Ravingnerd Rebirth

Rebirth

“This is Garnet, Back together”

Probably not the best way to start things off, but hey, that song is always stuck in my head. Hello internet. It has been several years since my last post. Time and time again I tried to revive this blog, and failed every time. Part of this was due to my exhaustion at work. Spending 40 hours a week working at my local comic store made me a bit jaded and tired of escapism. Comics, Games, and all matter of nerdy things no longer provided me the same comfort that they used to. Thus, trying to come up with the thoughts to engage the fantastic audience I had, never came to me.

In the years I have been a way, quite a bit has changed. Namely, I have gotten older. I have a tougher skin and because of this have found enjoyment in many things I used to. 2017 has been a tumultuous year for me (hasn’t it been for everyone?) and one thing that I have found that really relieves the stress and calms me down is writing. In my free time I write for a fantastic site covering the Toronto Blue Jays. That has helped, but even then that feels like work. Word Counts, topic assignments, editing, re-editing, and word counts can all make it a bit stressful. So I thought I should find a space where I didn’t feel pressured by any of things and could talk about things I love. I toyed with doing something else, but at the end of the day I wanted to do that here.

So with that out of the way. Ravingnerd is back! At least in someway. I can’t guarantee scheduled times for posts, but I do plan on re-engaging with the blog and hopefully engaging with some of the brilliant followers and friends I made when I ran this in its prime. The blog will be similar to what it once was, plenty of conversations about nerdy things, but less focused on news and reviews. If this is a feature people particularly care about, I will consider adding it again. So lets talk about what I am thinking about writing about.

  1. Intellectual conversations about hot topics in comic books. This includes the rise and fall of Marvel (much to my dismay, which is a sentence that should surprise any long time reader). What Brian Michael Bendis could do for DC, and other similar topics.
  2. In my free time I love to play Civilization. With the new expansion coming out in February, I will be playing as much as I can before everything changes. For anyone who plays the franchise, you will know that remaking history is fun. Seeing some of the things that the AI does can be exciting, and often hilarious. I would love to share some of my experiences. If anything, it will allow me to keep track of some of my games, and look back on them.
  3. Star Trek Discovery. I have long Star Trek, and the new series is no different. I love the show, and highly recommend it for anyone curious. The show is on a hiatus right now, and CBS All Access is running a month free for December. Anyone who wants to dip their toes into the show now has nothing to lose.
    Tilly
    I love you Cadet Tilly.
  4. Star Trek Adventures. It is a fantastic RPG system from Modiphus Games. I run a campaign for the staff of the store. I love the game, and I love the world I created. With HarmonQuest and other D&D shows coming out, I thought covering this great game might not be a bad idea.
  5. Plus anything else I might come up with. Or perhaps something someone wants me to talk about.

I fully expect to rebuild this blog from the ground up. I know I have attempted this several times, but I am fully invested in rebuilding this from the ground up. If there are any old followers out there who read this, leave a comment, I’d love to hear back from you!

Until next time,

Ravingnerd out

Also here is my cat. His name is Phoenix.

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A License to Kill?

This post contains spoilers for the series 3 finale of Sherlock, you have been warned.

 

This weekend saw the third season of Sherlock come to an end, and the final episode dredged up the issue of whether our heroes should have a license to kill. While Sherlock is an odd choice for the term of “hero”, he fits the bill. He fights for good, confronts great evil, and operates in a world where the system is flawed and requires him to solve it.

Throughout the show, the police have proven inept at solving the crimes in which Sherlock is involved, proving that our hero is a much greater force than even the law. In addition to that, Mycroft (a high ranking official in Her Majesty’s government) frequently calls upon his brother to be his foot solider in various different cases. Though Mycroft often has the answer, he is repeatedly held down by the red tape that has become associated with the government. This episode is no different as we find a criminal lord named Magnussen blackmailing every major official in the elected world. By the end of the episode it is clear that Magnussen will be able to use his connections and get out of the legal system with ease. Sherlock then takes it upon himself to kill Magnussen, as it is the only way to prevent him from doing wrong again.

But was it the only way? As my review (and many others) of Man of Steel would imply, the finale of the film should not have had Henry Cavill murder Zod. There were numerous ways Zod could have been subdued given the situation, yet the “best way” or the “only way” was for our hero to kill him. Again in the Dark Knight trilogy we see Batman kill no less than two people. In Begins, rather than save Ra’s, he simply leaves and allows him to be blown up on the subway. Batman could have easily have gotten him and Ra’s out of the subway and given Ra’s to the justice system. Again in Dark Knight, what does Batman do? Instead of subduing Two-Face with anything in his tool belt, he rushes him and they fall two stories to the ground. Batman survives due to his armor, Dent does not. Two-Face was indeed bad, but the justice system could have had a place for him.

Media as a whole is quick to submit that our heroes are either too flawed to not kill or our system is too inept to allow for any other option. Yet media seems to miss the point, Superman is supposed to be the hero. He is different than Zod, in every way (well aside from being Kryptonian and being in a horrific movie). By killing Zod, Superman has effectively stooped down to his level. That’s not what a hero does. As with Batman, he should have and could have found a way to get both Ra’s and Dent and allow them to face Justice.

While I don’t hold Sherlock to the same standards as a comic book super hero, the issue still begs asking. Why? So while I Have no quarrel with Sherlock killing someone, I have a problem believing our system is as inept as the episode would have us believe. There are people in every western government whose job it is to solve problems posed by people like Magnussen, why not let them do their job? The CIA, MI6, KGB(or whatever it is now) are all agencies designed to deal with issues like this. With Magnussen exposed, he would have had to enter our system. Yes he would have to leave it, but someone like 007 would have been able to take him out while Magnussen was working his magic to get out of our system. So while our legal system wouldn’t have been able to stop him, someone who possesses a license to kill would have been. It shouldn’t have been Sherlock. He does not hold any granted authority to take another life, all the operatives of MI6 or the state department do.

Do you at least see my point? There is always another way. Even if someone has a “get out of jail free card” they still have to take the time to spend it. Time enough for the shadows in our governments to take care of it. Our system employes people to deal with these sort of criminals. Why can’t we ever see that (outside of a Bond, Bourne, or Lethal Weapon film)? While stories like this and Man of Steel might seem compelling on the surface, they dull the impact and importance of our heroes.

Batman and Superman don’t kill. They can’t. They operate within a thin line of our system. They are not employed agents and the only thing that separates them from those they seek to stop is the moral and ethical code each of them present. Yes, it often seems hopeless but our heroes will always find a way to deal with the situation without compromising themselves. Why? Because they are better than normal men. While you and I might be caught in an impossible trap, they will never be.

There is always a way.

 

The Case of the Comic Book Burn Out

Hello everyone. It’s the not deceased Ravingnerd here. Though my empire and this blog has fallen to shambles, I am still very much out here. In attempt to ease back into the routine of posting on this blog and engaging in the wonderful community that I got connected with because of this, I would like to discuss what led to my demise in the first place.

Comic book burn out.

I had seen it happen to numerous people including former contributor, More Fun Travis. As his weekly pulls stacked higher and higher, with even must read gems like Batman getting neglected. I told myself that I would never have that issue, that I would always stay on top of my pulls. That I would always read at least Batman. Well, I was definitely wrong about that. I became the very thing I said I wouldn’t. An outside observer. I got so far behind that I missed new releases, and got out of the news circuit entirely.I recently asked myself how this could happen, and the answer was staring me in the face the entire time. The huge stack of comics. I stopped reading because I was reading too much. With my new found access and discount on the books, I went crazy reading anything and everything. My stack became a massive chore, instead of an immense pleasure. I stopped reading books because I enjoyed them, I read them simply because I could. Yet I kept buying them, because I’m addicted. As the stack grew bigger, it became easier to play a board game or a game of Magic than it was to pick up a book. When a stack is that big and you are that far behind, what do you read?

You read what strikes your fancy. I’ll share with you the books that reignited my spark for comics.

Aquaman. Geoff Johns or not, he is permanently established as one of the best things in the New 52. I was apprehensive about Johns leaving, but the first issue with Jeff Parker was great. Much better than I anticipated.

Wonder Woman. Still as solid as ever, and the only book I read that had me begging for more.

Sex Criminals. Off color and awesome.

Black Bat and Shadow. Pulp heroes. That’s all I’ll say.

Matt Kindt. Matt Kindt’s writing is a large part of what got me digging deeper into the stack. Mind MGMT, Unity, and Suicide Squad were some of the books that I couldn’t put down and all entertained and excited me more than I remembered a comic could. But what really stuck out was his JLA tie in to Forever Evil. Unlike Justice League, which feels like an extension of the event, Kindt is telling an exciting character driven story that takes place within the plot of the event. He isn’t as focused with furthering the plot of Forever Evil as he is with characterizing J’onn J’onzz and Stargirl. Their interactions and characterizations have been great.

These are just some of the gems that helped me dig through my stack. And all will have a place on my new pull list. Books like Batman, and Batman & will also remain on the list, but just didn’t entertain me as much as the books listed above. I will be posting my complete pull list soon, but in the mean time ask what you all are pulling.

What books would you recommend the resurrected Ravingnerd?

To a bold new 2014, and the return of the nerd.

Rn

The Writing Writer: Lex Luthor #1

I’m not that big of a fan of Lex Luthor.  I’ve heard enough fanboy ramblings from Ravingnerd to make be absolutely sick of the character.  So, I wasn’t too excited about Lex Luthor #1 but I figured I should get it since Luthor is a major player in the new 52 world order.  I was saddened when upon reading I saw it was a prequel to the events of Forever Evil.  Upon further reading I was less disappointed because this Luthor was not one I was expecting.

Luthor has been maniacal, calculating, cruel, sociopathic, and the man whose already won.  52 Luthor is all those things at once.  This is one of the few times where Luthor’s power is flexed to the fullest of its capabilities and his threats aren’t idle.  Sure he’s always been powerful and his threats have always carried weight, but rarely do we ever get to see him follow through just to make an example out of someone.  This Luthor is a badass and I like it.

There were some big problems with the comic though.  The biggest is that it completely undercuts the through lines to the events of Forever Evil.  I find it hard to believe that the Luthor in Lex Luthor #1 is the same as the Luthor in Forever Evil because of his final words.

“This is a job for Superman. So where the hell is he?”

The plot of Lex Luthor #1 surrounds Luthor pulling a stunt to discredit Superman as a savior.  Needless to say he succeeds and so I find it hard to believe that the man who just got the world to reconsider their views on the all powerful Superman would ever admit that there was a job for Superman let alone wonder what’s happened to him.  My second problem point is personal, but it still bugs me.  Lex is shown to outsource the choosing of some of his staff, namely his assistant.  I find it hard to believe that a man with that much power and control would outsource that decision to anyone.  But that’s just me.

Final Verdick: BAMF

The Writing Writer: Arcane #1

Arcane #1 was creepy.  You’d think that a guy with the power of the Rot would be gross, menacing, and perhaps even scary but Anton Arcane is incredibly creepy which is why I loved this book.  I’m not sure why I like creepy stuff, but I do and man does this book deliver.  There are lots of great examples that show off the truly disturbing feel to the book. I think it all comes down to the fact that the book makes a distinction between rot and death.  We see Anton Arcane, throughout the years, experimenting with rot, controlling it, worshiping it, and trying to achieve it in the absence of the finality of death.  He is truly evil and at the same time completely engrossing.

The book is also a back story two-for-one deal.  Both Anton and the current bearer of the Rot, Abigail Arcane get their stories fleshed out in this issue.  Anton’s story is far more interesting than Abigail’s, but they both stories play into each other seamlessly.  There are only two complaints I have against this book.  One is that it has absolutely nothing to do with the overall Villains Month plot.  This is literally just another Swamp Thing issue and its set entirely in Anton’s prison so we don’t even get to see what’s going on in the world currently.  Second, this book is just one big excuse to get Anton out of prison.   To make it even more frustrating, he escapes via a trope I absolutely hate: protagonist goes to antagonist to get information, protagonist lets his/her guard down, antagonist escapes.   In short, the bad guy gets away because the hero does something stupid.  It’s everywhere but it never gets any less frustrating.

Final Verdict:  Rotten to the Core

The Writing Writer: Black Hand #1

Since Marvel has zombies I guess DC needs them too?  Don’t get me wrong, I loved the darkest night event but let’s call a spade a spade shall we.  Black Hand is a space zombie generator and that’s he does in Black Hand #1.  There’s even a line where a police chief reminds his fellow cops of their anti-zombie training.  It’s funny, but I don’t think Black Hand #1 is supposed to be funny.

Like Dial E, Black Hand is a little all over the place except this time it’s tone.  The book starts off pretty creepy.  There are people talking about cremating Arkham inmates; Black had reassembles himself out of the ashes of violent sociopaths and of course, space zombies.  However, there’s a lot odd jokes sprinkled throughout, some dark and some just odd, like police zombie training.  Also, the justification for reviewing Black Hand’s life is that he’s got amnesia which is also portrayed inconsistently.  Sometime it’s like he’s forgotten how to work his thumbs and the next page he’s turning cops into zombies via flu shot.  You’ll have to read the book to find out how.  While that is pretty damn cool, I don’t think it’s something an amnesiac could come up with.  Sure he gets his memories by the end of the book but the leap from remembering to walk to mastery over death is jarring.

While Black Had #1 starts and stops, it ends really well and is worth the read, especially because Black Had will be showing up later down the road.

Final Verdict: Braiiiins….

The Writing Writer: Dial E #1

So I didn’t know what to expect from Dial E.  I haven’t kept up with the new 52 Dial H and my only other introduction to the series was some back issues of the books first run way back when.  While the premise was interesting (using heroes sent in by kids) the book itself wasn’t all that great.  The only thing I had to expect from this book was high quality art from a variety of artists.  Man did it deliver on that front.  Every page has a new villain which the art reflects incredibly well.  The story, however, doesn’t.  While it’s not an overall bad story, due to the nature of the beast (I.E. having so many different people on the book) it feels disjointed.  The flow from page to page is sometimes jarring and doesn’t make a whole lot of sense and so the dialogue has to work double time to try and keep things together.

For the most part it works, I knew who was turning the dial and when.  The problem is that the story itself isn’t all that interesting.  A bunch of kids running around with a dial that turns them into supervillains sounds like it could be interesting.  However, most of the book is the group running from the police after their initial bank robbery or whatever it was that they did.  As I said, visually it’s scattered so all I know is there were sacks of something that later disappeared because…reasons?  It might also have helped if there was some time taken to develop the group of kids.  This feels like DC meets the Boxcar Kids, except some people care about the Boxcar Kids.

Dial E is a gimmick, much like 3D covers and this entire month of DC comics.  It’s a cool gimmick regardless of the poor story and I’d love to see something like it again except with better planning and communication between the creative team.

Final Verdict: Dial E for Ehhh