2017 isn’t over, everyone wants Best Of, but let’s look ahead Part 1 (MOVIES)

I wait to do any kind of Best Ofs, Tributes, Memories till Jan when doing a year retrospective. Much of the media though does not. They start doing that before Thanksgiving even. They also start looking to the next year early as well though. I am more comfortable doing that. Since that is all HYPE, trailers, info… everything we are excited for could turn out to not be as good as expected or better or maybe in some cases so bad we can’t believe we were ever excited, but man, they shined up a bag of shit really well for the commercials. When doing a Best Of I just feel we should wait till everything from 2017 has come out and this being not even the last week of November, there’s still alot. So let us move on to 2018 in the meanwhile.

Now this is going to be stuff The Spectrum personally is excited by, so if something you’re super excited about isn’t here? It’s because we might not share the same interests. I’d be more shocked though if something your NOT interested in is listed here.

MOVIES
Early Man: The latest from Aardman Studios and Nick Park! Claymation caveman!

Game Night: A “dead” script given birth from the guys behind the new Vacation… throw in some Jason Bateman. You have the possibility of a total sleeper comedy that could one of those “I don’t want to ever see this” and then you see it and go “Why did I wait?”

Black Panther: One of the most interesting characters in Marvel history, it looks like they truly did the king of T’Challa and his people proper justice adapting multiple tales to spin a brand new yarn to fit into the MCU. Especially for a character we’ve already been introduced to and seen a lot of.

12 Strong: The period after 9/11 has become as rich as WWI for war films. Especially when ripped from literary accounts. This one also stars Chris Hemsworth so it could be compelling no matter the narrative.

Teen Titans Go! To The Movies: The team behind the show expand to a full length feature. It’s the same crew, the main creators and writers, the same cast, but they added Kirsten Bell and Will Arnett to the mix. If you hate TTG then sure, but this site does not. This site LOVES TTG! and loves how it finds new ways to play with the narrative, genre and structure, a full length feature will be awesome.

Red Sparrow: Jennifer Lawrence as a kick ass killer spy in a thriller. From the director of the last three Hunger Games, based on the book series.

The New Mutants: The trailer seems to show that this film tries to capture being a faithful adaptation of the classic 80’s horror miniseries by Claremont, Simonson, McLeod and Siencwicz. Plus, Maisie Williams as a werewolf is enough to make most people care, even non Game of Thrones viewers. Maisie is the best.

Love, Simon: A strong adaptation of Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda” starring rising star Nick Robinson. Directed by Greg Berlanti, making his film directing return after years of TV. That Greg felt compelled to take the directing helm again after 7 years of producing sci-fiction, crime, unusual television especially for a very real true to life LGBT story says a lot to me of the quality of the script and story.

Isle of Dogs: Wes Anderson’s return to animation, especially with a completely original story might be the movie I am excited for more than any. Dogs in Japan, huge cast, I’m so in.

Deadpool 2: Even with only the Wet on Wet teaaser, there is no reason not to expect the second Deadpool to be just as good if not even better than the first.

There’s plenty more movies announced and even a few more trailers out there, but this list is a quick one of what has my attention. Coming soon a look at Video games, and a little more.

POWERBOMB.TV present FUTURES preview!

Powerbomb.TV presents their second ever special show TODAY (October 22, 2017) at 5 PM with a truly awesome line up. The show is titled FUTURES and is an event to crown the first ever PB.TV Independent Champion through a tournament. It takes place from the PB.TV/Grand Slam Wrestling Arena in Old Forge, PA.

The Quarter Finals took place throughout North America (Canada, USA and Mexico) at various companies in 2017 to determine who is the best to represent.
July 29th in Monterrey, Mexico at RIOT Lucha, Fly Warrior got a shocking win over Shane Strickland
August 10th in Canada at C*4, Desean Pratt defeated Buxx Belmar.
August 28 in Cornelia, GA at Anarchy Wrestling, Joey Lynch secured a win over John Silver
September 9th in Old Forge, PA at GSW, Jonathan Gresham submitted Fire Ant (replacing Jigsaw last minute)
You can see the Lynch and Gresham secured wins on Powerbomb.TV’s Youtube channel.

The semi finals have lined up as the following.
Fly Warrior vs. Jonathan Gresham with Stokely Hathaway in his corner
Desean Pratt vs. Joey Lynch

This has made the finals and the winner practically unpredictable. Fly Warrior is one of Mexico’s hottest prospects who has made a mark at RIOT, a PB.TV partner, has wrestled on PB.TV’s first show and even competed in Chikara’s Young Lion’s Cup this year. Jonathan Gresham is basically an independent living legend at this point, the Octopus is a former CZW champion and is currently is ROH’s second top stable Search and Destroy and with Stokely backing him he’s extra dangerous. Desean Pratt is still in rebuild mode since leaving behind his Amasis identity, but in short order he has won titles, defeated major opponents and become a true talent who should’ve always been unmasked with that super handsome face (I may be biased here). Joey Lynch is the most undiscovered gem here as he has not traveled the world as much as the others making his mark in Georgia as a king of the hill, but he did make it to the finals of Scenic City Invitational this year and is looking to break out after teaming with his brother Matt the last few years. All four of these men have the drive, the skill and the value to be crowned a champion.

The show will also feature a few matches of real excitement.
John Silver, the big dawg as he’s known, mighty mouse as some think of him, is out to prove himself to Mexico’s Puma King and everyone else that he should’ve won and been in the tournament. Puma King is out to make his legend bigger in his second only ever U.S. Appearance after thrilling CMLL crowds for the last nine years.

Ultramantis Black was thought to have retired earlier this year, but suddenly he’s back making special appearances. Before taking on Jeff Cannonball at a special charity event next week, the devious one, the man who loves Christmas is stepping foot in the squared circle at Powerbomb.TV’s FUTURES to face off the man who only wants to make people laugh, then take a nap, Orange Cassidy. This match has the ability to steal the show, as these two have a long history with each other, truly know each other, have trained together, drank together, traveled the world together but have never faced off one on one in ANY persona.

If that wasn’t enough for an amazing show, there’s at least three more.
“Hot Sauce” Tracey Williams, one of EVOLVE wrestling’s top people, someone WWE is always looking at closely will be facing Red Eagle of Portugal is his first stateside appearance. The seven yet vet is a true high flyer and against Williams technical prowess should be very interesting.
Two of the toughest, roughest, and wildest women in the industry period, Angelus Layne will take on Jordynne Grace. These two have faced earlier this year for NOVA Pro, a PW.TV partner and know how to put on a show. While I listed a show stealer earlier, these two ladies have the talent to prove me wrong and hard.
In three way action representing New South wrestling, Brute Van Slyke, a true beast of a man will be facing off a traditional wrestling purist in Dominic Garrini (who recenlty joined Catchpoint) and The Empbruh, Black Baron, a huge force himself.

On top of all that, former CHIKARA grand champion, one half of Notorious with Homicide, recently of TNA Impact, Eddie Kingston who just left that lucrative contract, and also did extremely well at a WWE tryout has asked for an open mic. The man is volatile, speaks truth and never holds anything back when given chance, so he might set the independent world on fire with whatever he decides to come out of his mouth.

This has been a weekend of shocks, surprises and wild moments in wrestling and I expect nothing less from this show.

Get yourself a PB.TV account now, search twitter for promo codes, choose one and watch!

WrestleCircus turns One Years Old! (Now with Edits/Updates!)

Wrestlecircus is coming up on its one year anniversary and to celebrate they are presenting the first ever CIRCUSMANIA. While Wrestlecircus is not very story driven, the show is still a culmination of the last 12 months of matches, action, promos, tweets, and adventure.

It all takes place Saturday, October 21, 2017 and will be free for all on Twitch. It’ll be coming LIVE from Texas Power Athletics  South Austin Gym (a last minute venue change needed because of the circumstance called other people) in Austin, Texas at 6 Central/7 Eastern.

Let’s take a look at the card more closely as it stands booked at this moment.

Triple Threat
Jeff Cobb vs. Lance Hoyt vs. Maxwell Jacob Friedman

After MJF’s shenanigans at his last Wrestlecircus appearance against now NXT star Lio Rush, not to mention MJF’s annoying and nefarious tactics around the the circuit especially in CZW you’d think the human tank that is Mr. Athletic and one half of the current IWGP Tag Champ The American Psycho will team up to deliver punishment before going head to head. Yet one must always remember, MJF is a dastardly and cunning and the big powerhouses best be ware of this and that MJF is a very technically trained wrestler as well.

World’s Sexiest Fiancees vs. World’s Cutest Tag Team
John Morrison & Taya Valkyrie vs. Joey Ryan & Candice LeRae

All four of these folks are at the top of their game and in their prime. Will the love that John and Taya overpower the friendship and long established tag team knowledge of Joey and Candice? What is stronger? Love or Bonds? And will anyone touch Joey’s dick? (Someone will touch Joey’s dick).

The BEST vs The Best Ever
Scorpio Sky /w Kevin Condron vs. Sammy Guevera

Both these men have skyrocketed through WrestleCircus this year while also making their names HUGE everywhere else. This really is a nitty gritty. Both men can claim to be the face of WC, both call themselves The Best. The x-factor of course then is the Vape Muta, Kevin Condron. Will he blow smoke up the panda? Can Sammy overcome unbeatable odds to secure his throne?

5 Man Ruckus Elimination Grudge
Team Jervis
vs.
Team Austin

We all thought this was over when Jervis’ team defeated Austin’s team The Cody Rhodes Summer Special and then Austin was summarily dumped on his butt by the ref when he tried interferring in the main event. Unfortunately we were wrong because Austin and some students attacked Jervis at Texas Vs. The World and challenges him to 5 on 5 elimination. The members for either team have yet to be named, but supposition would suggest that Jervis would recruit his best friend Thunderfrog, as well as Space Monkey, and possibly Dick Justice who rescued Jervis from the attack, as well as his long time partner Hobo. Quite possibly Jervis will once again not be on the team as one would expect Austin won’t be on his and may recruit Brody King. On Austin’s side one can only assume “All Ego” Ethan Page will be called upon to help, but who else is friends with Austin other than AAPW students? I guess we’ll just have to see.

UPDATE: The teams for this match have been almost all been named at this time.

On Jervis’ team it is Jervis, and as predicted Dick Justice, and a returning Christi Jaymes (who has been a former tag partner of Jervis’ in  WrestleCircus).  While Former Ref Austin has signed up “Unholy” Gregory James (making his long awaited return to WC after a showing at SXSW), “Dirty” Andy Dalton and the debuting from jolly ol England, Rockstar Spud. Although will this be Spud who once fought Jervis in CHIKARA, violent Spud of recent years, or “Holy” Spud, a rookie of only a few months who has been tricked by Austin?

UPDATE 2 (after the event): The final members of the teams were Leva Bates & Super Thunderfrog for Jervis. Austin recruited JC Res to finalize his 4 partners.

Revenge For The Pipebomb of the Year
Jordan Len-X vs. Sami Callihan

Back at Squared Ring Circus in July, Sami Callihan dropped a promo that attacked WrestleCircus as a whole, but most especially Jordan Len-X. Sami insinuated the only reason Jordan had ever won the PW Revovler Scrammble title was because he was owner Al Lenhart’s brother. On that night Strickland, the champ defended WC’s honor but neither Jordan or Leva Bates who was also victim to Sami’s callousness have got to respond. This will be Cruiser Kong’s chance to show Death Machine he earned that title, he’s earned everything through hardwork. No handouts. Jordan did this on his own and win or lose he’ll prove it to Sami.

Sideshow Championship
Champion Tessa Blanchard v Dave Crist

Dave Crist was originally scheduled to team with brother Jake to challenge for the tag titles. Unfortunately Jake has suffered an injury that’ll put him out of action for awhile. Not wanting to punish Dave, he takes his stablemate Dezmond’s place in challenging Tessa Blanchard who is a true diamond proving she can go head to head and toe to toe with anyone in the business.

Big Top Tag Championship
Ex-Tra Talented (Ricky Starks & Aaron Solow) vs. Scarlett & Graves (Dezmond Xaiver & Zacahry Wentz)

In their first ever defense since last month coming back in a surprise to become the new Big Toppers Ex-Tra Talented have to prepare for one of the best tag teams out there that are very similar to them as well. As stated previously originally the opponents were The Crists, but with Jake out of commission we get a reunion of their fellow stablenates. Dezmond over the last couple months has been making a name for himself as well as have Wentz in singles. Both have improved greatly, so circumstance of injury bringing them back together to challenge promises an amazing match against WrestleCircus’ best tag team.

Ringmaster Championship
Brian Cage vs. Champion Shane Strickland

Former Wrestlecircus champion has not had his rematch since losing the title when Stickland cashed in the title shot at any time opportunity the same night he won it in the match between Sammy Guevera and Cage. Two of the toughest most athletic men in all of Wrestlecircus, who also can claim to reprsent the spirit that is Wrestlecircus go head to head over the title that signifies being the head of the circus itself. Who will leave Mania as The Master?

ALSO
Leva Bates will be in attendance. Doing some kind of wrestling cosplay one can assume. She always adds something to the circus and has been missed since her last appearance where she promised she would destroy Sami Callihan for his actions against her and the Circus.

This is a not to be missed show. Hope I’ll see you there be it in person or online (although I’ll be online).

Once again that’s Saturday, October 21, at 6 central/7 eastern… live and free on
twitch.tv/wrestlecircus

Also follow @Wrestlecircus on Twitter and Like em on Facebook if you aren’t already.

 

The Pop-Culture Spectrum Preview of PLAY NYC

On August 19-20, 2017 NYC game creation and education group Playcrafting hosts the first major video game convention in NYC combining PAX and GDC as best they can.  While New York has hosted game conferences and major panel talks and New York Comic Con has hosted major publishers such as Square Enix and Ubisoft, there has yet to be something for the very powerful indie market that exists not only in NYC but nationwide and at a cost and set-up to be enjoyed by newcomer, experienced player, and developer.  PLAY NYC gears to change all that.

Many websites like Polygon and others have reported or interviewed the organizers of this awesome show.  They’ve focused more on the larger picture though, which is very important, but here at Pop-Culture Spectrum while we do enjoy all facets of entertainment there are still specific parts of the entertainments we enjoy.  That also applies to video games.  So upon that, we shall take a closer look at the talks being conducted on both days that are compelling to us.  A few developers have also done pre-contact of their games being displayed so I shall be give a mini-preview via that of the diversity to expect at the show.

The main convention/exhibit hall shall be held at Terminal 5 on W 56th St. (b/w 11th and 12th Ave.) with hours on 10-6 PM on both days while the panels & talks will be just around the corner at John Jay College on  W 59th St. (b/w 10th and 11th Ave.) with panels running from 11-5 on both days.

Day one has a lot of amazing panels on the state of the industry, working in the industry and being press in the industry… all truly compelling, but exceptionally exciting are that that Mark Roos, followed by Zac Zinger shall be discussing the importance of music in games.  Both men have interesting pedigrees in the music industry as well as in the video game music industry so hearing from them shall be fascinating.

The Saturday evening panels will end with a performance from Greg Heffernan, who my research states is Cosmo D, developer of The Norwood Suite.

On Sunday the writer of point n click adventure, The Long Road, Leif Oleson-Cormack shall discuss working in game narrative.  Leif is also a playwright and standup so this has the promise of being very entertaining.

Dreamsail Games, a VR developer will have a later after noon talk in which they might be announcing a new project.

On top of these awesome panels which this is just a sample though there’s that show floor.  Here’s just a sample of some games featured on the floor that shows the diversity of the show and gaming itself.

 Vidar is a create your own narrative within the old style JRPG graphical style, it’s Steam page is at http://store.steampowered.com/app/355370/Vidar/

Cutthroat Gunboat is 2-4 player party game in which stylized ships attack each other.  Steam page here: http://store.steampowered.com/app/661220/Cutthroat_Gunboat/

Hero’s Crossing is a strategy board game about running an RPG town.  This is an actual table top game but is based in Video game mechanics.  It’s really different, check out the page link in the title.

Mama Hawk is a mobile game developed by Computer Lunch that is also being developed for PC/Mac in which you catch animals to feed your baby birds.  I tried out their Android beta and it’s really cool and super cute.

and of course as the games writer shall have a speak, The Low Road will also be on the floor being presented by XGen Studios.

and there’s your “quick” look.  There’s so much more though.  3 floors of games, and all kinds, VR, FPS, puzzle, tablettop, Alternate Reality, ones that use real humans and even other panels as well.  A not miss show for anyone who loves games.

Back into the Brush with Icons on Icons

Rarely does this website just use a press release but this is such amazing news.
Alan Moore & Kevin O’Neill present
The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, Volume IV:
THE TEMPEST

Six-issue miniseries will serve as “swan song” not only to award-winning LEAGUE series but also to creators’ careers

San Diego, CA (July 20, 2017) – After an epic seventeen-year journey through the entirety of human culture – the biggest cross-continuity ‘universe’ that is conceivable – Alan Moore and Kevin O’Neill will conclude both their legendary League of Extraordinary Gentlemen and their equally legendary comic-book careers with the series’ spectacular fourth and final volume, The Tempest.

Tying up the slenderest of plot threads and allusions from the three preceding volumes, The Black Dossier, and the Nemo trilogy into a dazzling and ingenious bow, the world’s most accomplished and bad-tempered artist-writer team will use their most stylistically adventurous outing yet to display the glories of the medium they are leaving; to demonstrate the excitement that attracted them to the field in the first place; and to analyse, critically and entertainingly, the reasons for their departure.

Opening simultaneously in the panic-stricken headquarters of British Military Intelligence, the fabled Ayesha’s lost African city of Kor and the domed citadel of ‘We’ on the devastated Earth of the year 2996, the dense and yet furiously-paced narrative hurtles like an express locomotive across the fictional globe from Lincoln Island to modern America to the Blazing World; from the Jacobean antiquity of Prospero’s Men to the superhero-inundated pastures of the present to the unimaginable reaches of a shimmering science-fiction future. With a cast-list that includes many of the most iconic figures from literature and pop culture, and a tempo that conveys the terrible momentum of inevitable events, this is literally and literarily the story to end all stories.

Commencing as a six-issue run of unfashionable, outmoded and flimsy children’s comics that will make you appear emotionally backward if you read them on the bus, this climactic magnum opus will also reprint classic English super-team publication The Seven Stars from the murky black-and-white reaches of 1964. A magnificent celebration of everything comics were, are and could be, any appreciator or student of the medium would be unwise to miss The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, Volume IV: THE TEMPEST.

— a 6-issue mini-series, each issue 32 pages in (mostly) full color, saddle stitched, 6 5/8” x 10 1/8” (standard comic-book size), $4.99 (US). Issue #1 is scheduled for June 2018.

Co-Published by Top Shelf Productions (US) and Knockabout (UK).

Promotion for bagofdicks.com

Clothes Can Be Sex Machines

Promoted on BestAds this week and winning advertising awards all over the place right now, from 2016, an amazing music video made by Wolf & Lamm featuring a killer cover of Queen’s “Don’t Stop Me Now” by MNEK for German clothing designer Strellson.

Give Me Some of Those Funky Fresh Beats

What if I told you a game could truly deliver almost everything and deliver it in package that explored almost every visual style that video gaming has used? What if I told you this same game could use recycled jokes, tropes and find brand new ingenious spirited ways to make them feel new and inspired and make you laugh with joy & excitement all over again?

What if I told you in 2017 the adventure game point n click scene was still alive and flourishing more then before and thistime it was being kept alive by Germany or some other European country but that America, the UK and other countries where they speak English… like… um… erm… Australia.

Well it is and they do… this time I’m talking about a post apocalyptic mutant genre bending humor escapade called Paradigm, an eponymous title of the hilarious adorably gross disgusting cute lead character you will “control” throughout this adventure (does one ever truly control or do we just guide them through predetermined conclusions of the dressing of puzzles and interaction to deliver a story but in an interactive environment? A discussion for another time perhaps.)

Jacob Janerka, ALMOST solo creator of this brilliant, stupid, silly, wonkers, what am I doing here, I love this, oh my god I’m going to throw up art project is an amazing illustrator and designer. Every painting in this is lovely even when it’s showing a super weird creature, every pixel piece lovingly developed and boy is there a lot of 2D pixel goodness, but not in the point n click game genre. The way the game used 2-D is so almost mind-bending because it’s unexpected and needs to be experienced to truly appreciate it utter ridiculousness yet perfection.

Just one of the ugly pretty mutants you’ll meet.

To get a really good idea of how wacky, wild, weird, funny, silly and also how awesome an artist he can be, other than Paradigm one just needs to scope the proposed Seinfeld point n click he started developing while finishing the game. It went a tiny bit viral and Nerdist featured it last year.

The fact alone that Jacob wants/wanted to bring a show about nothing, in which you’d basically do nothing and yet for some inexplicable reason laugh at things that aren’t funny gives you some hint into maybe how his mind works… or maybe doesn’t work.

An example of Janerka’s amazing painting skills. Look at this vastness. Look at that crazy pigeon.

There are some “what are you serious?” ideas in the game where you wonder if he’s crazy with skills or just really talented. Here are some ideas you usually don’t expect in a point n click without actually spoiling the game itself.

  • Multiple Endings
  • Pay Window
  • Beatboxing
  • Boss Battles
  • Computer Crash
  • 2 Headed Cat (oh wait… nevermind)
  • Art in the corners that looks awesome and adds enjoyment but has nothing to with the game….wait… nevermind. Still it really is done well, I personally found myself staring at every corner.
  • You actually can TALK, PICK UP, and USE every sincle interactive item. Maybe not in the way you expect, but you can. Especially the TALK and… Pick Up? Well, if you don’t try to pick up EVERYTHING and I MEAN EVERYTHING? You are not giving yourself the fun.

    Just on the 2D bits in the game and an example of how the game goes unexpected places.

Another great addition which will having you play multiple times so as to not ruin your immersive experience the first time around, or maybe you will ruin your immersion and just do it on every screen, but you’ll probably forget so you better make saves or yes, you’re playing all over again is the Developer Commentary. These are thing that have existed throughout time but traditionally only remastered games (like the ones Doublefine has done of LucasArts) get them. Very few games have them on release of a brand new Intellectual Property. I honestly can only think of the games by Wadjeteye/Dave Gilbert to have done this. Jacob takes it another step though and does it is as a visual treat on top of the audio. It’s just a thing… a very artsy thing. There’s commentary also from the game’s musician Jonas Kjellberg (which I haven’t even brought up… it’s another layer all together).

Jonas Kjelberg created sounds, beats, synthwaves, guitar hooks, belly slaps, snores, boops, blips, and more. The music in this game is so wonderful it needs an entire article of its own to be truly explored. Luckily there is a soundtrack coming at some point, as it needs dissemination, deconstruction and reverberation. To be truly appreciated. Each piece works within the construct of the game, but also sound like they’d be amazing on their own.

Another piece of 2D pixel work. Here you are dating a toaster. Yes, you read that correctly.

One of the things I really love about the game is how original it is while doing BLATANT tributes, self deprecating itself to what came before, while acknowledging how different and special it is, while at the same time being ludicrous and a waste of time. Yet isn’t what all entertainment is? Something to appreciate and waste time? What else would we do? Be productive? To what end? To the end to be able to sit down and waste time with others creations and then be inspired to make our own creations and then the cycle begins again. Mundanity, Insanity, Back to 1 till we die. Yet till that comes, take some time out of your schedule to play PARADIGM.

Paradigm is currently (released April 5th, 2017) on Steam for $14.99.
You can also get it at GOG.
Or if you prefer The Humble Store.
And if you’re reading this week of April 5th, it’s 10% off… if not… it’s more and still completely worth it.
It’ll run on PC and MAC (Linux is in the pipeline). Jacob Janerka also wants you to know that he unironically listens to ABBA regularly and thinks about if dogs have internal monologues.

Population 81 (strike that) 80

In 1987 at the tender age of 10 I had owned a Commodore 64 for a few years, falling in love with Infocom, Sierra, Tellarium and other individual games in the adventure genre. It was in October of that year that like many others my mind became warped, disturbed and happily pushed on a path of no return with the release of Maniac Mansion. The SCUMM system developed Ron Gilbert, Garry Winnick, David Fox and the rest of the team at Lucasarts changed gaming as we know it so many ways. My love for adventure games and point and click grew from that day, getting my hands of everything from LucasArts as it came out, but I’d actually follow Ron Gilbert and Gary Winnick as closely as I could as they moved onto other works. Humongous Games was for kids, but dang it if you couldn’t find enjoyment in Freddi Fish, Pajama Sam and Spry Fox you didn’t like fun. Especially fun, while less a Ron Gilbert game and more Dave Grossman, was Moop & Dreadly. The Cave was definitely something new, different and unexpected, but Ron’s concepts were still clear. His out there thinking for puzzles and his abstract writing. Yet still nothing he had done ever felt like it captured the spirit of his early work.

That all changed with Thimbleweed Park; and not just because it literally feels like a lost Lucasfilm game from say 1992 (the game takes place in 1987 but Pixel art was definitely not at this level yet) right after Lechuck’s Revenge but before Day of the Tentacle with Double Fine’s Tim Schafer. Having the team that developed Maniac Mansion come back together to devise a truly new, but old classic point and click adventure born from the new fundraising and therefore self publishing platform of Kickstarter has allowed for something that was probably just like Broken Age was once envisioned into something bigger, prettier, more vast and more impressive then ever imagined when originally conceived. In fact as I played through the game I could not believe how epic it became. While only taking place in a small town, the scope of the story and the way it is told will blow you away and catch you off guard in surprising and wonderful ways.

Thimbleweed Park is beautiful. Every inch of it despite being pixels is dazzling. The characters truly become alive with powerful animation, true detail and grit. Helping this is of course the scripting of Gilbert and David B. Fox. Making these characters truly real is the amazing cast though. Thimbleweed Park is through and through a true puzzle game in which hard mode, your brain will get twisted and twizzled to the point of maybe being fried, but at the same time, you are never truly stuck. The solution is probably staring you in the face. You must remember this a game of five distinct characters and you play them all and can switch between one. Like Maniac Mansion you rely on each other to solve certain puzzles. It’s a fun and exciting thing that can really only be experienced in a video game. Helping yourself out by helping yourself but as two people? In the real world or in most video games that involves another actual human, but in adventure games, you get to be both people. It’s amazing… and as I said while it’s a game through and through, the cast really brings it to life.

Acclaimed voice director Khris Brown put together some amazing folks for this. Nicole Oliver, an anime American adaptation legend, who most recently is known for her work My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic and has worked on another Ron Gilbert game in Death Spank plays the tough as nails FBI agent. Ian Garret, the most popular voice of Dragon Ball’s Goku and the voice of multiple characters on Ninjago and a long list of roles brings Ransome the Clown, the game’s most interesting, funniest, and wildest character to life invoking a bit of Norm MacDonald, Gilbert Gottfried, Bobcat Goldwaith and Sam Kinison to create a guy you can’t but love to hate and hate to love. Our wayfaring ghost without a chance, who whines and whimpers but is a joy to play as is given a bit of gravitas and sympathy by Alex Zahara, a longtime character and voice actor of stage, small screen, anime, games and most recently Amazon’s hit series Man in the Highcastle as Diehls. Rounding out our main cast are Javier Lacroix, a Spanish actor with a long list of commercials to his credit as deceptive to his actual age, as he sounds perfect as the young, seemingly mysterious other FBI agent and Elise Kates, a sound designer who has worked on Girls Makes Games The Hole Story as what could be considered our lead protagonist Delores, a game developer who returns home to Thimbleweed Park just as the mystery begins who is right in the middle of it all.

One of the cooler parts about Thimbleweed Park is once it’s said and done there are so many reasons to go back, especially on Steam as there are a few wonderful achievements. Yet, on top of that, unless you plan to sit through them all on a first play-through drastically causing pacing to the story to go to a crawl there tons of books to read as well as phone messages to listen to for the completest in you. They just add another layer to the actually to the game and it’s creation from day 1 to release and should truly not be skipped to feel fully immersed in the town and world created.

Thimbleweed Park is available for $19.99 on Steam, GOG, Xbox Live, and Mac App Store as of Launch, with other platforms coming in the near future.

(This review was built from an advance copy of Thimbleweed Park, which I finished days before launch and has kept my mouth shut about even though I want to talk and hear from everyone about it. Go play it folks, beat it, then talk talk talk talk talk and then talk some more)

 

The Group of Sadly Forgotten Weirdos who did evil things

Comics have a history of weird, wacky, unusual or even actually lame, annoying and “maybe we’d be better off without but were stuck with them so we better learn to live with it” characters. Some of them only existing for one issue, others despite their complete nuttiness and/or annoying and/or pointlessness lasting for decades. These characters run the gamut from good guys to bad guys to sidekicks to henchmen and even just supporting characters (such as Steve Lombard of DC Comics’ Daily Planet in Superman comics). Some of these characters were just also not as awesome as others, so because of one thing or another they’ve been less highlighted and become lesser known then their counterparts.

In the second volume of a series from Quirk Books by Jon Morris, titled The Legion of Regrettable Super Villains, the author highlights many of these characters on the “evil” side of the board from the Golden Age to today’s comics including Image and Dark Horse. As the introduction suggests, much like in the first volume, these characters are less regrettable then they are possibly forgettable or more unpopular. Per that a slightly more well known Marvel villain Batroc the Leaper is featured in the The Silver Age section of the book. He of maybe anyone in the book seems almost out of place as he’s been featured in a variety of cartoons, had a toy and was even portrayed by one of the few household names in MMA, Georges St. Pierre in Captain America: The Winter Soldier.

Despite this, the profiles in The Legion of Regrettable Super Villains, are entertaining, at times informative and a wonderful collection focusing on characters what else-wise get the short shaft.

The true highlight of the book is the Golden Age section as if delves deep beyond Marvel and DC to many of the strange and varied companies of the time that published what are now obscure buried treasures in the regrettable factor is that it is regrettable they are not more easily accessible for readers of all pockets and locales. The Golden age has had a fair share of new collections, notably The Green Llama by Dark Horse and the work of Fletcher Hanks (whose character Lepus is featured on the cover of Legion) from Fantagraphics and most recently Craig Yoe’s Super Weird Heroes, a great companion to The Legion of Regrettable Super Villians , in which the originals are remastered, but a lot of the titles featured in Jon Morris’ books have not had that privilege. Therefore the pages and profiles he provides to a far gone past of crazy creation is most welcome as many of these comics would costs 1000s to own because of rarity of existence in this day and ageTo promote the book, Jon has also drawn illios of the first of  the book’s profiles (these excellent illustrations unfortunately are not in the book itself).  One of the editors at Quirk, Rick Chilot has done some as well for marketing. Here are three that I liked (but I like all of them).  Go to @calamityjon and @rickchillot on Twitter for more.

from the anthropomorphic version of Fawcett’s Captain Marvel AKA Shazam titled Hoppy, The Marvel Bunny. Created by Chad Grothkopf, a quality artist of the 30-40’s who also worked on DC Comics

a true golden age classic the book provides pages from the unsung Prize Comics this character was in. the book credits Paul Norris and Dick Sprang, major players in DC’s Golden Age as the creators.

Not to be confused with Batman, he appeared in Police Comics-the home of Jack Cole’s Plastic Man. A creation of what could be also a regrettable creator George Brenner.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Legion of Regrettable Supervillains by Jon Morris will be available wherever you like to buy books on March 28, 2017 from Quirk Books.  You will regret it if you don’t pick it up for yourself to devour, learn, discover, rediscover, laugh and maybe even cry over these amazing characters of yesteryear and today who coulda been contenders but barely even made it to the ring.

(this review was written from an advance copy of the finished product)