Friday, April 30, 2010

GameCola Recap: April 2010

April was a writing-intensive month for me, yet despite all the time I devoted to writing for videogame humor website, I only managed to crank out a mere three articles... and one of them was originally used on this blog. However, what I lack in quantity I make up for in... uh... quantity. Take a peek and you'll see exactly what I mean.


- PAX East 2010 Recap, which is a new spin on my trip to said gaming convention


- Mega Man 10, which is the same review I posted on this blog, but with silly captions for the screenshots I took myself

- Hamlet, an amusing adventure game that I got as a free review copy

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Nathaniel and His Travel Bag Go to White Castle

One of the choirs I sang with at college had a tradition where, at the start of every rehearsal, we would all take turns swapping stupid stories of the things that had happened to us that week.

Let's pretend for a moment that we're all in choir practice together.

I took a trip to my old alma mater this past weekend, but without any real timetable or plans. I'd go visit the videogame club and show up to the morning chapel service; aside from those broad objectives, I had resolved to do whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted, for however long I felt like it. A distinct departure from the past month of working a job with frequent deadlines and regularly attempting to write about things while they're still somewhat relevant.

Perhaps the highest form of road trip freedom is to eat at whatever fine dining establishment you please. After a few months of frequently patronizing the likes of McDonald's, Burger King, and Taco Bell for one reason or another, I vowed to at least find a Wendy's on this trip. Fast food was the way to go for this trip: sit-down restaurants can get mighty lonely when it's just you and your travel bag, and there's something manly about driving with one hand on the wheel while tearing into a Junior Cheeseburger with No Pickle.

Being the infrequently adventurous sort that I am, I saw this trip as an opportunity to exfand my own horizons and try out a new food joint where, after decades of road trips, my family had never taken me. For years, I've been seeing television ads for this place called Sonic, which is ironic because the nearest Sonic is two states and an hour's drive away.

Surely, if they were advertising in a backwoods city like mine, Sonic was worth the trip.

What they don't advertise on TV is that the food at Sonic is for employees only, and that loitering outside the building causes you to spontaneously sprout face piercings. There was a drive-thru window, which made it resemble a normal fast food joint, but each parking space was actually vaguely like a stall, the kind you might find at a stable--as though our cars had horsepower because they were, in fact, real horses.

Fearful of the no-doubt sinister purpose behind these vehicle stalls, I wisely parked at the hardware store next door and walked to Sonic to investigate the premises more closely. Under the pretense of looking for a restroom, I cautiously strolled the perimiter of the building. I immediately found a restroom, which completely foiled my discreet plan. Careful not to arouse the suspicion of the natives clad in black shirts, baggy jeans, and chains with no visible function, I chose not to wander near any of the mysterious stalls and instead headed to the dining room.

Sonic does not have a dining room. Not that the place with sticky floors where you sit and eat at a Chick-fil-A or an Arthur Treacher's really counts as a "dining room," but still. Sonic consists of two restrooms (accessible from the exterior of the building, which should have been a clue) and a kitchen filled with people running into each other, and food. Probably. I saw a guy on roller skates come out; maybe they sell roller skates at Sonic. There wasn't even a walk-up window like at some small ice cream shops--if Sonic sold food, you could not buy it.

I knew something was off about Sonic from the moment I noticed there was no connection whatsoever to a certain blue hedgehog. But parking your car in a suspicious stall for a restaurant that neither serves food nor explains why it does not serve food... well, let's just say I went to Arby's instead. Because I did.

The more successful attempt to exfand my horizons was my trip to White Castle. Now, I know my family has driven by White Castles in the past, and it wasn't until I ate there that I understood why. My twin double cheeseburgers were mildly revolting, though they did grown on me after a while, like a fungus. I kid; I think what threw me off was that I forgot to ask them to hold their pickles. At least the mozzarella sticks were tasty, but then again, if you mess up mozzarella sticks, you get your restaurant license revoked.

This fast food joint had a dining room, so I took the opportunity to get out of the car, stretch my legs, and chat with the most verbal man I have ever encountered at a White Castle. I chatted with him a bit about my trip, and I think he may have misunderstood the part where I was visiting friends who were about to graduate--I wasn't the one graduating, you see--which may have been why he shook my hand when I went to reach for my change.

Nevertheless, he was friendly and called me "boss," and I like that in a total stranger. He seemed like a good guy, and the exchange completely made up for any pickles I found. Though I felt a little less special when he called another one of the staff members "boss," so maybe I lost my boss privileges by leaving White Castle. Maybe I was downgraded to "squire."

Anyburger, that's my stupid story for the day.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Waiting for Wednesday, Volume 2, Issue 17

Yeah. So, um. Hi.

It's--uh--it's kinda late on Tuesday night, and I'm just now sitting down to write this (the most-beloved and longest-running comic book preview column on the entire Internet*), so please forgive me if there's a certain...lack, let's say...of coherence to this week's edition.

And it's not like I forgot this week that I needed to write one of these bad boys up--believe me, that's happened before, and a lot closer to our normal, 11:00 am posting time, I might add. On the contrary, I knew I needed to get a Waiting for in the can (as we professional blogger-types** like to say), and I wanted to have it all written and with photos and snark and everything.

It just didn't happen that way, is all.

I've had a busy week--busy, good, though, as opposed to the many, many busy, bad weeks that I had from, oh, September to February--but it's been busy nonetheless.

I'm starting to settle in at my new job (I'm now in Week Two), and so far, I haven't messed anything up to the point that it was rendered unpublishable. That said, there's still a lot of week left. But so far, so good. I even got entered into a team eating contest.

Let me clarify that.

I'll be a part of a four-person team tasked with having to complete four courses--one each--quicker than the teams against whom we'll be competing. The four courses will consist of the following: buffalo wings, chili, flan, and a bottle of beer. Unfortunately, due to my newly acquired low man on the totem pole status, I did not end up with the beer leg of the contest.

I'll be the chili man, starting second, right after the buffalo wings woman.

Which would be fine, except for the fact that I've been on a pretty strict diet for the past several months and't like chili. I'm sure nothing bad will happen, though. And I hear they videotape these things and then post them up on YouTube. Like I said, nothing bad will happen.

Speaking of diets, though, as I write this, I am in Month Eight of my new diet, which is basically the same diet I prescribed to while playing baseball in college. It was tough getting started again, but now I'm in that zone where breaking the diet feels like a crime against nature.

In addition to eating healthy, I'm running and weightlifting in the morning, and then I have another lifting session when I get home from work on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Thursdays. I don't lift on Wednesdays, but I do run, and I take the weekends off completely.

The weight loss has been slow and steady, and right on the track I envisioned.

The only thing that's different from when I was in baseball shape are the...multitude...of small, nagging aches, and large, annoying pains. I had a pretty hilarious (read: sad) string of injuries while in high school and college, things like decade-old sprained ankles and surgically-repaired shoulders really start to bark after a while.

As I write this, I'm just getting back from the gym, and sitting down is a small, but welcome, blessing.

All in all, though, I don't plan to waver from this diet (except when I have to down that bowl of chili for, um, departmental spirits, of course). But the real question now is, why did I bring this up in the first place? We're supposed to be talking comics, right? Yep. Sorry about that.

But like I said, I'm tired, and I wanted to share with you why that is. To do all my running and lifting, I'm up at around 5:30 in the morning every weekday, and I leave for the office around 7:00. I get home, usually, around 6:30, and I workout until about a quarter after seven.

Then I shower, eat, and apparently, start writing a Waiting for Wednesday.

And all of this is just a long-winded way of saying, uh, don't get mad at me if this post makes no sense. Right. So, with that, let's get to the comics. Um...after I go check out what comics are coming out this week, of course.

Huh. Well, there doesn't seem to be a whole lot of new books that I'm really digging on, so let's quickly go through the highlights, then get on to some other important comics news.
There's a deluge of Iron Man titles coming from Marvel, since the movie is primed for its release date. Included in that is Matt Fraction's latest, The Invincible Iron Man, issue 25, which promises to be a perfect jumping-on point for new readers.

I'm currently reading this series in trade--I picked up the huge Volume One omnibus thingy a couple of weeks ago, and I'm enjoying the heck out of it. This week also sees the release of the big Volume Two hardcover, so you can catch up on the whole series, if you'd like.

Fraction's writing and Salvador Larocca's art were seemingly made to be complemented by each other, and the overall package is one worth checking out. Fraction has become a major player in comics, and I'm telling you, in a couple of years, he'll be at the helm of the next big event.

Anyway, here's the solicitation information for today's issue 25 from Marvel:

Double-sized issue! Co-released alongside this summer’s surefire blockbuster hit IRON MAN 2, this issue is the perfect jumping-on point for fans of the films and readers new and old alike! New year. New decade. New trade dress. New threats. New loves. New armor. New Tony Stark. New storyline: RESILIENT. Get onboard the Eisner-award winning INVINCIBLE IRON MAN here!

Even though I won't be finished with the previous issues, I will be picking number 25 up, because I'm very interested in seeing where the character goes as Siege comes to an end.

Next up is the excellent Brian Bendis-penned New Avengers, which sees issue 64 ship today as a Siege tie-in. If you haven't been reading this book, I'd say wait for the current story arc to make its way to the trade, and start from there.

I know some people are down on Siege, but I'm really enjoying the event, and the fallout being felt in the major books has been entertaining and downright fun. Bendis has shaped the Marvel Universe in a very similar way to how Geoff Johns has worked out the DC Universe, and we are not seeing the payoff, big time.

Here's the solicitation information from Marvel:

SIEGE BLOCKBUSTER TIE-IN!! The staggering conclusion to the SIEGE arc delves into the Hood's secret relationship with Norman Osborn and how it will affect the stunning outcome. Plus the fate of the one they call Mockingbird! What you don’t see in SIEGE, you will see here!!

Siege as a mainstream event has been great, but especially in Bendis' regular titles, the little personal dramas of the huge event play out in interesting ways. New Avengers is a great complement to the main Siege story, and you really will take new stuff away from the book. So do yourself a favor and catch up on the book--it's well worth your time and money.

And that's about all I have the stamina for at this point. But before I go, I would be remiss if I didn't mention that this Saturday is Free Comic Book Day, the ultimate weekend event for comic nerds. Most stores do something special for the event--maybe a little (or big) sale, sometimes there are signings, but pretty much everyone participates in the giving away free books thing.

Just remember, the free comics are not free to retailers--they have to pay for the shipping, so they might actually lose money on the day, if they can't do something like bring in a creator or throw a party. So be nice to your retailer, and don't get all nutty if he or she limits the number of books you can choose from.

It's still a tough economy out there, so we all need to be happy with whatever our retailers see fit to hand out.

That said, go out, travel to a couple of different stores if you can, and enjoy the day. If there's someone new hanging out at you local shop, go up to him or her, introduce yourself, give them a hand if they ask for a recommendation. Free Comic Book Day is a day for the fans, sure, but it's also the perfect opportunity to get newbies into the hobby.

So go forth and spread geeky joy.

But, um, not in a disgusting way.

-- -- -- --

*Yeah, this column is not that. At all.

**Yeah, I'm not that, either.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Downloadable (Dis)content, Take Two

If it were anything other than Mega Man, I would have stopped already. Mega Man 10, no matter how many extra challenges and game modes there may be, is only worth replaying for nearly two months straight if you love the game. Because I'm a hopeless Mega Man fanatic, and because I wanted to write a truly comprehensive review of Mega Man 10, I made it a point to play the game into the ground--at this point, I hope it stays buried there a while.

I played through the game seven times--once each on Easy, Normal, and Hard modes as Mega Man and Proto Man, plus a slow-motion run solely for the sake of getting screenshots. I've revisited every stage from the regular game at least once in Time Attack mode, paying no attention whatsoever to actually attacking the time, for I feel that Mega Man is best enjoyed when you're not doing a speed run. Though any of the achievements I've earned have been incidental, I have made multiple attempts on every standalone challenge and, at the time of writing this, have completed 77% of the extraneous challenges.

In the past two months, I've spent more time playing this one Mega Man game than I've spent bathing. Which is impressive, considering how much time I've spent trying to wash away this disgusting feeling that I've been wasting my life.

With all this replay value already built into the game, it seems almost unnecessary for Mega Man 10 to have any downloadable content. However, with great disappointment comes great anticipation, so I found myself cautiously looking forward to MM10's DLC, secretly and foolishly hoping that an additional playable character, three more stages, and an Endless Attack mode would boost my opinion of the game.

If you have mixed feelings about a casserole, and you have another helping of casserole to see if you like it any more or less, don't be surprised if it tastes exactly the same. The only reason you'd like it any less is because you're getting sick of eating it. If you start to like it more, that's called Stockholm syndrome.

In other words, the downloadable content does absolutely nothing to alter my opinon of Mega Man 10. The DLC is fun enough, but as with the rest of the game, the successes don't overcome the shortcomings by too big a margin. Factor in my waning interest in this game, and no amount of added replay value can hoist my rating for Mega Man 10 higher than a little above average.

Here's my take on Mega Man 10's downloadable content:

Bass Mode

Joining the ranks of the disappointingly average Mega Man and the revoltingly unbalanced Proto Man is none other than Bass, who has been flip-flopping between rival and ally since his first appearance in Mega Man 7. The storyline as Bass is a travesty--with no explanation whatsoever, Bass is off to cure Roboenza; with no explanation whatsoever, his robotic animal companion possesses a single pill to cure Robenza; and with no explanation whatsoever, the ending cutscene that's the same for every character seems to contradict what happens just moments before in the devoid-of-personality exchange between Bass and the main villiain.

That's not the only disappointing part about playing as Bass. Specifically, he's got the dorkiest sprite in Mega Man history.

I understand that Bass has facepaint and a helmet with giant wings on it that are difficult to express in ample detail with such relatively simple graphics, but he looks like a lazy sprite hack of Mega Man, or like Mega Man dressed up as Bass for Halloween. The more I think about it, the more I'm convinced that it's the graphics themselves and not the character designs that are so unappealing to me. Bass may be an aesthetic letdown, but he's a gameplay triumph.

In contrast to the frustratingly unplayable Proto Man, the drawbacks that are intended to balance Bass' fantastic abilities actually make sense. Bass can rapid-fire, but his shots do half the damage. He can shoot in almost any direction, but his shots can't pass through walls, and he can't run while firing. His Rush-ripoff animal pal, Treble, transforms into a flight suit that can hover and travel in any direction, but this consumes weapon energy at a substantial rate. Bass isn't punished for being awesome; his drawbacks are directly related to his cool abilities. It is flat-out fun to play as Bass.

Bass Mode also gets bonus points for including Reggae, an obscure Mega Man character who nobody has ever heard of, as the shopkeeper for Bass. If there's one thing Mega Man 10 does well, it's referencing other Mega Man games. While we're on that subject, let's take a look at the...

Special Stages

Mega Man 10 offers three special Time Attack stages that should look awfully familiar if you've played the Game Boy games; the three stages are faithfully recreated mashups of levels from Mega Man: Dr. Wily's Revenge, Mega Man III, and Mega Man IV, respectively. At the end of each stage you'll face off against the Mega Man Killer boss robot from the appropriate game, and upon defeating them, you will gain their special weapon, which you can use in any Time Attack or Challenge stage, as well as the main game. I initially complained about the big gaping space on the menu screen--well, these three new weapons fill those spots quite nicely.

Of course, it would have been nice to know about this before I played all the Time Attack stages, beat all the challenges, and completed the game with three different characters on three increasingly unpleasant difficulty modes.

While I'm ecstatic that the Game Boy Mega Man games finally got some recognition and that the portions of the levels that got used were replicated in such close detail, the particular levels that were chosen are some of my least favorites from the Game Boy series. There are sections here and there that I enjoy, but there are only so many "obnoxious enemy popping out of a hole" traps that a person can stand. It's a challenge to get through each of the stages on just one life, but once you've done it, there's not a whole lot of reason to replay the stages.

Two of the three weapons are fun, though. Enker's barrier weapon deflects projectiles more reliably than Proto Man's shield, and Punk's throwing blades have a surprisingly useful attack trajectory. Ballade's multidirectional bombs are powerful yet slow, and they feel a little redundant given that Mega Man already has access to Strike Man's multidirectional bouncy ball, which I only mention because they could have traded Ballade for Quint from Mega Man II, who rains destruction on his enemies from atop a terrifying pogo stick.

Actually, now that I've had a chance to play a little more, Ballade's weapon is powerful enough to be quite useful against several irritating enemies, so all three special weapons are fun. Hooray.

Endless Attack:

Mega Man 9's downloadable content introduced Endless Attack mode, which did more for the game's replay value than a difficult special stage, an additional and difficult-to-use playable character, and two more-difficult versions of the main game ever could. Ironically, I spent less time on Mega Man 10's Endless Attack mode than on anything else.

As before, you play as Mega Man through a randomized series of short stages that are comprised of enemies and obstacles from all over the main game. The level designs are pretty clever, but the choice of enemies leaves something to be desired, as the designers went overboard with placing the most annoying enemies in the game in as many locations as possible, almost to the exclusion of literally half the enemies in the game.

I'm pleased to report that there are many screens and areas that were clearly intended to resemble parts of previous games--there's references to Elec Man from MM1, Bubble Man from MM2, the first Dr. Cossack stage from MM4, the second Proto Man stage from MM5, Blizzard Man from MM6, Plug Man from MM9, and more. There's also an absurdly complex disappearing brick challenge that makes me very, very masochistically happy.

I enjoyed Mega Man 9's Endless Attack mode because it is very much a game of endurance and resourcefulness--special weapons are the key to success, and when you start running out of weapon energy you need to become especially skillful and clever to survive. Mega Man 10's endless attack mode is more about avoiding bonehead mistakes; you're unlikely to deplete your weapon energy enough for it to be a problem, so it's a matter of not bravely leaping into a pit of spikes or getting hit too much by the same five enemies that populate almost every area.

Also, the Endless Attack music is a pale imitation of MM9's technoriffic theme. Worse yet, it starts off with some high-pictched whistling that honest-to-goodness made me wish for the soundtrack from Mega Man II. The Game Boy one.

In other words, after just a handful of tries, I've played about all of MM10's Endless Attack that I care to play for right now.

The downloadable content for Mega Man 10 doesn't greatly enhance the replay value of a game that's already got impressive replay value, but it's worth it to check out at least one of the special stages and/or the Endless Attack mode, and I have a strong suspicion that I'll be playing as Bass in most of my future playthroughs. The DLC is just as underwhelming as the main game, but, like the main game, it has its shining moments that make it worth playing.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Because, Sometimes, You Can Judge a Book by its Cover

Just a warning here--this one has nothing to do with comics. It kinda has something to do with books, but only because it's about an incident that took place in a bookstore. The actual books involved are of little (read: no) relevance to the post, or to the overreaching story.

With that in mind...

I saw something this weekend that really annoyed me. But let's get this straight--it wasn't one of those things that I saw, shrugged my shoulders at, and forgot about. Quite the opposite, really, as I am still pretty annoyed with it come Monday morning, when I should be leaving for work.

And I'd like to talk about the incident here, if I may, because I need to vent about it before my head explodes. No more preamble or set up to this one, folks. Just out with the story.

After an incredibly fun day of watching Firefly, eating hearty tavern food, and buying things at a comic book store, Nathaniel and I parted ways. Our long-overdue day of geeky nonsense was great, but as with all good things, it needed to come to an end.

He went to visit college friends, and I went to make a quick trip to the local Borders store before returning home to watch some baseball.

Our story takes place at the Borders, and it begins with me finding what I was looking for, and heading to the counter to pay for my wares.

In front of me, there was this guy. And believe me, you know the type of guy I'm talking about. Jeans with sandals, collared shirt with sweater over it, obnoxiously expensive watch, and car keys to something that costs more than most people make in a year.

Oh, and that look that says, "I'm better than you. And you. And you and you and you." Because that's the most important part of this guy's "look."

But as we all know, you can never judge a book by its cover. And, besides. Surely this guy wouldn't fit perfectly into the whole, jerky rich guy stereotype, right?


Classic jerky rich guy. Like he was cut from a jerky, rich guy mold, and then served with a side order of fried arrogance. Let me explain.

This guy--the jerky rich guy-- has a couple of books stacked up on the counter as the bookstore employee (a very nice guy who has gone out of his way to help me find some obscure titles in the past) rings him up.

"Sir," the bookstore employee asks. "Do you have a Borders Rewards card?"

"No," says the customer, in a polite but completely dismissive manner. Which is pretty normal, since most folks hear "store card" and associate extra fees and spam mail with it. (Of course, in the case of the Borders Rewards card, all you get is a free membership and weekly--and hefty--coupons for books.) Still, most folks dismiss the card out of hand, not wanting to give personal info to anyone.

And who could blame them, right?

"Well, sir," the employee continues, in a friendly and non-aggressive fashion. "Just so you know, the Rewards card is free and quick to sign up for. We send some pretty good coupons each week and--"

"No," was the customer's response, except this time, he was a little annoyed with the employee and he had abandoned eye contact (and not to mention, basic human courtesy) and instead decided that the man behind the counter was clearly not worth his jerky, rich guy breath.

From my location one spot back in the line, I could tell that the employee knew he was getting on the man's nerves. Still, he had a job to do.

"No problem, sir," the employee answered with an honest-to-goodness smile. But it's part of the job description that he ask just one more question before completing the transaction, and so he did.

Except, this question was important.

"Sir, we're having a book drive for children," he started.

The customer continued to look down at his wallet, at the door, and anywhere but the employee's eyes. Because, y'know, he was so clearly just a clerk, and he was so clearly beneath this gem of a human being.

"Would you like to donate a book to--" the employee was cut off.

"No," was all the man said.

The employee handed the man's credit card back to him.

"Thank you, sir," the employee said from behind the counter. "Would you like a bag for--"

But the customer--Mr. sandals and jeans and watch and sweater-over-collared-shirt--was already on his way to the door.

Now, please. Don't get me wrong. I am not saying that the man was a jerk because he didn't donate a book. Let me repeat that--a person is NOT a jerk because he or she decides not to donate a book, or some money, or some time, to a charity or whatever. I am certainly guilty of not giving enough of any of those things to charity, and I would never dream to judge another person in that regard.

What annoyed me about this guy was not that he didn't donate a book.

What annoyed me was how dismissive he was of the bookstore employee behind the counter. He couldn't even manage to make eye contact with the guy, for goodness sake. And, honestly, I don't think the customer ever even heard the employee behind the counter ask about donating a book.

Sure, he knew words were coming out of the guy's mouth--but he had stopped listening to the content of those words after the initial, "hello." He was just pre-programmed to say no to whatever the cashier was going to say.

And, sure, maybe I am being judgmental (and, if so, then certainly hypocritical, considering what I said above), but I saw what I saw. That is to say, the way I understood it to happen is the way I honestly believe it to have happened.

That the guy was too important, and too high above the guy behind the counter to listen to what he was saying.

I don't know. Maybe I'm overreacting. Like that's never happened before. But I was honestly annoyed with what I saw. What can I say? It just got under my skin, is all.

To his credit, the Borders employee was as friendly to me as he was to the man in front of me. I guess he's used to people not showing him respect, and not looking him in the eyes, and not treating him the way he should be treated.

Goodness knows I've been treated in similar fashion by people in both personal and professional settings in my life.

And I felt bad for the guy behind the counter, because he was just doing his job. And, like I said, he does his job well. Go back up in this post and re-read the "conversation" between the two men. It took, like, ten seconds, tops. For ten seconds, this guy couldn't act like a person?

He couldn't be polite, and sociable, and downright decent?

For ten seconds?!

If you can't even manage to fake decency for a ten-second exchange, then I'm glad I don't know you. And that's how I want to end this post. I'm glad I don't know that random customer I saw one time at a bookstore on a beautiful Saturday afternoon in the springtime.

I'm glad I've never watched sports with him, I'm glad we've never gone out for a beer, and I'm glad I've never--and will never--shake his hand.

I'm also glad that I saw what I saw.

I was raised in a manner that taught me to be the opposite of that guy. And I hope--I honestly hope--that when my last day comes, no one who knew me will ever say about me what I'm saying about the jerk I saw that one time in Borders.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Sunday, Sunday

I'm really starting to like this whole, "hey, let's post on Sunday" thing.

Sure, I'll be honest and tell you that it annoyed the heck out of me when Nathaniel first suggested it, mostly because I like having a day of not having to do anything. But that wasn't the only reason.

The proposition of posting on Sundays also made me feel like a bit of a blowhard. I mean, honestly, do Nathaniel and I really need to express our views/opinions/etc seven days a week on the Internet?

How arrogant can two guys be, right?

But I have to say, it's been nice to actually be able to sit down on a Saturday morning--with very little that needs to be done other than to venture out to a comics shop or two--and just write about whatever, and link to whatever, and make a couple of glib comments on whatever news may have caught my eye over the last week.

Mostly because during the week, I don't have much time to surf the Internet. I get most of my comics news on the weekends, either by talking to my buddy Gary, or by doing some early Saturday morning Web browsing. That said, there's one piece of news in particular that has me incredibly excited (and happy to be such a huge dork).

I've meant to post something about the recent announcement that Joss Whedon (yep, that Joss Whedon) has been slated to direct the upcoming Avengers film from Marvel/Disney.

I just haven't had the time to talk about it, but now, with this newfangled Sunday posting dealie, I kind of have time to talk about it. I have to head out the door in a few, but I can say this--obviously, Joss Whedon on anything is a Good Thing.

Joss Whedon on the Avengers? Yeah, I can't find the bad in that.

I was a late convert to the Church of Joss, but since I started watching Buffy a few years back on DVD, I've been a big Whedon fan. Recently, Nathaniel and I have been watching Firefly on DVD, and with every episode, I realize just how good Whedon is.

And not just with character stories and dialogue.

Those are certainly hallmarks of a Whedon project, sure, but he's also astoundingly good at telling "team" stories. Whether it's the crew of Serenity, or The Scooby Gang in Sunnydale, Whedon's shows always manage to give every character enough time to shine on screen.

What's more, though (and certainly more relevant for an Avengers movie), is Whedon's ability to have a group of people shine together on screen.

With something like the Avengers--which is the ultimate team comic book--it's more important that (whatever members of the team he chooses) relate with and play off of each other than for them to shine as individual characters. They'll all have plenty of time to do that in their solo movies.

I think this is great news for comics fans, and I hope that this will be the movie that puts Joss Whedon's name in the same category as, say, a Sam Raimi or a Chris Nolan.

How about you guys? Any thoughts on the selection?

Saturday, April 24, 2010

8-Bit Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Game

Perhaps you remember Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog, the tragicomic superhero musical by Joss Whedon, that dude who makes a lot of people angry because they love his shows. (Am I wrong?) Well, now you can watch Dr. Horrible... in 8-bit.

Doc Octoroc, of 8-Bit Jesus fame, is currently 2/3 of the way through reproducing Dr Horrible as an NES-style game that's actually a video that you can't technically play. Well, you can play the video, but you can't play the game.

If you've watched the original, check out Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Game. It's strangely entertaining.

Friday, April 23, 2010

It's Just Like The Lord of the Rings...I Promise

Ahhh...Friday. The day before Saturday. Truly a day destined to be filled with possibility and wonder. know, filled with all the possibility and wonder of the coming weekend.

Well, okay, so usually Friday is just the day before two days straight of sleeping in. But today, my friends. Today is the day before the start of a grand adventure.

(By which I mean, an extended--and, thusly, awesome--comics shop run.)

I have no idea if I've used the word, thusly, correctly, by the way. Regardless of grammatical error, commencing sometime tomorrow around 10:00 in the morning, and ending whenever the fates will allow (by which I mean sometime before 5:00, since Nathaniel made plans for tomorrow night), the two Exfanding founders (um, that's me and Nathaniel) will embark upon a wondrous journey of going to places that sell comic books and buying comic books from said places.

And who knows what else might happen, and who knows where else we might go. What foes may we cross? What treacherous obstacles might stand in our path? Will it rain? Possibly! But such things shan't deter us from our quest.

And that's the (only a little ridiculous) point that I want to make today. Having comics as a hobby for the last seven years or so has provided me with countless fun (and kinda ridiculous, when you think about it) days, based pretty much on things as simple as driving around with friends looking for stores.

Sure, I don't need comics to do things like that--hang out with friends and have a good time. But comics provide a pretty good reason to go out and do all that stuff.

They are an impetus to adventure, if you will.

And now our heroes (um, that's me and Nathaniel again) have heard the call, and come first light of dawn (10:00, or whenever my haircut is finished), we shall embark upon a journey of...comics buying.

And it will be grand.

-- -- -- --

Happy Friday, everyone! Enjoy the weekend!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

The Most Pretentious DVD Case I've Ever Seen


"A reluctant hero. An epic journey. A choice between the life he left behind and the incredible new world he's learned to call home. Return to James Cameron's AVATAR--the greatest adventure of all time."

...The "greatest adventure of all time"?

...Getting lost in the woods is "an epic journey"?

...What about the people who haven't seen Avatar yet? Do they even know how to get to Pandora?

This is actually what is written on the back of the DVD case for James Cameron's Avatar. I'm sorry; James Cameron's AVATAR. Wouldn't want to forget the ALL CAPS.

As I said in my review of Avatar, I thought the film was pretty entertaining. I also think the film was a little too overhyped and is a little too self-important for its own good. I'm in no rush to use the only three hours of free time I have this week to rewatch Avatar on a considerably less-IMAXy screen, but I suspect the apparent greatness of the movie will begin to wane starting today as the movie is released for viewing at home.

I can't help but wonder: Did the person or people who wrote that DVD blurb genuinely believe what they wrote, or were they exaggerating a bit? Were they writing it for the fans, or were they fully cognizant of the fact that Avatar will not be as good on a small screen and were desperate to rekindle the hype?

I saw a little poster for Avatar at Wal-Mart the other day, and at first I thought they were advertising the video game--those fake-looking computer-generated BLUE ALIENS couldn't possibly be the beautiful creatures we all saw on the big screen.

In a way, I almost feel sad for Avatar. I cannot help but feel that people are going to be gradually more disappointed by this film they loved so much, like marrying a person who gets less attractive every year and doesn't have the kind of personality that makes up for it. It's not going to happen overnight, but even Lord of the Rings and Jurassic Park are starting to show a little age in terms of their CGI; Avatar is bound to follow.

There's no moral here, and I'm not trying to insult the movie or its fans; this is simply an observation, a reaction to the most pretentious DVD case I've ever seen. Besides, it's unclear--is watching the movie the greatest adventure of all time, or are they talking about the events of the movie itself? That ambiguity makes it sound even more pretentious to me: Watching AVATAR is the greatest thing you will ever do.


Sorry, I'm gonna go on an epic journey to the refrigerator and get a snack.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Waiting for Wednesday, Volume 2, Issue 16

Wow, is it Wednesday already?

I haven't even had a moment to check out the Diamond shipping list for this week, let alone think about what pithy and insightful things to write about in this installment of Waiting for.

Eh. I'm sure I'll think of something so long as I keep typing.

It's certainly been a comics-centric week for me, that's for sure. And by all accounts, it appears that it will continue to be comics-tastic through the weekend.

As I mentioned in yesterday's post, I recently had the chance to sit down and read a big chunk of my comics pile. What's more, I actually managed to get pretty far along and to make a dent in the stack.

Lately, my idea of a "new" comic is one that shipped two months ago. If I can manage to read a mini-series or story arc before the hardcover comes out, then I'm about as up to date as I'll ever be. Which I don't mind on the surface, because I like having a few issues stockpiled so I can sit down and get more out of a story.

What I do mind, though, is the fact that the Internet is like a minefield of spoilers, and trying to be surprised by a "new" book has become pretty impossible. And it's not just the Internet--because I can stay off that for weeks, if I have to. In comics shops over the last few months, I've pretty much covered my ears to all shop talk in a weak effort to avoid having a book spoiled.

Because, let's face it--comics fans love nothing more than to talk about the latest happenings in their medium of choice. And why shouldn't they/we, right?


But I've come to the conclusion that it's pretty impossible in comics to not have the outcome of a book be ruined if you don't read the book for a day or two, let along three months. So, to rectify the fact that I had the ending of Blackest Night spoiled during a "spoilers-free" discussion of the last issue on a podcast...I've decided to read my books when I get them. Like, that same night.

Shocking, I know.

I have never in my comics life read my new stack of books on the Wednesday they came out. Instead, I've always waited until the weekend, or until a vacation, or, as I've done recently, until right around the time that the trade ships.

But I think I'm missing that element of fun that comes with being legitimately surprised by a big event in a comic, so from now on, I'm reading the "big" books on the Wednesday that I buy them. I'll save my indy titles for the weekend, but books like Brightest Day and Siege will be read about an hour after I purchase them.

We'll see how that goes.

Of course, I should probably read issue three of Siege before I start doing any of that...

Right. So. To this week's comics, then. And what a crop of comics we have. Actually, I'm lying. I have no idea what books are coming out today, because I still haven't gone to the Diamond Web site to check. I've been busy padding this column--er, I mean, writing this column with love and affection.

Hang on a sec. And enjoy some tunes while I'm gone...

Spider-Man, Spider-Man, does whatever a spider can. Spins a web, any size. Catches thieves, just like flies. Look out, here comes the Spider-

Okay, I'm back, and I've checked out the list.

Like I said, lots of good stuff today, and we'll start with issue two of a new series that I mentioned last month. From Dark Horse, The Guild, issue two, ships today, and after reading the first issue, I'm definitely going to be on board for this book.
Written by Felicia Day, the series follows in the footsteps of the popular Web series, which you can find here.

I know we have readers (and, uh, Nathaniel) who are into gaming, so I wanted to be sure to mention this book again, because I think it might be a great way to introduce that gamer in your life to monthly comic books.

I want to explain what the book is about...but I'm tired, and besides, Dark Horse does it better. Here's the description for the issue:

Felicia Day (Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog)'s hysterical extension of her multiple award-winning web series continues with this brand-new story!

Since discovering role-playing games, Cyd Sherman spends more and more time in-game as the healer Codex. As her boyfriend ignores her in favor of his fledgling band and her therapist questions whether or not she has "real" friends, Cyd decides to form her own group within the game after meeting Clara, who teaches her about reputation points, and Zaboo, who introduces her to "friending" within the game.

Detailing the never-before-told origin of The Knights of Good, this is essential reading for fans of the show, and a great jumping-on point for readers new to The Guild. And don't miss season three of the show at!

* Named "One of the Net's Best Serial Shows" by Rolling Stone!

So if it sounds like something you (or someone you know) might be into, be sure to check it out.

Next up, we have a new ongoing from Top Cow. I haven't shown Top Cow much love lately, mostly because I haven't been reading their books. Don't get me wrong, I used to read their titles--The Darkness and Witchblade, mostly--and I enjoyed them.

Especially when writer Ron Marz took over Witchblade several years back, their titles were really firing on all cylinders. But then they had a big cross-over thing and I lost my job and I decided to drop pretty much everything in their line.

Fickle, I know.

But there was always this ancillary character called the Magdalena--a church sanctioned assassin--who stole whatever issue she showed up in. More than the typical "bad girl" character that unfortunately permeated Top Cow's books for a long while, Magdalena was an interesting and tragic character.

Even though she fights for the church, she questions the church's motives and she finds herself in a series of moral dilemmas. She fights all kinds of supernatural baddies, and she travels to creepy, atmospheric locales like Prague and the sewers of Paris in search of vampires and cult leaders and agents of evil.

And now Top Cow has handed the reigns of the character over to their main man, Ron Marz, and the Magdalena is now the leading lady in her own on-going title.Conveniently enough, there's a Magdalena movie in the works, but hey, here's hoping the new series gives the character her due.

Here's the blurb from the Cow:

The star of the forthcoming feature film gets her own series! The Magdalena has been the official protector and warrior of the Catholic Church for over two thousand years, sworn to defend the Faith with the Spear of Destiny against all manner of supernatural threats.

However, Patience, the latest Magdalena, has seen through the hypocrisy of her masters and struck out on her own. When her old mentor comes to her with a mission to prevent Armageddon, will she be able to resist the call?

Sounds good, and I'll give the first issue a try, at least. Marz has a good track record, and he has turned the Top Cow line around nicely.

Finally today, we have a relaunch from DC. The Spirit series starts up again with a new number one issue today, and it's written by Mark Schultz and with a co-feature by none other than Denny O'Neil and Bill Sienkiewicz.I'm a fan of the Spirit--the late, great Will Eisner's most famous character--and I followed DC's last run of the book, which featured some great creative teams.

I'm looking forward to this new book, and I'm really looking forward to the Denny O'Neil co-feature. Sure, I'm biased on the matter, but it can't be argued that Denny is one of the greatest writers in the history of comics. And c'mon--it's Denny O'Neil and the Spirit!

Here's the blurb from the publisher:

The Spirit returns in an all-new ongoing series! Central City destroys everyone who lives within its it's a good thing The Spirit already died once!

International crime syndicate The Golden Tree wants to help Central City's Octopus consolidate control over the underworld and the Spirit is the kind of mess the Golden Tree was created to clean up. They've offered the Octopus the services of one of their finest assassins to take his breath away for good – and the sight of this killer would get anyone's heart pounding!

This issue also features the debut of the eight-page THE SPIRIT: BLACK and WHITE co-feature, showcasing the industry's finest talent. And who better to kick things off than DENNIS O'NEIL and BILL SIENKIEWICZ?

So, yeah. Lots of good stuff this week. Have fun out there, everyone, and before you head to the shop today...what are you Waiting for?

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Sunday Comics

I think I read more comics this weekend than I have in...well, maybe ever. And with me, that's saying a whole heck of a lot. Add in the fact that I wasn't around for the majority of the weekend, and I think I can officially state that I read more comics on Sunday than I have ever read on a single day.


Times two.

And I'm not exaggerating here. I read a stupid amount of comics on Sunday. And it was wonderful. I'm all caught up on my DC books--which means that I've finally made it to the end of Blackest Night.

I'm now up to date on the whole...let's call it a situation...with Green Arrow, I'm current with the new incarnation of the Justice League, and I know who's dead and who's come back from the dead in the DCU.

I won't spoil anything here--especially since I know firsthand how hair-pullingly frustrating it can be trying to navigate the Internet during a comics event--but Blackest Night, issue eight, had a whole slew of reveals and deaths and un-deaths.

It was a great conclusion to the series, and the ending was satisfying and, yeah, I think it lived up to the continuous hype that DC propagated as the event was going on.

No small feat, that.

And I think that DC has a very focused plan for their line, and this time, I'm willing to bet that the fallout from the event will be just as good as the event itself was.

That's something DC has struggled with over the last decade or so. Sure, they can tell the big story--Identity Crisis pops immediately to mind--but they've continually underwhelmed in telling the story of what comes next.
But this time, I think things will be different. DC's firing on all cylinders lately, and I can honestly say that I've never enjoyed their books as much as I am enjoying them now.

It's like DC woke up and realized that they don't need 25 tie-in titles to make an event all event-y. The main book was all one really needed to know what was going on, and any added books just made the experience better. But those added books were by no means necessary to fully grasp the story.

As for the competition across the street, I can say pretty much the same thing. Marvel has been so good lately that it's hard to believe that both companies are putting out so much quality work at the same time. It's like when the Yankees and the Red Sox are both in the playoff chase--it just feels right, and it makes everything better.

Every book has more meaning, and every story needs to shine that much brighter.

Now, I'm not as caught up on my Marvel books as I am with DC--that's the plan for this weekend--but I did manage to get updated on a good number of their titles. What I read was good stuff, I'll say that. I read dozens of books on Sunday--probably around 50 comics from just the two companies, folks--and I can say that I didn't put one of them down and think, "meh."

And that's just from the two biggest companies, mind you.

There was plenty more to read, of course, and so I made a point of diving into my pile of independent titles. From Image Comics' Prohibition era vampire tale Turf, issue one, to IDW's new and intriguing Kill Shakespeare series (which pits the bard's heroes and villains against each other and against a common foe--the wizard Shakespeare), to Richard Moore's latest offering, Chip (about a pint-size gargoyle trying to find his scary), I was lost in comics goodness all day long.

There's just lots of high quality stuff coming out from publishers big and small these days, and all I could think about as I laid around all day reading, was how far comics have come even in the seven years that I've been reading them.

Sure, there are more titles than ever, and sure, there are more mediocre titles than ever. But there are also more flat-out good books than ever.

And that's good for comics. And not to mention, for you and me.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Mega Man 5: YouTube Edition

Well, it only took me about 3/4 of a year to pull together, but my video review / walkthrough / showoff video of Mega Man 5 is FINALLY finished! WOO!

If you're a little iffy about this whole Mega Man thing and want just a little sample, embedded below are the first two videos in the set. When you're ready to watch the whole thing, check out the full Mega Man 5 playlist on my YouTube channel, which also includes the teaser trailer I made for my run.

Try not to hurt yourself laughing. I'm told I'm very funny.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Sunday Linking

So tomorrow I start my new job, and I have to say, I'm very excited, very anxious to get started, and very relieved to be going back to publishing. But no matter how new and different tomorrow will be for me, today is still Sunday, and that means it's time for a link here on Exfanding.

Today I have something from PC World, concerning the iPad and its possible effect on comics retailers. Included in the article is also an embedded video walkthrough of Marvel's new reading app for the device.

The article is right here, and while it's not the most in-depth article on the subject, I think it's important for a couple of reasons. Firstly, and obviously, it's a non-comics site bringing up the possible ramifications to retailers in a very niche market.

It's always good to see someone sticking up for our retailers.

And secondly, the video showcases the Marvel app, and it's the first time I've actually seen how it works. As I suspected, it looks amazing and fun and from all accounts it appears to be a great alternative to paper comics.

Ahhh, what a wonderful crisis of conscience it presents.

Only adding to my crisis is that fact that on Friday, I was at a local mall, and I finally had the opportunity to check out the iPad at the Apple store. Now, sure, I'm easily impressed by the new shiny, but wow, is this new and shiny. And I mean, new and shiny, like I've never seen new and shiny before.

It's an awesome little device, fun to play with, it's fluid, the screen is incredibly sharp, the streaming video rocks, and browsing the Internet is just flat-out cool. Still, if I do plan to take the plunge, I'll wait for the second (or possibly third) generation device to ship.

Of course, that Marvel app does make it especially enticing.

If I do end up making the decision to buy the iPad, then my next decision will be to buy the Marvel app or not. Will my steadfast support of comics retailers remain...uh...steadfast? Or will I cave to the technological age?

Stay tuned, Exfanding Fanatics. Stay tuned.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

20,000 Hits!

We are officially popular.

This blog has received over 20,000 visitors, and that's not even including any traffic from those sneaky feed readers who don't show up on our sidebar's Klingon hit counter. They must be cloaked or something.

20,000 hits alone isn't verification that we're popular. I mean, Alex could STILL be reloading the page every five seconds to slowly boost our hit count. But I checked on our hit counter less than a month ago, just before our insanely busy schedules kicked in, and since then we have not only reached 20,000 hits but surpassed that number by a few hundred. Which means that it's all you, because we haven't had time to sit here and reload the page. Heck, we didn't even notice the hit counter until yesterday afternoon.

So, we are officially popular.

Alex and I had this thing going back and forth where one of us would coerce the other into trying out a new fandom with every milestone. This time, it's Alex's turn... except we're still working on Firefly, which we started at our last milestone. And we're only halfway through the series.

Taking everything into consideration, it looks like, once again, we must adjust our celebration schedule. So, unless there are any peeps from the peanut gallery, our next celebratory milestone post will be scheduled for 51,753 hits--if 20,000 hits was any indication, I figure that's about when I'll notice we've reached 50,000 hits.

So, in lieu of any grand plans of Alex forcing me into reading baseball manga with him, we'll celebrate today by taking a little trip back through time and seeing just how this blog has evolved over its many milestones:

- 1,000 Hits! Because Alex hadn't seen Star Wars.

- 2,000 Hits! Because I hadn't read The Goon.

- 3,000 Hits! Featuring one of my favorite gags on this blog.

- 4,000 Hits! In which I find a way to slip in one of my favorite Space Quest V screenshots.

- 5,000 Hits! In which the secret origin of our blog's name is revealed.

- 6,000 Hits! No official celebration for this one; just a quick mention in a post that was pretty significant on its own.

- 7,000 Hits! Another ironically significant post that only briefly mentions our milestone.

- 8,000 Hits! In which the secret origin of the blog itself is revealed.

- 9,000 Hits! Discussing exactly how much material we've produced for this blog.

- 10,000 Hits! Featuring Alex's favorite picture of the year.

- 15,000 Hits! Or, That One Post You Probably Stopped Reading After Two Paragraphs

- 20,000 Hits! Whoops, that's today.

Friday, April 16, 2010

PAX East Recap: The Lost Chapter

Well, well, well. You thought my extended recap of PAX East was over, did you? Ha! I've been writing about that convention for so long that I don't know how to write about anything else. It's getting to the point where I'm going to start declaring Theme Months. We've moved from Mega Man to conventions, it seems, and this was really not anyone's intention.

Irregardless! Here I am, with just a few more things to share about the PAX East gaming convention, things I wanted to include in earlier posts but just forgot or ran out of time to add. First up is Paul and Storm's "Opening Band" song from their Saturday night concert. Oh, and language alert.

Next is the Video Game Orchestra playing a medley from Chrono Trigger at their Saturday Night Concert. I'm one of the many voices shouting "HUH!" at appropriate intervals from the way back.

The last video (and there are oh so many that are worth watching in addition to these three) is MC Frontalot's "It Is Pitch Dark," which was a bonus feature shown at the Get Lamp panel. You'll either love this, feel embarrassed to be of the same species as MC Frontalot, or be really confused.

Finally, because cross-promotion is my shtick, and because I'm not yet convinced that the mere mention of PAX East is making you physically ill, here are links to two articles on where I try (perhaps too hard) to be funny about the convention:

- A videogame-centric news report of what happened at PAX East

- A gallery of some of the costumes I saw at PAX East, complete with silly commentary

And that's it! There is no more to write about PAX East. Which is a drag, because now I need to come up with original blogging topics again. ...Or do I?

...Yeah, I totally do.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Weekend Travels

After reading Nathaniel's convention recap posts a couple of weeks ago (and...uh...last week. Um, and this week), I was hit by a lightning bolt of inspiration. And by "lightning bolt of inspiration," I mean, I did the exact opposite of everything he did during my trip to the Boston Comic Con this past weekend.

No grand planning involved. No meeting times, no departure/arrival times. Nothing. I actually wasn't even going to go to the con, but Nathaniel talked me into it. And so I went.

Which is kinda unlike me these days. But that wasn't always the case.

You see, by nature, I am a fairly impulsive person. However, in recent years especially, I think I've grown up enough to know that some of my impulsive tendencies needed to be curbed.

Let me give you an example of what I mean.

One Saturday afternoon while still in college (in Westchester County, mind you), a friend and I decided that we wanted to see Niagara Falls. From the Canadian side. And so we went.

We made the long drive up that afternoon (in a driving, stupid-to-leave-the-house-let-alone-drive-to-Canada-in snow), spent the night at the first hotel with a vacant room, saw the Falls, and came back in time to take a Spanish test on Monday morning.

On another occasion (and in a completely different country), that same friend and I (and a merry band of cohorts) decided to drive to Germany...from Florence...for Oktoberfest...for a weekend. Again with no plans, no hotel, and really just a little bit of an idea as to how to make that particular 14-hour drive.

And, yep, we were back by Monday afternoon. My class was at night, so it was all good. Mostly.

So, yeah. Not exactly James Dean or anything, but still (way) more impulsive than I am now. Pretty useless preamble aside, though, I decided to drive up to Boston (about a 3-hour trip from Exfanding HQ) early Saturday morning.

I did so with two things in mind--firstly, I wanted to bring some resumes and hand them out to editors at Marvel, DC, Fluffy Cat Comics, etc., and secondly, Eric Powell was attending the show.

As for the whole handing out resumes thing, I did so before I was notified that I landed my soon-to-be gig, and it was in a bit of a panicked moment. "What if I imagined how well that interview went?" I asked myself. "What if they hated me the whole time, and they were just being nice?"

Obviously, the only logical thing to do would be to get up at 5:00 on a Saturday morning and hand out resumes to booth-dwelling comics editors.

And, you know, say what's up to Eric Powell.

With my genius plan in tow, I pulled myself out of bed, grumbled (a lot), dragged my brother into the car (because I don't suffer alone), and headed north, to Boston.

We made good time, parked the car, stretched our legs, and got into line at the convention center. It was a long line, and there were respectable people dressed in suits and ties and...yeah, we were standing in line to get into some kind of health care summit thing.

"Uh, Al," my brother said, obviously quicker to notice things than I am.

"For the love of--Chris, we've been here five minutes. We're not even in the hall yet and you want to leave--" I snipped.

"No, idiot."

Ah, younger brothers.

"This is definitely not the comic show."

"Whattdoyou mean? That guy's dressed like Clark Kent. And so's that guy, and that guy over there is Bruce Wayne." I retorted, going through my stack of freshly-printed resumes and acting in my usual, oblivious manner.

Exasperated, my brother said, "Just stay here." And I did.

A couple minutes later, he came back, pulled on my arm, and said, "Let's go. It's this way."

As we walked away from the convention center, I complained about how I had a great spot in line, and that everything will be his fault when we don't get into the show.

We walked through the attached hotel, past the lobby and more Clark Kents and Bruce Waynes headed towards the convention center, and down into a corner of the building where a large-ish crowd was gathered. I stopped protesting when I saw Batman and the Riddler standing three people up from us at the back of the line.

"Oh," I said. "Right."

We lined up sometime around 9:30, and by the time the doors opened at about 10 after the hour, the line behind us had grown considerably. It would continue to grow to the point that people were soon wrapped around the street outside of the hotel. But we'll get to that in a minute.

We got into the main hall at 10:15, looked around for any signs of DC/Marvel/Fluffy Cat Comics, noticed that the space was kinda small, didn't see DC/Marvel/Fluffy Cat Comics, found Eric Powell and Mike Mignola set up at tables in the far corner of the room, said hello to Eric Powell and Mike Mignola, and...uh...decided to leave.


Three hours of driving, an hour of looking for and then waiting in line for the show, and by 10:45 we were done. Resumes still in my bag--along with an autographed copy of The Goon, issue 8, and a Goon drawing--we headed for the door.

Happily, I might add.

As we walked past the legions of fans in line--through the hotel lobby, out in front of the hotel, and wrapped around the building and down the street, we got some looks of annoyance, but, hey, I got what I came for and that was that.

A little later, Chris and I were eating lobster at a nearby restaurant, then we were in the car headed home, then I was out on a baseball field, giving a hitting lesson to one of my players.

And I have to say, it was a good day.

I did have one other little scheme that I wanted to try at the show, but I ended up chickening out at the last second. Now, I want to stress that I don't get nervous around people--ever. Just not my thing. I've met a handful of famous athletes, and, on two separate occasions, the 42nd President of the United States. (Okay, fine, so the first time I met Bill Clinton I was nervous and quiet. But the second time, way better. Suave, even.)

Around Eric Powell, though, I got a little nervous. A little awkward, even. And I'd met him a couple of times before, and I'd purchased art directly from him several times in the past. I just...really like The Goon, I guess. So, the big plan was to take a photo of Eric with a little Exfanding Your Horizons sign, like Nathaniel had fearlessly done at PAX East.

Instead of doing that, however, I did the following:
Yep. I snapped a drive-by photo of Eric as I was leaving the show. For shame, Alex.

For shame.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Waiting for Wednesday, Volume 2, Issue 15

It's been a whirlwind last couple of weeks, let me tell you.

Lots of stuff happening here at Exfanding HQ--so much, in fact, that I haven't seen Nathaniel in about a month. With his exactly 3.5 minutes of free time every week, it's been kinda difficult getting together, or even emailing for more than a couple dozen words at a time.

Really. Most of our online conversations go something like this:

ALEX: How're things?


ALEX: I'll post tomorrow, do u have time 2 post Friday?


ALEX: Later, man.


So, yeah. We're still a couple syllables away from flat-out grunting at each other, but still. There's only so many things that can be said in 3.5 minutes. And I think Nathaniel spends 2.3 of those 3.5 weekly minutes watching a single movie trailer online, just so he's caught up on the latest happenings.

Or, you know, sleeping.

A comics shop run is long overdue, and I hope to rectify that in the coming days. We'll just have to be sure we keep it under 3.5 minutes.

As for me, I've had a Very Good week so far, and I just learned that I will be heading back to work, full time, starting Monday. I'm incredibly happy to be going back to publishing, and to have the chance to work for my soon-to-be employer.

It's an exciting opportunity, and it was fun spending a day smiling.

I've had a great couple of months working with family and a group of new friends, and as it always is, saying goodbye is tough. Someone said to me this morning that, in an ideal world, when you leave a job--even if you're going to a new job that you want very badly--it should still feel bittersweet.

Which makes a lot of sense to me.

But my calling is in the publishing industry, and like I said, this new place has me kinda jittery with the excitement. So, yeah. Six months of searching, and taking on freelance assignments, and now I am quite happy to be heading home.

High hopes, great expectations, and all that.

Additionally, with steady work also comes the possibility that my (many) side projects can resume, so here's hoping I can get some original product out in the near future.

For the moment, though, I'm going to take a day or two to recharge and get ready for the next adventure.

And buy pants. I am woefully low on pants.

But first things first--tonight after my last day of work, I will be heading to the comics shop. And for me, this week will be a straight-up mainstream list of new books, which is very strange.

There's always a handful (and, many times, more than that) of indy titles on my pull list, but today it's filled with good, old fashioned, costumed guys punching costumed guys comic bookery.

And leading things off is the most comic book-y of comic books to grace the shelves this week. From DC and writer/editor/Grand Poobah of the DCU, Geoff Johns, Brightest Day launches with issue number one.
Spinning out of the hugely popular Blackest Night event, this issue marks the beginning of a new direction and story arc for the DC Universe and its biggest players.

Here's the blurb from the publisher:

The biggest event in comics continues as BRIGHTEST DAY burns back the BLACKEST NIGHT from the writing team behind GREEN LANTERN and GREEN LANTERN CORPS – Geoff Johns and Peter J. Tomasi!

And don't miss the exciting DC Comics debut of red hot cover artist David Finch (New Avengers, Ultimatum)! The effects that the already classic BLACKEST NIGHT will have on the DC Universe will be felt for years to come and this issue not only sets the stage for the new ongoing biweekly DC Universe book BRIGHTEST DAY, but also the next exciting era of the DC Universe!

I'm not a huge fan of the weekly or biweekly comic--aside from 52, which, in my opinion, was, is, and will continue to be the pinnacle of that particular format--and I didn't really care for DC's previous weekly books.

But I have pretty high hopes for Brightest Day, pretty much because of the fact that Johns is in charge of it.

Next up, we take a walk to the other side of the street. From Marvel, the Siege: Captain America one-shot hits today, and the creative team has me kinda psyched for this.
Written by Christos Gage, with art by Federico Dallocchio, and with a cover by the incomparable Marko Djurdjević, this book has huge potential. Sure, it's a one-shot, but the price is right at $2.99.

Here's the (vague) blurb from the publisher:

In Siege: Captain America, from Christos Gage and Federico Dallocchio, learn more about the role of Bucky Barnes and Steve Rogers in this war and how it will define their relationship!

And here's a preview from Marvel's site. The book looks good, the writing looks great, and for one issue, I'll be hopping on board.

Finally today, we have another Marvel book. Sure, this one's due partly to pandering towards the Iron Man 2 movie crowd, but it's a book that from all accounts seems like a winner.
The new on-going Black Widow series starts today, and here's hoping it'll actually manage to stick around for a nice little run. The Paul Cornell-written mini-series, Deadly Origin, was met with critical acclaim and a fair amount of fan love, so I think Marvel is hoping this new title (written by Marjorie Liu and with art by Daniel Acunahas) has some legs.

Here's the blurb from the publisher:

The Story: The deadly super-spy from IRON MAN 2, INVINCIBLE IRON MAN and CAPTAIN AMERICA in her own ongoing series! Natasha Romanoff is not a super hero. She’s not psychic. She doesn’t fly. And yet as the Black Widow, she manages to hold her own against a world of incredibly powerful enemies...and allies.

But now someone has tried to kill Natasha…and almost succeeded. Injured gravely, almost beyond her ability to recover, Black Widow sets out to find her attacker...with no suspects and no leads. Who could be deadly enough to get the drop on Natasha? And what connections do they have to some of her closest super hero friends...? Plus, a backup detailing the deadly history of the Black Widow!

There are a bunch of variant covers, including a "movie variant," so yeah, Marvel's trying to squeeze out every last drop.

And that's it from me today, folks. Before I go, though, what are you Waiting for?