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Sunday, July 17, 2005
Lazy Sunday, Long Post
Was it wrong of me to expect more interesting news out of the San Diego con than the return of old comics, annoucements of cross-overs, re-announcements of already delayed Vertigo projects and more of Marvel's misleading hype destined to never pay-off? Edit: Okay, actually, everything at the Oni panel sounds good, or at least entertaining.
I wanted to say one more thing about the Darwyn Cooke Spirit series that was announced. I like Darwyn Cooke's art. I think he's a very talented and interesting artist. But when I look at his art, what I see is an homage to the aesthetic of the Eisenhower era. I don't see the kinds of visual inventiveness and playfulness that I associate with Eisner's Spirit. So, while I will probably end up buying the comic, I don't expect it to be more than a faithful recreation of the surface aspects of Eisner's work (much like everything John Byrne has done to Kirby's work over the last two decades). The best tribute and recreation of the Spirit, to my mind, was the superlative Greyshirt series by Rick Veitch. After that, I find it kind of hard to see what more can be said about the Spirit-type character.
In this entertaining and informative book, Jason Colavito traces the origins of the belief in ancient extraterrestrial visitors to the work of horror writer H. P. Lovecraft (1890-1937). This amazing tale takes the reader through fifty years of pop culture and pseudosciencee highlighting such influential figures and developments as Erich von DÃniken (Chariots of the Gods), Graham Hancock (Fingerprints of the Gods), Zecharia Sitchin (Twelfth Planet), and the Raelian Revolution(The folks behind the inexplicably praised cult-recruitment film What the Bleep Do We Know--Dorian). The astounding and improbable connections among these various characters are revealed, along with the disturbing consequences of Lovecraft's "little joke" for modern science and public knowledge.
A Lovecraft scholar examining how people who can't tell the difference between fiction and reality have misunderstood his work. Brilliant!
It also puts me in mind of many of the books attempting to "counter" the "information" in The DaVinci Code. People working themselves into a lather because a fictional novel may not be, strictly speaking, "true" is great entertainment. Although in Colavito's case he's actually attacking the pseduo-science, rather than the fiction. Which is even better, to my mind.
Issue Five of City of Heroes, "The Forest of Dread," appeared on the test-servers, so I played around with it awhile and took some screen-shots. The usual suspects will complain about "nerfs" hitting the easy-to-exploit abilities, but my initial reaction is that most of the changes that have been made go to balance the game-play quite a bit. I am somewhat disappointed in the long-awaited Archery and Sonics sets. They're associated with the Defender class, and frankly they don't seem very useful to me at this point. Do not even attempt to solo as a Sonic or Archery Defender, in other words. The power-sets look like they'll be much more useful to Controllers and Blasters as secondary powers.
The new zone, Croatoa, didn't make me as awed as Striga did, but it's a fairly big, expansive zone...with very little to do outside of the story-line associated with it. I found several plaques, but no badges, and I failed to find the giant monster who roams the zone. The mix of enemies is fairly good, if a little repetitive to those familiar to fighting Trolls, the Devouring Earth and the Circle of Thorns. Having scare-throws fling flaming pumpkins at you is fairly amusing the first-time it happens, though. I even found what I believe to the task-force (she wouldn't talk to me...) and the trainer. It's Warwitch, resurrected from her "death" in the original (and better-drawn) City of Heroes comic.
The thing I'm most looking forward to in the new issue are the tweaks to existing missions. Instead of just rescuing hostages, for example, you now have to escort them to safety. Villains will attack in waves, rather than just waiting patiently for you to come to them, villains now do damage when they fight each other, instead of just pretending to hit one another as they used to, and there's a new NPC type, the ally, who will aid you on missions. The first one I encountered is one of the many new tweaks they've made to the tutorial zone for the game. Also, and this was something I first noticed in an early Croatoa mission, tile-sets will now change mid-mission. I started out on a typical sewer-map mission, stumbled across some Tuatha deDaanan using tools to knock a wall-down, and found myself in the tunnels tile-set. A very cool tweak to the way game-maps work.
Creepy monsters sitting in trees.
More creepy monsters sitting in trees (it's apparently a theme for the zone).
Creepy monsters knocking down a wall. Note the separate tile-set on the other side.
And lastly, Pete and I went to pick up his copy of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. We had a coupon, so we also picked up the copy of Tom of Finland: The Art of Pleasure that I've had my eye on. So, yes, two grown men went into a book-store and picked up a popular children's book and gay porn. And paid by credit-card. I'm sure my name is on some list, somewhere, now.
Actually, the two books side by side on the desk next to me makes for a visually interesting contrast. The artist for the Potter books uses a shaded pencil style quite similar to Tom's, come to think of it...