Category Archives: Musings

Just my thoughts on things.

New Web Host

I had to switch hosting providers because they decided to change the pricing on their plans.  I would end up getting much less for almost double what I was paying.  It’s a shame because I’ve never had a problem with their service and was with them for over 10 years.

Describing the Flash Dilemma in a Facebook post

 

A discussion came up about the Flash and he was referred to as Wally but was quickly corrected as Barry.  A non comic reader didn’t quite get what we were talking about so I posted this.

 

In a nutshell.

Barry Allen – original Flash died sacrificing his life to save not the world, not the universe but the MULTIverse in 1985’s Crisis on Infinite Earths.

Wally West – Kid Flash took over his mentors role as the new (and arguably much better) Flash.

Sometime in 2009, Barry made his return to the DC Universe because “CSI shit is cool” (he was forensics in his day job) and Geoff Johns, DC’s head creative guy said so.

Flash forward (PUN!!) to 2011 and the DC universe under the guidance of Dan DiDio (said asshole), Jim Lee (good artist, shitty story teller) and Geoff Johns (good story teller but bad decision maker) decide to REBOOT the entire DC Universe again but this time conveniently forget to include the most popular Flash ever (he doesn’t exist anymore).

Moral? DC is swirling down the shitter. And don’t get me started on Donna Troy.

 

Am I right or what?

Golden Age Blue Beetle (Dan Garret and Dr. Franz’ relationship)

I have been thinking of ways to update some of the cool Public Domain Superheroes that are out there.  Below is an email to a friend that I sent describing the relationship between Dan Garret (The Golden Age Blue Beetle) and his scientist friend Dr. Franz.

In these Golden Age comic books they don’t really go too in depth with some of the characters motivations as to why they do what they do. What do we really know about Dr. Franz? He created the ‘Vitamin 2x’ serum and (possibly) the ‘cellulose chainmail’ Dan wears. Why would a druggist (old school pharmacist) know how to make chainmail out of plant fibers? Why would he help Dan? Well, I think I came up with a solution.

Dr. Franz (no first name known, yet) is Dan’s great uncle. We don’t know much about Dan’s parents other than his father was gunned down by a mobster and his mother died of the flu when he was a boy. In my version Dr. Franz is Dan’s mother’s uncle. Her parents were killed when she was a little girl and it was up to Franz to raise her. When she grew up, she met a nice rookie police man by the name of Michael Garret, fell in love, married and had a son they named Daniel. While Dan was still young his mother died which devastated both his father and Dr. Franz. More the latter because he was a solitary man, never took a wife and never expected to have children but he adored Dan’s mother more than life itself. The two grew apart and didn’t see much of each other.

Growing up, Dan idolized his father, now a detective who was investigating Chick Alonzo. Dr. Franz, a geneticist, went on to be a scientist and researcher for ‘Big Pharma’. He developed a serum, tied into a persons genetic structure, that would heal disease, and be able to ‘double themselves’. It was derisively referred to as ‘Vitamin 2x’ by his colleagues. Of course ‘Big Pharma’ didn’t want this to get public because there’s no profit in it and it gets shelved. Years go by, Dan grows up and joins the police force, his father gets murdered by Chick Alonzo and he creates the ‘Blue Beetle’ persona to go after him. This is the era I refer to as ‘Phase 1’ due to the pulp like plain clothes outfit. Dan and Dr. Franz reconnect at his fathers funeral. They both realize they are the only family they have now.

When Dan has his final confrontation with Chick Alonzo, he gets shot up pretty badly. While in a coma, Dr. Franz, frantic because he can’t lose another family member, goes to the hospital and takes a sample of Dan’s blood. He returns to his lab and keys the Vitamin 2x to Dan’s genetic structure. He returns to the hospital and discreetly injects it into Dan. Dan, of course, under goes a miraculous healing process and finds his strength and endurance effectively doubled. It’s almost like Marvel’s super soldier serum. This is the start of Phase 2, which I refer to him getting his armor and being a little more in the public eye. Also, it would start a whole other story line wherein the unscrupulous powers that be of ‘Big Pharma’ start enhancing their own subjects but without Franz’ help. And without Franz’ genius and morality to guide them, they really screw up.

I hope this makes a little more sense and have better motivation than ‘Hey, I’m just a kooky old scientist that’s going to help the hero’.

My Hiatus

Wow. I haven’t posted much here at all in the past year. I (re)started this blog because DC decided to relaunch their universe with the New52 and I thought it would be a great time jump back into blogging. Unfortunately the New52 hasn’t done much to keep my interest. To be blunt, I think most of what they’ve done sucks.

Anyway, I still have many geek interests and I post a lot on a Facebook Group called ‘The Guild of Calamitous Intent’ and I thought if I can post it there, why not here? So expect more activity here and by default Twitter.

Buck Rogers

Nice outfit.

Flashback 1979:  Me, my dad, my uncle and my cousin go to the theater to watch a movie starring some guy named ‘Buck Rogers’. Being 7 years old I had no idea who he was and had no expectations going into it.  I ended up loving it of course!

As I got older and more into comics, movies and other nerdy stuff I discovered the 1939 serial starring Buster Crabbe, the original Armageddon 2419 story that started it all and finally Dynamite Comics fantastic take on him.

What got me were the differences between each version.  At it’s core, Buck Rogers is the story about a man out of time and how he copes in his new environment.  Although each version is recognizable, I always wondered why so many changes to it compared to say, Flash Gordon.  Here are some very basic differences.

Armageddon 2419: Anthony Rogers is surveying a mine in Pennsylvania when he notices a pungent smell and glowing rocks.  The cave collapses in on him and he awakens 500 years later (2419 AD).  After waking up, Anthony comes to the rescue of Wilma Deering who is being chased by Mongul Reds.  His name was changed to Buck for the comic strip.

1939 Serial: Buck Rogers is flying a dirigible with his young friend Buddy when they are suddenly caught in blizzard and forced down.  Not able to be rescued anytime soon, they activate ‘Nirvano Gas’ that so conveniently happens to be on their ship and are placed in suspended animation for 500 years.  They are found by two soldiers who use Ray Guns to free them from the ice.

Hubba hubba!

 1979 TV Show: In 1987 Captain William ‘Buck’ Rogers is piloting Ranger 3, the last of NASA’s deep space probes.  In a freak mishap, he is blown out of his trajectory into an orbit which freezes his life support system, returning him to Earth 500 years later (2491 to be specific).  He’s thawed out by the Draconians and sent back to Earth with a micro-transmitter attached to his ship.

2009 Dynamite Comic: Anthony ‘Buck’ Rogers, a retired Air Force captain is testing a gravity drive he help invent in hopes of faster than light travel.  He is sent on a mission by the government to retrieve a space probe that contains DNA of Earth’s animals.  The drive malfunctions and he is slingshot 500 years into the future.  He arrives in the  year 2519 (The 26th century).  He crash lands on Earth and is found by Colonel Wilma Deering.  In this version they sort of rescue each other from an intelligent genetically engineered bear.

The Dynamite version stays truer to the original comic strip yet modernizes it for today.  They also have Buddy in the book who, like in the original comic strip, is Wilma’s younger brother and a cadet.  There’s no Twikki but the Earth Directorates’ Trans-Suits make the ‘Biddi-Biddi-Biddi’ sound and in a later issue you see Twikki’s head in a 20th century earth storage room.  One of the neat things about the Dynamite version is how it flashes back to the 20th century throughout the series before and long after Buck has already been lost to the future.  The stylistic designs of the trans-suit’s jodhpurs and forcefield ‘bubble helmet’, spaceships and weapons have a distinctly 1930’s look to them and are a great homage to the 1930’s comic strip.

I’m my own nightlight.

My only complaint about the Dynamite series is that it seemed to try and cram a lot into a few issues.  The Air Lords of Han storyline only lasted two issues and really felt like it was anticlimactic.  The original Airlord’s of Han was the sequel to Armageddon 2419.  My guess is the writer knew the series was being cancelled  and felt the need to tell the story.

I picked these up not long ago when ComiXology had a 99¢ and I’m glad I did because I enjoyed Dynamite’s take on him very much.  There are two collected trade paperbacks out and they will end up on my bookshelf.

I Can Totally Be Kyle Rayner For Halloween

Look at all the bling!

Yellow, Green, Blue & Orange

Red, Indigo & Violet

Digital RPG’s: Why PDF’s will always trump eBooks

I’m a bit of a collector and because of that I have a large collection of Role Playing Games filling up my bookshelves.  What’s the problem with that?  Nothing at all, except I move so much it’s become quite a hassle to pack and unpack so many books that end up sitting and collecting dust.  Because of this, I don’t buy as many RPG’s as I normally would.

Enter RPGNow, where you can buy PDF copies of RPG’s, I have started collecting again.  There are two big reasons for this; First is Price and selection!  With most PDF’s being, roughly, 50% of cover price I can save money but with the huge selection I end up finding some great games that I didn’t even know existed.  Second, of course, is I don’t have to pack and move them.

Recently some manufacturers started converting their rulebooks into ePub or Kindle formats.  I was pretty curious about this until I bought one and took a look at it.  Meh.  I am going to compare some screenshots from my Nook Color and post them in the native 600×1024 resolution.

NOTE: This is nothing against the manufacturers of the games themselves.  I use the Castles & Crusades example below only because it’s the first eBook version of an an RPG that I bought!  I love Castles & Crusades and it’s my preferred fantasy RPG.  In other words, don’t get your panties in a bunch!

The Hardware

Barnes & Noble Nook Color (7″ screen), rooted with CyanogenMod 7.1 with the processor  overclocked to 1.2GHz.  This custom ROM turns the Nook Color into a poor man’s tablet.

This would be considered a very low end tablet but I still get decent performance out of and I’m able to read larger, graphics intensive PDF’s without too much trouble.  On an iPad2 or similar Android tablet it would be quite responsive.

The Software

Aldiko eBook Reader – My prefered eBook reader.  It allows me to import my purchases from Barnes & Noble.
ezPDF Reader – A great PDF reader with some really nice features that you will see below.

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Below is page 1 of the Castles & Crusades Players Handbook.  Strangely there was no cover included with this eBook.

Castles & Crusades ePub

Not bad... not bad...

 

As you get further into the book it looks like any old digital novel and not a nicely formatted RPG.

Castles & Crusades ePub a little further in

Bland is as bland does

eBook Pro’s: 

Size: Very small, thereby not taking up much space.
Less processor intensive: The fancier the PDF the more it taxes the cpu.
Easier to read: Mainly because you can size the text to what you want.
Good for older hardware: Older Kindle’s or Nook’s can take advantage of this format.

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Below is a screencap of a PDF zoomed out.  As you can see the text is small and hard to read but you get a better overall view of the format of the page.

Casles & Crusades PDF

Zoomed out

 

A quick double tap of the text zooms you in on it.  The nice thing about this is it keeps the text locked in position.  In other words if you swipe a little to the left or right it won’t drag what your reading around with it.  You’ll notice “sf < >” superimposed over the bottom of the screen.  Clicking “< >” will scroll you to the next section of text to the right or left respectively.

Castles & Crusades PDF whole page view

Zoomed in

PDF Pros: 
Formatting: This is the big one.  RPG’s are a visual medium too.  There are some full color books that are almost works of art in and of themselves.
Portability: PDF’s can be viewed natively in most operating systems and can also be printed out.

 

It’s quite clear that I prefer PDF’s over  eBook’s for my RPG’s.  While I can understand why publishers are going the eBook route I’m hoping it will be a moot point soon with Android based color eBook readers like the Nook Color and Amazon Fire coming out at affordable prices.

I’m on Paper.li now

On a whim I have signed up for a Paper.li account.  I wasn’t exactly sure what it was but after looking into I think it’s pretty cool!  Basically it takes any of your RSS or social media feeds and once every twenty four hours it adds some fancy formatting to them.  In this case it takes my Twitter account (@ORION1ss) and this blog and turns it into an online newspaper.  I have to admit it looks great!

There’s also a widget!

My Thoughts on the Multiverse (more specifically Earth’s 4 & 5)

WIth DC bringing back the Multiverse and also rebooting their main continuity without the merged realities of the pre-Crisis Earth-1, 2, 4 and S,  there leaves an opening to explore those other parallel world’s.

As seen at the end of 52 maxi series,  Mr. Mind (an Earth-S villain) ‘ate’ the realities of all 52 Worlds twisting most of them into their pre-Crisis versions.  For the most part.  Let’s look at what we have;

EARTH-1 – Being developed in graphic novel format by J. Michael Straczynski and Geoff Johns doing Superman and Batman respectively.  This seems to be their playground for now.  Let’s leave it alone.

EARTH-2 – Finally getting a JSA series after much fan outcry.  One of the worst things about this post-Flashpoint mess was the removal of a very beloved superteam.

EARTH-3 – Some pretty cool changes as seen in 52 but it doesn’t concern me.

EARTH-4 – Home of the Charlton characters hasn’t any appearances since the Crisis on Infinite Earth’s in 1986.  This is ripe for expansion and one of the parallel worlds I want to focus on.

EARTH-5 – Home of Captain Marvel and the Fawcett characters.  Cap has a big fan following and he’s seen print pre-Crisis.

This is what I would do:

EARTH-4

CAPTAIN ATOM – His name would be Nathaniel Allen Adam, a combo of pre and post Crisis.  He would be an Air Force pilot who volunteered to fly an experimental nuclear powered ship shielded with an alien metal called ‘Dilustel’ into space.  The ship malfunctions (sabotage maybe?), blows up and Captain Adam is vaporized in space.  As in pre-Crisis continuity he manages to pull himself back together atom by atom but it takes him 40+ years to do it thereby firmly depositing himself in the modern day.  I’m still up in the air if I would do a story arc with him being gold and then changing to silver in a more patriotic looking costume after hooking back up with the government.  And when he coats himself the Dilustel, he’s anatomically correct so he will be wearing pants.

BLUE BEETLE – Archaeology professor and family man Dan Garret would be the current Blue Beetle of this world.  His magic scarab will form into his blue chainmail costume but with some modern looking updates (but nothing to the extreme like with Jaime Reyes though).  He would have flight, invulnerability, super-strength and be able to shoot lightning.  Much the same as he’s always been.  Being a professor, he has a TA by the name of Ted Kord, a mechanical genius and member of the gymnastics team.  See where I’m going with this?  Very similar death too due to Ted’s uncle Jarvis.

BLUE BEETLE II – After Ted Kord inherits the scarab from his mentor Dan Garret he finds that it just will not work for him.  But that’s OK!  Being the mechanical genius that he is, he invents his own arsenal and flying Bug.  He also discovers that the scarab is far from useless, it is a source of untapped power.  He uses it to power…. something.  His base?  New powered suit of armor (Kind of Kingdom Come-ish) or maybe the Bug itself?  Who knows.  Ted drives on in Dan’s name and does him much honor.

THE QUESTION – I loved how he was portrayed in the Justice League Unlimited Cartoon and I would go along those lines.  He’s a detective and street level character, almost Vertigo-esque.  His clothes would turn a darker color when he activates the gas.  Powder blue and orange aren’t going to cut it.

NIGHTSHADE & SON OF VULCAN – Truthfully, I haven’t really put too much thought into these characters.  Both are magic based and have the opportunity for some world building there.

SARGE STEEL – Kind of a Nick Fury type but missing a hand instead of an eye.  He would be in charge of the governmental organization that Captain Atom eventually becomes a part of.

THE VILLAINS – I can’t recall any Earth-4 villains!  Really.  I would take Maxwell Lord just as he is from New-Earth and make him a Luthor level villain.  Plastique and Major Force would fit right in with Captain Atom but more would need to be created for the rest of the characters.  After all, heroes are defined by their villains.

EARTH-5

CAPTAIN MARVEL & THE MARVEL FAMILY – Make it fun, goofy and intelligent and try to recapture the feel that made the Golden Age series so popular.  I would do a large story arc starting with their origin in 1939, a crossover with the WWII Justice Society on Earth-2 and their final adventure where Billy, Mary and Freddy along with the Sivana Family get trapped in the Suspendium Bubble.  The next arc would bring them into modern times.

IBIS – Ibis is an immortal and now act as a guide for the Marvel’s after they come into modern times.  He’s a strong magic user and would trained a couple apprentices and maybe even had a couple kids with Tala by the time he’s in modern day.

BULLETMAN – The way he was shown in the Batman: The Brave and the Bold cartoon was fantastic!  His costume will be updated to a more Rocketeer feel and the exploding sound effect when he takes off from flight will be worked in.  His helmet that attracts bullets to it needs to go!  His legacy character may be a gun wielding character with a ‘bulletproof’ vest that absorbs kinetic energy causing bullets (among other things) to drop after they hit.  Not much of a tie in to his legacy but it could be a modification of his helmet??

MR SCARLET & PINKY – Oh dear God these two needs some help.  Slight updates to the Golden Age costumes. Same old, same old.  There legacy characters would have a Daredevil movie type costume to them.  I haven’t put too much thought into these two.

SPY SMASHER – A great Golden Age character but I can’t envsion him being brought into the modern age as is.  His modern incarnation would be a counter terrorism/spycatcher (go figure) going by the name Codename: Spy Smasher and is referred to as Agent Armstrong.  Or something like that.

MINUTE-MAN – A patriot type that was also working for the military.  His program could have evolved over the years since WWII ended into a group of special forces types.  This is a hard one to do just because he’s quite corny and the Minute Men has been done in real life recently.  Something will come to me eventually.

THE VILLAINS – The Sivana’s, Black Adam, Mr. Mind, IBAC…  there are tons of Marvel Family villains to use.  The other characters not so much, so again a great opportunity to create more.

Pirates get the jump on Justice League #1

This is absolutely ridiculous! DC needs to get the digital copies out before print so they can keep the piracy down.

It’s all about the customer service and the ‘now’ generation.  With the advent of digital music, streaming movies and eBooks, it’s almost silly to not expect the same from comic books.

Read the article over on Comic Book Resources.