Another CEO steps down and BioShock Infinite releases to critical acclaim. This week the regular CGM Crew are joined by news hound Ustad as we talk about Square Enix and it’s recent financial problems, all the news from PAX East, and the official reveal of Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain.
UPDATE: The IGDA has released a statement to Gamespot by executive director Kate Edwards apologizing for the event, saying:
“We recognize that some of the performers’ costumes at the party were inappropriate, and also some of the activities they performed were not what we expected or approved. We regrest that the IGDA was involved in this situation. We do not condone activities that objectify or demean women or any other group of people. One of the core values of the IGDA is encouraging inclusion and diversity. Obviously we need to be more vigilant in our efforts. We intend to do so in the future.”
Let’s get the obvious out of the way right off the top: G.I. Joe Retaliation is a big, dumb, loud, stupid movie that doesn’t make a lick of sense. Here’s the thing though, should we have expected anything else? Like it or not Hasbro is a fully functioning movie studio now who, in partnership with Paramount, have decided to cut out the middle man and just make movies to advertise toys rather than the other way around.
The Phantom Pain has finally been confirmed to be Metal Gear Solid V. During a conference at GDC yesterday, Hideo Kojima took the stage to unveil a brand new trailer along with an extended demonstration of the studios brand new proprietary FOX Engine.
If nothing else, X-Factor is one of the most consistently enjoyable books currently being published by Marvel Comics, as it has a consistent tone and style, much of which comes from being written by a single writer throughout its entire existence. Peter David uses X-Factor as his own personal sandbox, to tell fun, enjoyable stories about a group of characters that he clearly enjoys writing stories about. There have been moments throughout the run of the series when he’s had to bring X-Factor into line with other books in the X-line as part of a few crossovers, but for the most part he’s had little to no real interaction with the larger Marvel Universe, while still being part of it. It allows David the freedom to use what he likes and disregard story elements he may not feel like touching on.
This new volume collects X-Factor #241-245, which was originally marketed as five days that would change X-Factor forever. What’s impressive about this book and this volume in particular is that he takes quite a large cast of characters, as well as numerous ongoing story threads that he’s juggling, and deftly weaves a storyline which is really composed of five separate little stories, changing the status quo for these characters. The currently running storyline in X-Factor is the “Hell on Earth War” storyline, which starts in X-Factor #250, and is a big story bringing the entire team together. What I liked instead about this particular storyline is that it’s about taking the team apart, separating the characters, and telling important stories that are much smaller in scope, but not smaller in importance in stature. To this end, we get the reappearance of Darwin, a climactic showdown with the Deathlok Cap, more developments in the fraught life of Tier, discover the true origin of Polaris, which attempts to reconcile the many prior attempts at explaining her parentage, see Siryn make a deal that changes her life completely, and see Havok make the decision to leave the team behind, and move forward with his life (which sees him lead the Uncanny Avengers in said book).
Leonard Kirk is the ongoing artist on X-Factor these days, and he brings a consistency to his artwork that is mirrored in what Peter David himself brings to the scripting. These are varying types of stories, in terms of the action component as well as the pathos component, and yet they feel perfectly weighted for how the stories unfold for the reader. As it appears that X-Factor might soon be ending this summer, I’m glad that we’ll at least have over twenty volumes to enjoy going forwards, a testament to Peter David as a writer, for keeping the book going strong for such a long time in an increasingly more competitive marketplace. This isn’t a bad place to jump in to the series, and the fact that you get a series of character specific storylines instead of a giant team story makes it easier to decipher just what’s going on. Recommended!
There is perhaps no genre of game less known for its storytelling acumen than that of the fighting game. So, you would be forgiven for discounting a digitally-published comic book based on such a game. Yet, to write off Injustice: Gods Among Us at face value would be a mistake, because what could have been an easy cash in is actually an intriguing, if flawed, “what if” tale of superheroes gone wrong.
The narrative of Injustice: Gods Among Us poses an interesting quandary. What would happen if Superman was pushed so far that he decided the best way to save the world was to conquer it? How would the nations of the Earth react? How would other heroes respond? Just how far would the Man of Steel go to achieve his goals?
There are a lot of big ideas at work in Injustice, but writer Tom Taylor is able to ground the story by making it about the personal relationships of these characters. There is an intriguing dynamic between Wonder Woman and Superman and some hilarious banter between Harley Quinn and Green Arrow, but the true heart of this comic lies in the friendship between Bruce Wayne and Clark Kent. Taylor does a masterful job of communicating the bond of these two heroes in very little time, and this makes their developing feud all the more dramatic.
The DC Universe of Injustice: Gods Among Us takes its cues from the current New 52 continuity, but Taylor sets up enough of a divergent timeline to keep the story from falling under the weight of continuity. I’m not saying you won’t get more out of the comic if you know these characters backwards and forwards, but Taylor gives new readers enough so they can thoroughly enjoy only what’s on the page. The writing itself is generally very solid with an admirable tonal consistency. However, there are moments when this commitment to the “dark” tone takes the book over the line from serious to silly. Thankfully, those moments are brief and the title doesn’t suffer very much from them.
The true weakness of I:GAU is its art. The book employs a revolving stable of pencillers to try and keep up with its weekly release schedule and this leads to an uneven and schizophrenic visual feel to the title. This could be forgiven if the ever-changing look was solid, but out of a group that includes Jheremy Raapack, Axel Gimenez, Mike S. Miller, Bruno Redondo and David Yardin, only Yardin’s art stands out above the pack. His Wonder Woman, Superman and Ares are all finely detailed and his action brings a kinetic sense that’s lacking from the others.
Outside of Mr. Yardin, the other work is not just visually unappealing, it’s also lazy. For example, there is one set of panels that depict a close up of Superman with an unshaven face, and then in the next panel we see a wide shot of Superman without a beard, and then when we come back to the close up where his face is once again adorned with stubble. This is shoddy work that makes the book feel cheap and that’s a disservice to a comic that is otherwise high in quality.
Injustice: Gods Among Us should be lauded for taking what could have been an utter waste of time and making it into a thoroughly enjoyable comic book. It is first and foremost a great tool for those excited about the game who want to go into it with a better understanding of the plot. But it’s also an entertaining standalone tale that I think will tickle the fancy of a reader looking for a different kind of Justice League tale. Writer Tom Taylor writes both the well-known – Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman – and the not-so-well-known – Raven and Mirror Master – of the DC Universe very well. Sure, Injustice’s art suffers from inconsistency and poor attention to detail, but the story is strong and the price point is low, so I say this is a story to check out.