Archive for May, 2014

Batman Revealed, X-Box One Price Drop, and No More Gold Required

Wowzer, today is just full of news and exciting stuff, huh?

First off, and in my opinion most geek-tastic, Zach Snyder gave the world its first look at Ben Affleck in the Batman suit for 2016’s Batman/Superman film.

You can read about that and see the released photo over at Forbes.

But for here, let’s take a look at the lightened version from instead!

Best Batman Suit Ever?

The costume definitely has the shorter ears as suggested by earlier rumor that there would be a Batman:Noel influence as well as looking like there’s some influence from Frank Miller’s Dark Knight Returns (which has some influence on the film itself, supposedly).

I’m really digging the texture of the suit having a bit of a kevlar armor look and actually looking more like a fabric than some molded rubber or armor plating.  Honestly, I see some influence from another Batman source in there myself.

Because why not take a bit from THE BEST Batman games ever?


We also get a look at the new Batmobile there, which looks a bit like a mix of the Nolan-verse tumbler and the more classic Batmobile designs from the years, bit of the Burton/Animated Series influence perhaps.

Now, the Snyder/Affleck suit isn’t 100% perfect in every way. I’d like to be able to tell there’s some darker black to the bat symbol on top of the gray suit and I’m hoping there’s some yellow on the belt like the Arkham design above, but this is a black and white image, so we just have to wait for now to see the fully unveiled color shot of the suit.

Your feelings on Affleck as Batman aside, you have to admit, this is a pretty sweet Batman costume and definitely not something we’ve seen on film before (just like Kevin Smith said).

Now, switching gears to gaming news…


They said it was impossible! They said it couldn’t be done! They said it was integral and necessary to the entire experience and you would be a raving lunatic to go without it!

And then, just about 6-7 months afterwards, Microsoft is reversing that decision, just like almost everything else they said about X-Box One last year.  That’s right, come this summer, you’ll be able to snag an X-Box One for $100 less than early adopters by forgoing the inclusion of a Kinect if you don’t want it.  Titanfall wasn’t quite enough to help Microsoft catch up to Sony as the PS4 is still about 3 million units ahead of X-Box One in sales, so this price drop is a definite way for them to try and get back into the race for some stronger competition.

Microsoft also announced a change to their X-Box Gold subscription, in that it will no longer be required to access applications for streaming services (because all these years, it totally made sense to require a subscription to access your subscription over the Internet, which you basically pay a subscription for…).

It’s good timing for Microsoft to announce this before E3, putting on-the-fence gamers in a mindset to keep an eye on X-Box reveals and news at the conference with a lower console price point to tackle.  However, you can bet Sony will be planning some big reveals to follow up on the massively successful PS4 launch last year.  Personally, this is all Microsoft playing catch up.  I’m more interested in seeing exactly what Sony and Playstation 4 have in store for Project Morpheus.

TMNT IV: Turtles in Time

Here it is, the TMNT game that sets the bar for all TMNT games, in my opinion even to this day.  Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles IV: Turtles in Time for the Super Nintendo.

‘Nuff said


The game still incorporates the basic graphical look of the TMNT Arcade game (Turtles in Time was also an arcade game itself), but this was the first time those graphics translated accurately to a home console game.  The graphics hold up pretty well today and the animations are smooth.  The hit detection is spot on and the different abilities are just fun.

Totally tubular, dude.

You have essentially two buttons – jump & attack – but you can do a diving jump kick, a jumping kick that takes you across the screen, an upwards kick, a special attack, running shoulder block, or a running somersault into a sliding kick.  You can also stun the enemies and slam them back and forth on the floor or throw them at the screen.  When enemies are in front of you, you attack like normal but if they’re behind you, you can attack with a rear attack as well.

This is one of the most interesting fights in the game

The turtles aren’t too terribly different so you can really choose who you want, but there’s a bit of difference between them. Donatello has the longest reach, of course while Raph has the shortest but Raph certainly attacks fastest.  Mike has a good speed, though his first attack is slow. Leo is the, of course, the most rounded as he tends to be made for the games.  I had difficulty managing with Michelangelo’s play style when I revisited the game and I liked Raph a lot, though I felt his animations had some weirdness to them (his head looks really big sometimes).  Leo was the one I managed best with.  The game is much easier, or at least more approachable, than previous entries largely because you’ve got unlimited continues.  To balance that a bit, you do have to beat the game on the hard difficulty to get the actual ending.

The game is honestly a lot of fun and being able to keep at the levels that beat you make it fun enough to stick with it and keep trying. At the same time, the enemies can get positioned around you to make it tough to get away, though taking out a number of enemies left and right does give you a real “bad ass ninja” feel as you fight your way through them with your favorite ninja turtle.

TMNT: Turtles in Time proved popular enough that it warranted a re-vamped release on the PS3 and X-Box 360, called “Re-Shelled.”  The graphics were updated to a new style and though the game had luke-warm reception, the face that it was remade at all is proof of the popularity of the game over the years.

Seems to be more aligned with the 2k3 cartoon style

While I will admit, I’ve never had the opportunity to play TMNT: The Hyperstone Heist on Sega Genesis, as it currently stands I have to give Turtles in Time the reigning championship as the best turtles game on consoles to date.  It only takes about 30 minutes to beat on normal, though again, you need to go for hard if you want the real ending!

NES TMNT “Trilogy”

While the world was going crazy for four mutated turtles trained in ninjutsu, plenty of merchandise came out to whet the endless appetite.  Among that merchandise were three separate games for the Nintendo Entertainment System.  They don’t really connect to each other and only the second two share play styles, but they were still released as TMNT, TMNT II, and TMNT III.


The first game was a bit of an odd game in a way.  It was divided into two game types, or one could perhaps argue three game types.  You start off with an overhead view of the game, traversing the map of the city while avoiding Foot vehicles that can crush your turtle in one hit.  I like to think of them as steamrollers.  On this map there are also foot soldiers who can be defeated with a single hit from the turtle of your choice.  You have access to all four of the brothers: Leonardo, Donatello, Michaelangelo, and Raphael by just pressing start and selecting your turtle, then returning to the game.  This arguably lets you avoid dying by switching to a turtle, but there’s a downside to needing to do that…more on that in a moment.  As you traverse the city map, you’re able to enter different buildings or open manholes which takes you into a side-scrolling level where you fight through enemies and get from one location to another, fight mini-bosses, reach your objective (and boss), or possibly just find secondary weapons, items, life replenishing pizza, or rescue a captured turtle if you’ve “died” with one of them.

The problem with much of the game is that Donatello is practically the only turtle you have any business choosing.  He has arguably 2-4 times longer reach with his bo and on top of that he has the most powerful attack.  Leonardo has the second strongest attack, but the reach is still more limited.  Michaelangelo has even shorter reach and can’t attack downward and finally Raphael can’t attack downward, has essentially no reach at all, and is the weakest attacker.  With Raph and Mike being essentially useless, you’re crazy (or hardcore) to choose them over Leo or Don and even Leo is a bit crazier to choose than Don.  Though there are those with videos on YouTube who speedrun through the game without taking almost any damage as Leo.  Granted, using some characters in areas to allow yourself to get damaged and save your heavy hitters for later can make sense.

Do you play as your favorite, or the one the game encourages?

And if you do get hurt, what’s the solution?  Pizza.  Unfortunately, many times you’ll have to fight through enemies to get to that pizza, replenish your health, then….fight through all the enemies that have reappeared (and sometimes different sets have appeared) resulting in taking so much damage you’re back where you started or worse than you went in.

The third game type is just the second level. It’s still a side scroller more or less, but you swim around a maze-like level avoiding rotating bars (similar to Super Mario rotating fireballs) and electric seaweed to disarm some bombs. And you have about 2 minutes to do it.

The game doesn’t have the best register of hits and sometimes it feels like you need to be able to strike faster than your character is able to (unless you’re Raph, in which case you can attack faster, but you need four times the hits so you’re still going to get hit).  Unfortunately if you back up to buy yourself more space to attack without getting hit….the enemy you’re fighting will be there again when you move forward again.

There are six areas you play through and I don’t believe I ever got further than level 4 and even that was only once.  I think I got to the giant mouser, but no further. A friend’s brother got to Shredder within the Technodrome once as we watched when we were kids, though.  Part of the challenge of the game, growing up, was a lack of Internet guiding us where to go. By exploring different buildings without knowing where to you, you whittled yourself down as you lost turtles one by one until game over and you had 2 continues available total.

It’s a classic NES game….hard.  Very challenging, but with a good walkthrough and a bit of studying what to do, there are videos online of people completing the game in 30 minutes or so, so it is possible.  Your reward isn’t too great, though, other than “saving the world” and turning Splinter human again (who looks more like a beardless Chuck Norris more than a Hamato Yoshi).


The second game released on Nintendo was an import of the truly classic TMNT Arcade Game, which consumed many a quarter in the 90s.

As well it should, for it was awesome.


For porting down to the 8-bit NES, the game is a decent translation of the game.

Too bad you’re limited to 2 players, though…

The game is entirely a side scroller beat-em-up.  It’s challenging enough with 2 extra lives and 2 continues along with an extra life earned every 200 points.  Unlike some beat-em-up games, when you hit an enemy, you can’t follow up with a few more attacks by mashing buttons.  The enemies seem to counter attack and you can trade blows back and forth, but you’ll burn you health bars quickly that way.  There’s a little bit of frustration with some of the enemies as you can sometimes jump kick them just fine, other times they’ll punch as your in mid-kick and be sent flying back.  Sometimes an enemy strike will just hit you, other times it will throw you back.  Don’t expect to finish the game on a full play through your first time picking it up, or even your first time returning to it if you were a TMNT II Ninja Master back in the day.  The game is arguably a bit easier on 2 player, and after all, this is a game that just cries out to be shared with a friend.  Still, the NES game is a lot of fun and won’t cost you a quarter to play….though it would be nice if you weren’t limited on continues (but that would shorten the game’s life span at the time of release).

The one thing that did make me laugh a bit during my 30th Anniversary play of TMNT II on NES…. Splinter looks more like a corgi than a rat.  Unfortunately, I don’t have a screenshot of him, but definitely reminded me of a corgi.

Nicely, you can pretty much choose whichever turtle you favor and won’t be impacted like you are in the first turtles game for NES.  So grab your favorite turtle and get out there and save your friends, and the city, or even the world!

The third, and final, game on NES was an original game utilizing the same play style as the arcade game import.


Ironically, Triceratons are not in the game.

TMNT III: The Manhattan Project plays much like The Arcade Game, a side scrolling beat ’em up using the same graphics, but with a few new abilities.  All turtles remain mostly the same with no true benefit to one over the other, though they do each have their own unique signature move.  Leo does a standing spin hitting any enemies around him.  Raphael does a torpedo attack, shooting forward towards enemies.  Mike does a sort of reverse hand spring kick. And Don spins forward in the air and comes down smashing his bo.  The attacks don’t seem terribly strong, but they are a bit better than normal attacks and Raph’s seems the most useful. However, each use costs one health bar.  All turtles now also have the ability to throw the foot soldiers, which results in a 1 hit kill in most cases.  Unfortunately other enemies, like the Rock Soldiers aren’t affected by this.

You start with 3 lives and 3 continues, but III seems more generous with extra lives.  That’s nice because I always felt, and still feel, like this entry seems a bit harder.   The first two levels aren’t too bad, but by the third you get two bosses in one level and after the first of the two you see your first health replenishment thus far in the game.  Much like TMNT II: The Arcade Game, however, The Manhattan Project is definitely better when you have a friend to play with.

Turtle Power!


Although all three games are rather difficult, they’re still fun and have their own charm. If you have the chance to play with a friend, I highly recommend it, and they’re the next best to thing to shelling out $1,000 for your own TMNT Arcade Cabinet in your home (though I highly recommend that if you can afford it as well).

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2003 Cartoon

Continuing the celebration of the 30th anniversary of TMNT, I moved on to re-watching the first season of the 2003 cartoon.  While this cartoon didn’t do all that great on its own, I really liked it.  Staying closer to the Mirage origins, the 2k3 TMNT maintained a bit of a more serious and gritty tone, even bordering into dark territory in some episodes. The first season, however was pretty accessible with a few off base adventures spiritually true to the comic while main stories often were drawn direct from the comic itself.

While I don’t like voice actor for Splinter nearly as much as the original Fred Wolf cartoon, the turtles themselves are good and I actually like Michaelangelo particularly better than the original surfer dude style.  Their personalities are well defined and each turtle does get their share of episodes focused on them through the first season.

April’s back story as Baxter Stockman’s assistant is straight from the Mirage comics as well as Splinter’s origin as a rat pet to Hamato Yoshi.  Shredder and the Foot are the primary nemesis for the first season, though there are a few side stories involving criminals or rarely other mutations with most side stories being more of a sci-fi element.

The one thing I didn’t care for through the first season was the mysterious Guardians watching the turtles and keeping tabs on Oroku Saki.  By the end of the season, Splinter disappears and is found in suspended animation, held by the ones behind the guardians: the utroms.  The season cliffhanger is the turtles being teleported, just like the comics.

I got into the 2k3 series after it had been out a while and was airing the Fast Forward episodes.  I started with the DVDs, which were already a bit pricey and hard to find, but I wasn’t able to pick up anything past Season 1 as the prices have skyrocketed to madness in recent years.  I wouldn’t be surprised to see a complete series box set in August when the movie comes out. I would expect Nick would be more than happy to cash in on as many different releases as possible, though the dark tone of the 2k3 series might be something they don’t particularly want to release with the current series doing so well.

I would be particularly happy if they did release it, though.  I’d like to see more of the series, despite the later, rather confusing, revelations surrounding Shredder as an utrom named Ch’rell, though there was a Tengu Shredder in the past, as well as an Oroku Saki separate from the current Saki-Ch’rell-Shredder, and then the Cyber Shredder, and….well, yeah, it seemed they ran out of ideas outside of “keep using Shredder.”  Still, for the first few seasons at least, the 2k3 series seemed pretty good.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles – The Movie

After the original Mirage comics had their cult following and the cartoon had made the turtles a worldwide phenomenon, we got the first live action movie.  A damn good movie.

Who remembers this teaser poster? I do!

The movie mixes a few elements of the Mirage comic with the cartoon of the time for a fantastic result.  April O’Neil remains a TV news reporter, and the turtles keep their intense love of pizza, but otherwise there are a lot of nods to the Mirage comics and the movie strikes a near perfect balance of taking the property seriously while remaining light hearted and just simply fun.

Visually, the movie is one of the greatest testaments to Jim Henson’s creature shop, who developed the suits for the turtles and Splinter.  24 years after the movie’s release, the costumes still hold up and are pretty convincing.  The eyes look believable, the bandannas have a bit of an eyebrow shape that move enough to give some impression of expression without being too distracting when they move.  The mouths move well and can shape to give smiles and mouth movements, though they don’t perfectly match up to the spoken words with exact syncing.  Despite the limitations of the animatronics in the mask, the facial structure and the heads are able to do a lot to convey their speech and emotion.  Peter Laird, co-creator of the series, has said more than 20 years later that these are still the most accurate representation of the turtles in live action to date.

Henson’s TMNT suits

From the neck down, things only get more impressive.  The turtles stand just a bit shorter than 5’7″ April, played by Judith Hoag, and Casey, played perfectly by Elias Koteas at 5’11” tall.  The turtles limbs have a good look of being skin rather than rubber, with the sculpted but not oversized muscles showing definition and veins and giving the actors a good bit of movement.  The fight scene on the roof with Raphael against the Foot is a particularly nice display of how much motion and maneuverability they had in the suits.  Best of all, the turtles’ shells look just plain awesome, both shell and plastron at the front.

The turtles hanging out with the late, great Jim Henson

The turtles and Splinter are voice acted well and the movie properly focuses on the turtles as their main characters, though admittedly Casey Jones steals a few scenes as well.

My one complaint I’ve had since it first came out to today is that, to maintain a PG rating and being a movie for kids, Leonardo is largely restrained and unable to use his weapons for any actual offense.  He attacks, but can’t actually make contact, keeping most strikes to punches and kicks.

The film establishes a crime wave in New York being reported by April right off the bat, showing teenagers stealing throughout the city and giving a first glimpse at Foot ninjas as the stolen goods are handed off.  Looking back, I wouldn’t mind a bit more explanation of Shredder’s ultimate goal since petty theft and teenagers doesn’t exactly indicate a larger criminal empire, but it worked to establish the Foot as a criminal organization.  Within the first 5 minutes we meet the turtles after they save April from being mugged and Raphael leaves a sai behind, giving the first shock of the film when it was released as the first word heard from any turtle isn’t “cowabunga” but “damn.”

The turtles return to their lair and are reminded by Splinter the importance of remaining hidden. Frustrated by the loss of his sai, Raphael goes to see a movie while the others stay home for pizza.  After the movie, we meet Casey Jones as Raph faces off with him over his method of teaching purse snatchers a lesson.  My friend and I still, to this day, will quote “you gotta know what a crumpet is to understand cricket.”  Raph returns home angry from his overall loss to Casey and has a bit of a father/son moment with Splinter.

The next day, April is confronted in a subway after Shredder sends the Foot to silence her since her investigative reporting is starting to find the threads that might uncover them.  She’s knocked out, Raph saves her and brings her back to the lair, trailed by a single foot soldier.  When April awakes and is told their origin, the foot ninja looks on and reports back to Shredder.  The turtles return to April’s apartment and stay for frozen pizza and hang out a bit, but upon returning to the lair, they find Splinter missing.

Returning to April’s, they stay at her apartment a while and she continues reporting on the Foot.  Raph grows frustrated and impatient and after an argument with Leonardo, heads to the roof for some air where Casey spots him from another building’s rooftop just as Raph is about to be jumped by Foot ninja.  Inside, April gets home from work and takes the other turtles on a tour of the 2nd Time Around antique shop, which is the same name as the shop from the comic.  From here we start to really get a lot of Mirage comic references.

Raph replaces Leo from the comics in facing off against ever growing numbers of Foot until he’s thrown through the ceiling and crashes into April’s apartment beaten within an inch of his life. The turtles fight the foot swarming into the apartment and carry on the fight in the antique store after the floor gives way.  Casey arrives to help the turtles, fire breaks out and the turtles escape with the Foot vanishing as the police arrive.

Following the comics, they head out to April’s family’s farmhouse (presumably in Northampton but not stated in the film).  The turtles are suffering the defeat of losing Splinter rather than being defeated and driven out by a returned Shredder, but there are still a lot of nods to the comics on the farm.  The farm has a windmill like the comics, Raph is replaced by Don working with Casey to repair a truck. Once Raph recovers from his injuries, Leonardo spends most of his time in the woods when we see him, we get a scene of Mikey working a punching bag in the barn, and we get a scene of Raph on the rooftop (though he cries out for Splinter rather than keeping silent guard).  A lot of nice references to the comic for those aware of them.

Leo makes a connection to Splinter and brings his brothers out to a campfire one night where they all meditate and are met with a vision from Splinter.  It’s not really explained, but suffice to say it’s just movie ninja mysticism, though the comics were full of that as well with Splinter swapping bodies through astral projection in an issue.  With training and Splinter’s words preparing them, the turtles head back for the show down.

Back in New York, the turtles get some rest before planning to take on the Foot and Danny (son of April’s boss who ratted the turtles out in the first place) heads back to the Foot headquarters, followed by Casey Jones, and seeks out Splinter.  Shredder learns the turtles have returned and sends the Foot after them, going himself to finish them off.  Casey and Danny rescue Splinter and deal with Shredder’s second-in-command while the turtles fight the Foot through the sewers, to the streets, and onto rooftops.

We get a lot of enjoyable fight sequences, my favorite of which might be Donatello skateboarding through the sewer using his bo to take out Foot ninja as he goes.  The fight culminates on the rooftop where the turtles face off against Shredder one on one, each getting beat, until he gets Leo pinned at the point of his spear.  They give up their weapons to save Leo, but Shredder moves to strike until Splinter appears on the ledge of the roof to distract him.  Realizing its the same rat that scarred him years ago in Hamato Yoshi’s home, Shredder attacks Splinter instead, who reacts defensively.  Ultimately, Shredder falls into a garbage truck below where Casey activates the crushing mechansim.

And Shredder was awesome in this movie too

April gets her big story at the end, Casey and April share a kiss, and the turtles celebrate on the roof top.

Honestly, though critics weren’t crazy about the film, I still find very little weak or wrong with it to this day.  The costumes and animatronics hold up so well where a lot of special effects in the last 5 years don’t age well at all.  Poor CG doesn’t age as well as quality props, costumes and animatronics it seems. Similar can be seen in Jurassic Park where the animatronics still hold up today as well.

Unfortunately, the thing that made TMNT such a great movie was the passion from the people working on it, something that often comes from films made by independent studios.  After the first movie’s success, the sequels came under more scrutiny by studio bigwigs and we got more and more decisions to lighten the movie and make it fun for kids where the original film was more apt for both kids and adults to enjoy with attention given to those connections to the original source material.

It remains the definitive TMNT movie and the one by which other live action adaptations are measured by.  It remains to be seen if the new movie set for August 2014 will hold a candle to it, but in my opinion it’s a very large set of shells to fill.

30 Years of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

Like most children of the 80s, I grew up steeped in everything I could get my hands on related to TMNT.  Of course, as a child in the 80s, and not a teenager, that mostly meant the original Fred Wolf cartoon and the plethora of associated toys.  I had no childhood knowledge of the gritty, more violent Mirage Comics from Kevin Eatman and Peter Laird at the time, but I still loved the turtles dearly.

I’ve been reading the IDW comics and have wanted to write some blog entries for a while.  My thoughts on story arcs, a piece on the Alopex character, some things I particularly like, and chances to talk about the mainstay characters. And, of course, I’ve been wanting to compile all my thoughts on the upcoming movie “from producer Michael Bay” (honestly, if you’re the only guy behind the camera getting billed on trailers, then you earn all the flak and ire from those unhappy, so yeah, it’s “Bay’s turtles” to me so long as he’s getting top billing over the director).  So far, however, I’ve waited to write about the turtles.  Waited for this month. For May 2014.

For this month, we celebrate the 30th anniversary of the first appearance of Leonardo, Michaelangelo, Donatello, Raphael, Shredder, and Splinter.  A comic series that still inspires today, a comic series that has no small part in my own ideas for a comic book or webcomic that I’m still working to put all the pieces of the puzzle together.  Two guys took influence from their favorite comic creators of the time and released what has to be the most successful independent publication in the history of comics.  That’s a really cool story.

So I decided I would dedicate the month of May largely to TMNT.  Oh yes, I’m going to see Godzilla and X-Men: Days of Future Past and I’m going to read other comics and play some other games. But largely, this month is dedicated to comics, games, cartoons, and movies involving four mutated turtles trained as ninja as well as pizza. Lots of pizza.

I actually spent last night watching the first five episodes of the Fred Wolf cartoon again.  The classic intro theme is still catchy as ever and the animation for the opening theme still holds up today.

The cartoon’s take on the turtles origin, with Splinter being Hamato Yoshi actually works pretty well and is still used in today’s incarnations in some way or another.  Cam Clarke and Barry Gordon are still the voices I most associate with Leonardo and Donatello, though I like later voice actors for Mike and Raph more, particularly Raphael.  Since the cartoon was for kids, Raphael’s personality took the largest change into one of more of a wise cracking sarcastic character rather than the most anti-hero archetype of the group.  Shredder was pretty cool in the first five issues with only occasional childish antics that grew more pronounced as the series continued.  And while Peter Laird is known to have not liked them, I think Bebop and Rocksteady were fantastic additions to the turtle continuity.  They suffered from bumbling henchman syndrome of a children’s cartoon, but the character have a lot of potential to be a serious threat, as IDW has been showing with their development of them.

I don’t know that, even with nostalgia encouraging me, I’d want to pick up the full 10 season run of the original cartoon, but going back and watching the original 5 episodes is still a lot of fun.  While I have my share of complaints with what has been seen and what’s known of the upcoming movie from Platinum Dunes, I do think that taking elements of the original cartoon could definitely work for a more updated and seriously toned film, but I’ll get into that later.

Happy birthday TMNT, here’s hoping to many more. Cowabunga, dudes.

May 3, 2014 – Free Comic Book Day!

Every since the first Spider-Man movie came out, the first Saturday in May has been Free Comic Book Day (click the link to learn all about its history!).

I found myself doing a lot of driving around today, starting with a 5 AM wake up call to drive a friend to the airport followed by a stop at a garage sale where I got a few nice games, namely Donkey Kong 64, Donkey Kong Jr., Gauntlet II, RBI Baseball 2, and Tetris 2 as well as about 32 NES and N64 manuals.  I returned home and caught about 30 minutes of sleep before getting back up and taking a shower before driving over to FX Games Exchange in Plano, TX where they, too, were celebrating Free Comic Book Day with Free Game Day!

I snagged a free copy of True Crime: Streets of LA and bought Mega Man X and Super Punch-Out with their Buy One, Get One 1/2 off sale.

After that, I stopped by Madness Games and Comics to get my grab of free comics.

Picked up:

Mouse Guard: Labyrinth and Other Stories (hardcover)
Guardians of the Galaxy
Soulfire (Madness Games & Comics limited edition)
Fathom (Madness Games & Comics limited edition)
Street Fighter #0
Worlds of Aspen (Damsels in Excess and Zoohunters flip side book)

Now, I have to say Free Comic Book Day is a little dangerous if you’re into comics.  It can quickly have you spiraling into new titles your wallet has not approved of, but it’s a great way to check out a preview of some new titles and this year it may have gotten me interested in looking into some further.

With the new movie coming out, I’ve been curious about Guardians of the Galaxy.  I’m not sure I’ll be picking it up monthly, but reading the free issue definitely has me leaning towards considering this in graphic novel format.  The new run helmed by Bendis looked pretty good with Iron Man among the team and upon his return, it looks like Agent Venom will be joining them for a while.  I have to say I do miss the old, dangerous, legitimate and serious threat of Venom as a Spider-Man villain, but the new direction they’ve taken the character bonded with Flash Thompson is pretty interesting.  Though I still think the symbiote’s knowledge of Spider-Man’s identity being wiped by Mephisto is stupid.  Then again, I think everything tied to One More Day/Brand New Day/One Moment in Time is pretty stupid.  Guardians of the Galaxy is definitely on my radar for graphic novels, though.

Street Fighter.  I was actually picking up Udon’s Street Fighter and Darkstalkers series for a while, but it got hard to predict when the next one would come out and when each series would end.  Street Fighter, then Street Fighter II, Super Streeth Fighter, Street Fighter Alpha, and so on.  I like the idea of each series being a set number and then the next story following other game titles, but it wreaked havoc on my monthly subscription at the local store.  Skimming issue 0 here reminded me that it’s still a good series from Udon and I was already thinking of going the graphic novel route with the Street Fighter books anyway!

Soulfire.  I remember when Soulfire first published.  I loved the scene of a military helicopter flying through a smokey, clouded sky only to find itself dealing with a dragon atop a modern skyscraper.  Soulfire, however, also seemed erratic in publishing and it often felt like it was getting dropped and restarted with new titles often.  Reading the free comic still makes me think there’s a lot of potential with this one, but I don’t know if I can keep up with it.  Anyone want to persuade yay or nay?

Ironically, the Worlds of Aspen drew my attention to a potential new title as well, though neither of the ones featured in the issue itself. Well, okay, the little creature on the cover of Zoohunters does make the series appealing in a Lilo & Stitch kind of way, but I was more intrigued by the poster image for a comic title Jirni.  I can tell you exactly why I dig the look from the image too…. it’s World of Warcraft.  Oh, I’m sure it’s an interesting story in its own right, but c’mon, a busty half naked purple skinned warrior woman with blue hair and a sword riding a feline-esque mount?  That’s a night elf for all intents and purposes.  And I’m intrigued.  I’ll be looking into Jirni and deciding if it will become a regular pick up.

My comic subscriptions have dwindled in recent months to the last year or so.  I used to pick up X-Men, Uncanny X-Men, Wolverine, Amazing Spider-Man and for a while Astonishing X-Men, Wolverine Origins, and I think another Spider-Man title.  I was reading Avengers for a while too, leading up to X-Men vs Avengers.  Really, the whole Marvel Now! movement just sort of drove me away from most of Marvel’s titles.  I just lost interest in the story direction.  Even Wolverine is making me struggle to stick with it after the Killable storyline, but I have every issue of Wolverine from each volume, so I’m loathe to break the collection just yet.

X-Titles became just Wolverine and the X-Men and Wolverine along with Amazing Spider-Man and IDW’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, but now I’m down to just Wolverine, Spidey, and TMNT.  With Wolverine dying later this year, perhaps that will open yet another slot on my dance card, though I expect X-23 might take over the solo title for a while until Logan is revived with his healing factor in tact (hopefully he’ll be back to his 90s self and X-Men as a whole will get back on track).

So what comics did you pick up at Free Comic Book Day?

And, it’s a little early, but May the 4th be with you tomorrow. And don’t forget Monday is the 30th Anniversary for Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles! I’ve got some special blog entries planned for Monday!