JSA Reread Part 6: Injustice Be Done cont.

Sorry about the delay, the holiday’s got in the way.  I have one ready to go here, and another one by the end of the week. This entry finishes up the Injustice Be Done storyline, including the epilogue issue.

JSA 19: Into the Labyrinth

Johns, Goyer, Sadowski, Bair and Champagne. 


This issue starts with Wildcat and Black Adam at the Rock of Eternity.  Wildcat doesn’t believe that Black Adam has actually reformed, while Black Adam argues the he doesn’t need reformation.  According to him, all the villainous acts he did were under the control of Theo Adam, his descendant who gained his power.  They are at the Rock of Eternity to ask the wizard Shazam to help them find the Spectre.  Instead, they find the Spectre right there waiting for them.  This Spectre is not the same Spectre from last issue’s flashback.  Now the soul controlling the Spectre’s powers is former Green Lantern Hal Jordan, a character that Geoff Johns has quite a history with.  He wrote the series Day of Judgment where he made Hal Jordan the Spectre.  A few years after this story, Johns will finish Jordan’s redemption with Green Lantern Rebirth and make him a Green Lantern again.


Now it moves to Johnny Sorrow and Sand at the center of the maelstrom.  The King of Tears is coming into the world and as he does so the world is changing to fit him.  Once he is completely manifested in reality, then the barrier between his dimension and ours will disappear and all sorts of unworldly horrors will come through.  Some already are.  According to Sorrow, the JSA has only hours.


Continuing the check up on each member of the team, Star Spangled Kid, Hawkgirl and Mr. Terrific burst into a hospital with the dying but stable Green Lantern.  Terrific has managed to save his life, but only for the time being.  He needs a real doctor.  Back in the horror dome, Black Canary is giving Dr. Mid-Nite CPR.  She manages to revive him.  It turns out he didn’t die when he looked as Sorrow’s face because he is technically blind.  Also, Canary is in tears.  Their abortive relationship is one of the great disappointments of the series. They had something interesting going, but then somewhere else Green Arrow got resurrected and she ran right back to him.  As they chat, Flash shows up, covered in electricity from absorbing Rival’s speed (and stealing his helmet).  The three of them can’t stop the reality altering themselves, so Flash runs to get help.


He comes back with JJ Thunder, a character introduced by Grant Morrison in JLA’s Crisis Times Five, who has Johnny Thunder’s genie.  So he summons the genie and uses it to fight off the bug looking monsters that are appearing. As the four of them fight, Black Canary wonders what happened to the team’s other heavy hitter, Dr. Fate. Segue to him looking for his missing wife.  He is visiting the comatose woman that gave birth the baby version of him in the first issues of this series.  He uses his Dr. Fate magic to reveal that the Jane Doe coma patient is actually his ensorcelled wife.  Which adds another layer of creepiness to his story, since remember she gave birth to him.  And that is the entire interlude with Dr. Fate.


Back with the team, the genie is being overwhelmed.  Just as he is about to give up, Mr. Terrific and the others arrive.  Terrific gives him a pep talk while the girls jump right into battle.  Star Spangled Kid goes to Black Canary with the growing problem of Hawkgirl’s weirdness. Finding his confidence thanks to Terrific, JJ uses the genie to take out all of the bug monsters.  However, that doesn’t do anything to stop the growing problem of reality changing. Luckily, just then Wildcat, Black Adam and the Spectre show up. The Spectre goes one on one with the King of Tears, who strips him down to just a skeleton.

JSA 20: Godspeed

Goyer, Johns, Sadowski and Bair.


As they team watches in disbelief at the defeated Spectre, the Spectre’s body fixes itself in front of them. Since the Hal Jordan version of the Spectre is about redemption instead of vengeance, he can do nothing against the King of Tears, because it has no soul to be redeemed.  So he apologizes and disappears, freaking everyone out even more.  Hawkgirl calls Black Adam by his ancient name, Teth-Adam.  She is still having memories of her previous lives.


Terrific the hatches another plan, to send Flash running at lightspeed and knock the King of Tears back where he came from.  However, the only Flash that can run at lightspeed is Wally West, the main Flash.  However, with the speed he stole from Rival and stealing speed from the superfast Black Adam, Jay might just be able to go fast enough. In order for this to work, someone will have to disorient Johnny Sorrow so he isn’t controlling the King of Tears anymore.  Dr. Mid-Nite thinks he has a plan to deal with that, though.


After a brief, possibly last, chat with his wife, Jay and Black Adam take off.  The rest of the team starts fighting the returned monsters.  The Spectre shows back up to take away all the citizens’ fear so they can fight as well.  And just to toss one more thing on, Hawgirl call Mid-Nite McNider, the name of the previous Dr. Mid-NIte. As Flash steals Black Adam’s speed, Mid-Nite fights his way to where Sorrow is.  He then reveals his plan: he used his goggles to record Sorrow’s face.  He plays it back a Sorrow, disabling him, giving Flash the opening he needed to punch the King of Tears back out of reality, which causes the city to revert to its natural state.


The team recovers Sorrow’s mask, all that is left of him.  Hawkgirl finally breaks down when Star Spangled Kid somewhat rudely asks her what is going on.  The only problem is that the Flash is still gone.  The last few pages show Jay almost lose himself into the speed force, but he uses Black Adam’s speed to pull him back to reality.  However, instead of coming back to the team, he ends up with Teth-Adam in ancient Egypt.  And it’s not just Teth-Adam, but also Nabu, the wizard that helps Dr. Fate, and Prince Khufu, the ancient precursor to Hawkman.

JSA 21: Guardian Angels

Goyer, Johns and Buzz


Here is the cool down issue that got interrupted to start the Injustice Be Done story, with Sand running about the being rebuilt JSA Brownstone headquarters putting out fires, metaphorical ones, of course.  First there is Black Adam, who is petitioning to be allowed onto the team.  He makes a strong case, if you believe that Black Adam and Theo Adam are different people.  The JSA team, currently short Green Lantern Alan Scott, is underpowered and Black Adam needs the credibility of the team name to rehabilitate his image.  Black Adam is not going to make this easy on Sand either, intimating that he knows the fate of Flash without telling.  Black Adam’s arrival, or at least more permanent arrival since he has been showing up since issue 6, is the big game changer for this series.  With many of Geoff John’s runs on superhero books, the most dynamic characters tend to be morally grey villains.  He built up the rogues on the Flash (especially Captain Cold), took Sinestro through a whole rise and fall redemption arc and is currently doing the same thing with Lex Luthor in Justice League.  Johns is great about getting in the heads of the bad guys and showing how they tick, as well as realizing that good villains do not see themselves as such.  His work with Black Adam, mostly on this title, is the ultimate expression of that.  It works best here because Black Adam is largely Johns’ creation, appearing only a handful of times before Johns got ahold of him here.  With this attempt to join the team, Black Adam manages to come off both sincere and menacing.


Sand them moves on to Hawkgirl, confronting her about her recent odd behavior and aobut how little the team actually knows about her, plot threads that have been running since the very start of the series.  He points out the scars on her arms, last seen in the all ladies annual, which seem to be from a suicide attempt.  Hawkgirl flies off, upset and unwilling to answer his questions.  As we’ll see later, the Black Adam story and the Hawkgirl story are related.  They really combine quite organically and make for a solid history, especially with what is coming for the Hawk characters.

There are a handful of asides that finish up the Wildcat’s son abortive subplot (Killer Wasp is not his son, but he did know him), Alan Scott recuperating and talking with and about his two kids, and a slight furthering of Atom Smasher’s walk down his dark path.  This is mostly making sure everyone is caught up on where the major players on this team are, with many of these stories stuck in a holding pattern for now.


After that it is back to Kendra, who is struggling with the changes she is facing.  She meets up with Zauriel, a fallen angel, hence the title of the issue, and Justice League member.  Actually, he is the character introduced to take the place of the off limits Hawkman in Grant Morrison’s JLA, which was supposed to use all the big heroes.  He tries to offer Kendra help, but she’s not having anything he’s offering, whether it is religion or love, which is what caused him to fall.  That love talk does segue into a two page aside with Black Canary and Dr. Mid-Nite on another date, which both seem to be enjoying.  Then is back to Kendra and Zauriel.  He finally gets her to open up about her attempts at suicide after her parents were murdered.  When she was unconscious after ODing, she sensed someone there with her. Someone named Khufu.

With that name, the scene jumps back to Ancient Egypt, with the Flash.  Khufu was an Egyptian Prince, one who would later be reincarnated as Carter Hall, better known as Hawkman.  Flash is not quite sure if he believes that, though he does believe in the Thanagarian warship Khufu has.  This is a key piece of Geoff John’s revival of Hawkman.  There were several distinctly separate versions of the character that were hard to reconcile.  The first was the reincarnated Egyptian Prince, later was the space cop from the planet Thanagar.  Then there was the avatar of the Hawkgod and the other Thanagarian space cop.  Those, plus a ton of retcons made the characters a giant mess and they were abandoned for half a decade or so.  But Johns and Goyer smartly found a way to work around all this, starting with Flash finding the space ship in ancient Egypt, creating a tie between the two major versions of the characters.


Next is the most heartwarming part of the issue, with Mr. Terrific, Star Spangled Kid and JJ *ahem* Jakeem Thunder signing autographs and playing basketball at a youth center.  This is one of the great things about the JSA; that they are shown to do things besides fight bad guys.  Like the X-Men’s occasional relaxing issue has the team playing baseball or basketball, the JSA members spend their downtime doing charity work.  Jakeem is a little put off by this, and also gets in a pretty sick burn on Mr. Terrific.


After a page of Jakeem railing at Mr. Terrific about how being a superhero is a bunch of nonsense (not necessarily untrue, but not on point when they are helping out at a youth center) and generally just being unpleasant, Mr. Terrific walks away, only for Star Spangled Kid to tear into him for being a disrespectful little jerk.  It shows the growth her character has been through, both in this title and her Johns penned own book.  She starting out as nothing more than a disrespectful little kid and has grown into a fine heroine.


It then goes back to Kendra and Zauriel for one more little conversation, with Kendra asking him about reincarnation.  After going back and forth for a little bit, Kendra supposes that her memories of past lives are from her near death experience after her suicide attempt.  Zauriel has a different guess, that her suicide attempt was successful and a new soul now inhabits Kendra’s body.


Now that there is a solid base to build from, this is when the title really starts to take off.  Most of the seeds for this run have been planted, with Black Adam, Atom Smasher, the Hawks, and Dr. Fate.  All of the characters are firmly established and the JSA really finds another gear.  There is certainly a lot to chew on with this somewhat downbeat issue.  There are no fights, just the characters coming to terms with how things stand now.  Still, it really sets the table for stories to come.

Next Time: The Return of Hawkman.

On the Road to Baldurs Gate

There was once a time when I did most of gaming on a PC. That time was from 1999-2002, give or take some time on either side. Baldur’s Gate, as well as the other Infinity Engine games, was a big part of that. As much as I love those games, my experiences playing Baldur’s Gate is a big part of why I don’t do nearly as much gaming on a computer now.

My brother and I always argued about what video game system to get. I wanted a SNES, he wanted a Genesis. He won that round, and I really wish he hadn’t. I did have fun with the Genesis, but all the games I really wanted were for the SNES. Next time around, he wanted a PlayStation and I wanted an N64. That time I won and I regretted it. There are some absolute gems in the N64 library, but not enough to keep even a poor kid like me happy. So, before I saved up the money to buy one of the redesigned PSOnes, I had to turn somewhere for my gaming. And where I turned to was the computer. Mostly RTSes. I played Command & Conquer, C&C Red Alert, Warcraft II, and Majesty, among others. As a fan of RPGs on the SNES, I was eager to see what the much hyped computer ones were like. I didn’t really understand the difference at the time, all I knew was that I liked Final Fantasy. After getting bogged down in PC version of FFVIII (really, that is how I first experienced that game) I picked up Baldur’s Gate from the discount rack at Wal-Mart.


I loved it immediately. Having never played D&D (that is the one geeky bridge I’ve never crossed) the character creation was completely new to me. I rolled dozens of characters in all kinds of classes and all different races. I knew how to eke all possible experience out of Candlekeep before I left with Gorion. I plowed through the Friendly Arm inn and Beregost and Nashkel and explored the nearby environs thoroughly. Then I tore through the mines, clearing out all of those pesky Kobolds, only to be told to purchase the full game. I was a fool; I didn’t realize that I had purchased a trial version that only included Chapter’s 1 & 2. This next part might be on me, but a year or two later, when I finally tracked down the full game, I couldn’t figure out how to import my character from that save to the full game. It may be possible, but I couldn’t figure it out.

That is what killed PC gaming for me. There was too much to keep track of. Just because you had a computer didn’t mean your computer could play your games. Just because you had the game didn’t mean you had the right or full version of the game. It was exponentially more difficult to deal with than a console, where you put in the game and played. Those difficulties with PC games are much easier to deal with when you actually have the money to solve your problems. I was just a 12 year old kid trying to get things working on the family computer; it was a frustrating experience.

After feeling betrayed by that trial version, I couldn’t get back into Baldur’s Gate. I played BG2 for quite a while, but never got more than halfway and I played but never quite managed to beat either of the Icewind Dale games. For a long while I moved completely away from playing games on the computer. But in the last few years, the combination of Humble Bundles and Steam sales has given me a big selection of computer games to play, among them the Enhanced Editions of Baldur’s Gate and its sequel.


I’ve finally got into Baldur’s Gate again recently. I did a lot research, not wanting to make things more difficult on myself than I had to. I settled on a class for the MC (Dual class Fighter/Cleric) and decided who was going to fill out the rest of my party. I’ve been running around the areas in the southern part of the map for days. I’ve moved the party members around, solved the bulk of the available sidequests and finally worked my character up from a level 1 weakling to a sturdy level 5 beater. I understand that that is still small potatoes, but he is now strong enough to handle some things. My mage party member (the less than fun Dynaheir) has finally started being good for more than one daily shot of Magic Missile. And Imoen has stared being able to put her thieving skills to good use. The biggest disappointment has been Minsc. Not that he is not still an excellent addition to the party, his skill with a bow makes him a worthwhile addition no matter what, but I remember enjoying his goofiness a lot more. He is still somewhat amusing, but it doesn’t quite tickle my funny bone like it used to.

Just the other day I finally cleared the Nashkel mines again. It was much easier than I remembered, but I was playing as a Fighter this time instead of a still underpowered Mage. I am now further in the game than I have ever been, though I am still a ways away from actually entering the city. I will, though, and soon. This time I will beat the game and exorcise it from my memory. This has always been one of those games I intended to beat one day. Well, today is that day. I will beat this game. Then I will import my character to the sequel and beat it as well. Or maybe I’ll get stuck trying to root some Trolls out of a castle again, who knows. I do know that I am glad I’ve finally been able to return to this game.

Persona Q

I love Persona 3 and Persona 4. They are some of my favorite games on the PS2, well-realized on both the gameplay and story sides of things. I also have greatly enjoyed the Etrian Odyssey series on the DS and 3DS. Though the two series are plenty different, such as Persona’s incredibly well written characters and Etrian Odyssey’s player created blank slates, they also have significant overlap. Both are fairly difficult dungeon crawlers, imbued with an old school sensibility that forces players to fend for themselves at times. The announcement that Atlus was making a game that combined the gameplay of Etrian Odyssey with the characters from those two Persona games was about the best thing I could imagine. While the end result was an excellent game, it didn’t quite live up to my exaggerated expectations. Everything combined nicely, except for the cast. There are just too many characters there for any of them to get their due. Persona Q: Shadows of the Labyrinth expertly turns the various systems of both Persona and Etrian Odyssey into an engaging gameplay experience, but can’t quite make room for all the characters in the story.


The battle system is an odd mix of the two series. It has the Shin Megami Tensei series’ elements and focus on hitting weakness, but also Etrian’s binds. It uses Personas, but not in the same way that rest of the series does. Each character has their set Persona, but each character is allowed a secondary Persona. They don’t alter stats or anything like that; they are simply receptacles for extra skills and a slight HP/TP boost. The boost is the biggest quirk of the battle system. The bonus HP/TP regenerates at the end of every battle. It incentivizes using some skills in every battle, but not going all out. It is best to use one strong skill, which is essentially free, and finish battles quickly rather than get drawn into a long battle. The boss battles turn things on their head, though. Instead of quickly know outs, they are going to be long drawn out fights. They tend to be more frustrating than fun, since you have to change your strategy around completely to make it work.

It is a battle system prone to wide swings in momentum. Critical hits or hitting a weakness gives that character a free use of a skill. If you can consistently hit weakness the battle turns in your favor, if not you drain your resources very quickly. It can be frustrating, when only a few battles sends you back to heal up, but when things are going right it is quite satisfying. Also, instant death magic in this game is stupidly overpowered. To make the majority of a breeze, just jam Naoto, who has both flavors of instant death magic, into your party and obliterate everything in your path. Combine it with the skill impure reach, easily available at low levels, and she destroys the game by herself. It makes it hard to look at anything else when one strategy is so overwhelmingly effective.


The dungeon crawling is the best in any of the Etrian games, better than those in Strange Journey, the DS attempt at a similar style game. Each floor brings a new and tougher puzzle. In terms of complexity, Persona Q’s floors start out near the middle of an Etrian game and work up from there. They tend to be very windy with specific puzzles rooms. The difficulty of the puzzles depends on the player’s fear of the FOEs. The game conditions players to fear them, but often if you treat them like a boss battle the FOEs can usually be defeated. They tend to hand out both drops for good equipment and a healthy chunk of experience, making it worth the player’s time.

The story is the big disappointment with game is the story. I came in wanting to enjoy it, expecting to enjoy it. And to a certain extent it is. The central storyline, that of Rei and Zen and why the two teams are stuck in the dungeon is solid. Nothing too unexpected or groundbreaking, but it is a solid enough foundation to build this story on. The problem is with the characters. All of the returning characters from Persona 3 and Persona 4 are, in their own games, great characters. Combined, however, there are just too many of them, so none of them can get enough focus to feel real. It doesn’t help that none of them can actually change, since they have to go back into their own games from right where they disappeared.


Really, there are just too many characters around. Only 5 can go in the party at once, but all 17 them talk as though you brought them along in the dungeon. So the whole cast gets reduced to one drop in characteristic. Teddy is after the girls, that is his only motivation. Chie likes meat, Akihiko protein and Rise the P4 MC. Some of them do come off better than others, though. Little Ken from P3 strikes up an unlikely friendship with P4’s Kanji. Occasionally Mitsuru gets through an uncharacteristic fun. Aigis was never my favorite character, but here her robot act, as overplayed as it is, is a fun counterpoint to the rest of the game. For the most part, the one-note cliché’s the characters are reduced to drop in far too often to to interrupt the player’s progress through the dungeons. A few times is okay, but it is constant and unceasing, making what should be a delight something that is more than a little frustrating.

The last problem with the game is that it hangs around just a little too long. Persona Q took me about sixty hours to beat, but I stopped enjoying it after about forty five. I trudged through the last dungeon, which is fine on its own merits, continuing with the game out of a stubborn desire to not let the game beat me. I should have just let it go; I would likely have remembered it better. Now that I’ve beaten it, I like it again, but I don’t love it. If I were to redo my Top 10 list from last year, it would either move from where I put it at to slot 10 or just off the list at 11, or maybe just stay where it was. Persona Q: Shadow if the Labyrinth is as good as anyone should have expected it to be, but that doesn’t mean I didn’t get my hopes up way too high and set myself up for some slight disappointment.

All Things Must End

Recently the last season of Psych hit Netflix. I didn’t remember liking most of those episodes when they aired, but I do remember being largely satisfied with the ending. Watching the season again mostly confirmed those memories. I have also been watching 30 Rock. It has a really truly terrific ending. I wanted to write about how these shows shook the trend of TV shows falling apart at the end and having terrible endings. The problem is, the more I thought about shows that I like, the more I realized that most of my favorite shows have really good endings. In fact, I can think of more good endings than bad. Honestly, as much as I like it, Psych kind of gets stuck in that bad ending rut, if the whole season and not just the last episode are taken into account. Coming up with a satisfying ending for a long running TV show is clearly hard, though not surprisingly, good shows manage to do this more often than not.

The problem is with the nature of American TV. Shows are designed to be eternally in the middle act. There is a pilot, an opening, but after that most shows are not really moving anywhere. They are telling stories, but the action is designed to leave the characters right where they started. Seinfeld is not building to anything and there is no natural end point for Friends. Psych is set up to tell mysteries, the characters may grow and change some, but the central relationships are firm. The longer a show runs, the more likely it is that things start to break down. One change causes another change, then another, rippling out until the changes start to tear the fabric of the show apart. The trick is getting the most out of a show but ending before it changes into something else entirely.

Shows tend to end badly for two reasons. Or possibly for one reason depending on how one looks at it. They either end too soon or end too late. Take My Name is Earl, for example. It is, or at least started as, a pretty darn good show. (That first season is excellent, but the show kind of lost its way but the end.) Still it is a show with a built an out. Earl has a list; the show ends when he completes that list. However, the show actually ends on a cliffhanger, with a shocking revelation about Earl’s black son, Earl Jr., having a different father than everyone suspected. The show has the worst kind of ending: no ending at all. It is hard to say that a show with 4 seasons was cancelled too soon, especially one that was as far off track as Earl by the end, but it still deserved some kind of resolution. That is a show that ended too soon. On the other hand there are shows like Scrubs, which clearly went on too long. For give or take four seasons, Scrubs was some fine television. However, the show stayed on the air longer than was good for it. So long that most of the original cast moved on. It is hard to find a satisfying conclusion for a show that ran for the better part of a decade when the characters that everyone loved are no longer part of the show. That show hung on way too long. Good shows can make the best of those situations. Arrested Development certainly ended too soon, but its first ending, the end of season 3, was as good a wrap up as possible. And The Office went sorely off track in the later seasons, only to rally in its final season and go out with a truly excellent final episode.

The important thing for an ending is tone. While something more poignant is possible and sometimes fitting, with a show that has been running the better part of a decade cheese might be the best option. At least for a comedy, with a drama that is a different proposition. Malcolm in the Middle’s ending is occasionally preposterous, but also touching. Completely fitting for the show, though. The idea that Lois has planned out Malcom’s future entirely, right down to how he becomes President, is equally ridiculous and expected. It is a perfect example of what shows should strive for. It feels momentous, clearly an ending, but still a part of the show.


Psych is a show that seems to have held on a little too long. There are still some good episodes in the last season, but it feels very flabby. The mystery plots are muddled or nonexistent. The show is more concerned on how it is going to bring the series to a close. Characters are moving around. First, Chief Vick is removed. Then Lassiter is made chief. Then Juliette leaves with Chief Vick. The central character relationships that were the heart of the show break down over these last ten episodes and it feels drawn out. There are highlights, like the first episode of the season which is a Guy Ritchie pastiche filled with Harry Potter jokes and one last Cary Elwes appearance. Honestly, it is one of the great episodes of the series. Then there is the last episode, titled The Break Up. Shawn is trying to break up, not with Juliette but with Gus. He is going to San Francisco to be with Juliette. This decision is made easier with the new head detective, who is good enough that she doesn’t need Shawn and Gus to help. It is amazing how well the episode manages to give a fitting ending to each and every character. Lassiter is chief and has a wife and kid, eternal whipping boy McNabb finally gets a promotion to detective and Henry stumbles into teaching criminology. Shawn relocates to San Francisco to be with Juliette and work with Chief Vick (with a bonus shout out to Monk thrown in there) and finally proposes to Juliette. There is a decent mystery tangled up in there, but it is mostly tying a bow on everything. Season 8 of Psych is not a good season of TV, but it does manage a quality ending to the series.

The other ending I recently watched was that of 30 Rock. I didn’t give that show its due when it was on the air. I don’t like being told what to watch. I take a slightly absurd amount of pride in the fact that I came across Arrested Development early in its run. I started watching it somewhere around episode 10 when it originally aired. I was the one telling all my friends and acquaintances to watch it. The same goes for The Office, which I discovered at the start of its second season. With 30 Rock, I was seeing all the gushing love for it online, but to me it seemed to come at the expense of shows I like more. I was a fool. I’ve now watched the show through on Netflix several times. Every time I watch it I like it more. The ending, specifically the last three episodes, are just about perfect.


30 Rock is a show with high peaks, but no significant troughs. It nearly captures the manic pace and interconnectedness of Arrested Development and keeps it up for more than twice the run time. It should be no surprise that it has a great ending. Still, it ends as well as possible. With a show about a show, the ending is obvious. The show must get cancelled. This happens in A Goon’s Deed in a Weary World, the third from last episode. It has Liz desperately trying to save TGS while Criss prepares for the arrival of their adopted kids. Also, Jack looks for his replacement. It ends in what could have been the last episode of the show, with TGS cancelled and Liz meeting her kids, who act just like Tracy and Jenna. But that is not the ending; there is a two episode coda. It shouldn’t work, but it does. Liz tries to deal with being a stay at home mom, but it isn’t for her. She ends up doing one more episode of TGS to avoid paying Tracy thanks to an odd clause in his contract. How it ends is known, but it lets the show give the characters an extended farewell, one last chance for everyone to shine. It is a perfect encapsulation of the show. Perfect character beats between silly pratfalls and constant in jokes. The show goes out on a song from ‘The Rural Juror,’ Jenna’s movie from way back near the start of the series. It is funny and touching and perfect.

30 Rock is the perfect example of how to end a TV show, though few shows have been consistently well written enough to pull it off. Psych does things less well, but it still manages to salvage things, leaving a largely pleasant taste in the viewer’s mouth. Both of these are good shows, and they have good endings. Which the more I think about it the less it seems exceptional. I hope the few show currently running shows I’m into can have as good of endings as these two shows did. Let’s hope Parks and Recreation goes out on top, and Always Sunny in Philadelphia can go out on the bottom. And if we are all lucky, maybe someone will perform a mercy killing on The Simpsons and Family Guy. But that is another subject entirely.

What I Read in December ‘14

I only managed three in December, another month in a near yearlong slog. I could have pushed it and finished up on more, but I just kept to my usual pace, which meant I finished it up a couple of days into the New Year. Still, I got a few read. I am quickly running out of Wimsey mysteries from Sayers; I’ve greatly enjoyed the series and hope to find another set of similar books to dig into. Also, my physical book supply, which recently ran dry, was completely restocked on Christmas, when I got a stack of books as tall as I am. Here’s to actually hitting my reading goals in 2015.


Murder Must Advertise

Dorothy Sayers

In this mystery, Peter Wimsey guest stars in Mad Men. Not quite, but it does feature the detective getting embroiled in a murder in an advertising agency. This story lets Lord Peter play to a lot of his strengths in fun ways. Sure, he gets to show off at an inter-company cricket match, but he also gets to throw around words for a reason for once. Peter is hired to investigate a murder at an advertising agency, but in order to keep things quiet, he assumes the role of Death Bredon, a supposed Wimsey cousin. He also gets involved with a fashionable crowd that is big into cocaine.

Some of the parts don’t really work, like the poorly explained cocaine ring, but large parts of Murder Must Advertise are just a lot of fun. It separates Wimsey from most of his usual allies. He spends a little time with most of his friends and family, but other than a small role for Parker, they don’t have much to do in this one. It is all on Lord Peter and the people introduced in the ad agency to carry things. It kind of becomes a little workplace comedy for the middle part of this, as Lord Peter comes to like working at the agency, though he really has no stake in the goings on. Despite the murders and the cocaine, it feels a little lighter than others in the series. It just gives Lord Peter more leeway to enjoy himself.


The New York Trilogy

Paul Auster

I didn’t know what I was getting into with this. While these are detective stories of a sort, they aren’t really genre stories. These are stories that feature detectives, but they are more surreal explorations of identity and authorship. They are about people getting hired to investigate and losing track of who they are. Interesting and dense, this really wasn’t what I was expecting when I started reading this. Really, I don’t know what to make of these; I feel this trilogy needs to be studied and I really didn’t spend enough time with this to dig into them. I also don’t think I like it enough to put in that time.


The Rithmatist

Brandon Sanderson

In incredibly reductive terms, this is Sanderson’s take on Harry Potter. There is some truth in that; this is about a kids a magical school of sorts. But it is different enough and more than interesting on its own merits. It is set in an alternate reality where America is half submerged and the American Isles are fighting against monsters from the island of Nebrask. They do so by infusing chalk drawings with magic to create chalklings, which they call Rithmatics. It follows Joel, a student at Armedius Academy, though not a Rithmatic student. Though unable to perform magic, he does love to study it. A new teacher arrives at the school, and students start to disappear. Joel, along with a remedial Rithmatic student and a disgraced professor start to investigate. Along the way, Joel proves himself adept with drawing, though still not able to perform magic.

While the world and setting are completely different, it does hit a lot of Harry Potter-esque beats. It is more than just the school setting, it is the combination of the overlooked students and possibly evil teachers and equal importance put on school goings on as the more serious and deadly plots. While that part isn’t exactly original, the originality of the setting more than makes up for any echoes of other works. The Chalklings and Rithmatics are unlike anything else I’ve read. I’m not sure this is Sanderson’s best work, but it is a brisk, fun read. I can’t recommend it highly enough.

Now Playing in December ‘14

I played a lot of Smash Brothers and a lot of Persona Q during December and that is about it.  I did get a couple of game for Christmas, and there are several on my backlog that I am going to get to in the new year.


Smash Bros WiiU – still great fun, still can’t stop playing it.

Captain Toad Treasure Tracker


wrote about it here.  Really, really great game.


Okami HD


I didn’t make as much progress on this as I’d hoped; I only played it for a few hours.  I’ve really just opened up Shinshu field.  I love this game so much.  It is absolutely a favorite of mine.

Stealth Inc 2 – I downloaded this on a whim and in a desire to get to my next bonus with Nintendo’s Digital Deluxe promotion.  The first half is a pretty delightful puzzle platformer.

Suikoden – another game I didn’t play quite as much as I intended to.  I played through until I got my castle, but I was sidetracked by Persona Q.  This is a small, simple game, but it has so much charm that it is easy to love.

Theatrhythm Curtain Call


a Christmas gift from my cousin.  I’ve only played through a small selection of songs, but it is more of everything I loved about the first game.  Once I finish Persona Q I’ll dig back into this.

Persona Q: Shadow of the Labyrinth – a pretty excellent melding of Etrian Odyssey and Persona, but I don’t think it works quite as well as either of the parent series.  Still, it is a near thing.  I’ve put 60 plus hours into this and enjoyed nearly all of them.


Persona 4 Arena Ultimax – I got this for Christmas, but haven’t had the chance to crack it open.  I will soon.

The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword – I finally rescued this from my brother and can get to finishing up my Zelda series replay.

Persona 2: Eternal Punishment – One of my goals for this year is to get to all of the various Shin Megami Tensei game’s I’ve bought and haven’t beaten.  After how much I loved Innocent Sin, I but this one first on the list.

Time for a Few Changes

I’ve been doing this blog a long time now and I’m getting a little tired of how I have things set up.  So I am going to be making some changes.  A new look, a new name.  I doubt my output will change much, but I kind of hope to have a little more structure to how I do things. (spoiler – that won’t happen) My biggest hope is that the new look and name will spark a change in me. As much as I enjoy writing here, I don’t feel like I’ve grown much as a writer since I started this.  It may be wrong to say this, but I’m not really worried about how many readers I have.  Don’t get me wrong, I hope people read what I write and enjoy it, but this is largely an exercise for me order my thoughts.

The new name is a long time coming.  We are Finally Cowboys has always been stolen from a song title in the game No More Heroes.  I liked that song, and I like the slightly nonsensical whimsy of it.  However, as long as I am using this title, it doesn’t really feel like this is mine.  Also, the sub-head of “A man’s desperate refusal to put away childish things” was cheeky and fun when I started this, but what is amusing to a 24 year old is sometimes a little sad for someone pushing 30.  So that will change as well.  What will it change to? I’m not sure as of yet, but I’ve got it narrowed down to a couple of options.

At the end of last year I tried to get a lot of my ongoing projects finished, not just here but elsewhere.  I finally finished up my let’s play of Fire Emblem: the Sacred Stones over on talking time.  That only took me four years.  I almost finished my much delayed replay of the Legend of Zelda series (my take on Skyward Sword should be up shortly) and I meant to get back and finally finish my reread of Wheel of Time reread, but again I came up short.  I will finish both of those this year.  It will take me a while, but I will also finish my JSA reread, though right now that project feels like it is casting around without a purpose.  There is a good chance that I will start some other project that I lack the time and patience to finish.

Once I complete the unfinished business, I hope to do things a little differently.  I will likely post less frequently, but I hope to make up the difference in the length and quality of my posts. Fewer, more in depth posts is the goal. I guess time will tell.  I will be adding a third regular monthly post, one for movies and TV to go along my with monthly video game and book journals. There are a lot of things I watch or play that I don’t really have 1000 words to say about them, but still want to get some thoughts down.  Also, I plan to add an index, but that project might take me a little longer to get up.