When you spend half a year screaming to the masses “THIS IS GOING TO BE THE BEST THING YOU HAVE EVER SEEN”, it is very difficult to actually make it the best thing people have ever seen, or even one of the better things people have seen this month. Against these odds, and my ever-existent desire to tell people that they were wrong, Lions Gate’s The Hunger Games really was excellent.
You have to hand it to Star Wars. Thirty four years after its original debut, it’s still the basis for fresh content. The latest is a brand new comic series from Dark Horse entitled Agent of the Empire that hits stores on December 14th.
Focusing on the oft-maligned Imperial perspective, Agent of the Empire tells the story of Jahan Cross, a special agent of sorts. As the introduction reads:
“… not every political problem requires military might; not every negotiation depends on a show of force. Sometimes all diplomacy needs to succeed is the right man, in the right place, with the willingness to get the job done.“
It’s nice to see the creators focusing on a smaller scope when telling a story from the Imperial perspective. “Star Destroyers blow pirates into oblivion” doesn’t really make for a particularly compelling story, and given that Agent of the Empire is set before the Rebellion really comes into its own there aren’t many Imperial Navy size enemies floating around.
I play a fair number of video games. I’m pretty selective about the ones I actually want to bother spending money on, so while some are bad, most are good. However, it’s rare that I’d actually classify a game as dangerous. Skyrim might just fit the bill.
How can a game be dangerous, you ask? Well, I would classify playing a video game for over 10 hours straight a level of addicting that borders on dangerous. That’s what Skyrim does to you – you play and you play and you play until you just can’t any more. Then you decide you’ll just go to town one last time then quit, and along the way you run into a cave and go exploring. Pretty soon you’ve been playing for another hour in the blink of the eye. This happens repeatedly.
Brandon Sanderson had an interesting thought one day: why is it that fantasy worlds stand still chronologically? Sure they often have great and epic histories, but the world itself doesn’t seem to advance over time. As the Wheel of Time so eloquently puts it:
The Wheel of Time turns, and Ages come and pass, leaving memories that become legend. Legend fades to myth, and even myth is long forgotten when the Age that gave it birth comes again.
What if, instead of this kind of stasis, a fantasy world lived and grew over time just like our world does. How would the growth of technology effect magic? Would they become anathema to each other and cause wars that sundered the world, or would they combine harmoniously and create miracles never before considered?
It’s an interesting question, and it’s exactly what Brandon Sanderson has set out to explore with The Alloy of Law. Set in the same universe as his Mistborn trilogy, Scadrial, a world where certain people are gifted with the ability to transmute metal dusts into various powers, this book tells its tale hundreds of years after the conclusion of The Hero of Ages.
Widely heralded as one of the best of DC’s New 52, Chiang’s and Azzarello’s Wonder Woman combines costumed superheroics with mythological horror. Azzarello’s initial description of the book as “horror” gave many pause, but that unlikely combination of genres has proven to be a decidedly successful one. And, while some of DC’s New 52 slipped in quality this month, Wonder Woman is holding the line at excellent. Spoilers to follow.
For those of you who have been living under a rock for the past few months, the country has recently seen the rise of a new protest movement known as Occupy Wall Street (seriously, if you haven’t heard of this yet you need to put down that Xbox controller right now and go outside for a few minutes). This movement takes the stance that the top %1 of the country controls well above 90% of the wealth and political influence in the country.
As someone who is concerned with all things geek, it is rare that I find myself in the world of politics (in my writing, at least). I certainly didn’t expect to find myself there when I ventured to my local theater tonight to see In Time, the new dystopian sci-fi film starring Justin Timberlake and Amanda Seyfried. But there I was, as this movie could just has easily have been titled Occupy Dystopian Future, or something similar. Read more
New York Comic Con featured a ton of video games this year (including Max Payne 3). It seems to me that some of the booths are even approaching E3-before-the-fall proportions. Admittedly, I’ve never been to E3, so I’m largely making that up as a way of telling you these booths were huge. Square-Enix in particular knows what’s what: they’ve got Deus Ex, Deux Ex: The Missing Link, Dead Island, and a couple of other games all set up to play demos on beautiful 56″ HD displays. Capcom was also running major tournaments of Street Fighter IV and Marvel vs Capcom.
I spent several hours trying to hit up as many of the games as I could. Most of the demos were multiplayer, but there were a couple single player as well. Some of the games were viscerally good, some of them were maddeningly bad, and some were potentially good but we’ll have to wait and see.
Generally speaking, we’ve been quite impressed with DC’s New 52. When I checked out Animal Man #1 a couple weeks ago, I was really intrigued. Jeff Lemire and Travel Foreman did a really good job setting up a superhero who was also clearly a human being. At the end of that first issue, they had effectively established the hero and begun to set up a larger story arc – it was heading in an intriguing but pretty standard direction.
So I was surprised when the second issue took a bit of a turn into left field. Inevitably, I’m going to give up some details, so if you haven’t read Animal Man #1, stop reading this post and go read that issue.
Comic book stories are, at times, confusing, especially if you haven’t been keeping up recently. I started X-Men: Schism #1 and immediately knew that I had not been keeping up much at all with the X-Men Universe. But soon, that didn’t matter. The story briefly summed up the current state of affairs, and then quickly shifted to the central characters and their own concerns. The center of this story is the relationship between Cyclops and Wolverine, and (in case you didn’t guess it based on the title of the story arc) their inevitable split. This conflict has been so continuous in X-Men stories that it’s just about become a joke by now – but Jason Aaron is not joking around. He totally sold me on these two as partners turned ideological opponents. And if you can re-make the over-used trope turned corny joke and cause readers to take it seriously, then good job: you may have just re-invented the franchise.
Sometimes, to do justice to a work, you have to get into the nitty gritty and analyze the hell out of it. But sometimes, it doesn’t take all that much to explain what makes something awful or great. Tucker and Dale vs. Evil is a blast. I’ll explain why for anyone who won’t take me at my most basic word, but there’s actually not much more to it. Read more