Category Archives: Snap *censored* Pop Culture

Marvel Comics July 2024

Introduction

This article took much longer than anticipated. I expected to write it Friday (or Saturday at the latest) of last week and then pushed it off more and more. We were supposed to go see an Alanis Morrissette concert tonight, but we made the plans before securing summer school jobs this week. Plus, the traffic promises to be a nightmare and I don’t relish sitting in this swampy weather with a sold out concert crowd. Sorry, Alanis. Next time. Instead, I figured, why not finally write about Marvel Comics July 2024.

Temporary Category: I don’t Care About Blood Hunt

The funny part about this month is that four titles have the Blood Hunt tie in. I care nothing about this event or any of the supporting materials and, so, read none of them. Vampires were only my thing for a brief period in high school. Then, Twilight ruined the lore for me.

Temporary Category: Na Na Na Na Hey Hey Hey Good-Bye

I saw an article that they’re moving on and changing creative teams for this title. I sent the article to Chris and he replied, “Not a fan?” I think we all know the answer to that one. My Verdict: Thank goodness.

Captain America 10 (Legacy 760)

Writer: JMS, Artist: Jesus Saiz. Some writers are timeless. Some are products of their time. I started to think that maybe JMS fit into the second category. I love his Amazing Spider-Man. Sure, he and Joey Q brought us One More Day, but honestly, I forgive him for that one because his work on Civil War blew me away and that’s my impression of his run. So far on Cap, he hasn’t quite reached that same standard. But, I think he just needed some time to find his voice in the character. Even in this one, we get too much of the Spidey silliness and the start of the issue is very talky. But, the end makes up for it and I want to see where he goes next. My verdict: Good.

The Immortal Thor 12 (Legacy 773)

Writer: Al Ewing, Artist: Valentina Pinti. Likewise, Ewing took some big swings in his first Thor story. Most of them hit, but some missed big time in my opinion. This issue reads more like the Norse lore Thor. Wow, that’s a possible tongue twister there. I prefer the modern interpretation of the character, but Ewing makes this work for me for the issue at least. My verdict: Good.

The Incredible Hulk 13 (Legacy 794)

Writer: Phillip Kennedy Johnson, Artist: Nic Klein. Speaking of Ewing, he brought back the horror element to Hulk with Immortal Hulk and shot the title into the stratosphere, in my opinion. Surprisingly, after a lackluster run with Donny Cates (though I enjoyed his introduction), Phillip Kennedy Johnson picks up the horror mantle and I think his stuff might even be better than Ewing. I can’t get over the art, but it’s less offensive to me, so maybe I’m just coming to terms with the fact that it’s not changing. My verdict: Great.

The Sensational She-Hulk 9 (Legacy 187)

Writer: Rainbow Rowell, Artist: Andres Genolet. I never expected to enjoy Rowell’s She-Hulk as much as I have. Throughout the duration, I consistently called it my favorite Marvel book. Now I hear that Marvel’s killing the book. This absolutely guts me, but I have a new era of X-Men to finally jump into that maelstrom next month. My verdict: The end of an absolute sensational era. Thanks for the memories.

The Verdict

Marvel Comics July 2024 brings 4 ignored books because of a passionate disinterest in the evnt tie-ins, more Spider-Man disappointment, two absolute Hulk bombs (in the good way) and a couple of good to almost very good other issues. The She-Hulk announcement destroyed me. I’m gonna need some time.

Note: Maybe it’s Marvel Math. Maybe it’s genuine. But the latest issue of Uncanny X-Men reads #700 and has a bunch of talent on the cover. I’ll review that one like I do all the milestone issues in the next article.

Other note: Art taken from the mother ship.

DC Comics July 2024

Introduction

Well, it seems as if Deadpool really killed 2 Generations Gaming, as I went into a 3 day unintentional hibernation. But, I’m back and ready to bring the usual articles, start up the Poppy War for Noob’s Book Club, and pilot a new version of the daily RPG calendar next week. The funny thing is that I read the issues for DC Comics July 2024 on Tuesday and just kept putting off the article for some reason. Well, no more.

The Flash 9 and 10

Writer: Simon Spurrier, Artist: Ramon Perez. I received these books in this shipmment, but didn’t read them. I’m having trouble getting into Spurrier’s Flash. To be honest, I haven’t liked Flash since Joshua Williamson wrote for the book. More on him in a bit.

Detective Comics 1085 and 1086

Writer: Ram V, Artist: Various. Look, you all know that I like Ram V and his writing style. And, I respect him for the chocie he made on this story. It just hasn’t hit for me like some of his other stories on other books. Maybe he style just isn’t right for what I want from Batman and Detective Comics. My verdict: Decent

Batman 148 and 149

Writer: Chip Zdarsky, Artist: Jorge Jimenez and Michele Bandini. The Zur story was good for what it is, but I personally didn’t enjoy it all that much. Now that it’s over, after the next issue that gets super sized for 150, I want to see what Zdarsky does with the Dark Knight. My verdict: Decent.

Catwoman 66 and Wonder Woman 10

Catwoman and Wonder Woman Writers: Tini Howard and Tom King. Artist: Various on both titles. Catwoman, on the other hand, is very good and bordering on great during the 9 Lives story. It’s cliche, but Howard handles it with a deft touch and makes it less so. I’m going to be sad to see this story go. It took me a while to warm up to Tom King on Wonder Woman, but now that he has his feet under him, I think that good things are on the horizon for the book. My verdict: Good.

House of Braniac (Action Comics 1066 and Superman 15)

Writer: Joshua Williamson, Artist: Rafa Sandoval. I’ve said a few times before that I always hated Superman growing up. His character just never worked in my rebelious teenage brain. A few years ago, BMB made me care about the character again and more recently, Joshua Williamson made me love the character. He is at the height of his powers on this mini event with Braniac and Lobo joining the Super Family for an adventure that just zips by. I read both of these books so quickly because the pacing works so well. Bravo. My verdict: Great.

The Verdict

Similar to recent months, none of the books in DC Comics July 2024 offended me outright. I’m just not a huge fan of The Flash as a rule, so don’t take my putting that book to the side the wrong way. It looks like they are gearing up for a larger event in the form of Absolute Power, so we’ll see how that goes. For now, I like what I’m seeing from DC.

Images taken from the mother ship.

Spawniverse July 2024

Introduction

After a successful Fallout from the end of School last month, we come to another celebration on the page. Deadpool and Wolverine releases at the end of the month. That gave me the bright idea to feature Deadpool and Marvel comics. Before we get to all of that, though, naturally, I need to write my comics reviews first. With the TMNT hiatus, that means this month is Spawniverse July 2024.

Gunslinger 32

Writer: Uncle Todd, Artist: Carlo Barberi. A few months ago, Uncle Todd promised new creative teams and new directions for the books. I won’t take direct credit for that, but I will say that I wrote numerous times that the books seemed to have lost their way. He alludes to this during one of the conversations in this issue. I won’t say that the book is all the way back. But, the intro scene with he and Linda made me laugh and I expect more out of the finale because that was far too easy. My verdict: Good

King Spawn 34 and 35

Writer: Uncle Todd, Artist: Jason Shawn Alexander. When he said new creative teams, apparently that meant taking over writing duties instead of “additional plot”. At the very least, that brings some consistency to the stories. In this one, Al rescues Nana or Grannie or Auntie or whatever and finds her a vampire (the only supernaturals with powers right now) as a guard. However, this king doesn’t stay ascendent for long. Then, he runs into some trouble in the alley. A gang jumps him. Without his powers, they fuck him up pretty good. I want to see where this is going. Additionally, I know JSA’s art isn’t for everyone. It took a while to grow on me, but I like it. Especially for this title. Lends it an ethereal vibe that’s almost dreamline. My verdict: Good

The Scorched 30

Writer: Layman with Uncle Todd on Additional Script, Artist: Stephen Segovia. I thought this one maintained the most consistency quality wise during the “lull”. I liked the characters and the stories the best out of all of the Spawniverse. Then, when Layman (one of my favorite comics writers) came on, I knew good things were on the horizon. Sure enough, it started to pay off here. The Scorched, even without Jessica (who spends more time dead or unconscious that most team leaders) cripple Winn’s agency by freeing Overt-Kill and allowing for the escape of Haunt and Redeemer. That all sets up quite a payoff next issue with Winn visiting Jessica and the team trying to get to the bottom of the cloning mystery. My verdict: Good, bordering on Great.

Spawn 354

Writer: Rory McConville with Uncle Todd on Additonal Script, Artist: Brett Booth. I think the main title suffered the most during the “lull”. Just an inconsistency in tone and story telling. You can blame that on the dilusion due to the new titles, but I disagree. I think they just focused too much on the heaven and hell angle and ignored the other parts of what makes the book fun. And, if you think about it, they removed al l of the powers from the characters, so that forces them to focus more on the “real world” and the boots on the ground, so to speak. Call me in a few months when I miss the supernatural part of the story. For now, though, I like what they’re doing. My verdict: Good.

The Verdict

They continue the upward trend with Spawniverse July 2024. Thankfully, because as I wrote, they changed teams on TMNT, so I won’t get another one of those for a month or so when it starts back up again. I like Jason Aaron and I trust him, but Chris makes a good point. They need to change the tone big time to fit his style.

Images courtesy of the mother ship.

Fallout Episode 8: The Beginning

Introduction

As I wrote in the plot summary, we arrive at the end of Fallout From the End of School 2024 with the Fallout episode 8, last episode of the first season. I say first season because they greenlit the second season. Now, we wait 2 or 3 years for them to write, film, edit, and release. Thankfully, you all have Fallout Final Fridays to keep you through. A lot in this episode, so let’s get started.

Plot Summary and Analysis

Click here for the plot summary.

Cooper gets blind sided. He finally hears what his wife thinks of the end of the world, the vaults, and the aftermath. They pull the old rope-a-dope with her talking initially about her children and the future of the kids before pulling out the rug and ensuring that while their future will be okay, the same can’t be said for countless others. Because, after all, what kind of world is it when the cheap suits are in charge. Hint: Take a look around you.

Lucy, too, learns that everything she knew was a lie. Her father is a monster who nuked an entire town out of existence because his wife decided that she was happier without him and his insistence to live in a sardine can. Her mother is ghoulified, but kept alive out of Moldaver’s loyalty to her and their dreams of bringing unlimited power to the poor dregs who live in the Wasteland.

Norm mirrors his sister’s journey with Bud the Brain Roomba as his guide. He learns about Bud’s dumb ass idea to save the world and then gets trapped in Vault 31 with the psychotic micro manager. Perhaps for centuries? I doubt that. Norm will find a way.

Max uses the Brotherhood to bring him back to Lucy before discovering that what Dane says might just be true. Nowhere is safe, not even the idyllic vault where he and Lucy will live happily ever after. The Ghoul comes very close to finally getting the answer he’s been waiting 200 years for before Hank gives him the slip once again.

Cold fusion fires up the lights in the Wasteland. The Brotherhood salute Max as a conquering hero. Lucy finds herself again with The Ghoul and Dogmeat. And Hank stands before the town of New Vegas. What awaits them all? We just have to wait and see.

Character Profiles

Every single character saw some part of their life upended in this episode. In many cases, everything they thought they knew was a lie. Lucy reacts with her usual kindness and forces her father to give Moldaver the code. Hank lashes out at Moldaver, calling her a liar and just as bad as him. Max still wants to spend his life with Lucy and stupidly tries to fight off armored Hank

Norm, bad ass that he is, immediately goes to tell the rest of the dwellers about Bud’s Buds. Everything he suspected was true and, yet, he’s still shocked by the sheer madness of it all. Only The Ghoul escapes unscathed, but that’s only because his reality shattered 200 years ago with the revelation that his wife and her cohorts planned the entire thing to bring their insane plans to life through the glory of capitalism.

World Building and Setting

We finally get an answer to “What happened to Shady Sands?” Actually we get the answer to the question, “Who…?” For those who haven’t played the games, they get a glimpse into the behind the scenes machinations that brought the horrors of the vaults to life. At the end of the show, numerous viewers no doubt ran to one Wiki or another to verify the location at the end of the episode.

However, the star of the episode is Moldaver’s encampment that grew out of the destruction of Shady Sands. It represents everything that I hope out of a post apocalyptic civilization. I just hope that we learn from our mistakes and work together. A pipe dream, I know, but more likely with less people in that society. Not that I advocate for the end of society. Simply that I’ve thought about it. And, I have ideas.

Themes and Social Commentary

Wow, they put it all out there in this episode. The greed of corporations vs. the benign scientists. Less heavy on the communism vs. capitalism this time. But, they laid out that argument in the last episode quite nicely. Besides, it’s not communism vs. capitalism. It’s regulated vs. unregulated. When there are no guard rails, the capitalists will drive us all off a cliff.

When there’s nobody left to fight, who will fight? The answer, everyone. You think that if the Nazis actually succeeded in wiping out the Jews, they’d stop there? No. They’d keep going, getting more and more specific until two guys left just stabbing each other because of eye color or some other nonsense. The utopia, on either side, is simply not sustainable.

Is anywhere truly safe? Yes, you can make your area safe. My house is safe for me and my family. Also, for anyone else who wants to visit and doesn’t cause a ruckus. Does that mean violence cannot happen here? Of course not. But, the violence will come from outside and it will be dealt with. I can promise you that.

What would you do with unlimited power? They wrap it in the concept of cold fusion, but it represents the power to rule and control. Moldaver handed it off to the people. Whoever gets it next won’t be so giving, I promise you that.

Narrative Structure, Pacing, and Soundtrack

They opted for much shorter scenes this time around and more rapid transitions. This allowed them to drop bomb after bomb (pun intended) and each of them hit just as hard. Consequently, the pacing felt quick but manageable. Again, since only one reveal happened each time, you can catch your breath before the next.

Allowing the story to tell itself, they leaned less on the soundtrack this time. Only two actual songs in the whole episode. One to emphasize Max’s efforts to get to Lucy. The other told the story of The Ghoul, DogMeat, and Lucy striking off to find her father again. Another understated but good choice by the production team.

The Verdict

All I have to say is, Wow. This is how you do a season finale. Everything that they built up over the season gets resolved. Not only that, but they keep just enough loose ends open that you want to come back for more. I have often said that a poor ending can otherwise derail a great effort. That isn’t the case here. They stuck this landing. Fallout episode 8 goes down as one of the best episodes in recent memory.

Fallout Episode 7: The Radio

Introduction

I already wrote in the plot summary that I watched Fallout episode 7 on Sunday. But, I also spent the better part of those days recovering from a nasty “summer cold”. I put that in quotes because my son Liam, in response to my thought that it could be Covid, said, “Who gets a cold in summer?” I don’t know how accurate that statement is, but I always grew up with the concept of a “summer cold” and many other things that I grew up with have been proven plainly incorrect.

Plot Summary and Analysis

Click here for the plot summary.

Fallout episode 7 finally starts to weave together some of the stories in anticipation of the final episode. After killing a kid in front of his father to continue his reign of terror in the Wasteland, The Ghoul flashes back a couple of times to his pre-war life. This both provides comparison and contrast to his current attitude and missions that drive him. Scroll down to the character discussion for more.

In that past, Cooper reacts initially with horror and distrust of the philosophy espoused by Miss Williams. However, to his credit, he takes the bug and then later retrieves it after throwing it in the trash. He may trust his wife, but he has deep suspicions of the rest of the Vault-Tec “family”.

Likewise, Lucy learns more about the vaults that she ever hoped to know. As a result, she and Max end up leaving Vault 4. Thaddeus locks Dogmeat in a cooler before continuing to try to find a radio tower. Max and Lucy later meet up with Thaddeus at DJ Carl’s. After a tense stand off, Max comes up with a solution that gets Lucy the head. It also allows Thaddeus to escape certain torture at the hands of The Brotherhood.

Some 33ers become 32ers. Norm follows his suspicions into Vault 31 and finds that one empty, too. I nobody or nothing as it seems in this show? Hopefully, the final answers at least some of that question.

Character Profiles

The Ghoul: Morally complex is the best way I can describe him. He kills without mercy. He also saves Dogmeat from a certain death and lets the mutt tag along with him again. Then again, maybe I just can’t see his moral compass because it’s so at odds with my own. He clearly sees these events as both indicative of his “goodness”, but we are all the heroes in our own story, right?

Cooper: His former life gives some insight into the ghoul he became, as I wrote earlier. He despises Williams and the theory that she espouses. Nevertheless, he is open to bugging his wife partly in the name of dogs everywhere who are denied access to the vaults. The thing about his reticence to listen to Williams that I wonder is, is it how he truly feels or because he’s a good old boy brainwashed by his government controlled by corporate interests. More on that later.

Lucy: Ever the optimist, she continues to believe that people are good in the face of overwhelming evidence against it. Like The Ghoul, I have a tough time analyzing Lucy, but for different reasons. She’s very much like me. I continue to hold out hope that humanity will figure it out even as they hurtle us towards our own demise. Like, yeah, the initial people of Vault 4 might have been shitty, but the current residents only banished her from the vault, with supplies for two weeks. To paraphrase Men in Black, “A person is good. People are mean, vindictive demons and you know it.”

Max: I can’t tell if Max reacted to the comfort of the vault and that’s why he acted so weird or if they kept him drugged in some way. I suspect the latter because of the overall “theme” of Vault 4, but he very quickly snapped out of it when he noticed that Lucy was in trouble. His love for this woman overcame even the manipulation of drugs (?) and a comfortable lifestyle to save her.

Thaddeus: He pissed me off by locking the dog in the cooler. Now, I know that’s not a controversial take. But, I want put it out there. He almost made up for it by apologizing to Max and letting them take the head from him. Almost. Because, ultimately, that was just a selfish decision, too.

Minor characters: DJ Carl, played by Fred Armisen, is amazing. Mr. Armisen always makes me laugh no matter what he does. Moreover, he brings a humanity to his characters that makes them feel alive. The “Snake Oil Salesman” as he’s called, finally gets his hero turn. Sort of. He saves Thaddeus, but at what cost?

World Building and Setting

They dedicate most of this Fallout episode 7 to building the lore behind the vaults and some more about Vault-Tec, the company behind them. Initially, you might think that they’re earnest in their mission and built the vaults to help people survive the blasts and fallout. Then, maybe, they just got lucky. But, as more comes out, you learn that they are behind the nuclear “incidents” and that hides even more sinister objectives. Spoiler Alert: Some of these stories are awful.

Also, finally, on some level, they start to question the supposition that living in the vault is preferable to living on the surface. When they banish Lucy from the vault, she reacts with suspicion. “Really? That’s all?” Surely, she’s thinking, I just spent two weeks on the surface. And, while it might be “safer” here in the vault, one can get along just fine up there. Me? I choose the reckless life of a Wastelander any day.

Themes and Social Commentary

They pull back the curtain and put it all out there in Fallout episode 7. Part of this story is the ages old capitalism vs. communism. I’m sure some Yankee Doodle Dipshits have plenty to say about how “woke” the show is because of that. But, I appreciate Miss Williams coming out and saying, “Communism is a dirty word they use to describe people who aren’t completely insane.” And, the more you look into it, the more it makes sense.

As I’ve always said, I have no problem with someone trying to make a buck. Hell, try to make all the bucks you want. What I have a problem with is when you try to trade my or my children’s or my grandchildren’s future to make that buck. Maybe you can make a few less bucks and we can all live together on this planet? What do you think?

Yeah, I thought that’s what you’d say.

Additionally, I wrote earlier in my introduction of the plot summary, “Can anyone in this show be trusted?” You saw some of that in my character descriptions. Any time one of them seems to be “good” or “bad”, they inevitably do something to make you question that label. I get that humans are messy and we’re all a mixture of “good” and “bad”, but rarely do you get a show that so starkly and, honestly, naturally explores that dichotomy. It’s one of the reasons I watched it twice now and will again before Season 2 releases.

Narrative Pacing, Structure, and Soundtrack

The pacing still feels good. Every episode they release just a little more of the “truth” and what that truth means for our world and our characters. They’ve used flashbacks a good amount to that end, as well. The one thing that I noticed is that as the episodes advanced, the opening sequences became longer and longer. Surely that’s intentional, but I can’t figure out the intent behind it.

The soundtrack, as always, serves to enhance the mood and story. They deftly weave the oldies into the story to both cue events and also remind us of what happened previously. I also read online that they probably used the fiddle music to troll fans of one of the games because, as gamers do, they bitched about the music. If so, bravo to you all!

The Verdict

Fallout episode 7, the penultimate episode, sets things up nicely for a potentially explosive finale. Lucy has the head, Max is going to face the Brotherhood, The Ghoul has a reliable lead on Moldaver. And, back in the past, Cooper holds the potential key to blowing it all up. Yes, that pun was fully intended.

Fallout Episode 6: The Trap

Introduction

We continue our Fallout from the end of the school year with the next episode of the Fallout TV show. I wrote my journal the other day to finish up, for now, my coverage of the original game. And, now, I get to talk about the fate of Shady Sands as revealed in Fallout episode 6.

Plot Summary and Analysis

Click here for the plot summary.

After an episode without The Ghoul, this one delivers more on his current adventure while adding much to his backstory. He and his wife don’t see eye to eye on the dealings of her employer, Vault-Tec. Cooper hates the extra baggage that comes with his starring roles in the ads for the vaults. He puts all of this aside because he loves and trusts his wife. In 200 years, she might be the only person he ever truly loved and trusted.

Speaking of the vaults. Through his and Barb’s conversations and Lucy’s and Max’s interactions in Vault 4, we get more information about the post apocalyptic living quarters. While on the surface, not much happens (Cooper and Barb argue and Lucy and Max spend the entire episode in the vault), the episode brings up new questions even as it starts to answer some of the old ones.

An episode that easily could have fallen into the trap of being “filler”, they avoid that trap quite nicely. Almost no action. Very few sets. An extended introduction centered around a vault ad and a Hollywood party. And, yet, probably the best episode of the show so far.

Character Profiles

The Ghoul: We see The Ghoul humbled by his captors several times. He never allows that to dampen his swagger. He simply bides his time and deals with the riff raff as he always does before turning his sights on the bigger fish.

Cooper Howard: Little of the man before remains in The Ghoul other than his memories. They serve to develop Cooper’s character as a former military man who values his freedom above all. I suppose that part also exists in The Ghoul. Even so, he’s willing to go to the Communist’s meeting when invited by Charlie. He also uses those memories to remind himself of his wife and daughter, the reasons for keeping himself alive and non-feral for over 200 years.

Lucy: She starts the episode convinced that they have nothing to fear in the vault. It’s a great place to rest and relax before setting off again to find the head and then her father. When her eyes open to the fact that not all is what it seems, she digs deeper and it ends up with her in deep trouble.

Max: On the other hand, Max starts off suspicious of the vault and its dwellers. Either because the pampering erodes away at his resolve or they drug him in some way, but he finds himself at home by the end of the episode and ready to settle down. The obvious juxtaposition between the two main characters goes a long way to adding to the unsettling realization that nothing is ever easy.

Cycloptic Overseer: As usual, Parnell plays a character that makes you laugh and makes you think with an underlying message. More on that later. I remember some people didn’t like the idea of a cyclops, especially one that looked so odd, but I love the character and what he brought to the episode.

Supporting Characters: Birdie has her hand in everything both inside and, seemingly, outside of Vault 4. Sorrel, likewise, stepped in to fill a power vacuum. However, it looks like his reign might soon be at an end either by the hand of The Ghoul or as a consequence of changing allegiance. We see Moldaver in the before times but only that she is involved in the Communist movement.

World Building and Setting

As I wrote above, the Fallout episode 6 takes place mostly in a Vault, a bit on the surface, and the rest in a bar. Even so, they show that the vaults weren’t all developed to repopulate the planet after the radiation dissipated. Long time fans of the game know this, but it may have come as a shock to those who just joined us with the TV show.

Likewise, they give us a glimpse of the politics of the surface. It isn’t all just pockets of civilization with no connecting fabric. In addition, some figures rose from the ashes to build factions that work to protect their citizens and try to gain resources for themselves and their territories. Sometimes, with tragic consequences.

Themes and Social Commentary

They continue the theme of trust in the “official story”. Cooper starts to question the wisdom of Vault-Tec even as he fights to keep his reputation as a country loving favored son. The, Lucy must again question the validity of the vaults and their reputation as places of safety and understanding.

The conversation between Charlie and Cooper brings up the question of unregulated capitalism and the need for, maybe, just a little bit of communism to keep the ghouls (those who reduce everything to a dollar sign, not the radiated one) honest. You know my feelings on this and how they only get stronger as the days tick by. People starve. The planet burns. And, all we talk about is the Dow Jones and how to properly market the end of the world. Sound familiar?

While Lucy changes her mind and becomes more suspicious, Max eases into a life of comfort. It numbs him to his own skepticism and lures him into a (perhaps false) sense of security. If they keep you fat, dumb, and happy, maybe you won’t realize just how they’re screwing you.

Narrative Pacing, Structure, and Soundtrack

They step up the quick switches between scenes by adding in Fallout episode 6 Cooper’s flash backs to his former life at important parts in the story. This allows them to compare and contrast the before times to the current Wasteland. As they say, the more things change and all that. There will always be two types of people. Will they ever learn to live together? I’m not so sure anymore.

Likewise, the outsiders and their ritual in Vault 4 transposed with Cooper’s visit to the mausoleum for the Communist’s meeting serves a dual purpose. One, it makes you think that there are parallels between the cult like behavior and the Communists. I welcome such dialogue. If your ideas don’t stand up to scrutiny, then are they worth having? The second purpose establishes Moldaver as a force to be reckoned with. Even more so than as a dad kidnapper.

The soundtrack takes a bit of a back seat, especially when compared with the previous episode. It serves more as garnish, so to speak, in this episode. You’re aware of the music as adding something to the story. But, it didn’t have those exclamation point moments like the previous episode.

The Verdict

I called Fallout episode 6 possibly the best episode yet. I stand by that. As the series has gone on, the episodes have gotten stronger and stronger. That’s exactly what you want from a television show. Some may question the choice to introduce new stories and ask new questions so late in the season, but they must have known that people would love what they made and want more. I, for one. agree.

Marvel Comics June 2024

Introduction

I took the Blood Hunt tie in issues out of the pile. Not really caring all that much about the main title, that gives me no reason to read the tie ins. Without them, Marvel Comics June 2024 is only 5 other titles. And, yet, I still fell behind and released this article two days late. Oh well, better late than never.

Amazing Spider-Man #50 (Legacy 944)

Note: I’m only going to review the main story. The additional stories are a fun diversion, so maybe I’ll put them in their own article.

Writer: Zeb Wells, Artist: Ed McGuinness. Well, we made it 50 issues with Wells as writer. About a month ago, I became so disgusted with this title that I stopped reading it. Then, I picked it up again last month. The current story still feels dumb. A living (now walking) brain? Okay, fine, whatever. But, he brought back the goblin in this issue and the fight between the two old enemies makes up for the other stuff for now. Plus, we get McGuinness on the title for an issue. That’s always welcome. My verdict: Decent

Captain America 9 (Legacy 759)

Writer: J. Michael Straczynski, Artist: Jesus Saiz. JMS drops Cap and us in a Chilean desert where he encounters a lost penguin. This leads to a substory about the nature of what normal is and how we react to those that are different from us. Yeah, he gets a bit philosophical on this one. In the course of bringing the penguin back to the shore, he rescues one of his allies. An interesting issue, if not terribly unique. My verdict: Decent.

Fantastic Four 20 (Legacy 713)

Writer: Ryan North, Artist: Carlos Gomez. Johnny and Ben get fired (pun fully intended) from their job at the brewery. They take another job at a grocery store. They also get let go from that one. Too much publicity for the store. Oh, and monsters are attacking outside, so they are needed by the FF. Sounds like a boring story, but North makes it fun as usual. Not as much fun as some during his run, but that’s okay. My verdict: Good.

The Immortal Thor #11 (Legacy 772)

Writer: Al Ewing, Artist: Valentina Pinti. Ewing takes some swings with this title since taking over. Some miss, but most hit. And, honestly, the missed become hits eventually because he makes them pay off. Honestly, I’m just glad that we’re out of the Jason Aaron Thor days. I like Aaron, but I didn’t like his Thor. This issue is more standard Thor and it mostly works for what it is. Just the usual team up with his siblings to solve a problem. My verdict: Good.

Sensational She-Hulk 8 (Legacy 186)

Writer: Rainbow Rowell, Artist: Andres Genolet. I can’t say enough good things about this title. It’s got everything. Action. Humor. Love. Betrayal. Cake. I’ve said it before, but I will say it again. Rainbow Rowell gets this character on a deep level and writes the title with love and respect. If you aren’t reading She-Hulk right now, can you even call yourself a comic book fan? My verdict: Great.

The Verdict

None of the titles from Marvel Comics June 2024 outright annoy or offend me, so that’s a step in the right direction. I may come back to Blood Hunt eventually, but I seriously doubt it. Vampires aren’t my thing. Zombies are my thing. But, even I can admit that they’ve been overdone over the last decade or so. Give the vamps their day in the sun. Not literally, of course.

Head on over to the mothership for all your Marvel comic needs.

Fallout Episode 5: The Past

Introduction

This hiatus is not inexplicable. In fact, I easily explained our absence last weekend in the plot summary. For those who TLDR that, let me repeat myself here. Christine and I celebrated our 23rd wedding anniversary in Boston. We went to see Come From Away and watched the Free Jacks beat Dallas in a Major League Rugby match. But, this weekend, I return with a discussion of Fallout episode 5.

Plot Summary and Analysis

Click here for the plot summary.

Fallout episode 5 continues one great story and gives a heck of an introduction to another. The ghoul takes this episode off. Instead, they concentrate on Max and Lucy meeting one another and attempting to track down the head and Norm and Chet’s big adventures through Vault 32 and, nearly, Vault 31.

Alas, they made us wait for the reveal of what secrets Vault 31 contain. But, they reveal one massive bread crumb along that trail. Every overseer from both Vault 32 and Vault 33 came from Vault 31. Not content with the surface explanations, Norm looks to uncover another secret that he’s convinced exists. Hey, it’s not paranoia if they really are lying to you.

Meanwhile, Max and Lucy form an alliance through her skills of negotiation. Those later fail when faced with a couple of cannibals, but Max negotiates much more successfully with her pistol. During their trek, they stumble on Shady Sands and we get more of Max’s backstory. All that time, Thaddeus has the head and makes his way back to the Brotherhood to deliver the goods.

Character Profiles

Max: Max again tries to do good and gets screwed for it. Thaddeus immediately turns on him when he discovers that he took the armor from a dead Titus. When faced with the option to tell the truth to Lucy, he lies to her about his name. But, he works together with her and protects her from herself a couple of times.

Lucy: As a result, Lucy grows to trust him more and more as they travel together. She even lets her guard down again when faced with the fiends on the bridge. This comes back to bite her, almost literally, but Max’s experience makes up for her naivete. It looks like she gets to repay the favors in the next episode as they find themselves in her domain at the end of this one.

Norm: While he lays off of the badassery in this episode, Norm still pushes to find the truth behind the 3 vaults. He makes a huge discovery about each of the overseers in the vaults but he gets stonewalled again and must wait to learn more.

Betty: Works as Norm’s main foil. Always seems to pop up when he’s just about to find something big or put some clues together. Then, she becomes a huge stick in his craw by cleaning Vault 32 and burying much of the evidence.

Supporting Characters: Chet again accompanies Norm on his adventures, but mostly tries to tell him that there’s ultimately no reason for his suspicion. Stephanie, also from Vault 31, only has a couple of lines, but they give Norm an idea. Thaddeus, too, only has a couple minutes of screen time, but opens a major plot by taking the head.

World Building and Setting

Fallout episode 5 went a long way to building the world for us. We see the fate of Shady Sands (controversial for some fans). They show us the inside of another inhabited vault and, we have to assume, will learn more about it.

On the way to that Vault, we see the Vault Tec insignia outside of the medical center as foreshadowing. Lucy learns that the stories of Vault 33 returning civilization to the surface are a lie. This lends credence to Norm’s suspicion and the possibility that Vault Tec is completely corrupt.

Themes and Social Commentary

They play all the hits in this one. Max’s comment about everyone wanting to save the world but disagreeing on how cuts right through the bullshit and lays it all out for us. Granted, it assumes good intentions for people that, perhaps, I assume are inherently evil. That, most likely, is my issue that I need to work out. And, there you have it. Is there such a thing as “good” and “evil” or do we simply disagree on how? Pretty deep for a game that sometimes seems to pride itself in its ability to shock its players. Certainly too deep for me to discuss right here, right now. But, maybe with the extra time I have over the summer, I can release a companion YouTube or podcast series exploring these issues. Stay tuned for that.

The Norm, and to some extent Lucy and even Max, story lines cause us (well, me at least) to question the wisdom and trustworthiness of those in charge. Even if they have difference of opinion from us, often their opinions involve who, exactly, is worthy of being called human and who, in a term I actually heard used out loud, is human capital. I’m sorry, you have a tough time convincing me that someone who views people only in terms of their monetary value is not evil. Save it for the show, Lucas.

Lucy’s, and Max’s, main contribution is the question of how to stay “good” (if you believe that sort of thing) in the face of overwhelming “evil” (if you believe that sort of thing). She won’t initially let her guard down around Max, but then does on the bridge and pays for it. Likewise, Max gets punished for telling Thaddeus the truth but finds a companion in Lucy after lying to her about his name. I’ve been rewatching “My Name is Earl” and I got to the season where he starts to question Karma and her influence on events. That feels very in line with this sort of thing.

Narrative Pacing, Structure, and Soundtrack

I still like the alternating between story lines. It moves the episodes along and I never feel bored while watching. I also appreciate that they take a break from some characters to focus on others. Absence, as they say, makes the heart grow fonder. I recently saw a rumor that they might run the show for 5 seasons. If so, that gives them plenty of time to explore these characters and more.

One of the highlights of the soundtrack this time is the Battle Hymn of the Republic. It plays a few times, different versions, to a different effect each time. Once, it marches Max and Lucy into the Wasteland. Another time, it bolsters Betty’s message. The final time, it highlights the sometimes crooked democratic process. A good way to change the mood with music.

Another good example of that is the “What A Difference A Day Makes” when they show the scenes from the old and new Vault 32. When the line “and that difference is you” plays, Betty arrives to either goal or put Norm’s mind at ease. Perhaps both. Either way, the song emphasizes the importance of the scene perfectly.

The Verdict

I’ve seen (and heard) some reviews that claim that the only good character in the show is The Ghoul. Fallout episode 5 disproves that. With no screen time for either The Ghoul or Cooper, I still enjoyed this episode immensely. Lucy and Max work well together. And, Norm is a chip off the old block in his search for the truth.

DC Comics June 2024

Introduction

After reviewing only two books in the Spawniverse, I received only 5 books for DC Comics June 2024. Not sure the reason for the lull in production, but we work with what we have around here. One more thing before the reviews. I know you all came here for the “Fallout from the End of School”. That’s next week. I plan to put together the new theme this weekend and play some of the games to write those articles.

Decent

Writer: Tini Howard, Artist: Ivan Shavarin. This arc continues it’s uneven pace. While I like the vibe of the story in this issue. But, it feel misplaced right now. Then again, she may have just pumped the brakes a bit to bring us a big finale over the next couple of issues. Plus, the art in this issue is a bit too cartoony for me.

Good

Writer: Chip Zdarsky, Artist: Jorge Jimenez
Writer: Tom King, Artist: Daniel Sampere

While I hate the Zur-En-Arrh persona and this issue revolves heavily around that, I like the version of Bruce Wayne on the run. Forced to rely on his wits alone, he ends up in hiding. Plus, two of the Robins come to his rescue in their own special way. Fun issue. The existential theme of Wonder Woman in this issue makes sense, but I hope that we get some sort of resolution soon. The slow play of this story just doesn’t work for me. I thought we might get something after last issue. But, no.

Great

Writer: Joshua Williamson, Artist: Rafa Sandoval
Writer: Joshua Williamson, Artist: Rafa Sandova

This mini event got off to a great start last month. Williamson hits the ground running and keeps it going this month. In Action, he shrunk the Super Family, but they still work to help Braniac’s hostages try to get free. Then, at the end, we get the heel turn from Lobo and a battle between him and Superman. By the end of the main title, Braniac succeeded in raising his queen and leaves us with a hell of a cliffhanger. Can’t wait for next month.

The Verdict

Overall, I enjoyed DC Comics June 2024. Even with the misstep in Catwoman, IMO, and the slow play of Wonder Woman, Action Comics and Superman more than make up for it. I also hope that more books come next month since I’ll have more time to read and review them.

Check out the mothership for more.

Spawniverse June 2024

Introduction

Last month, we eschewed all other comics to celebrate the end of an era with TMNT #150. Well, the universe paid me back this month by sending only two comics from outside of the major publishers. Therefore, Spawniverse June 2024 may feel slightly underwhelming. From the looks of it, we’ll be back next month with more books. If I knew how to market better, I might say something like, “twice as many books!” which sounds impressive until you realize that two times two is four.

Gunslinger #31

Writer: Uncle Todd, Artist: Carlo Barberi. A few issues ago, Uncle Todd and company blew up the Spawniverse. Not literally, that took place in issue 300 and 301. But, they took away all of the powers of any demon, angel, and hellspawn. And, since then, at least in Gunslinger, he took the opportunity to reintroduce the character. Kind of strange only 30 issues in, but when you commit to only soft reboots, you find yourself in strange situations sometimes. Javi tells the story of his sister to a woman and then finds himself at the mercy of a medicine man who gives him a piece of his mind. As always, Barberi’s work is impeccable. I, for one, am glad that Uncle Todd spawned (pun totally intended) many artists with his style. The book doesn’t feel the same without that Uncle Todd touch. My verdict: Good.

Spawn #353

Writer: Rory McConnville (with Uncle Todd on additional script, Artist: Brett Booth. This title, similarly, spent some time in this issue reviewing the after effects of the war on hell. It also brings to light a new character and implies that character might have a deeper connection to the overall story. Perhaps I’m reading too much into it, but I feel like we’ve seen this person before in some capacity. Brett Booth, too, gives the Spawn look with his own subtle touches. Both of these books are in good hands right now. My verdict: Good.

The Verdict

It surprised me that only two books from Spawniverse June 2024 came in the shipment. But, you take the good with the bad when it comes to these titles. Decent to good stories and, usually, great artwork. But, with that comes delays. Like I say, next month looks to be back to normal.

Images taken from the mothership.