Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Comics and "The Avengers"

It's become a frequent punchline that, despite the more-than-a-billion-dollars made by "The Avengers" at the box office, the film probably won't cause many people to check out their local comic shops or buy any of the books. But while all that cynical ire (disguising a desperate hope) is directed toward the millions of non-comic-reading moviegoers, it raises in my mind what seems like an obvious question:

Has watching "The Avengers" changed your comic buying habits?

After all, if it hasn't affected the people who are already most inclined to purchase Avengers-related comics, then how could we reasonably expect the same from legions of people who don't enter a comic shop on a weekly basis?

For me, the answer is "apparently." "Avengers" ignited my interest in the characters again, so I pulled the "Red Menace" collection of Brubaker's Captain America comics off the shelf and started reading (and then went back to "Winter Soldier" when I realized I didn't quite grasp what was going on). I purchased "Death of Captain America" vol. 1 and "Avengers Assemble" vol. 1 over the weekend, popped "Korvac Saga" into my Amazon cart, and ordered a couple more Cap books. I also looked around for Hulk stories, though nothing really stuck out to me--though I am planning to get that Hulk/Punisher issue that's coming out soon.

Monthly-wise, it's not going to have any real effect (unless I really like Incredible Hulk, which is a possibility), but it definitely inspired me to pick up the rest of Brubaker's Cap run and finally get into some of the better Avengers arcs. I know I can't be the only one. So, what about you?

Wednesday, May 09, 2012


In a somewhat astounding bit of being behind the curve, I just finished "BioShock," a game which came out in 2007. I enjoyed the game a great deal, with its slowly-unraveling story and spooky atmosphere and gray-shaded morality. It's definitely a game that I can see myself revisiting, just to discover more of the story and get it all in a more concentrated dose. I was a little surprised, though, to learn at the end that the only difference made by your choices (spoilers, I guess) to rescue or harvest the Little Sisters was in the ending cutscene. I had a kind of hard time believing that, even if I'd harvested every one, Tenenbaum would have helped me along regardless. It's hardly a fatal flaw--the story is good enough that it doesn't really matter that the game is on rails, so to speak. I have the same feelings about the Portal games or the recent Batman games. Your choices don't make a whole lot of difference to the story, but the entertainment is in uncovering the story along the way.

So it's been a little bit of a shock to start playing Mass Effect (the first one), where I've heard that your decisions actually have major impacts on the rest of the story. I'm only fourteen minutes or so into the game, but I already like that the choices (dialogue so far, mostly) are more nuanced than BioShock's "kill the innocent little girl, or not?" Or even the "Jerk/Not as much of a jerk" dialogue choices in "Marvel: Ultimate Alliance 2." It has me really scrutinizing the options and considering the kind of character I'm trying to play.

Needless to say, I'm excited to be jumping into this series, and I hope the summer brings oodles of time to actually play it.

Every Week I'm Shufflin'

It happened quietly, but it seems that DC's New 52 books have been shuffled around a bit--odd, given the focus on timely shipping and so forth. I didn't notice until this week, when "Batman" and "Batman & Robin" hit on the same day, but "Batgirl" and "Batwing" appear to have swapped weeks. I haven't noticed any other real changes, but I'm a little surprised that after the fiasco with Justice League's lateness a few months ago, no one seems to be mentioning this.