We Watch Comic Book Trailers Pt. 1

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Suicide-Squad-Movie-Cast

Of course, I forgot to include the movie that I wanted to see. Smh

2016 is going to be another big year for comic book movies (which is okay with me) but fanbases are conflicted about those movies. So I sought out a range of opinions from other people more than qualified to offer a very educated opinion on the trailers AND on comics and then we argued like teenagers trapped on a long car ride.

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Black Elvis

The first thing people notice me about anywhere I’ve lived is how many comics I have. I have a larger collection than anyone I know. If this place ever catches fire its going to be a four alarmer for the whole block.

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Tommy

Of course, I included my writing partner Thomas Hamilton, mostly because he can see when I’m writing a draft and its awkward to explain why I’m not including him on a panel and because we’re still too burned out to do socially conscious content.

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Randy

We included R-Son the Voice of Reason who is overqualified to chime in. He’s Super Tribble of the Black Tribbles who have made huge contributions to Philadelphia and geek culture. (You need to check them out.) Also he’s been a long-time comic book shop employee/manager and he’s part of an exciting new venture in Amalgam Comics.

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JD

JD Korejko runs Jd’s Hero Complex after quite a few years working elsewhere in a comic shop. Also, he is a gifted comic artist and illustrator and a Tom and Tom Affirmative Action hire. (Stinking Obama.) He also runs a rather popular comic book podcast Poptards which runs on Aint it Cool News, a site that people actually visit.

Next…we do the trailers.

Suicide Squad Issue Twelve

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Under heavy fire, Nightshade, Speedy and June Moone bail out of Sheba.

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Uzis versus a bow and arrow. Hmmm. Better work fast ladies. Sadly, I had to omit some great Black Orchid stuff for pacing, but things fall apart for Boomerang and the gang.

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Thankfully, Black Orchid returns and she’s ready to throw down. Also this page illustrates something the movie is going to have to get right, Boomerang is often presented as a joke…but he is a killer and quite good at it.

You know who else is good at what she does? Nightshade. Again, where most books can only manage one capable female at best, Ostrander gives you plenty in this title, and this is one of many comics that are ignored when we characterize gender and roles in comics.

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After dispatching the guards, Nightshade calls the Enchantress. We know where this is going, right?

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This is resolved by an absolute throwdown, of which I included the end.

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While Nightshade is able to pull the Enchantress from the edge, no one is there to stop Vixen.

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The mission complete, they head back to Belle Reve only to find out that Rick Flag’s mission with the Doom Patrol didn’t go so good. They aren’t called the DOOM Patrol for nothing after all.

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In another comic, this mission would be a success. But in a comic with silly costumes and the occasionally far out plot, the next two pages are a shock to the system.

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Suicide Squad Issue Eleven

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This issue has guest stars Vixen and former drug-addicted Green Arrow sidekick Speedy. Speedy was part of a great arc, and then no one knew what to do with him afterwards.

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Vixen is a highly sought after model and when the issue begins she is taking a break at work, having left the superhero game.

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There is a quick rundown of her origin and what’s she been doing and then-

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It turns out that there was a drug transaction being done across the water and since the photographer could have captured some of it, they decided to wipe everyone out.

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Realizing that prison is pointless (this is decades before El Chapo, mind you) they come up with solution of their own.

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Part of the plan is to have Captain Boomerang take Vixen and Black Orchid and pose as another dealer with two prostitutes. As humiliating as being a hooker is for Vixen its still a step up from Justice League Detroit.

Meanwhile a panicked Derek Tolliver reaches out for a political ally in Joe Cray.

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Elsewhere Nightshade and Speedy bond over their mixed emotions on their job and their terrible costumes. June Moone has been cooped up in Belle Reve and she puts the move on Briscoe.

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Briscoe’s daughter died and Sheba is a VERY unhealthy replacement. Then again, it is handy to have an attack helicopter that can respond remotely to complex commands.

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Although initially ambushed and outnumbered, Sheba gets the rest of the team out of trouble. But all the noise blows the timing of the mission.

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The bad news is the drug lord has jets.

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And muscular guards with no shirts, headbands and camouflage pants. Is this a David DeCoteau movie? What is the advantage of not wearing full-body camouflage if it actually concealed you? Just wearing the pants would make it look like your upper body was floating around with no support like a Pacman ghost.

Eh, it was the 80’s. Also another panel from that Speedy arc. Depressing that Neal Adams and Dick Giordano’s work here is stronger than than anything we’ve seen yet from Suicide Squad, even though its 15 years later.

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Suicide Squad Issue Ten

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We already had the event comics. Now its time to do the other time-honored tradition of having a really popular comic character guest star in your book. But even though Batman appears in this book, the most important thing that happens is the addition of Father Craemer, a character that Ostrander created and used well (most notably in the Spectre run).

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Its worth noting although I skip pages, Suicide Squad focuses on all of the staff, which is something that subsequent books didn’t get right. This issue also introduces Duchess, and we have to pretend we don’t know who she is. (She is clearly Lashina)

Meanwhile, Waller explains why she never liked Rick Flag, and Flo expresses a desire to participate in missions…mostly because she likes Bronze Tiger.

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Mark Shaw decides to go private and become the Manhunter again, and Flag is too traumatized to join him. Meanwhile a prisoner they are transporting to Gotham escapes rather easily. I think you know where this is going.

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Batman easily slips around and hacks their main computer.

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Not the most essential page but I rarely give artist Luke McDonnell any credit, and he preserves the idea of Batman as a shape, almost like Michael Myers for a lot of this book, and it really works.

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Belle Reve is not set up for an A-lister. Batman carves through the guard, and although Duchess gives him some trouble initially, this is the Batman we’re talking about.

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Batman beats the rest of the Squad that’s available until its just a standoff with Waller.

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This is the part that’s hard.

There’s a brilliant bit where Batman explains to Deadshot that Deadshot is incapable of killing him. Its not that Deadshot is missing his shots on Batman, its a subconscious hitch, which explains all the times a master sniper missed Batman when he was waiting to ambush him.

But its followed by a REALLY stupid bit, where Waller explains that Batman revealed his alias, his relationship with the Gotham police – oh and he put his fingerprints on everything while he was in his cell.

And Batman basically goes – ‘aw shucks, I didn’t think about ANY of that,’ and gives the disc back. That’s what happens. Seriously. The whole ending of this comic is predicated on Batman being an idiot. But then Flag shows Waller some fire.

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Now Waller has her team leader.

Suicide Squad Issue Nine

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We’re back!

Sometimes the true test of a comic book writer is how they negotiate the dreaded crossover event. The event at the time was Millennium, which is where everyone tangled with the Manhunters, the intergalactic police force of robots that preceded the Green Lantern Corps.

Not a bad idea but the Manhunters looked really stupid. Why would a robot need blue underwear, and metal blue underwear at that.

So Slipknot, Boomerang, Bronze Tiger, Deadshot, Rick Flag, Karin Grace, and Mark Shaw in that stupid pirate getup go to Manhunter temple to deliver a bomb. Slipknot immediately starts thinking about getting out of it, since you can’t fight a robot with a rope.

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The bomb is filled with xyzedium, an element only slightly better named than unobtanium. And Rick Flag has a bit of information no one else does.

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Good thing they ran into Captain Atom, eh? The Squad also finds out that they don’t match up well with killer robots.

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By the time they figure out how to fight the Manhunters, Bronze Tiger goes down.

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And Slipknot finds out you should NEVER trust Captain Boomerang.

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While Slipknot lays suffering, a mysterious (more on this at some point) woman shows up.

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Shaw and Flag go into the temple with the bomb, and that’s when Flag finally realizes that the Privateer genuinely hates the Manhunters and can be trusted. Suddenly Karin appears, hanging from a cliff face. Do they save her or keep going with the bomb?

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Instead of wondering how Karin ended up on a cliff, Flag immediately has a meltdown.

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Karin betrays him, and explains that she is a Manhunter mole who fell in love with Mark Shaw. Except…

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That’s right. Karin Grace fell in love with a Manhunter robot. The robot quickly takes down Flag and Shaw and gives the coup de grace to Karin.

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And because this ties in to an event, something we don’t know about happens somewhere we can’t see that causes all the robots to fall apart at the same time. In all fairness, event comics were only a bit over two years old, so they hadn’t gotten the hang of it yet, but this is pretty lousy.

With her life ruined Karin decides to take the high road.

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By the time Flag wakes up – its over. And the Squad has another casualty.

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12 Playstation Games That I Really Miss – Pt 2

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SOCOM II: US Navy Seals

Socom forces you to think tactically because numbers are not on your side, and the weapons you choose have decided advantages and disadvantages. But there are a lot of squad-based commands, and this game has you globe trotting to break things up. I don’t know a lot about how games are made, but the missions are a masterpiece of layout, variety, story-telling and tension as the game progresses. I don’t know if any other game has done this better.

Silent Hill 2

Being outside of the gamer world, I did not know this game’s reputation until I looked it up. I do know that as a writer, the horror I saw in my head mostly was about a guy and a flashlight and a lot of darkness dealing with – something.

Silent Hill 2 is that game.

There are a lot of unnerving touches in Silent Hill 2, but mostly you are a guy in an abandoned town without a lot of resources dealing with bizarre and unclassifiable monsters that come when you are least prepared from them. This is everything they’ve said about it, a masterpiece that has not been repeated for some reason.

Grand Theft Auto: Vice City

This hits a few weaknesses and I have more affection for this game than any other in the series. Playing as hitman Tommy Vercetti, you basically reenact the plot of Scarface (while taking elements of a lot of other movies, of course). But it looks like a Michael Mann film, it has the best soundtrack of the series, and aside from a couple tough missions to play (the mini helicopter – ugh!) the gameplay and plot are fantastic. It all adds up to a sort of charm that I haven’t seen replicated in GTA after that.

Red Dead Revolver

Speaking of charming, Red Dead Revolver is the game that Capcom started and Rockstar finished. Capcom saw it as a ‘Weird West’ game and Rockstar liked the violent Clint Eastwood style of western. The result is a game with a huge sense of humor, tremendous imagination, fun gameplay, colorful and distinct characters.

You play a grand story from multiple perspectives and each character has their own special moves. I don’t even like westerns that much and I COULD NOT stop playing this game, there were so much variation on missions, and such an interesting plot that I was completely engaged.

Rockstar released Red Dead Redemption on their own, which obviously is several levels above in almost every way. But its sober tone doesn’t match the frenzied fun of the original.

Tom Clancy: Splinter Cell

There are plenty of shoot-em-ups out there. Splinter Cell is all about doing missions quietly and it creates a tension that’s rare in video games. You have almost no ammo, but you have other diverse weapons, (not all of them lethal) and a great set of skills that the game prefers you use.

This was the first of a good franchise, but it still stands as exceptional.

The Thing

John Carpenter’s The Thing is one of my textbook perfect movies. Very free movies have captured tension, paranoia, and horror like it. Usually tie-in games suck. The Thing didn’t.

I don’t know another game that created as much anxiety through its gameplay as The Thing. Its simple. You’re a Special Forces operative in the Antarctic who comes across the remains of the camp in the movie.

You come across monsters and other people as things get increasingly worse. But that’s where it gets brilliant. You can only carry a couple things, and the weapon you have might not take out the monster that’s ambushing you, and changing weapons will happen while you are getting hurt badly. Also The Thing has a fear/trust system.

If you meet somebody, you don’t know if they’re a monster, and vice versa. They won’t follow orders if they’re afraid of you, so you have to earn trust by killing a monster, or giving them a weapon. You could give them your pistol, keep your flamethrower and go hunt monsters, but if they turn on you, you no longer have the weapons you need to kill them, because you have to shoot them before you burn them.

If you DON’T give them a weapon and they could turn on you and attack you. Even if they have a weapon, if they lose trust in you, you will end up attacked by humans AND aliens. Negotiating people becomes a full-time job…pretty much like real life.

12 Playstation Games That I Really Miss Pt 1

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When you look at the product that’s out there right now, its obvious that games are better than they have ever been. But the Playstation 2 is the first console that I miss playing certain games, and its not because of nostalgia.

The previous generations aged badly. Aside from maybe Sonic the Hedgehog on Genesis, I didn’t miss Paperboy or Alex Kidd when the new systems came out. I don’t even remember getting rid of those games, I think my Sega Mastersystem slinked into my closet out of pure shame.

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Y’all don’t know about this life

Now I’m not a gamer, so my list isn’t always the ‘best’ games, its just the ones I liked. And there were times when I think I played a game on PS2, but I’m not sure. The one thing I CAN do, is briefly explain why each game appealed to me, and probably others. I apologize, at times I include videos where someone else is playing a game and is talking. Generally watching someone else play a video game is one of the dullest experiences a human being can have, but it was the footage I had.

Judge Dredd: Dredd vs. Death

This wasn’t a well received game, but I’m a Judge Dredd fan and that’s a specific market. Dredd is a no-nonsense character,  but unlike other protagonists there is a heavy dose of dark humor in his adventures. In Judge Dredd, usually the only thing taken seriously all the time is Dredd himself. Most video games take themselves WAY too seriously, so I appreciated Judge Dredd.

The game is just like that. With the Lawgiver (a gun that dispenses various types of ammunition, like armor-piercing, incendiary, explosive and ricochet) as one of the great iconic weapons, this is a first person shooter that pits you against vampires, zombies, mad scientists, cultists and general weirdos. In between you are expected to protect and arrest people.

With the numbers against you, ammo pretty low, and some reasonably tough opponents with some really silly things going on in the background, Judge Dredd was a distinct experience for me.

James Bond: From Russia With Love

It was a James Bond game where Sean Connery did the voice which automatically makes this untouchable.

EA always did a great job of making their games look great for the platform (remember Black?) and they did it here it this great homage to the early era of Bond films. If I remember quickly, it was a little short, but this was unappreciated.

Also…let’s get this out there.

Its not Goldeneye.

Every time we mention a James Bond video game there’s a few people that start talking about how great Goldeneye was and how nothing will be good and I start to feel very tired. Goldeneye was originally on the N64. The N64. People that console is so old its probably mildly radioactive or something. Let it go.

The Punisher

Most of the Punisher game is about an outmatched man fighting endless swarms of criminals, superpowered and otherwise. The Punisher also was co-written by Garth Ennis who combines a couple ideas from his comic runs, the most important being that The Punisher is not a hero that wants to rescue people, but a serial killer who prays on criminals.

This is an important distinction, because Marvel often tiptoed around the Punisher, giving him his own code of morals, making him sympathetic, and do other things to make us forget that this guy has killed thousands of people for his own reasons…which is generally what bad guys do.

The Punisher shows us THAT guy, the mad dog that most heroes despise. So the game is BRUTAL. Interrogations and executions reach Mortal Kombat levels. For all the tough talk you see from various game few reach the pure sadism of The Punisher.

The Getaway

Right after we had another run of good British gangster films came a game that understood them perfectly. The Getaway wasn’t perfect, at times I found it tough going, but I never got bored trying again because the plot was so strong and the gameplay was so interesting.

At its centerpiece, The Getaway painstakingly recreated London in hi-def right down to the curry places and pay toilets. Inside of it was a great combination of a driving game, a shoot em up, and a movie with long cut scenes.

The game was headed by Brendan McNamara who went on to do LA:Noir and then he…well none of this other stuff is very good at all is it? Yikes.

Hitman: Blood Money/Hitman: Contracts

Hitman is a great series, and I couldn’t decide between these two game . Hitman provides you an entry and a desired result, but the method is up to you. Do you use stealth, disguise and subtlety or do you try to mow everyone down? The opera house scene and the White House mission are among my favorites in the series. Also composer Jesper Kyd did an amazing job creating an atmosphere for these games that made them feel really important.

Hitman is a great experience because it gives so much freedom as a player to be creative, which is really rare in a game. These two games appealed to me because they had less of the sci-fi clone stuff, and really engaging levels that I had to think about.

Madden 10

“Madden is the same every year,” sniffs Gamey McGamington.

Well this year was different…because you could write your own plays. This feature only appeared once because most Madden players are pretty stupid and don’t actually understand football, but for anyone that understands the implications of creating a playbook from scratch this was a Godsend.

Most of the time in Madden, you take the bitter with the sweet. There are maybe 10-15 plays  in each playbook that either never work, are impossible to understand, are inappropriate for your personnel or get you like two yards a play. Madden 10 let you have the perfect playbook for your philosophy whatever this was, and is the single most missed feature from the game that I’ve ever had.