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Wednesday, 31 December 2014

A Final Thought For 2014...

Real Life Acrobatic Flea!




I know he's dressed like Spider-Man but this is pretty much how I always envisioned The Acrobatic Flea's combat style, when he was taking down the bad guys in Steve's Villains & Vigilantes' campaign (and in later iterations).

Thanks to my good friend Erik Ménard for pointing out this amazing martial arts/acrobatics display.

Introducing Baymax From Tadashi Industries...

A huge bounce forward in compassionate technology. Programmed with over 10,000 medical procedures, a tender hearted attitude comes as standard. Baymax is the new height in advance design and engineering, but beyond this you'll love the true friend Baymax will become. WARNING: In laboratory conditions some hugs have been proven to be addictive. Consult your doctor.

Wonder Woman Wednesday...

Tuesday, 30 December 2014

Amy Gets Excited About Agent Carter...




Sorry to depress my fellow Brits even more about the sorry treatment Agent Carter is currently getting in this country (ie. we aren't able to see it!), but there's always room for bubbly Ms. Dallen, enthusing about comics and associated ephemera, at HeroPress HQ.

Gotham: Ten In Five...


Summarising the first 10 episodes of Gotham in five minutes.

Welcome To Riverdale - Episode Eight...

Eight Seasons Of Supernatural In Three Minutes...


A quick refresher before the Winchesters return to UK television (at last) next month with Season Nine of Supernatural.

Torn From The Headlines: Skeletons With Style...


Whatever genre of game you are playing there's always a use for blinged-out skeletons (be they treasures to fight over or lich lords to fight with), so check out this collection of decorated 'Catacomb Saints' believed to have originated from labyrinths under the streets of Rome in the 16th Century.

Said to be the remains of early Christian martyrs, it is thought they were shipped to churches across Europe to replace relics lost in the Reformation.

The article on So Bad, So Good explains:
Once delivered, each skeleton was then clothed and adorned into a variety of precious jewels, expensive cloth, crowns, armour and even given wigs. They were put on display inside their designated churches as a reminder to all who visited, for the riches and wealth that awaited them post death – providing they swore allegiance to the Christian faith.

Sunday, 28 December 2014

Marvel's Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D.: What They Become


Given how long it has taken to get to this moment of 'great revelation' (the mid-season finale was effectively two episodes on its own), What They Become was a rather a damp squib.

Skye - who turned out to really be a Marvel comic book character I'd never heard of - has a moment of transformation at the end of this episode, but everything takes place in a darkened room and it's not that obvious what actually happens. I certainly wouldn't have realised that she was supposed to have developed "earthquake powers" without reading an online explanation of the episode!

The Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. showrunners really need to take a look at The Flash to see how you introduce superhuman characters into a TV show, and stop pussyfooting around.

Sure, S.H.I.E.L.D. isn't a superhero series, it's spy-fi but in a world of superheroes and it appears these 'special' characters are going to be playing a larger role in the show moving forward.

The 'Marvel Universe' identity of her father was also, sort of, revealed by dropping his first name (Cal) into conversation. But, again, it's almost as though the writers and directors of Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. were embarrassed by his comic book origins and this 'discovery' is ultimately just an Easter Egg for hardcore comic book fans when it should be a central part of the story.

Picking up from ...Ye Who Enter Here, an episode brimming with brilliance because of the potential that it suggested, What They Become took a lot of running about and revisiting old touchstones to get to where it was going.

Along the way, a Big Bad was felled, Ward did what Ward does, and a member of Coulson's team got petrified, but ultimately everything was building to the big moment at the climax. And, for me, it just wasn't grand enough. The poor lighting and confusing black-on-black imagery certainly didn't help, but, even though 'something' happened to Skye and Raina, it ultimately fell flat for me because it didn't go far enough.

The show has been building to this moment, not just this year, but since it began and the grand event felt rather rushed after all this time. I could have done with less running about in the first couple of acts and longer time being spent on the third act of this episode.

I realise that the explanations will come in the second half of the season (whenever Channel 4 decides to show that), but I'd have preferred a bigger hook - and more details - to hold my attention over the Winter break.

Up to this point, this second season of Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. has been brilliant, among the best shows on television, but What They Become was a misstep, from the almost casual disposal of Whitehall (perhaps he'll come back?) and the amount of running to-and-fro that felt like padding, to the disappointing transformation sequence (the rocky cocoons were very cool though).

There's been all this talk about how this is introducing The Inhumans into the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but I have yet to see an Inhuman character I recognise from the comic books. Where's Medusa? Where's Black Bolt, Karnak, Crystal, Maximus etc?

That said, the denouement was a nice touch with the shot of a second Obelisk and the creepy guy without any eyes, so hopefully when the show returns it will be with the chutzpah of the earlier episodes rather than the filler of this one.

Sunday Chin Scratcher: The Unified Theory Of Everything...


A key element in the development of a fully-rounded superhero character, be it on television, in comics or books, or at the gaming table is the "origin story", the back story of how the character got his superpowers and how (if at all) this ties into why he fights for truth, justice and the American way.

But I was wondering what people thought (be it for a game or in a comic) of the 'unified origin' versus the 'individual origin'.

The Unified Origin is the campaign/universe-embracing event or science that is somehow responsible, in some way, for the powers that develop in all the protagonists and antagonists in your chosen medium (e.g. the wild card virus in George RR Martin's series of Wild Cards shared universe novels; the exploding particle accelerator in TV's The Flash; genetic mutations at birth as featured in The X-Men corner of the Marvel Universe; or the rocket ship disaster that spawned the Fantastic Four).


On the other hand, you have the more mainstream comic book Individual Origins (as seen in the majority of DC and Marvel comic book titles) where every character has his own personalised transformation story (e.g. alien visitor from another planet; parents killed by robber inspires burning sense of justice; bitten by radioactive arachnid; injected with super-solider serum; caught in the blast of experimental gamma bomb; possessed by spirit of ancient sorcerer etc etc ad nauseam).

These stories are usually totally unconnected with the origin stories of other heroes and villains the character meets on his adventures, although if they are (and it's usually some antagonist), the connection is for a very important story reason.

When it comes to superhero roleplaying campaigns, do gamesmasters prefer all their players to simply concoct their own character's own backstories in isolation or do they usually impose a kind of  framework that goes some way to explaining not only how the character got her superpowers but what her connection is with the other player-characters?

Which approach works best for you as a reader, gamer or gamesmaster?

You'll Get It When You See It...

Saturday, 27 December 2014

Loadout: Going In Hot...

Battlestar Galatica's Richard Hatch captains a crew of merchant marines in space who compete with other local haulers in the highly profitable (and extremely dangerous) antiquities and curios shipping business. Gaz and his crew scramble to avert a ship-wide disaster; while racing against the clock and Gaz’s arch nemesis, Mick, in their quest to retrieve a high value cargo payload. Based on Loadout, a free-to-play shooter coming to PS4.

Friday, 26 December 2014

The Dead Parrot...

Fleamarket Friday: One For Old School Star Trek Fans...

The Autobiography of James T. Kirk chronicles the greatest Starfleet captain's life (2233–2371), in his own words. From his boyhood on an Iowa farm, his youth spent on Tarsus IV, his time in the Starfleet Academy, his meteoric raise through the ranks of Starfleet, and his illustrious career at the helm of the Enterprise, this in-world memoir uncovers Captain Kirk in a way Star Trek fans have never seen.
Due to hit shelves in September, this "autobiography" has been 'ghost written' by David Goodman (author of the fantastic Federation: The First 150 Years).

To learn more about this 'must-have' book (possibly even a Christmas present for next year!) for old school Trek fans, visit The Trek Collective.

A Couple Of Fun Boxing Day Films...

Holy Innuendo, Batman!


While you're relaxing after a hectic Christmas day, enjoy this collection of cheap-shots at the expense of Batman and his best pal Dick Grayson through some out-of-context comic book panels. It's quality humour, folks!

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