Saturday, May 19, 2012

Let's Talk About the New (Green) Arrow TV Series!

Superheroes are so hot right now that you could make a million dollars just by stripping to your underpants, tying a towel to the back of your neck, and running around the street, punching things. I made $125,000 doing that just this morning, which isn't too bad considering my socks were still on. Well, CW has decided to also cash in on this craze and in the wake of Smallville are releasing Arrow. A series about hooded vigilante/billionaire/archery enthusiast Green Arrow.

Why no "green" in the title? Because "green" is box office poison, you dolts! Nobody wants to conjure up images of Green Lantern, Green Hornet, Brian Austin Green, Tom Green, or Soylent Green (which is people, by the way). It's not easy being green - unless you're Eva Green, and then you're easy on the eye.

Here's the trailer:

To hear my self-important commentary and see another clip, join me after the jump!

El Professore Movie Review: Dark Intruder

Dark Intruder

Director: Harvey Hart
Starring: Leslie Nielson, Peter Mark Richman, Judi Meredith
* * *

Leslie Nielson; playboy/occultist. Not only did this bizarre sounding scenario actually happen, but it nearly happened on a weekly basis. Originally shot as a pilot for a proposed T.V. series called Black Cloak, it was (sadly) rejected for being too scary and macabre for the Networks. Instead, it was released as 58 minute second-bill feature and managed to cast it's supernatural spell on all who saw it back then.

Click through the jump for the full review.

A Closer Look at the Lord of the Rings Lego!

Everything is being made into Lego now! RIGHT NOW! It's like the cunning Danish have invented self replicating studded nanobots who are infiltrating every possible aspect of our lives, starting with pop culture! Soon every film ever made will have its own Lego sets. Lego Driving Miss Daisy! Lego Look Who's Talking Too! Lego Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants! If you think I'm being obscure then bear in mind that this is a company who made a Lego set out of the ostrich race in Prince of Persia. They should include a picture of that set when you look up the word "optimism".

But a far safer bet is the much anticipated Lego Lord of the Rings the first wave of which releases next month! We showed a preview of these a little while ago, but now that they are officially available for pre-order we can get a much better look at exactly what's on offer this first round.

And if that image doesn't get you excited then you're as dead inside as that fish. I like how the fish's mouth appears to be a connector. The very first thing I would do is attach it to Gandalf's head.

To see the actual sets, join me after the jump!

Exclusive Lex Luthor Minifig with Pre-Orders of Lego Batman 2!

Apparently this is old news but I at least became aware for the first time today that next month's Lego Batman 2 video game will come with an exclusive Lex Luthor minifig when pre-ordered from Australia's EB Games. I'm not sure if the promotion is also running for our US friends, but if you hear anything you can post it in the comments below. (Update! Zigg points out that this is available in the US through Gamestop).

Suffice to say Lex looks totally pimp in his specialised Superman-annoying armour:

Also detailed here is a 5 villain bonus DLC pack which contains second-stringer such as: Bizarro, Captain Cold, Black Adam, Black Manta and Gorilla Grodd. And bless you if you can bring yourself to get excited about any of those.

We love Batman and we love the unflappable ingenuity of the block-loving Danish, so bring this on! I pre-ordered mine today!

Friday, May 18, 2012

The Best Episode of Tabletop Yet: Ticket To Ride!

Wil Wheaton's board gaming show Tabletop is back for it's 4th episode and it's better than ever. To recap, we've seen Small World, The Settlers of Catan, and an episode of the smaller games, Tsuro, Zombie Dice and Get Bit. The shorter segments seemed to work better (after all you are watching other people play board games) but this week's episode was the best yet.

This week it was just one big game of Ticket To Ride, but somehow it was the most exciting 30 minutes of gaming that I've experienced in a while. And the group was a perfect match, which is always a plus.

Full episode:

Also, the next episode is June 1st.... and it's MUNCHKIN!!

New Disney Muppets/Star Wars Mash-Ups Make my Head Hurt.

I love Muppets and I love Star Wars but that doesn't mean the two of them necessarily belong together. I mean, you can enjoy soup and you can enjoy top hats without filling your top hat with piping hot soup and having alphabet noodles melt your face off. I'm just saying.

The fine folk at Galactic Hunter have images today of some brand new Star Wars/Disney/Mash-up merchandise revealed at Disney's Star Wars Weekends. You can check out all their images and the full article here (via DarthChuckMC) but this is the image that really gave me pause:

I can kind of understand that the arrogant, conceited Link Hogthrob is Han Solo, but then are you seriously going to take Animal, the most wildly loud and unpredictable Muppet and turn him into the stoic, barely moving.speaking, emotionless Boba Fett!? And then to add insult to injury you're going to take Scooter, the whitest boy in the world, and turn him into Lando Calrissian, the blackest man in the galaxy? For shame, Disney! 

I can only imagine that photos of Muppets were pinned to one tree, and photos of Star Wars characters were pinned to another tree, and then a flock of woodpeckers were released to choose the combinations.

And why are they displayed in a box filled with delicious beef jerky?!!

Thank Gif it's Friday!

A little late for our Australian friends, but it's always Friday somewhere, right?

Hot Toys Avengers Loki Revealed! Pre-Order Now!

Updated with pre-order info!

The enigmatic geniuses at Hot Toys have revealed the next in their 1/6th scale (the) Avengers line and it is Loki: God of Mischief! Scorned son of Asgard and smiter of mewling quims everywhere!

There should be no doubt at this stage as to how detailed and accurate it is, in fact I was the only one with the steely resolve to post about it as it had our female team members all a quiver...

For more pictures, including an ornate shaft and two massive horns, join me after the jump, or you can pre-order him RIGHT NOW right here:
Hot Toys Movie Masterpiece Series Loki Sixth Scale Figure - The Avengers

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Water slides are great

There's some wonderful comic magic to this video



Comic School Review: Captain America #1 (1941!)

It's a slow news day, so why don't we slide all the way back to the heady year of 1941 when a war-torn world was given new hope by the patriotic fists of self-appointed policeman/pugilist Captain America! USA! USA!

Written by Joe Simon and drawn by the always fantastic (except for the forties) Jack Kirby, Captain America #1 was a sixty plus page monster packed with FOUR Cap stories, a tale of Thor's son Hurricane, and Tuk the idiot Cave Boy. I'm only going to cover two of the Cap stories, but if you want to read the rest then you need to go no further than Comixology, where they can be had for a mere $1.99.

We'll discover that Cap's origin is actually surprisingly close to the one shown in the recent film, and that the Red Skull's ridiculous real origin couldn't be further away! All this and more (or less) after the jump!

The Readthrough of Time: The Shadow Rising

The Readthrough of Time continues this week with The Shadow Rises, the fourth volume in Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time series. As with the previous books thus far, I won't be doing a traditional review, and...well, let's just get into it already.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

When Diablo Was Almost Released On Game Boy.

Rumor has it that in the mid-late 90's Blizzard was working on a Game Boy port of the now-beloved franchise, Diablo.

They made it as far as getting some character movement and button presses down, and they even made a whole bunch of pretty pixel floor tiles... but that's about it. There is a rom floating around, but unfortunately it's more of a tech demo than an Alpha or Beta build. Here's a real short clip that pretty much shows you everything.

I'd be really curious to see how Diablo Game Boy would do if they finished it up and released it on the Nintendo 3DS Virtual Console today. Nostalgia alone has sold plenty of games in the past.

Review: Lego x Moleskine

We were tickled pink when the good folk at Nation State offered to send us one of the new (and limited edition) LEGO-themed Moleskine notebooks for a hands-on review. We love LEGO, and we love the allure of a brand new, blank notebook, so it was a matchup made in heaven.

Head below the cut to check out the verdict!

Comic School Review: Avengers #4 (1964). Captain America Joins the Avengers. Hilarity Ensues.

If you enjoyed my recent review of Stan the Man Lee and Jack the King Kirby's insanely entertaining ant-filled Avengers #1 from 1963 then you would be an absolute moron to miss Avengers #4 from 1964, which is the first issue to add Captain America to the team! If you want to read along with me then you can purchase this one, like I did, for a mere $1.99 from Comixology right HERE.

Aren't you dying to know if this version of the story matches up with the modern films? Have you ever wondered how Cap officially joined up with the team? Are you amazed by the way in which we continue to shamelessly milk the Avengers franchise? How do you milk a Hulk? Probably very carefully.

In this issue the Avengers will face all sorts of challenges that can't be solved by a convenient trapdoor. To find out how they cope... join me after the jump!

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

What's Out? 16th of May 2012

New Comics Day! What can you expect? Find out right here!

Coming This Summer from Looney Labs... Cthulhu Fluxx!

Everybody loves Fluxx right? It's the card game with ever-changing rules! I'm sure some of the heavier gamers aren't big fans, but Fluxx has always been a good time for me and my group. It's light, (sometimes) quick and their production quality goes way up with each variation.

Speaking of variations, Looney Labs seems to really have found their niche. And it's it's every niche. On their product page alone you can find FluxxOz FluxxStar FluxxPirate FluxxZombie FluxxMonty Python FluxxMartian FluxxFamily Fluxx, and EcoFluxx. There was even a Stoner Fluxx (??) years ago, but it's missing from the site. The tiny, random card game has come a long way since the first black and white edition was released in 1996.

And now 16 years later we have Cthulhu Fluxx!

Follow the wild-eyed Poet, the obsessed Artist, and the expeditions of the Professor, as they investigate Eldritch Secrets no mortal was meant to discover. Someone has stolen the Necronomicon from the library at Miskatonic Univeristy, and a Farm in the hills is undergoing a horrifying Metamorphosis. Meanwhile, unspeakable abominations stir in Penguin-riddled Tombs beneath the ice. Are you Inevitably Doomed to a lifetime of Nightmares in the Sanitarium, or are you, in fact, a Secret Cultist, worshiping the Minions of Darkness? Gaze upon the ever-changing face of Madness with Cthulhu Fluxx!
Are you ready for this madness?

Stryder's Favourite Comics - 5/09/2012

Another week of comics is here and DC is cross-over crazy, with 3 new parts to Night of the Owls and 2 more parts to The Culling!  Not to mention Suicide Squad scheming away...let's take a closer look...starting with a book that was released one week early - Batman!

Batman #9 - The "Night of the Owls" continues as Bruce has to deal with an army of Talons that broke into his house and THE CAVE last issue!  Alfred is trapped in the armoury and Batman is trapped in the cave, hoping that a clever plan, a little science and a lot of  luck will somehow combine into an opportunity to survive the night!  The one upside?  Bruce is wearing a spiffy extra-tough outfit.  In his own words "My suit is built for's built for battle in the most alien territories on Earth.  And I'm wearing it here, in my own home." Heavy stuff!

Of course, if the Dark Knight manages to survive this invasion of his home, there are plenty of Talons on the streets of Gotham City to deal with, murdering important figures right and left!  If you ever wanted a nice cushy government job in Gotham City, now's the time to put in your resume.  There's gonna be some job vacancies in the very near future!

We also get a back-up story titled  "Fall of the House of Wayne" wherein Alfred's father, Jarvis Pennyworth, narrates a tale of Thomas and Martha Wayne, and of course their tiny toddler son, Bruce!  Jarvis tells via a letter to Alfred how the Court of Owls is somehow involved in the Wayne's (and the Pennyworth's) downfall!  Usually I'm not a big fan of back-up stories, but in this case I'll make an exception!  The art and story are great and I can't wait to see where this one is leading...

There's so much more to talk about!  After the JUMP of course!

Diablo 3 Collectors Edition Unboxing

Today is the day that many have been waiting for over 12 years to arrive, as Diablo 3 is officially here. So how is the game? I don't know! My copy of the game arrived by UPS at 4:40, only to be immediately met by waiting in a queue to play a single player game, and about 20 minutes later Blizzard shut all the servers down for emergency maintenance. But we're not here to question the effective launch day management that a company that concurrently runs a community of 11 million players at once in Azeroth, we're here to talk about the swag that you get when you buy your collectors edition ticket to the world of Sanctuary!

So whats in the box? Is it worth it? follow the jump and find out.

The Book Was Better Podcast: Teaser for Episode 18!

It's a brand new 15 minute microcast of The Book Was Better podcast where Jessica and I rant and rave about all sorts of trivial stuff, and reveal which book you should bone up on next! Or in Jessica's words:
"You sent us packages! You emailed us! You live-tweeted your first viewing of Jurassic Park! We love you. Listen to our teaser episode and find out the terrible film (and book) we're going to stoically endure for your pleasure."
Grab it right now from the official site, or from the very official iTunes!

Nerd History: Keep Your Cats Spys (and Neutered)

The internet is for two things - porn and cats. Today, I'm not talking about porn, but one of the more bizarre CIA plots I've heard of in quite some time: Acoustic Kitty.

F**k Yeah Game of Thrones! Episode Seven: A Man Without Honor!

After an unrelenting bout of punch-in-the-gob awesomeness, this week Game of Thrones pauses to catch its breath, focusing less on blood and boobs and more on dialogue and character development. I’m trusting that this is merely the calm before the storm. Hopefully a titty-twister.

Although an episode of Game of Thrones without nudity is like Garfield without lasagna, this one still packs some effective little jabs to the gut. We have plenty to ruminate on.

To find out exactly what went down, join me after the jump!

Celebrity Apprentice Outrage! Why I Won’t be Recapping the Final Two Episodes!

I am out! I’m done! I’m moving on! I began watching the first part of the Celebrity Apprentice finale but by the halfway point my ire was raised and my interest had waned. But worst of all, I felt incredibly manipulated by what had just transpired. For me, the screaming celebrity circus train had come right off the rails.

We’re heading into spoiler territory now, so to read my full rant, join me after the jump!

Monday, May 14, 2012

Flight Facilities - With You

Here's a rad video clip invoking 80s anime nostalgia animated by Australian based Benjamin Drake for the song by Flight Facilities "With You".


You can check out another cool video clip he worked on after the jump for Goyte

Review: The Incredible Hulk Returns. A 1988 Live-Action "Movie" Where Hulk Fights Thor!

I never really watched the original Hulk TV series as a child. Firstly, because it was a whole lot of boring until the three minutes when Banner finally hulked out, and secondly because Lou Ferrigno’s hideous prosthetic head and cheap wig scared the ever living shit out of me. 

And I certainly didn’t realise that they audaciously continued to make Hulk TV movies throughout the late eighties, and you could have humped me in a bucket when I was gifted this particular movie from 1988 that co-stars the golden-locked Thor! Yes, I'm talking about The Incredible Hulk Returns!

If you are equally delighted at the prospect of an incredibly cheap live-action bout between incredible monster and mighty god, then you’d better join me after the jump!

Kickstart the Week: Battle of the Bulge: the simulation game for the iPad by Eric Lee Smith

Just this past week I was given the position of Kickstarter Curator for the International Game Developers Association of Philadelphia. In my new role, I will be searching out the Kickstarter game projects from the Greater Philadelphia area, which is similar to what I do in this column, except I will be doing it more often, and applying the region to my Kickstarter searches.

There have been some huge projects coming out of Philly in the past few years, and just recently we saw Velociraptor Cannibalism close with over 1000% of it's funding goal, and Auditorium 2: Duet receive over $71,000 in pledges. So in both celebration and anticipation of this new role... let's look at a Philly game project!

Battle of the Bulge is a classic gaming situation, with a surprise attack, desperate defense, and bold counterattack. The Germans rush to exploit their initial strength, while the Allies struggle to hold on and then counterattack. The game play is quick and the strategy deep.
Battle of the Bulge is an iPad game with the feel of a classic tabletop strategy game. In fact, it was designed by an award-winning tabletop game designer, John Butterfield, who is known for the war games Ambush! and D-Day at Omaha Beach.

The artwork is really crisp, and perfectly sets the tone of the theme. The iconography is also very well done, with simple reference icons that really pop. Along from great art and design, the programmers really pulled their weight and loaded the game with features. You can play as Germans or Allies, pass and play, asynchronous play ("Wars With Friends"), there's Game Center integration and much more. There is even a tabletop version at some of the higher reward levels, and a print and play version at the lower levels.

Backers will get Battle of the Bulge for a pledge of $10 and up. If you spend $20 you will also get the sequel, El Alamein, and if you spend $150 you will get a full copy of the board game version (plus much more).

Check out Battle of the Bulge on Kickstarter!

Sunday, May 13, 2012

The Doomsday Vault is Spectacular Steampunk

My limited experience with steampunk has been of the more gritty variety. Most of the steampunk I've read has been more the Cherie Priest (Boneshaker, Clementine) variety, where the setting is more dark and things are Very Wrong and not so much fun. Thus, when I read a book like Lev AC Rosen's brilliant All Men of Genius or this, it feels different and fresh for me.

This was a fun one. On one hand, you have Alice, she of high society in London and great with a wrench. On the other, Gavin, a cabin boy flying over to Europe in a dirigible from Boston. When Gavin's ship is hijacked by pirates, Gavin escapes and eventually crosses paths with Alice, opening the door for a much wider situation.

The book pretty much had everything I was looking for: fun with machines, zombies, a government conspiracy, some sci-fi elements, and a fun, fast-paced plot that didn't telegraph too much and didn't seem out of place or too reliant on the setting. I couldn't tell you why I chose to pick this up, but I did and I'm glad.

Definitely recommended if steampunk is your cup of tea, and definitely recommended if you're looking to dip your toe into the steampunk waters. Really high quality, and with a sequel coming out very soon, I'm fairly anxious to see what comes next.

“Yankee Rhythm Every Time"

After over 150 years Morse code has become all but obsolete for most things.  You no longer have to be proficient in sending Morse code (at least a steady 5 words per minute, or a blistering 20 wpm if you want to master it) to get an amateur radio license, nor do most maritime military bodies even listen for it anymore.

However, you might be that guy who can only express himself fully by using dots and dashes (or dits and das).  If that’s the case, android, you can do worse than watching International Morse Code - Hand Sending, a 1966 film by the United States Army that is more entertaining than any military filmstrip has a right to be.

How entertaining, you ask? We'll let's find out together, after the jump!

Review: Lego Wolverine Chopper Showdown! SNIKT!

When I was around 14 I had the startling realisation that Wolverine kicked all kinds of ass. I abandoned the comics of my childhood and wanted to read about a short, hairy, snarling Canadian who gnashed his teeth against fine cigars, had uncouth muttonchops, and popped murderous claws out of the back of his hands which could fillet a rhinoceros. And never in my wildest fever dreams would I suspect that in 2012 he would become an official Lego figure:

SNIKT! SNIKT! But there he is! He has two faces so you can switch him from "surly" to "shittin' porcupines". His claws aren't attached to his hand, but instead he holds them. All he's missing in some thick black hair on those pallid lil' arms of his. Still, he's probably the most threatening Lego guy you're ever going to own. Certainly more so that that Fabuland raccoon.

He's part of the new Lego Superheroes line and can be found in the set Wolverine Chopper Showdown 6866. To see what else is in there... join me after the jump!

Behind the scenes with The Avengers VFX crew

Click here to check out a very cool (and very long!) article about the process that went into bringing all the toys and explosions in The Avengers to life. I usually find FX stuff a bit snoozy, but the section on the forest duel between Iron Man and Thor was super interesting. I think one of my favourite lines has to be 'Weta developed CG trees that resulted in individual pine needles - exceeding 300,000 - all individually solved'. 

Of course you did, Weta. Of course you did.