Reality Is The Playground Of The Unimaginative

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Tuesday, 31 July 2018

Top Of The Pile: The Immortal Hulk #2 & #3


If I didn't already know that my favourite comic of the year would be the return of the Fantastic Four, Al Ewing's unparalleled Immortal Hulk would be a shoo-in for that prestigious annual award.

And, yes, it does feel very strange to be talking about Marvel titles in such glowing terms these days, but The Immortal Hulk is simply a stroke of genius that everyone should be reading.

The particularly brilliant thing about this new phase of Bruce Banner's life is that Ewing is giving us the classic '70s TV show (which featured Bill Bixby as Banner and Lou Ferrigno as the Hulk) in comic book form.

Banner is walking the Earth, hoping to harness the power of the Hulk to do some good, but always trying to stay one step ahead of the authorities... and an investigative reporter named McGee.

Can't believe I was so dumb not to make that connection in the first issue. Television's Jack McGee has become Jacqueline McGee in the comic... and that's a stroke of genius.

I know I was railing the other week about the "tail wagging the dog", and Marvel comics twisting themselves out of shape to try and capture some of the successful movie magic, but what Ewing has done here is more akin to a beautiful Easter Egg for the fans of the TV show.

This is a trend I would most definitely welcome ... I'm really looking forward to Chief O'Hara and Aunt Harriet (from the '60s TV show) appearing in the modern Batman comics.

But that's not the only thing that makes The Immortal Hulk such required reading, each issue of the first three - each, in its own way a self-contained 'episode' even though it's clearly feeding into a deeper arc - is delivered in a different style.

Issue two was told primarily from Banner's perspective, whereas issue three brought McGee to the fore, as she tried to piece together an alleged Hulk sighting from a variety of witness statements (each expressed in an art style suiting the manner of the telling).

The next issue - featuring Alpha Fight's Walter Langkowski aka Sasquatch - is out tomorrow (Wednesday) and I can't recommend this title highly enough. We're only a handful of issues in, so there's still chance to pick up the entire run before the back issues skyrocket on the secondary market.

On The Bubble: Action Comics #1001


In stark contrast to Superman #1, Brian Michael Bendis's first full issue of Action Comics is a solid, encouraging, Superman tale.

It addresses the "mystery" of the spate of arson - which Superman was accused to having a hand in - head on, so that the readers know who's responsible, even if our protagonist doesn't.

Superman's supposed culpability is swiftly explained, yet adding a clever depth to an otherwise 'straight-forward' investigation.

And there are plenty of other mysteries afoot to keep readers coming back.

Bendis's background in crime writing is showing itself well here, not only in the way it addresses this investigation, but also the intriguing new crime family we're introduced to, and their enigmatic enforcer The Red Cloud.

As we'd expect, this issue is also riddled with the trademark Bendis banter, but it seems more at home here: the nervous robbers realising they're seriously outclassed when facing down Superman, and the Daily Planet newroom chatter (having spent most of my working life in newrooms I can vouch for the veracity of this).

Although it's Superman, Action Comics feels more grounded than the off-planet antics of the Superman title, and - to me - it seems as though Bendis is more comfortable here.

And that comfort helps allay this reader's concerns... where this branch of the Bendis Superman empire is concerned, at least.

That's not to say that Action Comics #1001 was anything earth-shattering and it didn't leave me on a breathless cliffhanger counting the days until the next issue drops on my door mat.

It's not yet a title that I couldn't live without, but it's certainly one of the more encouraging issues in this new era of The Man Of Steel's adventures.

We Are Venom? No, Tom Hardy Is Venom In Visceral New Trailer...


Saturday, 28 July 2018

Have You Seen Him Yet? Once You See The Slender Man You Can't Unsee Him!


No Tricks, All Treats From This Halloween's Comic Book Specials...

Scream & Misty Halloween Special 2018

With the current heatwave still trying to melt our faces off, it's hard to concentrate on the idea that its only three months until Halloween.

Luckily, comic book publishers are starting to do that for us!

Following the success of last year's Halloween Special, 2000AD publishers' Rebellion are offering another Scream & Misty Special this year - scheduled to start haunting shelves on October 31.
Two of Britain’s best loved comics have reunited offering an anthology of brand new tales, guaranteed to terrify and entertain you this Halloween!

Featuring more treats than tricks, including the further misdemeanours of Max the computer in The 13th Floor, ghoulish goings on with the undead WW1 pilot the Black Max, zombie and vampire DNA combine to create a brand new horror sensation called Decomposition Jones plus a tomb full of other tales from the realms of the Mist.
Meanwhile, Dynamite is producing five, 40-page, self-contained, seasonally-themed one-shots for its most popular titles: Army of Darkness, Elvira, Bettie Page, Vampirella, and Red Sonja.

Army of Darkness Halloween Special is written by Chad Bowers, Chris Sims, and Benito Cereno with artwork by Eoin Marron and Anthony Marques:

When a crazed tour guide raises the spectral remains of the galleon that brought the Necronomicon to America, Ash finally meets the one thing he hates more than Deadites – ghost pirates! It’s chainsaws and boomsticks against cutlasses and muskets, and if Blackbeard’s men can’t have their treasure, the Promised One’s head will have to do!


Elvira Halloween Special is written by Dan Parent, Fernando Ruiz, and Scott Bryan Wilson with artwork by Dan Parent and Fernando Ruiz:

Everyone’s favorite Mistress of the Macabre, Elvira is spinning her wheels hostessing horror film festivals at the local drive-in when she discovers the opportunity to get in good with George Rottmero, producer of the greatest, grittiest, most realistic horror movies ever. When she discovers the grave secret behind Rottmero’s success, her dreams of superstardom might become deader than her undead co-stars!!


Bettie Page Halloween Special is written by David Avallone and Leah Williams with artwork by Julius Ohta and Fernando Ruiz:

Bettie Page is back! Is a Boston artist in contact with godlike space invaders, or is he just nuts? Bettie brings the love, and the craft in the latest chapter in writer David Avallone’s Secret Diary of Bettie Page!


Vampirella Halloween Special is written by Scott Lobdell and Blake Northcott with artwork by Rapha Lobosco and Anthony Marques:

Where Vampirella comes from they don’t celebrate birthdays — so she had to choose her own. Is it any wonder she picked Halloween night? Unfortunately, her simple celebration is interrupted by — you guessed it — one of those pan-dimensional demonic invasions that often seem to take place on All Hallows Eve!



Red Sonja Halloween Special is written by Erik Burnham and Tom Defalco with artwork by Tom Garcia and Anthony Marquez:

During the Festival of the Dead, an old woman hires Sonja to find and save her son from a terrible evil. What Sonja is not told is that this terrible evil is the curse of lycanthropy… can Sonja defeat a werewolf during one of the longest and most magic-filled nights of the year, or will skill and luck finally fail her? Find out in Red Sonja: Curse of the Wolf!

Iron Fist Suits Up In Season Two...


Pellucidar : World Beyond Time...


Friday, 27 July 2018

OPINION POLL: Which Of These Single Heroes Has The Best Rogue's Gallery?


Out of Batman, The Flash, Spider-Man, and Superman, which of these comic book heroes has the best rogue's gallery in your opinion?

Make your choice in the voting booth below and we'll see who comes out on top in a couple of weeks' time.

If you want to explain your choice in the comments section, please go ahead...

Batman
The Flash
Spider-Man
Superman
CAST YOUR VOTE IN THE WIDGET AT THE TOP OF THE BLOG. THANK YOU!

Disenchantment Promises To Do For Fantasy What Futurama Did For Sci-Fi...


Torn From The Headlines: Blood Moon!



This evening's "blood moon" will be the longest total lunar eclipse until 2123.

It has been calculated to last for an hour and 43 minutes, while the entire eclipse (including the partial phases) will last for more than six hours.

Check out AOL News's Five Reasons Why This Week's Lunar Eclipse Is Going To Be A Rare Celestial Delight for a simple overview of the facts.

The Telegraph has some factoids as well.

But enough of the science bits, how can we use this real world spectacle in our RPGs?

Thankfully, the usual crop of doomsday nutters have crawled out of the woodwork to kick things off with their idiotic, apocalyptic, jibber-jabber.

The great thing about baseless prophecies is that they work in pretty much every RPG setting imaginable from fantasy to sci-fi, superheroes to swashbucklers. I can even imagine "doomsday cults" in games as diverse as Paranoia and My Little Pony.

The moon is a major factor in a lot of supernatural mythologies, and we all know its effect on werewolves... but what extra impact would a blood moon have? Particularly a prolonged one like this?

Were the Mayans right? Is something monstrous eating the moon?

Perhaps a major antagonist needs the light of the blood moon to cast a particularly powerful spell? Or a major powercut in your heroes' city incites an impromptu Purge Night of looting and violence under the reddish hue of the blood moon?

If You See A Faded Sign By The Side Of The Road That Says Fifteen Miles To The...


On a weekend getaway at a rundown cottage in the woods a precautious 14-year-old teen, his crude best friend, and his best friend’s fearless older sister will have to grow up, work together, and save their hard-partying parents from their predatory cabin neighbour intent on feeding them all to her undead family. Goonies meets Evil Dead, Dead Shack is a dark comedy oozing with gory action.
They had me at "Dungeons & Dildos" then lost me again with The Goonies comparison. I realise this will be an unpopular revelation, but I just don't get the appeal of The Goonies.

Pick Of The Pods: Hero Points Podcast...


If you love superheroes and you love your roleplaying games, then the DC RPG: The Hero Points Podcast should be required listening.

The latest episode in particular, Episode 8 - GameMaster Advice, is worth a punt as its hosted by my old friend Siskoid, of Siskoid's Blog Of Geekery, and is 40 minutes of top notch suggestions for gamesmasters looking to mix things up a bit in their campaigns.

Although primarily geared towards the numerous systems based on the worlds of DC Comics, the majority of the tips and tricks are system-agnostic and/or can easily be adapted to your mechanics of choice.

There are definitely some ideas here that I'll be considering for the Villains & Vigilantes campaign I'm mulling over, possibly to run for the Tuesday Knights next year (depending on how we get on with the current Top Secret game Pete is running).

With its solo presenter, Episode 8 - GameMaster Advice is a bonus episode of the show, which is normally hosted by both Siskoid and The Irredeemable Shag.

Part of the legendary podcasting machine that is The Fire And Water Podcast NetworkDC RPG: The Hero Points Podcast is a fantastic, occasional podcast packed with erudite evaluations of the many different DC RPGs as well as interesting insights into the history of this niche of a niche or a niche hobby.

Happy Gary Gygax Day!

Thursday, 26 July 2018

Vigilante City Anthology Seeking Street-Level Superheroes Submissions...


Following the conclusion of the recent, highly successful, Kickstarter to fund the Vigilante City RPG, Eric Bloat - of Bloat Games - has announced that he is inviting submissions for Tales From Vigilante City, a street-level superhero short story anthology.
Tales From Vigilante City is an all new street-level super hero short fiction anthology which is to be a companion piece to Bloat Games recent successful Kickstarter SURVIVE THIS!! Vigilante City which is an RPG heavily influenced by the '90s cartoons Batman: The Animated Series, X-Men, Spider-man and TMNT.

Tales From Vigilante City will be compiled and edited by Eric Bloat (from Bloat Games, creator of the SURVIVE THIS!! Game Series & Vigilante City) by Ennie and Origin Award winning author James Spahn (from Barrel Rider Games, creator of The Hero’s Journey & White Star RPGs).

Bloat Games is currently accepting superhero short fiction in the genres of Action, Adventure, Comedy, Crime, Mystery, Horror, Sci-Fi & Young Adult. We are chiefly interested in stories that feature “normal” human vigilantes but also are accepting, stories about Anthropomorphs (think TMNT), Mutants (think X-Men), or low power level metahumans, mystics, psions, etc.

SUBMISSION GUIDELINES:
• Accepting 2.5K-16K word count.
• Pay is $0.01 per word
• Payment made via Paypal only.
• Payment grants Bloat Games Non-exclusive rights to publish the story. Writer retains all other rights and Intellectual IP and can resell the story to other publishers.
• All submissions and inquiries should be sent via email to ericbloat@yahoo.com with the subject line: TFVC Submissions.
There is currently no closing date for submissions, but Eric has said if there is enough interest, then he will certainly consider publishing a second volume of short stories.

Forgotten Foes Of Spider-Man...


A Gallery of Spider-Man’s Forgotten Foes from Web of Spider-Man Annual #3, published by Marvel Comics, 1987. v


Manga Made Flesh In Alita: Battle Angel...


From visionary filmmakers James Cameron (Avatar) and Robert Rodriguez (Sin City), comes Alita: Battle Angel, an epic adventure of hope and empowerment.

When Alita (Rosa Salazar) awakens with no memory of who she is in a future world she does not recognize, she is taken in by Ido (Christoph Waltz), a compassionate doctor who realises that somewhere in this abandoned cyborg shell is the heart and soul of a young woman with an extraordinary past.

As Alita learns to navigate her new life and the treacherous streets of Iron City, Ido tries to shield her from her mysterious history while her street-smart new friend Hugo (Keean Johnson) offers instead to help trigger her memories.

But it is only when the deadly and corrupt forces that run the city come after Alita that she discovers a clue to her past – she has unique fighting abilities that those in power will stop at nothing to control.

If she can stay out of their grasp, she could be the key to saving her friends, her family and the world she’s grown to love
.

Go Team Venture!



In the States, The Venture Bros. returns Sunday, August 5, Midnight ET, with season seven. And I really hope Fox UK screens it soon after that.

I know I came to The Venture Bros. late, but it's inspired superhero/comic book/adventure show satire of he highest calibre.
The Venture Bros. is Adult Swim's fan-favourite parody of the great action/adventure cartoons of yesteryear.

Tune in to watch Dr. "Rusty" Venture and his twin boys, Hank and Dean, as they clash against arch-enemies, killer mutants, invading aliens and more.

Joining them is a massive pantheon of incredible characters like Brock Samson, Dr. Orpheus, The Monarch, Sgt. Hatred, Henchman 21, and so many more that it would be unwise to attempt a full list.

Kick danger right in the sweet meats by watching The Venture Bros. at AdultSwim.com.

Wednesday, 25 July 2018

#RPG Episode Three: SPORK!!!

SPORK!!!


After an extended hiatus (because of real life), the Tuesday Knights finally resumed Pete's Top Secret/FREELancers' campaign last night.

Our characters were flying from Chicago to San Francisco - to give depositions in a criminal case, relating to our first 'mission' - when the plane was hijacked by a drug-crazed group of anarchists called The Millennialists, and diverted towards San Antonio.

Unfortunately neither Clare nor Simon were able to make it, meaning Kevin (aka Doctor Hurt), Erica (the bat-winged January Jones) and myself (Wuxia, the deadly weapons mistress) were left to sort things out.

Pete took over Clare's character (The Surgeon) as an occasional GMPC, while Simon's cowardly Fernando Machis (aka Finder) was crippled by a genuine panic attack, taking him out of the action.

January Jones successfully engineered her own faux panic attack, which resulted in Dr Hurt being allowed to treat her, so the two of them could communicate.

Meanwhile, the rest of us were alert and poised, but given the hijackers were armed - their apparent leader (disguised as a stewardess) with a hand grenade - we had to choose the right moment to act.

The moment the plane came in to land, we struck!

As the hijackers were caught off balance, Dr Hurt telekinetically pulled over the one nearest to him, and January threw herself on top of the prone thug, pinning him down.

I lunged at the one nearest me - armed only with a pair of metal sporks (secreted away during our in-flight meal, and employing my 'improvised weapon' skill).

He died with a spork in each side of his neck as I moved down towards the evil stewardess with the hand grenade.

(Erica said I had a 'glint in my eye' as I told Pete what Wuxia was doing!)

Unfortunately, she pulled the pin, but The Surgeon commando rolled into her acrobatically and came up, knocking the grenade out of her hand as everything went into slow motion.

Dr Hurt had moved down the gangway to the goon I'd sporked, taken his hand and shot out one of the windows, as he used his telekinesis to grab the grenade out of the air and propel in through the broken window.

The grenade exploded harmlessly behind the plane (there was a LOT of tense dice rolling to check it didn't get sucked into an engine or ignite the fuel), saving the day.

This is what everyone was expecting to happen - so it was a shock to all when the plane landed safely

The evil stewardess was swiftly taken out of action with a spork to the knee (I reasoned we should leave, at least, one alive for questioning).

Wuxia then continued up the plane to the cockpit, bursting in, surprising the final two terrorists - standing behind the pilots with their backs to me - and ( through the judicious use of a Luck Point) - I managed to attack both simultaneously with the sporks.

One died instantly, while the other managed to turn and shoot me in the arm before I drove the spork back into his neck.

The fun wasn't over - the scuffle at the back of the plane was continuing as the goon managed to knock the wind out of January Jones, then got drawn into a gun battle with Dr Hurt... which he promptly lost!

Once we were safely landed, I quizzed the pilots about the hijackers' demands: $500,000 and more fuel, and then they'd planned to fly to an unconfirmed Central American destination.

The authorities came to clean up the mess, we were hailed as heroes, took part in an impromptu press conference, and were then allowed eventually to continue our journey to San Francisco.

Weeks later, after everything went smoothly in our court dealings, the team was back to our regular duties in Chicago, investigating the mysterious, Fagin-like, meta-villain Professor Rho.

He was renowned for his use of "apprentices" to pull off violent, but non-fatal, crimes such as kidnapping and robbery.

However, a recent spate of killings appear to have been the work of his latest apprentice, and pertaining to this we were dispatched to a location outside the city limits (and our normal jurisdiction)  in Grey Dove Drive, Hinsdale, to investigate a cordoned-off property where there had been a report of "domestic violence".

Our investigations continue...

Possibly Professor Rho and his apprentice (but probably not)

Endings And New Beginnings In The Last Episodes Of This Season Of Cloak & Dagger...


Thor: Love & Thunder (2022) + Dr Who (2022)

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