Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Happy Birthday Cap!!

Captain America turned 70 this month! Marvel celebrated the occasion with a freshly colored reprint of that very first story, and with the coming feature film, this looks to be a banner year for the Star Spangled Avenger.

But Cap is far more than just any comic book character.

Along with Superman, Batman, Spiderman and Wonder Woman, Captain America is iconic. He is much more than just another superhero.

How does a character created as a World War II adventure hero, wrapped in the American flag no less, remain relevant and vital to audiences seven decades after his creation? By changing with the times. If Cap had STAYED a Nazi fighter bordering on Jingoism, his relevance would have ended in 1945. In fact the WWII years were replete with flag draped adventurers who did NOT survive after the war because they remained stagnant.

And to be sure Cap WAS a casualty of the decline in the popularity of the Superhero.

He was also one of the first to make a comeback in Young Men #24 – 1953. In his first reincarnation he was a force against Communism, reflecting the national attitude of the times. Later this 1950’s Cap would be retconned as a separate character, but at the time he WAS the original Steve Rogers and so this Cap is rightfully placed in the lineage of the mythos.

Then Avengers #4 (1964) hit the stands and Steve Rogers was back for good. Over the ensuing decades he would reflect the ever changing American Condition as a man out of his time, an ANTI War figure, a secret agent, and as an elder father figure to a new generation of heroes. He’s the hero to other heroes!

But Cap’s appeal is as much about what hasn’t changed as what has. The quality about Cap that has never changed is that he represents not the American reality but the American idea. Captain America is not beholding to any administration or government. His mission is to embody all that is good about America. Freedom, the rights of the individual, teamwork and sacrifice.

These are qualities than no one can dispute whatever their individual politics. Those are the ideals that Cap embodies. Like Superman, Captain America is a true hero, not an anti-hero. He is not morally ambivalent. There are no shades of gray. Cap knows right from wrong and acts accordingly.

I think this quality is particularly resonant today because it is in fact a time of great moral ambivalence and many people feel inspired by a hero who is solid in his beliefs. In short you can always count on Cap. Finally, the image of Cap is something special.

Maybe I am just old fashioned but the iconography of the American Flag is a very stirring image. The proud carriage, the shield, the red, white and blue. They can bring a lump to the throat for sure.

Happy Birthday Cap!

Here’s to 70 more!

That’s 30!


Friday, March 18, 2011

You Can keep you Vampire Diaries and Sip All the TrueBlood You Like. Make Mine BUFFY!

This may come as a big surprise but I am a huge fan of all things BUFFY. I can see you are all shocked (and awed) but it’s true. Give me Some Buffy and Willow with a side of Xander, some Angel Soup and Spike(d) tea and I am in hog heaven.

It may seem like yesterday but YESTERDAY BTVS (Buffy the Vampire Slayer to you neophytes) celebrated the FOURTEENTH anniversary of it’s original Television Premier. Yup, nearly a decade ana half ago we began the saga of slayage, Whedonspeak, brooding soul encrusted Vamps, and hot chicks with superpowers. For seven seasons Buffy and the Scooby gang saved the world…a lot

In my opinion Buffy, and the Spin off Angel are still so completely superior to any of the plethora of Vampire centric shows out there that a conversation is pointless. Let’s just say you’d never see Spike worrying about his “Diary” and leave it at that.

AND the Buffy saga did not end with the last televised episode. For the last few years, under the aegis of Joss Whedon , “season eight’ has played out in the pages of Dark Horse Comics “Buffy The Vampire Slayer” .

Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season Eight (which is considered to be canonical by the way) has been nominated for an Eagle Award. Joss Whedon's graphic novel continuation of his classic TV show has been nominated in the category of Favorite American Comicbook

"Introduced in 1976, the Eagle Comic Awards are the comic industry's longest established awards, acknowledged as the pre-eminent international accolades."

It is a significant honor for Buffy Season Eight to receive a nod from the Eagle Awards, and it would be even better if the series won. The Eagle Awards receive international acclaim, and recognize the finest comics from around the world each year.

The final round of voting for this year's Eagle Awards opened on, March 14th.

It’s great that the series has been recognized with a nomination. Buffy has long had a home in comics going back to when the show was still on the air. One could argue that, aside from Star trek, no TV property has ever had a successful life in comic books as Buffy The Vampire Slayer.
And it’s not over yet as plans for a “Season Nine” run of books are well in the works! I don’t know about anyone else but *I* intend to be onboard for that so “if the apocalypse comes…beep me”.

That’s 30!


Friday, March 11, 2011

So You Wanna Date Wonder Woman?

Ok…let me say this right up front. I have never been one for online gaming. I have heard all the horror stories from server outages to late updates and even players who become SO addicted (*cough* World Of Warcraft) to their game that they are never heard from again!

But the bottom line is that I just have a problem paying for something I have already bought! It seems to me that $60 bucks for a game should be enough. Subscription fees just make me want to skip it entirely.

Still….I knew that EVENTUALLY someone would come up with an MMORPG that I would have to try. They (and who are “They” anyway) almost got me with Star Trek online but I dodged that one deftly by copping to all the bad reviews. I thought I was safe.

And then I saw the trailer for DC Universe Online. I was immediately sucked in by the idea that I could play alongside such luminaries as Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman. The Beta reviews were mostly enthusiastic AND it was coming out for the PS3 so it would be very convenient. Plus a free month of playtime.

I figured I would shell out the $60 for the game and play the hell out of it for a month and get my money’s worth that way. I have played many an RPG and a month is about the lifespan they can enjoy before I have played every square inch of whatever world I am in. Then I lose interest and trade them for something new.

So much for plans. I have been playing DCU for ONE week and I have already signed up for the monthly subscription. The game is thoroughly engaging, beautiful to look at and so BIG that I am not likely to lose interest anytime soon. I admit that I am hooked! With that said, here are my impressions of the game.

Cinematics/storyline – The opening movie and the cut scenes between major missions are great looking and have a style that never lets you forget the roots of this game… DC Comic Books. There is a heavy Jim Lee influence in the look of the game. The back story (which is being fleshed out in the bi-weekly comic *CBJ SALES PLUG!!!*) has Lex Luthor in the future (you know, the bald guy who is covering up a sever man crush on Superman through evil deeds) teams up with Brainiac to destroy all of earth’s Meta Humans. Yes, Lex finally succeeds in killing Superman.

But as they say, there is no honor between megalomaniacs and as soon as Lex wipes out the last hero, Brainy turns on him and reveals that he is going to go all V’Ger on earth and digitize old Lex himself.

Luthor realizes that he has been sort of a dufus and hot tails it back to the past where he spills his guts to the not dead Justice League. He lets loose with the exobites, stolen for Brainiac and which give everyone POWERS. With so many new heroes created all at once, just MAYBE the future can be averted.

This is a very nice jumping off point for the game which takes place in the present. Not so much story as to bog you down, but enough to give the player a feeling of direction. It also has the nice dividend of being very open ended because we don’t know precisely WHEN the apocalypse is coming down.

(Oh and speaking of the Apocalypse, how can you have one without Buffy and the Scoobys?)

Character Creation - This might be the single best feature of the game. There is almost NOTHING that you cannot customize all day long. You WILL find yourself redesigning your look throughout the game.

During the character creation you have the choice of being a hero or a villain. You choose a “mentor” like Superman, Batman, Lex or the Joker among others. These mentors give you your early missions.

You can choose to be anything from a Superman like powerhouse to a Batman type Dark Avenger, and anything in between. The power selections cover a very wide range of options. While you can’t play AS an existing DC character, you CAN create one who is just like your favorite. (I just wish they had the rights to a Tick template!).

Gameplay – If you have ever played Marvel Ultimate Alliance or Marvel Vs. Capcom, you will be right at home. This is a real time combat game and is completely optimized for a console controller.

You can ALWAYS find a fight, even without a mission because the bad guys (or good guys if YOU are a bad guy) are everywhere. Just head over to any Brainiac incusrsion zone and wail on some robots for fun!

But there are missions aplenty and they are easy to find. They come in several flavors. There is the standard find this, protect that and fight the boss mission, there are PVP Arena and Classics missions. There are cooperative missions that send you with other players into places like Gorilla Island or Area 51. You will NOT run out of things to do.

Just exploring the various areas can fill several long gaming sessions. I am playing in Gotham and have not explored HALF of the city. EVERYTHING from the GCPD building to Ace Chemicals, to Crime Alley has been recreated for the game.
The Watchtower took me hours to explore!!

Tech Issues and Load Times - When you first pop the game into your PS3 or computer be prepared…to sit back. Because it will take a few HOURS to download the files and updates you need to get started. However subsequent up[dates only take about 15 minutes to a half hour to download and install.

Load times are pretty dreary but not excessively so and the splash screens during loads are great. Who gets bored looking at a wide screen high def Power Girl I ask you?

As I am just at level 12 (the cap is 30) I have just scratched the surface of the game. I have not even made a trip to visit my buddy Clark in Metropolis yet! So these are my very early impressions. But I can say that if you are a DC comics fan, a first time online gamer (like me), or a grizzled veteran of the MMORPG wars, there is a lot to like about DC Universe Online.

That’s 30!


Friday, March 4, 2011

Some upcoming events for this month!


On Saturday, March 5th we will be holding our first ever Game Day event for the newest Magic set, Mirrodin Besieged. The entrance fee is $10 and all players will receive special Game Day promos while top 8 in the competition will receive a special promo. Prizes will be awarded to the winners and the overall winner gets a spot on the Magic the Gathering plaque we have near the register. That's right folks, earn your place forever engraved on the walls of CBJ! Wow! See you there!


Are you a fan of Marvel vs Capcom 3? Think you're good enough to take on the best of the CBJ crowd? Then come down to the store on Friday, March 18th after regular hours at 9pm for a MvC3 Tournament! We'll have an Xbox 360 and a TV ready to go for you to test your skills on. There will be prizes for the top competitors and a special sale for all of those in attendance. Drinks will also be served! Fun will be had! What's not to love about playing video games in your favorite comic shop?


Our first Comic Book Jones Swap Meet will be taking place on Sunday, March 27th all day long! We'll be having a few tables set up with different vendors selling a variety of comics, statues and other great items. The only way to find out what will be here is to show up! This might be a great way to find that long out of print book or statue you just can't seem to find. If you're interested in having a table yourself feel free to e-mail us at to find out all the details. Tables will be provided and you can share if you like. We all hope to see you there.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

One Thin Dime Anytime

If you pick up any of the current DC titles you will see the price of $2.99 in BOLD characters along with the slogan “Holding the Line at $2.99”. Good for DC as they pulled their average price down by about 30%! But it got me to thinking about the first time that the price of comic books jumped.

Return with me now to the halcyon days of yore…or anyway 1961 when Comics got their first price bump!

From their inception in the mid 1930s’ Comics had always sold for a dime. The earliest books could go from 64 to 100 pages. That is a LOT of four color goodness for one tenth of a buck let me tell you! Or as DC might put it today “One Thin Dime Anytime!” That is a price that would remain unchanged for nearly thirty years. In order to keep the cost of comics at a dime comic book publishers gradually cut the page count until it reached a standard 32 page format. Larger page count books, known as Annuals or giants, had an 80 page count but they cost twenty-five cents.

Some companies held the price at a dime by going from a four color to a TWO color process or even including some stories in black and white! Check out some early issues of Action Comics and you will see those techniques in practice. It was NOT pretty!

Still, as time went by, cost cutting measures could no longer offset rising costs and the industry, led by DC Comics made the move from 10 cents to 12 cents in December of 1961. A raise in cost of a WHOPPING 20%!!! In November you could get TEN comics for a buck and in December it was down to 8.3 ..and who buys .3 comic books anyway! This was a big deal in kiddom let me tell you. We were up in arms and ready to storm the Lexington Ave Offices of National periodical publications (which we kids knew was just an alias for DC.)

However those editors at DC did not have grass growing under their feet and in a masterful preemptive strike, they actually EXPLAINED the reasons for the rise in price. And on official letterhead too! Every DC comic that came out that December had theis letter printed on the inside cover.

Basically they chirped about the cost of trees and mailing and who can argue with official leterhead anyway. So with a grumble we began to fork over the extra two cents a book. For many of us it marled the loss of innocence. I mean if you can’t count on the guys who publish SUPERMAN what’s left?

All kidding aside, the industry HAD done a great job holding their price for so many years and the 12 cent price would go on for almost 20 years as well. Since the seventies however, the price of comics have risen steadily to the current average price of $3.99 with DC at the lower $2.99.

Then again back in 1961 you could buy a new car for $1600 and a new house for $12,700!

(Plus you can’t actually READ a car or a house!)

So you know what?

Comics are STILL a bargain!

That’s 30!