Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Waiting for Wednesday, Volume 2, Issue 31

In my continued efforts to not actually write about a video game while still kind of writing about a video game, today I will proceed with Waiting for Wednesday, as per usual.

Only, I’ll throw in something for the gamers, as the release list of comics this week has proven to be fortuitous for such an endeavor.

But first, let’s talk a bit about comic book video games. And, mostly, how terrible they are. (And, in keeping with my not-really-talking-about-video-games motif, I will only stay on this topic briefly.)

Growing up, I was continually disappointed by such games as Superman for the NES (see above), various (and horrible) Spider-Man games for a multitude of platforms, a Wolverine/X-Men movie tie-in game that I swear has some kind of flaw that makes it impossible to beat a certain level, and most of all, Batman: Dark Tomorrow, for the Game Cube.

Batman: Dark Tomorrow was a game so disappointing that, even though I was a (fairly intelligent) college student when I bought it, I couldn’t figure out how to do...well...anything, and it made me incredibly sad.
I mean, look at that cover! How could it not be good??

Even so, walking forward was a difficult, annoying task in the game, mostly because of bizarre, endlessly frustrating camera angles that allowed for limited visibility. Which, even though I don’t play many video games, is something that should be frowned upon, I’m assuming, when one endeavors to create a video game.

You know, one made with the intention of allowing people to actually play it.

After a few sit downs with BDT, the game soon found its way to the back of a closet where, I’m sure, it still lives today. Which is such a shame because the graphics were actually quite good, and the cut-scenes were great.

But when the best part of a game comes when you’re not actually playing it, you have a problem.

In recent years, there have been some pretty great comic book video games--like Arkham Asylum (which I will one day take out of that box), the Spider-Man movie tie-ins, and the Marvel: Ultimate Alliance team-ups--so the pain of wasting anywhere between $20 and $60 bucks on an unplayable mess has subsided.

But there was nothing more disheartening as a kid than putting all that time and effort into convincing my mom to buy me the latest game (because it’s the best one, ever!) and agreeing to make up for it with added chores, just to pop the game in and just...know.

Immediately know that you have a stinker.

A little grey piece of plastic that is so magnificently useless that when you try to trade it in to a store, the man behind the counter will give you next to nothing for it. And you’ll like it. And you’ll take it. And you’ll swear never to make the same mistake again.

Until, of course, you do.

So my history with video games is alternately very positive and hair-pullingly negative. I remember very fondly playing games like Goldeneye for hours on end with my buddies, and almost coming to blows over baseball games so competitive and tension-filled that they were close to being as much fun as the real thing.

For every World Series Baseball, though, it seemed there were two Batman: Dark Tomorrows lurking around the corner. And so I pretty much gave up on buying video games, except for those that I knew would be out-of-the-ballpark good.

So I could leave them in their packages and write snarky things about them on a blog.

Right. So. To the comics, yes? Yes. To the comics.

It’s a small week for me, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t a ton of new product coming out. (Got that? Or were there too many double-negatives? It’s late, and I’m tired.) First up, and as promised, we have a video game tie-in that I won’t be buying.

But, since it’s video game week here on Exfanding, I figure it’s certainly worth mentioning.

And I’m buying it because I don’t think it’ll be good. I’m not buying it simply because I have no idea who the characters are, and according to the solicitation information anyway, it seems there’s backstory that needs to be known.
The book is called Kane and Lynch, and obviously, it’s based on the wildly popular video game of the same name. Check it out:

Following the bullet-ridden finale to the best-selling video game, Kane and Lynch decide what's best for everyone concerned is that they go their separate ways. That is, until a contract is put out on their collective lives for a huge bounty – and every assassin and two-bit goon around the world is gunning for the volatile pair.

Can the unrepentant traitor and medicated psychopath work together once more to save their lives and get to the bottom of this blood-drenched conspiracy?

So, yeah. Definitely wanted to give a head's up to fans of the game that this will be on store shelves today. While the art above is labeled as “not final” on DC’s website, there’s the promise of a Ben Templesmith cover on the actual book, and that’s never a bad thing.

Here’s hoping this book can convert a few gamers into full time comics readers.

Next up, we have the latest from Hellboy creator Mike Mignola and author Michael Golden. Baltimore: The Plague Ships, issue one, ships today, and features a storyline based on the (fantastic) book--Baltimore,: Or, The Steadfast Tin Soldier and the Vampire--by Mignola and Golden and art by (Mignola’s collaborator on the also fantastic Witchfinder mini-series) Ben Stenbeck.
Ya know, we talk a lot about big name, superstar creative teams in comics, but to me, it really doesn’t get much better than these guys.

Expect great writing and appropriately gothic, creepy art from Baltimore, and since it’s a Dark Horse book, it’ll ship on time, guaranteed. Here’s the blurb from the publisher:

Months after a devastating plague ends World War I, Europe is suddenly flooded with deadly vampires. Lord Henry Baltimore, a soldier determined to wipe out the monsters, is on the hunt for the creature responsible for this chaos and his own personal tragedy. What he uncovers is a terror as horrific and frightening as any he's seen on the battlefield.

* Based on the novel by Mike Mignola and Christopher Golden.

* Mike Mignola reunites with Witchfinder artist Ben Stenbeck!

I’m there. I’m buying. You have my money already. Dark Horse continues to be my favorite of the big publishers, hammering out quality story after quality story and ignoring completely things like events, crossovers, and costume changes.

Even if I’m on the fence about a title of theirs, the fact that it has that familiar logo on the cover always sways me towards a purchase. And I'm looking forward to adding this new title to my monthly pile.

Finally today, we have an interesting book from Image Comics, called Murderland. Now, I've only seen some preview art, but there seems to be some pretty positive buzz surrounding this new title.
It's a new series by an unknown writer, so I'm sure there's going to be some timidity from retailers when ordering this book. And Image books can be hit or miss with me, but when they hit, I tend to follow the series for the long haul.

Here's the solicit from the publisher:

"SET THE METHOD DOWN," Part One. Artist DAVID HAHN joins newcomer STEPHEN SCOTT to tell a story of doomed romance, bloodshed and the outer limits of human potential, all unfolding on the "complicated" streets of Baltimore, Maryland.

The Arabber is a reformed killer bent on bringing peace to his hometown. Method is his lover and partner in crime, but she may not be long for The Arabber’s crusade. The first of many genre-bending stories in the MURDERLAND universe.

I'm always willing to give new books a chance, so I'll be buying a copy of issue one today. That is, of course, if my store ordered any copies. Here's hoping. And here's hoping that Murderland clicks with me, and that it enjoys a nice run at Image.

Well, sir, that's it for me today. I think I've managed to successfully bribe...uh, I mean, persuade...someone to take over for me on Friday and write about video game stuff. Because, honestly, I think I've peaked in that regard.

In any case, I need to run, but before I go--what are you Waiting for?

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