And we're back on track. This cover has been a favorite of mine for a long time, and it's done by one of my favorite comic artists, Mike Choi. Choi also does a lot of interior work, but you probably already recognize the name if you're a fan of X-23 or X-Force. And if you are a fan of those, or any other project Choi has worked on, you'll be able to find him at Emerald City Comic Con this year, March 1st through the 3rd. So now you've got a cool cover and possibly something to look forward to in March. Enjoy.

Check out Justice League: Doom

December 27th, 2012 | Posted by Emmett in Comics - (0 Comments)
Seriously, it's on Netflix and you can buy it (which I'll probably end up doing if it leaves Netflix). Aside from being another solid animated comic book movie, it's got an unbelievably awesome cast for anyone who likes comics and/or sci-fi. Here are some of the highlights from my perspective:
  • Batman: Kevin Conroy (the Batman)
  • Green Lantern: Nathan Fillion (yes, Nathan-fucking-Fillion!)
  • The Flash: Michael Rosenbaum (Lex Luthor from Smallville)
  • Cheetah: Claudia Black (from Farscape and Stargate SG-1!)
And the rest of the cast is what you'd expect, which is great. Tim Daly, Susan Eisenberg, and Carl Lumbly anchor down the remaining JLA voices, and many of the villains reprise their usual roles as well. Except for Carlos Alazraqui, where voicing Bane follows five years on Reno-911 which overlaps with 10 years on The Fairly OddParents. So yeah, clearly Bane was his next logical career move. And then there's Mirror Master, who is voiced by Alexis Denisof, i.e. the guy that plays Sandy Rivers on How I Met Your Mother. You couldn't make this stuff up. But oddities aside, it's a great movie with a bomb cast, and right now you can watch it on something you're probably already paying for. Enjoy.
With my one day off this week where I was actually home, I was able to finish the last few chapters of Dishonored. So before I get too far into that, I'll issue a spoilers warning. They're coming. Prepare yourself. For starters, I was surprised how the story went. I know I shouldn't be, the spy being betrayed by his handlers isn't exactly a new thing, but I was. It was to the point that even when the world was getting all fuzzy during the party that I didn't go straight to being drugged, I thought it was the Outsider doing something that only I could see. There was no obviously sketchy Loyalist who you knew was going to rat the group out. Even Martin, who I was the most skeptical of, seemed genuine. I didn't even slightly suspect Havelock. He was always presented as such a firm believer in the cause; and even though your clockwork heart tells you of his ruthlessness, I assumed that honor and duty would win out. I really did enjoy the gameplay though. I went stealth the whole game, and attempted my no kills and no detects playthough first. Which would have been completely successful if not for the Granny Rags / Slackjaw debacle in the Flooded District that I couldn't avoid. It was a little tedious at times, but it was still a lot of fun. Even so, I feel like I am missing out on a lot of the game by not using half the tools I was given. There were a lot of situations where I could think of good power/equipment combos that would get me out of a tight spot, but would inevitably kill someone. I know I won't like the world that action will create (which makes we wish I took that approach first and could end on the happier note), but until then it'll be like I've only played part of a game. The environment created was also pretty incredible. There was no involved backstory that fed you the information you needed. Instead, the game gave you glimpses into the world though journals and books that you could read and from random NPCs talking to themselves or each other. These things gave you so much more insight into the dystopian world you're trying to fight against than the world your character is actually able to explore. Not that the gameplay environment wasn't great, but the context you were able to glean added so much to it. Which is what I'd expect out of a Bethesda game. All in all, I really liked Dishonored, and I'm looking forward to another playthough. I think they provided solid gameplay with a lot of cool mechanics and an environment that let you use them in unconventional ways. Combined with a solid, well-told story, this ranks up there as one of the better games I've ever played. So if you're on the fence about picking up Dishonored, my recommendation would be to go for it (especially if it's a Steam Sale day).
In the spirit of yesterday's holiday, I decided to do a little digging to find a good holiday-themed comic cover for this week's post. Interestingly enough, there weren't a whole of options to choose from, but perhaps this is evidence that the modern comic book publisher is avoiding the potential to alienate certain readerships by focusing on a particular holiday tradition. Or more likely, people have just run out of new ideas for Christmas comic stories. There are only so many times a villain with cold-oriented powers or tendencies can escape for a late December crime spree, and the PSA stories of the past have really never found a solid foothold in today's media beyond select children's programming. Even looking outside of comics, I can only remember one Christmas episode from Batman the Animated Series (the one where the Joker escapes Arkham on a rocket Christmas tree singing "Jingle Bells, Batman Smells"... classic) and don't remember any holiday episodes from Spider-Man the Animated Series. Regardless of the comic industry's approach to December sales, I did find a cool cover from last year. Created by Tim Seeley and Leonardo Olea, it definitely got an Avenger's feel to it. Anyway, that's really all I got this time. It's the day after Christmas, and I used all my creative analysis up on last week's post. Besides, I have a rare, free day off, and I hope to use it to finally finish Dishonored. So Merry (late) Christmas, everyone.
This week's cover is one I almost posted about the first week it came out, but I think it got beat out by one of the incredible Batwoman covers by JH Williams III. I'd forgotten about it until this weekend when I saw it a comic shop while I was out buying a copy of Deadpool Kills the Marvel Universe, which I thought provided a really interesting view of Deadpool, but that's getting off topic. Anyway, this week's cover features Karma, a hero I honestly knew nothing about until I first noticed the cover and did some research. Karma is a telepath whose primary ability is mental possession. When I first saw the cover, I thought she was some kind of cyborg like Lady Deathstrike and the Reavers, but it turns out her leg is a prosthetic that she received after having her leg cut off in a flight with Cameron Hodge (who actually is a cyborg) in the New Mutants series. Relatedly, she is one of the founding members of the New Mutants, and is also notable in the comic world as one of the first major lesbian characters in a mainstream series. The cover itself is done by Rachelle Rosenberg and Dustin Weaver, who has a cool blog post that talks about the development of that cover as well as some alternate designs. What I really like about the cover is the scene it depicts and how it reminds me of Stan Lee's vision for more human superheros. This cover, in a more basic sense, shows a girl sitting at the edge of her bed. Illustrate it slightly differently and she could be talking on the phone or tying her shoe or painting her toenails; things that anyone could be doing in this scene and you wouldn't think twice about it. Now, show the same girl is working on her robotic leg, and the image becomes a lot less commonplace even though the task is no more uncommon to the subject than anything else she could be doing at that time. It's like a Norman Rockwell magazine cover, except in a different universe. I can't say I've seen a lot of these kinds of covers (although X-23 Target X #2 is one that comes to mind); but to me, that is the essence of the humanity Stan Lee and Jack Kirby introduced into superheros with the Fantastic Four that revolutionized Marvel Comics and even comics in a much larger sense. It's the idea that despite the astonishing or amazing or fantastic things that these characters do, they are still people like us. And I like seeing that.
Today we're going a little beyond dinosaurs (even though they're awesome) to look at a couple representatives from a series that I've been holding in my back pocket for a while now. These two covers are issues four and five of the newest volume of Hawkeye, which - if you've been paying attention to any form of entertainment anytime in the last hundred years - is further proof that we think bows and arrows are badass. I've been following this series since it came out a few months ago, and I've been really impressed with the cover art by David Aja. As I've mentioned in earlier posts, I like elegant and simplistic comic covers, and these are no exception. Even though the subject of both of these are very simple with a lot of white space, they are very visually appealing and manage to convey a lot of emotion. Although it's not as apparent in these two covers, Aja also frequently uses of color as a theme for his covers. However, what these two covers do serve as is a kind of transition point for those color themes, shifting from blue and purple (issues 1 though 3) to red (issues 5 and beyond). His designs also take on a retro feel to them, and you can see this and these other elements in nearly all of his cover work (and some of his interior work as well). So if you like it, check out his blog that I linked to above, and you should be able to find more.
So my brain neglected to remind me that today is in fact Wednesday, and I neglected to do any research or searching for a potential cover write about prior to right now. However, as luck would have it, Marvel just happened to be releasing this gem by Gabriele Dell'Otto today. The one sentence rundown for the story here is, "Spider-Man fights dinosaurs in the Savage Land." Best thing ever, right? But wait, there's more. What makes it even better (and the reason I chose this cover over the previous issue) is that Spider-Man is teaming up with a dinosaur (specifically, Devil Dinosaur) to fight other dinosaurs (specifically, scientifically enhanced Velociraptors). Yes, comic books are that awesome. So if you were hoping for some intelligent or insightful commentary on a particular piece of comic book cover art today, I'm afraid I don't have any. To be fair though, this is the Internet; and if there's anything the Internet needs to showcase more, it's pictures of Spider-Man riding a dinosaur. Good day.
Ed Benes' run of comic covers for Batgirl is just outstanding. I'm having a hard time choosing a favorite, but this is definitely one of them. The black background with the Joker stepping out holding a knife and a heart-shaped box is a very good portrayal of his character. Add in the creepily realistic wind-up teeth, and you've got a cover that oozes his unique sort of ruthless insanity. Benes' also draws a great Barbara Gordon Batgirl, so all in all, it's pretty hard to go wrong here.

LAG – Dishonored – Day 1

November 28th, 2012 | Posted by Emmett in Games & Gaming - (0 Comments)

Breaking new! A few days ago I learned that my super-cool-reader-count has doubled since my last assessment. That's right, there are now TWO awesome people who visit this website with some semblance of frequency. Oh yes, these are exciting times! And in an effort to appease this new constituency, I was able to take advantage of the most recent Steam sale to acquire - and subsequently review - Dishonored. I realize this deviates a little from my usual modus operandi with these reviews and how they're supposed to be about old games, but let's face facts. Dishonored may not be old, but with the frenzy of new releases we've seen for the past few weeks, it's certainly no longer the new kid on the playground. In truth, it's more like the kid who sneaks around in a perpetual game of hide-and-seek against people who don't know they too are playing; and in any case, it's been completely worth breaking trend for. In a nutshell, Dishonored champions three elements that have been integral to my enjoyment of the game: story, gameplay, and environment. If you're wondering what else could contribute to a good game, the answer is not much. Bethesda is known for making good, well-rounded games, and so far, this is another. Even though I've barely scratched the surface with this game, I'm already interested to see whether these elements remain strong throughout and how they change over the course of a playthrough. I'll start with the story.

Good Heavens, just look at the time!

As I said, I'm not very far into the game so the story is still very infantile, but I can speak a little on the initial experience of being Corvo. The game doesn't waste any time letting you know why it's called Dishonored. In the first couple hours I went from being a championed grand protector to a wanted master assassin. Part of me thinks this happened a little too fast and a little too abruptly, but I can also see some reason and reality behind it. Your world has been turned upside down, and now you're forced to reconcile the person you were against the person you need to be in order to do your duty and - ideally - clear your name. There's a part before your first mission where a woman asks you to try and protect her father who works where you are going. She says, "You used to to protect people, didn't you?" At that point I remember wondering, "When did I stop doing that?" Suddenly I'm outfitted with all this gear, a creepy mask, and people are expecting me to be this great killer of men. There was a disconnect there; in my time as Corvo, I wasn't introduced to that capacity for killing within me. And maybe that was done on purpose. Maybe that change was supposed to be jarring, and at that point you have to decide what you are going to be, an assassin or a protector. Interestingly, the gameplay seems favors both approaches in conflicting ways. Combat consists of dual-wielding a razor-sharp knife in your right hand and a pistol, mini-crossbow, or magic spell/item in your left hand. You are never without something that can kill someone, and you are generally holding two somethings that can each kill someone. So far the crossbow has three different load-outs and only one of those is non-lethal. And everything works very well together. You can slow down time and simultaneously hack and shoot up a crowd of bodyguards. You can blink above someone and assassinate them from the air. All very cool and all seemingly encouraged. However, the environment you're in favors discretion over wanton slaughter.

So you're telling me that this is something that's frowned upon, but I'm never able to put my knife away... ok...

The environment actually gets worse with the more people you kill. The plague affects more people, there are more swarms of ravenous rats, and guard patrols are increased as the city falls farther into martial law. I don't even remember this being overtly mentioned in-game. I only noticed it in a random tutorial explanation for "chaos", which is one of your ratings at the end of a mission. Things like this make me really glad I picked this up, because I'm really excited to see how everything ends up working together and what the story evolves into. I don't know if it's going to be the game I've heard a lot of proclaim it to be, but it's off to a good start.
A recent update to the theme I use for my site resulted in a few weird side effects. My title graphic got replaced, some CSS changes messed with my inline image sizes, and my page icon was removed. All in all, nothing to really write home about, but in the process of putting everything back together, I found a pretty sweet .ico converter called CovertIcon. The concept here is pretty simple: Step 1) take generic image file, Step 2) turn image file into a .ico file. However, I remember having the hardest time finding something that could generate an icon. I eventually settled with a MS Paint style web app where you manually created a really clunky icon to use. Even though it's an incredibly small piece of the website, I like that I was able to clean it up. So if you're OCD about little details like I am, it's worth checking out.