Comic Review: Mother Panic #7

Mother Panic #7

With the “Broken Things” arc finally at an end, there’s a welcome return to an aesthetic more comparable to Mother Panic’s first three issues. Issue #7 introduces a new, bizarre—which at this point is to be expected—villain in town, dressed in a literal Gotham City Coroner body bag, armed with two guns. The issue opens with the two parents being shot down in front of their young daughter—a seemingly common act of violence in Gotham City. But in this case, the shooting wasn’t a senseless robbery, but a planned attack by the new bag-wearing villain.

Connecting back to the first three issues, the little girl seems to be one of the children being held captive that Mother Panic saved, making the murder of her parents seem more deliberate.

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Though Tommy Lee Edwards’ work is still missed (although he is scheduled to return to the series to illustrate and write), I’m very happy to see the absence of artist Shawn Crystal—a style that was horribly unfitting and detached when standing next to the stark boldness of Edwards. For this issue, John Paul Leon helms the art, and though it features a very similar style to Edwards, Leon’s style remains distinguishable on its own merits. The story Mother Panic tells feels more suited with darker and serious art style— something that Crystal could not translate. Colorist Dave Stewart also does a good job of matching the tone and palette that Edwards made so distinctive in the first three issues.

Houser calmly paces the story forward while still revealing snippets of the past, and how Violet Paige came to be Mother Panic. Most importantly, this issue sheds some much needed light on her mysterious super strength; a super strength that is something more than human, but part cyborg. Houser also makes it clear that Panic isn’t necessarily seen as a hero in her own eyes, or by those who help her. But still, her intentions as a crime fighter are vague, not-to-mention why she’s on the streets fighting in the first place. It seems to be spiraling back to the need to protect children, but it’s too early to tell.

There’s still plenty of questions unanswered concerning Panic’s team and why they’re helping her, as well as her mother’s strange ability to apparently communicate with rats. Nonetheless, this is a welcoming start to a new arc, and sets the series into a new gear as we continue to learn more about Panic’s past, and a mysteriously strange and dark new villain on the streets.

Comic Review: Black Hammer #9

Black Hammer #9

Following the emotional masterpiece of issue #8, Black Hammer #9 takes a turn for the weird, focusing on the origins of Talky-Walky and her relationship with Colonel Weird. This issue reveals the least in terms of the overarching mystery that shrouds over the has-been heroes and why they’re trapped in the town of Rockwood, but hints that Colonel Weird knows more than he lets on, and by knowing too much, may be paying the ultimate price.

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It goes without saying that Lemire, as always, is at the top of his game in #9. Continuing to balance the quirkiness of Golden Age style writing, with his emotionally weighted signature touch. This month, Dean Ormston is replaced with David Rubin. David Rubin’s signature art style doesn’t match the emotional impact and pacing of Dean Ormston’s work, but is still a welcoming fit for Colonel Weird’s sci-fi pulp-esque tale. Rubin’s cartoonish worlds and creature sensibilities is a good fit for encompassing the other worldly dimensions Weird explores. And like his art, Rubin’s bubbles and lettering has just as much character and personality as the world and characters he illustrates. It’s a bit much at times and a little too cartoony for my tastes, but again, it compliments the off-kilter aesthetic of Colonel Weird’s character as a whole.

Though Ormston’s presence was missed in this issue, Rubin’s work didn’t take me out of the Black Hammer world; it was a change that made sense.

Black Hammer #9 didn’t quite have the emotional punch that #8 had for me, and I think most of that is owed to Talky-Walky not being a prominent character in this series as much as others. In fact, if I remember correctly, Talky-Walky went a few issues without an appearance. “The Ballad of Talky-Walky” left much more to be desired from the character; this issue gave only the smallest glimpse into Walky in terms of where she came from, but she still remains the most underdeveloped of the crew. Despite that, this issue continued to pull me in, especially with the mystery that surrounds Colonel Weird’s intergalactic abilities to slip in and out of the “para-zone,” where past and future live side by side, revealing that he, more than anyone, knows the most of what’s going on, and knows what may eventually happen to them all.

Black Hammer continues to be the comic I look forward to the most every month. It’s been a slow burn in terms of moving the overarching story along, but that seems to be a second agenda next to fleshing out the emotional worlds of each and every character. If Lemire is a master at anything (which is arguably a lot) it’s his ability to write characters. His ability to give realistic emotional weight to anything is simply unmatched in comics today. To me, this series is a masterclass in character development.

It’s 2017 and Adventure Games Are Mainstream Again [WarpZoned Article]

TL;DR: I was given the opportunity to write an opinion piece on why I think Adventure Games will be mainstream again in 2017 for WarpZoned. Here it is.

I’ve been wanting to write this story for a while now, I’ve just been waiting for the right time. For the past year, I’ve been convinced that the adventure game genre is on the upturn for becoming mainstream again. And I believe most of that is owed to its influence on popular games of recent (Kentucky Route Zero, Night in the Woods, Firewatch). Whether or not the genre ever actually went away is up for debate.  I don’t really think it did, but I think the expectations of game sales became disproportionate as consoles grew in popularity, making adventure games seen as commercial failures in comparison of other huge AAA games sales. Adventure games, after all, were primarily only experienced on PC’s, which really narrowed the market for them.

With the recent release of Thimbleweed Park, Full Throttle Remaster, and titles by not-as-established-developers such as the Paradigm, The Journey Down, and a slew of others, I saw now as a pivotal moment to finally tackle this story. I really believe that 2017 will be the year for adventure games to “come back.”

Serendipitous enough, as I began drafting up the story a month back, John Scalzo of  WarpZoned reached out and asked if I wanted to contribute to their site. WarpZoned is a site that looks at how games of the past reflect forward on the games of the present, making the site a perfect fit for what what I was trying to convey in this article.

Further proving my point, days before my story went up, IGN posted an article on the 29 essential, must-play, adventure gamesIt’s really good, and I’m envious I didn’t do it first.

Anyway, I’ve rambled enough. Here’s the article: “It’s 2017 and Adventure Games Are Mainstream Again.”

A massive shout out to John Scalzo for giving me the chance to write this, and also, for being a really cohesive, somewhat hands-off, editor.

What do you think?  Are adventure games finally becoming a norm again? Do you even know what I’m talking about? Let me know in the comments.

Be sure to follow WarpZoned on Twitter.
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You’re friend,
Kurt

Why Video Game Remasters and Re-releases Are A Good Thing

The game industry is still young, certainly in the likes of film and music. However, the games that have been produced over the past 30 years are beginning to age. What was once groundbreaking, is now a relic of it’s time period. Technology is ever advancing and growing, unlike games, which are forever held down to the technology they were developed on.

More often than ever, we’re beginning to see an attempt to remaster, re-release, and remake older and forgotten games. Many people (including myself), were angry and concerned with the lack of emphasis on new and exciting video games. Titles that weren’t even a year old (Grand Theft Auto, The Last of Us), were being debuted on next gen consoles like something new and exciting; it was frustrating, and gave me little to no reason to buy a new console when all there was were games I had already played. But then, a feeling selfishness began to sink within me: I already experienced those games, yes, but what about those who hadn’t?

Then I thought: What if Casablanca could only be viewed on it’s original reel of film? What if every movie that had been released on VHS, was never brought onto DVD or Blu-Ray? Not everyone is a collector or a historian, and not everyone has the means to be able to experience things on technology before their generation. That’s when I realized: remasters and re-releases are alright by me, and anyone else that is upset or angry by it, is simply being selfish.

But as always, fans love to be upset about everything. Much like movies, it’s not uncommon for a game to be remade for a newer audience. Also like movies, fans will always go up in arms with self-indulgent empty-ego rage. The matter of the fact, is that those movies/games they loved so dearly, aren’t going anywhere; they’ll always have the original they loved. When Watchmen was turned into a film, not every original copy of the comic was burned off the face of the planet. In fact, it’s still in print, and more than ever! So this “nerd-rage” that fans have, isn’t only pointless, but it’s exhausting.

But then they say: “Well if I made the movie -”
In which I interrupt them saying, “Well you didn’t. So shut up.”

You know what happened when Spike Lee remade Oldboy, a film that I think is simply un-recreatable? I didn’t see it. End of story. However, if the original South Korean film was never re-released in America, I’d most likely never have a means of seeing it.

"I suck." -Spike Lee

“I suck.” – Spike Lee

Anyway:

As I’ve mentioned before, Grim Fandango is my favorite video game of all time. When released back in 1998, the game1421420509714.4 was widely received, but in the end, a commercial failure, and eventually, the game went out of print. It was virtually impossible to legally get the game. If you’re one of the lucky few to own an original copy (like me), it’s most likely that it will not run on any modern operating system. All-in-all, it’s not easy to get Grim Fandango.

Nevertheless, the gods have answered my pleading prayers, the planets have aligned, and a new generation is now capable of experiencing Grim Fandango! Writer/Director Tim Schaffer, and his studio Double Fine, have acquired the rights from Disney, and are able to re-release the game. Now, a generation that was born and raised past 1998, will be able to experience this timeless adventure game, when otherwise, they may have gone without ever knowing about it.

The industry is young, and so it’s audience. I’m not claiming myself to be some wise old man, but I am something of a scholar when it comes to artistic forms of storytelling. And if I’m not mistaken, it is a very common and normal thing to reproduce old art for newer generations. I don’t quite see why that’s a bad thing.

I can admit, it’s disappointing to see games remastered only a year later, but is it really any different than a movie being transferred from VHS to Blu-Ray? Maybe, but I’m not going to pretend like I know the answer. It’s also important to point that systems are no longer supporting backwards capability. Not everyone will have the system prior, or the system prior that, or the old operating system on their PC or Mac to experience older games.

Can you imagine only being able to watch Terminator 2: Judgement Day on Laserdisc, and having to get up every half n’ hour to flip the enormous disc over, only to find out that you still have three more discs you’ll have to put in inorder to finish the film? Preposterous.

The moment he sits down, he’ll have to flip the disc over. So instead, he stands – draped with misery, knowing that Howard the Duck will never be transferred to blu-ray.

Remasters and re-releases are necessary. People need to have a means to experience these forms of expression widely and easily. How could one of the most important forms of human entertainment in the late 20th century go unrepresented for the future?

 

Now get over to GOG.com and pre-oreder a DRM free copy of Grim Fandango.