Archive for the We-view Wednesday Category

We-view Wednesday – The Powers That Be!

Posted in We-view Wednesday with tags , , , , , , , on May 6, 2009 by thegeekwearsprada

“I hope our wisdom will grow with our power, and teach us, that the less we use our power the greater it will be.” ~Thomas Jefferson


Why is there a police department when there are superheroes to protect the population? That is a question answered in Volume 1, of Powers: Who Killed Retro Girl written by Brian Michael Bendis and Michael Avon Oeming.

Enter Christian Walker, a chiseled-faced homicide detective in the local police department. His story is classic. He has been assigned a new and fairly inexperienced partner named Deena Pilgrim who has recently been transferred from the SWAT team.

As their story unfolds, we get an inside look at their relationship. And she could not have arrived at a better time because someone has murdered one of the world’s most respected superheroes, Retro Girl, who is found dead near an elementary school. Walker and Pilgrim are called up to track down her murderer. Their task is not an easy one because of the interference of numerous characters from the busy-buddy Detective Kutter (Walker’s former partner) who seeks glory at every turn to the press, as well as an impossible autopsy. After all; how do you do an autopsy on a superhero who is seemingly indestructible?

Trust, in the beginning, is the focus of the Walker-Pilgrim partnership. Type-A personalities with different investigative styles, the new team clash as outspoken, gung-ho Pilgrim and quiet, by-the-book Walker work together. At one point their relationship is tested when Pilgrim gets too nosey and looks into Walker’s personal life with Retro Girl, after a mysterious package arrives for him (props to Laura Petrie and the inflatable raft).

Bendis certainly has a gift for dialogue, which is pithy, tense, and highly entertaining. The back and forth banter flows with humour and intensity, making Retro Girl quite a fun reading experience. At times the art panels supersede the dialogue totally, creating dramatic visuals. Through the entire volume, I had difficulty navigating the pages, filled with word balloons and panels, some times needing to read across two pages but getting lost in the gutter. This does not, with my limited knowledge conform to other volumes/comic books that I have read, but I contribute my difficulties to this being a large book and not an individual comic book issue. The pages with the news casts were particularly troublesome for me as they moved from horizontal to vertical and then back again, but as the book progressed the rhythm became apparent and my difficulties lessened and then ceased altogether.

I think this is the first time a review of mine will not include a detail of the artwork, because the art work takes a backseat to the words with its simplicity. This book was much more entertaining because of the story itself which would make an ideal movie in my estimation

Powers is a very good read with well written characters who live in an exciting universe filled with superheroes and supervillians, and characters that are murky fun to encounter. Check this out and I can almost guarantee that Volume 1 will deliver!

I give this 5 PRADAs and I can’t wait to begin the next volume.

rating-5

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We-view Wednesday – Loving Lovecraft?

Posted in We-view Wednesday with tags , , , , , on April 29, 2009 by thegeekwearsprada

There are my Poe pieces and my Dunsany pieces, but alas, where are my Lovecraft pieces.” -H. P. Lovecraft


Let me start by writing that I have no real experience with the writing or the life of H. P. Lovecraft but when I saw the cover of this comic book my first reaction was, “Wow! This cover has a feel to it, similar to Jeff Vandermeer’s Ambergris from the book City of Saints and Madmen.” The similar feeling must have had something to do with the octopus creature with multiple amber eyes emerging from the subsisting typewriter to embrace the thin man, framing the cover.

From the beginning Lovecraft is portrayed as a tortured soul. He is down on his luck, perpetually late, and in the midst of writer’s block while attempting to irk out a living sending short stories to Weird Tales magazine for one half penny per word.

While Lovecraft wanders around Providence, after being rejected by “his girl,” he is attacked leaving him bloodied and badly beaten. Early the next morning, while the girl Lovecraft loves is “celebrating” her engagement to the most eligible bachelor and the sailors who robbed him are having their own celebrations with prostitutes on their ship, Lovecraft stares at a blank sheet of paper in his typewriter trying to hurdle over the writer’s block. He wakes from a vivid dream of something horrific entity ripping the sailors apart and typing on his paper. What is produced is all gibberish or is it?

While this (loose?) biography takes place in the roaring 20s, it would have been easy to fill it with lavish settings of flappers, speak-easies, and smoking, but there was only one 2-page spread showing this jive. Mac Carter was able to hold my attention with consistent storytelling and by creating a foundation for subsequent issues in this 4 issue run. I especially enjoyed the inner dialogue of the main character and that dialogue is very useful in getting to know the deepest recesses of this man’s dark mind.

If you have read my reviews in the past, you would know that I am attracted by art work and after seeing the cover (Adam Byrne), I was a bit disappointed with the art inside by Tony Salmons. The inside art appears messy—with characters’ facial features besmirched by dark lines and deep shading leaving the expressions nondescript and muddy.

This comic book is worth the 499¢ (that is the way the price is displayed on the cover) but before the next issue, I would like to read about the life of H. P. Lovecraft to see if this comic book closely mirrors his actual life and if MacCarter has done his homework on this topic. Or on second though, I might just enjoy what the series has to offer instead of coming in with preconceived notions.

I give this comic book 3 PRADAs for the potential it has.

rating-3

We-View Wednesday and Tabletop Thursday – Faery’s Tale

Posted in Tabletop Thursday, We-view Wednesday with tags , , , , on April 23, 2009 by hergeek

Captain of our fairy band,
Helena is here at hand,
And the youth, mistook by me,
Pleading for a lover’s fee.
Shall we their fond pageant see?
Lord, what fools these mortals be
! – A Midsummer Night’s Dream, William Shakespeare

(Kind of appropriate to be writing about faeries on The Bard’s birthday, no?)

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This past Saturday night I dusted off my copy of the Faery’s Tale Deluxe Role Playing Game from Firefly Games, with the intention of playing it mostly with my younger daughter.  Truth be told, she had been pestering me to play it ever since I picked it up several months back.  I had explained the game to her, and we had made characters, but we never actually got around to playing it.  So on Saturday, I told her that if she did all of her chores for the day, we would play that night.

I asked my barely teen-aged daughter if she would like to play, and she cocked an eyebrow at me (she has very talented eyebrows) and said “Isn’t that a little kids game?  I think I would be bored after playing D&D.”  I convinced her that it could be quite fun (and followed it up with a bribe that if she didn’t like it, I would empty the dishwasher for her the next day.)  She reluctantly agreed.

Since this was our first time playing and i hadn’t prepped much, I decided to use the free adventure that Firefly games had on their site, “The Tournament of the Fey”, since that had a nice progression to teach how the game is played, as well as pre-created characters.

So we sat down and started discussing which characters they wanted to play.  They both immediately dismissed the brownie (housework?  EWWWW!) and the pouka (because the picture of the pouka was a boy and ugly.  Soon the eldest, P,  went with the sprite warrior, but made him female and named him, um, I mean her Oggie.  My younger daughter, E, went with the pixie.

Now my son, O, wanted nothing to do with the game.  After all, it was about faeries.  Ew.  (My kids say “ew” a lot.)  But then I showed him the sheet for the pouka, Gimlock.  I pointed out that it was an ugly boy fairy, and that they played a lot of tricks on people, and most importantly, they can change into animals!  Well, that sold it!

We settle in to play, and I must say, we all had a great time.  I had to help my son out a bit, coaching him a bit with some things.  My younger daughter fell right into it, roleplaying with all her heart and imagination, adding tons of details and story background to her character, and carrying on all of her conversations in character.  The tournament scenario worked out well, giving each player a chance to let their character shine by using their abilities in various contests…O changing into a frog and winning the frog hopping contest, E winning a singing contest (and she actually sang an impromptu song about butterflies on the spot), and P winning a jousting contest (riding on the back of O’s pouka, changed into a dragonfly).

The climax of the adventure was quite thrilling, with a evil dark fairy, the Redcap Sir Grim, arriving at the tournament and claiming the hand of Princess Joy in marriage.  Of course, challenges were issued, and the sprite engaged the redcap in single combat, while the pouka and pixie used their skills and abilities to keep the goblins that Sir Grim brought with him from cheating.

Needless to say, our heroes won the day, and saved Princess Joy from having to marry the evil Redcap.  The kids had a ball, and are asking when we can play again…which in my book is the best sign that they had a good time.  As far as the game itself, it is a wonderful gateway game into structured role playing for kids.  An extremely simple flexible system using six sided dice and only a few stats to keep track of. 

If you are interested in trying out Faery’s Tale, download the introductory pack that has characters, an adventure, and basic rules for the game.  Grab your young ones (or some young at heart ones) and give it a try.  I give Faery’s Tale Deluxe 4 crits.

4-dice

We-view – Doe-eyed Adventurers

Posted in We-view Wednesday with tags , , , , , on April 8, 2009 by thegeekwearsprada

When you get served lemons you make lemonade.” –Unknown

Cooper, Joss, Becka, and Benny are four very adventurous children and in New Brighton Archeological Society-The Castle of Galomar these four children enter into a world filled with magic, fairies, goblins, and assorted odd creatures illustrating the classic themes of good vs. evil, and friendship with a good dose of problem solving.

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In 2007, Mark Andrew Smith, the author of this graphic novel, said, “…I wanted to do an adventurer type of story with some kids for an all ages’ audience where it’s a lot of fun but also has a great mood and tone to it.”

Like many stories with adventurous children, Tale of Unfortunate Events comes to mind, Brighton Society begins with a tragedy. The children’s parents, four explorers, supposedly plummet to their untimely deaths while exploring a icy tundra. The kids are sent to their godparents where their parents lives while they were growing up.

Being the children of explorers, they immediately begin to explore their new environment and find, after taking a tumble into a shaft covered with snow, a hidden library cum clubhouse belonging to their parents. This discovery sparks something within the kids, who find themselves, delving into books, papers, photographs, and trinkets left by their parents.

Soon we find the young explorers venturing into the forest, around the estate and encounter Mitch, a goblin who befriended their parents years ago and now invites the doe-eyed children into the goblin kingdom and with the help of his parents, tells them the goblin history.

Ice cream serving ghosts, fairies doused with syrup preventing them from flying, and a butterscotch addicted goblin all combined for a fun reading experience for anyone 6 to 60.

I give it 4.5 PRADAs.

rating-45

We-View Wednesday – Sky Doll

Posted in Uncategorized, We-view Wednesday with tags , , , , , , , , , , on April 1, 2009 by thegeekwearsprada

Creationists make it sound as though a ‘theory’ is something you dreamt up after being drunk all night.” –Issac Asimov

As I review Sky Doll, Vol. 1, I am uncomfortable thinking that I might offend a reader (not that we have many, but thanks to those who come back) so be forewarned.

Out of the highly imaginative and one might say twisted minds (totally a compliment) of two Italians, Barbara Canepa and Alessandro Barbucci, comes Sky Doll, a sexy, adult-oriented, sci-fi escapade about a sex robot, Noa who discovers her soul in the middle of a flying car wash.

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Set in the futuristic holy city of Papathea, Sky Doll revolves around a society dominated by the Papess Lodovica, who is the center of gigantic staged reality-tv pageants, intended to rouse the populous by displaying her faux stigmata which squirt blood and preforming her supernatural, godly powers which include blasting participating worshipers with lasers into heaven in a blaze of glory.

All the pomp and circumstance of these extravaganzas is made possible through a series of machine-like mechanisms controlled by a tall, lanky, character resembling the stereotypical likeness of Jesus Christ, whose job includes putting on these spectacles as well as sexually satisfying the desires of the Papess Lodovica. He appears discontent and annoyed by his duties but then get more information about him from his backstory (you can find this out on your own, if you wish, I don’t want to spoil it for you).

Noa is unhappy with her created life and in the first panel, Noa looks directly at the reader and speaks to god. She tells god that she is not very happy with his management skills, that there is room for much improvement, and indicates that a suggestion box should be used in order to improve their relationship and “collaboration.” From the image of the suggestion box, we see Noa’s god, pictured as a Jabba the Hut, reptilian type figure, who is neither open to Noa’s suggestion nor respectful of her opinion (after all she is just a sexy robot).

After getting nowhere with her god, she is ordered to return to her job, at the AstroWash, a service that is overrun with space-crafts and flying cars. Noa and her co-workers, other robots, wash vehicles and assist in satisfying needs without “soiling” souls. Disliking her job and wanting more, Noa runs away and stows aboard a spaceship controlled by two missionaries of Papess Lodovica, Roy and Jahu. Unbeknownst to Roy, who believes he is on a diplomatic mission, Jahu has direct orders to destroy a scared fish belonging to the woman of Aqua. This fish is worrisome to Lodovica for it alone perpetuates the women of Aqua enabling them to reproduce without the men.

My Judeo-Christian background, in the form of an angel on my shoulder screamed at the top of her lungs for me to stop reading many times, especially when she saw the Christ-like figure savagely entering Lodovica, while an audience of Sky Doll putti looked on, some covering their eyes (which I wanted to do on a few occasions). However the devil, on the left, pulled me along, making me spread my fingers apart to view one more panel, then another, and another.

I often forgot about the things that made me cringe, and pray for forgiveness for reading when I got to, for instance, the humourous scenes with Frida, a Dame Edna look-a-like who hosts the weekly Papess Lodovica reality shows or when Jahu and Roy bicker with each other.

Even though the book uses love, friendship, deceit, morality, sexuality, politics and religion—usual a good combination, to grab the reader, for me the bigger appeal is the artwork itself. Even when the story was intricate and a bit confusing, the art kept me turning the pages. From the candy coloured pop in panels to the more subtle, classical Renaissance palette the art is stunning—each panel filled with little details of architecture, billboards, creatures, gadgets, along with lizard and canine inhabitants—all keeping my attention and drawing me further in.

If you can overcome some of the possible offensiveness and the social commentary, you should definitely check it out. I give Sky Doll a solid 4.5 PRADAs.

rating-45

NOTE: Sky Doll #4, Sudra is in production in France.

We-View Wednesday – Player’s Handbook 2

Posted in We-view Wednesday with tags , , on March 25, 2009 by hergeek

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The new Players Handbook 2 arrived without much fanfare at my house last week, because at the same time a GIANT box arrived that piqued everyones attention (the aforementioned Skittles game, posted about here.)  But after we all got our spins on, I have now had a chance to digest some of the hereafter called PHB2, and I have a few thoughts about it (obviously, or this wouldn’t be much of a review.)

New Races:

Let me preface this portion of the review by saying that I am somewhat of a fantasy RPG traditionalist when it comes to character races.  Give me Humans, Elves, Half-Elves, Dwarves (Dwarfs?), and  Haflings, and I’m happy.  So when 4E came out and suddenly I’m looking at Eladrin, Tiefilings, and Dragonborn, well, I’m afraid I kind of gave them the stink eye.  Eladrin were fine.  I just thought of them as the High Elves and the Elves as Wood Elves.  Dragonborn?  Far as I’m concerned, they don’t exist in my world.  Tieflings?  Well, I had a player that wanted to play one, so I gave in and am making the adjustment.

Now, PHB2 comes along and gives me a whole swath of new races.  The spirit-like, holier than thou Deva (bleh).  The Gnomes are now a PC race again.   (I’m not a monster any more!  Rar!) Large, strong, partially rocky Goliaths?  Not in my campaign, thanks.  The ubiquitous Half Orc makes a return, and I will gladly welcome them in place of the Goliath and Dragonborne.  And the Shifter, a feral race with traces of lycanthrophy (which I actually found kind of cool, and won’t mind having in my campaign in the right circumstances.)

They have also added Racial Paragon paths, where you can choose a paragon path based on race and not on class, such as the Halfling Scoundrel (Scoundrel?  Scoundrel?  I like the sound of that!) or the Human Adroit Explorer.  Oddly enough, there is no Racial Paragon path for Half Elves, they have to take the Versatile Master Paragon Feat now in PHB2.  *shrug*  OK.  Whatever.

New Classes:

After some pointed thought, I find the new classes a decidedly mixed bag, the same as the races.  The ones coming out on the upper end of the scale are the Avenger (a holy warrior), the Barbarian (obscene amounts of damage), and the Sorcerer (chaos personified…lots of damage, but very random).  The classes I’m grouping in the middle of the pack are the Druid (half of your powers can only be used while shifted into your animal shape) and the Warden (protector of the earth…the really tough brother of the Druid).  The classes I was cold on were the Shaman and the Invoker.  Don’t have a real reason why, just didn’t like the classes or abilities that much.

It appears to me that the goal is to have at least one Character Type (Leader, Defender, Controller, Striker) for each one of the Power Types (Arcane, Divine, Martial, Primal).  This book added all four Primal power classes ( Barbarian (Striker), Druid (Controller), Shaman (Leader) and Warden (Defender)) as well as filling the holes in the other Power types.  Did those holes really need filling?  Dunno.  I didn’t see a huge need, but now they are!

My big question…where is the Monk, and where will he fall in the grid?

The Rest:

Besides the races and classes, there are a few more things in the book.  They have a series of character backgrounds now, where you can choose a background for you character and that will give you a bonus to either some skills appropriate to the background, or a new language, or the like.  You can choose backgrounds based on Geography, Society, Birth, Occupation, or Race.  I really like this set of rules, it helps to give your players a push to round out their characters.

You also have some new feats to match up with the new races and classes, some new items and magic items, a few new rituals, and lastly, an Appendix that has some rules updates to the rules as presented in the Players Handbook.

Verdict:

I found the PHB2 to be a real mixed bag.  There is a lot to like here, as well as a lot that just made me go “Eh.”  I am sure that I will get some use out of the supplement, but since I am already in the middle of a campaign with established characters I’m not going to get much use out of that stuff.  I didn’t like several of the races as well as a couple of the new classes.  Overall, I’ll give this one a respectable three crits.  Buy it if you have a need for new characters and want to have every option possible available to your players.

3-dice

We-View Wednesday – Today

Posted in Uncategorized, We-view Wednesday with tags , , , on March 18, 2009 by hergeek

Today sucked. That is my official review of the day.

I give today 1 Critical (and I would post the pretty picture of 1 crit, but I can’t, because (a) I’m too busy and (b) GWP made those pretty pictures and she is even busier. Use your imagination!)