Let’s hear it for peer pressure. After Watson, myself, and a podcast listener told them so, the crew of Gabbing Geek will be reviewing Close Encounters of the Third Kind.
In light of people giving and getting recommendations, here’s my recommendations for reading, watching, and playing.
Watson recommended Astro City as a good comics series. I can easily go along with this since Kurt Busiek manages to distill everything that makes superhero comics cool and condenses them into sweet stories that fill in the blanks of what it’s like to live in those worlds and the awe and wonder that goes along with it, often on a very human level.
I’m going to recommend Planetary by Warren Ellis and John Cassaday because it is basically the bizzaro version of Astro City. A group of superhuman archeologists explore the world, seeing how weird and wonderful it is, all the while battling an opposing organization that would stifle human development. Most issues feature funhouse mirror versions of recognizable characters, and the goal isn’t a love of all things superhero, like with Astro City, but for the world of pulp writing, of which superhero comics are a small part. Though set in the Wildstorm universe, aside from an occasional reference to the Authority, plus one crossover special issue, this series was a standalone 26 issues and then done.
Oh, one small thing I will reveal…that opposing group were basically the Fantastic Four, if Reed Richards and company were Nazi war criminals instead of scientists and explorers. Ellis never cared much for superheroes, and it shows sometimes, but it is still an awesome read that holds up pretty well. Cassaday’s fantastic artwork helps a great deal, with his redesigns of many classic characters, not all of whom came from comics.
I considered making the movie/TV recommendation for Army of Darkness, which also should have been Ryan’s pick knowing who his co-hosts are. Then I considered the great BBC America sci-fi series Orphan Black. Jenny at least should see that one since the major theme seems to be feminine agency. But really, the one show I miss the most since I cut my cable is the FX drama Justified. Justified, now in its final season, is based on the writing of Elmore Leonard, crime novelist where the crimes are often secondary to colorful characters having fun conversations. Justified is about U.S. Marshall Raylan Givens sent as a punishment to his home state of Kentucky, where he has to deal with the lowlife criminals of the town he grew up in, including his no-good father. Did I mention Raylan’s being punished? Good reason for it. He shot a guy in Miami who didn’t get out of town within 24 hours. Raylan seems to think it’s still the Wild West, lives by his own code, and is that rare corrupt cop who’s not corrupted by money. He’s been corrupted by his badge.
As fitting a Leonard influence, episodes are often full of clever conversations, clever plots, and unexpected twists. It may be the closest to a modern-day Western on the air right now.
Truth be told, I’ve only played Arkham Horror once, but it was a hell of a game. Players play as a team against the board. The game’s object is to prevent one of H.P. Lovecraft’s Elder Gods from coming to Earth and, well, eating everybody or something. Each player takes a different persona with a different role, and winning is VERY difficult. The friends I played with were amazed we won. Mostly it came down to lucky dice throws. I got this game for myself recently and my wife and I’s game group are fairly keen to get to it at some point. When that happens, expect another board game review.
OK, what did I learn today? Not much. I already knew about all this stuff.