Comic Book Feeds

Wild Wild West Revisited Wednesday

Sorcerer's Skull - Wed, 11/25/2020 - 12:00

Instead of watching some parade on Thanksgiving, you can sit back and read the installments you've missed of "Revisiting the Wild Wild West" a rewatch and commentary on selected episodes by Jim "Flashback Universe" Shelley and myself.

Weird Revisited: Dead Stars & Outer Monstrosities

Sorcerer's Skull - Mon, 11/23/2020 - 12:00

 The release of the pdf of the William Hope Hodgson-inspired rpg Grey Seas Are Dreaming of My Death last week, brought to mind this post from last year...

Art from the Oldstyle Tales Press editionAs we understand the word," said the old Doctor. "Though, mind you, there may be a third factor. But, in my heart, I believe that it is a matter of chemistry; Conditions and a suitable medium; but given the Conditions, the Brute is so almighty that it will seize upon anything through which to manifest itself. It is a Force generated by Conditions; but nevertheless this does not bring us one iota nearer to its explanation, any more than to the explanation of Electricity or Fire. They are, all three, of the Outer Forces—Monsters of the Void.... - William Hope Hodgson, "The Derelict"
Spelljammer has never really felt like it was about exploration to me. There's nothing wrong with that, but plenty of science fiction literature paints space as a place for confronting the unknown. This is really a perfect fit for Spelljammer where its pre-modern, "magical" spacecraft put the stars within reach but not the science to understand any of it. Not that there is necessarily science as we know it to understand, in any case.
I think I would look to the horror/adventure stories of William Hope Hodgson, specifically his nautical yarns like The Boats of the Glen Carrig, "The Voice in the Night," "A Tropical Horror," and "Demons of the Sea." A little pseudo-science borrowed from his Carnacki stories could only help.
The characters are competent space-hands, perhaps mildly colorful rogues like Howard's Wild Bill Clanton or just working stiffs like the crew of the Nostromo in Alien, not bold explorers or science fantasy swashbucklers. Their jobs involving them going through places that are not (usually) inhabited by hostile species of space orcs or the like, but are instead fundamentally almost wild, always strange. Weird danger can rear it's head at any time, and your vessel is just another ship that disappeared in the Void.
Weird phenomena should be encountered as frequently as monsters, I think. Monsters, when they do show up should be unfamiliar, and probably not seen enough to become mundane.
Beyond the stories of Hodgson and Alien, other potential sources of inspiration could be the comic series Outer Darkness, the science fiction stories of Clark Ashton Smith, Poe's Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym, and of course, Moby Dick

Some Thoughts on Science Fiction Settings

Sorcerer's Skull - Thu, 11/19/2020 - 12:00

Thinking about science fiction settings in rpgs (and in film and television which I think is the biggest influence on rpg sci-fi settings) I think that two important factors are scale and frame. Scale is the size of the setting, not necessarily in absolute terms (though maybe), in narrative terms. Frame is a descriptor or genre of the typical types of stories the setting supports. The two factors are not independent or exclusive.

Here are the frames I have thought of with a media representative. There are likely more that slipped my mind:
  • Crime/Hard-boiled Mystery (Outland) - Hard people doing hard space
  • Exploration, Pulp (John Carter) - A stranger meets a strange land or lands
  • Exploration, Mystery/Horror (Alien) - we've found something anomalous and now it might kill us.
  • Exploration, Realistic  - (can't think of film here) - Alien planets are mostly inhospitable, talking to other species is hard!
  • Exotic Ports of Call (Star Trek) - every week another world, another adventure
  • Outpost (Babylon 5) - Everybody comes to Rick's
  • Pioneers (Earth 2) - A little bit of exploration, but mostly we're putting down roots
  • World-trotting (Star Wars) - Constant motion; as many exotic backdrops as possible
  • Galaxy Wrecking (Guardians of the Galaxy) - the universe is vast and wild
I am probably missing some very realistic genres or some "ten minutes into the future stuff"/mild cyberpunk stuff, but I'm thinking mainly here of science fiction settings that include space travel. Some of the categories are also broader than others, too. 
Why isn't Star Trek (for instance) Exploration, Pulp? Despite it's mission statement, the Enterprise mostly seems to go to places people have gone before. They do very little first contact. Their activities harken back to pulp stories about places that are known, but perhaps little understood. Exploration, Pulp in my formulation is really the descendant of the Lost World novel. 
Here are the Scales in order of increasing size:
  • Ship/Station
  • Planet/Megastructure
  • Orbital System (this could be either a group of moons or artificial satellites)
  • Solar System
  • Near/Few Star Systems
  • Several Star Systems
  • Many Star Systems/Galaxy
  • Galaxies+
There is sometimes the issue of "visible scale." A setting may technically have a large scale than what the characters typically interact with. In general, I think the commonly visible scale is most important for fit with frames.
The following frames seem to go best with smaller scales: Crime/Hard-boiled Mystery, Exploration Pulp, Exploration Mystery/Horror, Exploration Realistic, Outpost, and Pioneers.
These frames seem to me to go best with large scales: Exotic Ports of Call, World-trotting, and Galaxy Wrecking.

Wednesday Comics: Grant Morrison's Green Lantern

Sorcerer's Skull - Wed, 11/18/2020 - 12:00

I don't think I've mentioned Grant Morrison's now two year-old and still going run on Green Lantern on this blog yet, so it's about time I did. For the short verison, if you aren't a fan of Morrison or particularly his "mad idea" neo-Silver Age approach to DC characters he has taken at least since All-Star Superman and possibly since JLA, then you probably won't like his run on Green Lantern.

If you do like some of those things....well, you might like it. 

I think for most people Hal Jordan Green Lantern might be a bit of a hard sell. I'm sure there are folks out their that love him (Geoff Johns writes for them, apparently), but I don't know anyone that views him as their favorite. Morrison's take gives him some characterization that he hasn't had before, but I'd hesitate to call it depth. He is stalwart, and cocky, and mostly unafraid. He is also not terrible success at much other than being good at facing down danger and being a hero.

That sort of character stuff mostly takes a back seat to gonzo sci-fi superheroics. Morrison's view of DC galactic and multi-dimensional society is incoherent in the sense that it's hard to discern much when it's coming at you out of a firehose. It's perhaps a bit like Guardians of the Galaxy, perhaps, in a "just go with it" sort of way, but it's also very DC Silver Age filtered through modern sensibilities. It's grounded with the often very police procedural approach taken to the Green Lanterns' job and the tribulations they face. Barely surviving an onslaught from an antimatter universe is followed by a day in court, where the perps play on the judge's sympathies. It even touches on police brutality early in the run, but wisely that's a bit a misdirection. The bubble Morrison is building would probably pop in the face of too much realism.

While the series doesn't lack for action, cleverness and problem solving are often the solution to the stories' central dilemmas, in Silver Age fashion. Liam Sharp's art certainly supports the action and the sometimes trippiness of the setting, but I occasionally sort of wish for someone a bit cleaner-lined to make some scenes a bit clearer and as a counterpoint to Morrison's flights of fancy rather than a henchman. José Luis García-López would have been great for this.

Anyway, it's not my favorite of Morrison's mainstream DC works, but it keeps me coming back. I'm also hoping (like with his Action Comics run) that it has some surprises at the end that make what came before seem even better. We'll see.

Now it’s time to enter your work in the 2020 INKWELL AWARDS!

First Comics News - Wed, 11/18/2020 - 00:26
Where did the year go? Oh yeah…BUT on the good side, it’s time to be recognized for your incredible ink work again! Your published work is eligible for consideration in any of our five inking categories–SEE BELOW.

(Unlike some other awards, we do not charge a fee.)
While our volunteer nomination committee (“NomCom”) can still submit their choices, they just can’t see all the wonderful work during the year from all publishers large and small. So it’s up to YOU! Important details:

1. Examples of TWO to THREE (max) interior pages—sorry, NO covers—of published & printed comic-book ink work you’ve done from any USA-published comic book (per categories below)COVER-DATED 2020 (sorry, no webcomics unless also printed.). Send either links to your specific samples (not general site links), or low-res image files. (Do not send large files–we’re not a printer!) DO NOT SEND PHYSICAL COPIES–they will not be eligible.

2. NAMES of the inker and penciller, your preferred EMAIL ADDRESS, the TITLE/ISSUE #(s) and PUBLISHER.

3. The CATEGORY(-IES) for each sample. You may submit the same or different work to different categories, EXCEPT “Favorite Inker” and “Props”–pick one or the other. Categories are:
1.    Favorite Inker: favorite ink artist over the pencils of another artist. (Can’t be nominated for “Props.”)
2.    Most-adaptable: showing exceptional ink style versatility over other pencil artists. (Minimum TWO pages per penciller, up to three.)
3.    Props award: ink artist deserving of more attention for work over other pencillers.
 (Can’t be past winner or nom. for “Favorite Inker.”)
4.    The S.P.A.M.I: for favorite Small Press And Mainstream-Independent comic book ink work over another pencil artist (Non-Marvel or DC).
4.    All-in-one award: for favorite artist inking his/her own pencils.
(Make sure you read and understand the BIG RULES below before sending.)

WHERE TO SEND: Email samples back here to, with the Subject “2018 Inkwell Awards.” (Questions? Same email or ask us on Facebook or Twitter @inkwellawards.) WHEN TO SEND: The deadline is DECEMBER 31st, 2020 (we’ll post reminders, but earlier is better).
PLEASE help us help you by following the directions and rules specifically. If not, your work cannot be considered. We are merely a few working professionals who volunteer when time allows so we don’t have the time/manpower to micro-manage.

THE BIG RULES (Please read):
-Inks can be with traditional or digital tools (e.g., brush, pen, marker, stylus, Apple Pen, Wacom, etc., but NOT just pencils darkened/manipulated via Photoshop/software–must be drawn by HAND).
-Work must have been printed in the USA with a 2019 cover date. No Web-only comics.
-Our volunteer NomCom may also submit their choices. All entries will be considered equally and tallied.
-The core committee is not permitted to nominate, nor vote, for anyone (so save your bribes).
-All links sent must be to the specific pages being considered. Any general site links (“,” DeviantArt portfolios, etc.) will be ignored. No physical copies.
-If work does not meet the criteria above or is not submitted in accordance with these rules, it will not be considered. Fraudulent entries will be voided and will result in your not being considered for any future awards (and any awards won will be forfeited and given to the runner-up).
-The Inkwell Awards is not responsible for any power outages, server issues, software or hardware malfunctions, human error, acts of God, zombie apocalypses and any other stuff beyond our control.
Again, if you have questions or need more info, send an email to either, or to me directly at the address below.

Thank you and good luck!
Bob Almond (and The Inkwell Awards Committee)
The Inkwell Awards
Twitter: @inkwellawards

In case you still haven’t heard, The Inkwell Awards ( is an official 501(c)(3) non-profit organization whose mission is to educate the public and promote the art form of comic-book inking, as well as annually recognize and award the best ink artists and their work. Founded in 2008, the organization is overseen by a volunteer committee of industry professionals and assisted by various pro ambassadors, numerous contributors and supporters. We sponsor the Dave Simons Inkwell Memorial Scholarship Fund for the Kubert School and host the Joe Sinnott Hall of Fame Award.

Categories: Comic Book Blogs


First Comics News - Tue, 11/17/2020 - 22:29

Writer Jed MacKay and artist Carlos Magno take the Avengers into uncharted territory in a new comic series this February!

New York, NY— November 17, 2020 — A brand-new enemy has emerged in the Marvel Universe and even Earth’s Mightiest Heroes are no match against it. But the Avengers aren’t so easily beaten, and when new threats arise, powerful new tools must be brought to bear! Suiting up in high-tech individualized armor, the Avengers stand ready for one of their greatest battles yet in the extraordinary new comic series, AVENGERS MECH STRIKE!

Written by Jed MacKay (Black Cat) with art by Carlos Magno (Fantastic Four, Empyre: Avengers), AVENGERS MECH STRIKE will kick off a bold new age of action-packed Avengers battles that will send shockwaves throughout the comic book industry and beyond! Uniting against an unstoppable enemy, AVENGERS MECH STRIKE #1 is just the beginning of this epic story that will unfold throughout next year!

“Heavy metal! When the Avengers come up against something that defies their usual methods, new tools are needed for the job: giant robot suits,” said MacKay. “It’s been a blast to take on the Avengers and really put them in the thick of it. When you’re dealing with the Avengers, everything is big. Big action. Big stakes. And now, big robots!

“We’re going for non-stop, full-bore action, with a lineup of Avengers favorites going up against an unexpected new foe…that might end up being quite familiar! Aliens, robots, dinosaurs, Martians…it’s going to get worse before it gets better for our heroes.”

Behold your first glimpse at these instantly iconic new suits on Kei Zama’s cover below and stay alert for news about the AVENGERS MECH STRIKE program, featuring comics, digital content, and more exciting products to be announced in the coming weeks and months! For more information, including a special teaser video, visit

Written by JED MACKAY
Cover by KEI ZAMA

Categories: Comic Book Blogs

David Finch’s First-Ever Red Sonja Cover Debuts Soon!

First Comics News - Tue, 11/17/2020 - 20:16

November 17, Mt. Laurel, NJ:
Dynamite is soon to unveil a stunning new exclusive Red Sonja collectible comic featuring a brand new cover by superstar artist David Finch. Fans can sign up here to get updates for the Indiegogo campaign’s upcoming launch.

The new comic will feature a never before seen take on the She-Devil With a Sword (and this time she’s got an axe too!), as only the talents of Finch can capture her in all her post-fight ferocity. Finch’s almost criminally great depiction of the heroine is aided and abetted by frequent collaborator colorist Frank D’Armata. Fans may or may not believe it, but Finch has never before drawn an official Red Sonja cover! Though one may find some gorgeous one-of-a-kind commissions out there on the web, this is the first opportunity for sword and sorcery fans to add this all-star artist to their collection.

Though David Finch is no stranger to Dynamite and the publisher’s library as a whole. In addition to some breathtaking Vampirella covers toward the turn of the century, Dynamite has called on the master for such blockbuster titles as The Shadow/Batman and Charlie’s Angels. In addition, he produced some truly heroic covers for his wife and creative partner Meredith Finch’s critically acclaimed run on Xena.

This Monday night Dynamite CEO and Publisher Nick Barrucci joined David on his YouTube channel for an hour to chat all things comics and more. With over 70 thousand followers on the platform, David’s fans turned out and those who missed it can catch up by clicking here.

Categories: Comic Book Blogs

Amazon Studios and Simon Kinberg’s Genre Films Have Optioned DNA, A Novella by Writer Julian Meiojas and Artist Mad Dog Jones

First Comics News - Tue, 11/17/2020 - 18:58

The Neon-Noir Dystopian Thriller from NeoText Will Be Adapted as a Feature Film

(November 17) Amazon Studios and Simon Kinberg’s Genre Films have optioned DNA, a neon-noir dystopian novella by writer Julian Meiojas and artist Mad Dog Jones. Set in a twisted future America, DNA follows anti-hero protagonist Ram, a low-level, irreverent “process server” at the Death Notification Agency, who goes on the run after receiving his own death notice and stumbles into a larger conspiracy. Meiojas, an established television writer and producer for series such as Jack Ryan and Ridley Scott’s Raised by Wolves, will adapt the script based on his own series in his first foray into film.

DNA introduces Ramsay Carnes. Known to his friends as “Ram,” he’s a process server – a reaper – for the Death Notification Agency, which is now the biggest government organization in the world thanks to a mysterious and highly-guarded technology that can determine the time of anyone’s demise, right down to the minute. And it’s Ram’s job as a reaper to deliver death notices to soon-to-be-deceased citizens 24 hours before they give up the ghost. Ram floats through his days letting folks know when their lives are about to go belly up, then heads to Nasty Nate’s Tavern in his aloha shirt to wash down the days with a well-earned drink or ten. But Ram’s simple life is about to get a lot more complicated when one night he receives his own death notice. DNA follows Ram as he now has to outrun his own death, travelling from sweat-drenched Florida down elevated sky roads to New York City, where the DNA’s skyscraper headquarters hides a secret that—if Ram digs deep enough—could unravel the truth behind not just his own death notice but the life and death business as he knows it.

The recently released novella series comes from NeoText, a new digital publishing company dedicated to publishing short-form prose ranging from science fiction and noir novellas to investigative journalism and narrative nonfiction. NeoText execs John Schoenfelder, Russell Ackerman, and Jay Schuminsky will serve as producers alongside Genre’s Kinberg and Audrey Chon.

“Death Notification Agency by Julian Meiojas is a laser-powered sci-fi noir action of the highest order,” said the NeoText execs. “We couldn’t be more thrilled to keep building the DNA book series and brand with Amazon, Simon Kinberg and Audrey Chon as Julian adapts Ram’s saga for film.”

Categories: Comic Book Blogs

Mad Cave Studios Inks Exclusive Distribution Deal with Diamond

First Comics News - Tue, 11/17/2020 - 18:53

(Hunt Valley, MD) — (November 17, 2020) — Diamond Comic Distributors, the world’s largest distributor of English-language comic books, graphic novels, and pop culture merchandise, is pleased to announce that it has signed a distribution agreement with Mad Cave Studios to exclusively distribute their products to comic book specialty markets worldwide. Diamond was also awarded the rights to exclusively distribute Mad Cave’s new releases to the North American book market under the banner of Diamond Book Distributors.

Mad Cave Studios is a comic book and graphic novel publisher founded by Mark London in 2014, driven by madness and committed to providing quality entertainment with a fresh take in an array of genres. Mad Cave focuses on uplifting the comic community by supporting the underrepresented and writing stories that resonate with unapologetically authentic audiences. From horror and fantasy to sci-fi and adventure, Mad Cave Studios has a comic for every kind of reader. An unquestionable passion for creating comics and an undeniable commitment towards maddening creativity underscores Mad Cave’s drive to provide high-quality entertainment for today’s comic book reading audience.

“Mad Cave is truly excited to be partnering up with Diamond Books in an effort to establish ourselves in the book market and continue expanding in the direct market,” said Mad Cave Studios Publisher, Chris Fernandez.

CEO & CCO, Mark London adds, “Our true goal here is to offer graphic novels and comics that thrill and excite; for the youth that thinks differently today. We are publishing for those not afraid to be independent, who find freedom in the unexpected, and who will always fight to be the true versions of themselves.”

Mad Cave Studios boasts an ever-growing library of work, with comic books and graphic novels ranging from horror to fantasy to sci-fi and everything in between. Honor and Curse, written by Mark London with art from Nicolás Salamanca and colors from Tekino, tells the tale of a skilled and ambitious shinobi with dreams of leading his warrior clan, when an evil mountain spirit from his past inhabits his body and turns him into an unstoppable force of nature incapable of remorse. Knights of the Golden Sun, written by Mark London with art from Mauricio Villarreal, is a biblical epic set during the four hundred years that separate the Old Testament from the New Testament. In this period, neither man nor angel can hear God’s divine message, and a power struggle erupts among the Archangels and the Fallen over who will control the Father’s throne. Battlecats, also from Mark London, is a medieval fantasy comic set in Valderia – a majestic world shaped by its rich history and diverse feline cultures – which is protected by the Battlecats, an elite team of warriors sworn to protect the throne against the forces of evil.

“We are excited to begin a partnership with Mad Cave Studios and see great market potential in their books,” said Geppi Family Enterprises’ Chief Purchasing Officer, Tim Lenaghan. “Their continued effort to provide top-quality products that are both timely and relatable is an asset we value. We’re greatly looking forward to working with them to promote and sell their line of books.”


Categories: Comic Book Blogs

TOM & JERRY – Official Trailer

First Comics News - Tue, 11/17/2020 - 18:51

Tom and Jerry take their cat-and-mouse game to the big screen. Watch the trailer for the new #TomAndJerryMovie now – coming to theaters 2021.

One of the most beloved rivalries in history is reignited when Jerry moves into New York City’s finest hotel on the eve of “the wedding of the century,” forcing the event’s desperate planner to hire Tom to get rid of him, in director Tim Story’s “Tom & Jerry.” The ensuing cat and mouse battle threatens to destroy her career, the wedding and possibly the hotel itself. But soon, an even bigger problem arises: a diabolically ambitious staffer conspiring against all three of them.

An eye-popping blend of classic animation and live action, Tom and Jerry’s new big-screen adventure stakes new ground for the iconic characters and forces them to do the unthinkable… work together to save the day.

“Tom & Jerry” stars Chloë Grace Moretz (“Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising,” “The Addams Family”), Michael Peña (“Cesar Chavez,” “American Hustle,” “Ant-Man”), Rob Delaney (“Deadpool 2,” “Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw”), Colin Jost (“How to be Single,” “Saturday Night Live”), and Ken Jeong (“Crazy Rich Asians,” “The Hangover,” “Transformers: Dark of the Moon”).
The film is directed by Tim Story (“Fantastic Four,” “Think Like a Man,” “Barbershop”) and produced by Chris DeFaria (“The LEGO Movie 2,” “Ready Player One,” “Gravity”).

It is written by Kevin Costello, based on characters created by William Hanna and Joseph Barbera. Serving as executive producers are Tim Story, Adam Goodman, Steven Harding, Sam Register, Jesse Ehrman, and Allison Abbate. The creative filmmaking team includes director of photography Alan Stewart, production designer James Hambidge, editor Peter S. Elliot, and costume designer Alison McCosh. The music is composed by Christopher Lennertz.
A Warner Bros. Pictures and Warner Animation Group presentation, a Tim Story Film, “Tom & Jerry” will be distributed worldwide by Warner Bros. Pictures.

The film is rated PG for cartoon violence, rude humor and brief language.

Categories: Comic Book Blogs

The Philosophy of Spider-Man

First Comics News - Tue, 11/17/2020 - 15:18

Swing into the marvellous mayhem of Spider-Man’s thoughts, wise-cracks, and web-fuelled wisdom! A lavish collection of everything that makes Spidey tick.

Is your spider-sense tingling? This wonderful little book reveals all the quirks and quick-wittedness that the scarlet spider revels in and dispels it for your pleasure

How funny is Peter Parker really? How does he cope with J. Jonah Jameson’s incessant barking? Is an upside-down kiss as easy as it looks? All this and more as the mind of the most popular superhero of recent history is unwebbed!

With great power comes a great number of jokes, jibes and jovial wordplay as you delve into some of Spider-Man’s most comedic comic book moments, laudable cover art, and pure Spidey-(non)sense.


Creator: Titan Comics

Softcover, 128pp, $14.99

On sale December 2020

ISBN: 9781787735361

Categories: Comic Book Blogs

Comic Book Cats, number 121: Sensation Comics #7

First Comics News - Tue, 11/17/2020 - 15:05
Comic Book Cats, number 121: Sensation Comics starring Wonder Woman #7, drawn by H.G. Peter and written by William Moulton Marston, published by DC Comics in July 1942. This early Wonder Woman story features a plot by Nazi spies to take over the International Milk Company in order to deprive America’s children of the milk they need to grow up strong & healthy. Diana Prince investigates International Milk but is captured by their thugs and tossed into the back of a milk truck to drown. Transforming into Wonder Woman, she breaks out of the truck. A flood of milk spills out into the streets, which attracts a horde of hungry stray cats. Harry George Peter was born in San Rafael, California in March 1880. He had already been working as a newspaper illustrator for four decades when William Moulton Marston asked him to design the visual appearance of Wonder Woman in 1941. Peter was the primary Wonder Woman artist for 17 years, from the character’s debut in All Star Comics #8 in October 1941 until his death in 1958 at the age of 78.…/h-g-peter-from-judge-to-wonder/
Categories: Comic Book Blogs

Exploring the Potential of Comic Book Video Games

First Comics News - Tue, 11/17/2020 - 14:53

As long as video games have been in the public consciousness, licensed titles have played their part. Comic book adaptions have been one of the longer-standing examples of this, where players have been exposed to decades of successful and unsuccessful translations. In general terms, these games have run the middle of the pack. There have been some, however, that have been major standouts and industry super-hits. Taking a look at some of these, we want to explore what it is about comics that made this success possible.

An Abundance of Choice

Ever since the arrival of Famous Funnies in 1933, comics have been a constant evolving hit. With so many themes and stories over the years, there has pretty much always been something to appeal to everyone. This means that developers and publishers who want to license a property always have something to draw from, able to select whatever they feel fits their game best.

Such variety doesn’t just benefit video games either, as it has also shown to be immensely successful in related interactive entertainment experiences such as online slots. Titles like Wonder Woman Gold lean on long-standing interest, giving instant recognisability. Indirectly, games like Thor: Hammer Time, while being based on Norse mythology, found success through obviously referencing the more culturally relevant Marvel property.

For traditional video games, the advantages of licensed comic properties depend on the skill of the developer. Created with the right amount of respect and reverence, this combination can be an enormously positive one. One of the most popular examples of this has been the Batman Arkham series of games.

Originating in 2009, this series was the best example seen until that point of illustrating the Batman mythos. In this game, no one man was a threat to Batman, with his special form of free-flow combat adding difficulty in the number of enemies fought at once. With a little skill, Batman could be played just as he is in the comics, a near-unstoppable punching machine. So successful was the combat, that it effectively created a new subgenre.

The same concepts also applied to Batman’s gadgets, where the developer Rocksteady Studios has decades of examples to draw from. These would expand over the length of the games, with Batman using his trademark adaptability to overcome each new obstacle as it appeared.

Contemporary Context

As a more modern example, at least until Rocksteady releases its new Suicide Squad game, there are the Spider-Man titles from Insomniac Games. With the first one released in 2018, these pursued the difficult idea of allowing a more realistic active world in which a superhero could play.

Set in Spider-Man’s home of New York, this game borrowed from the framework created by Arkham, raising it to new web-slinging heights. This was taken a step further with the re-release and expansion developed as a launch title for the PS5. Adopting ray-tracing technology, and higher frame-rates, the new game again raised the ceiling on what comic-book games could accomplish.

Taking a look at the big picture, and the pattern seems to be one of gaming tech constantly pushing the envelope of comic book settings and stories. With decades of examples to draw from, each tech upgrade lets developers stretch their legs more, and create games ever-closer to comic book ideals.

It might have started with 2D Spider-Men trying and failing to climb single buildings, but each new year pushed further and accomplished more. With modern systems having come so far, we can finally explore these worlds in a way that comic writers could formerly only dream of. Whether using the Batmobile to pull down walls or Spidey’s web-shooters to stick enemies to also walls, we can become active parts of the comic stories, and it’s only going to get better.

Categories: Comic Book Blogs

Cutting Through Evil-Doers in the Land of Azurth

Sorcerer's Skull - Mon, 11/16/2020 - 12:00

 A Sunday of last week, our 5e Land of Azurth came continued with the group finishing our adaptation of the adventure "The Barber of the Silverymoon" by Jason Bradley Thompson. With the intelligence gleaned from the captive znarr, the group continued exploring the caves. They sound discovered the real Tom the Barber in an oubliette. He led them to a Mr. B. Zoar, the korred whose magic hair was the source of all this madness. The korred looked sort of like this guy:

With the source of the evil hair removed, the party went looking for the Znarr queen Zarvoola. They happened to rescue an old acquaintance of theirs, Calico Jack the Cat Man, along the way. 

They found Zarvoola surrounded by a horde of sycophant znarr. The well placed sleep spells cut down on the enemy forces and then they were really cut down by the arms of the fighters. Even the cleric got into the act with spells and mace.

In the end, Zarvoola's true identity as a hag was revealed, and what znarr were left beat a hasty retreat. The party assured all the prisoners were freed and left it in the hand's of the logical magical society to clean up the mess.

Forgotten Futures: Stanley Weinbaum

Sorcerer's Skull - Fri, 11/13/2020 - 12:00


I've mentioned the science fiction of Stanley Weinbaum (1902-1935) on this blog before. I was pleased to discover that the free rpg for public domain setting, Forgotten Futures has a Weinbaum adaptation: Forgotten Futures XI: Planets of Peril. If nothing else the worldbook is great. 

You might want to check out the other Forgotten Futures rpgs are well.

Random Asteroids

Sorcerer's Skull - Mon, 11/09/2020 - 12:00

Continuing my random old science fiction solar system generators here with one for the asteroid belt. The asteroids are much less specified than Mars or Venus in the fiction, but there are stories to draw on. The first thing to keep in mind is that asteroids in pulpish tales tend to be much closer together than in real life. Maybe not quite Empire Strikes Back asteroid field distance but close.
Basic Theme:1  Gold in The Hills - The Belt is a rural backwater, but it draws prospectors and those who cater to them. Think boomtowns and eccentric mountain men spacers.2  Islands in a Vast Sea - Strange societies, exotic ports of call. It's one part The Odyssey  and one part South Pacific adventures of  Voyage of the Scarlet Queen.3  Lost Worlds - A more isolated version of the above. The Belt may even be mostly empty, but a few hidden worlds lurk there.4  Place of Mystery - Mostly uninhabited now, but there are this wasn't always the case. There are tombs to rob, artifacts to loot.
Why is This Rock Different? (Note that the answer here will suggest things about other asteroids!) 1  It's inhabited2  It's a piece of some structure3  It's actually a dwarf planetoid4  It has an atmosphere and life despite it's small size
Who Are the Inhabitants?1-2  Strange and varied beings, unknown elsewhere3-4  The adventures, nonconformists, and/or criminals of other worlds5-6  Native primitive human(oid)s--how they spread from rock to rock is a mystery
What Do Outsiders Do There?1  Exploit Mineral Wealth2  Exploit the Natives3  Hiding Out4  Homesteaders5  Archeology/Exploration6  Crashed/Maroon/Exiled

Selected Asteroid Belt Sources:"Marooned off Vesta" Isaac Asimov"Master of the Asteroid" Clark Ashton Smith "The World with A Thousand Moons" Edmond HamiltonThe Twilight Zone "The Lonely" "Trail of the Astrogar" Henry Hasse 

Weird Revisited: Encounters in A Martian Bar Before the Gunfight Started

Sorcerer's Skull - Sun, 11/08/2020 - 15:30
Art by Jeff Call01 A jovial human trader eager to unload a large, glowing jar containing squirming creatures he claims are Mercurian dayside salamanders.

02 A shaggy, spider-eyed Europan smuggler waits nervously for her contact.

03 Four pygmy-like “mushroom men," fungoid sophonts from the caverns of Vesta. They are deep in their reproductive cycle and close proximity gives a 10% chance per minute of exposure inhaling their spores.

04 A Venusian reptoid lowlander with jaundiced eyes from chronic hssoska abuse and an itchy trigger-claw.

05 Two scarred, old spacers in shabby flight suits.  They're of human stock mutated by exposure to unshielded, outlawed rocket drives.

07 A cloud of shimmering lights, strangely ignored by most patrons, dances around twin pale, green-skinned chaunteuses. It's  actually an energy being from the Transneptunian Beyond.

08 An aging, alcoholic former televideo star (and low level Imperial spy) with 1-2 hangers-ons.

09 A Venusian Wooly who just lost a Martian chess game to a young farm-hand who doesn't know any better.

10 A Martian Dune Walker shaman on his way to a ritual at a nearby Old Martian ruin, with a bag of 2d6 hallucinogenic, dried erg-beetles. He dreams of driving all off-worlders from Mars.

An "Old Solar System" of Your Own

Sorcerer's Skull - Fri, 11/06/2020 - 13:05

The "Old Solar System" is a term that has been used to refer to the more romantic views of our planetary neighbors before space probes and better observations through a wet blanket of reality over the whole thing. 

Back in 2019, I wrote a series of posts with generators based ideas drawn from fiction of the era about the three most important worlds of the Old Solar System. Check them out and roll up your own version!




Tuesday Comics: Election Day Edition

Sorcerer's Skull - Tue, 11/03/2020 - 13:00
On this election day, it seemed approporate to point out a couple of presidential election related collections:

Prez is the title of two DC Comics about teenage presidents. The first debuted in his own short-lived title written by Joe Simon and drawn by Jerry Grandenetti in 1973. The series is predicated on the notion of a Constitutional amendment lowering the age for eligibility for office (which may have been inspired by the 1968 film Wild in the Streets). The upshot is a teenager gets elected, and who better than a earnest and idealistic kid from Middle America whose mother even named him “Prez” ‘cause she thought he’d be President one day? 
Finally, because you (or somebody) demanded it, The Prez has been collected. This collection includes the four issues of The Prez's run, an unpublished story from Cancelled Comics Cavalcade #2, and a continuity-twisting tale from Supergirl #10. Neil Gaiman brought Prez out of comics limbo in Sandman #54 in 1993. This led a sort of follow-up in Vertigo Vision: Prez. Miller and Morrison also used the Prez in Dark Knight Strikes Again #2 and the Multiversity Guidebook. All of these deuterocanonical texts are included, as well.

Over at Marvel, a talking duck from parallel Earth ran for President in 1976. Steve Gerber and Gene Colan put Howard the Duck in the middle of the election when he became the candidate for the All-Night Party. Their slogan: "Get Down America!"
This lampooning of the American electoral process is collected in Howard the Duck: The Complete Collection vol. 1 along with a lot of other silliness.


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