Serious Play

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I have to admit when the X-Men 90s cartoon was airing I was busy bopping around Boston and then towards the end getting married, so I missed this whole era.  To be honest the aesthetic really isn’t my thing, but I respect the kids who grew up around it that are completely devoted to the particular brand of action that the cartoon delivered and delivered well by all accounts.

Youtube user joelyface is putting together his own fan series and the results are fantastic.  Check out the video below to see a faithful recreation of the character designs and support him if you can.  

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On November 20th comic book and superhero fans will be getting the next iteration of the Marvel series that started with Daredevil.  I was aware of Jessica Jones through casual research and my obsession with Squirrel Girl, but that is as far as my knowledge went. For you, true believers, I just finished binging on the first two major story arcs that were featured in the Alias and Pulse titles.  

Hopefully we are on the same page regarding who comics are for.  That question that was mostly settled a few decades ago. The idea that comics are for kids is a rather silly one. Comics are made for every demographic and have been for quite some time now.  Regardless of the subject matter, “underwear on the outside” superheroes or comics based in reality you can find comic books that that cover every conceivable genre and maturity level.  To be clear Jessica Jones was initially designed for adults, dealing with all the themes you would expect. I don’t know if Netflix and Marvel will get as heavy with the adult themes presented in Alias, but I suspect they will.  It potentially will be darker and more complex than Daredevil and significantly more intimate as it deals directly with abuse and Jessica as an individual rather than the ideological focus of Daredevil.

After reading hundreds of pages focused on Jones the highest compliment that I can pay to the character is that she is human.  In some ways I see a commonality between the goals of Moore’s Watchmen and Bendis‘ Jessica Jones. At their heart, superhero comics are pure fulfillment fantasy but if we pull that concept directly into our world being a superhero would have serious consequences personally, professionally and with your place in society.  Watchmen seems to represent a nihilistic view of those consequences while Jessica’s is humanistic. In Watchmen I was often horrified by the actions of many of the characters in the Jones titles I often was cheering and rooting for them, despite their behavior.  Both set of commentary are enormously useful as pieces of fiction and for examining yourself, both have worth, but I am pleased that I have the positive to go along with the negative.  

The last time I really binged on a comic series was the Walking Dead. After several issues I literally threw the book I was reading across the room. The Walking Dead is excellently written and of high quality but I personally could not stand investing in a character and having them be ripped away from me or having them experience a devastating loss over and over again.  This is my fault in a lot of ways.  The comic was meant to be experienced over a period of time and I compressed a years worth of suffering into several hours. Jessica Jones on the other hand made me feel triumphant about the human spirit, despite the horrible circumstances and personal flaws of the character.  

The Netflix Daredevil series proved that Marvel could bring characters to screens that are more people than spandex.  With source material as strong as Jessica Jones Marvel can set the standard even higher and give us quality depictions of characters that we only dreamed about when we initially became comic fans. 

For reference I am linking the currently published Jessica Jones trailers.  Wisely Marvel/Netflix is slowly introducing the character and helping you become familiar with her. I think a lot of die hard comic fans will have trouble describing her, so in my opinion this is a wise strategy.

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Like the constant of the celestial bodies and seasons King Richard’s Faire once again opened at the beginning of September and will run through October 25th this year.  If you are a local and have not heard of King Richard’s Faire I urge you to run to their website, learn about their events and to come experience the family entertainment that the Faire provides.  

We started going to the Faire about 20 years ago. My children came to the Faire as toddlers and still come now that they are in their teens. I will return to the Faire as long as it is running and I encourage you to do so as well.  Where else in Massachusetts can you see live performances, knights and jousts, blacksmiths, big cats, clothing and jewelry artisans and an abundance of food and drink in the same location.  King Richard’s Faire is a unique New England experience.

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There is something special that happens at events like this. Once you walk through the castle façade you are in a crowd where the pressure and stress of everyday life are left at the door. Weather you come in dressed in civilian clothes or costume you get to lose yourself a little and be who you want without fear of feeling out of place.  King Richard’s is a place of play and when everyone is playing the rest of the world seems to fade away, at least for a little while. I am no stranger to running around in the woods, swinging swords and shouting taunts at an imagined enemy.  The world may be a better place if we all felt free to do so.  

The Faire will be running events every weekend and you can check the schedule HERE.  One Oct 24th there will be an adult costume contest filled with cosplay and open to all attendees and on the 25th will be the final drum jam at the front gates.  Don’t wait though, there will be things happening every weekend till the end of the month, so come when you can.

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This year both giantjapaneserobot.com and mastermindadventures.com will be running ticket giveaways for the event.  Check out the contest HERE to enter!

DISCLAIMER: Giant Japanese Robot received tickets to visit King Richard’s Faire and for the giveaways.  They really are very nice people.

 

Let’s get some biases out of the way. I’ve spent the last few months hate watching Arrow. I’m a little reluctant to blame the show itself for my distaste. I expect I am being a fuddy duddy and am trying to project my long held understanding of the character onto Stephen Amell.

I’m not generally insistent that fantasy shows have any sort of basis in reality, but characters in Arrow consistently pull 180 degree morality turns.  Kill or not killers, I love you today, hate you tomorrow and love you again during the next story arc. The whole thing feels very frustrating.

The Flash shares some of these problems, but I find that enjoyable. I don’t think it went as far as it needed to in the first season, but now that the main arc is finished they may be able to explore some some of the more gonzo story lines, which is where the show excels.  That may be part of the problem with Arrow, because the show is trying to be grounded it may not be capturing my attention.  Moody, unshaven angst bores me while a telepathic, genetically modified gorilla causes me to cheer.

I have high hopes for DC’s Legends of Tomorrow, you can see their version of Hawkman and Hawkgirl above.  Hawkman looks a little like Batmanuel, but having more Tick in the world is never a bad thing.  LoT is a time travel show and I have long maintained that the only way to do a time travel show properly is to go full gonzo. A series of insane, confusing, logically suspect “I am my own grandpa” style of stories.  Doctor Who does this well, and LoT needs to follow suit.

I’m grateful to the Arrow for giving us these shows, but wish it could become more like them.  Maybe the CW will skip ahead a few years in the plot and do aging, on-armed, cantankerous Green Arrow from The Dark Knight Returns.  Now that would be good television.

Source: First Look at Hawkgirl & Hawkman’s “DC’s Legends of Tomorrow” Costumes – Comic Book Resources

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We have a beautiful mashup of 80s cartoons set to the soul soaring sounds of Bonnie Tyler’s “I Need a Hero”.  There are a few really obscure things represented here, bonus points if you can name them all. This mashup shouldn’t work but it does, completely. If anyone knows who put this together shoot me a message, I’d love to credit them.

Thanks to Frankie B Washington for bringing it to my attention.

Shooting doesn’t start until next week, but we are getting some promos early.  I expect they want to head off any leaks and give the AC crowd enough content to be satisfied throughout the production.

Looks a little complex to me, but lots of visual interest and enough of the source material to be satisfying. video game adaptions are hard so let’s hope they pull this off.  Storytelling > video game references.

Source: First Look at Michael Fassbender in the Assassin’s Creed Movie! – ComingSoon.net

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Some may be suggesting we will approach peak Star Wars in the next couple of years, but not me. If we can maintain consistent quality, increase the richness and scope of the lore then there will be forgiveness for episodes 1-3. I’m hoping for a good movie that happens to be in the Star Wars universe.

Be kind, I’m experimenting with video for the first time.  Check out the photo in the clip below.

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When Westworld rolled onto UHF television movie channels sometime in the late seventies it completely captured my attention. Yul Brynner’s deadpan performance, the surprise exist of a main character and the prisoner who was not what she seemed. It may seem quaint compared to the special effects of today, but something about it resonated with my young mind.  It wasn’t really about the direct plot, but the implications for humanity. 

Seems like HBO is very willing to revisit that uncomfortable line sometime in 2016. Check out the trailer here.

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Takumi continues to be awesome, delving into Mad Max: Fury Road with his take on a young Immortan Joe. This just makes me yearn for the Blu Ray to come out.  He better not lean forward though or else he will get skewered on that pointy belt buckle.

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As a youngin’ there were many basement attempts at making play armor.  For the most part they all failed. The seventies and eighties didn’t have the type of materials or the internet to make a creation like the above.

Even with those resources I doubt I would have been able to make anything like the above. It took a year to make and I expect that many yoga mats lost their lives in the process.

Source: BATMAN BEYOND Costume from Foam | The RPF Pulse

 

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At least one of the Giant Japanese Robot staff members are obsessed with Ziggurat and I may join them shortly when I get a few seconds to breathe. The game is a bit difficult to describe if you haven’t played Heretic or Hexen from way back in the mid nineties. 

Imagine Doom, except with a fantasy setting.  Now add randomly generated levels and monsters with occasionally randomly generated attributes.  Now add a Roguelike element which means that when you die you will need to start all over again.  Now add a generous degree of difficulty coupled with an almost uncomfortable rate of speed.  On paper it sounds kind of terrible, in practice it rocks pretty hard.  Check out the video below to see if the game is for you and the Source link to see how you can play it.

Source: Ziggurat – Milkstone Studios

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Live action role playing has always been derided in the US, even in geek-centric communities. The idea of dressing up as a character, going out into the wilderness and hitting each other with swords has been considered too childish and goofy. I do find it funny that if you grow up as a geek, you almost always come up with the idea independently of LARP culture and try and get friends together to participate in a LARPish game.  Something along the way introduces shame and we become concerned what other think about our behavior.  

Full disclosure, I have been one of the people who considers LARPers to be lesser geeks. In the past couple of years we have been running role playing games for kids and teens and I have seen the sheer joy and camaraderie of kids playing together in a group without having to worry about what their non-geek peers think. The joy is infectious and the events attract all kinds of people including those who would not normally participate in group activities and those would would never publicly admit to waving a foam sword around with other kids.  Once again, kids are awesome and I was wrong.

When searching for ideas for these role-playing events we have come across several adult events that are amazing.  You can jump on Youtube to see things like The Bells of Newtown or The College of Wizardry to see of the sophisticated storytelling and play that people are putting together.

What really caught my eye yesterday was a Swedish group that took New England’s own H.P. Lovecraft’s work and wrote a story revolving around this mythos set in the 1920s.  We were looking at introducing Lovecraft elements into our stories already but to see the professionalism and commitment of this group is inspiring.  Check out the video below and let us know what you think.

Mirrors Edge Catalyst

The earlier Mirror’s Edge was one of the most exciting, original games of its generation.  This game certainly looks like Mirror’s Edge and the running seems on par, so I am excited.  I’m hoping it captures the unique feel of the first game. Overall the trailer looks stunning, but the intercut cinematics and what feels like unfinished voice work are a bit distracting.  

Despite those minor flaws, I’m hoping this new entry turns the game into an ongoing franchise. Hopefully the world is ready for this in a way they weren’t in 2008.

Experience the moment where Faith begins her rise from a carefree runner to the hero the city needs.

Source: Mirror’s Edge Catalyst Gameplay Trailer – Mirror’s Edge™ Catalyst – Official Site

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You will get some crusty ole’ individual who shakes their fist and insists that Huckleberry Hound was superior to the nonsense that is on TV days but this is colored by experience. I also legitimately feel the absence of the Saturday Morning Cartoon block. Aside from the warm comfort of nostalgia you can objectively see that the content, quality and morality of children focused animation has become progressively stronger. 

There is some argument that the decade old trend of non-sequitur in cartoons has weakened this trend, but even then I can argue that the intelligence of early Spongebob, Ren & Stimpy, and even Uncle Grandpa are still shoulders above the tepid toy driven programs of the eighties.

I love seventies and eighties cartoons and newer experiences will never take away from those experiences, try and watch some of these older programs though and they can become a bit tedious with adult eyes.  You will see repeated and reused animation sequences, plotlines that go nowhere or make no sense and dubious moral choices that would end in tragedy in real life.

Note that I am not talking about cartoons in the first half of the 20th century that were written and designed for adults before intrusive censorship and the idea that cartoons were only for children. In some ways modern animation reclaim this legacy, cartoons that have broad appeal but are clever enough to speak to both audiences without pandering to either.

Do shows like Adventure Time, Steven Universe, Gravity Falls, The Regular Show, Bee and Puppycat and so on spark your imagination or leave you wishing for days of yore? Please discuss in the comments or join us on Facebook

Source: Are today’s cartoons the best that kids’ television has ever been? | Polygon

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What 80’s G.I. Joe did well or at least what I loved the most was taking truly gonzo characters and impractical abilities and then carving out a story with a straight face.  Look at this guy above.  Clearly over-specialized, he was only called out when security demanded the use of a crocodile.  In my mind I imagine him as a TSA employee with his own office and he is called out every once in a while when someone tries to smuggle a baby croc in a bag. Most of the time he just sits in his cubicle trying to play Candy Crush through his full-face leather mask and breathing tube.

From hisstank.com:

Croc Master is a former alligator wrestler and burglar alarm salesman who founded Guard-Gators Inc. in an effort to commercialize the use of alligators for home security. He now keeps Cobra Island secure with a large bask or ultra-aggressive crocodiles that cruise the maze of shallow canals that weave through the island. His system suffers a setback when Blowtorch uses heat-blasting weapons to cut a dry channel directly through the island, bypassing all the ravenous crocs.

Source: G.I. Joe 50th Anniversary Python Patrol Croc Master Photo Shoot – HissTank.com

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Part of the melancholy of being a Super Robot fan is that some of the coolest stuff will never been seen in the United States. I guess this is how the rest of the world feels.

Check out one of the latest entries in the Super Robot Wars series, Super Robot Wars Z3. The Super Robot Wars series has been running since 1991, spanning multiple game systems. We have only seen a couple of official translations hit our shores notably the Original Generation games that feature no licensed characters. The complications in getting all the licenses worked out the US is difficult so we will probably never see these games here.  Click on the video below to see what you are missing.

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I’m sneaking in a little more Force Five with the original Japanese intro of Danguard Ace. With luck quite a few of you will be humming along with familiarity. If you are not familiar or want to get really deep into this giant robot thing, you can click here.

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What will the Spider-Man costume look like in the Marvel Cinematic Universe? No one really knows who is not connected to the production. The Mary Sue is reporting on the rumor that the Latino Review (which gets a lot of things right) is suggesting that the custume will look very much like a high-schooler pieced it together which fits very much in the canonical story, but has never really seemed that way in the movies.

I am very much in support of this.  Not official, but the source of the rumor pointed to DeviantArt user SpikeSDM’s concept above.  

Source: If This Really Is What the New Movie Spider-Man Costume Looks Like, It’s Awesome | The Mary Sue

This has been a Force Five heavy week here at the Robot and I don’t think a lot of people will mind.  CollectionDX keeps tabs on the best toys and they have images of the new UFO Spazer for the Ex Gokin Grendizer. The unit will not be available until November, but Grendizer who is sold separately is available now.  Click the below link for a full set of images.

Source: EX Gokin Spazer and TFO for Grendizer | CollectionDX

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DC’s Bombshell’s first chapter premiered on July 25th and you can click the link below to purchase.  Written by Marguerite Bennett, drawn by Marguerite Sauvage and a cover by Ant Lucia.

Inspired by World War II pin up art I believe these were concept art and collectible figures first and now feature in their own story. 

It’s World War II and Batwoman’s battling crime on the home front. But events in her life are about to quickly change, and she may be leaving Gotham behind for a bigger cause.

Source: DC Comics: Bombshells (2015-) #1 – DC Entertainment