Monday, May 11, 2015

RETRO REVIEW SERIES: Hydlide for the NES


  
You know what's bad? Hydlide for the Nintendo Entertainment System is pretty bad. Yeah, it's an action/adventure/RPG that is a lot like The Legend of Zelda except that The Legend of Zelda is a far superior game, but to Hydlide's defense the game was created about 3 years prior to the original Zelda. That, of course, was back before they had the technology to polish a game and make it engrossing like they did with Legend of Zelda. Hydlide was originally a PC game that had been released in 1984 that was eventually ported over to the NES sometime in 1988, the problem is that in the 4 years between it's original release and it's life on the NES they didn't appear to do anything to make the game any better from a graphical standpoint. Since I've never played the PC version of the game in it's entirety I have to assume that it's an exact port and that the Nintendo version is the same as it's PC counterpart from start to finish. Which is mind blowing to me in many ways because the NES was capable of producing a much better looking game than this with additional enhancements in gameplay. At the time of it's NES release the console already had games out at the time that trump Hydlide in almost every category you could rank them at so taking a few months to enhance the game for the NES would've done it a whole lot of good.
    This game really doesn't have much going for it, either. The graphics are extremely poor, the control is kinda slow and chunky, and it's one of those games where you cant really tell if you're hitting the enemies or not. In combat when you attack nothing really happens except for a small health bar that appears at the top of the screen and depletes when an enemy is dying. This makes things really difficult when fighting monsters because you have no sense of spacing, you end up taking a lot of damage thanks to your sword not moving outward to hit your opponent. Also, if your enemy hits you first you have to back up before attacking again otherwise you'll continue to lose heath, which is extremely annoying and makes you want to punt an elderly woman in her jaw. Or better yet, it's so annoying it makes you want to unleash a poisonous snake into an
infant ward at a hospital.
    Another thing I kind of dislike about the game is that there is a lack of dungeons, or at least a lack of cool dungeons I should say. For an action/adventure/RPG game such as this I look forward to dungeon crawling and fighting awesome bosses, but sadly Hydlide doesn't offer a whole lot of cool dungeons or fun bosses with most of them being annoyingly fast skeletons or some kind of variation of other monsters already in the game. Most of Hydlide's dungeons are more like navigating houses from a top down view. Instead of going into a dungeon and adventuring to the final boss like in Zelda or a game like Dragon Warrior, the dungeons are not presented on their own screens, they share the outside view along with the grass and trees. The only time a dungeon becomes it's own screen is if there is a downstairs or an upstairs, which happens from time to time but isn't really fun or engaging and ends up being more of a death maze more than anything.

    The game as a whole wasn't really popular either. I personally knew one person who had it back in the “NES Age” and he didn't really play it much, in fact almost every review I've read basically ranks this game among the worst in the NES library. But was it really all that bad? I mean, yeah, it's bad.....but it isn't the worst game in the extensive annals of the NES. That will forever be reserved by Impossible Mission II. Impossible Mission II was a game so bad it was unlicensed by Nintendo and I happened to buy it for $7 during the prime of the NES. In a time when Nintendo games were $49.95 brand new you knew you were getting a real classic when you found one for under $10 still in it's factory seal. Could you sense the sarcasm? I've also played a few other games that suffered from worse game play mechanics, worse music, worse control, and other factors that would lead me to play this game before I even looked at them. So I guess all in all Hydlide is just bad and not completely terrible like some would lead you to believe.
    And with that said, Hydlide does have some charming aspects to it that actually make it quite fun at times. First of all, the music is pretty catchy. Sure, it's a simple looping theme that sounds a bit like the Indiana Jones theme and doesn't have a whole lot behind it, but it does kind of makes you hum along to the soundtrack while your playing. And second, the main character moves at a speed that makes it kind of easy to escape a potentially bad and/or hazardous situations. I actually like that in my video games. I know that isn't a glaring example as to why someone should purchase and play Hydlide, but at least it's something to separate this title from the sea of bullshit that is floating around out there. But that's about where the good graces of this game come to an end. I think one of the must frustrating aspects of this game is that it takes place within a small window on the screen thanks to an overlay that takes up a great deal of space. Was this really necessary? You're health, magic, and XP bar are located on the side of the screen on what looks to be a brick wall that also shows a small picture of your character alongside another bar that for some reason shows you if you're defending or attacking. To make matters even worse the brick wall that takes up almost half your screen manages to display the Hydlide logo at the top while showing the name of the game along the bottom. That's some serious bullshit because the player obviously knows what game they're playing and there was no need to spam the title on the screen twice. Well, instead of going off more about how disappointed I was with Hydlide I think I'll just wrap this puppy up and hit you with the final numbers......

Graphics/Visuals - 4/10
Sound/Music - 7/10
Control/Handling - 6/10
Fun/Enjoyment - 4/10

©B-Sly The Gamer Guy

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Step into the "Circle"..... A review of The Black Hood #3 by Dark Circle Comics


    Well, here we are again for a 3rd installment of The Black Hood by Archie/Dark Circle Comics! I'm not going to pull any punches here folks, this book fucking rocks and this third issue is the best issue in the series yet. In fact, issue #3 of The Black Hood is without a doubt the best comic book I've read in 2015. Hell, it may be the best comic I've read since the beginning of "X" from Dark Horse Comics a couple of years ago (written by the same guy too). Guys, this book was stellar from top to bottom and delivered a riveting story about a character who's flawed in so many ways and mastered the dramatic aspect of a weekly television drama mixed with a superhero story that isn't a superhero story, that is a superhero story.......that isn't. It's so complex. Make no bones about it, there are no capes or logo's here ladies and gentlemen, this is downright gritty as all hell and not for the faint of heart. You don't read this book to see Spider-Man or Batman protecting the city from the villain of the week where it all turns out okay in the end, you read this title because you want to see a drugged out vigilante tear shit up and and plant his flag as one of the true bad-ass characters in comics today. This is definitely the strongest of the two books currently being published by Dark Circle Comics as I felt The Fox #1 wasn't nearly as good a read though it's admittedly a different kind of a book than The Black Hood (review forthcoming). Even after The Crusaders, The Shield, and The Hangman see print I find it hard to believe that anything that Dark Circle could produce could touch this, as premature as that may be to type. That's how strongly I feel about this book.
    The issue picks up where the 2nd left off with our hero in police custody after being framed by an unknown entity. He finds himself out of jail and back on the job but really begins to put forth the effort to get to the bottom of who's going after him and why when he begins terrifying street thugs asking who their bosses are. He does this for a few pages and gets across that he isn't playing around and that he knows there is a job to do aside from wearing the badge. Even his on the job partner strikes up a conversation about how he is admiring what The Black Hood is accomplishing, not knowing the man he's talking to is that very character. The ending of the book was great when we saw two dudes digging up the original Black Hood's grave while the new Black Hood ruins their excavation in a scene that should be made into a poster or a framed wall-hanging. We also got to see some more interaction between Greg and his speech coach which will (in my opinion) lead to something romantic between the two, this issue dropped enough hints for me to believe so and it would make a fun little side story with all the other happenings going on. Also, I'm pretty sure The Black Hood killed somebody in this issue though we truly don't know the fate of the individual. I'm fairly certain he's dead though.
     Once again the story was superbly written by Duane Swierczynski with gritty art by Michael Gaydos, it's such a perfect blend that at only 3 issues in I couldn't see anyone else handling this book though it's inevitable that someday that'll have to be the case unless it gets cancelled early on (I'd protest). I'd love to see these two plant their flag on this book and stick around for a while though in a manor similar to Bendis/Bagley on Ultimate Spider-Man or Claremont/Byrne on X-Men back in the day. They're seriously that good at what they do on this book. Too often creative teams get switched around and it happens sometimes when it seems like they're just hitting their stride as a tandem on certain books, one can only pray that something like that won't happen here sans the traditional fill-in issues that seems to be the standard within the industry. I'll be eagerly looking forward to reading issue #4 when it hits as things appear to be moving forward now with only a couple issues left until a planned break for the team to get the second arc ready. Hopefully we find out who's behind everything soon and I certainly don't want to be on the opposite end of what The Black Hood has planned for those responsible for his framing and incarceration. This book is going to read so well in TPB form when Dark Circle releases it, it's reading exceptionally good in single issue format and definitely has a vibe that will translate perfectly into collected form for those of you waiting to read it that way. But trust me when I say that good things are ahead folks and good things are here, keep reading.....



Story & Plot - 9.5/10
Art & Illustration - 8.5/10
Inks & Colors - 8.5/10
Cast & Characters - 8.5/10
Overall Score - 9/10

     © B-Sly The Gamer Guy

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Graphic Novel Review Series: Superman: Earth One v2


 
Not too long ago I posted a positive review of Superman: Earth One volume 1 and recently I’ve found time to sit down and dive into the second volume of this series of graphic novels and once again I was pleasantly surprised at how much fun I had reading through it. The second volume was once again written by JMS and illustrated by Shane Davis which I was happy to see because I felt the creative team knocked it out of the park with the first volume and having them stick together was a natural fit. The art remained high quality with Shane’s pencils giving Superman a bit of a muddy and edgy look at times with splash pages that were extremely well done and gave the hero an iconic look. JMS’s writing was extremely good in this second offering and the story flowed nicely while tying together many small plot points without losing focus on what is happening throughout the novel. I don’t know why but this series is not getting the critical acclaim I feel it deserves and while it’s sales remain high and profitable for DC it appears as if the fans and reviewers aren’t totally on board with this re-imagining of Krypton’s last son. But to be honest I could give a rats ass what critics and fans think about this book because I’m truly digging it and it’s selling favorably so there has got to be people out there who enjoy it as much as I do, and I never let critics sway my opinion on a product. My only complaint about these Earth One books is that they seem to take forever to come out, but that’s probably because it’s a large commitment to actually sit down and write a graphic novel and not just have periodicals collected into a volume. That and the creative team has other obligations in the industry and can’t give up months on end just to write a single story since their working on lots of different stories for lots of different publishers. So I get it, I’m just impatient.
The story in the second volume see’s Clark Kent getting settled into his new apartment when he meets his neighbor, a sexy 20-something who seems to be a tad promiscuous in behavior, all while learning the ropes at the Daily Planet and finding success in his articles he’s written on Superman. But in between hurdles he’s finding in the workplace an juggling a possible relationship with his neighbor he’s forced to take on a power hungry being who needs to drain energy from anything and everything it can to survive. Mainly humans. This being learns that Metropolis is home to a being of supreme power (Superman) and it travels to the city in an attempt to find the man on steel and feed off of him for unlimited power. When he gets to Metropolis and finds Superman the two engage in an epic battle that results in a big of shocking and somewhat sad ending. You can’t help but to feel sorry for the enemy in this story because he can’t really control what's happening to him and is just doing what he needs to do to survive, albeit in a violent manner, but he’s still not fully responsible when you stop to think about it.
All in all this was a fantastic volume of Superman: Earth One with a lot of interesting elements to it and if you like Superman or the idea of Superman re-imagined for the modern comic book market than you’ll probably like this series of graphic novels quite a bit. Picture Ultimate Marvel but with DC characters and instead of the stories being presented in periodicals they’re offered graphic novel form. I’m digging them and I know many of my readers trust me and my judgment so consider this my stamp of approval. As for how this volume fared versus the first volume, I’d still probably give the nod to the first volume due to it’s originality and the liberties it took on Superman’s origin, but this s a very close collection and very much worth the read. So check it out guys, you’ll probably thank me when you’re finished.  

Story& Plot - 8.5/10
Art & Illustration - 8.5/10
Inks & Colors - 8.5/10
Cast & Characters - 8/10
Overall Score - 8.5/10

© B-Sly The Gamer Guy

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Dark Circle Comics: Looking ahead...


   So far Dark Circle Comics is off to a hot start with The Black Hood, a series about a junkie cop who killed a vigilante and took up his mantle, and they've got The Fox coming out this month as well as The Shield shortly after that. But what about the future and things coming up on the horizon? Well, luckily the future looks very bright as Alex Segura (the man in charge) has noted that the company wants to expand the line eventually and has already announced a series called The Hangman, which looks as if it's going to be dark and supernatural and not for the weak of heart. The Hangman appears as if it's going to be a series that pushes the envelope and introduces new ideas as well as master ideas that have already been brought to the table, something The Black Hood appears to have done in it's first two issues. There is also a one shot on the way based on The New Crusaders which is a team that Archie Comics has published in the past and many fans of this line want to see released as an ongoing or miniseries. Should sales of The New Crusaders one-shot sell in good numbers and online interest be high than there is a solid chance that we could see something more from this franchise down the road and/or see the characters show up in an existing title. There are other great characters that Dark Circle could publish that Archie owns, characters such as The Jaguar, Comet, Firefly, The Wizard, Captain Flag, and Mr. Justice could see publication in either a one shot, mini, or ongoing series. I know many fans are high on The Jaguar and Mr. Justice so I'd imagine if they use the web to their advantage and write into Archie that they'll see these characters in some shape or form. Alex has noted that Dark Circle is extremely dedicated to getting this line of comics off the ground and that little by little they plan on releasing new titles, but personally I'd be happy to see 5 ongoing monthly books coupled with some revolving mini's to flesh out the universe. I'd even be fine with none of the books being ongoing and everything being released as ongoing mini's with new numbering to generate ongoing interest with the "collectors" out there. Either way, Dark Circle appears to be dedicated to making these books a success and I'm hoping to see more and more people jump on as the line begins to mature.
    But beyond the characters that could see release I'm more excited for the kinds of stories we'll eventually be reading. The Black Hood has been so good in its first two issues that I can only imagine how good the other books will be once they see release. Admittedly I'm not too excited about The Fox, it's the kind of book that appears as if it could be goofy and kind of cheesy, but The Shield looks extremely interesting as does The Hangman. Events and crossovers are a great way to face a major threat that challenges the world (as long as it's not overdone like Marvel likes to do) and I'm sure we'll be seeing some great interactions among the characters after they see print in their own books. I'm hoping to see some epic encounters between the heroes and some epic villains that would translate well to an animated series, movie, or video game since comics always seem to be the driving force into the much desired media world. If Dark Circle could get even one character to catch the eye of Hollywood and are able to produce a film that makes a decent profit and pulls in some favorable reviews than they'd be all set and it would almost guarantee that the line of comics stays in publication. Hell, even that god awful Spawn film back in the 90's made Image some good scratch which helped the publisher out, not that they were hard up for cash or anything. But honestly, at the end of the day it's all about the stories presented in the comics that matter and if it's something that fans will want to pick up and re-read multiple times throughout their lives and the impression that was left on them by the material. I guess time will tell what will become of Dark Circle Comics but I do know that it's doing things right thus far (delays aside) and if the fans dig whats in between the front and back covers than the publisher should enjoy a lengthy stay on comic book store shelves. Well, until next time folks.....

  © B-Sly The Gamer Guy

Monday, March 30, 2015

Fixing Dark Horse's Project Black Sky line of comics in a nutshell. Preserving it's future in the market




    In it's short couple of years on store shelves Dark Horse has really sparked a fire among fans of their 90's "Comics Greatest World" (CGW) books as well as had garnered the attention of new fans when they launched Project Black Sky 2 years ago featuring a mix of characters from CGW and classic characters long forgotten. For about two years they pumped out Captain Midnight, X, Ghost, Brain Boy, Blackout, and The Occultist in sets of ongoing titles and mini's that brought dedicated fans of these characters together to enjoy the adventures of this unfolding universe while releasing little secrets and hints along the way which was supposed to lead to something on a grand scale that never quite materialized. But what did materialize was a solid universe of heroes and villains that was accessible and fun to read. Fans of Project Black Sky were heart broken when they realized that the 3 core titles of the line (Captain Midnight, X, Ghost) were going to be ending their runs and that little was being announced by Dark Horse as to the future of the Project Black Sky Line. But luckily Dark Horse announced a miniseries based on King Tiger as well as a series based on 90's heroine Barb Wire to whet the appetites of Black Sky fans, leaving hope that more could be coming down the line. And while I'm optimistic that we will see more, I must remain a bit skeptical on the subject since Dark Horse's full dedication to the line seems to be hanging by a thread.
    Why does it appear to be hanging by a thread, you ask? Well, that statement was made in response to the lack of marketing the entire Project Black Sky line has enjoyed over the past year or so. When it first launched the Dark Horse staff sang its praises and swore up and down that they were 100% behind the books and the promotion was there with ads on comic book news sites, interviews, blurbs in other Dark Horse titles, and other such instances that made the reader believe that Project Black Sky was not only here to stay, but a top priority of the publisher. But as the months went by fans saw little from the publisher in the way of marketing, social media, convention news, or interest, which of course led the books to begin to decline in sales and eventually fall off the map as a whole. One thing I've noticed with comic book publishers these days is that they love to promote books for a brief period of time and then they move on to something else and ignore said books which causes a sales decrease followed by an impending cancellation that the publisher then plays off as "planned". It's sad to watch and it isn't fair to the fans. But if Dark Horse is truly dedicated to keeping the line alive than I have an idea that may help the publisher moving forward, especially in the orders and sales department.
     What I'd like to see the publisher do is relaunch the core books (Captain Midnight, X, Ghost) as a set of revolving mini's kicking off with a brand new issue #1 and ending with an issue #6. After the 6th issue take two months to work on the next chapter of the books and then launch the next set of mini's of these characters with a new #1 on the cover, then rinse & repeat. Every 8 months you can promote a new #1 issue of said characters with an inserted subtitle to the series so customers don't get confused, thus enjoying the early issue orders for a hot new series and keeping these characters alive for existing (and new) fans of these great characters. It isn't rocket science. Comics sell at their best when they're heavily promoted and when they're in their earliest numbering, so using this method should entice people to buy the books on a consistent clip. Having a Captain Midnight series (as example) come out over the course of 6 issues giving us a solid chapter in the characters history would be a great thing. Then two months later having another chapter, "Captain Midnight: A Man Out of Time" (as an example) hitting shelves as a new chapter with brand new numbering should keep the readers coming in and stores ordering the book thanks to the #1 on the cover. Remember, comic book fans are generally drawn to new beginnings and new titles for collecting purposes, so relaunching the books as mini's is smart because it should keep interested people coming to the books. But the key is marketing these books and heavily promoting them using social media and posting ads on major comic book news sites, also having a fairly popular creator attached tends to help as well. It's there for the taking if Dark Horse decides to take it, but that remains the biggest question of them all. Does Project Black Sky have a future beyond Barb Wire and King Tiger, or does the cancellation of X, Captain Midnight, and Ghost, mark the end of the line as we know it with these last two mini's being a last slab of meat for the imprints fan base? Let the speculation begin.....



 © B-Sly The Gamer Guy

Step into the "Circle"..... A Review of The Black Hood #2 by Dark Circle Comics



   Here we are folks, it's time to take a look at the second issue ever produced by Dark Circle Comics as it stands as a company today. Issue #1 of The Black Hood kicked off with a fun start so issue #2 should follow suit, right? It does, but it also shows off what a tragic and messed up character the man behind the Black Hood mask really is. Greg Hettinger is a full out junkie now stemming from the incident that caused him to convert from a good cop to a dark vigilante. He's moved on from pain killer and is seeking out much more and he finds himself in trouble toward the end of the issue when someone planted some stuff in his apartment which seconds later saw him under arrest when the cops raided his pad. Though admittedly he kept his goods off premises someone has it out for him bad enough to have someone break into his place and plant the stuff, which considering how this issue ended could mean trouble for Mr. Hettinger in next months offering. Sadly we didn't get to see much evolution to what will probably turn out to be a romantic involvement between the main character and his speech coach, though she did pop up for a quick moment and that was really it for her in this issue. But trust me, something is there. What had me on the edge of my seat is why someone has it out for The Black Hood and who is this person? Sure, Greg is making a stir on the streets but it isn't like he's targeted a major gang or anything, maybe he ruffled some feathers with his method of obtaining drugs or something but either which way it appears as if his first major hurdle will be mob/gang driven rather than a standoff with a super-villain. This kind of an encounter is fine for a story such as this as I don't project that this universe of characters is going to see much in the way of supernatural beings, most of the skirmishes are probably going to be military or mafia related with some quirky criminals peppered in for good measure.

Enemies and villains aside let me just say that folks.....this book is dark. Seriously dark. I love how Archie just tossed the rule book out the window and brought on a guy like Duane Swierczynski to write a tale like this, thus officially dropping the first F-bomb ever in a book produced by the legendary digest company. It's amazing that they've gone and created an imprint that showcases characters like this, I truly commend them for it. It isn't like it's gratuitous either, everything is crafted in a way that makes sense and you can see why such language or actions are taken by the characters involved. I like to think of it as comics-evolved rather than staying tried and true with superheroes that fight for truth, justice, and the American way. If I wanted to read about squeaky clean characters all the time I'd stick with Marvel & DC and read Captain America and Superman. Once in a while you need a character that is going to blur lines and stir some shit up and The Black Hood does that nicely thanks to a creative team that obviously cares about the subject enough to craft such a tale.
    The art in issue #2 was as dark and gritty as it was in the first issue, thanks to the magic pencils of Michael Gaydos, who brings a buddy and noir look to this series. Everything feels very pulpy as if I'm reading The Shadow or The Spider, which is nice because I love pulp stories, and it feels more like a crime tale than a tale about a superhero (which Archie said it would). If I had to compare this book to something it would be a mix of DC's Hitman, classic pulp stories like The Shadow, and maybe something way out there like Lobster Johnson, with a little Batman splattered in there for coloring. It's unique enough to where it's hard to draw a true comparison but it's familiar enough that you want to try. As I said in my review of the first issue I hope this book succeeds and continues to see print. It's a fun story with an interesting twist and with orders for the first issue being most likely well above what Archie had hoped (10,300, not counting direct orders and digital sales) I'm sure we'll be seeing The Black Hood in production for a while. It's probably going to end up a sleeper hit and this is the kind of thing that could end up an AMC original series someday, so one can only hope that it continues to find new fans as it goes. Check it out.

Story & Plot - 8.5/10
Art & Illustration - 8.5/10
Inks & Colors - 9.5/10
Cast & Characters - 8/10
Overall Score - 8.5/10

     © B-Sly The Gamer Guy

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Graphic Novel Review Series: Superman: Earth One v1!


 


     Recently I've gotten the itch to sit down and read some of the DC Earth One graphic novels that launched a couple of years ago to solid fanfare. They've been getting a lot of massive mainstream attention and positive reviews from trusted sources that I had to come across them at some point, and since I have such a deep love for the early "Ultimate" line of comics from Marvel I figured it would be a good idea to check these out. I decided I'd start with Superman: Earth One since it was the launching point for this DC initiative, and boy o' boy was I treated to something special. First off, for those who don't know what the Earth One line of graphic novels is, it's a starting point for classic characters within DC's roster. They created an alternate reality for these heroes and villains and set everything back to day one with a different take on each characters origin and background, so it basically shows the reader how each character became the hero or villain they've always been but with twists that wouldn't work within the core DC continuity. If you've ever read a comic or graphic novel from the Marvel "Ultimate" line than you'll be at home with Earth One. Much like Ultimate Marvel, Earth One erases decades of continuity and creates a landscape where new readers (and existing readers) can jump on board a character and see how he finds his place in the world. My love for Ultimate Spider-Man has brought me to enjoy stories such as this and there is something to be said about revamping classic characters for a modern era without doing a soft reboot that keeps their past continuity and keeps the character young and in the modern age within their own ongoing comic.
     So, I sat down and started on Superman: Earth One with expectations that things would be different, and they are to a point, but not much has changed here aside from the book taking place in the modern day. One fairly large twist is that we find out that Superman's home planet was destroyed in a "search and destroy" mission and that it wasn't just coming undone from the inside out. Also, we see that the Kent's urged Clark into becoming Superman, almost pushing him to a fault. It was a bit different than the classic origins we've been used to throughout the life of this iconic character but a lot of the same Superman tropes are present, such as Clark becoming a writer for the paper and working with Lane & Olson. Over the course of this graphic novel I didn't come across anything that didn't make the character feel like Superman and everything flowed nicely as I got to know the Earth One hero. I highly enjoyed the story presented here by J. Michael Straczynski, it was very polished and brought an edge to a character that many feel is soft, he truly made me care about Clark's situation and brought a level of depth to Superman that was highly needed. I simply couldn't wait to turn the page. The art by Shane Davis was fun and vibrant too with a slight muddy overtone that gave the visuals a gritty feel at times. I don't really know what I'd compare it to but I really liked it, I may have even preferred it to Gary Frank' work in Batman: Earth One (more on that in another post).
     The plot in the first volume of Superman: Earth One was simple and addictive. We see Clark's origin of how the Kent's found him, we see him grow up a bit and join the football team, we see him move away and join the paper, and we see him faced down by an enemy that we learn has been chasing him down since birth. Everything had meaning. We see that he easily could have slid through life as a scientist or an athlete (or anything else he wanted to be) but in typical Clark fashion he wanted to do it the hard way and work his way through as a normal human being without allowing his powers to prevail. Which I decided was something I'm glad they kept about Clark's character, though at first I was hoping that he'd allow himself some slack which I guess you could say he did seeing as how he got his job with the paper using Superman to his advantage. All in all I really enjoyed the story and the kick-off to the Earth One series of books, it's nice to be able to dive into these classic characters without decades of continuity to worry about. Don't get me wrong through, it's not like this is the essential origin tale of this character and the way fans both new and old should view him, it's just a nice take on Superman with some fun twists and turns along the way that made the ride an enjoyable one. The post-Crisis Man of Steel series by John Byrne is another essential piece of reading if you're looking to get into Superman or read a classic Superman story, but he's got a million and one different beginnings out there so you should do some research and see which one fits your tastes the best. I highly recommend fans of this character, or fans of comics in general, pick this up and add it to their book shelf. There is lots of good to be had here.

Story& Plot - 9/10
Art & Illustration - 8.5/10
Inks & Colors - 8.5/10
Cast & Characters - 8/10
Overall Score - 9/10

© B-Sly The Gamer Guy

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Step into the "Circle".....A review of The Black Hood #1 by Dark Circle Comics!


    Hello everyone and thanks a million for dropping by! Today I have a real treat because this afternoon I decided to sit down and read, or re-read actually, and review a new comic book on store stands called The Black Hood, by a publisher known as Dark Circle Comics (an imprint of Archie). Every once in a while a new (or existing) publisher comes along with a crop of new comics to unleash upon the masses featuring fun an interesting characters and after taking a look at the lineup that Dark Circle Comics has in store I'd say that this looks as promising and as fun as anything I've checked out since Dynamite made a run at the classic pulp heroes a few years back. Heck, this may even rival and/or exceed the greatness going on at Valiant and Dark Horse's Project Black Sky books. That's a very bold statement. But the questions always remains whether or not the line of books will last in a crowded market that seems to be dwindling...

    As far as The Black Hood #1 goes all I can say is "wow". From the first portion of the book to the last you are witness to a tragic incident that horribly disfigures a police officer who is forced to take a considerable amount of time off to rehab his injuries and learn to rejoin society again. Once he does he realizes that what he's doing isn't really doing much for him anymore since killing a vigilante known as "The Black Hood" so he decides to put the mask on and take up the mantle. Now I know what you're thinking. You're most likely thinking that stories such as this have been told before and that there really isn't anything special about this tale that hasn't been told. And in many ways you're right, but the magic here lies in the fact that the creative team isn't trying to reinvent the wheel more so than they're trying to master it. And this issue truly did thanks to it's remarkable story and it's dark and gritty artwork, this book was a home-run that has left me wanting more by the time I was finished. This single issue is one of the finest works that Duane Swierczynski has churned out and rivals anything he's done on Valiant's Bloodshot or Dark Horse's "X" and really should be given a chance by anyone who likes a dark and dank vigilante story that seems to have some crime overtones. The art is dark and gritty and I tip my hat to Michael Gaydos for his unique style of illustration, it's really giving the character some depth beyond what the scribe can give and the book benefits overall from his pencils. The first issue alone has introduced us to a main character who is good but wants to be bad, a potential love interest, a plot that will eventually unfold and answer a lot of questions, and it's kicked off what could be a very promising universe of heroes and villains that could be used to drive media efforts sometime down the road. My only issue is that they're going with the $3.99 price tag for their comics which will no doubt limit their potential sales since so many publishers are promoting books at the same price, and in some cases cheaper, with bigger franchises and higher tier talent attached to them. I would think that publishers these days would be able to promote a book at $2.99 and still make a sizable profit, but maybe I'm wrong.....I don't know, I just feel bad for all the kids out there who want to buy comics but can't afford to thanks to the inflated price tag.

All in all I do highly recommend this book and I hope that despite the high price tag and the "been done before" story that you'll give it a shot if you're a fellow comic book fan because there is just so much here to like. On top of The Black Hood, Dark Circle plans to release comics based on characters they own including The Fox, The Shield, Hangman, and New Crusaders, as well as the potential of expanding more throughout 2016 and then beyond. By the end of 2015 they should have 4-5 titles on store shelves and a clear vision of where the line will go, if it goes anywhere at all. This comic book fan sure hope it does.

Story& Plot - 9/10
Art & Illustration - 8.5/10
Inks & Colors - 10/10
Cast & Characters - 8.5/10
Overall Score - 9/10
© B-Sly The Gamer Guy

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

MMA for the non-MMA fan. It's time to start watching!



I’ve been watching professional sports now for almost my whole life. I was a fan of the NBA since I was around 7, I was a one time baseball fan, I’ve always enjoyed football, and boxing was always a top priority in my household growing up, but there is one sport that trumps them all in my book and it’s a sport that I’ve loved for several years now and will continue to do so until the day I die. That sport, ladies and gentlemen, is Mixed Martial Arts. Mixed Martial Arts (or MMA) has been in the public eye since the early 90’s when the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) debuted a tournament style format that saw fighters competing to become the last man standing. And to be brutally honest, it was terrible. It wasn’t until the early 2000’s when the UFC adopted the Unified Rules of Mixed Martial Arts that the sport gained a legit following from sports fans due to the much needed regulations which weeded out the true athletes from the beer bellied bar brawlers of years past. Since these rules have been put into place MMA, mainly the UFC, has thrived and become a fixture on sports television with special events held on FOX, FOX Sports 1, Spike TV, Fuel, Versus, and Pay-Per-View. That success has brought some other companies into the fold such as Bellator MMA which holds live events on Spike TV, and World Series Of Fighting which currently holds events on NBC and NBC Sports. Needless to say the sport of MMA is thriving with multiple companies being showcased on television and one (UFC) bringing in massive PPV buys and selling out major arenas all over the world.
   Since becoming a fan of the sports it has become apparent to me that the athletes who compete in high level MMA are not your typical athletes. These guys do insane regiments which consist of 8-12 hours in the gym per day during all seven days of the week while they’re in camp training for a fight which is an insane amount of dedication, more dedication than anyone else in any other sport. I quickly started to see athletes for what they were, losing respect for most athletes who compete in conventional sports and dropping any recognition for the word “athlete” as it pertains to baseball players as a whole. How could these guys even come close to calling themselves athletes when their level of work is a mere fraction of someone who competes in high level MMA, mainly the UFC? Any which way athletes who train in MMA are without a doubt the greatest athletes in the world today, bar none. Guys like Jon Jones, Anderson Silva, GSP, Cain Velasquez, Anthony Pettis, Benson Henderson, Edson Barboza, Anthony Johnson, Rafael Dos Anjos, Conor McGregor, and many more are the pinnacle of what this sport is all about and thats conditioning, strength, ability, and smarts, and my hat is off to these fine fighters who help making this sport what it is. My hat is also off to the legends of the octagon who have paved the way for the above fighters to make a living, especially guys like Randy Couture, Chuck Liddell, Matt Hughes, Tim Sylvia, Forrest Griffin, Tito Ortiz, and BJ Penn.
  Now, if you've ever thought about getting into MMA now is the time to do so. You have amazing fighters putting it all on the line in 2015 with some amazing fights already having taken place. Just earlier this month we saw Jon Jones successfully defend his World's Light-Heavyweight Championship against Daniel Cormier in a highly competitive fight and we've seen Anthony Johnson demolish Alexander Gustafsson in a #1 contenders bout for Jon's title. We've seen the sports most exciting (and outspoken) fighter, Conor McGregor, rise from obscurity to become one of the best in the world, and he'll get a chance to prove it this spring against Featherweight Champion, Jose Aldo. We're about to see the return of Anderson Silva, the greatest of all-time, after suffering a broken leg in an attempt to get his World's Middleweight Championship back last winter. In February we'll get to see former champion, Vitor Belfort, try to win a title in his second weight class when he clashes with the Middleweight World's Champion, Chris Weidman. And finally we'll see the Lightweight Championship on the line later this year as well as the Heavyweight World Championship in the summer when Cain Velasquez defends against Fabricio Werdum. There is so much to look forward to in MMA during 2015 that it could really become a banner year for the sport, and with it's strong ratings, huge PPV buys, talented fighters, and smart marketing it's only going to get bigger and better.
   
     If you're interested in checking out some classic fights then I'd look no further than many of Chuck Liddell's offerings from 2002 onward, especially his battles with Tito Ortiz, W. Silva, and Randy Couture. I'd also seek out some fights between Forrest Griffin and Tito Ortiz, GSP and Matt Hughes, Couture and Tim Sylvia, Sylvia and Andrei Arlovski, as well as anything with Anderson Silva or Jon Jones. Seriously, there are so many amazing fights out there to seek out that I'd probably break my keyboard typing them all out. If you've ever had a thing for classic boxing than check UFC out because you'll see a lot of fantastic boxing mixed with muay tai, ju-jitsu, wrestling, karate, judo, and other forms of fighting. It's truly an interesting mix of styles hence the name of the sport being Mixed Martial Arts. Also, if you're a classic boxing fan and are sick and tired of the sports current state of bullshit than look no further than MMA. After years and years of watching boxing and watching MMA the one thing that really shines through is that fighting within a league, such as the UFC, you're in NO position to duck other fighters. In boxing we often see boxers hiding behind their managers and their promoters as to why they can't or won't fight other fighters and they duck one another because they enjoy fighting other fighters that make them look good. I hate that more than anything. In MMA the league assigns you you're next opponent and the fighters show up and enter the cage to do their thing. No ducking, no games, no bullshit. And that's the way that professional fighting should be. Period. 

© B-Sly The Gamer Guy

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

ANIME REVIEW SERIES: Claymore!




Photobucket    Claymore. What can I say? This anime has been one of the most enjoyable pieces of animation I have ever had the pleasure of watching and it has left an impression on me that very few animated works have achieved. I'm going to start this review off with the story of Claymore and what you can look forward to seeing in this anime, but before reading on please keep in mind that this is just my feelings on this series and many may agree or disagree depending upon their personal taste so please don't take my word for it, go and watch it. The story kicks off with an angry monster called a "Yoma" wreaking havoc in a small village and killing many of its residents which triggers the town folk to hire a woman known as a "Claymore" (Clare) to come and kill the Yoma before it kills off everyone in the village. Through these series of events she is introduced to Raki, a young boy who's family was killed by the monster she is hunting. Raki begins to grow attatched to Clare and begs to come along with her on her journey as her cook, which was an odd request that she couldn't quite comprehend, Clare eventually agrees and the two begin to get closer and closer as the series progresses, Eventually they do end up becoming separated as the story progresses only to find each other once again toward the end of the story, which I felt was handled perfectly.
Throughout Clare's adventures she finds herself at odd's with the same organization that she serves and eventually falls into a group of girls who are beginning to see the twisted reality that the Claymore organization stands for and they make a pact to keep their own ulterior motives to themselves and stick together. The group is sooner or later targeted by the higher ups in the Claymore organization and are given a series of jobs to kill some of the most powerful Yoma's in the world as a punishment. These ultra powerful Yoma are referred to as "Eaters" or "Awakened Beings" and are the most dangerous of all Yoma. Throughout the 26 episodes of Claymore you will see many Awakened Beings and some of the battle scenes that take place with these monsters are really some of the best and most exciting fight's I have seen in an anime. Seriously, it's pretty spectacular in my opinion and I'm sure you will enjoy them too as you progress through the show. One fight in particular that was really impressive takes place between a group of Claymore and a giant Yoma, who is controlled by a young girl who is actually an ultra powerful Awakened Being herself, but has not taken on the form yet. It was really impressive and very long so keep an eye out for that one as I felt it was a real treat. I would say that this is one of the rare anime series out there that takes its action and story and blends it into a perfect mix and balances it out nicely throughout it's entire run and my hat is off to the creators for that and I wish more anime/manga writers would strive to achieve this.
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The art and animation in this series was a real high point for me and for its time I'd put it up against any other show going on at the time, CGI aside (but thats cheating). The characters looked quite a bit liuke their manga counterparts but with a little higher detail and it just worked, especially the way the Yoma's looked, very well done and I'd say the overall art production team did a phenomenal job. Too add to the amazing visuals the producers selected some amazing music for this anime also, which really helped to create an awesome atmosphere whether the viewer was witnessing a fight scene or a shot of the group sitting around and relaxing. I truly can't speak high enough of the musical score, all 26 episodes feature music that just makes the show fly right by and cliffhangers really epic. So yeah, production wise Claymore shines bright whether it be its intense story, amazing musical score, or slick animation, it just knocks the ball out of the park in almost every category. One complaint I've heard time and time again about this show is the way they handled the blood, as if the way the blood flows is some kind of a way to judge a television show or something. Seriously? We're going to complain about the blood? Get over yourself, people. That's just silly anime elitist bullshit that gets no play in this ride, I thought I'd just share the blood aspect of this show because there are those out there who may be thinking of watching Claymore with their children who may want to know about the level of violence in this show (which is pretty vast, in my opinion). Another complaint I've heard is that the show strayed from the manga quite a bit and that seemed to bother a lot of people. I'm not one of those fans who believe that the anime and manga should be 100% accurate to eachother with ZERO room for creative changes, to me....that's shallow thinking and just more elitist bullshit. I love the changes made in shows like Claymore or the original Fullmetal Alchemist and I've always felt changes are what separates the printed works from the animated spectacle, people just need to be a little more open to alterations. Consider my thought process being that if I've read the manga than I have no reason to watch the anime if it's going to be exactly the same. That would be redundant. Well, I'm out ya'll, enjoy the ratings below!


Art & Animation - 9.0
Music & Sound Effects - 9.0
Story & Writing -9.5
Fun & Enjoyment - 9.0
Overall Score - 9.0
© B-Sly The Gamer Guy