Monthly Archives: January 2015

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Episode 15 – All Roads Lead to Azeroth

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This episode is a nerd trope buffet, featuring:

  • Mini-reviews of a couple of lovely mobile apps
  • A hopeless stab at defining the word “game”
  • Social justice worriers
  • Gratuitous WoW references
  • 1d4+1 kobold caterers

LINKS

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Episode 14 – Star Wars

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In the Shadow of Yavin
In the Shadow of Yavin
Join us for a rather optimistic discussion of the too-big-to-fail Star Wars franchise in some of its many iterations. For once, Rob’s ignorance is addressed explicitly instead of just showing up unannounced.

LINKS!

FONTHOLE

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Boy Seeks Squirrel Girl

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This Squirrel Girl is unbeatable.
This Squirrel Girl is unbeatable.

So The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #1 dropped a week ago, and I’m torn. I love the character, though she hasn’t been used by Marvel’s writers as much more than comic support. I know, I know, that’s why the character was created, but you can’t give us a mutant with silly powers, tell us she kicked Thanos’ ass (and many other high-powered asses as well), and then just kind of shuffle her off to the Great Lakes Avengers. So I’m wildly enthusiastic about this new title, but I can’t decide how to acquire it. Help me out!

  • Use Marvel Unlimited. Pro: I’m a subscriber, so I’ll get access to this title. Con: …eventually. Can I wait six months or however long it takes?
  • Buy a digital issue. Pro: I can read it on my Nexus RIGHT NOW. Con: I’ll have to spend four bucks per month for something I’ll get for free…eventually.
  • Buy a print issue. Pro: I can read it right away while supporting my local comics shop. Con: I have a deep fear of acquiring too many single-issue comics (too many <= 10). Thanks a lot, college library job!
  • Pirate a digital copy. Pro: I can’t think about the pro side, because Con: I’m not stealing from Squirrel Girl! I mean, sure, fuck Marvel and all other greedy corps, but not even my level-20 powers of rationalization can help me out here. It’s Squirrel Girl!

Yes, this is literally the dumbest problem any first-world jackass has ever faced, but I’d still like to hear what you all do with new comics. My old go-to has been to wait for print collections, but I’d like to embrace new tech if it’ll work for me. Let me know what works for you!

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Mobile indeed: Galaxy Trucker

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Galaxy Trucker
Galaxy Trucker

My extremely generous sister and brother-in-law gave me Galaxy Trucker: Anniversary Edition for Xmas, but I failed a bunch of saves since then and haven’t been able to play the damn thing. Another frustrating achievement unlocked!

But a $5 investment on Google Play has given me hours of solo galaxy trucking fun while I’ve been sick. (It’s also $5 for iPhones, but $8 for iPads.) The app is gorgeous and well thought out — not just a flat port of the tabletop game. It adds a great tutorial and campaign mode, plus interesting multiplayer and other modes. Best of all, it makes me hungry to play the damn tabletop game, so it’s firing on all cylinders.

Galaxy Trucker is played in two phases: Building and Hauling. The first phase is more immediately competitive, as players draw on a shared pool of tiles to construct spaceships out of components like engines, cabins, shields, cannons, and more. Each tile has 1-4 connectors, which makes finishing a ship without exposed connectors challenging. The second phase starts at launch, and each ship handles a set of challenges drawn randomly from an Adventure deck. These include fighting pirates (which requires plenty of firepower), landing on planets to acquire trade goods (which requires plenty of cargo space), and exploring abandoned spacecraft (which requires plenty of crew). All the while, players jockey for position in an effort to reach their destination first and in one piece.

It’s great fun, and while I haven’t yet explored the multiplayer options, they look just as well designed as the rest of the app. I still haven’t finished the campaign, but I’m sure that I’ll keep playing long after I do.

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Gillian Anderson Is On The Nerdist Podcast

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Rat Queens Has A New Artist

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10830934_377678572405164_5780013658778201651_oWe were all sadly unaware as we raved about Rat Queens on our podcast and here on the blog that there had been some unsettling news surrounding the series. Back on October 31, 2014, John “Roc” Upchurch—the artist who helped create Rat Queens—was arrested for domestic violence after allegedly beating his ex-wife. The entire story has been recounted here, here, and here (you might want to skip the details if you’re sensitive to triggers). While all cases of domestic abuse are tragic and anger-inducing, in this case there’s the added twist that the alleged perpetrator contributed to such a feminist and empowering piece of work.

The Mary Sue had this to say, which sums up my feelings pretty well.

It’s always difficult when someone who creates content you love does things with which you just can’t align yourself. It’s especially difficult when you recognize that stopping your monetary support of said content also punishes the other, not-problematic people who work hard on the final product. You are still allowed to enjoy the content you enjoyed before; but it’s also important to recognize something like this has happened, so that you can make your own informed decision about how you feel about further supporting that particular creator’s work.

The good news is that Upchurch has been replaced with Stjepan Sejic whose style is equally engaging and true to the spirit of Rat Queens. This sneak peek at a teenage Violet as drawn by Sejic pretty much solidifies my optimism for future issues. In more good news, today brings the release of “Rat Queens Special: Braga #1” drawn by interim artist Tess Fowler and it looks fantastic.

Life is complicated and talented people can do shitty things (as we’ve seen quite a bit lately). Maybe donate a little something to the Domestic Abuse Women’s Network if you pick up a copy.

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We love Agent Carter rather a lot.

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AgentCarter-s1e1-Peggy-red-hatMary and Rob jumped all over Marvel’s Agent Carter when it dropped last week, and our curiosity quickly turned to enthusiasm. Even if you’re on the fence about (or actively hostile toward) Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., you should give it a go.

It’s set in New York City immediately after WWII, where Hayley Atwell’s Agent Carter (who helped punch up the first Captain America movie) has settled into a frustrating gig with the proto-SHIELD agency Strategic Science Reserve. Frustrating why? Well, during the war she got used to being treated as a competent human being, whereas now she’s surrounded by ugly, ham-fisted institutional sexism. It’s great fun to watch her outsmart her colleagues in order to get the chance to outsmart the bad guys, and it looks like the show is going all-in on feminism. Will that impact its ratings?
Rob: “I’m optimistic, because the cultural timing feels right.”
Mary: “I’m inclined to agree, and the feminism is easy to get on board with since it’s like watching Mad Men and people can feel smug about how far we’ve come. I think a show portraying the sexism in present-day work environments wouldn’t fare as well. But I’m a pessimist when it comes to these things. Oh, and another great thing? She’s not a sinewy, slender heroine. She’s a little on the curvy side but she’s not portrayed as frumpy or undesirable (quite the opposite), which is a nice change of pace.”

In the pilot, Dominic Cooper reprises his role as Howard Stark, Iron Man’s absentee-father / playboy-role-model, and he’s as much fun as usual. He leaves behind a season’s worth of weird-science McGuffins, too. Other notable cast members include:

  • Shea Wigham (Boardwalk Empire) as Carter’s raspy, sexist boss.
  • Enver Gjokaj (Dollhouse) as her one sympathetic colleague who apparently achieved decency by having his leg shot off.
  • James D’Arcy (Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World) as Jarvis, Stark’s butler and Carter’s driver/assistant.
  • Lyndsy Fonseca (Nikita) as Carter’s extremely brassy friend Angie.
  • James Urbaniak (The Venture Brothers) in a small but significant bad-guy role.

Carter and Jarvis are forming a lovely partnership that has a touch of Batman/Alfred and a touch of Green Hornet and Kato, but it’s definitely carving out a path of its own.

There’s also been a few Easter eggs for fans of the Marvel canon: Peggy’s Jarvis is obviously the precursor to Iron Man‘s J.A.R.V.I.S (and, of course, the old-school comics Jarvis who ran the Avengers mansion). Then there’s a scientist by the name of Anton Venko, undoubtedly Ivan’s father who later feels betrayed by Howard Stark. And we get Roxxon Oil, the Lucky Star Cab Company and the law firm of Goodman, Kurtzberg & Holliway, explained here with a few more hidden treats.

Overall, everything is developing at a better clip than Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., which could be due to the fact that Agent Carter is only an 8-episode mini-series meant to fill the break in A.o.S.’s season. (Series writer Stephen McFeely indicated that a second season of Agent Carter is possible… and considering the overwhelmingly positive response to the series so far, our hopes are up.) There’s also something quite likable about Carter’s characterization, and even her casual relationships seem immediately believable in a way that A.o.S. has never achieved in the central, supposedly close relationship between Coulson and Skye. This is not to bag on A.o.S., which has certainly grown into itself in a way we didn’t expect. But non-nerds and even anti-nerds can get invested in Peggy’s story without knowing a thing about the Marvel universe because it’s relatable at the same time it’s supernatural and exciting (like, say, The X-Files). Check it out.

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Mad Men’s Rich Sommer Is a Tabletop Gamer!

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This interview is a few years old, but I found it delightful that Rich Sommer is obsessed with board games. (I was also excited to find out that he went to school in my hometown of Cleveland, and I remember the store he mentions.)

In other news, the whole Speakeasy series is delightful, you might also want to check out Paul F. Thompkins’s interviews with Summer Glau, Nathan Fillion, Seth Green, John Hodgman, Tricia Helfer, James Urbaniak, Steven Yeun, Chris Hardwick, Clark Gregg, as well as many, many non-nerd-adjacent stars.

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Episode 13 – “I love all shitty vampire things!”

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We are back from our long holiday break / sick leave, with a hilariously delayed episode we recorded just before Xmas, in which we reveal a bunch of gift-related spoilers. The episode is now extremely safe for loved ones to listen to (well, as much as ever, anyway).

SO MANY LINKS!

The new Ms. Marvel is SO GOOD.
The new Ms. Marvel is SO GOOD.
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Hellblazer and Constantine

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I’ve been sick as a Martian for the past couple of weeks, and while I don’t recommend it overall, it has done wonders for catching up on my reading. Specifically Hellblazer – I got the first several volumes of the lovely newish collections last year, and I’ve lately been plowing through them with abandon. I finished up Jamie Delano’s run today, and I had forgotten how daggone capital-P Poetic he could get. Sure, he blasted us with some ripping yarns like the hunger demon that Constantine retold pretty well, but then he got deep into hippie pagan anarchist shit for a loooong time. It’s good stuff, but there’s just not a chance that they’ll ever televise that revolution. It’s too bad, because the Fear Machine arc was pretty sweet.

So just now I finished rereading one of my favorite comics stories ever: Dangerous Habits, Garth Ennis’ first run with the character. Ennis has had many problems and more detractors over his career, but this story needs no apology (as far as I can tell – please tell me how wrong I am). About halfway through the first issue, I realized I was hearing Constantine‘s Matt Ryan’s voice in my head, odd inflections and all, for the first time since picking up the series again. I think that speaks to the sensibility of the show, and I hope to hell they find a way to incorporate this story – though Constantine’s smoking is an essential part of the plot, so it’s hard to see how they pull that off since stripping that element away.

If you like the show, or you’re just looking for a gateway to Hellblazer, Dangerous Habits is a great place to start. I’m tempted to say you should look for the old collection with only those six issues, but the new editions are just too well made – and complete – to ignore. Pick it up, read the second half, then go back and read the rest. And stay hydrated.

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