get all 5 stars in the Medium level, I think I only have 4 songs left before I accomplish that. I have walked tepidly into the Hard mode, but will start hitting that hard here soon. The Mall of America is having a GH2 tournament this weekend, but I'll be nowhere near there as we get to go watch the in-laws dog this weekend. If I was at home (I don't live far from the MoA) I might go and check it out although the mall is pretty crazy on the weekends.

I'm enjoying Crackdown quite a bit, although I would like to get farther into it. I need to set aside some time to play it because I've only played it in spurts so far. My brother-in-law and I played co-op over Live last week and that was pretty fun, but given how low we were in abilities the fun only lasted so long. Then we played some NBA 2K7 and had a close game.

The two betas are polar opposites to me. I got into the Shadowrun beta early on and I played it a bit and just was not pulled into it at all. I have played the pen and paper game a long time ago and I played the RPG on the SNES. I know many people have a problem that this isn't Shadowrun to them, but to me it just isn't an exciting game.

Same can't be said for Halo 3 beta. I'm loving it quite a bit and can't wait till the game comes out September 25th. I got into the beta on the first entry, but I never received any e-mail from Bungie after I had been accepted, so I ended up getting into the beta through Crackdown. Yes, I feel I was ripped off by Halo 2's ending, but my hype factor is still very high on this game.

There aren't a whole lot of games coming up outside of NCAA Football 08 and then the August rush of things like BioShock. I still don't have a Wii or PS3, but maybe one of these days I'll pick up one or both.

DC Comics: Countdown...What the Heck?

So, 52 ended up being a wonderful series in the end. I was low on it late in Act 1, but it grew into an explosive conclusion and overall really good series. Yes, the multiverse is back and I have no clue where they are going from here and I had hoped Countdown would excite me more than it has. I would dare say that 52 was the strongest of the big events that DC has seen over the past few years. I'd rate them this way (not including the current Countdown series):

1. 52
2. Identity Crisis
3. Countdown to Infinite Crisis
4. Villains United
5. Infinite Crisis
6. The OMAC Project
7. Day of Vengeance
8. Rann-Thanagar War
9. World War III (4 issues expanding upon 52 #50)

Now we have Countdown and I think I am seeing a vast difference between an arguably All-Star creative team (Geoff Johns, Mark Waid, Grant Morrisson, Greg Rucka, Keith Giffen and Steve Wacker/Michael Siglain) and a Countdown's rotating set of creativity (Paul Dini and Keith Giffen being mainstays with rotating writers).

I think Countdown's biggest strike against is the fact it is happening in continuity with the current DC universe, unlike 52 which told the story of the missing year. With it being in continuity that means there will be crossovers if you want to read more about what is happening. Marvel did a pretty good job with crossovers while Civil War was going on by keeping the main story in the main book while letting people read more of the story elsewhere. I don't have the same sort of faith in DC to be able to keep the reins held on this crossover. So far we've seen connections to events that started months ago and just this week at the end of #47 we see the Amazon's attacking, something that started in Wonder Woman weeks ago. If they aren't careful it is almost assured that a comic could spill the beans about what happens in Countdown or what happens in another book that affects Countdown.

So far I am not as impressed with Countdown as I was with 52, but I shall continue to read it. If you want my honest opinion though I think Marvel has better editorial control over their books than DC seems to have. Marvel is running on all cylinders at the moment with some excellent new books out there (Avengers: The Initiative, The Mighty Avengers, Omega Flight, Nova, and New Warriors just to name some) that tie well into the aftermath of Civil War and will soon tie into World War Hulk and whatever the upcoming X-Men event is.

In the end though it may be interesting to see exactly what DC is counting down to with the series. Are they going to reboot the whole universe again? I hope not, but who knows at this point.

Welcome Back

It's been a long time since I last blogged on here. Work became busy not too long after my last post (November 20th) and continued through the end of last month. I've spent the last couple weeks trying to recover from some long and hectic days at work. I thought many times about blogging again and I would either start writing something and delete it or just think to myself that I can blog another day.

I know I've said it before, but I do plan on being a bit more regular this time around with my blogging. It is still tough to fit it in with everything going on in my life, but I am going to attempt to do so. My first big post after my absense is going to be about the editoral in the new PC Gamer about Penny Arcade, a site near and dear to my heart (I have them linked on the right). I was quite surprised that neither Mike or Jerry said anything about the editorial, but Scott Kurtz (of PvP Online fame and "mortal enemy" of Mike and Jerry) certainly unloaded on Greg Vederman. I expect many more people to unload on him in the future.

Yes, I realize there are people out there that don't find PA funny in the least bit, but I'd say that the majority do. Anyway, welcome back to Virtual Viewpoints. I hope you'll stay a while.