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Hidden Gems…the best stuff of the rest of the stuff

Nerds like stuff. That’s one of the coolest part of being a nerd; all the STUFF! But sometimes we get hung up on the stuff that everyone else is getting hung up on. That’s how stuff gets popular. That’s just the way things are, but there’s so much stuff that some truly great stuff gets pushed to the wayside. Let’s talk about some of that stuff. Just because stuff isn’t the most popular stuff, doesn’t mean that it’s not great stuff, maybe even better stuff than the stuff everyone else is stuffing themselves with. Here’s some stuff you maybe missed. Stuff.

GAUDEAMUS

Hard to pronounce, hard to put down.

Hard to pronounce, hard to put down.

Gaudeamus was a sci-fi novel from acclaimed novelist John Barnes. It’s also a damn hard word to spell, and no picnic to try to pronounce. It launched in 2004 to little fanfare, and that’s a shame, because it’s a really fun read. Barnes tells the story from the first person, using himself as a main character, listening to the story told to him by an old college friend. Got all that? It’s a tricky little literary device, but one used to great effect here, as it makes you wonder how many of the people in this story actually exist, and which ones are pure fiction. It makes me wonder that too, we have so much in common. If there’s actually a Travis Bismarck out there, I’d like to have a beer with him and hear about his adventures. And if there’s not, just read this book, maybe while drinking beer. Beer is nice.

UFO’s, telepathy-inducing sex drugs, and punk rock bands disguised as clowns, there’s a lot going on here. So much, in fact, that it’ll have you saying “what’s going on here?” up until the very end. Go read it, it’s a neat little ride.

NEXTWAVE

This pretty much sums it up, yeah.

This pretty much sums it up, yeah.

Marvel comics are pretty hot these days, and every title gets the scrutiny of whether it’ll end up as a huge blockbuster movie. Here’s one that almost assuredly will not. And that’s a bad thing. A not-so-super team comprised of D-list Marvel heroes Boom-Boom, Photon, Machine Man, and Elsa Bloodstone, with Newcomer “The Captain”, whose powers include “generic superhero shit”, Nextwave had a twelve-issue run and became insanely popular with people who read it, and no one else, really. It’s a damn shame. It’s sarcastic humor and open mocking of itself are extremely endearing. I’ve never met anyone who read this and didn’t love it. Go read this too.

THE SPOILS

Annnnnnnd...dick joke!

Annnnnnnd…dick joke!

Do you play Magic:The Gathering? Well stop it! The Spoils is yet another CCG that made it’s debut in 2007 to a huge splash (maybe too big) as an alternative to Magic. If you’ve ever played Magic, you can learn The Spoils in about five minutes, and do well at it. Building off of the basic rules structure that MTG introduced, and improves on it in some key ways, namely resource management. The real kicker here, though, is the game’s style. The Spoils is not afraid to make all kinds of off-color, though not truly obscene jokes on it’s cards. Where Magic takes itself super-serious, The Spoils hands out dick jokes like Halloween candy, while not letting the humor take a backseat to solid mechanics and fun gameplay. Unlike most things on this list, this is still going, and definitely deserves your support.

Boob jokes too? There's something for everyone!

Boob jokes too? There’s something for everyone!

There’s some of the stuff that you may have missed on your quest for neat stuff. Go check some of this stuff out, it’s pretty great stuff. What obscure stuff are you into? Sound off in the comments! Also, check out the movie The Stuff. It’s a movie…about Stuff.

thestuff

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No girls allowed!

I’m kinda steamed, kids. I’m annoyed, I need my fangs milked (not a sexual innuendo…this time), and I’m about to start pointing fingers. If you’re the reactionary type, maybe skip this one…

 

DC Comics is doing a line of Joker-themed variant covers for their books in June. The cover to Batgirl #41, has been cancelled. It was cancelled because of whining. Take a look.

jokerPersonally, I think it’s pretty great. For long-time fans, it’s instantly evocative of Alan Moore’s classic story The Killing Joke, a story that was extremely important for Batgirl. It provided something that most comic book characters never get; character progression. After The Killing Joke, Batgirl as we knew her was gone for decades, and Barbara Gordon was forced to find a new niche in the DC Universe as Oracle, a character that was interesting and popular.

Even if you’re not familiar with this story, the cover is visually striking. The mind immediately begins to wonder what’s going on. It’s sinister in a way that’s so playful as to make it more sinister. It makes the viewer concerned for Batgirl’s welfare, wondering how she’ll overcome this situation. It accomplishes what art is supposed to; it makes you feel something.

Just kidding, it glorifies violence against women.

Seriously, people were so incensed by this one simple image, that letters had to be written, tweets had to be tweeted, shitty blog posts were posted (ooh, how meta), all about how misogynistic this was. It should be noted that it was also pointed out how awful it was that Joker’s gun is pointing downward, further hinting that maybe Barbara was molested during The Killing Joke…because it couldn’t possibly be just how a pistol would happen to hang if the hand holding it was draped over someone’s shoulder. I couldn’t make this shit up if I tried.

Are we supposed to pretend that in the gritty, violent world of costumed weirdos who live for little else than beating each other senseless, that women are somehow safe from all harm now? It kid of solidifies The Joker’s status as a villain if he can just show up and torment anyone he wants, doesn’t it? No, he can only get into fistfights with Batman. That’s safe an inoffensive. He can also cave in the occasional Robin’s skull with a crowbar, so long as said Boy Wonder is, in fact, a boy. Come on people, when did we decide that villains have to be politically correct?

Well, congratulations, idiots, the cover has been cancelled, you can go about your fantasy life that bad things in fiction only happen to people you want it to.

And while I’m working so hard at alienating fifty percent of the world’s population, I want to touch on something else. Ghostbusters.

It seems that humanity has collectively given up on Bill Murray agreeing to do Ghostbusters 3. That’s a shame, but something we all have to deal with, and we dealt with it in a pretty okay way; it was announced that a new, all-female cast would be rebooting the franchise. My sphincter immediately tensed up at the thought of another reboot, but I was impressed by the cast, so I made peace with it. Funny ladies are funny ladies, I wasn’t really looking at it as any kind of progressive thing, other than progress for the Ghostbusters franchise. Then the unspeakable happened…which I’ll speak of now.

It was announced that a second Ghostbusters movie was being produced, with Channing Tatum and probably Chris Pratt attached. Wow, thought my simple and terrible man-brain, Twenty-five years of no Ghostbusters, and now we get two? That’s great, right? No, it’s apparently awful! How dare men get to be Ghostbusters too! Internet opinion-spewers like charming Nerdist spokesbeing Jessica Chobot expressed their disdain at this terrible act of male oppression. Speaking of which, I’d just like to compare credentials here for a second…

Eat your heart out

Eat your heart out

I don’t get it. How is everyone getting something a bad thing? I understand how women should be happy that they’re getting represented in this, but then why are men not allowed to want that too? Sounds to me like equality isn’t equal. All this ballyhoo is really getting us nowhere.

Recently, on aintitcool.com, contributor Jeremy Smith wrote an article about Neil Blomkamp’s upcoming Alien sequel. He criticized Blomkamp for having reservations about his qualifications. Good for him. If you’re as much of a rookie as he is, approaching a beloved franchise like this should be a humbling and nerve-wracking proposition. It’s nice to see an artist not approaching their craft like a damn narcissist for a change. But Smith bellyaches that the task wasn’t given to a woman filmmaker. I’m sorry, I didn’t know this was an issue here. Blomkamp did some sketches, the studio was blown away by them and quickly contracted him to make something out of it. Should they have instead said “This Alien concept art is brilliant, too bad they weren’t done by a woman, then we could make a movie!” If you think the answer is “yes”, go away.

So what’s the takeaway from this? Well, probably that I’m some sort of cro-magnon man. But if you’re of rational mind and not tragically brain-damaged, it’s that none of this shit matters. Art should be shocking sometimes, otherwise it’s not art. Two Ghostbusters movies? Two Ghostbusters movies, people, that’s awesome! A new Alien movie that could be really cool? I don’t care who makes it, that’s great too! I’m not saying I don’t want movies starring or made by women, just the opposite, they recently announced a new Star Wars movie entitled Rogue One, starring Felicity Jones. That sounds like a movie about a female X-Wing pilot, and that sounds amazing. I can’t wait for that. Basically, what I’m trying to say here is, we should all unbunch our panties, and stop listening to bloggers.

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Cowabunga, quit your bitchin’!

Well, it’s ninja turtle time again. It happens every few years,, and as time has gone on, it seems to get less and less notice each time it happens (kind of like Haley’s Comet). The difference being this time, is Michael Bay is involved. So the prophecy demands, that we must all clutch our collective butts in agony and whine like somebody just dumped pig’s blood on us at prom. You know what I did on my prom night? Huh. do ya? I spent it at my buddy Billy’s house, playing D&D. There was no awkward genital groping for me that night! No siree, So fuck you, people who had sex in high school, fuck you right as you fall asleep!

technical-difficulties1

Sorry. I’m better now.. Anyway, internet whipping boy has brought us another nostalgia fueled popcorn flick to bitch about, and you know what? It’s not as bad as most of the internet would like you to believe. Just like Transformers.

I take it back immediately

I take it back immediately

Let me break this down nice and simple. Ninja Turtles, as a thing, has always been stupid. It started as a joke. It happened to be a joke that sold LIKE CRAZY. Think back to your first memories of TMNT. I’m guessing it involved a Technodrome, Bebop and Rocksteady, maybe some Nutrinos. That was dumb. It was charming, it made for a great line of toys, but it was dumb as hell. Maybe your first version of the turtles was the 2003 series. Shredder was an alien thing. Then he was a Satan. Then…you know what, fuck you too, that shit’s confusing. And dumb. 

What the hell, kids?

What the hell, kids?

A quick summation of the new movie, if I may. Turtles that are ninjas fight an armored ninja called the Shredder who has some stupid plot involving bullshit science, some kung fu happens, someone says cowabunga. Sound familiar? Yup, it’s still the turtles. The origin story has been changed ever so slightly, removing Hamato Yoshi from the equation entirely, and it’s a little bit dumber for it. Again, it’s always been a little dumb. Great, but dumb. Also, this is marketed to a different generation. A dumber generation. Yes, children watching this are dumber than we were. Deal with it. Slap the smartphone out of their hand and make them read a book  if you don’t like what I’m saying, otherwise you’re ok with it. If you’re one of those people holding the original Mirage Comics as a measuring stick, stop it. As much as it hurts me to say it, because I love those books too, but they’ll never make another Turtles like that again. Especially not in movie form. Sadly, it’s just too dark to be marketable to the kiddies. The dumb, dumb kiddies. In that series the lovable heroes straight up kill the Shredder in the first issue, but to be fair, only after he refused to ritualistically commit suicide.

Radical...

Radical…

A lot of people are butthurt that the turtles have noses now. Ok, I’ll admit, it was a bit jarring at first. You know what else is jarring? Realizing that the turtles never had noses before. That’s creepy. Some people also hate that the turtles have lips. Guess what, today’s turtles are no less anatomically correct than they ever were. Want to see what turtles really look like?

Soulswinter

We’re so quick to criticize everything these days. All the shit that we always dreamed of as kids, live-action movies about GI Joe, Transformers, Ninja Turtles, Superman, and so on. A seemingly endless supply of new Star Wars movies on the way. And all we can do is complain. No movie could ever live up to our stupidly impossible expectations, all because we’ve put all the shit from our childhood on pedestals, and act like anything new coming along is just trying to…to…rape our childhoods. We need to just relax and let ourselves have fun. Because there is fun to be had in this stuff, just don’t expect the impossible.

Seriously, I can breathe now!

Seriously, I can breathe now!

I guess my point in all of this was that this new Ninja Turtles movie is dumb. It’s also a lot of fun to watch, stop being so sensitive…it seems like there was something else…

Michael Zulli, I salute you.

Michael Zulli, I salute you.

Right. Just go track down a copy of Soul’s Winter. It’s the only time they managed to turn this whole thing into art.

Cowafuckingbunga…

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And then I said some stuff…

True story; I go to the kitchen yesterday, I open the fridge, it’s full of food. I go to make a bologna sandwich. I have an epiphany. It might have been a mini-stroke. Turkey bologna. If you’ve got a big heap of turkey meat, what posseses you to turn it into bologna? Probably Satan. Bologna is some weird shit. Seriously, I eat it, and I “enjoy” it, but I realise that there’s something unwholesome about it. Why is it always sweaty? Meat shouldn’t sweat. Meat should have a grain to it, though, and bologna doesn’t.  Why not just eat turkey? Turkey is fucking delicious. It’s like God was almost finished creating the birds and said “Wait, they’re gonna need one whose only purpose is to be delicious.” And then he made turkeys. Ben Franklin knew how great turkeys were, and he was a little bent. Speaking of bent, turkey bacon? Go fuck yourself. Whoever said “let’s use the dark meat to simulate the meat and white meat to simulae the fat!”, maybe should be locked up somewhere deep underground. Now that I’ve overthought my lunchmeat…

Gencon season is coming up again…in seven months. Hotel rooms near the convention center were sold out in four hours, this is insane. I was perched like a vulture over the keyboard waiting for clock to strike the moment that registration began. Gencon registration has become like a yearly feat of initiation, it’s incredibly stressful, and if you cock it up, angry natives will eat your heart in tribute to their weird looking gods.

Image

I’m still getting traffic from people looking for Katherine Heigl’s boobs (and really, aren’t we all?). That’s funny, I stopped posting pictures of her a long time ago.

It’s apparent at this point that regardless of who gets cast in the Man of Steel sequel, it’s going to piss the masses off. Remember, my fellow nerds, Julian Mcmahon was Dr. Doom, Shaq was Steel, now let the nice movie men do their work, they’ve learned from their mistakes.

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Nerdsploitation

Ah January, what a delightful time to be sick nearly the entire month. Excuse me if I’m not hip to the lingos and goings on of today, but I’ve spent most of the month in a mucus-induced haze…I think something Bieber related happened.

Seriously though, there’s a new paradigm going on lately, one that I thought would be the greatest thing ever, naturally it isn’t. I’m talking about the phenomenon of nerdsploitation. The biggest hit movies of the past few years are based on comic books. More and more TV shows are too with Arrow and Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. being such surprise hits and The Flash and young Batman getting shows of their own soon. Video games are mainstream now too. Good luck going fifteen feet in a department store without finding some Angry Birds merchandise, the shit is everywhere.

So how is this bad? Well, the more that nerd culture becomes popular with the mainstream, the more people who don’t know their D20’s from their elbows get in on the act, and that leads to some questionable stuff. Big Bang Theory is immensely popular, and has been on the air for longer than most sitcoms run. I have a love/hate relationship with it, personally. One of my gaming buddies summed it up pretty well, dubbing it “a dumb show about smart people”. He then stuffed a bag of Taco Bell wrappers under my couch for me to find a week later. The show is decently funny, but the show’s so-called nerd protagonists often come across as characatures of what most people think nerds are like. They do wacky stuff like getting their penises stuck in experimental robot hands, stalk Stan Lee until he takes legal action, and become physically unable to speak when a pretty girl is around. JUST LIKE REAL NERDS! Sorry. But in all honesty, the show comes across as if they have one actual nerd on the writing staff to throw out terms that nerds will recognize, even if they’re mishandled. I imagine the rest of the writers give this poor bastard swirlies all the time too. Also, I checked, it’s still not legal to stab people who try to interject lizard and Spock into rock, paper, scissor games. So much for change, thanks Obama.

Look at the nerds! Haha, they're so funny! Shut up!

Look at the nerds! Haha, they’re so funny! Shut up!

 

But it doesn’t end there, the loathsome trend of reality tv has gotten in on the act too. Syfy’s Heroes of Cosplay was an eye-opening look at why pretty ladies wearing elaborate costumes are probably terrible shrews. Seriously, the show could have just as easily been called Oppressed Cosplay Boyfriends. The show followed a bunch of ladies, mostly, who yelled at their boyfriends and husbands while talking shit about the competition and kissing the ass of Yaya Han, who apprently is some kind of cosplay celebrity…who also made her oppressed man-slave do her grunt work while she pranced around boosting her self-esteem. Now they weren’t all terrible, the ladies from Crabcat, who did the amazing Mass Effect costumes a couple of years ago, actually did their work and seemed to be in it for the love of their craft. Still, it casts another facet of nerd culture in a less than stellar light. Now before you get your authentic period-specific steampunk panties in a bunch, I know not all people who make and wear costumes (I’m still not comfortable using the word cosplay…slippery slope) are jerks. Some of them are very nice people, the problem is, very nice people don’t make for good drama.

Just do as she asks, you'll have the last laugh later when it's just you, the photo, and the tubesock!

Just do as she asks, you’ll have the last laugh later when it’s just you, the photo, and the tubesock!

 

Then there’s TBS’s King of the Nerds. Geez, they hit all the sterotypes here, didn’t they? They got the fat bearded guy, the scrawny bookish guy, the nerd-hipster, the chubby (but still pretty enough for American TV) girl, and the pink-haired queen bee, and made them live in a house together and compete to see who becomes our avatar of shame. Oy.

The gang's all here. Dammit.

The gang’s all here. Dammit.

Truly this newfound acceptance into mainstream culture is a double-edged sword. But is it the Vorpal Sword we’ve all been looking for, or must we endure the stereotyping and embarrasment even further, and continue looking for that +5 Holy Avenger that we so rightly deserve?

If that last bit made any sense to you…NERD ALERT!

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I Hate Diversity…

Now for a post that will be misunderstood and have people thinking I’m a racist.

I’m not even going to start with one with a picture of Katherine Heigl’s underwear this time.

There’s a disturbing trend in popular culture, and by that, I mostly mean comics, movies, and stuff like that, to replace beloved, well-known characters with altered versions that cater to special interests. Now please don’t get me wrong here, I’m not against there being diversity in media, I’m against artificial forced diversity.

Here’s a prime example; Miles Morales. Miles is the newest character to assume the role of Spider-Man in Ultimate Spider-Man. That universe’s version of Peter Parker died and Morales took over as the permanent replacement Spidey. Also, if you’re paying attention, He’s half black and half hispanic, so they could shoehorn in two types of minorities! The higher ups at Marvel have pretty much admitted that they killed Peter Parker so they could replace him with a black guy. Some bullcrap about how the president is black now, so why not Spider-Man? Horseshit. I have no problem with black superheroes, if they’re well-written, they can be awesome, just like white superheroes. Look at Blade, he’s black, he’s also awesome! He’s also a character designed from the ground up to be who he is, not a pandering ploy to draw in minority readers. Blade rules, Miles Morales can fuck himself.

He's not my Spider-Man, I didn't vote for him.

He’s not my Spider-Man, I didn’t vote for him.

 

Now I’m not picking on black people, I’m not a big fan of making a black character white for no reason, luckily, that has only happened twice that I can remember. Baxter Stockman from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (he was black in the original Mirage comics) and Fox from Wanted.

Angelina?

Angelina?

To be fair, once in a while, it turns out ok. I mean, no one can deny that Michael Clarke Duncan’s Kingpin was the best part of the Daredevil movie.

We'll let this one slide...

We’ll let this one slide…

A far more egregious instance of this is in the new Superman reboot movie, Man of Steel, where Perry White is now black (haha, irony), and Jimmy Olsen is now a girl.

But it's more fun to watch him/her/Olsen run now...

But it’s more fun to watch him/her/Olsen run now…

Fishburn is a great actor, and this in and of itself doesn’t bother me, but can anyone tell me what purpose it serves the story to make “Superman’s pal”…well…a JOILF? (Jimmy Olsen I’d like to fuck)

Another instance that’s really boiled my cheese is the “New 52” version of the golden age Green Lantern, Alan Scott. Alan Scott was the first Green Lantern ever to hit comics, and was the original defender of Gotham City. Now…how do I say this sensitively? Now he loves other dudes’ butts.

INSERT "FLAMING" JOKE HERE

INSERT “FLAMING” JOKE HERE

Again, I have no problem with gay people, none whatsoever. Some of my best friends are gay (ooh look, a cliche!) But this actually steps on the toes of diversity. You see, in the old DC continuity, Alan Scott had a son who went by the name Obsidian. Obsidian was a really cool character, unlike his father, whose power was to magically control light, Obsidian could magically control darkness. He also loved other dudes’ butts.

Yes, you do.

Yes, you do.

I didn’t care if he was gay though, he was still a cool character, and now he just doesn’t exist, and his father is left holding the gay bag (which is color coordinated to go with anything.

Am I alone here? Surely not. I’d love to hear from some of you about this. Leave a comment, does forced diversity bother you, or am I just a horrible person? Or both?

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