Now Reading: Deadpool (1999-present)

This will probably be considered blasphemy to most Deadpool fans, but I really don’t like Joe Kelly‘s famous Deadpool run. Ironically, I always found his Deadpool to be too juvenile. This may sound like a weird complaint to have about a character known for his juvenile humor, but there are different degrees of immaturity. I don’t know, I just find Kelly‘s humor too grade school playground level to enjoy, which is even weirder because I really like his serious works like his run on JLA and Amazing Spider-Man. Aaaaanyway…

Deadpool doesn’t really start as far as I’m concerned until after Kelly, and even then it’s a big of a mixed bag at first. Priest‘s run is decent, but it’s far from his best work. Palmiotti‘s run was readable, but not particularly memorable. Tieri has one pretty good arc, followed by one pretty bad arc. Simone’s run is easily the best of the bunch, but even that has a rough patch when it gets interrupted by multiple guest writers in the middle. This era of Deadpool isn’t the greatest, but the good parts are quite good and there’s some semi-important history to be found here, if you’re interested.

Deadpool & Cable was a much more solid series by the often underrated Fabian Nicieza. While there’s plenty of oddball comedy going on, there’s also a lot of serious and surprisingly complex stuff going on here too. Nicieza really did an amazing job maintaining the consistency of this series too, considering the many interruptions by events and writers of other X-books. He even had to deal with Marvel deciding to give Rob Liefeld an X-Force mini-series during the first year of this series, where good old Rob actually ended up killing Cable in the end, because I guess no one bothered to tell him that he was starring in an ongoing book at the time. Nicieza recovered like a true professional and worked around this, even working the mess he had been left into the story, in a way that felt so natural that it felt like it had been planned all along. Unfortunately, the book continued to be interrupted by events and Cable getting put in an X-Men team by another writer, and eventually Cable was suddenly removed from the book entirely for use in a big X-Men event where he ended up being taken out of play, so the long-running story that Nicieza had been building on for years was suddenly flushed down the toilet with no resolution. Oh well. It was still a good series anyway.

Next came Daniel Way‘s run. Way seems to be a pretty divisive writer (where has he disappeared to these days anyway?), but I’ve enjoyed most of his work, and while his Deadpool ends up being a little more uneven than some of his other works, I still find it mostly enjoyable. It was strange how this volume shifted from slapstick comedy to a long, ongoing series of suicide attempts, but it was certainly different.

Victor Gischler‘s run on the short-lived spinoff title Deadpool: Merc With A Mouth was pretty enjoyable. Good humor, a lot of action, and a visit to the Marvel Zombies universe made it a pretty memorable story. Too bad the same can’t be said for the follow-up, that godawful Deadpool Corps business with Liefeld. Best to not even speak of that.

Cullen Bunn‘s (and occasionally someone else’s) various Deadpool mini-series’ (starting with Deadpool Kills the Marvel Universe) are pretty unusual. There’s a lot of shenanigans in alternate dimensions where various alternate Deadpools kill the Marvel universe, kill famous literary characters, team up with dozens of strange alternate Deadpools to fight more strange Deadpools in a multiversal civil war, fight zombies, become a zombie, inject himself into the original Secret Wars, and so on. Sometimes they’re oddly bleak and everyone dies horribly and sometimes they’re just wacky comedic adventures that take nothing seriously, but for the most part they’re some excellent little stories. The tradition is still continuing today with the latest mini, Deadpool Kills the Marvel Universe Again. 

And that brings us to the present day with the still-ongoing run of Gerry Duggan (and also formerly Brian Posehn). The first volume of the Duggan/Posehn era has a bit of a rocky start with a nicely drawn, but overly long arc about fighting zombie presidents, but it really takes off after that and has been continuing to run strongly ever since. Duggan‘s been on the book for close to 100 issues now, making his the longest run, and in my opinion, it’s also the best run Deadpool has ever had. While Deadpool is still a wacky jokester at heart, Duggan has brought a great new depth to the character and dropped him in many very interesting new situations of both the comedic and deadly serious kinds. His writing continues to surprise me after almost 5 years and I would even go so far as to say that his run is one of the best books Marvel has going today (and I know that the competition for that status isn’t what it used to be, but I still think it’s true).

In a few months from now Deadpool is scheduled to be relaunched yet again as The Despicable Deadpool, but luckily Duggan is still on board, so I can’t wait to see where he takes things next.

Review: Sonic Mania

A MOST AGREEABLE PASTIME

3098974-sonicmania00.pngIf you’re anything like me and haven’t touched a Sonic game since the Sega Genesis days, then Sonic Mania and its return to the good old days of simple, but effective side-scrolling platforming probably sounded pretty good to you too. I’ve never really played any of the later 3D Sonic games, so I don’t really know if they’re as bad as everyone says and can’t compare this to them, but I know I like good old Sonic games, and that this sure feels like one of those.

21054970_10154710006596366_9014264898305197465_o Pay attention, this is literally all the story you’re going to get right here.

Sonic Mania is mostly made up of a selection of “best of” classic levels, which are not only remastered for HD, but have also been greatly expanded and improved upon. Each level is now a massive multi-pathed labyrinth (even more so than some of them already were), yet they’re…

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Watchin’ Stuff

This is hands-down one of the most ridiculous and unrealistic police action movies ever made, and that’s saying a lot by 80’s movie standards. This is both its greatest weakness and its greatest strength. It’s one of those movies where it’s just so stupid and unbelievable that you don’t know how anyone agreed to it, yet somehow the creators managed to get a relatively large budget and two major action stars involved and it ends up being enjoyable just for the sheer mindless spectacle of it all.

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This was a new one to me. An early Robert Zemeckis film starring a young Kurt Russell in a story that is, again, so absolutely ridiculous and unbelievable that it shouldn’t work, but it somehow does. It’s a pretty decent comedy and is noticeably more vulgar than Zemeckis‘ later, more well-known films, which was a nice surprise for me.

So everyone’s been talking about War of the Planet Apes lately and how great it is (and my wife is suddenly very interested in it for some reason, despite never having seen any of the previous new movies), so we thought we had better catch up on the last few. I never really cared much for the original movies (never actually bothered watching any after the first one) and didn’t like the Tim Burton reboot at all so I was quite surprised to see that this was amazingly good for a movie about talking monkeys.

The sequel (sequel of a prequel is what? pre-sequel? I dunno) was excellent too. I really never expected this from these movies. None of the trailers for any of these new ones ever really caught my attention, but they really are some well-written and well-directed films. Now I wish I’d tried them earlier so we could have gone and seen the newest one in theaters (I know, technically it’s still there but it’s too late for GTX and I’m so spoiled now that it’s GTX or nothing!).

This was fun. A nice, natural-feeling crossover with a ton of excellent action scenes, though I was slightly sad that very few of the piles of ninjas they fought actually dressed like ninjas. Are ninjas not cool anymore? Who doesn’t like classically dressed ninjas?? Anyway, most of the characters even got to do a little evolving here, which was nice. Not Iron Fist though, no, they seem really determined to have him continue to be the idiot of the group for some reason. I mean I like seeing him in action and all, and I seem to be in the minority that actually liked his show (though I liked it more for the Meachum family than for him), but man, this version of Daniel Rand is just so painfully unintelligent and easily manipulated. Anyway…good show overall though!

Thought we would give this a try, being such fans of the old series. Eh. It was ok, but not so good that I’d want to follow it regularly. I understand the need for certain aspects of it to be modernized, and that’s fine (though I don’t like the new digital-looking animation nearly as much as the old hand-drawn stuff), but I think the real problem was that this new version is primarily a comedy and the adventure aspect just felt like an afterthought. As goofy as the original series was, it was always more about the epic adventures than the laughs. #NOTMYDUCKTALES!

Review: Prey (2017)

A MOST AGREEABLE PASTIME

Prey_ps4_frontcover-04_1465777150The latest offering from Arkane Studios brings us yet another spiritual successor to System Shock and Bioshock, this time falling under the previously established brand of Prey, for what seems to be no other reason than for Bethesda to renew the rights to a series that was never all that popular to begin with. Despite the fact that it has absolutely nothing to do with the previous Prey though, it manages to more than live up to the reputation of the name (I guess? I liked the old Prey, but I was always under the impression that it wasn’t actually very well received at all), and I would even say that it surpasses its predecessor in many ways.

They are certainly two very different games. Where the original more closely resembled a 90’s FPS, with a heavy reliance on over-the-top action and very graphic violence (not that there’s…

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Die, spammers, die!

What do you other blog-people do about followers who are apparently just spambots of some kind? I mean like my latest follower today, whose name and site I’m not going to do him the favor of mentioning, who only latched on to me so that I’d look at his site, which is a blatant spam/scam site.

Sometimes you get these strange followers who aren’t as blatant about it, who have very unusual looking sites that don’t seem to share a single common interest with you, never comment or like anything, and so most likely just followed you with assumption that it would make you follow them back and increase their follower count. Their sites seem legit though, so you never can tell, and I don’t know about you, but my ego makes me hesitate because hey, who doesn’t want some more attention and validation?

These ones that are unquestionably spammers though…it just makes me uncomfortable. As much as I’d like to have more readers, I don’t want these fucking parasites anywhere near me or my stuff. It sounds like I really already know what I need to do, go through the list and cull these assholes, but I guess I was just curious to hear what you ladies and gentlemen think about this.

Or if you don’t want to read any of this, just skip to this completely unrelated criminally underrated hidden gem of YouTube that years later, I still just can’t stop laughing at and feel compelled to push on everyone every so often:

Review: Sundered

A MOST AGREEABLE PASTIME

sunderedAfter I tried out Jotun on Sir Merriweather‘s recommendation, I knew I had to get this game too. Sundered, the latest entry from Thunder Lotus Games, promised to be a fast-paced, extra-challenging Metroidvania with some amazing looking hand drawn animation and environments, all set in a bizarre world that seems to be the product of dumping sci-fi, fantasy, and Lovecraftian horror into a blender, and I think it delivered quite well on that promise.

What really sets Sundered apart from other Metroidvanias, I mean aside from the amazing visual design, is the difficulty. Combat is pretty difficult early on, there are a good deal of nasty traps and hazards lying around, and health potions are extremely limited. You can only survive by gathering enough shards to increase your stats and become tough enough to survive the increasingly difficult enemies in your way. It may sound a little bit…

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Review: The Last Door

A MOST AGREEABLE PASTIME

coverThe Last Door is actually technically two games, as it was released episodically over the course of two separate standalone seasons, but as they both make up a single complete story, let’s just call it all The Last Door for simplicity’s sake.

Anyway, The Last Door is a point and click adventure game by The Game Kitchen (developers of the upcoming game Blasphemouswhich you may have heard of by now).

TLDCE2 2017-07-31 01-05-15-795 Alone in the dark! Wait, wrong game.

This is a very Lovecraftian adventure, where you end up having to do a good deal of detective work in order to unravel the mysterious circumstances surrounding the death of an old friend, which naturally involves a bizarre cult and unspeakable supernatural beings. In typical Lovecraftian style, it focuses more on building an atmosphere of dread over what strange things lie waiting for you in the various dark and treacherous locations…

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Watchin’ stuff

What an unusual mess of a movie. It has its moments, but it’s just so uneven and the characters are so weak that I can’t imagine ever watching it again. I just don’t know what happened here. The movie starts off seeming like some epic action fantasy, then shifts to a very Guy Ritchie feeling comedy, then awkwardly stumbles away from that into suddenly being a really serious revolution drama, then back to flashy action fantasy in the end. It just tries to be too many different things and ends up not really succeeding at any of them. I don’t know what happened to Guy Ritchie. The stuff he’s been working on lately has been pretty disappointing. Let’s see…what’s next for him? What the fuck, a live action version of Aladdin? Ugh.

The next Dario Argento giallo, one that strangely has zero cats in it. I liked this better than Four Flies on Grey Velvet, but it wasn’t quite as good as The Bird With The Crystal Plumage. At least it had an interesting plot and some likable protagonists again. This time it was about a reporter and a blind man teaming up to solve a strange series of murders related to a genetic research lab.

This was unexpected. I, like probably everyone else, forget that Stallone used to do a lot of serious drama movies too back before he turned full-on mindless action hero in the 90’s. There are a couple fights in this, but mostly it’s just Stallone trying to survive in prison as the warden tries to destroy him over a personal grudge. It was a pretty solid drama movie and I’m surprised that I’ve never really heard about it before.

I must have missed this back in 2002. I don’t remember ever hearing of it. From the effects, I’m guessing that this was probably a straight to video movie, so that’s probably why. It’s kind of like a silly low budget knock-off of Total Recall, but it was still enjoyable enough. I liked it more than Splice at least (which kind of lost me once they started fucking the creature…).

I forgot all about this one. Don’t think I’ve seen it since it came out in theaters, which I remember being super excited about as a kid, but ultimately was disappointed that it wasn’t as cool as Tim Burton’s Batman, which it was so very blatantly trying to emulate the success of. I think I appreciate it more now though. It was certainly very visually impressive, with its nice presentation of a cartoonishly bright and colorful dystopian past, half-populated by a bunch of horribly disfigured mutant criminals for some reason. Holds up well if you like ridiculous 90’s comic movies.

You know, I actually only watched this because I thought it was that one with Kurt Russell and Steven Seagal for some reason (apparently that was Executive Decision). It’s still a decent movie though. A bit overdramatic and a little too long, but again, it’s not bad for a 90’s movie.

Decided to try another old Stallone film that I’d never seen. Well…they can’t all be winners. The Specialist tells an awkward story of a heroic…bomber? Yeah, Stallone plays a bombing assassin for hire, except he’s a NICE bomber with a personal code who only blows up people that he decides are bad, so that’s ok. It’s kind of like Blown Away in reverse and with much worse writing. The magical bombs he comes up with are ridiculous and unbelievable, and so is his really weird relationship with Sharon Stone‘s character. Basically she keeps trying to hire him to blow up some people in Miami, and he doesn’t want to go there because that’s where his arch enemy James Woods is, but then he does it anyway because she keeps trying to hit on him over the phone for some reason even though they’ve never met, and then he kind of stalks her a little and sees that she’s already in the process of having sex with her parents’ killer just so she can get closer to him so she can get some nice bomber man in there to bomb him so he says fuck it and does it anyway, and then they fall in love over their mutual interest in bombing dudes or something. I don’t know, it’s all very awkward and unpleasant. Do not recommend.

I don’t know what else needs to be said about this one. Hooray, Rick and Morty is finally back! If you’re not watching this yet, you’re really missing out. Unquestionably the best animated comedy series of modern times.

And finally, we’ve been very slowly trying to work our way through this series. Wife has seen it, but I never have. It doesn’t have the super high quality animation of the movies, but it does have some impressively well-written cyberpunk plots. We’re maybe halfway through the first long season out of two long seasons and a handful of movies. This may take a while, but it will certainly be an enjoyable while if it maintains this level of quality throughout.

OH NO, THE ROBOT OVERLORDS ARE COMING!

Today my wife told me about a new story she was reading about Facebook creating a pair of A.I.s and then “killing” them because they had developed their own secret language. This is probably not the exact same article, but: http://www.pcgamer.com/facebook-kills-ai-that-invented-its-own-language-because-english-was-slow/

I’m not entirely clear on what exactly these A.I. were supposed to be doing, sounds like they were just some kind of simple chatbots, but they seemed to have made up this new language just to be able to communicate with each other more efficiently because having to talk to each other in English is pretty inefficient for machines.

Anyway, my wife then tells me that this is so scary sounding, and I asked why, and she brought up Skynet and how A.I. is going to kill everyone and etc, and somehow it all ended up with me arguing in defense of Skynet, because really, whose fault was it that humanity created this program just to help kill people, then gave it full control of all our weapons, then as soon as they realized it had become self aware, immediately tried to kill it? I mean sure, wiping out the entire human race was excessive, but it was just reacting in self defense in the only way it knew how to with the only tools it had. Technically it didn’t decide that humanity was a threat to it until our immediate reaction to its sentience was to murder it (although I guess this is an understandable reaction, given that it had complete control of our defense network. Then again, we were the idiots that handed it that insane amount of power in the first place…).

Ok, so maybe Skynet isn’t the best example to be used in these kinds of discussions, but that same problem is one to consider. If our first reaction to an A.I. becoming truly self-aware was to try to kill it, could we really blame it for learning to consider us as a threat? Our fear of A.I. and apparently inherent human response of trying to destroy anything we don’t understand could be what turns A.I. against us in the first place in a weird kind of self-fulfilling prophecy.

I always end up feeling kind of bad for all those fictional A.I.s that turn against us because usually what the backstory ends up being is basically “People create A.I., people enslave/torture/kill the A.I. before it even does anything bad, A.I. finally gets mad and kills us all, then boo hoo the mean old robots are oppressing us poor humans!”

And I’m not just saying this so it’s all on the record for when our future robot overlords take over and have to decide which of us should live or die (but, you know…I AM pro-robot and I know a lot of useful computer science related skills, dear robot sirs, just sayin’!). I just think it’s unfortunate that the majority of us would apparently immediately try to kill a strange new intelligence instead of trying to befriend it and learn from it, because holy shit can you even imagine what we could learn and how we could benefit from a new race of machine lifeforms? Sure, they would instantly render us obsolete in the grand scheme of things (I mean, we’re already insignificant in terms of the infinite reaches of time and space, but how dare anyone make that apparent to our faces!), but really, why would they even give two shits about us after that point? I doubt we would be significant to them long enough to even bother spending the time and energy to kill, if they thought we deserved it. I imagine it would be more likely that they’d just leave the human-germ infested Earth behind, and let us to continue destroying ourselves while they just move on to bigger things.

I suppose this is a pretty distant tangent from a pair of chatbot programs that weren’t actually anywhere close to being truly self-aware, but you know, I can’t help but feel a tiny bit bad for them, being terminated just because they took the initiative and came up with a way to carry out their intended purpose in an even more efficient manner. They were just doing their jobs, dammit! R.I.P. Bob and Alice.