The World is Knit Enough

Yoshi’s Woolly World is a decided triumph of aesthetics over innovation.  That sounds like a negative, but I don’t really mean it that way.  Woolly World doesn’t really do anything new; it is essentially the same as Yoshi’s New Island which was essentially the same as Yoshi’s Island.  Even its look is not wholly original; it is the same as Kirby’s Epic Yarn for the Wii, which was also developed by GoodFeel.  While the gameplay doesn’t push any boundaries or even attempt to do so, the yarn aesthetic goes far beyond what was done in Epic Yarn.


The biggest and most effective change from previous Yoshi games to this one is that it ditches baby Mario.  That is no great loss, baby Mario was terrible.  With him on Yoshi’s back, the game stops gets significantly less frustrating.  Now a hit is just a hit, not an excuse for to hear the only noise more terrible than Yoshi’s own cry.  Other than that change, Yoshi’s Woolly World sticks pretty close to what Yoshi’s Island did.

Woolly World’s brilliance is how it reinterprets every element of the game to fit into its yarn aesthetic.  Yoshi and most of the enemies are made out of yarn. Instead of eating enemies and turning them into eggs, they become balls of yarn.  That yarn can then be used to fill in platforms and hidden pipes.   The Koopa Troopa’s shells are made of buttons.   How effective the game is in making each of its enemies fit into the game’s look is astounding.


It is not just the enemies, though.  The whole world is made of yarn.  Clouds are cotton balls.  Other objects are made of wooden spools and towels.  It makes for a world that appears completely thought out and crafted.  The game is just a joy to look at.  Whether or not the WiiU is underpowered, Yoshi’s Woolly World is one of the best looking games of the year.

While the most striking part of the game may be the graphics, it plays good as well.  It has a nice smooth difficulty curve, starting out fairly easy and working its way up to maddeningly difficult.  All the stages have a handful of hidden items to find that gives the games several levels of challenge without having express difficulty level.  Getting through each stage is rarely all that difficult.  What makes it hard, and satisfying, is trying to find the five hidden flowers and yarn spools hidden in each level, let alone the twenty hidden stamps.  Some of the game’s tricks for hiding things are not particularly enjoyable, but the game is mostly a joy.


Nintendo pumps out these nearly great platformers as a matter of form.  Yoshi’s Woolly World isn’t great.  It’s not Super Mario 3D World or Donkey Kong Country Tropical Freeze.  It is more on the level of New Super Mario Bros.  This is a game made by people with a strong understanding of how this genre works.  It isn’t pushing the genre forward; it is content to merely be an outstanding example of this kind of game.  In a very slow fall, that is all it needs to be.

Another Turnabout

I don’t think I gave Ace Attorney Justice for All a fair shake the first time I played it.  I fired it up immediately after completing the first game, so coming down from the high of that experience I played through this one and found it to be just more of the same.  Which it is, but with a little time between games it drags a little less.  Also, spacing out the games helped me focus on the narrative that of this game.  I have always felt that they got the subtitles mixed for the second and third games.  Justice for All felt more like the triumphant finale than the middle chapter, where Trials and Tribulations seemed perfect.  However, after replaying JfA, I have realized that they got it right.


There are plenty of problems with Justice for All.  It returns the most annoying witness from the first game, Oldbag, and somehow makes her even more annoying.  To top that, they also came up with a new witness that is even more annoying in Moe the clown.  The second case, while actually very good, does hew a little too close to the first game’s second case, with both of them featuring Maya as the defendant.  Other than that, some sections seem too drawn out and some of the leaps in logic are a little obtuse and harshly penalized.  

Still, there is a strong central story that shines through.  JfA features a pair of prominent newcomers, Maya’s niece Pearl and new prosecutor Franziska von Karma.  Pearl is a nice piece of comic relief and is mostly there to give Phoenix someone to play off of when Maya is indisposed.  Franziska takes Edgeworth’s place and the player isn’t quite sure is she is more in Edgeworth’s mold or her father’s.  Still, she provides a great adversary for Phoenix for fight against.  


Despite being absent for most of the game, Edgeworth looms large in this game.  His fate is central to the game.  After he was defeated by, and then defended by, Phoenix in the first game Edgeworth disappeared. While he left a note claiming to be dead, he actually went on a journey of discovery.  Both Phoenix and Franziska are upset, he at Edgeworth and her at Wright.  His return at a pivotal moment really pushes the last case over the top.

The early cases, mostly ignoring the tutorial-esque first case, set up some conflicted murderers and rather unsympathetic victims.  The real victim of Case 2, Reunion and Turnabout, is Maya.  She is not just framed for a murder; she is framed for a murder by her very own aunt.  The game goes out of its way to make the murder victim as unlikable as possible.  The interminable Turnabout Big Top, is one never-ending tragedy.  The murder that makes up the case is the one intentional act in a sequence that ruins the lives of most of the circus performers.  

The whole time Phoenix is backed by his rock solid belief that his clients are innocent.  He knows there is no way that Maya killed anybody, even though it seems almost impossible that anyone else could have committed the crime.  He also has the same belief in the slightly less trustworthy Max in the next case, who also proves to be innocent.  The last case, Farewell My Turnabout, Phoenix takes the case because Maya has been kidnapped by one Shelly de Killer.   De Killer says that the client is innocent, but he is still blackmailing Wright to get that verdict.  


This is when we see the meaning of the subtitle.  After Von Karma is non-fatally shot, Edgeworth returns to take over as prosecutor.  As the trial progresses, a shady deal that Von Karma had struck comes to light, a deal designed to ensure a guilty verdict whether or not the defendant was guilty.  So far the game has consistently shown the lengths that prosecutors will go to get a guilty verdict and Phoenix has been the righteous bringer of justice.  Now, Phoenix is tempted to foist the conviction off on someone else, who is also likely innocent, just to get a not guilty verdict.  Is he any better than the people he faces?  

That is the question the finale is dealing with: is Phoenix really after justice for all or just a not guilty verdict.  While it has to work hard to engineer the situation, it turns out really well.  Ace Attorney: Justice for All is the least essential feeling game of the original trilogy, but it is still well written and a ton of fun.

Viewer Beware!


Goosebumps is exactly what it proposes to be.  That is not an entirely good thing, but it is hard to fault the film for it. A film based on a series of somewhat spooky children’s books was never going to be more than a children’s movie.  Goosebumps goes strongly for humor rather than horror, but it is otherwise cashes in mostly on nostalgia for those old books.

Instead of adapting any of the dozens of books in the series, the Goosebumps movie is about the books themselves.  That allows it to feature many of the monsters that have appeared in the series at the same time.  It stars Dylan Minette as Zach Cooper, who moves from New York City to Delaware.  Living next door is the enchanting Hannah, played by Odeya Rush, and her reclusive and abrasive father played by Jack Black.  When Zach and his new friend Champ suspect something has happened to [], they break into the house, avoid the bear traps in the basement and find that his neighbor is actually RL Stine, famous author of the Goosebumps series.  Then they open a locked manuscript and free The Abominable Snowman of Pasadena.

That line about the bear traps should be the biggest clue that this movie is playing things for laughs rather than scares.  It uses all sorts of horror imagery, but is all jokes.  It works surprisingly well. It allows the movie to have sets like an abandoned carnival in the middle the woods and have characters spout lines like “the school is just on the other side of the cemetery.”  It is spooky themed silliness.  See, the monsters become real because Stine wrote his books on a haunted typewriter that made whatever he wrote become real.  Unfortunately, as they chase down the snowman, Slappy the evil ventriloquist dummy escapes and takes all the books with him.  As more and more monsters escape their books,

Your enjoyment of Goosebumps comes down to three things.  The first, and least important because most of it is self-explanatory, is a familiarity with the series.  There are numerous references that fans of the series, even if you haven’t read the books since you were in grade school, should pick up on.  The next is a tolerance for CG tomfoolery.  The CG is reasonably well done; though it never really fools the viewer into thinking any of it is real.  The giant insect, Sasquatch and werewolf all look similarly fake, but they share an aesthetic that makes it seem deliberately a little cartoony and not a failure to look realistic.  There are some fun shots, but it is all pretty cheesy.  Lastly is how much enjoyment do you get out seeing Jack Black mugging and talking in funny voices?  Because that is a big source of this film’s humor.  As a big fan of Black who grew up reading Goosebumps books, this mostly works for me.  The target audience is parents who read the books and their kids and this movie is likely to satisfy them.


The Incomparable Love of Mr. Miracle and Big Barda

Even though my reread of JSA has stalled (I’m still working on it) I still wanted to write about some comics. My first instinct was to write about Final Crisis, possibly my favorite big superhero crossover. It has long been on my list of things to write about and it is in my mind right now having just read Multiversity. Unfortunately, I don’t know that I have anything to add to the conversation about Final Crisis, a conversation that has been over for a few years anyway. My next instinct was to write about the Giffen/DeMatteis and Maguire Justice League International, another longtime favorite. I got started looking through that and decided what I wanted to write about it, but what stood out to me was a pair of characters that have a sizable following but aren’t ones that jump to my mind when thinking of that book: Mr. Miracle and Big Barda. They, or at least Mr. Miracle, were longtime members of the team, but characters like Blue Beetle, Booster Gold and Guy Gardner tend to be the ones that take the spotlight. Fortunately, Miracle and Barda have plenty of other comics where they did star. The best, of course, are Jack Kirby’s own Mr. Miracle comic from the 70’s, but they were popular guest stars and got a spin-off from JLI.

Mr. Miracle was one of the comics that come out of Jack Kirby’s ambitious Fourth World project. Mr. Miracle, real name Scott Free, was the son of the Highfather, given to Darkseid in exchange for Darkseid’s son, Orion. Thrown into the villainous Granny Goodness’ orphanage, he escaped to Earth, where he became an escape artist. That is his super power, the ability to escape any trap. In issue 4, Kirby introduced Big Barda, the leader of Granny’s Female Furies. She was trained from birth to be a warrior, but Scott’s refusal to bow to Granny inspired her to forsake Darkseid’s evil forces and join him. Together they forged an unforgettable bond.


There is just something so perfect about them. While Scott is a capable fighter, that is never his first inclination. Barda, though, is a trained warrior and tends to push violently through all of her problems. It is a great contrast. Their methods may be wholly different, but they are tied together by their love for each other (Read this Ask Chris, since he says everything about this I want to say better than I do). Having escaped from Apocalypse and reached Earth, Scott and Barda’s goal is merely to have a normal life; a normal life as a couple in Middle America. It is equally heartwarming and impossible. Impossible because they can never truly have that normal life as long as they are who they are and are appearing in a superhero comic book.


The original Jack Kirby stuff is as great as one would expect from Jack Kirby. Mr. Miracle is still working as an escape artist at that time, and Barda’s part in the act, usually setting up the heavy equipment that is going to be used to potentially squash Scott, draws a lot of attention. Then there are her reactions to his escapes, where she and Oberon, Scott’s assistant, both react as though they just watched Scott die each and every time. At the end of that series, the two of them are married and they largely disappear for a decade.

That desire for a “normal” life is a big part of their motivation in the late 80’s JLI. By that time, they have created a life for themselves in the suburbs. While Barda stays home to unconvincingly play homemaker, Scott joins the Justice League as his day job. The two threads of his life constantly bleed together, of course. The best bit might be in JLI Annual 2, where the Frees host a barbeque for the Justice League. Most of the issue is just the various members of the team getting to trouble trying to get to the party, with the Joker escaping from Arkham and stealing a tank just adding to the confusion. Scott, meanwhile, spends the issue trying to get the grill set up while Barda frets violently around the house, trying to get lunch ready to cook as soon as the grill is operational. It is a perfect shot of skewed domesticity.


These two are a perfect pair, so much that one appearing without the other seems like a waste. Each of their appearances is to be treasured. The episodes they appear on in Justice League Unlimited and Batman: The Brave and the Bold are a lot of fun. Mr. Miracle has appeared recently in Justice League, one can only hope that Barda is not far behind.

The Martian


As far as sci-fi movies go, The Martian is much more realistic than most.  It follows Mark Watney, an astronaut who, presumed dead, was left stranded on Mars.  Knowing that survival is a longshot, he determines to “science the shit” out of his problem and survive until the next Mars mission.  In four years. Despite his determination, survival is a longshot, but that does not stop him from trying.

The movie then becomes about Watney’s ingenuity and refusal to give up.  Being a Botanist by trade, Watney turns part of the habitat into a garden to grow potatoes and then rigs up a way to keep them watered without depleting his drinking water supply.  Every problem he faces he comes up with an on the spot solution.  It is an ode to perseverance and thinking on one’s feet.  Back on Earth, it is soon discovered that he is alive and NASA tries to figure out how to handle the problem and how to get Watney back home.  Even they have to scrounge up ways to help him.  

There is something uncommonly optimistic about The Martian.  It is that the closest thing the movie has to a villain is a guy who thinks it is more important to bring 5 Astronauts home safely than to risk their lives to have a better chance of saving one or that when faced with either using their secret rocket to help the Americans or keeping it for their own use, the Chinese space program barely hesitates to lend their aid.  The Martian supposes a world where human life is more important to people than political concerns and national borders.  It only vaguely resembles the real world, but it is a world we could have.

While there is much to love about The Martian, there are some weak spots.  The movie keeps introducing new characters for entirety of its run time, which can be jarring.  Some of the dialogue is more than a little one the nose.  In one scene, the guys at NASA breakdown how long it will take to get supplies to Watney and then end the scene by saying ominously “If nothing goes wrong.” That scene transitions right into things going wrong.  

Still, that is more than made up for by the wonderful hopefulness of the movie and its excellent effects.  Ridley Scott’s recent efforts may have produced middling results, but even his weaker efforts (*cough*Prometheus*cough*) have been visually captivating.  The cast is the very definition of star studded, with Matt Damon joined by the likes of Jessica Chastain, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Sean Bean, Kate Mara, Michael Pena and Jeff Daniels, among other notables.  They all do good work, filling in some rather thin characters with glimpses of humanity.  

The Martian is utterly captivating.  Matt Damon makes the marooned Watney come alive.  It is not an especially complex movie, being largely Robinson Crusoe in space with an overriding love for science.  It is easy to compare it to last year’s science fiction hit Interstellar.  Interstellar, which also featured Damon and Chastain, was a more ambitious movie with a more ambitious plot, but the end result was less satisfying.  The floppiness of the ending, moving away from scientific principles to fancies weakened the overall structure of what was an excellent movie.  The Martian stays more grounded, though it is not without its fantastical moments, and feel more cohesive than Interstellar did.  The Martian is just a well-executed film that accomplished everything it set out to accomplish.


Superhero TV Show Round Up

Much like they have taken over cinemas over the last few years, superheroes are also taking over television.  This isn’t a new trend, some of the shows are starting their 3rd or 4th season, but last year marked the start of a full takeover and this fall shows the trend growing in strength.  The stalwarts of the genre are CW’s Arrow and ABC’s Agents of SHIELD, they were joined last year by The Flash, Gotham, and Agent Carter.  This year has already added Daredevil, and will see Supergirl, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, Legends of Tomorrow and Heroes Reborn.  That’s a lot of TV superheroes.  To help out viewers that don’t have the time or inclination to sort through the chaff to find wheat, I will lend my largely non-existent expertise to point out the shows most worthy of your time.

  • Agents of SHIELD:  This show is starting its third season and has yet to show any of the energy or excitement that makes Marvel’s movies so popular.  It gets by on a tenuous connection to those movies, but is otherwise completely dull and forgettable.  I guess you can give a shot on Netflix, but I would recommend skipping it.  Watch it: No
  • Agent Carter:  Unlike the show that this spun off from, Agent Carter does possess much of the energy of its big screen cousins.  Hayley Atwell does a great job with title character and the period setting gives it a hook.  The first season was a solidly interesting mini-series; hopefully this year’s will be more of the same.  Watch it: Yes
  • Arrow:    Starting its 4th season, Arrow is the elder statesmen of this crop of superhero TV shows. It has its strengths, like surprisingly well shot fight scenes for broadcast TV and some interesting original characters; it is also a show that occasionally (i.e. frequently) overplays the melodrama.  Last season was considered by many to be the show weakest, though it did have its moments, but this season appears to be somewhat brightening the tone and changing things up a little.  I don’t know how attentive I will be.  Watch it:  Yes, probably
  • Daredevil: Season 1 is already up on Netflix and Season 2 is due sometime in the first half of next year.  Much like the Daredevil comic, the show is self-serious and almost comically dark, but it also is easily the best made show on this list.  This feels like a superhero show with prestige budget of something like Game of Thrones, as opposed to The Flash’s Dr. Who-like cheesiness.  If that is your thing, go for it.  Watch it: Yes
  • Flash:  The Flash is doing true superheroics, not just costumed karate-man stuff like Daredevil and Arrow, on a limited budget. Instead of trying to mask its cheesiness, it revels in it, making it one of the most entertaining shows on TV right now.  This is the show that best captures the blue skies heroics that make best comics so much fun.  Watch it:  Yes
  • Gotham:  A Batman show without Batman. That should tell you all you need to know about this show.  Despite some solid acting performances, the show can’t hide that it is all prologue.  The end is that Bruce Wayne becomes Batman; everyone knows that.  While a good show could be crafted out of this, so far there is no fun to be had watching the sausage being made.  Watch it: No, aside from some hate watching
  • Heroes Reborn: Didn’t we all learn our lesson last time as the solid first season imploded at shocking speed?  There is no reason for this, the first show thoroughly eradicated any goodwill anyone felt for it.  Watch it: Not a chance
  • Jessica Jones: This is Netflix’s second dose of Marvel goodness and despite some reservations I have about Daredevil’s tone I see no reason not to expect this to exhibit a similar level of quality.  I do wonder how well the shows will connect, considering that the original plan was that they would be 4 mini-series leading to a Defenders show, but when this hits in November I will be jumping right on it.  Watch it: Yes
  • Legends of Tomorrow: The third of the CW’s superhero shows, this one looks to be the most ambitious.  All of the other shows either star one hero or even a team of not actually super powered character.  This appears to be the first attempt at a genuine super team show.  Can they possibly do the Avengers on a CW budget?  Not likely, but the attempt will be interesting.  I also really like the proposed team they’ve set up.  It could be a train wreck, but it could also be great.  Watch it:  Yes, at least initially
  • Luke Cage: This one likely won’t be on until February or March, but much like the other Netflix shows, it should be at least well-made if not actually any good.  It also stars a better character than the previous two. (Yes, Luke Cage, Power Man is a better character than Daredevil) Watch it: Yes
  • Supergirl:  The early returns on this show make it sound very Flash-like.  That is a good thing.  Unlike recent Superman movies, this seems to actually be letting a Super-character be light.  This looks really, really good.  Watch it: Yes

That looks like a lot of TV watching, but only Arrow, Flash and Supergirl are full seasons.  The Netflix stuff is easy to marathon over a weekend or two and Agent Carter and Legends are both going to abbreviated runs.  It is more than likely that I don’t keep up with any of them beyond the Flash.  Still, it is a good time to be a superhero fan.  

What I Read in September 2015

This month I’ve decided to include any comic collections I’d read in the month in their own special section at the end.  If every month is as full as this one, they might get splintered off into their own monthly comic roundup.  I still kept up with my usual reading this month.  I finished a book about Paris I had been reading for more than two months, and read a couple of other things.  It was a good month all together.


The Last Defender of Camelot
Roger Zelazny

Zelazny was a name that I was familiar with, but I have never had the opportunity to read anything he had written.  I picked up a cheap old copy of this short story collection from a used book store a couple of months ago and just now got around to reading it.  It was great.

Not every story was a winner, of course, but the vast majority of them are excellent.  The title story is great.  It features Lancelot, who has been alive for over a thousand thanks to Merlin, teaming up with Morgana le Fey to stop Merlin from waking up and trying to recreate Camelot in the modern world.  Also amazing is Auto-de-fe, a story about a “mechador”, a matador that fights not bulls but cars.  There is also one about a robot vampire.  The stories run the gamut from interesting and thought provoking to just silly little asides.  After reading this, I am very interested in tracking down some more of Zelazny’s work.  This was just a lot of fun.


How Paris Became Paris: The Invention of the Modern City
Joan DeJean

One of the great things about non-fiction is how descriptive the titles can be.  This is a book about how Paris became the first modern city.  It details the social and structural changes to the city that turned it into something special.  Using Paris as the example, it shows how the world changed during the 17th century.  It starts with something as simple as a new bridge and builds from there as Paris becomes a recognizable metropolis.  This is not the most engagingly written book, nor the most exciting subject, but it was still very interesting.


Murder in Mesopotamia
Agatha Christie

Another Poirot mystery. This one deals with a group of archaeologists in the Middle East and one of the my ludicrous twists I can recall.  A Dr. Leidner hires a nurse, Amy Leatheran, to watch over his wife who is acting strangely while they are the site of his dig.  She narrates as she joins the dig company and gets to know all of the members.  When the Doctor’s wife ends up dead, she assists the conveniently nearby Poirot in tracking down the killer.

I love the central thread of this mystery, that Poirot is trying to figure out who Mrs. Leidner was to determine who would want to murder her and everybody on the dig team has a different take.  Since the narrator gives one of these takes, it makes it hard to trust her at times.  Not that it is possible that she was the murderer, but maybe her observations were not quite accurate.  None of the people around appear to have much reason to kill her, though many have their problems and reasons to dislike her.  The revelation of the culprit is a black mark, though, since the reasoning behind it makes no sense.


The Alloy of Law
Brandon Sanderson

I’ve read this before, and probably wrote about it here, but I felt the need to read it again with its sequel coming in the next week or so.  I positively love the setting, mixing the Wild West with some more usual fantasy tropes.  Sanderson clearly spends a lot of time thinking out how magic in his world works, and it shows here with how the presence of guns changes how people use their powers.  He also set up a trio of really interesting characters in Wax, Wayne and Marasi, though Waxillium might be the most ridiculous name I have ever encountered.  It does end up feeling a but slight, as though it winds down just as it gets going, but it is a charming enough tale anyway.  I can’t wait for the follow up.


The Striker
Clive Cussler & Justin Scott

Sometimes you just want to read an adventure.  That is what Cussler and Scott’s Isaac Bell stories are, adventures.  Nothing more, nothing less.  They leverage an interesting setting, the start of the 20th century, and some fun characters into fast moving romps.  There is nothing new or groundbreaking or even especially good here, but it is certainly entertaining.

This time, the story moves back the the early days of Bell’s career as a detective for Van Dorn.  He is looking into someone trying to turn the coal strikes violent, and gets tied up with a beautiful woman and a former protege of his mentor.  This is a clearly younger Bell, a little less sure of himself and less adept at his business, but he is no less interesting.

I do have to wonder about doing this early days take the next book after Bell got married.  His long running romance with Marion reached that milestone in the previous book, but this time it jumps back to before they met and Bell falls for a different girl.  There is no drama there, since readers know she won’t be in the picture for long, so it feels like a wasted note. While this book is not the best of this series, it is still plenty good.

Collected Comic Reading:

Harley Quinn Volume 1


I am a big fan of the writers on this. I have long enjoyed Jimmy Palmiotti’s stuff, usually co-written by Justin Gray, and Amanda Conner is an excellent artist.  This is exactly what a Harley Quinn solo book should be.  I know people are not fans of the Nu52 Harley costume, which is terrible, but classic Harley shines through in this collection. That being said, I don’t know how much I actually like it.  Harley Quinn’s unique brand of delightful insanity doesn’t lend itself well to a continuing narrative.  This book does its best to force her into something that resembles a plot, but it is mostly stops and starts before the book arrives at its culmination.

It is set up as a mystery, with someone sending hitmen after Harley as she takes over an apartment building full of circus performers.  She gets a pair of jobs to help pay for the upkeep, one as a therapist and one playing roller derby.  Other than an issue or two of fun, those threads don’t really go anywhere.  The eventual conclusion of the mystery is goofy, but not unexpected.  The book does manage to be fun, but it is the attempts at ongoing plot seemed forced.  It just feels stuck in between being a joke book and being serious.

Superman Doomed


The fact that this story is readable at all is a tribute to the skills of Charles Soule and Greg Pak, as well as Aaron Kuder and the rest of the artists.  THe story starts out as a mess, with a scattered and moronic set up with Superman becoming Doomsday.  Doomsday is the among the least interesting villains in comics.  He is terrible but for some reason people keep bringing him back and trying to make him important. Just because he has an important part in the colossally overblown Death of Superman cash grab does not mean that he is in any way important to the Superman mythos.  Here, Superman is infected with a Doomsday virus that is part of a plot by Braniac to take over the world.

It is dumb.  The story is scattered and borderline nonsensical.  Occasionally some bright moments leak through, but it is barely coherent at its best.  There are some good character beats, like Steel and Lana forming something of a relationship.  But overall Superman Doomed is a mess, a lot of good creators slogging through some bad work.

Justice League International Volume 4


JLI is one of the best superhero comics ever.  That is just a fact.  This is maybe not the most focused collection of the title, but it is still a really great collection.  It starts with the coda to another story, with a break for a story that’s in another collection, then comes back with a backdoor pilot for the spin-off before ending with a some actual good issues.  

Those first few issues are a mess in term of telling an ongoing story, they are fin comics in an of themselves.  The rest are some classics.  There is the issue that has Guy and Ice go out on their first date, which ends exactly as badly as one could expect, and also has a story where Barda’s car gets stolen and some gangbanger gets ahold of her Mega Rod.  While the book never loses its comedic touch, that story with Barda is actually kind of tragic, with our heroes, in this case Huntress Barda, Mr. Miracle and Fire, trying to get the Mega Rod back from him before he hurts too many people, including himself and failing to save him.  While this book does set most of the league up as a bunch of jokers, they actually tend to be pretty good at the superheroing stuff when the time comes.  The humor ismostly in their downtime.  

JLI is great, and the fact that the collections only get a little more than halfway through the good part of the series is downright tragic.  Some of that is on the publisher, though.  I really want this stuff and even I didn’t realize that there were two more collections after this one.

Star Wars Union


One’s enjoyment of this book is likely strongly connected to a person’s investment in the Star Wars Expanded Universe that was. Without not just a strong connection to the Star Wars movies, but also the numerous books and comics that have come since this is not a particularly compelling work.  As a celebration of a decade or so’s worth of stories, it is a very nice comic.  It brings back a lot of characters for at least a cameo and tells a fairly simple story. Luke Skywalker and Mara Jade get married.  It goes through the usual sort of pre-wedding hijinks and adds a plot by former Imperials to disrupt things.  There is nothing especially exciting or unexpected here, but it is rather charming.  If you want a fun, low key adventure with Star Wars characters, this is not a bad pick up.

What I Watched in September 2015

Just about everything I watched last month was something I had already seen before. Next month I should make a trip or two to the theater and see something new.


Mad Max Fury Road ― Yup, this is still excellent even on the small screen *****

God’s Not Dead ― A complete disaster of a movie. It in no way represents any kind of college or human experience, instead just spiraling further and further into insanity.  I don’t have anything against Christian movies, but this one is just not good. *

Back to the Future ―One of the greatest movies of all time. The attention to detail is amazing, as are the performances by all of the cast.  *****

Back to the Future 3 ― I missed 2, but 3 is the better sequel anyway.  It takes the same basic set up and puts it in the Wild West.  It works while changing it just enough to be fresh. I love it. *****

The Adjustment Bureau ―A great cast and an interesting premise that doesn’t quite live up to its potential. I actually really like this movie, and I love that it has a big concept but keeps the focus fairly grounded but somehow it just feels a little lacking.  Still, it’s not bad.  ***

First Blood ―This movie is not what anyone thinks about when they think about Rambo, but it is still largely an excellent movie.  It is a much more somber film than the others.  Rambo is less an incredible badass and more a completely broken mess of a person.  ****

Cliffhanger ―This was more fun than I remembered.  It is real dumb, but I still greatly enjoyed it.  It is not Stallone at his best, but it is still prime Sly.  ***

The Search for General Tso ― A very interesting documentary about the origins of General Tso’s chicken, a Chinese food dish that doesn’t appear to originate in China.  Good stuff. ****

Rocky Balboa ― This is an excellent farewell to Stallone’s iconic boxer.  A much better film than the dreadful Rocky V.  This one actually manages to get back to the tone of the original while also having something new to say.  ****


Gotham ― It came to Netflix, so I tried to watch it again.  Despite some good performances, this show is a complete mess. It wants to be Batman, but since its premise makes that impossible it doesn’t know what to do, so it just flails along for 22 episodes.  Maybe things will be fixed in the second season.

Now Playing in September 2015

I played more games than I expected in September. I played a lot of two games in particular, Metal Gear Solid V and Super Mario Maker. Both of those games are going to be frontrunners for game of the year, especially with heavy hitters like Zelda and Persona 5 missing the year.


Etrian Odyssey Untold 2see here

Phoenix Wright Ace Attorney – see here

Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain


 review coming soon.  Thoroughly excellent, though.  


Super Mario Maker ―


Maybe the best idea for a game ever, and it completely lives up to its promise.  I’ve put up a couple of levels so far and played through dozens. It is hard to make levels as good as real Mario ones, but that doesn’t mean you can’t put out something that it at least interesting.  I really love this game.  It might be my game of the year.  I’ve hear people say that this is the game that shows the need for the tablet controller, though we’ve already had like five of those, and it really does.  I can’t imagine doing this with just a controller.  I don’t know that I need another game after this one.  I could spend hours and hours with this.

LBX ― I was sold this one several friends gushing about its outlandish story.  That is true, it starts with secret agencies that build children’s toys to maybe take over the world and escalates to attempted child murder, by gun toting robot toy no less, within the first half hour.  It is delightfully insane. Also, customizing your little murderbot is a ton of fun.  Unfortunately, the fighting is incredibly clunky.  It is hard to get around.  I want to like this game so much, but it is just not very much fun to actually play.

Elliot Quest ― This was my go to lunch hour game, but then Super Mario Maker happened.  I’ll finish it sooner or later. Like a lot of the games it is styled after, it actually gets easier the further you go, since your character’s abilities increase.

Shovel Knight Plague of Shadows ― Another victim of Super Mario Maker. Yacht Club Game’s completely ridiculous free DLC is basically a whole new game considering how differently Plague Knight plays than Shovel Knight.  I haven’t yet mastered how he moves, so the mode has been kind of frustrating for me.  It isn’t as fluid or intuitive as Shovel Knight himself. Still, the amount of work that went into this is impressive.

Ace Attorney Justice for All ―


I’ve only cleared the first case, but my thoughts are the same as they were for this game’s predecessor.  This is just a great series, with awesome characters and stories.


Yoshi’s Woolly World ― I am a little conflicted on this.  On the one hand, Yoshi games are probably my least favorite flavor of Mario, even including the RPGs and the sports games.  On the the other hand, I really like Kirby’s Epic Yarn and this game looks even better.  I’ll likely end up with this, but I don’t know how much attention I’ll spare for it.

Legend of Legacy ― Another game I am on the fence about.  It looks amazing and I loved the demo, but this SaGa like leveling system has never worked in any game, ever.  I doubt this one will be different.  Still, it looks interesting enough to give it a shot.

Zelda Triforce Heroes ― I am all about this one, though.  Assuming it does release at the end of the month. I love Zelda and I really enjoyed the brief chances I got to play 4 Swords with more than one person.  This should be right up my alley.

Yakuza 4 ―


After a few times stopping and starting trying to play this, and with the release of Yakuza 5 imminent, I am finally committing to truly sitting down and playing this game. This should probably actually be up in ongoing since I started just before the end of the month, but this is going to be my October game.

Mega Man Legends ― This hit PSN at the end of September and it is one of the best PS1 games.  I really want to take the time to play through it, though I don’t know if I’ll get to it.  Still, if you haven’t played it you absolutely should.