Archive for September, 2013


This Week in Panels: Week 207

September 8th, 2013 Posted by Gavok

Welcome back for another week of showcasing what we’ve read through single panels. I’m helped out by Matlock, Gaijin Dan and Space Jawa. Matlock went the distance, as he appears to want to read all of the Villains Month crap from DC. Better him than me. The one omission is Green Lantern as the entire issue is splash pages and that’s against the rules for ThWiP. Still, nice art.

I have a new article up at Den of Geek US. 10 Awesome Scenes from Bad Movies. Go give that motherfucker a read! I have a couple more articles slated to be posted there over the next week, including a really fun wrestling-based one.

Meanwhile at the Hall of Panels…

Action Comics #23.1 (Gavin’s pick)
Michael Alan Nelson and Mike Hawthorne

Action Comics #23.1 (Matlock’s pick)
Michael Alan Nelson and Mike Hawthorne

All New X-Men #16 (Matlock’s pick)
Brian Michael Bendis and Stuart Immonen

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Style, Substance, and Killer Is Dead

September 6th, 2013 Posted by david brothers

This is the first stage of Killer Is Dead, the new game directed by Hideyuki Shin, art direction by Takashi Kasahara, music direction by Akira Yamaoka, with story and executive production by Suda51. It’s called “Episode 1: The Man who Chose the Moon.” The video is about five minutes long.

I made a joke with a friend the other day about how if someone tried to create a Dogme 95-style movement for video games, their list of rules would essentially describe Suda51 games. Lollipop Chainsaw, No More Heroes, Killer Is Dead, all of these are basically the same game, gameplay-wise. One button to hit, one button to guard crush or secondary attack, another button to dodge/counter, and an optional jump button. Vaguely or explicitly annoying minigames. Gameplay that’s just good enough to be rewarding to a certain type of person, but not good enough to be A-list. I think of Suda51 as a dude who is really interested in making sure that the children of today still get to play Dreamcast games, and I appreciate that. All of his games are a solid B, maybe B+, but in terms of being interesting, in terms of being art, in terms of being experiences, Suda51’s games are A+ across the board. Shadows of the Damned and Black Knight Sword break the gameplay pattern, the latter being a throwback to a different genre than the other games and the former being more of a shooter than action/adventure game, but they’re both similarly obtuse and difficult, in terms of skill or patience.

“The Man who Chose the Moon” was my real introduction to Killer Is Dead. I watched a debut trailer, I think in Japanese, but I avoided any info on the game up until the day it came out and I decided to buy it. “The Man who Chose the Moon” is part-tutorial, part-cinema, and the blending of the two is what made it such a lightning strike for me. The only thing you do is walk forward, watch a cinema, and then press a button.

But what got me, what made me realize I was going to see the game through instead of getting bored as quickly as I usually do these days, was the moment you had to press and hold R1. Mondo Zappa, the main character, raises his sword, the screen changes, a voice says “Killer is dead,” and then you’re told to release R1, at which point the sword comes down and Tokio’s head comes off.

There was something about that moment, about a quicktime event being used in this fashion, as opposed to the normally annoying way they’re deployed now. (Do this on short notice, or repeat this section forever!) It felt cinematic and interesting in a way most QTEs don’t. It feels stylish. It blends story and gameplay into one thing, putting you directly into Mondo Zappa’s shoes.

Style is substance. I tend to think of substance as deep gameplay or a rewarding story, something along those lines. Something that takes time to digest, the concrete and quantifiable aspects of video game production. The Last of Us, for example, excelled at substance, even in the multiplayer. I like substance because it feels like I’m getting my money’s worth. Games are expensive, and if I’m dropping sixty on a disc or download, I need to be wowed. The most direct method is substance, but style’s just as good.

Style is harder to quantify. It’s not just visual style, or audio direction, or gameplay. It’s Mondo Zappa murdering people to finance sexual encounters, a grown man having a catchphrase, gameplay that continues to refine a blueprint established forever ago. Style is the aggregate of everything.

Killer Is Dead has style in spades, and the substance derives from that.

Further Reading:
I like this look at Killer Is Dead through the lens of Sigmund Freud’s pleasure principle and death drive concepts. It’s deeper than I went, but having played through the game a couple of times, it feels right.

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Infinity Speculation: The Lost Son of Thanos

September 5th, 2013 Posted by Gavok

Infinity #2 came out yesterday and proceeds to be one of the very few big comic events that I’ve been able to enjoy. So far, at least. What was curious was the Black Bolt subplot, which is used as the issue’s cliffhanger. Thanos has shown to be incredibly interested in something Black Bolt has to offer and it isn’t the Infinity Gems, since they’re all out of the Illuminati’s hands. Thanos has been sending his galactic flunkies to different worlds with the demand for a tribute. They must give Thanos the heads of all of their subjects who are between the ages of 16 and 22.

This coincides with the recent Thanos Rising miniseries, where it’s established that Thanos became the Screaming Jay Hawkins of the universe by having bastard children all over the cosmos. Not a single one of them takes after Thanos, even in appearance, and he’s become interested in wiping them all out. Obviously, that tribute would catch the needles in the planetary haystacks.

In the end of the issue, Black Bolt holds a meeting with the Illuminati in a realm where Bolt is able to speak freely without risk of kickass explosions. He hands Richards some kind of trinket and we have this exchange:

Black Bolt: And as I will be delivering my response to his request in person… I brought you here to give you this.

Reed Richards: What is it?

Black Bolt: Records. The hidden archives of Inhuman kings and queens. In there you will find what Thanos is looking for.

Black Panther: But what you said about the tribute—

Black Bolt: The tribute is a lie. A convenient one that Thanos is telling to cover up the truth… He doesn’t desire the death of every child of a certain age. He wants to ensure the death of a very specific person.

Black Panther: Who?

Black Bolt: The one Thanos has come to Earth to kill… His son.

Right there we know that Thanos has a child on Earth and that child is an Inhuman. Again, it’s an offspring that won’t resemble him, meaning you’re not going to see a purple dude with a craggy chin and a mullet. It’s strongly possible that this will be a new character. After all, this is an event story and it can’t be an event story without introducing a new superhero who will barely, if ever, be touched by any other writer afterwards. They can’t all be Blue Beetle and Layla Miller.

But what if it’s someone established? Someone that we, the readers, would know? I’m not the most well-versed in Inhuman history, but I’ve seen those who are scratch their heads at who it could be. Then a theory popped up in my head.

Let’s let Charles Xavier from New Avengers: The Illuminati #3 explain it.

Illuminati #3 is a very strange issue in retrospect, whether you loved it or hated it. People have differing opinions on Brian Michael Bendis’ writing, but one thing everyone seems to agree with is that his writing really fell to pieces towards the end of his Avengers/New Avengers run. After Siege happened, Bendis started running out of stuff to write stories about and flailed about as he stuck around well past the expiration date.

Yet he never did follow-up on Illuminati #3.

For those who haven’t read it or need a refresher, Illuminati #3 is an issue where Bendis decided to retcon the hell out of the Beyonder. Instead of being this omnipotent cosmic force, Bendis labeled him as a man with a mutant gene who was exposed to the terrigen mists and became a super-powerful mutant-Inhuman. Black Bolt claimed he had no memory of him as being his subject and after crossing paths with him in space, the Illuminati shamed the Beyonder into seemingly leaving the universe. The last page was ambiguous as Beyonder walked the streets of Manhattan. Was he using reality as a sandbox again or was he in the actual New York City? We never found out.

So what if it’s the Beyonder that Thanos is out to kill? It’s a longshot, but it’s food for thought.

The stories Hickman are telling through Avengers, New Avengers and Infinity are massively dire in terms of our heroes’ chances of victory. The Infinity Gauntlet has been deemed ineffective. A space armada featuring two Superman stand-ins and Thor is sent on the run. It isn’t out of the question that someone on the Beyonder’s level would be needed to turn the tide in some way. That, and it would give closure to that Illuminati story.

Then again, I also predicted Magog was Booster Gold’s father once upon a time and that was totally wrong, so what do I know?

Edit: I’ve also seen some speculation that Thanos’ son is the new Nova, who is both hiding a secret of some kind (according to Phoenix-Cyclops in AvX) and is one of the characters to appear on the cover of Infinity #6. Interesting.

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This Week in Panels: Week 206

September 1st, 2013 Posted by Gavok

Greetings. Pretty big week, very Avengers-centric. Well, except for Avengers Arena because we all have some standards. By “we” I mean myself, Matlock, Gaijin Dan, Space Jawa and Dickeye.

Dickeye’s choice for Thor: God of Thunder reminds me that at the end of the month, I’m bringing back another round of This Character in Panels. If you missed out last time, send me a line!

All-Star Western #23 (Gavin’s pick)
Jimmy Palmiotti, Justin Gray and Moritat

All-Star Western #23 (Matlock’s pick)
Jimmy Palmiotti, Justin Gray and Moritat

Aquaman #23
Geoff Johns and Paul Pelletier

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