Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Book Review: Trust Me, I'm Lying: Confessions Of A Media Manipulator By Ryan Holiday

'Trust Me, I’m Lying' ruined the internet for me, and I couldn’t be happier. For years, we’ve all known something was “off” about the blogs/articles we read, but it hasn’t been as easy to put a finger on exactly what (or at least be able to properly articulate it). It took a while before I finally got to reading this one; not due to what I stated above, but rather the fact that I didn’t really know how to feel about the author, Ryan Holiday. While it’s true that the intent of this book was to put out information on how the media gets the info that we later perceive as news, I couldn’t stop thinking about the fact that Ryan himself previously contributed to this very situation. In the end, I decided that I should give it a shot, based on his current attitude of at least trying to prevent this sort of thing from ever happening again. The approach actually reminded me of Kevin Mitnick’s “The Art of Deception,” in which Kevin (known as the “World’s most notorious hacker” at the time) revealed how he performed all of his various acts of hacking in the 80’s. This book goes a bit beyond that type of idea however, as it not only goes into Ryan and his personal experiences with bloggers and media, but into how just about EVERY major news outlet gets its “sources” and “breaking” stories.

Just the fact that I’m even writing up a blog about this might be a little silly to anyone who’s read the book before. That’s because it talks all about the ways bloggers have changed the way we receive news, through posts without (usually) any hint of credibility behind them. Sources are almost a joke of a term under this regard. It’s easy to read a news story and assume the source is accurate (especially if it comes from a fairly large news network that’s been around since before most of us were even born). Here, Ryan talks all about why you should never, EVER assume.

Holiday, of course, is aware that this kind of topic could also cause one to question his words, as well as his motives. He uses many of the book's chapters to go into great detail, with example cases to back the data up. It wasn't uncommon to find a site getting exposed for using a bogus source, and (more frighteningly) still getting away with it most of the time. In fact, many of these sources didn’t even remove their provenly fake stories after the case.

How do big sites and news networks allow stories like this through in the first place? Surely, they have people to stop them and say “No, that’s not a verifiable source; you can’t use that,” right? Not necessarily. At least, not if those people believe it will get their site a lot of page clicks. If I told you that sites focus more on their ability to generate page clicks than accurate news, would you believe me? You don’t have to, as the business model pretty much writes itself. That’s their very lifeblood. The more pages clicked, the more advertisement revenue generated by the ads placed on each page. Some sites try to make you click through a “slideshow” of 10+ pages to get the entire story. Others will force a page to reload after a minute or two, so it can load more ads on the same page you’re already viewing.

It would be one thing if the forcefulness stopped there. On top of all those factors, sites (as you may already realize) post headlines and stories that are designed to evoke an emotion more than they are to simply report the news. This has been going on since far before the age of the internet (as any classic newspaper headline can show you). These sites and articles prey on your anger, fear, and even your hopeful nature, all for the sake of getting more clicks. Have the more shocking headline, get more viewers as a result, profit. Getting people’s attention through hate was proven to be one of the most effective methods. Why? Negative press from everyone who shares it. Ryan himself started a negative campaign for a friend of his when trying to promote a movie. Since he had little resources to promote the movie with, he purposely angered feminist groups in order to make them rally against it. This, in turn, got the attention of a smaller amount of people who actually agreed and went along with the hateful things Ryan was promoting in this form of advertising. The controversy caused it to reach more people, making the project a much bigger success than it ever should have been.

Have a site that you frequent for news? Ryan likely exposed it in this book through some example. The truth is that as noble as some may claim to be in their act of reporting, it won’t bring in enough revenue if they’re not following all the strategies I mentioned above. It’s an awful truth that I admit I still have trouble accepting sometimes. It’s not that I believe ALL news posted is somehow fake, but there is clearly a large spin on more stories than we may realize. Again, this is all to create an emotional response from us, and maybe even get us to share it with others and continue the cycle.

So why even give people this information? The book literally tells you how to manipulate the media for your own personal gain. That much is true, but like the act of hacking, one must learn how said hacking works before they can properly fight against it. This book’s methodology is no different in that regard. And admittedly, our brains have already become so tainted, that even when we see something and know it is not true, we can still have an emotional response or reaction to it. It’s an alarming situation that I never seem to find enough people talking about.

This book has now become a requirement for many classes involving journalism, and it’s not hard to see why. The information contained is invaluable. With that said, I could more than understand someone finding issue with the person who wrote this book, as (once again), he himself contributed to the very mess we now find ourselves in. There are also parts of the book where Ryan can come off a bit condescending, and I admit, I usually avoid reading anything where I get that type of vibe from someone.

The other final complaint I can make here is that some parts of the book felt like a regurgitation of material Ryan already covered in past chapters. It was at the point where I felt the book could have been at least a quarter-length shorter if he had wanted.

With all of that said, in today’s modern age of information, the material covered here is absolutely essential for anyone who looks to the internet for news (as WELL as news networks on television, since their sources typically come from the same questionable places), and any aspiring journalist who wants a clear understanding of what they're currently up against. For its small faults, it’s hard to not recommend this to just about everyone I know, so we can finally paint a clearer picture of not only what’s going on around us, but WHY it’s happening, and what we can finally do to rise above it.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Deadpool's Hera-Approved Review Of Wonder Woman (2017) (Spoiler-Free-Ish)

Wonder Woman, yeah!!! Howdy everyone. It's taken over 75 years, but Warner Bros. finally got their heads out of their nether regions long enough, to realize that people actually WANTED a Wonder Woman movie done proper. Who'd have thought that if you actually listen to your fans, good things could happen, eh Warner??? You want to know what the real wonder is, folks? How it took us so bloody long to get here!!! But it's all water under the bridge now, I suppose. At least assuming we can keep more stuff like this coming in the future. So HOW'D IT ACTUALLY DO!? Read below for my overlong and unnecessarily detailed analysis.

Does Gal Gadot fit the role of Diana? Of COURSE she does; why did you even ask that!? You already saw how she was the best part of Batman Vs. Superman, so of COURSE that was going to carry over again. Chris Pine also does a great job as the role of Captain Steve Trevor. Before I even go into the rest of this, I just want to say how AWESOME all the Amazonian women were. I mean, they were more than just realistic. They were the real freaking thing! Every single one of them could have kicked my ass from here to Sunday, no question. Kudos to the studio for making things so real and body positive in the process. I wish my body were more positive about me. Yes, I CAN hear you, body. No, I don't think it was a big deal that I ate that. Get out of my head!... Yes, yes, we'll get tacos later. Now shh.

The story is actually very reminiscent of George PĂ©rez's famous run on the book, which is awesome, because that was easily one of the best runs in the comic's entire history! We get to brush up on the history of the Amazonians on their island of Themyscira, and learn about Diana and all of her motivations, before MAN comes along and ruins everything (as usual, am I right ladies?). Steve Trevor lands on the Themyscira while trying to escape the Germans. Yes, we're talking about WWI here, folks, try and keep up! Trevor's got information that could potentially save millions of lives and put an end to the war. Diana, unable to resist being a bad-ass, decides she has to go out and help him reach his destination so they can save the world! Diana believes that the war is all the doing of Ares, the god of war, and is determined to defeat him in order to end it.

So the straight men might have noticed something... different about this movie, but they can't quite put their finger on it. Well, put that finger back where it came from, and I'll let you in on a little secret. For the first time (in like, ever), this superhero movie wasn't made specifically for you! I know, shocking that it's about someone else besides you for once, right!? While Gal Gadot is beautiful and fierce, the movie doesn't focus on sexualizing her, the way we've seen from so many other movies of this type. It doesn't try to hide imperfections or focus on how they can make everything look pleasing to the dudebros. Hell, I think I even saw a thigh jiggle during one of the fight scenes. THAT was an oddly revolutionary moment. #ReleaseTheThigh

While the movie does suffer from a few of the typical Hollywood tropes that we've seen in a million other superhero films, it still gets points for doing a lot of things in the reverse. Instead of the typical "male character develops after loved female is killed" trope, we get almost the exact opposite scenario, without going into too many spoilers. It may not seem like much to the untrained eye, but that's actually a BIG. EFFING. DEAL.

There is a particular scene that I feel the need to mention, because it's indisputably the best part of the entire movie. When reaching No Man's Land, Diana bears witness to a barricade with two sides who have been at war for years. Trevor tries to convince Diana that it's pointless to interfere. And do you know what she did as a result of that? She climbed up that f@#king ladder and kicked all kinds of f@#king ass! She even knocked a soldier out of a tower, by ramming him THROUGH the tower!!! This was such a hero-defining moment, I actually started to tear up a little. (Yes, men can do that too, jeez!) You might be alarmed to know that brilliant scene almost wasn't in the movie at all. No, seriously, look it up right now. I'll wait...

... I know, right!!!? Warner Bros. are their own supervillains, I swear. Thank GOD for director Patty Jenkins, fighting to keep that epic scene in there. Fight on, Patty! You the real MVP!

Now, of course the movie isn't perfect. The villains are pretty forgettable for the most part (with the sole exception of Doctor Poison, who I was much more interested in learning about than anyone else, including Ares himself!). The other men who joined up to fight alongside Diana and Steve were also pretty forgettable, and once again fell victim to a lot of your typical support character tropes. Nothing deal-breaking of course. The only other complaint I can really think of is that the slow motion went a bit too far this time. I want to make it clear that the fight scenes in this movie were wonderful (no pun intended sort of kind of okay actually maybe a little, tee hee), but they didn't need to slow down every single moment, like they did.

I can already hear a bunch of guys around me going "Eh, it was okay. I don't see what the big deal is other than the fact that it's a woman this time." Well guess what, sparky? That alone IS a big deal. You may have noticed that it's LITERALLY NEVER HAPPENED before in superhero movies. In fact, come closer. No, just come here. I promise I won't mug you... this time. Here, look at this picture:

That, right there? That is EVERYTHING. THAT is what this is all about! You know how you were running around in your Batman underoos, feeling inspired to save the world from The Joker yourself one day? Well now every young girl is getting one of those role models to look up to as well, and it's pretty damn glorious. Say what you will about the little shortcomings, but this is a triumph and should be treated as such. This is also easily the best film of the DC Universe of movies by far. I only hope we can look forward to more of that with this new Justice League movie coming along.

9 Swings Of The Lasso Of Truth Out Of 10

Extra bit of kudos goes out to Lucy Davis as Etta Candy, who did an excellent job portraying a more typical woman from WWI-era, helping show off the even bigger divide between Diana's life and the lives of all those around her. Did I mention Wonder Woman still has one of the catchiest theme songs in this entire movie universe? (Hans Zimmer is simply way more metal than the rest of us. There, I said it.) Are you seeing this, Marvel? DC has (finally) thrown the gauntlet, and it's your turn to woo us now. No excuses!!! Meantime, I've already got a great new cosplay idea... Toodles!!!

Monday, May 29, 2017

Comic Review: DC's "The Button" Parts 2-4 (2017) (SPOILERS AHEAD!)

As a way of making up for falling behind on comics this past month, I decided to simply read through all three remaining parts of the storyline (Flash #21, Batman #22, and Flash #22) and write up one final review for it. The good news is that the next major event involving this story isn't coming out until November, so I had plenty of time to catch up!

Flash #21 continues right where Batman #21 left off, leaving us to question what really killed Reverse Flash, and where would we go from here? As Barry/Flash attempts to make sense of everything going on around him, more parallels to Watchmen begin to stand out. In the double-page spread below, you can clearly see the black, white, and red coloring of the smiley face pin being displayed in the smaller panels, showing Bruce getting pummeled by Eobard Thawne/Reverse Flash:

Once Barry finally speaks with Bruce again, he blames himself for the issues with the current timeline. Bruce tells Barry that it couldn't be his fault, as the issues they were experiencing pre-dated Flashpoint (still not fully understanding what Bruce is talking about here???). We get more reflections on Wally telling Barry that moments of their history were stolen from them, and what it all means. Barry also remembered the helmet of a different Flash (Jay Garrick from Justice League of America), and the fact that it left him feeling calmer as a result of it, without really knowing why.

Barry decides to use the cosmic treadmill (that he once used to try and save his mother in the past), to follow the radiation of the smiley face button to its source, and determine what could have possibly killed Thawne. Bruce decides to go along too, despite still recovering from his encounter with Thawne. As they travel, they begin to see events from the past that they themselves don't even recall happening. This prompts Barry to question if this is some of what was "stolen" from them previously, but once again, it leaves us with more questions than answers.

Once they reach the end of their journey they come to meet Bruce's father, Thomas Wayne from the Flashpoint universe. (I suppose if Reverse Flash is going to rip up your only memento of the guy, the next best thing you can do is actually go see him in person, right?) This concludes Part 2.

Batman #22 (Part 3) continues with Thomas, Barry, and Bruce briefly following up on events. The most poignant question proposed is how the Flashpoint universe could still be existing at this point, if Barry prevented it from ever occurring at the end of the original Flashpoint comic. They begin to deduce that someone is purposely "holding" on to these different histories for one reason or another. We learn that Thomas was planning to commit suicide right before Barry and Bruce arrived, and that he was also about to be ambushed by both Amazonians and Atlanteans from the Flashpoint war. Bruce also gets a brief moment to tell Thomas that he's a grandfather.

Due to an incoming ambush of the Amazonians and Atlanteans, Bruce and Thomas unfortunately get no time to talk with one another, and immediately have to prepare for the onslaught coming their way, while Barry works to fix the cosmic treadmill. As this is all going on, the Flashpoint universe itself begins to come undone. Barry makes a point to say he felt like it was done on purpose, possibly by the same person who was "holding" these different points in history. Barry manages to fix the treadmill just in time. Just before leaving, Thomas says something quite bold to Bruce: "DON'T BE BATMAN. Find happiness, please. You don't have to do this. Don't do it for me. Don't do it for your mother. Be a father for your son in a way I never could be for you. Let the Batman die with me."

I admit, if I were Bruce, I would have no idea how to react to that. It also obviously has some type of impact, as I'll get into a little farther down.

Bruce and Barry continue on as the Flashpoint universe now becomes completely destroyed. After this, they immediately get passed by Reverse Flash. Wait, I thought he was dead!? Well, he is, but this is revealed to be the Reverse Flash of the past, right before the moment that killed him. He states that he knows who the power of the button belongs to, as he leaves Barry and Bruce behind. End of Part 3.

Flash #22 (Part 4) opens with a bit of a rehash of things we already saw from the previous issue for about six pages (which is kind of annoying when this story is only a short 4-part arc to begin with). The scene follows about the way you would expect it to; with Thawne going forward to his death by the hands of what we're pretty sure is Doctor Manhattan. The cosmic treadmill begins to break, while Bruce and Barry keep hearing a voice calling out to them. Barry couldn't seem to place the voice, but eventually listened and started to say his name, "... Jay?" If the cover didn't make it completely obvious, Jay Garrick (the original Flash from DC's Golden Age) makes a triumphant return in order to save Barry and Bruce, and quickly rushes them back to the batcave, where the entire event started. Unfortunately, Jay and Barry also don't get much time to talk, before Jay is whisked away once more. This leaves everyone with far more questions than answers (ugh!).

We finish things off with two more memorable moments. The first being Bruce, looking out at the batsignal, but reflecting on his father's words about not being Batman anymore. Bruce's silence in this scene actually said quite a bit, and it will be interesting to see how this affects his judgement going forward. The second scene in the epilogue, however, is the real big moment:

Yes, with that direct quote from Watchmen, familiar type of comic bubble, and gigantic blue hand, we can finally confirm that it was in fact Doctor Manhattan that killed Reverse Flash. Following this is an ad for DC's Doomsday Clock event, further continuing this story, and hinting at a very strong connection between the colors of the Watchmen pin and Superman's chest emblem.

I could easily see why some people would feel let down by this story arc. Like a lot of hype-train events from both DC and Marvel, many of these stories end up feeling like long advertisements for future events (in this case, the upcoming Doomsday Clock event in November), and this is really no exception to that rule. Part of the reason that I still came out of this event with more positive reactions than negative is the fact that I was expecting it to go that way. From the moment DC announced this was going to be a 4-part story arc, I knew there was no way we could have a story that would resemble anything complete or totally comprehensive. While I admit I did feel a little disappointed that we didn't get ANY answers to our questions yet, I'm also not one of those people who was expecting to get EVERY answer either. Looking back on this event for what it WAS instead of what it WASN'T, left me with a much more positive outlook. I was originally cringing at the thought of DC combining with the Watchmen universe, and now have to admit I'm actually kind of excited to see where this is all going.

If you've also read "The Button," feel free to share your thoughts with me.

Thanks for reading!

Flash #21 - 8/10
Batman #22 - 8/10
Flash #22 - 7/10

Friday, May 19, 2017

Deadpool's Cool And Relevant Movie Review Of Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol.2 (2017) (SPOILERS AHEAD!!!!)

Good morning/afternoon/evening/whateverthehellisinbetweenthose everyone! Something dawned on me this past week. I forgot something. Something very important. Yes, that's right. I just about wrote the entire review for this movie in my head, but never actually WROTE the bloody thing in all of that time!!! So, if it's alright with you, I'd like to slyly release this review in a style similar to a kid sneaking into his class after getting there extremely late. Coolzies? COOLZIES!!!


With that off of my chest (for now, until it comes back later in this review most likely), I'd like to say this movie is an enjoyable experience, even if not necessarily better than the original. That's okay. It didn't HAVE to better per se. Do you like soundtracks with music from the 60's-80's? Check. Do you enjoy laughing at the misfortunes of the group due to antics that they themselves usually cause? Double de Check. Are you okay with the fact that the plot can go all over the effing place for the sake of keeping this in line with other Marvel movies? Ehhh... I guess that's half check for me.

Superhero movies (as of late) tend to have one big flaw that they're all basically constrained to. The execs of both the Marvel and DC movies are certain that in order for their movies to be successful, they have to not only make a great stand alone tale, but also mix in enough bits and pieces to make it relevant to the other upcoming films. Fair thought to have. In some cases, this can work pretty well. In others, it can be absolutely fatal. I hate to say it, because I love SO many things about the first Guardians movie, but this one did start to suffer a case of "future movie setup" hell. It didn't RUIN the experience, but it damn well could have, and I'm certain some people do feel pretty defiled by it. (Yeeck, I hate that word; defiled. It's almost as bad as moist. Ugh. Moist... I need a shower...).

So what's good about it to counter that slightly shittier paragraph above? Well, the character developments were actually really nice for the most part. Probably the most surprising was the bonding that took place between Yondu and Rocket. I did not expect Yondu to suddenly become one of the better characters of the movie, but it happened (and this is talking PRIOR to the now famous 'Mary Poppins' line that I'm SO jealous I didn't come up with first!!!). Peter/Star-Lord's development with his father, Ego, was certainly interesting as well. You just KNEW something was up, but didn't know just what until the later half. And boy, did that reveal hurt... Not the reveal about him actually being a planet, like in the comics; that was kick-ass. (HA, take THAT, losers who try to complain about everything not being like the comics, only to be proven wrong!!!) I meant the reveal about being the actual cause of his wife's death. That stung. This white dudebro, extremely smart and composed green woman (who should actually be leading the group, btw), talking asshole raccoon, giant "everything is literal" warrior, and cute tiny tree babypants are like my family now. When you hurt my family, people die, in horrible (and usually hilarious) ways, depicted on a 2x6 comic grid panel.

Not to leave out other character developments, the dialogue between Drax and Mantis was very sweet (minus the fact that Drax was heinously dickish the entire time, and I'm going to hell for laughing at some of it). Gamora and Nebula also had a very intense moment, despite their more forced encounter in the beginning. And who could leave out the mention of Peter and Gamora's relationship, which seems to still be building up slowly, even though Gamora's still not having any of Peter's bullshit? That's wonderful. My kind of fighter. <3

As with the first movie, the soundtrack is pretty much the best thing about it, no question. Okay, end of review now... Except not really, because HA! I don't know if I felt like every song resonated with the movie as well as it did the first time around, but this was still very well put together, and I commend James Gunn for once again knocking it out of the park. This time, you might hear a few more songs you're not as familiar with. And that's okay, because you don't always have to be an absolute hipster know-it-all jackass about every damn thing in your life. You can admit that you don't know all the songs. Really, it's alright. Once you realize no one gives a shit about your musical boner of knowledge, the sooner you can move on to getting more dates with actual live humans... or kree, or whatever you're into!

One more thing I do feel the need to mention (because it's my review and I'll cry if I want to!), is one major difference between the first and second movie. In the first, you felt like the universe was a big, mysterious place, and that the Guardians were just characters living in it. In this movie, it seemed more like the entire universe was created just for them to play around in and do as they please. It took me almost a freaking WEEK to figure out just what was bothering me about the film so much, and I think I've finally gotten there. GO ME! I am a rock. I am an island. I am Groot.

So again, positives:

- Super happy fun time continues!
- Pretty good character developments all around.
- So colorful, it'll make the Steven Universe artists blush.
- Dat funky music.
- We are Groot.
- David Hasslehoff is still relevant, apparently.

Aaaand the negatives:

- WTF plot is WTF all over the place.
- Too much insistence on connecting to other future movies.
- I love Howard the Duck, but seriously, stahp!
- What kind of name is TASERFACE!? (Okay, this one is actually just me continuing the joke, and is not to be taken seriously... like the name Taserface.)
- Laws of the universe are so bent for these characters, it's putting Barry Allen to shame.

7.5 David Hasslehoff References Out Of 10

I think that just about covers it. Movie's still fun, but we need to point out the bad when it happens, m'kay? And that's ALRIGHT. We're ALLOWED to do that! You can like Return of the Jedi and hate Ewoks with a flaming passion. It's totally cool. I got you. Here's hoping Marvel can still keep the gravy train coming, and I can't wait to see if Wonder Woman finally breaks the DC movie hate curse. Look forward to more superhero movies, people!... You know, until the market implodes and over-saturates to the point of no return. But I'm sure that'll be well after our lifetimes, and screw those other people, am I right!? (I know I'm not really right, stop judging me!) TILL NEXT TIME, TRUE BELIEVERS!

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

My Top Ten Picks From Free Comic Book Day 2017

It took quite a while to read 30+ comics in order to make this list, but as always, it's been a lot of fun (and a bit of work in places). Enjoy the list and explanations below!

10. Underdog #1

Maybe it's just the kid in me who loved this cartoon as a child, but this short issue manages to capture just about everything I ever loved about the original cartoon. The zany circumstances and even zanier villains behind them? Check. Hilarious narration? Check. Pun-tastic dialogue between characters? Check! It even managed to capture the charm of the cliffhanger sequences, where you would cut to a commercial during a really crucial moment. As far as nostalgia trips go, this one is at the top. I also recommend it to any young kids as well, as I'm sure they'll also love it like I did back when I was their age.

9. Wonder Woman #1: Special Edition

While I do tend to get disappointed whenever DC decides to simply re-release older material for FCBD, instead of simply writing up new stories to tease us for future events, this was admittedly a great choice for them to go with. As with other titles in DC's Rebirth event, this issue serves as a great starting point (if the "Year One" title didn't already make it obvious). This will also be of interest to those looking forward to the upcoming movie, as you will notice a lot of similarities between parts of the movie trailer and the events in this issue. Well worth the read if you're not yet up to speed with Diana.

8. 2000 AD Special

It impresses me to see this title come out every single year. Not only do you get a host of talent together for multiple short stories, but they somehow manage to feel fresh and engaging every single time. This is one of those yearly releases that you can never go wrong with. Consistency is key, and this book always nails it.

7. X-O Manowar Special

Don't let the title fool you. While X-O Manowar is the bulk of the issue, there is host of other characters and information included here. Along with the X-O Manowar prelude story, you also get a preview for the upcoming Blooshot Salvation story, written by Jeff Lemire. Without giving away too much, a new character is introduced, and big things already appear to be in the works. There's also a short preview for Harbinger Wars 2. If you're unfamiliar with these titles, the stories here might not mean much to you, but fans of Valiant will have a lot to look forward to here.

6. BOOM! Studios Summer Blast

As always, Boom likes to show off previews for multiple titles in their FCBD offerings. In this issue, you get an all new Mouse Guard story from Archaia, a preview of the new series from KaBOOM!, Brave Chef Brianna, and finally a spin-off of Lumberjanes called "Coady and the Creepies," focusing on a supernatural punk band trying to get their foot in the door. As much as I love Mouse Guard, I have to admit that Brave Chef Brianna is the story that actually won me over the most. It's about a girl setting up a restaurant in a city of all monsters. It's got that innocent charm that you can't help but love for a series like this, and it's admittedly very funny. I cracked up at least three times from this short story alone. It's also really neat that they offer a new recipe for a dish at the end of every issue (including this one). Fun times all around!

5. Star Trek: Mirror Broken

If it's not already obvious, this story was created solely for the hardcore Trek fan that wants to explore every possible nook and cranny of each series. Luckily, I happen to be one of those people! Here, we see the cast of Star Trek: Next Generation finally heading into a realm the shows and movies never touched; the mirror universe! This is only the first part of an upcoming miniseries, but it's already clear that this is going to be something that hardcore fans (especially of Next Generation) will want to check out.

4. I Hate Image

I have never read Image's "I Hate Fairyland" before, but after reading this comic, I now feel that I absolutely have to. In this issue, Gertrude (the girl smiling on top of all the bodies on the cover) is trying to escape Fairyland, but has to go through 'Image' in order to get there. You get various settings and cameos from just about all of Image's biggest titles, and hilarious sequences of Gertrude interacting with them. Walking Dead? It's in here. Spawn? Of course. Saga? Oh yeah. Even the infamous "Lying!" cat is here. Longtime readers will appreciate this "Kingdom Hearts With Blood" approach taken.

3. World's Greatest Cartoonists

Fantagraphics has been known to put out some of the greatest comics in the business (especially Love & Rockets). This volume does a great job of giving you glimpses into titles you may have never heard of before, with all new stories (and even missing/deleted pieces from others). It's also got a new short story by Matt Furie, creator of Boy's Club (and the now infamous character Pepe the Frog). Due to the character of Pepe being used to create memes for the "Alt-Right," Pepe was later declared to be a hate symbol by the Anti-Defamation League. This comic showcases Pepe's funeral, as it seems Matt is showing that he has given up on trying to redeem the character. This is an absolutely jam-packed comic, and there's no reason not to give it a read.

2. The Incal

If you are unfamiliar with Alejandro Jodorowsky, this is the quintessential book to try. Many will know Jodorowsky from his failed attempt at making a movie adaptation of "Dune," or his extremely trippy movies like "El Topo," but The Incal is probably the most important work he has ever put out. This issue offers 30 pages of the original graphic novel. Without going into too many details, this is a futuristic sci-fi story that will absolutely blow your mind with its storytelling and psychedelic visuals. While one could argue that this preview isn't enough to give you a true idea of the bigger picture in these stories, it at least serves as a helpful starting point. It's one of the most odd, but intriguing titles out there in the comic medium.

1. Hostage

This one really shocked me, and that's part of why it's at #1. Every time I've picked up a FCBD issue from Drawn and Quarterly, you typically get a laugh or two. This? This is something quite series. The issue includes two stories from now famous French comics (one currently out in English, and the other coming out later this year). The first is Guy Delisle's "Hostage." Not only is this story of being held captive a frightening and claustrophobic one, but it's also based off a true story on top of everything else. The second preview, "Poppies of Iraq," contains Brigitte Findakly's account of her life growing up in Iraq during the reign of Saddam Hussein, and goes all the way to the Paris attacks of 2015. While there was not a huge amount of content in this comic, it still managed to say plenty. I could imagine Brigitte's story in particular being compared to works like Maus in the future, and it will be interesting to see how it is perceived here in the States.

Honorable Mentions:
Doctor Who, Bongo Comics Free-For-All, Rick & Morty, Catalyst Prime: The Event, Lady Mechanika

Thanks for reading! Let me know what your favorite Free Comic Book Day issues were in the comments!

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Comic Review: Batman #21 (2017) (SPOILERS AHEAD!)

Finally coming back into the 21st Century (after finishing up with my real estate licensing state test), I've been slowly returning to all the things I once loved again, including games, books, movies, comics, etc. I've been on the fence about returning to DC Comics for a while now, especially after all of the controversial decisions they've been making these last few years. I'm not going to delve into all of that here, but I wanted to explain why I kind of jumped off the bandwagon for awhile. I did however, read DC Rebirth #1. Geoff Johns has always been a personal favorite writer of mine in modern comic books. He's the very reason I became a major fan of Green Lantern in the first place, and I was very big on following whatever DC book he would go on to write for. I wasn't really sure what to make of it. Watchmen? Being mixed into the DC Universe?

It seems I wasn't alone in feeling confused and not really sure what to make of the whole thing. Watchmen was created by Alan Moore to be a literal deconstruction of superhero fiction. It was never meant to be expanded upon, despite DC choosing to do just that once before (Many would say that "Before Watchmen" was a hit or miss affair). After hearing that this event (simply titled "The Button") was going to be a four-issue mini-series, I finally decided to give it a shot. If X-Men: Days of Future Past could tell one of the arguably best X-Men stories of all time in a span of two issues, there was certainly hope for "The Button" as well.

One of the best things about jumping into this story is that you don't need to have read much prior, in order to get up to speed. Have you read the six-issue Flashpoint series and DC Rebirth #1 issue? Then you're all set (at least so far). The issue begins with Saturn Girl watching a hockey game from in prison, realizing that one of the players is about to die. She begins freaking out and saying that someone has to stop it, while the prison guards try to calm her down. We then go to Bruce (apparently watching the same hockey game in the background), who is starting to research the smiley face button that he found at the end of Rebirth #1 (aka, the button from Watchmen). From here, we learn that the button has strange radioactive properties. A few pages in, lightning shoots out of it, knocking Bruce back and seeing his father in front of him. This is the version of Thomas Wayne from Flashpoint, still in the same bat-costume. As Bruce reaches out to touch his hand, he vanishes. After this, he reaches out to the Flash, advising him that the button has been reacting strange ever since he put it near the mask of Psycho-Pirate (a DC villain who played a major role in Crisis of Infinite Earths). He also tells Flash that the radiation of the button is getting stronger. Flash tells Bruce that he'll be able get there in a minute. That minute makes up the remainder of the issue.

Reverse Flash suddenly appears and begins to pummel Batman to the ground. He says that he was dead, but that "a power" called to him, and he is now resurrected. He then noticed Thomas Wayne's letter to Bruce (from Flashpoint), and proceeds to tear it up. Bruce manages to slow him down enough to land some hits, but it does him little good, as he continues to get knocked around and bloodied by Reverse Flash's repeated attacks. In his last few seconds before Reverse Flash can land a finishing blow, Bruce admits that he was just buying time. Reverse Flash proceeds to knocking Bruce out cold and notices the button on the ground, alongside all of the projected images of it on all of Bruce's computer monitors. This is when things start to get... odd.

After picking up the button to take a closer look, Reverse Flash suddenly gets zapped away by a blue light (the color may or may not be key here). He finally zaps back to the batcave after a few seconds, with a strange blue aura surrounding him, causing his skin to slowly disintegrate. In his final panels, he utters "God... God... I saw... God...," before collapsing on the ground, now simply a skeleton with a Reverse Flash costume. It's at this moment that Flash finally arrives, only to see the wounded Bruce and apparently dead Reverse Flash. End of Part 1.

One thing I noticed right away while reading this issue, was the paneling structure. I'll post a screenshot below, so that you can see what I'm talking about.

Does this style look familiar? If you've ever read Watchmen before, it should.

The creative team is very clearly trying to evoke the look and feel of the original Watchmen comic with this mini-series. How far the similarities go are still up for debate until we know more, however. As for who killed Reverse Flash at the end of the issue, it is more than likely that the "God" being referred to is none other than Dr. Manhattan. This is the reason I mentioned the color blue above, as it was likely meant to be another hint.

While I can't say I'm necessarily excited for this event (since I still have no clue as to where DC is going with it), I admit I am now on board to see where they take things. I'm also kind of relieved that nothing about the story has felt rushed so far, despite the short amount of issues to contain it all in. Bring on The Flash #21!


Thursday, April 20, 2017

Deadpool's Not Even Remotely Modest Gaming Review Of Yooka-Laylee (2017)

Yes, you read that right! Of all things your Uncle Deadpool could finally come back to do (review Logan, Lego Batman, Kong: Skull Island, the new Power Rangers, etc.), I've chosen to go with a video game designed to fuel people's nostalgia-holes. Back in May of 2015, a group of people (formerly in Rare) from what I'll simply refer to as the "glory days" of platforming games, got together and decided "You know what? We need more effing platforming games!!!" and thus, Yooka Laylee was born! This also caused people to reminisce about the days before Rare was bought by Microsoft, and when Perfect Dark Zero didn't yet exist. So yes, like other crowd-funded projects, we had another successful Kickstarter hit on our hands. Did this one manage to fulfill our dreams, or did we fall through with another Mighty Number Nope!? Read below, true believers!!!

Thank you for reading below. Reviewing this one is tough. I obviously enjoyed myself to some degree (as I spent over 25 freaking hours getting all of the achievements to prove it!), but I can't help but look back on how many things frustrated me the whole way through. First, I'll get the basic statement out of the way. This team did exactly what they said they were going to do: Release a 90's-era platforming game in the style of such classics as Banjo Kazooie and Donkey Kong Country. So it was written, so it shall be done. The thing is, some people forgot that you need to be careful what you wish for...

So we did get a 90's-style platformer... Completely. Down to the tee. For those who don't understand why that may be a bad thing, allow my old ass to educate you here. 90's platform games were very well received, particularly due to the success of games like Mario 64, Crash Bandicoot (which is arguably more like 2.5D), Banjo Kazooie, Rayman 2, and many others. I personally loved the Gex series myself. These games had specific features in common, like collecting a bunch of items throughout large, open-world stages, as well as big items (like Stars in Mario) to collect and finish the stage. While everybody has huge nostalgia boners over these games (and for good reason, I'd say. Scha-wing!), these games were not without their faults too. On one hand, they were mostly hard as hell. Not only because of the skill it took to move your character from place to place, but rather the impossible-ass camera system. This is one of the main reasons I know that most kids trying to pick this up in today's day and age will be extremely confused and put off by it, while the people like me, who grew up with this shit will simply mutter, "Oh God... It's back again."

Yes, the horrible camera you probably remember fighting with back then has reared its old, ugly head once again. Need to see an enemy coming at you AND be able to dodge them in time? Too bad if the camera wasn't pointing that way, because you won't be able to move it back in time! Trying to make that tricky jump that requires complete precision? Oh, that's nice... It'd be a shame if someone... moved the camera just as you were making the essential jump, causing you to die pointlessly! Yes, it will happen here. And it will happen often. I'm sorry. I am so, so sorry.

Your main controls are fine enough. Actually moving the characters around feels pretty smooth and high jumps/gliding are all well executed. Attacking could be better, but it's not bad overall. The worlds are open and vast enough, that you could explore one of the five main levels for hours and still not have seen everything there is to see. That's awesome, and one of the main things that kept me going up to the end.

So what held me back? Well, quite a few things unfortunately. And no, it wasn't just the camera. Some sections of the game would require you to transform into other creatures/vehicles and use their abilities to unlock more collectibles. The majority of these transformations were actually TERRIBLE to control. Especially that snow plow. What in the actual F$%K was up with that damn snow plow!??? God, I don't even want to talk about it, it was THAT frustrating. *grumblemumble* There were also many questionable design decisions made throughout. The strangest one off the top of my head involved the 5th mission (a level in space). Instead of having you slip into some kind of void if you fell off a platform, you'd instead fall into... water... in space... Yeah... Odd things like that really turned me off and just straight up confused me.

The voices in the game didn't help either. Do you remember that odd, but somewhat funny babbling you'd hear in place of voices during the Banjo Kazooie games? Well, it's 300x more annoying here, and I was tempted to mute the game a bunch of times because of it. The game's main villain (a large, capitalist bee in a business suit... because why not, I guess?) and Laylee were especially annoying to listen to. Also..., Laylee is racist as hell toward the other characters in the game. What's up with that!?

Here's a point I feel very awkward about making... A lot of you fell in love with me as character because of more than just my amazing ass (hard to imagine, I know!), but also the way I poke fun at the 'real world' with all of my 4th wall humor! So you'd think I would love all of the 'meta' jokes going around in this game too, right? Eh... at the risk of sounding like a hypocritical merc' with a mouth, I have to say, no. It would be fine if they made little jabs about the game's performance every once in a while (like I so masterfully accomplish... UNICORN FRAPPUCCINO REFERENCE!!!), but this game makes at least one or two with every single conversation! That's too damn much. It wears out its welcome fast, and that's unbelievably sad.

Speaking of sad, do you remember hating that annoying quiz section in Banjo Kazooie? Like it was probably the one thing you don't think fondly of when you look back on it? Well, guess what's back for no apparent reason!?... Seriously. I think these devs were convinced they had to remake Banjo Kazooie at all costs, and forget about any actual criticism it got at the time. These are not fun!!! They are annoying, and cause me to throw things that I now have to dig out of my wall... AND pay for a new wall!!! GRRRRR!!!

Okay, okay. I need to settle down a bit. It wasn't ALL bad. Like, I said, the game is still perfectly functional. For every annoying ass camera problem, there's a great idea hidden within. Some of the challenges were pretty creative and kept me curious enough to keep going and see what was up next. I also LOVED the background music that the game implemented. If anything truly brought me back to the 90's platformer nostalgia bonanza, it was that sweet sweet music. Just the right amount of orchestral and atmospheric, changing whenever you went underwater or into a cave. Ah yes, that Was. The. Shit!

You can tell this game was clearly designed for fans of the genre, by looking at the actual requirements to get to the final boss encounter and finish the game. Out of the 145 collectibles hidden throughout the game's main map and five worlds, you need to collect over 100 of them. That's... a LARGE portion of them just to get to the end. I went for them all, because I was planning to anyway, but that can be really off-putting to someone just trying to dip their feet in. It doesn't help that the final boss fight has so many phases that it almost becomes comical (except it doesn't, because you die a lot trying to figure the fight patterns out, only to have to start from the beginning and watch annoying UNSKIPPABLE dialog every time!!! WRYYYYYYYY!!!!!!). Not cool. Not cool at all. I thought you were COOL, game!!!

Despite all of my foaming at the mouth over these little nuances that brought down the experience, I still came out of the game satisfied in the end. No, really! I found myself not being able to stop until I collected every little thing, and obtained every single achievement, and not every game can get me to do that! Like I said above, this IS a 90's platforming game through and through. Whether that is a good thing or not is up to you, but I came out of it feeling content, and don't regret throwing money into the Kickstarter frenzie. But so help me, Playtonic... If we get a sequel and I find out you're throwing in more annoying quiz sections... I'll do to you what I did to Destiny!!!... Which is basically, play it after you already got my money, complain a bit, and then likely still buy whatever you put out in the future. THAT'LL SHOW YA!!!

7 Objects Named After Cheesy Puns Out Of 10

Okay, so it was actually a decent title if you're one of those gamers who wanted a true sequel to the Banjo Kazooie games, but not much else. If you weren't already in love with this style of game before, you DEFINITELY won't be after this and should probably stay far away. I still applaud the developers for their efforts and wish them the best of luck in the future... and less quizzes. Seriously, I will never stop ranting about those f#$king quizzes... TOODLES!!!

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