Tag Archives: Reviews

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.

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.

Fallout Episode 2: The Target

Introduction

As mentioned previously, the new show inspired me to plan a week of Fallout as a celebration. However, as it often does, my ambition grew. I now plan to celebrate Fallout for an entire month in June. It fits nicely between Mario in May and Deadpool Kills 2 Generations Gaming in July. As an indirect result, I plan to cover one episode a week in depth. This time, Fallout episode 2.

Plot Summary and Analysis

Click here for the plot summary.

With some of the background and introduction of new characters behind us, this episode hits the ground running. One of the things I love most about modern Fallout games is the NPCs. You meet such a wide variety of kooks and weirdos on your journey across the Wasteland. Some of them, somehow, retain their humanity (and I’m not just talking about the ghouls).

This episode gives you that feel of the games. When Lucy goes into the house through the window and find the family around the table with the cyanide and tea, I saw myself in the game, frantically searching the cabinets and drawers for any supplies that somehow escaped the post war looting. Then, she stumbles upon the water farmer and one of the lessons of the Wasteland is revealed. Always approach strangers with your gun pulled. Don’t necessarily shoot first, but definitely draw first.

Likewise, Maximus stumbles upon a “not what it seems” scenario and, like many of us, has no idea how to process what he just heard. Where the episode really makes strides, though, is in Filly. All of the principals are there. The sequence where the ghoul lays waste to the entire town in record time reminded me more of Red Dead Redemption than Fallout, but it was still a heck of a sequence. Also, the shootings remind me very much of VATS from the games.

They make good use of several plot devices in this one. They introduce us to a new plot surrounding Lucy, Moldaver, her dad, and whatever is in Wilzig’s head. Wilzig drops another bomb and gives us a cliffhanger to get us to the next few episodes when he says Lucy’s name. I like their choice to follow up the first expository episode with one more action oriented.

Character Profiles

Wilzig and CX404: I’m bummed that they killed Wilzig so early in the season. I like his character a lot. His quiet demeanor with an edge of harsh truth reminds me very much of me. But, with the liberal use of flashbacks and other recall narratives, I have a feeling we haven’t seen the last of him. CX404’s fierce loyalty to anyone willing to show him some love warms me. You just can’t beat unconditional love like that.

Lucy: Lucy grows up a little bit in the Wasteland. She recognizes that nearly everything can pose a threat by the time she gets to the farmers house. She still falls into old habits, though, when confronting the ghoul and gives him a speech that, under many circumstances, probably never would have ended because he’d put a bullet between her eyes. But, she’s a main character, so I know she can’t die.

Maximus: Max, too, still believes in right and wrong. He judges Titus through that lens and finds him lacking. Then, when he ends up in Filly, he finds out that the armor doesn’t mean shit if you don’t know how to use it and the other person doesn’t just cower before you. He holds his own against The Ghoul, but then his opponent eventually finds a weakness and exploits it mercilessly.

The Ghoul: The Ghoul, likewise, gets some more dimension. He spares Lucy (possibly underestimating her a bit) and heals the dog after it is left for dead by the other party. They get the antihero right where a lot of other writers don’t. Yes, he’s possibly an immoral killer. But, you can argue that’s a byproduct of his ghoulification and surroundings. Underneath that is a good man screwed over by life and the world. And, they are the most dangerous of all.

World Building and Setting

When they set the first episode mainly in a vault, they made the vault look very much like one from the game. Now that they moved out into the Wasteland, it would be easy to get away from that and make it a little more generic dystopian hellscape. Not so. As I already said, the house that Lucy finds looks very much like a house from the game. And the placement of the family that took their cyanide pills is a nice touch that immerses you even more in the horrors of the bomb.

Being less of a Fallout fan than some of you, Filly reminded me of Megaton. I’ve only played Fallout 3 with any sort of regularity. So, that’s the only reference I have. But, the haphazardly thrown together bits from a post apocalyptic world to protect your town from the horrors outside looked like anything I’ve seen in game, too. When they set out to make this show, they did their work.

In the last article, I wondered about the blown up cars that you often see when you’re making your way through the Wasteland. Well, they didn’t disappoint in this episode and gave me an entire graveyard outside of Filly. I know I sound like a broken record, but it’s those little touches that make the show enjoyable to watch.

Themes and Social Commentary

Less of this in Fallout Episode 2. But, they give us a chance to think about morality in several of the situations. Most notably, Maximus’s decision to let Titus die because he feels that the knight doesn’t adhere properly to the Brotherhood’s code. Titus, for what it’s worth, also has a point that the Brotherhood sends them out, possibly to die. And for what? A damn toaster oven? All of that crap about making the Wasteland a better place for all and they’re basically post apocalyptic pirates plundering the left over technology from already desperate people.

Also, WIlzig’s speech to Lucy resonated with me. He builds on what started as a joke. By telling her that she needs to adapt to her surroundings like the roaches did, he also warns her against letting the Wasteland change her too much. Like I wrote up above, she grows some, but holds true to herself and her principles when dealing with the ghoul.

Contrast that with The Ghoul. As I already wrote, he allowed what happened to him to change him on a fundamental level. He still retains some of his humanity, but it is buried much deeper and only surfaces momentarily when he helps the dog. I think that is important. Change is difficult and scary. It is also sometimes necessary. But, you have to be sure not to let the change affect who you are fundamentally as a person.

Narrative Structure, Pacing, and Soundtrack

Fallout Episode 2 lays off of the old timey music some. It’s still there and it still fits each scene very well. I think they took a look at the first episode’s music budget and said, “We need to cut some of this if we hope to get it to eight episodes.” Even so, they used stock “atmospheric” music in ways to drive the narrative forward.

I wrote in my previous article that I never felt bored at any time. While true, that episode focused mostly on character development. This episode moved much faster than that one. Because they focused on action and driving the plot forward, I liked this episode even more. It makes me want to watch even more. That’s just good storytelling and they accomplished their goal.

The Verdict

Last episode they set the characters and gave some background on them. In Fallout Episode 2, they brought them all together in explosive fashion. Like I just wrote, I want to watch even more now. I can’t wait until later on this week or early next week to sit down and watch the next one. Join me in the Wasteland.

Fallout Episode 1: The End

Introduction

I considered doing a week of Fallout to celebrate the release of the new television show. Instead, I came up with a better idea. I can still celebrate Fallout for a week with one episode per day. Furthermore, look forward to an entire month of Fallout content in June. I’m still trying to figure out names for the month, but I intend to play through each of the games and take a closer look at the tabletop RPG I ordered a few years ago. For now, let’s talk about Fallout Episode 1.

Plot Summary and Analysis

Click here for the plot summary.

If you ever played any of the Fallout games, little about the plot surprises you. If you never played any of the Fallout games, now you know what to expect when you sit down to play them. The United States and, presumably, the world fell in a massive nuclear conflict. Some residents took up, well, residence in vaults designed to shield them from the dangers of radiation and anything that radiation might have unleashed on the surface.

Inevitably, something happens in the vault that propels one of the dwellers out into that harsh over world environment. They learn that not much changed in the intervening years and people are still people, for better and worse. Mostly worse. Faced with limited resources made even more so by the bombs, it quickly became a race to hoard all of the resources you can.

One faction, in particular, got very good at hoarding those resources. The Brotherhood of Steel, self proclaimed sheriffs and technology gurus of the Wasteland, harness that power into making themselves stronger, faster, and meaner than almost anything in that Wasteland. “Flesh is weak. But steel endures.” If you don’t find yourself having a little nerdgasm the first time you see the armor, this series isn’t for you.

The radiation also created a new species of human through prolonged exposure and mutation. If you’re like me and have too much exposure to zombie fiction, you might mistake these creatures for zombies. But, their appearance is due to the effects of the radiation and not death and decay. The first time I encountered one without the benefit of a wiki, I said, “a talking zombie!”

To be fair, I can be forgiven for the mistake, right?

Character Profiles

Lucy: Lucy lived her entire life in Vault 33. Life appears to be idyllic in the vault. Sure, the gene pool is a bit shallow and, as a result, they must submit applications for marriage to someone from another vault. This happens every 3 years. This time, Lucy gets chosen for the honor. That union goes horribly wrong, many people die, and Lucy’s father is abducted. Remember when I said “inevitably, something propels one of the dwellers” out of the vault? Well, here’s your inevitable something. Lucy’s story in this episode ends just as she sets out into the Wasteland after her father. Based on how she handled herself during the attack, I think she’ll do okay out there.

Maximus: I mention the Brotherhood of Steel above because we get immediate introduction to the group. An orphaned young man taken in by the knights grows up in their care. He feels slighted when a fellow soldier is chosen over him to be a squire and that drives much of his story. While they steer you to believe that Max then sabotaged his peer as a result, I don’t buy it. Sure, the act leads to Maximus taking Dane’s place, but it’s too obvious. Maybe that’s what they want us to think. Stay tuned to see if I’m right.

The Ghoul: Our last main character gets the least amount of screen time. Arguably, though, he gets the best introduction. A familiar face, twisted and deformed by time and radiation, absolutely annihilates a trio of wannabe buckaroos in record time. He then sets out on his own, presumably to get revenge on his tormentor. Maybe he will follow up on the bounty mentioned by his liberators. There’s also the question of his family. Were they ghoulified, too? I mean, cowpokes, right? They take them as they come.

World Building and Setting

Vault 33 from Fallout Episode 1

In the games, the Wasteland is almost a character in and of itself. As you traverse the land, the games drop subtle little bread crumbs that identify it as post nuclear war America. In this first episode, you get almost none of that. With much of Fallout Episode 1 taking place in Vault 33, there’s not much of a chance to show off the Wasteland.

I respect that decision. It follows the vibe of the games. You spend a good part of the games in your vault. Ostensibly, this takes the place of the tutorial that modern games offer. In any case, they did a good job of replicating the look and feel of being in a vault. Then, they captured the feeling of exiting that vault, complete with the blinding white light to add to the feeling of suspense.

The Wasteland looked familiar in that it appears to be a wasteland. Skeletons and bodies frozen by the nuclear blasts dot the landscape of bombed out buildings. One thing that I may have missed is that the games often show the old style cars among the wreckage. Maybe they saved that for the next episode.

Themes and Social Commentary

Liam and I talked the other day about Portal 2. It happens more often than you think. I said to him, inspired by the show, “You know what? You might like the Fallout series. They have a lot of the same humor as Portal. But, the games are ridiculously long, especially the new ones.” That humor only shows up a couple of times in this episode. But, because of that, it hits a little harder.

They do touch on some of the overarching themes of the series. The first theme comes up during the party. Mom tries to push aside all mention of any potential conflict. As she does, the bombs drop. I can’t say what the appropriate reaction is in such a situation. However, ever since dropping social media, I can confidently say that ignorance is absolutely bliss. If the bombs drop over the next few years, then I will die a happy man.

Then, the theme that things aren’t always what they seem. When Norm wanders into Vault 32 to see that the crops died a while ago and also notices a mummified corpse, you realize that there’s been some bad mojo going on there for a while. The lesson here, as always. Trust no one.

I know that’s X-Files. But, it applies here, too.

Narrative Structure, Pacing, and Soundtrack

Fallout Episode 1 moves briskly. As I mentioned, the episode clocks in at over 70 minutes. But, I never felt bored at any time. Sometimes, with longer shows, I find myself counting down the time to the end. That never happened here. By switching between the three stories, they switch up the pacing and that keeps things moving.

Throughout the episode, they reveal things that bring up questions that I hope they will answer later in the season. So far, none of them feel big enough as a hold over to a season 2 (which I know has been greenlit), so they definitely need to wrap them up by the end of this season. Furthermore, I need to keep watching because each one of those questions feels important and necessary to me.

The thing that struck me most about the episode is that music. They chose the old timey music that the series is famous for. Moreover, every song matched the scene exactly. The music director for this series is an absolute genius and deserves and Emmy for their work in this episode alone. If they keep it up, then just hand them the statue.

The Verdict

An impressive first episode of a show that easily could have been very bad. I’ve seen some reviews where people shit on the show. Ignore them. Also, the inevitable bros with their cries of “WOKE!” popped up in response. Ignore them. Fallout episode 1 made me feel like I was playing the games and, for that, I salute them.

April 2024 Independent Comics I Love

Introduction

A few month ago, you might question the title of this series. And, honestly, you’d be right to do so. Before last month, the Spawniverse languished in mediocrity (at best) and I wondered how, or even if, Uncle Todd could pull it together. They just felt too crunched by all of the books. Honestly, it started to feel like the early days of Image with the missed deadlines and misprints. But, hopefully the upturn in quality from last month continues into April 2024 Independent comics.

Gunslinger Spawn 30

Plot/Script: Uncle Todd, Art: Carlo Barberi. in my opinion, Gunslinger suffered the most from the drop off in quality. Chris told me how much he liked the title, maybe even more than the main title. I listened to his advice and, honestly, it’s why I filled in the back issues of the other titles. Then, things started to slip and I started to lose faith. Last month brought back much of what made the title fun. Now, before I give away what I thought of this month’s issue, let me just say how much I love that cover. It brings back old school vibes in a good way. So does the story and art of this issue. A bit of a filler issue, but well done overall. My verdict: Great

King Spawn 32

Script/Plot: Uncle Todd, Art: Javi Fernandez. This book only registered with me because they revisited one of my favorite Spawn stories of the last decade, Dark Horror. So, it barely made that much of a difference to me when the quality started to decline. It always just felt like the main title’s little brother. But, I appreciate their commitment to making all of the titles better and I really enjoy the current story revolving around Al and reckoning with being mortal again. My verdict: Good.

Scorched 27

Script/Plot: John Layman with Uncle Todd on additional script, Art: Stephen Segovia. I questioned the change in tone from single hero titles to a team for this book. Eventually, it won me over and became my favorit book in the Spawniverse. Like the others, it lost some of that edge and, frankly, it bummed me out. But, with this new attempt at bringing the titles back to a higher standard, they hired John Layman to write this one. ‘Nuff said. My verdict: Good, but Layman’s still in the early phases. I expect this one to hit great sooner rather than later.

Spawn 351

Script/Plot: Rory McConville with Uncle Todd on additional script, Art: Brett Booth. I stayed with this title in spite of the fact that I wanted nothing to do with the Heaven/Hell war storyline. Then, at some point, that shifted and I started to like the story a lot. They delivered with the big finish last issue and now start to rebuild in that aftermath. I like where they’re headed and give them the benefit of the doubt. My verdict: Good.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 149

Story: Sophie Campbell with Kevin Eastman on consulting, Art: Vincenzo Federici. I make no secret that this is my favorite book since starting to collect it during The Armageddon Game. I feared a drop off (also no secret) after that story wrapped. Granted, there was a lull, but they needed to take a few episodes off before ramping back up to the big 1-5-0. Rarely does a writer click on a title like this. But, Kevin Eastman clearly cares about his heroes in a half shell so much to put them in the capable hands of Sophie Campbell. I can’t wait to see what they have in store next. My verdict: Great

The Verdict

April 2024 independent comics continues the upward trend set last month. Granted, they fell quite a bit, so an upswing was imminent. But, I’m glad to see that Uncle Todd continues the “new direction” of his titles and they’re not just a one off. Sometimes, you just need to shake things up. Unless you’re TMNT. Don’t change a damn thing.

Spawniverse on Image. TMNT with IDW.

Marvel Snap April 2024: Zeroes to Heroes

Introduction

True to my word, I played almost no Marvel Snap during the Avengers season. I cared nothing about the cards or characters. I couldn’t even muster the ability to care enough about the Conquest variant to play for that. Instead, I saved my money. I’m glad I did because Marvel Snap April 2024 season revolves around one of my favorite groups, The Thunderbolts. Sure, the lineup is from the MCU and I prefer the Green Goblin led team, but I’ll take what I can get from all this cross promotion.

New Locations

Thunderbolts Tower looks liked a placeholder from datamining. Yeah, upon further research, it is -2 power after turn 5. If you’re playing some kind of junk, this could be a fun location to play. Otherwise, I will mostly just play around the debuff. Castle Zemo also favors junk, so maybe they’re trying to push that archetype this time around.

New Characters

Screenshot-2024-04-01-173525

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All of these cards look like tons of fun. I think my favorites are Valentina and USAgent. Many of the 6 drops are fairly high power with some upside, so getting one of them in play 2 turns early with some draw back looks good to me. And, USAgent punishes big decks, though I admit that I haven’t seen a ton of them. Maybe the meta got big again with the latest season. Who knows? Zemo gives you card advantage and the possibility of a combo breaker. Red Hulk can be a surprise drop against a Sunspot type deck. White Widow forces the opponent (if they care) to one zone for a couple of turns, so that’s nice. And, I haven’t quite figured out how to use Red Guardian just yet, but he can zap a Nightcrawler and freeze him in a location.

The Verdict

I already know that I plan to get the Battle Pass for Marvel Snap April 2024. The cards are fun. The locations are fine. And, I admit to actually missing “war with added features” from my daily rotation. I’ll see you out there, fellow SNAPers!

Cards taken from Marvel Snap Zone.

DC Comics March 2024

Introduction

I wrote earlier in the week that the Spawniverse and TMNT delivered probably some of the best issues that I’ve read in months. I mean, TMNT continues to be one of my favorite comics since I started collecting during Armageddon game. The Spawniverse, though, varied wildly in both content and quality. Okay, what does this all have to do with DC Comics March 2024?

Well, I graded all of the comics either “Good” or “Great”. And, honestly, the ones that I put in the “Good” column mostly just as a nit pick. I guess what I’m saying is that comics are in a really good spot right now. It’s just too bad that they’re a dying medium and won’t be around in a couple of months. Hey, I have to repeat it every so often, or it might actually happen.

Good

Jason Aaron accomplished something no other writer ever has. He not only made me care about Bizarro, but he actually wrote a Bizarro story that I enjoy. The nit pick here is, it’s Bizarro. I can’t put him in “Great” territory. Ram V and Tom King are both on my “can’t miss” list. I like everything that they right. However, I haven’t quite accepted King as a Wonder Woman writer yet. And, Ram takes some chances in Detective that I respect. They haven’t quite paid off 100%, though. Finally, Simon Spurrier writes a good Flash story, but I still like Williamson better.

Great

Writer: Chip Zdarsky, Art: Guiseppe Camuncoli
Writer: Tini Howard, Art: Carmine di Giandomenico
Writer: Joshua Williamson, Art: David Baldeon

I’ve been waiting for Zdarsky to take off on the Batman title. He came close a couple of times before. This story, though (Joker Year One) rises almost to the level of Tom King Batman. Regular readers of the page (both of you!) know what high praise that is from me. Tini Howard, likewise, took what I enjoyed about the Joelle Jones Catwoman and expanded on it with the Nine Lives story. Last, but not least, Joshua Williamson showed that he’s not a one hit wonder by making me look forward to the Superman issues every month. Bravo to all of you.

The Verdict

Maybe I’m getting soft in my old age. Then again, I keep talking about how impatient I am in Noob’s Book Club. Who knows? In any case, I liked DC Comics March 2024. Along with the Spawniverse and TMNT titles, I enjoyed reading comics this month more than any time over the last year probably. Hopefully Marvel keeps it up. Come back Friday to find out.

Head on over to the mothership for more comics.

February 2024 Marvel Comics

Introduction

The end of the week got busy. We went to the Botanical Garden with Mom and then I drove her back to the train station. We spent yesterday painting the front room and dining room. And, so, in true 2 Generations Gaming fashion, February 2024 Marvel Comics article comes two days too late. Such is life. I also have no plans for the coming week as far as articles, so the page might go slightly dormant. I do have notes finally for the next episode of Noob’s Book Club, so maybe I will take this week to get back in the habit with that and the YouTube page.

Incomplete (Spider-Man Gang War)

Previously in these articles, I said I was out on Spider-Man until Wells stopped writing it. Seriously, I hated his stories that much. But, I heard good things about Gang War. I was willing to give it a chance, but my hiatus from DCBS ordering put a 3 issue hole in the run, so it will have to wait until I can make it down to That’s Entertainment or order from Midtown.

Decent (Cap and Punisher)

I want to enjoy J. Michael Stracynski’s Captain America. I loved his Spider-Man. So far, though, I want more from this Captain America story. I liked the start of it, but the set up is now going on too long. He writes so much. I think I’m just getting more impatient in old age. Speaking of old age, it hasn’t been kind to my opinion of The Punisher.

Good (Some bordering on great, others hurt by their art)

The Immortal Thor 6

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Writer: Al Ewing, Artist Martin Coccolo

The Avengers is one of the titles that oscillates between good and great. This one sets up for a new story, which looks like it might be great, but we have to wait to see. I never got into the previous Black Panther story, but I like what Ewing has done with the character and story. This one might push up into great soon. I loved Al Ewing on Immortal Hulk and I think this one might eventually get there, too. For now, I will just say that I liked the vibe of this issue and hope it continues. Speaking of Al Ewing, they are trying to keep the horror theme of his Hulk. PKJ isn’t quite on his level. And, the art is just not great. Gronbekk is making me enjoy Venom again. She writes the title with some joy and that is infectious.

Great (Where’s She Hulk?!)

Writer: Ryan North with various artists
Writers: Collin Kelly and Jackson Lanzing, Artist: Kev Walker

Without She-Hulk for some reason this month, only these two stand up as outstanding stories right now. Fantastic Four just brings that old school flavor from the beginnings of the title. Fun, fresh, and (dare I say it) fantastic! It looks like they want to capture a similar theme for the movie, so now I can’t wait to see that. The Grootfall story took some time to grow on me, but overall Guardians of the Galaxy also reminds me of the family that I know and love.

The Verdict

The February 2024 Marvel Comics line up, overall, was enjoyable. I want to read Spider-Man, because I miss the friendly neighborhood wall crawler. I also still need to catch up on X-Men so I can start reviewing that one. Then again, I read something like a dozen books, so do I really need more right now? In any case, see you in March!

MTGMKM Miscellany

Introduction

I dedicated this week to the new Magic the Gathering set. In spite of the fact that I told Chris that I no longer wanted to collect cards and went so far as to not order any bundles in Arena, I still like the game and found some cards to enjoy in this set. Yesterday was busy, though, with play practice and swim, so MTGMKM miscellany comes a day late.

Usually in this article, I cover multi colored, colorless, and any lands that capture my imagination. Often, I don’t care much about things like fetches and the sort, so the lands section doesn’t exist. This set, however, brings us an old standard in lands with a new twist.

Surveil Lands

We have tap lands that grant life. We have ones that allow you to scry. They even created lands that come in tapped depending on how many lands you already have on the battle field. Well, this iteration of tap lands allows you to surveil. You can read the card above for an explanation of surveil. While I don’t know how much it will affect competitive decks, graveyard strategies absolutely get a boost from these and I’d probably run them over the scry lands. Plus, they’re basics, so you can fetch.

MTGMKM Mult Colored Honorable Mention (Another Wrath and Two Funny Names)

Private Eye

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I saw an article recently where someone wrote about the sheer number of wrath spells in standard Magic. One of the prominent and well known players put together a deck with only wrath spells and ended up performing pretty well overall in the meta. I just like the flexibility of this one. How can you not love an “X” cost spell that both targets “X” and creates “X”? Finally, people got big mad when WotC announced the change to typal, but it allows for broader definitions like “detective”. Maybe, even though resources are limited, I will try to build a “detective” typal deck.

MTGMKM Card I Love (A New Leyline)

Leylines came out in Guildpact and then fleshed out more over the years. I rarely play any of them, but my latest elf deck has abundance in for the extra mana provided. Initially, I thought nothing of this card, but then I read an article that talked about how much fun it made mono green devotion. That gave me a reason to either craft or try to pull it in Arena. Besides, the dual mana cost provides such amazing utility, too. Just a super fun card overall.

MTGMKM Artifact Honorable Mention (A Puzzle, A Land, and Policing Fun, of course)

Cryptex

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I think I wrote up above about colorless being part of MTGMKM miscellany. However, there aren’t many colorless cards in the deck, so I called and audible and went with artifact instead. I just like the idea of the Cryptex. It provides mana and potential card draw. The Wall lets me frustrate big giant creatures, one of my favorite past times in game. And, the land just gives you another potential card draw source along with flexible mana.

MTGMKM Artifact Card I Love

I actually got to play this card during their introductory event on Arena. It is a super annoying card that with the right build can just annihilate people fairly quickly. Now that I’ve said that, the universe will see fit to pair me with every other person who had the same idea in Arena. They will draw the nuts and show me just how right I am.

The Verdict

MTGMKM miscellany is hella fun. I can see myself playing every card that I picked and several others look interesting as well. I especially want to build the mono green deck in Arena and see how that performs. See you all in Pioneer!

Images taken from Mythic Spoiler.