Wednesday, 31 July 2013

Games Workshop Lowers Prices!

Pigs have flown, the second coming is on the horizon and somewhere someone has divided by zero. Yes, this is apparently genuine,yesterday evening prices for certain models on Games Workshop's website dropped by a considerable amount. Even more surprising is that this seems to have happened for not only prices outside of Europe, but also those in the United Kingdom. The price drop occurred largely with HQ choices, something which the current edition has been pushing for greater and greater importance in army lists in the sixth edition, but also a number of other products. 

While it varies considerably from model to model, price drops seem to be considerable with the likes of Belial dropping by 26% in Canada. Going from $30 to $22 overnight, with similar results in the UK and other countries. Others such as the Eldar Dire Avengers sets have also been noted to have dropped in price, something especially interesting given the fan reaction to changes with that specific boxed set of late.

To make this clear for those who do not know: Games Workshop is best known among its customers for relentless price hikes and high costs. Over the last five years multiple sets such as the Land Raider have seen an additional 50% price increase, while others such as starter sets have doubled in that time.

Further leaps have been seen with other models such as the Dark Elf Executioners which increased from £10-13.00 to above £20.00 following a shift from lead models to resin versions. A move which was met with severely negative PR among a large number of fans as Games Workshop attempted to justify the change with lower production costs. This isn't mentioning the disaster which was the first waves of resin (finecast) models. These were warped and deformed thanks to Games Workshop allegedly still using the lead molds as a cost cutting measure, and isn't entirely uncommon now.

Just to make this clear: This sort of thing is completely unheard of. Games Workshop's sales are non-existent, its bundles seem to barely lower any costs and discounts of any kind are something joked about within the community rather than something to be occasionally seen. As such this is a major change, one which could bode good or ill for the future. Either a sign of the company opting to become more customer friendly, or potential financial trouble. As of yet no statements have been made and there is not enough recent financial information to truly speculate upon the reasons for this. Admittedly however it's unfortunately more likely the latter than the former.

More on this as information becomes available.

Update 04/08/2013 - Prices have apparently returned to normal in Canada for units such as the aforementioned Belial, as have a number of those in the UK. That did not last long. Quite why they bothered with such a drop without notification only to correct it less than a week later is a matter of confusion at best.


Warhammer 40,000 and all related characters and media are owned by Games Workshop.

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Tuesday, 30 July 2013

Superior Spider-Man - New Direction Or Return To Status Quo?

This is a general opinion which has been brought up a few times elsewhere but is worth repeating here. It relates to the direction Superior Spider-Man is taking and the actual purpose of the comic itself. Many have called it a total reboot, but issues featuring the Avengers have begun to suggest otherwise.

Besides the disaster that is Avengers Academy, All New X-Men and the sheer number Avengers titles Marvel is making in an attempt to milk the success of the superhero film, Superior Spider-Man has met some of the most negative reactions among readers of late. Following some extremely bad ideas for the character in recent years, the decision to effectively murder Peter Parker has been met with vitriol to say the least.

The story focuses upon Doctor Octopus taking control of Peter Parker's body and proceeding to take over his life. Both that on a personal level and his role of Spider-Man in protecting New York, the latter point he seems to be doing far more successfully than Peter ever could. His success in taking down criminals has led to even J Johah Jameson changing his mind on the hero, even supporting him. Whatever remained of Parker himself was seemingly destroyed in an attempt to retake his body, leaving only Doc Ock inside his skull.

Whether or not the decisions in the storyline were a good move is up to you. There's certainly worse written books of late and at least some of the negativity extends from Dan Slott's behavior in aggravating fans rather than the comic's quality itself. Instead this is to discuss what the real role of the series is supposed to be. Many have called it a reboot but instead consider this: What if this is a long game intending to return things to Spider-Man's usual status quo as an outsider?

As a whole Marvel seems not to have really known quite what to do with him in recent years. He's not the Spider-Man he used to be and quite simply he has evolved, changed over time to the point where his previous role as an outsider means nothing to him. Marvel as a company seems to be unsure of what to do with him as a result, or how he plays into the rest of their universe. 
Think about this for a moment, JMS had Peter Parker's marriage develop, along with the potential origins for his powers and even become a teacher rather than a struggling photographer. Even those involved with him such as Aunt May found their lives changed as a result. He temporarily became a member of the Fantastic Four, even became a member of the Avengers at long last. A change which, for all the criticism i'll give Brian Bendis over his writing, was mostly well handled. The point is that he's evolved and developed, and that's something the heads of Marvel simply can't deal with.

We have seen at least once already how the company has tried to deal with this: One More Day. A move which tried to completely undo all development and return Peter to a character they recognised. Returning him to living with Aunt May, undoing his marriage, even bringing back characters who were long dead in an effort to make him more into the person the media knew the best. If you know anything about the book, you'll know it's universally reviled by everyone who actually understands Spider-Man and was hated by one of the authors involved to the point he wanted his name removed from the work. It was a single shot retcon intended to undo years of work overnight and as a result of this and poor handling is regarded as one of the worst Spider-Man tales ever written. The backlash between it and the new direction up to Spider Island was enough to make anyone recognise how badly it was done, so perhaps Marvel is taking a longer slightly more subtle route this time.

Think about what we've seen thus far with Superior Spider-Man:
We've seen Doc Ock do a better job with cleaning up the city, but is progressively burning more and more bridges. He has reached breaking point with the Avengers, much of his internal dialogue showing how poorly he regards them. He has damaged his relationship with MJ to a point where it's likely they'll be distanced once again and borderline strangers. He is showing increasing instability and arrogance, to the point where it's likely he'll begin lashing out at others more. By the end of this, it seems more likely that Spider-Man will once more be a loner within his world than the person he has evolved to become. Likely with all the damage done prior to Peter taking back his body, which let's hope does actually happen.

It wouldn't be the only time such a thing has happened over the years. Frank Miller's run on Daredevil had him effectively destroying the character's current status to bring him in line with his intended new direction. Brian Bendis' Avengers Disassembled has him casually murdering most of the team so he would be free to do whatever he wanted with them. You could even argue that in some respects the Death of Superman story-line can be seen here, with the hero dead and his replacements showing just how much he is truly needed in the world.

It seems very unlikely Marvel will keep with this current direction with Spider-Man forever, so there's surely some reason behind such a massive change. This is simply the most likely reason as I see it. 
What are your thoughts on the comic though? Please feel free to say so below with any speculation, reflection on events or even criticism with this theory. It's always good to hear what others thing on these matters.

Saturday, 27 July 2013

X-Men Origins: Wolverine - Where Did It All Go Wrong?

With The Wolverine hitting cinemas, now seemed the best time to return to the last time the character was given a film exploring his history: X-Men Origins: Wolverine. However, this won't be a review. Were it, almost everything said would be repeating things stated better by other people citing a lack of logic, bad CGI, over-emphasis upon fanservice and decent ideas which the script ultimately never made use of. The film is bad and there's little to really argue against that, as such we're instead going to explore just why the film was so bad.

Rather than it being from a singular issue, many have brought up how the film fell apart in minor way both in terms of structure and simple logic. Many of these related back to series continuity and keeping track of events from previous films, but others can be put down getting script-writing 101 completely wrong: Little to no use of re-incorporation of characters and plot elements, and a lack of impact from said developments.

Many things we see are only used once if at all and on the whole are generally given little meaning or enough focus to feel meaningful to the film. Think about the old couple Wolverine runs into upon escaping from the Weapon X facility. They're the first people he encounters after a traumatic operation, involved with him for some time following the event, even give him his trademark jacket, yet ultimately mean little to the plot itself.

They're killed off almost as soon as they are introduced in order to shunt the story along, yet their introduction at that point suggested that they should have had a much large impact upon proceeding events. It's as if the film didn't want to deal with any additional baggage they might bring, yet needed some way for Wolverine to quickly recover and stay in one place long enough to be found. The script needed something to happen, but the writer didn't want to deal with any impact or character issues these figures might introduce.

The problem of introducing things and then abandoning them is rife within the plot, starting right from the beginning and even the entire basis of events which are supposed to push things forwards. We see Wolverine and Sabertooth both as children growing up, yet only for a few seconds at most. Furthermore, any impact from the death of their parents is completely undermined by the fact we didn't know them. There was nothing to connect to from them, no attempt made to establish them to the audience or even outline their most basic characteristics. As old and as mocked as the walking corpse mentor or parent trope is, there's a reason it exists: When done right their death resonates with the audience and characters, making them feel as if they were a proper part of the film.

We then go onto a montage of their centuries long lives, showing them in multiple battles but none of that experience ever seems to have real impact upon them. It's the reverse of Highlander almost. Say what you want about that franchise, but flashbacks are used throughout to flesh out the characters, their histories and give insight into the person they are in modern day. Connor's world weariness, the Kurgan's overpowering insanity and thirst for power, such details are made clear through these flashbacks. Here we get nothing beyond a flashy set-piece without substance, and that's the crux of the problem.

X-Men Origins: Wolverine wasn't made to make real use of what it had, it was made to jump between sections of Wolverine's life to get to the flashest and most supposedly fan-pleasing moments. 

Why is Gambit in this? Because of fan-service. Why are so many recognisable mutants members of Stryker's unit? Because of fan-service. Why is Patrick Stewart, Cyclops, Emma Frost and many others in this, despite having no connection with Wolverine? Because of fan-service. 

The same goes with the action sequences. 

The film merrily jumps from one action sequence to the next but never takes the time to deal with the consequences of actions, or even make use of the characters it introduces. Often shoving them under the bus in favour of keeping things going or forcing them into fight scenes so contrived Mark Millar might as well have had a writing credit. Wolverine's fight with the Blob makes little sense within the film, and no real reason is brought up for why it needed to take place. Blob is then unceremoniously killed off-screen, making his involvement completely pointless save for one fight and fan-service.

This is really all that Wolverine came down to, efforts to distract the audience from bad writing with fan-service and fight scenes. The plot itself was a bigger and bigger excuse to get from one of those scenes to the next and never maintained any semblance of logic, often insulting the audience's intelligence in the process. Here's more or less how the film worked:
"Wait, we've gone more than ten minutes without a fight scene, have him fight the Blob for some reason! Agent Zero doesn't need to be in this film anymore, have him killed off in a big battle before we lose people due to a lack of action! We've gone on long enough without a fan-pleasing moment, throw in a link to X-Men 2!"

To make this clear: the film's story wasn't a story, it was just one big excuse at the end of the day. A big one to throw in as much flashy explosions and events as humanly possible. It's something which might work with some productions, Van Helsing etc, but at least they clearly weren't taking themselves seriously. Here the creators of Wolverine still seemed to be determined that their movie be taken as a serious work, as seriously as the other X-Men films had been, without any hint of awareness that they had made a dumb action film.

This is something we'll be looking into more as time goes by, especially in comparison with The Wolverine, but it's a issue Marvel has not entirely avoided. Still, that's a topic for another day.

Sunday, 21 July 2013

Farsight Enclaves - Early Thoughts (Warhammer 40,000 Codex Supplement)

So here we are again, another codex supplement for an army. Another opportunity to expand upon a minor, often ignored, faction of an army and giving them the chance to retain individuality. New rules, new fluff and unit variations all the while utilising the army's main codex as a backbone for the book to work off of.

The last time one of these was released, we ended up with an abysmal wreck of a book which was the antithesis of basic logic and good writing. It contained barely any rules, continued the failings of 40K's current direction with characters, and seemed purely build around a single type of unit. The flashiest ones which could be shown off for the army. The fluff was unfortunately even worse, to the point where the book might as well have come with the warning "This writer did not bother with any research."

Unfortunately for us all, the new supplement focusing upon the military of everyone's favourite sword wielding rogue xenos general is more of the same. Sharing many of the problematic traits of the last book and looking like something squirted out in under two months to make a quick buck.

At this moment in time I unfortunately don't have the time to spend eight thousand words analysing the rules, fluff and characters. In all likelihood I won't have any time to do anything like that until mid August, and will be reserving a lot of the material for analytical evisceration until then. For the moment however, consider this to be an insight into some of the core problems with the codex.

The most crippling problem within the book early on is the quality of its editing. While Games Workshop, or more specifically Black Library, has been critised continually for shoddy editing and grammatical flaws. Common issues being "chaos" being misspelled as "Chaos" when a scene involves a disorderly disaster not Bloodthirsters, and vice versa. Some flaws are acceptable, especially when they're hidden within paragraph after paragraph of fluff. Basics outlining what your army can and cannot, not so much.

The internet has already picked up on a few of these, most notably this gem:

What it's supposed to do is prevent you from taking Aun'Va or Shadowsun as they represent loyalists within the Tau Empire. Due to being a double negative however, it in fact says that they must be included within the rebel army which has broken off from their Empire. Oh dear.

Others which have been pointed out involve the wording of certain units and the inclusion of models, especially with Farsight's chosen elite the Commander Team. Trust me, there are dumber names in this book. Effectively what it does it replaces traditional Crisis Battlesuit bodyguards with a selection of special characters of varying points costs with their own abilities and options. Here's how it's outlined within the book:

See if you can guess the game-breaking problems with the specific descriptions here.

Have you spotted it? It says that Farsight may join a unit of these characters and to select any one of the eight below. The eight below include Farsight himself. You can potentially have two Farsights in the same unit. Each one is stated to be Unique, but it counts Farsight as being both within the unit and joining it meaning the wording can easily suggest there being two of him. This is to say nothing of the misprints with some of the characters. Thanks to screw ups and errors with Commander Bravestorm, winner of this year's worst named character award, means Farsight can enter the battle with multiple Riptides serving as his bodyguards. Somehow the Commander's XV8 Battlesuit was replaced by the fifty foot tall attack mecha in his profile.

To say all of this has barely been touched by editors let alone looked at more than once is an understatement. Lots of little details seem to contradict themselves or are left open to Plasma Syphon levels of abuse, far more than you'd ever expect to see in any officially printed codex. While the book might dodge the problems with the last supplement by actually including more rules, it's far too rife for abuse via wording. Codex: Rogue Trader was better proof read than this, and that was fan-made! Unfortunately the fluff is just as bad with a huge number of contradictions in tone and direction to Codex: Tau Empire.

While a definite step up from the disgraceful lack of respect for the source material which crippled Codex: Iyanden, the book fails to do any of Tau Empire's ideas justice. The payoff for the decade long mystery as to why Farsight broke away from the Empire, the Etherals' understanding of the universe, all of it is continually botched at every turn. Either delivered with an insulting lack of gravitas or build up, or written in a way which is at best amateurish and at worst phoning it in. I want to save as much of this as possible for an actual review, so here's a quick rundown of some of the bigger problems:

Farsight's encounter on Arthas Moloch has about all the emotive drive and narrative strength of the average Wikipedia article. In blunders headlong into events with little to no build-up and the actual events have nothing of interest to them. It also retains no secrets, leeway for interpretation or even alternative views. Nothing is left for people to consider or even to become invested in and every answer given is a disappointment. Either making little sense or just generally doing little to make use of the concepts it has available.

The Dawn Blade itself is more a non-answer than anything else as it turns out every single last theory behind it was wrong, but its origins fail to have anything of significance. It just originates from an unknown, unseen alien race from somewhere which will never be expanded upon, but without any in-universe documents or opinions it fails to build up any atmosphere about the race. For all the flack the Necrons get for their codex (the actual Necrons not SPESS TOMB KINGZ!!!) they at least had writers determined to create mystery and interesting concepts behind them. Here we just have what appears to be the unenthusiastic product of a sixty second brainstorming session.

Things like the descriptions of the Etherals are where the big contradictions and problems begin to arise, especially as they are delivered as straight faced fact. Not, as before, with certain hints and motivations which allowed for personal interpretation in their actions. Here, the codex outright says that the Etherals are keeping the true nature of the Warp hidden from everyone inside the Empire. Yes, they know about daemons, they supposedly know of the gods and the entities which reside within the Warp; they just suppress any information about them. Keeping their followers in a state of "obedient ignorance" for reasons unknown. It's as if people didn't think the comparisons between the Crusade era Imperium and the Empire weren't clear enough, and felt they needed to throw in a ham fisted approach to the Warp identical to the Emperor's failed gambit. Not only does this attitude fail to add up with the previous book's direction, but it dumbs down the Tau as a whole.

This is an angle which might have worked easily had there been more of an effort to make it clear these are Farsight's thoughts. A personal account, written text from his perspective, something just to make it clear this is open to interpretation. This new fluff on the Ethereals is built from his deductions, but none of it is written in any way to make it clear they're opinionated views. Instead it's written as straight faced fact, with no hint what's on paper being wrong or the result of one faction's perspective.

Still, this is nothing compared to some of the unquestioningly insane moments such as the Tau carving a world to bits until it resembled a polygon in order to show off. Why? To Who? Your guess is as good as mine.

The only real compliments which can be given is that there are at least more rules here this time and less art pillaged from THQ's cooling corpse, though plenty is still recycled. Furthermore it tries to account for Farsight's access to units before and after succeeding from the Empire. Beyond that though, this is more of the same from what we saw from Iyanden. Same stupidity, same heavy focus upon one group of flashy units (battlesuits), same problem with ignoring the army in favour of HQ choices.

As stated previously, these are early thoughts with only looking through the book in brief, but it's clear there are many failings here. If this trend keeps up, supplement codicies are soon going to become a byword for "GW cash-grab."


Warhammer 40,000 and all related characters and media are owned by Games Workshop.

Saturday, 20 July 2013

The Raven: Legacy of a Master Thief (Video Game Review)

Read this review in full on

Thursday, 18 July 2013

Top 10 DC Superheroes Who Deserve A Film - #5-1

Welcome to part two of the list. If you missed things last time then feel free to see the previous part here, which outlines the beginnings of this list along with initial choices. The list has been rewritten slightly due to some revelations and last minute edits, but things have mostly remained the same here.

That done, here's the Top Five DC Superheroes Who Deserve A Film.

5 - Batgirl (Cassandra Cain)

Who Is She? 
One of several figures to bear the title of Batgirl, Cassandra Cain had a far darker history from the others of her kind. Trained from an early age to be a part of the League of Assassins by her father, she was taught to read body language and brought up specifically without speech. Something which was hoped to give her an edge in picking out targets. This backfired when she was horrified beyond words upon reading the body language of her first target as he died. An event which traumatised her to the point of refusing to take another life. Arriving in Gotham she managed to gain the trust of Batman and his allies in spite of her past. Despite a lack of any metagene, many of her abilities have been considered superhuman in nature and well above that of even physical perfection. Something suggested to be the result of her mental state.

Why Does She Deserve A Film? 
Due to her unique nature and history, there is a great deal of story potential behind the character. While she has connections to Gotham she is not innately tied to it and has often had series set beyond its borders. She could be utilised in many of the cities less seen in the DCU's adaptations such as Bludhaven. We briefly saw in The Dark Knight how Batman dealt with infiltrating and attacking his foes across the world. Imagine a story with a character doing just that, but with fewer resources and on a much larger scale.

Furthermore she's a character with a history and events which would resonate far more clearly in the universe if the League of Assassins were introduced than we saw with Bruce Wayne, and one who might be forced to take a darker path. To give another comparison with the Nolan trilogy, the League of Shadows mostly served as a background role. In Batman Begins they were mostly behind the scenes, with Batman targeting the crime bosses working for them.
Imagine films in which Batgirl was disassembling the organisation as she fought it, taking it down piece by piece. Each time showing more of how it operated and her father's reactions upon learning who was disrupting his operations. It would be a very different film from before and one fitting of her character.

Why Won't She Get One? 
Mostly because of the recent changes in the canon. With Barbra Gordon once again being Batgirl, Cass has been pushed by to a side role elsewhere serving as a member of Batman Inc. (a network of funded crime-fighters working across the world). This means that if they did go for a film it would likely not be her wearing the mask.

A further problem is that thanks to a distinct lack of research by certain writers, much of her character was changed beyond recognition. Infamously after reappearing following one of DC's major Crisis events, she was suddenly a villain spouting long monologues and with little resembling her previous character. The damage control done did little to help things and many details which did make her interesting were lost. This lack of uniqueness in the majority of her appearances would work against her, and likely cause writers to just use the better known Batgirl.

4 - Vixen

Who Is She?
Mostly one of the DCU's background characters, Vixen has none the less played a role in a large number of events throughout the universe's history. Having taken part in Identity Crisis, Final Crisis, the events of Blackest Night and other events besides she's familiar with big events. Similarly she has fought crime and superheroes on a much more basic level, alongside the Justice Society among other groups.

What makes Vixen stand out his her powers, able to mimic the skills and powers of a multitude of beasts from her animal totem. This can range from gaining the swimming skills and sonar ability of a dolphin to gaining the endurance and amrour of an abalone. Many of these are enhanced to a superhuman level, the latter example allowing her to withstand punches from superman.

Why Does She Deserve A Film?
Many people are likely already typing "why choose her over Animal Man?" As much as I might like him, Grant Morrison's impression of the character is the most iconic one for the character; something which carries a number of problems. The foremost is that while the story is great, many films of a character seek to immediately replicate or take elements from the most popular tales. The run he is best known for has Morrison's problem of being balls out insane, something which might put off film creators and audiences alike. Both in how they might be accepted and how well many of the fourth wall breaking elements might be adapted.

Vixen by comparison has a well defined character but without as much baggage, having a relatively well developed character but mostly playing out as a side character. This would allow for her to have a film which wasn't taking elements from major plotline, see the problems of that in the Green Lantern film, but hopefully making the best use of the character. Her connections to Africa would also allow for us to have stories set outside of the United States at long last, or perhaps taking a different tone from before. Especially considering her involvement with the Suicide Squad and conflicts with figures beyond traditional criminals or superheroes.

Why Won't She Get One?
Besides being a largely unknown side-character in the comics, nearly every version of her history has been depicted playing second string to bigger name heroes. Both her DCAU and Brave and the Bold self were often used only as love interests, as such if she's not held in reserve for a team film then there's a good chance she'd be added as a love interest as another character. As a result she wouldn't be given the chance to be the hero of her own film or focus character.

Another problem is that due to her African background, some of her powers might be considered derogatory. Borderline racist or overly simplistic, focusing upon the African wildlife better known to the world rather than the nations themselves. It's an accusation with very shaky footing, but one which is repeated by a portion of comics readers in more than a few places. It's not hard to imagine studio executives seeing this and deciding that if such opinions already existed they could generate a massive backlash upon themselves.

3 - Firestorm

Who Is He? 
Something of a legacy character, Firestorm has had more than one incarnation with different people merging into a single being to create Firestorm. Among these were Ronnie Raymond and Jason Rusch, both of who wielded the hero's powers for a considerable amount of time. The character was often used as a commentary in the nuclear arms race when he was introduced in the early 80s, and later on given more mystical aspects as a fire elemental.

Firestorm's actual powers are alchemical in nature, capable of changing the elements and chemicals which make up objects. This is done via rearranging the subatomic particles and their atomic composition, meaning he can literally turn lead into gold or someone's hair into methane.
The most recent incarnations had the characters separately forming their own powers, but merging into a greater creature known as the Fury.

Why Does He Deserve A Film?
Primarily for two reasons: The first is that the exact nature of Firestorm's powers makes him stand out from many of his kind, both due to being a merger of human beings and Fullmetal Alchemist style matter manipulation. Many people are used to seeing Superman's enhanced strength, eye beams, the martial arts skills and physicality of a multitude of characters, but not something like this. Someone who can adapt their entire environment around them, corrode criminal's guns, even alter the air they breath into something to knock them unconscious. He would be an opportunity for writers to break out and truly start using superpowers in inventive ways.

The other is due to the way the character (specifically Jason) was written when he was reintroduced in 2004 was with a sense of humour. Something more in line with Spider-Man and less straight faced than the more successful DC films before now. It would help add more variety to the universe and offset some of the deadly seriousness of the Batman and Man of Steel films.

Why Won't He Get One?
Due to the financial success of the Amazing Spider-Man, the DC films might either end up aping the film's style and convert Firestorm into more of a Peter Parker character. No matter how well it fitted with the actual characters of the superhero or the storylines. It would depend heavily on how things go and what DC would have to contest with in a potential competition with Marvel. It would also likely equate to studio interference with the direction, something which is rarely a good thing.

The other problem is that Firestorm as a character has had multiple origins. It would be hard to truly include each character his fanbase supports and the studio would have to choose which incarnation to support. The most obvious of these is the New 52 version as it involves both primary protagonists, yet is a major departure from the classic idea behind the character. Also making an origins story more difficult as a result of how Firestorm has evolved within the current comics. With no single, relatively united fandom to rely upon he might be ignored in favour of bigger or more reliable DC characters.

2 - Aquaman

Who Is He? 
King of the seas, ruler of Atlantis and founding member of the Justice League; Aquaman is one of the biggest names in the DCU. Combating multiple threats alongside and behind the backs of the JLA, Aquaman is seen combating threats both within the oceans and beyond them. Within the JLA he has served as their expert in things mystic more than once, and while not a specialist like Zatanna he has fought gods, angels and giants a multitude of times.

Along with super strength, heightened durability, the ability to breath water and command of one of the most advanced military forces on the planet; Aquaman has telepathy. Usually utilised to command everything from plankton to the spawn of Cthulhu, he can quite happily throw swarms of megalodons at people he takes on. This is ignoring its uses against non-marine brains, which range from erasing memories to giving people seizures.

Why Does He Deserve A Film?
Because he's one of the single most powerful figures on earth with a long history, series of antagonists and a strong supporting cast. Even more so than the likes of the Flash or Green Arrow, Aquaman has a strong base to work from and a number of characters personally involved with him. He was exiled from his kingdom, his half brother was driven insane and is now one of his worst foes, even he and his wife Mera have a long conflicting history. In the hands of a good writer this wellspring of plot hooks, writing opportunities and angles to work off of. The same sort of thing which worked well with the Spider-Man mythos in the comics until someone decided he should make a deal with the devil, or even in Sam Rami's trilogy.

Furthermore, despite what people think he has the ability to hold his own against just about anything thrown at him and frequently combats gods in order to protect the earth. Once a year, every year, without fail he teams up with Etrigan the Demon to stop Great Old Ones from launching invasions onto the planet.

Furthermore, if DC is trying to work their way towards a Justice League film then he would be a definite character worthy of throwing into the mix. Both as a founding member and someone who could truly make use of big battle set pieces with his own abilities, as shown here.

Why Won't He Get One?
Due to a certain very old cartoon and vast number of internet jokes which refuse to die, no one can take him seriously. Even a surprising number of comics fans these days unfortunately.

Another issue would be his environment. It would only make sense to set the story at sea, but it would be hard to truly write a plot in the depths of the ocean and weigh heavily upon the CGI budget to have a film there. 

1 - Martian Manhunter

Who Is He? 
Commonly considered the Justice League's "Swiss army knife" J'onn J'onzz is one of the last of his kind. One of the original inhabitants of Mars, his species was wiped out in a disaster which rendered the entire planet barren. One later revealed to have been unleashed by his brother Ma'alefa'ak, which targeted any being with telepathic capabilities. Heading to earth Manhunter remained among the humans since that time, using his natural abilities to combat crime and fight alongside the Justice League's multiple incarnations. 
Often his battles have led him to combat other survivors of his kind, or other sentient species who occupied his world. Either due to desires of conquest over humanity or outright insanity as a result of what took place.

Many compare Manhunter with Superman in his abilities and it's easy to see why. Along with super strength, enhanced endurance and flight, he has x-ray vision and the ability to fire energy beams from his eyes. Unlike him, Manhunter is a telepath of considerable strength and shapeshifting abilities. Ones which allow him to do everything from increase his size to that of a skyscraper, disguise himself as other humans and even transform into utterly alien shapes.

Why Does He Deserve A Film?
Largely due to his skills and experiences. While he might have multiple superpowers, Manhunter is an accomplished detective and someone often relied upon to piece together mysteries. Either via scanning the minds of those suspected to have committed a murder or crime terrible enough to warrant invading their minds, or his own deductive skills.
The Dark Knight might be known as the world's greatest detective, but few to none of his films actually allowed him to utilise such abilities. Either the plan was told to the audience or he found it out through his own mistakes. The only real occasion of detective work coming from examining a bullet hole with a level of bad science which would make CSI blush. It would again allow for a different approach to superhero films and do something beyond what we've seen in the cinema before.

Furthermore, unlike Superman he witnessed the death of his world first hand. Understanding how everything fell to bits and had a much closer connection to the disaster itself. Some even blame him for what happened due to his connection with Ma'alefa'ak; all of which gives him far more character than being the last survivor of a world he never really knew. There's also a considerable link with Darkseid which could be worked with, with his invasion being effectively the cause of the Martian extinction. All of which work extremely well in developing the film universe beyond just earth.

Why Won't He Get One?
Most likely due to the many comparisons which can be made with Superman. He's an alien who fled to earth, the last of his people, the others of his kind left are hostile to him, he's an outsider; much of this sounds the same. In fact when it comes right down to it, many elements sound exactly like what we just saw in Man of Steel. Repeating something seen so soon in a genre is something which would possibly drive away potential audiences, especially if the creators did opt to use other martians as the antagonists.

A further problem would be the whole alien angle. The Superman films were always able to give the audience a direct connection with the hero thanks to him growing up on earth, knowing their customs and for the most part dodging around the more alien aspects of krypton. With a Martian Manhunter film they would need to balance out aspects of his alien nature and attitudes while not distancing himself enough to lose all audience sympathy, something not easily achieved. A detail which would likely put off any interest which there might be in the film from studios when there are far easier and more popular heroes to adapt to the big screen.

So that's the top ten list. There were a few others like Black Canary and Red Tornado which would have been added if it were longer, but here are the ones which ended up being listed. Bare in mind this is just a personal opinion. If you have your own choices or object to someone being put there, please feel free to say so in the comments section.

Wednesday, 17 July 2013

Path of the Eldar (Book Review)

Read this article in full on

There is clearly a great amount more thought put into the evolution of Thirianna’s skills and her master's teachings, as it feels as if she has forced herself to accomplish far more and had her abilities genuinely grow. This is also helped by the note that the eldar do still craft new weapons of war, runes and items rather than relying purely upon relics; an eyebrow raising detail Path of the Warrior ignored.

Sunday, 14 July 2013

Layout And Future Plans

There's going to be no review today due to other commitments. Instead this time is going to be devoted to talking about the site itself and upcoming schedule changes.

More than a few of you likely noticed the lateness of the review on Friday. This was due to an unfortunate schedule screw-up on my end with people not informing me of plans, timings and arriving late to events. It was no single person's fault, nor did it ruin anything on that day, it just resulted in most of that day's time being consumed. It's one of several very time consuming events which will be coming up over the next month, at least until August the 6th and as such schedules might be erratic.

Between ThatGuyWithTheGlasses' tedious, perpetually freezing, repeatedly breaking down blog system and life in general I can't guarantee there will be daily articles. I'll try to keep things going for as much as possible, but if there's no one out on the usual time it's likely not coming. With any luck things should return to normal after only a couple of weeks.

In addition to this, regulars might have noticed the site's layout shifting about a few times in the past month. Since applying to adsense at long last, it's been a case of shifting things around to account for new features and incorporating as best as possible. Things are still being tweaked to try and improve the visual look,but this is likely what we're going to be sticking with. With any luck there shouldn't be any more dramatic changes from here on, but just expect to see one or two odd looking things with the front page.

That's really all there is for now. To those reading, thanks for continually trawling through the crap I pass off as reviews and articles each day and for your continued patience. 

Saturday, 13 July 2013

Pacific Rim (Film Review)

Pacific Rim is one of those films where all you need to know really is in the trailers. There are giant kaiju rising from a portal at the bottom of the sea, humanity is making big robots called Jaegers to fight them, Idris Elba is their overall commander and they're on the verge of defeat. Anything you don't know you're told as a plot development and nearly all of the story is one big excuse to get huge fights.

The film knows exactly what it wants to be, what it wants to show audiences, and isn't under any illusions that it's anything grander than that. How does it stack up given this? Extremely well.

The term Power Rangers Grimdark has been thrown around a lot since people first learned of the film, and it's a pretty accurate description. Replace Zordon with the B.P.R.D. and remove the special finisher moves of the robots, and you've got your film. A long, visceral series of fights between huge opponents which continually spreads out into civilian districts, areas of commerce and such, allowing for fighters to be body slammed through skyscrapers. And pick up boats as swords.

The camerawork in these fights is steady, emphasising upon money shots and giving a real impression of not only their size but the physicality of their conflict. Something which is good given that a big concern was that the CGI would lack the presence and weight of the practical effects of the more traditional kaiju flicks. 
More impressively is the sheer inventiveness of each battle. While there are only three fights in total, every one brings something new to the table at every turn. At one point a three armed mecha might start performing wrestling moves on an enemy monster. At another, a mecha might use its nuclear turbine as a chest cannon a-la Iron Man. At the next, a bigger kaiju has appeared, or another has gained flight, or the next one has attained the ability to spit acid.

The brawls are good, inventive and everything the trailers promised is the point; so what about everything else?

For starters, the film does a competent job at world building. While it unfortunately never stops long enough to really examine a lot of ideas, many good concepts are brought up. Chief among these is the government seeking more practical, cost effective methods to deal with the kaiju threat and others seeking to profit from the giant monster attacks. Cue Ron Perlman clip. Furthermore the actual supporting crew are as outlandish and colourful as you'd expect of a del Toro film, eccentric bordering upon insane and add character to those beyond the pilots.

There's also a genuine acknowledgement of how events progressed and the world reacted to the idea of giant monsters. After the first one was brought down after a staggering cost to conventional weapons, the world mourned but then moved on just as it normally would and only began to change once more began appearing. Relying upon so few people for protection, many Jaeger pilots became celebrities, their own styles and approaches to combat with the public celebrating them.

The problem is that while we see this, it's only to a very limited degree.

The film is set at the very end of the conflict with the kaiju and as a result, a lot of history is skimmed over. The opening narrative explains the initial progress of the war to protect humanity via news clips and narration, but very little of it is actually explored. We see brief moments of the history, how everything went to hell and the threat posed by the kaiju but there is visibly so much more potential which could have been utilised. 

The same oddly goes with the mechas themselves. Gypsy Danger, the protagonist's mecha, is the only one we see fighting extensively against the enemy with the three others mechas Striker Eureka, Crimson Typhoon and Cherno Alpha taking the backseat. Striker at least gets into a few fights, but Typhoon and Alpha are only briefly seen despite it being made clear these are the last Jaegers and with very experienced pilots. Each was unique and it's a real shame that in a film about mecha we see so little of very interesting designs.

The film's plot itself is also fairly predictable and the heroes' plan is almost beat for beat that of Independence Day, right down to the nuke. Just replace mothership with portal and there you have it. For a film with such an insane premise, it would have been good to see something more original as a fight.

What helps excuse the plot is the obvious love shown to the genres and inspiration by the film's creators. Many mecha anime and kaiju tropes arise within the film, right down to a number of factoids and character traits. The actors themselves are obviously in on that latter point, chewing though a gourmet of scenery and enough combined ham to occasionally register on the BRIAN BLESSED scale.
Many of the fights and settings themselves have brief elements of Godzilla battles which you can pick up on with enough knowledge, and most tellingly being the sound track and cues sharing very distinct similarities with the Godzilla themes, especially during the fights. You also know that a film team is devoted to their genre when the end credits teaser is left in to mock the one from Roland Emmerich's Godzilla.

Ultimately Pacific Rim is definitely big monster style over substance, but it doesn't try to pretend it's anything besides that or go that step too far. It's hammy, violent, over the top and everything people wanted it to be. The only unfortunate thing is that it lacks some of the heart and more recognisable characters of something like the Hellboy adaptations. Something admittedly more a problem with the giant monster genre as a whole than this individual film.
The point is that if you like what you've seen in the trailers, go see it in the cinema with 3D. You'll not regret seeing it and the eye candy on display, plus the rapid pacing, will keep you entertained for its 132 minute run-time.

Honestly, the only thing which would have had me love it more is if they threw in this guy somehow:

Friday, 12 July 2013

Godzilla Vs. Mechagodzilla 2 (Film Review)

We're skipping between films in the Heisei era for a moment to focus upon this film. While they might have Godzilla Vs. Mothra between them, Godzilla Vs. King Ghidorah and this film are two of the best examples of this era's continuity.

Despite the continued development of the JSDF's weaponry, it's becoming painfully clear that conventional attacks are doing nothing to the kaiju. Despite new variants of maser tanks and advanced jetfighters, nothing so far has done anything to scratch Godzilla's hide. The last three times the giant radioactive lizard attacked, he tore though entire cities before being fortunately driven back by other kaiju. Biollante, Mecha Ghidorah and last time by Mothra and Battra. With this in mind Japan opts to fight fire with fire.

Fishing the remains of Mecha Ghidorah from the seabed, the they reverse engineer the futuristic technology and make a monster of their own: Mechagodzilla. Armed with weapons and armour specifically designed to kill the beast, they hope to kill the daikaiju once and for all...

Following on from Godzilla Vs. Mothra's example, this film thought bigger than its predecessors. It had more monsters on the screen, more events to keep the pace going and had Japan doing something besides getting wrecked at every turn. However, unlike with King Ghidorah it never thought too big and went overboard in its ideas keeping things focused. The introduction of Rodan to this era is a big point of this. As well as giving the film another monster, his nest introduces the infant godzilla found there (yes, there's more than one big-G it seems) allowing for Japan to research his biological weaknesses and give Mechagodzilla a fighting chance against the adult. Everything build and links into one another far more effectively and as a result things are much more tightly written.

The infant godzilla itself gives something far more tangible for the actors to work with and makes it feel they're more a part of the film. Not simply running around doing their own things while the monsters duke it out, something which was a big problem in a few of the Heisei era's films. Well, that and actually having pilots fighting Godzilla personally, piloting Mecha-G and giving commands/communicating in a similar manner to a tank crew. Communicating similarly with a command crew from a base, a military support force and even a repair facility.

The kaiju fights themselves are definitely fun but lack some of the wight of previous battles. The Haisei era definitely favoured flying monsters over ground based ones, and that's very clear here. Despite having a very weighty, armored design Mechagodzilla spends much of the time using a jetpack to circle strafe his foes. Rodan is the same, utilising his wings due to, you know, being a giant pteranodon, and the support craft Gaurda.
While this can work at times, it removes a lot of the physicality in the fights and results the monsters often trying to avoid one another. Mechagodzilla blasting away with in-built guns while Rodan more frequently makes hit-and-run attacks, often utilising the slipstream of his fight. The few times either of them get into fisticuffs, it's either due to a malfunction which shuts down the machine (and thus a one-sided beat-down) or is incredibly closely shot to hide the limitations of the monster's designs.

None of this is to say the fights aren't good, they just back some of the elements which made the series enjoyable for so long. When the film truly embraces the monster's abilities it becomes very entertaining with the fight attacks occasionally striking Godzilla at full speed and smashing him to the ground, or he and Godzilla engaging in a full on DBZ-style beam war. Not the standard kind either as visible damage, bleeding and explosions rock both monsters, conveying the genuine harm of their attacks.

While lacking some of the more contemporary elements of the Godzilla franchise, Godzilla Vs. Mechagodzilla 2's it's definitely one of the strongest entries of the era and feels the most balanced. Containing ham and cheese o' plenty but not going as overboard as with Godzilla Vs. King Gheidorah and acting a bit smarter than the usual rubber monster film. Its influence on Pacific Rim is also obvious in many places, from the eccentricities of the Mechagodzilla projects science team to the kaiju sharing Godzilla's weakness introduced in this film.

If you're at all interested in watching Godzilla films, this one is highly recommended. It displays the quirks, tropes and aspects Pacific Rim is hearkening back to from this genre, along with being a decently enjoyable film in of itself. It's far from perfect, far from serious drama, but there's enough here for people to have fun with.