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Thoughts from TheNinjaD

Category Archives: Reviews, Thoughts, and Opinions

The Source Comics & Games

I didn’t get a comic post up yesterday because I was out of town. I had taken a trip up to the Twin Cities, including a stop at the Source.

The name really says it. The Source is the go-to place for comics and gaming in the state of Minnesota. Soon they will be moving into a new, even bigger location. Their website cane be found here. It’s kind of a mess but with some time it should tell you anything you need to know.

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Conclusion (Sort Of) Of Artifacts

Yesterday I read Artifacts #13. It was supposed to be the last issue of the series, which was originally planned for a limited run. However, the series is now becoming ongoing so that is no longer the case.

I don’t want to spoil what happened for anyone that hasn’t read it but it was mind blowing. I really did not expect what happened.

The end of the first run of Artifacts was also used to sort of reboot the Top Cow universe. Starting with Witchblade 151 and Darkness 101, both of those books will be in this new world.

Check out the entire Artifacts series, it’s really entertaining.

WoW’s Strength Lies Outside The Game

A lot of people say that World of Warcraft is the best MMORPG out there. Sometimes, I’d agree with them. It’s never because of the game itself, though.

Really, it’s that the game is already so popular that makes it as good as it is. Odds are, you know someone that plays. That means you have someone to help you out when you start. There are also a lot of websites dedicated entirely to WoW. If there’s anything you want to know about the game, you can find it online.

It’s pretty great that Blizzard allows third party mods for their game. What really makes that work, though, is that there are so many skilled people working on those mods. You can probably find a mod to do just about anything in WoW.

Though their are games that many people feel are better, the strength of WoW is in its community. I hope that SWTOR gets there someday.

My Second Skyrim Character

For my second Skyrim character, I decided to go pure mage. I focused exclusively on Destruction at first, as far as spells were concerned. After a while I started using a lot of Alteration while dabbling in a little bit of everything else. All the while, I was using Enchanting and Alchemy as heavily as possible.

I used Smithing whenever I happened to have materials that I could make use of but it wasn’t anything I was really working at intentionally.

I had a lot of fun early on doing the mage thing but after a while, I just didn’t enjoy it as much. Things got difficult because I could get hurt or killed too easily, even while using Stoneskin with the perk that makes it more effective.

I think I’m going to be done with that character now, at least for the time being.

Space Vampires vs Zombie Dinosaurs in 3D Review (and Stuff About Psychostick)

First things first; I know I’m really behind on this. I just finally listened to the newest Psychostick album for the first time.

Psychostick describe themselves as humorcore. More often, you’ll hear people call them something like comedy metal. They’ve been around for a while and they have a solid fan base. They’ve had a fair amount of success and even see some radio play. This started when they sent a CD into XM Satellite Radio and the DJs liked it and started playing one of their songs on the channel called Squizz. I think I was actually listening the first time they played them.

It should also be noted that Psychostick is pretty much three core members; Rawrb on vocals, The J on lead guitar, and Alex on drums. The second guitar and bass positions are pretty much a revolving door every couple of years, at least. Same goes for their management. Those three guys (especially Josh) have always been cool to me, personally, but this sort of give the impression that they’re dicks to the people that they work with. And when I say they’ve always been cool to me that shouldn’t be entirely dismissed because I’ve seen them more than a dozen times, talked to all of them numerous times, and even took them out for pizza once.

Anyway, this is Psychostick’s third full length album. In between the first and the second there was a holiday EP. In between the second and third, there was an even shorter EP. There have also been a few odd songs here and there. One thing that most people seem to agree on is that, at least musically, the second album was much better than the first. Unfortunately, I don’t think that trend continued.

Don’t get me wrong, the album is really good. It’s got some real gems on it, too. I’d say it’s not quite as good as the second album but that’s my personal opinion. That’s perfectly understandable, tough. I think there were about five years fewer between albums this time. This has all sounded so negative but the album was good enough that when I finished it, I started listening to it again right away.

Really, check it out. Let the numbers below speak for what I really thought about it.

4 / 5

Minecraft 1.8

For the past few days, I have been back at playing Minecraft. That’s probably bad if I want to get other things done.

First, if you don’t know what Minecraft if, head over to Minecraft.net and check it out. It’s really addicting and a lot of fun.

Now, if you’ve played Minecraft but haven’t in a while, go back and check it out again. Version 1.8 has been around for a while now. It’s called the “Adventure Update” because it added a lot of adventure aspects, like a food meter. It didn’t add the adventure game mode, though. What the hell.

If you’re doubting if you want to play Minecraft right now, there is a very useful website to help with that.

Craig Ferguson Live

As I write this, I am sitting in a less-than-comfortable position in a hotel room at Mystic Lake casino. I’m sort of half propped up on an arm rest that is both too short and too hard.

We really have no need to be here but we have the room until 11 AM (it’s about 2 AM right now) and Kat is taking a nap. Neither of us slept very much but I’m used to that. I’ve been working third shift long enough that it’s pretty much normal for me.

We got the room for free. I guess my mom has gambled here enough that they send her things for complimentary rooms every month. That’s just one of the many ways casinos try to suck you back into them. The tickets to the show we are here for were far from free but I didn’t pay for those, either. They were about $50 each and were paid for by my girlfriend. I wouldn’t have paid so much for them, being spoiled by cheap entry to shows at yhe What’s Up Lounge, but she really wanted to see this. We each also lost $40-$50 in the actual casino but we planned for that so it doesn’t matter. All in the name of fun. This is like a one day vacation.

Anyways, we came up here to see Craig Feruson, best known as the host of the Late Late Show or the English guy (he’s actually Scottish) from the Drew Carey show, perform live. Even though he has his own TV show, he still does stand up. He played here tow nights in a row. The Saturday show sold out and this Sunday one was damn full.

While I was never a fan of the Drew Carey show, I do really enjoy the Late Late show with Craig Ferguson. He is very consistently funny and that’s a rare thing on TV. The show also teaches us that he likes Doctor Who and has good taste in music.

I will admit that I was a little concerned coming up here. After the tickets had been ordered, we watched th Craig Ferguson special called A Wee Bit O’ Revolution on Netflix. It was funny but (there gas to be a but, right?) it, in my opinion, was not as funny as the Late Late Show often is. That made me wonder if that would be the case for all of his stand up.

So, I went into this wondering if it wasn’t going to be great. That was reinforced a little when the opening act wasn’t great. He was funny, no doubt there, but there’s a reason he is the opening act and not the headliner.

Craig Ferguson came out and put all doubts to bed. His stand up was clever, well structured, and pretty much always funny. Now, I won’t say I’m hardcore into stand up or anything but I have seem more comedians than the average person, I think, and this was the best. I used to lusten to the stand up channels on XM.

The ticket price was high but I would even say it was worth it. If you ever get the chance to see Craig Ferguson live, I suggest you do it.

Batgirl #1

The new Batgirl series is easily the most controversial of the bunch. Many people, myself included, didn’t want to see Barbara Gordon back as Batgirl. I felt that she was a much more important and dramatically powerful character as Oracle, in a wheelchair.

This book is written by Gail Simone and drawn by Adrian Syaf. The artwork is the comic book-y stuff with a dark edge and good amount of detail that you would expect from a Batman related series. It’s nothing amazing but it’s solid and it does its job well.

I actually saw a preview of this book a couple of weeks ago. It was more or less the first five pages, if I remember correctly. Based on that alone, I thought that this was going to be one of the books I would cut first. It also made me question why Gail seems to be so popular as a writer. Well, just as you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, you shouldn’t judge a comic book by the first few pages.

We’ve been told that the DC universe is now set to a time where superheroes have only been around for about 10 years, excluding Batman and Green Lantern who have both been around longer. In that time they have become more and more common. The Justice League has apparently been around for five years. In this issue, we learn that Barbara Gordon was shot by the Joker three years ago and couldn’t walk. That’s the old story set in the new timeline. It’s unclear, however, if she was ever Oracle.

This book has “Babs” just returning to being Batgirl. She had been in the past, was paralyzed, and is now back. She’s rusty and it gets her into trouble. You see a little bit of development toward growth in this issue and I think it’s pretty clear that the series will largely be about that. There will even be some attention to her recovery from being in a wheelchair. That’s cool. Even though what I feel is the better character for Babara Gordon is now gone, she hasn’t just been disrespectfully erased.

This issue also included a prologue where a character is introduced. I expect that this “Mirror” is going to be the villain for the first arc. He seems to have some ability to let people see their “true selves” or at least something that terrified them. Then he kills them. Mirror seems like the sort of badass that you don’t normally see in media; He doesn’t point his gun then talk or intentionally hesitate or whatever. If he wants someone gone he just fucking kills them so nothing will stop him at the last minute. At least, it seems that way until he encounters Batgirl at the end of the issue. He couldn’t just kill her because that would make this the shortest ongoing series ever but it still feels like a break from character when he doesn’t. It may have been intentional, however. He points his gun at Batgirl in the same way that the Joker did and she freezes. Then he wins the day by getting his target while Batgirl just stands there (with people witnessing her failure, no less).

While there could have been more background stuff included, Gail Simone probably felt it was safe to go light on that with such a well-known character. She’s probably right but I’m still personally of the belief that this relaunch should have been a full reboot, starting with origin stories and all. Aside from that, this is probably the most solidly written book of the few I have read so far. It introduces the character, it shows where she is at in life currently, and it hints at where she has been. It introduces the villain, leaves plenty of questions about that villain, and, probably most importantly, it introduces heaps of conflict and potential conflict that are entirely unrelated to the super villain. This one was very well done and if you haven’t read it yet, you should. I’m sure that there will be at least a second printing. Now that word is out about the quality of this book, though, there could be even more.

Oh, before I’m done, I do have one nitpicky thing to say. Apparently, Babara found her new roommate (at a university, I think) through “Greg’s List”. That made me, as they say, facepalm.

Static Shock #1

Static Shock is written by John Rozum and drawn by Scott McDaniel. Of the new 52 books that I have read, this is the first one I can honestly say I just didn’t like. There are a few reasons for this and I’m going to try to go through all of them. Before I do, however, I want to make it clear that I am not saying this is a bad book. It just isn’t my style. Also, the art is solid (but also not quite my style).

The first problem I have with Static Shock is the title of the series itself. Following the typical scheme of comic book naming, I would expect that the name of the main character is “Static Shock”. That isn’t the case. He actually just calls himself “Static”. That’s probably a better name but it makes the title of the series a bit confusing.

Since this was the first issue of the series, I expected to get some background right away. This is especially the case since this is not a major character and most people probably don’t know who he is at all. I didn’t. I’d seen the name before but that was probably just because of the animated series from a few years ago. Throughout the issue, you can pick some things up. You get that Static’s real name is Virgil Ovid Hawkins. He’s a teen, still in high school, works an after school job at STAR Labs, and lives at home with his family. You learn that he and his family come from a place called Dakota (no idea where that is) but have recently relocated to and now live in Harlem in New York (that’s important for another thing I’ll bring up later). You get that he keeps his super powers and identity secret, even from his family. There’s also something weird going on with his sister (or sisters), apparently, but I couldn’t really tell what that was unless it was the super ability to be obnoxious and repeat oneself. I gathered that figuring out what is up with his sister(s) is his motivation for superheroing. He actually directly says that. I’m not sure if his powers are innate or if they come from tech. It may be a cross between the two but I’m leaning towards tech. All of his stuff seems to be provided for him by some odd patron in a giant metal suit that he doesn’t speak to in person.

This issue actually opens with Static fighting (sort of) something. It’s a guy in some sort of suit that he stole from STAR Labs,where Virgil was working after school. In the process of bringing this thing down, Static fucks up a lot. He causes all sorts of damage. I’m guessing that this is to show that he is pretty inexperienced. Once he brings this guy down, he gets killed, apparently by these people in different colored motorcycle suits watching from a distance. They go back to some sort of base and talk with other weird folk about what happened and no one is happy. I’d guess that this group is Static’s rogues gallery of sorts.

Now, to me, this series seems like it’s targeted at kids who grew up in the city. I’m not saying that because the character is black (though if that is their goal, I’m sure it doesn’t hurt). That’s how it feels to me. It wants to relate to the people that grew up in the big city, probably the inner city, and specifically the geeks with that background. I could really see this character relating to them the way Kyle Rayner did to me when I was young. Unfortunately, I am not one of those people. I think that’s a large part of what kept me from really getting into this book.

Swamp Thing #1

Swamp Thing has only recently become part of the proper DC Universe. I guess it happened after Brightest Day. That’s fine but I didn’t read any of that and it seemed that this book tied into that stuff somewhat. It wasn’t so much that I was totally lost, though.

This book is written by Scott Snyder and drawn by Yanick Paquette. It is easily the darkest of the new ongoings that I have read so far. At least it looked and felt that way at the time I was reading it. Looking back, Animal Man was probably darker. I guess the art did a great job of conveying that vibe, then. It has small cameos from Batman and Aquaman while Superman plays a fairly large role in this issue. I’m guessing that they really just wanted to drive home the fact that Swamp Thing is, in fact, part of the DCU now. I think some people love that and others hate it. I hope it’s great so everyone can be happy.

The art, while dark, is solid. I’m guessing that the artist probably isn’t used to doind superhero comics because his Superman looked kind of odd. Other than that, the facial expressions on characters were often funny looking.

The main character in this issue is the man who apparently was Swamp Thing but isn’t really any more. He’s still got some connection to what is called the Green, though, and will probably become Swamp Thing again.

Apparently this man died when he became Swamp Thing and then just woke up in a swamp years later back to normal…kind of. The story joins him as he is trying to fit into a normal life somehow. He had been a botanist but that no longer works for him. Instead he’s working construction and doing a decent job of being ordinary…then Superman drops by. So that life is screwed up now. The guy also lives in a motel. Oh, and he doesn’t want to be Swamp Thing. Not at all. Of course, who would want to turn into a monster?

The climax, I guess, is when this man is sleeping and somehow causes plants to grow all over his room. Then he has some weird trip where he sees Swamp Thing. I don’t really know what’s going on but it’s pretty cool, I guess.