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Comics

GC52 News: DC Comics Released 10/12/2021

(Spoilers for DC Comics released 10/12/2021)

(Words in italics signal actions)

If you missed last week’s report, check it out here.

GC52 News begins at the old faithful time even if the program has been a bit different for the last few weeks. Once again, the news report starts in Gotham City. This time the footage the audience sees is from the BatComputer in the micro Batcave the GC52 team is operating out of for the Fear State. Lead anchor Dan is wrapping his hand preparing to head out into the city.

Dan: Good Morning, Good Afternoon, and Good Evening to all our wonderful viewers from the docks of Coast City to the furthest reaches of Oa, you are watching the multiverse’s best news show that brings you the news that you need to know! As always, I’m your host, Dan McMahon, doing my part to keep you updated on what is happening up to the minute in Gotham City as the Fear State continues.

We have gotten reports over the past few days of Wonder Woman, Diana herself, saving people all over the Earth. We reached out to the Justice League who didn’t give exact details but their response only leads us to believe that the rumors are true. The trinity is complete again, just as the world needs. Now Ethan, I believe you have a few updates from across Gotham for us. It’d be useful to know before I head out.

The camera cuts to a view of another corner of the Batcave where Ethan is crouched over a monitor, compiling data streaming in from the barely functioning Bat Computer in its currently compromised state.

Ethan: Yup, first up, looks like Batwoman’s been getting involved in the Fear State. After footage of Batgirl attacking civilians was leaked, which has since been proven to be an imposter, Batwoman set out to investigate. She helped out the actual Batgirl in getting away from Magistrate forces, and let me tell you, the footage of that beat down was a joy to watch.

We’ve also had reports that Azrael is back in the city. According to DEO records he’s been in outer space but is back now operating out of Gotham. Seems he took out Bullet-Tooth’s operation. One of the reports state he’s investigating the escaped Arkham patients I mentioned last broadcast but I’m not sure on that just yet.

Seems the Outsiders have been chasing their own leads during the current situation as well. The reports are unclear but there may be two Black Lightning’s working on the team currently. They’ve been tracking down an old student of Jonathan Crane’s, maybe for some info on how to stop him…

It also seems like this new Batman is continuing to hit the streets of Gotham. Delivering justice in his own unique way. Also looks like Commissioner Montoya is still actively resisting becoming a pawn of the Magistrate, she’s one of the good ones I tell you. Now, these are all developing stories so I’ll make sure to keep the updates coming as more reports come in. Dan?

Dan: Thanks Ethan! We now join Thomas in New York City, where he has an update on the ol’ Blue & Gold.

The feed cuts to an overhead shot of Thomas standing among a crowd of people outside the UN building shouting, gesturing, and pointing their phones at something happening out of frame.

Thomas: Hello? Dan? Can anyone hear me? Our regular camera got knocked over, so I’m coming to you live from my phone. I hope I’m holding this high enough… Oh! There it is! An Omnizon has come to Earth to beat up Blue & Gold!

The camera turns to reveal an alien being with forehead wrinkles, dreadlocks, and a giant sword successfully keeps Booster Gold and Blue Beetle apart in a two-against-one fight.

Dan: Thomas, this looks like any day in the life of our scrappy ex-Justice Leaguers. Is there any news about Kord Industries or Booster’s rumored millions pouring in from social media?

Thomas: The Beetle and Goldenrod are broke, Dan! Fighting for clout is all they’ve got left now!

The crowd starts chanting, “Bash the Beetle!” Thomas joins in.

Dan: Thomas, am I hearing that crowd correctly? Are New Yorkers cheering against Blue Beetle in an interplanetary fight? What’s happened to the world these days?

Thomas: Cool your jets Dan, this is New York we’re talking about. Blue Beetle is the Mets of superheroes, it only makes sense that people get riled up for his opposition from time to time.

Dan: I don’t know if that was the best sports analogy…

Brandon’s face briefly takes over the feed.

Brandon: Mariners forever!

Dan: Okay that’s enough cutting away, can we please focus on the story?

Someone takes Thomas’s phone out of his hands.

Random New Yorker #1: No this guy’s right, no one’s cheering the Mets but Chris Christie and that Seinfeld yutz.

Dan: Excuse me, random person, would you please hand the camera back to our correspondent? We don’t take just anybody for the job.

Random New Yorker #2: Yeah, we ain’t the Red Sox!

Thomas, Dan, Brandon, Random New Yorker #1: Heyooo!

Thomas: Haha, this is a fun assignment… What did I come here for, again?

Booster Gold crashes through the roof of a nearby taxi.

Thomas: Oh, right. I’ll keep you posted as this story develops, Dan!

Dan: At least someone is having fun with their job! Let’s pop over to Katie to see how things are going.

The camera cuts to Katie standing in front of an abandoned storage facility. She is wearing a t-shirt reading “CATS RULE, DOGS DROOL” as her pet cat Felicia plays inside a random cardboard box.

Katie: Hello Gotham City! You may not recognize this abandoned area on the outskirts of Gotham City, but you’re sure to remember its name after today’s report! Here at the MacGuffin Warehouse and Storage facility, a St. Bernard-sized dognapping took place. I’m here with Daphne Blake from Mystery Incorporated, who became caught up in this mysterious crime. Daphne, thank you for being here.

Daphne waves excitedly to the camera.

Daphne: It’s my pleasure! You know, I’ve dabbled in news reporting once myself. Maybe you saw my show? Well, it was more of a web show. It was a while ago!

Katie: Yes, we’re all big fans of you, Ms. Blake. But let’s talk about last night! I heard Scooby and billionaire Bruce Wayne’s dog were both dog-napped. How did you manage to track down the dogs to MacGuffin Warehouse here? Also, I didn’t know you were friends with Bruce Wayne!

Daphne: Well, my butler Jenkins went to Butler School with Bruce’s butler, Alfred! What a coincidence, right? So, we were all chatting away when a creepy monster appeared outside the window. Spooky! The three of us went to investigate, and when we turned around, Scooby and Ace were missing!

Katie: What a dognapping! It’s lucky you had two brave butlers by your side. Most people’s butlers would probably run away!

Daphne: Jenkins has been a gem of a butler, even when I was a kid! And Alfred seemed to know a lot about sleuthing from this book he had on hand, “How to Be a Detective.” We had two detectives on the case — Alred and I! 

Katie: Lucky, indeed! Now, I have to ask. Did you lead the butlers into any danger? 

Daphne: No, not this time! It was actually Alfred! He saw the newspaper headline; 32 dogs were taken in the past two weeks! Alred also had the hookup with a large pet food supplier, since he works for the richest man in Gotham. Crime doesn’t pay — but billionaires do!

Katie: I bet you were shocked to find a whole dognapping ring inside this shoddy-looking storage facility when you arrived!

Daphne: We certainly weren’t prepared to find ourselves tied up in the hunt for clues! Although, I guess I should have expected it by now…

Katie: But you managed to free your captors! And you don’t smell like all those dogs! What’s your secret? 

Daphne: My secret? About the escaping or the smell? I use a vegan shampoo–

Katie: Oh, I’ll get your hair product recommendations later! How did you escape yet another dangerous villain? 

Daphne: It turned out, an…odd man named Catman was kidnapping all the dogs in Gotham City in order to make their owners all pay a ransom! I don’t know how he was going to manage to kidnap millions of dogs and pay to feed them all…and clean up their disgusting poop! Anyway, we were actually rescued by Batman and Catwoman! Can you believe it? 

Katie: I heard Batman was fighting off a giant cat on a Gotham City tower along with the rest of your friends too! 

Daphne: Ha, that’s right! When Daphne’s away, Mystery Inc. will play…with more mysteries! 

Katie: I’m delighted to hear that you’re okay and that Scooby and Ace were rescued too — even if I’m more of a cat person myself. Thanks, Daphne. Back to you in the studio, Dan!

The camera cuts back to Dan.

Dan: Next we head back to France to check in with Jimmy who was last seen in that version of Gotham being stalked by a dangerous creature. Jimmy?

The camera cuts to Jimmy who is crouched down in a small enclosure extremely close to the camera. He is sweating profusely and whispering.

Jimmy: Dan, I hope you can hear me. Bobby and I are currently hiding in a boat. We’ve been tracking Jim Gordon who was kidnapped by Lady Bane after she attacked Gordon and Chief Detective Isabella Hallows from Interpol. Lady Bane quickly disarmed Isabella Hallows and be disarmed, Lady Bane ripped off her arm.

Bobby and I managed to follow Lady Bane and Gordon to the port of Marseilles where Lady Bane killed several police officers, downed a helicopter, and stole the boat that Bobby and I were able to sneak onto.

The camera cuts back to Dan who has decided to match Jimmy’s whispering.

Dan: Can you hear what is happening with Gordon? Is Gordon alive? Where is Lady Bane headed? Why are you sweating so much? 

The camera cuts back to Jimmy. He is drenched with sweat. He is continuing to whisper. There are loud thuds being heard from above Jimmy. 

Jimmy: Gordon is alive. I can’t hear where they are headed over the boat engine but it has something to do with Lady Bane being created addicted to venom and designed specifically to kill The Joker. I heard bits and pieces about what Lady Bane has planned for The Joker. She wants to rip out his tongue, bury him for a week, and then burn his body.

Lady Bane seems to want to kill The Joker but not because she was created to kill The Joker. I heard her say she wants to be Jim Gordon’s Venice.

Dan: I think you mean Jim Gordon’s Vengeance.

Jimmy: Yeah, that makes more sense.

A small door quickly swings open and the light from the interior of the boat shines on Jimmy.

Jimmy: Oh shi-

The camera cuts back to Dan.

Dan: It amazes me how he keeps getting into and out of these crazy situations. We got word that Professor Pyg has been apprehended across town in the old Gotham Slaughterhouse. Pyg scares me more than the rest of these Gotham weirdos.

The reason why is that he thinks what he does is art. There doesn’t seem to be a hatred of Batman or anything like that driving him. What drives him is the need to create. To reshape the world in his idea of beauty. Anger is a powerful tool but art is so much stronger. Its effects can be felt for generations. 

Pyg harnesses that into changing people’s entire faces and minds to side with him with his dollotrons… it’s sick. Not even the Penguin crosses the line into hurting children. But… Pyg doesn’t see it as hurting. He sees it as expression… absolutely sick. Let’s check in with Cass…

The feed cuts to footage of a handheld camera. We see Cass on a really beat-up couch, it looks like they recently took a shower and are now in their PJs. 

Cass: Hello There! I’m Cass, your favorite reporter from the future and I’m… exhausted. As some of you may know, I was kidnaped by the Ultra-Humanite (who apparently only kidnaped me because he thought I was Lois Lane’s second cousin, not because of all I know about Kryptonite…) That is just my luck.

But yes, the Ultra-Humanite is back and he is not alone, he has been working with none other than Brainiac. One wanted to take over Superman’s body (again) while the other wanted to eliminate humanity to save planet Earth and keep it in a miniature state. Guess which one is which. 

Of course, Superman stopped them, with the help of amazing reporter (and my all-time hero) Lois Lane. While this was happening Manchester Black, Iron, and Midnighter stopped the attack of a ragtag group of mercenaries that were paid off by Brainiac and the Ultra-Humanite. The rest of the team (the enchantress and Apollo) were off reusing Lightray from the supervillain Eclipso, with the help of Lightray’s bodyguard O.M.A.C. 

This was all just the first mission of “The Authority” (I still think that name is kind of ridiculous), but apparently, they have a bigger mission at hand, the liberation of Warworld. 

Also, don´t tell this to anyone, but I think we all should keep an eye on Lightray. Trust me, I still have access to the cameras of Fortress Superman.

Cass winks to the camera and they turn it off. 

Dan: Well another week here in the multiverse of life… we will see you next week. Remember, be strong in all your convictions.


Books covered this week:

  • Wonder Woman #780 by Michael W. Conrad, Becky Cloonan, Travis Moore, Steve Pugh, Tamra Bonvillain, and Pat Brosseau.
  • Professor Pyg: Little Pyg. Little Pyg. by Christian Ward and Steve Wands.
  • Batwoman: Disinformation Campaign #1 by Alyssa Wong, Vasco Georgiev, Rain Beredo, and Becca Carey.
  • Azrael: Dark Knight of the Soul #1 by Dan Watters, Nikola Cizmesija, Ivan Plascencia, and Ariana Maher.
  • The Outsiders: The Fearful #1 by Brandon Thomas, Cian Tormey, Raul Fernandez, Alejandro Sanchez, and Steve Wands.
  • Blue & Gold #3 by Dan Jurgens, Cully Hamner, Chris Sotomayor and Rob Leigh.
  • The Batman & Scooby-Doo Mysteries #7 by Sholly Fisch, Dario Brizuela, Franco Riesco, and Wes Abbott.
  • The Joker #8 by James Tynion IV, Guillem March, Arif Prianto, and Tom Napolitano.
  • Superman and the Authority #4 by Grant Morrison, Mikel Janín, Jordie Bellaire, and Tom Napolitano.
Categories
sports Television Uncategorized

Fast Five Picks From the GC Experts for NFL Week 6

We roll into Week 6 with one undefeated team left, the Arizona Cardinals. Many others are still trying to hold their leads in their respective divisions with plenty of NFL games left on the calendar. Strong offenses and defenses are starting to emerge, along with the teams who will most likely be battling for a top draft pick. Dr. Mitchell Powers, Rick Danger, and special guest Justin F. Balles, look forward to providing you with predictions for the upcoming NFL action. They would also like to take a moment to apologize to the r/NFL subreddit for taking up space on their site. We appreciated the comments, and to the person who sent us THAT picture, you should get that looked at, it’s uh, not right.

RICK DANGER

I might as well change my license plate from HWY2HLL to 1AND1 because I cannot break this streak. One win and one loss. Every fucking week. Listen, I got into this business to call games like I see ’em, and also to make ridiculous amounts of money to afford my own gator farm in the basement, but that is beside the point. Time for me to start turning on the ol’ Danger intuition and making these predictions mean something. May have to go back to my old tricks of showing up at the hotel’s teams are staying at and hitting some shins with crowbars. Tonya learned that shit from me, and in return, I can do a triple axel. It’s obviously not a foolproof plan, but like all the Danger men in my family, I love to win and will probably die of a preventable disease. So, to my fateful followers, Uncle Rick is cracking his knuckles, putting down his nunchucks, taking off his party hat, putting on his serious hat, and getting to work. Unrelated, but anyone have some insight on gator farm licenses?

DR. MITCHELL POWERS

We like to tell ourselves that the universe is supposed to be a balanced place. I truly thought that after missing on two calls in week four, I would have come back with a 2-0 set of calls last week. Unfortunately, that didn’t happen, and it puts me in the same boat as my good pal Rick with a 1-1 set of calls instead. As I sit and ponder this point, writing these words on a Thursday night, I’m also watching the Philadelphia Eagles running onto the field and thinking about futility. Sometimes we’re simply futile against the whims of the universe. And then we’re given a choice: We can defer the ball to Tom Brady, as the Eagles have chosen to do on the coin toss, or we can fight back and try to reclaim our former glory, in much the same way that Fletcher Cox hasn’t. This week, I’m choosing to fight back. We can only hope I stop getting double-teamed.

JOHNNY F. BALLES (OUR SPECIAL GUEST)

Look, I’m the biggest pigskin fan you’ll ever know. If it’s football, I am a total genius. I love it when the players go for the home run by throwing that ball for the grand slam. It’s a treat watching them hit the ice and get the slam dunk. My favorite NFL player has to be that champion athlete himself, Lebron James. He’s truly football’s greatest hero. Oh, and one more thing… open wide for some soccer!

RICK’S PICKS

Minnesota Vikings @ Carolina Panthers – October 17th 1:00PM ET

The Vikings are coming off a win against Detroit, while Carolina is still reeling from a loss to Philadelphia. These two teams need this win and I’m interested to see who will get the job done. Like the Vikings of old, I’m sure Minnesota plans on storming into the Panther’s stadium and pillaging to the point where there isn’t even a hot-dog stand left. I mean, do you want to pay $10 for a hot dog? Especially when we both know that most of that meat is whatever animal didn’t make it back on the Ringling Bros. train. Carolina’s defense will have to do most of the heavy lifting with their offense still waiting on CMC to be healthy. Sam Darnold will have to rely on his WR with the absolutely real name of Chuba Hubbard. Sounds like gum so chew on that.  On the other side of the ball, Kirk Cousins, who I am now realizing is the QB for Vikings, will be targeting Justin Jefferson for most of the day. I’m going to give the nod to Darnold and Chuba to they keep the invading Vikings at bay, probably putting them back on their boat and shooting a flaming arrow at it as it floats out to sea.

PICK: PANTHERS

Seattle Seahawks @ Pittsburgh Steelers – October 17th 8:20PM ET

Russell Wilson is currently sitting at home next to Ciara and recuperating and will be watching this game on what I could only imagine as an ungodly sized TV. I am more jealous of the person he is watching the game with, than his house, career, or anything else he possibly owns. But, I digress, because without Russell Wilson, I do not see these Seahawks taking flight, unless it’s on American Airlines. I was going to say Southwest, but they look just as grounded as these guys. On the other hand, Ben Roethlisberger has been accused of sexually assaulting two women, and settling out of court with one of them. Uncle Rick is in a bind here because I think the Steelers win because Geno Smith is not filling the shoes of a missing Wilson, but I also think Ben Roethlisberger has no right to be on a football field. I know this is heavy stuff for a fluff piece about football, but maybe if we spent more time being uncomfortable, shit would change. I guess the even money here is that the Steelers win, but then a celebratory dogpile turns into an accidental homicide as the air is forced out of Roethlisberger’s lungs by the two-lineman stuck on top of him. His last thoughts being fear and desperation, something he can share with his victims. Apologies for getting a bit heavy there, but Rick Danger gives zero fucks about Ben Rapeyberger.

PICK: STEELERS & DEATH!

POWERS’ PREDICTIONS

Las Vegas Raiders @ Denver Broncos – October 17th 4:25PM ET

In my mind, the outcome of this game has nothing to do with analytics. It has nothing to do with player stats, recent injuries, or home field advantage. This is a game that will be won on the emotional front. Let me paint a picture for you: Have you ever felt sluggish? You’re tired, it’s only 11am but it feels like you’ve slogging through the longest day already. You can’t concentrate, you’re a little too warm for some reason, and no matter what you do you can’t get comfortable in your $700 office chair. Then, it hits you. You know why you’re feeling this way. You head to the bathroom and dump out all that nasty food you ate the night before, and suddenly the world is a better place. You feel lighter, your mood shifts, and only now can you truly begin to tackle your day and make the progress you always knew you could. Are you picking up what I’m putting down? The Raiders flushed a huge piece of shit down the toilet this week. I’m sure they’re going to feel a lot better going into Sunday’s game, and new head coach Rich Bisaccia will be the bidet to bring a fresh feeling in.

PICK: RAIDERS

Dallas Cowboys @ New England Patriots – October 17th 4:25PM ET

America’s Team vs. the American Empire. Big Dak vs. Big Mac. Bill Belichick may be a legendary coach, but there’s no denying this Cowboys offense, as much as I’d like to. Dallas is coming into this game with four wins and only one loss, and New England sits at a meager 2-3 record. We’re getting to that point in the season where the blurry silhouettes start to clear up and you can truly start to see what a team’s personality is going to look like going forward. Dallas must mean business, because they’re sitting at 2nd in the league for both total offensive yards per game and total points per game. As for the Patriots, I’m more convinced than ever that Tom Brady’s departure served as the end of an era. With Brady on pace to break NFL records at age 44 and playing like the defending Superbowl champion he is, it’s difficult to look at the Patriots and feel that the same magic is there. I may not care for either of these teams, but it’s my job to recognize game when I see it, and the Cowboys are about to wrangle themselves up some Patriots this weekend.

PICK: COWBOYS

THE GUEST GUESS

Jacksonville Jaguars vs. Miami Dolphins – October 17th 9:30AM ET

So, I heard both these teams here are terrible losers, which had me wondering who exactly booked this crap. Last week, both of ‘em sucked so bad that they lost their games. Maybe if these two teams focused on the fundamentals like the penalty kill or the 5-4-1 formation, they wouldn’t be such losers. Terry Lawrence or whatever his name is, did Tony Khan pull him from that wrestling company he runs? Should probably try playing some football sometime instead of body slamming Andre the Giant. As for the Dolphins, I think they’d do better if they spent more time practicing their three-pointers. I’ve never seen such pathetic baserunning from a team. They’re not gonna make a pee-wee league at this rate.

PICK: JAGUARS (provided they can get the walk-off dinger that leads to the overtime super-point)

LAST WEEK 

RICKS PICKS: 1 – 1

POWERS PREDICTIONS: 1 – 1

GUEST GUESS: 0 – 1

OVERALL

RICKS PICKS: 6 – 4

POWERS PREDICTIONS: 5 – 5

GUEST GUESS: 2 – 3

**DISCLAIMER** Like a conservative talk show, the opinions and views here are a joke.

Categories
Episodes

Halloween

The GateSlashers continue their dive into all things horror as the Grave Robber gathers a fresh group of innocents to experience The Night He Came Home. Yes, we’re here today to talk about Halloween 1978, and Halloween 2018, to get you prepped on everything Michael Myers before the new film releases this week!

Subscribe now or listen below!

Halloween GateCrashers

The GateSlashers continue their dive into all things horror as the Grave Robber gathers a fresh group of innocents to experience The Night He Came Home. Yes, we’re here today to talk about Halloween 1978, and Halloween 2018, to get you prepped on everything Michael Myers before the new film releases this week!
  1. Halloween
  2. Texas Chainsaw Massacre
  3. Interview with Marcus Parks (Last Podcast on the Left)
  4. James Bond 007
  5. X-Men
Categories
Video Games

Back 4 Blood is a Strong Co-Op Experience With Bite: Co-Op Review

Dan: I gotta say this is our second co-op review and this time for an actual co-op experience. Now the thing is, our last review was very calming and soothing. This time around, we were blasting away at the undead like our lives depended on it. Before we get into the actual review, I have to say that this is a game I have been counting the moments until release. I absolutely love and cherish my memories of playing Left 4 Dead growing up with my friends. Seeing how high we could push the difficulty every time we ran through the campaigns again was a lot of long nights of expletives at a television. Most of the team from Left 4 Dead went on to make this game, and it shows in the best way.

Gabrielle: I’m actually not a person who frequently plays multiplayer or co-op games. Although I played Left 4 Dead a lot, and I’m always happy to play with friends, I feel much more at home with single-player experiences. But this is the spiritual successor of L4D, so of course, I knew about it and knew I had to try it! It’s zombies, and it’s Halloween. There’s no better time for this.

The End is Nigh

Back 4 Blood is an FPS co-op at its heart, exactly like its predecessor. You go through different linear but well-spaced levels connected by safe rooms with your teammates, killing everything without a heartbeat. That means not only your run-of-the-mill brain-eating zombies but special types of mutated zombies. To help you with the slaughter, there’s a card deck system that will help you and sometimes your whole team to deal with the hordes, adding perks to the one your character already has. All of this is to say, Back 4 Blood is a fast-paced gorefest with many new and unexpected features that we’re dying to get into.

Gameplay

Dan: While this really does feel like a Left 4 Dead spiritual successor, there are enough upgrades to the gameplay and features to make it feel like a real evolution of the survival horror subgenre of games that Left 4 Dead pioneered. The bare basics are that 4 survivors must fight their way through the zombie hordes to a safe room for every level. Each level has unique environments and challenges though that never makes this feel repetitive. You are faced with some very different tasks to complete at each level. One of my favorite challenges included having to open a path in the sewers, which were the most infested area that we had seen so far in the game. It was a spine-tingling challenge as we had our backs to the wall as a group, just fighting to keep them back until we could make our escape. There is also a very new system in the game which involves perk cards. Gab, what did you feel about this?

Gabrielle: A big difference that separates this game from those that follow the same gameplay style and loop is the use of deck cards. I’m normally not big on these as I just consider them a boring addition that slows down the experience, especially in such an energetic game like this. Besides, its influence ends up never being very noticeable. Fortunately, that is not the case here, as it’s an easy system to understand and play with. They act exactly as perks that you can add to your character each level from the deck you build with every session, and their presence is palpable. I like to play as a pseudo-tank, with a heavy rifle or shotgun as a primary weapon and melee for the secondary slot. So every time I could, I used my health-related cards to assure that I could kill as many ridden as possible without worrying too much about that, and it was a completely different experience.

As Dan said, there’s not only a good variety to the levels, but they’re well structured. You’re not going to find yourself going through three levels in a row where you just have to go from A to B killing zombies. There are levels where you have to protect a stronghold while there are waves and waves of enemies coming after you. Sometimes you have to rescue other survivors or deliver a package, and more. It not only avoids repetition but constantly changes up the team’s dynamic as you have to micro-manage to decide who’s better suited for which task.

Co-Op Experience

Dan: I love Co-Op games. My brother and I grew up playing them together since we had one console between us. When the online gaming community started to grow for consoles, good co-op experiences started to go the way of the dinosaur. Now that we are older and live apart, we are always looking for good co-op experiences, so that was an important factor about this review to me. Is it a good Co-Op experience? For me, the answer is 100% yes that this is a perfect CO-OP game.

Honestly, I don’t think I would play a ton of it if I didn’t have someone like my review partner Gab. We spent hours playing together and learning the mechanics of the game, how we act as players and the strengths and weaknesses of the characters we chose. Each playable character is called a “Cleaner” with its own unique perks and play styles. As someone who yearns to play every single game with melee, I have big heart eyes for Holly. After a few runs in the game, I built out a special deck of cards for my melee playstyle, which actually felt like it changed the gameplay a lot. I felt like I was actually playing to my strengths with the cards selected instead of having the feeling that it didn’t change the game one way or another.

It was a great experience being able to balance how I played with Gab as we made our way through the runs. There also is a very specific feeling you get when your teammate needs your help to get them up when they’re overrun. It’s like you’re really going to help your friend. Gab, as someone who mostly plays solo stuff, how did you feel usually teaming up with three other people to take on the Ridden hordes?

Gabrielle: It was honestly a great time. When you’re drowning in wave after wave of ridden surrounding you with no escape route other than your weapon, you get to feel like the survivor you’re playing as and part of a team where you have each other’s backs.

As you mentioned, it’s fun to see how everyone plays off of each other. While you played as Holly and were slicing down crowds of zombies with a machete, I played as Karlee. When I read her perks, I didn’t care much for it. She has a quick inventory, can augment the team’s speed, and detect hazards. I didn’t even pay attention to them until I started to notice just how useful it was. While Dan was doing crowd control, I saw every special kind of ridden coming from a mile away, even through walls, giving me an enormous advantage as I took them out with my rifle from a distance before they could reach any of my teammates. Or, in case they were already too close, I would still be able to tell where they were coming from which kind of special they were, letting Dan know so he could prepare. Not only that, but she also detected any birds or alarm systems that could attract hordes, giving me a better awareness of my surroundings to know how careful should I be going through the levels.

It’s also crazy how good the combat feels, melee and ranged alike. Playing with either a shotgun or a rifle felt near to using the equivalent weapons in Doom Eternal, which has, in my opinion, the best gunplay I ever experienced.

Let’s talk about the Ridden bay bee

Gabrielle: Obviously, the main theme of this game is the ridden. Zombie-type enemies that will try (and maybe succeed) to have your guts as dessert and turn you into one of them.

You have the regular Ridden, long-gone humans who will run to you at top-speed when they so much as hear a step. They are easy to kill, being able to dispatch them with one good shot most of the time. But their strength is in their numbers because where there is one, you can be sure there is a whole horde nearby. If you’re not careful, you will be on the ground serving as dinner for dozens of these guys before you realize it.

Of course, they’re not alone. You will also be dealing with the Special Ridden, which are types of enemies that vary in their abilities to make your game as much of a nightmare as possible. There are 8 of these for now, with three of them having their own divisions. Some of these will seem very familiar to anyone who played Left 4 Dead. For example, you have your Tallboy, Bruiser, or Crusher, a very strong but slow kind of enemy that will easily squash you against the floor if you let them get close. Or you have your Retch, Reeker, and Exploder, disgusting specials that will puke acid on you that will not only harm you but attract other ridden to you in a horde.

But with Back 4 Blood also come a lot of surprises! The Stinger, Stalker, and Hocker are fast and dangerous enemies that can attack you before you notice they’re even there, being able to climb on walls to devour you with different methods. There are also more unique Specials, like the Ogre, a gigantic monster, unlike anything you’ve ever seen, that can kill you with one or two hits and will have to be killed with the entire team’s cooperation. The Breakers act as their more manageable little brothers, creating a big problem for the team but not as uncommon or dangerous as the Ogre. The Sleepers are a type of zombie that will force you to be extremely aware of your surroundings, as they nest in walls prepared to launch against anything that passes near them and pin you down. The Snitcher is a mostly harmless but very annoying type that will alert every other ridden around of your presence but can thankfully be taken down easily without much problem. But by far, my favorite (and the last) of them is the Hag. A disgusting, terrifying, and hard-to-kill monster that runs uncontrollably and grabs you with its long arms to literally insert you in its mouth. Every encounter I had with the Hag was unexpected, and fear-inducing thanks to the great design it has.

As you can see, there are A LOT of obstacles to face in this game. That’s usually a great thing, as you never get tired of seeing and confronting the same enemies over and over. The way they play and challenge the players individually and as a team is great. But it’s true that on some levels, there will be a whole crowd of ridden trying to eat you and five different types of specials coming from all sides, almost guaranteeing a game over.  It’s mostly fine, making a challenge that will satisfy you at the end, but it’s worth noting how it feels a bit unbalanced it feels in specific sequences.

How about you, Dan? What’s your favorite of these, and what did you think about the game utilization of them?

Dan: I honestly didn’t know a single one of their names and gave them my own names. Like hammerfist, money shot, and Shrek. Honestly, I loved the variety of them, but I agree, at times it was super unbalanced to the point of frustration.

Verdict: Worth it for the Co-Op experience?

Gabrielle: Totally. You feel like you’re there, in the middle of the apocalypse with blood basically raining down on you while you try to survive with your friends. It feels like an evolution of everything we saw in Left 4 Dead while designing an identity of its own with the many new monsters it has and features like the card deck. If you like co-op FPS, and especially if you have friends to play with, I’d say this is a must-buy. I feel this is a game that came here to stay as its predecessor once did.

Dan: I played on the Xbox Series S, and the game played spectacularly. There were only a few hiccups here and there. Overall, if you have a friend or are fine playing with new people online, it’s absolutely a must-have. It’s so much fun to play, and the action never ends.

Categories
Comics

GC52 News: DC Comics Released 10/05/2021

(Spoilers for DC Comics releases 10/05/2021)

(Word in italics signify actions)

If you missed last week’s report, check it out here.

GC52 News begins at the old faithful time even if the program has been a bit different for the last few weeks. Once again, the news report starts in Gotham City. This time, it begins with lead anchor Dan McMahon on a rooftop. From the drone footage, the audience can see he is squatting down on one knee with his body pressed against the edge of the roof. His bulletproof vest is a bit more worn since the last time the news had been on. Rain trickles down over him as he leans into the wall as if it’s all that is keeping him up. Day in and day out, the team has been doing what they could to help in Gotham.

Dan: Good Morning, Good Afternoon, and Good Evening to all our wonderful viewers from the docks of Coast City to the furthest reaches of Oa, you are watching the multiverse’s best news show that brings you the news that you need to know! As always, I’m your host, Dan McMahon, doing my part to keep you updated on what is happening up to the minute in Gotham City as the Fear State continues.

I have been up here for a few hours now, waiting, as I got some intel that this is where Saint was going to make his play at regaining control of Peacekeeper-01, Sean Murphy. From the looks of the Air Base coming in… I think it’s coming any minute now. When you sit on stakeouts, you tend to think about the past a lot. There is a lot of quiet moments where you look into yourself.

He pauses for a moment, taking a sip from his water container.

Dan: I’ve been thinking about something I assisted on with a personal friend, Steve Trevor recently. A documentary on Wonder Woman, the woman he loves and will always love. Steve needed my help getting some archival footage from the GC52 backlogs. We sat in the cutting room for hours just talking. Actually, he did most of the talking and I listened. I listened to a man who has always been a soldier. Someone who has to follow orders and numb himself to some of the collateral damage that comes with it. But the way he talks about her, about his hero… 

I couldn’t convince him that the Wonder Woman we have been reporting on was his Diana. But it’s in my head now because Wonder Woman has dealt with so much in her time. She’s had to make choices for truth. Choices that stick with you. Those traumas and burdens, well, they build up… it’s just been on my mind is all. I really do hope she comes back soon. The world is a little bit darker without Wonder Woman in it.

Dan looks away from the camera and over the roof to see the scene below.

Dan: It’s time. It looks like a new Peacekeeper is confronting Sean now… Sean has now lunged for the other Peacekeeper. The Peacekeeper bots have the situation surrounded. This isn’t going…

Something can be heard on the rooftop near Dan as the drone pulls back to get a glimpse of Batman before he leaps from the roof down into the freshly forming battle. Dan smiles as he grabs a grappling hook from his belt to follow behind to report on the action from as close as he can. The drone zooms behind him as the sides face off. Batman fighting the drones and the Peacekeepers fighting amongst themselves.

Dan: It seems as if Sean has fled the battle but I am in pursuit.

The drone follows Dan for a moment before a bright green beam blasts through the building and straight through the camera’s lens as the feed goes dead. There’s a moment of nothing before the feed comes back, this time on screen is Ethan, transmitting from the remote Batcave the GC52 team has been using during the Fear State. He lets out a quiet swear, types a command into the computer in front of him before turning to camera.

Ethan: I’m sure Dan’s going to be fine folks, there’s another camera drone heading to his location as we speak. While we’re waiting I wanted to fill you in on some digging I’ve been doing into some Arkham patients who vanished after A-Day. It looks like a Doctor who worked there has been helping the GCPD track down these escapees. I don’t have much information on this Doctor, only her name, Jocasta Joy.

Not long before the Fear State started it seems the GCPD brought Ratcatcher to Blackgate. My sources confirm this was one of Joy’s patients. I’m going to try and contact the detective working the case to get some more info about what is being done to both help these patients and protect the people of Gotham, but communication may be a bit difficult right now.

Oh looks like the drone has reached Dan’s location… He’s fine, let me switch the camera feeds.

The new drone hovers above Dan as he is covered in the residue of the block-wide self-destruction of Peacekeeper-X.

Dan: Things have taken a turn for the worst… both Peacekeepers have been killed when Peacekeeper-01 got the upper hand and X was killed. Maybe the explosion was to keep the technology from falling into the wrong or right hands. Batman and I got away from the scene but Scarecrow’s puppet is no more. I think I saw Batman leaving with Miracle Molly. I have to go but I hope I see you next week viewers. Be strong in all your convictions.


Books covered this week:

  • Batman #114 by James Tynion IV, Jorge Jimenez, Tomeu Morey, and Clayton Cowles.
  • Wonder Woman: In Memorium by Michael W. Conrad, Becky Cloonan, Jim Cheung, Marcelo Maiolo, and Pat Brosseau.
  • Arkham City: The Order of the World #1 by Dan Watters, Dani, and Aditya Bidikar.
Categories
sports Uncategorized

Fast Five Picks From the GC Experts for NFL Week 5

Week 4 has come and gone, but don’t fret, Dr. Mitchell Powers & Rick Danger are back to cover all the Week 5 NFL action. We are down to one undefeated team, and many more vying for control of their division as the season moves on. This week, the boys are joined by Dr. Scout Baker, a Professor of History, and all-around Football connoisseur. These predictions are can’t miss, so read on and spread the word of the GC experts!

DR. MITCHELL POWERS

There comes a time in most young people’s lives when the illusion of a simplistic, binary world is suddenly shattered, like King Kong tossing a Ford F-250 Super Duty through the all-glass doors of a 1990s Commerce Bank. Maybe it’s a once-in-a-generation world event (note: “once” may also mean “several” for anyone under the age of 40,) or perhaps it’s something as small as a friend’s parents’ divorce that wakes you up to the complex and unexpected aspects of life. The point is, I was living comfortably in the aforementioned metaphorical Commerce Bank until this past weekend, when two historically mediocre New York football teams both won against their respective opponents: the Saints and the Titans. Look, I’m a pretty humble guy. Even I can admit when I’m out of my depth and I make a bad call, even if it does lead to our LA-based distribution center being repossessed by those damn pencil-pushers in the FBI (Side note: Rico, if you’re reading this, you’ll get your product. I just need a bit more time.) But my missing calls on both of those games? It’s why we can’t have nice things. I need to move on to thinking about the games coming this weekend. Between losing all that co…-ca cola, and missing the calls on those games, I’m simply too disgusted to have any other input on the topic.

RICK DANGER

Another week under wraps and good ole’ Uncle Rick escapes with a split on his games. To me, a split is like a tie, and you’re thinking of the wrong football if you’re okay with a tie. I’ve now been informed by my assistant Bill that there is such a thing as a tie in the NFL. Normally I would say Bill’s an idiot, but he has a PhD, which means pretty huge diploma, and I’ve seen it hanging on the wall, so there must be something up there in that noggin. As for my picks, the Bears came out looking like, well, bears. As for the lions, they came out looking like a tabby after two cans of fancy feast. Well, guess what lions: you don’t deserve fancy feast, you’re getting cans of ‘Unwanted #2 Small Animal Rations,’ which legally cannot contain the words food or cat on their label! Looking over to the Colts game, the duct tape must have worked because Carson Wentz led them to victory over the dolphins. The well-balanced offense moved the ball efficiently, while their defense took care of the rest. I’m sure Carson can take a big sigh of relief for two reasons. One, the elephant tranquilizers being infused into his ankles are starting to kick in. Two, it’s not time to call in Nick Foles to replace him…yet.

DR. SCOUT BAKER (OUR SPECIAL GUEST)

Thank y’all so much Dr. Powers and Mr. Danger for having me here today. For readers who don’t know me, you can call me Dr. Scout Baker; and yes, I did say Dr. I worked my butt off for those three letters at the end of my name. I’m glad I was able to take a quick break from grading papers. The Russian Revolution of 1917; riveting stuff might I say. The rise of Communism brought with it a cold winter and a shadow of Hammer and Sickle to cast out the tyranny of Czarism. But that is decades old history, let’s get to talking about more recent events in the National League of Football.

RICK’S PICKS

Chicago Bears @ Las Vegas Raiders – October 10th 4:05PM ET

The Deep Dish Dough Boys travel to sin city to taking on the Raiders and an entire strip worth of slots and table games. It must be wild as a player to travel there and not visit a sports book to place a wager on the game. Now, Uncle Rick is treading into some illegal waters here, but if I found out that I could turn $10 into $10,000 by placing a prop bet where our kicker needs to run in a touchdown, you’re damn right that scrawny fuck is jumping the goal line with the ball in his hands. Anyways, the Raiders are looking to bounce back after a loss to their division rivals, the bolt boys, and the Bears are trying to cement their position as a legitimate team. My gut is telling me to go with Justin Fields and Chicago, but I think that’s just my IBS acting up. Raiders and the fountain show at the Bellagio will confound the Bears into a loss. As for a trip to Vegas, it can be done in two days, one to find the person, and the second to bury the body.

PICK: RAIDERS

Cleveland Browns @ Los Angeles Chargers – October 10th 4:05PM ET

Cleveland will be visiting the town so nice; its literal translation is Whale’s Vagina. Look, that reference is dated, but I still am using HitClips to listen to my favorite Sugar Ray songs 1 minute at a time. Moving on, the Browns and the Chargers find themselves in the battle of the “3-1’s,” with both teams trying to break away from the pack in their respected divisions. Justin Herbert is leading the charge for the, um, Chargers, and is definitely making a name for himself. Not sure what the name is yet, but it’ll be a good one, like Zorbo or Blumpky. As for Baker Mayfield and the Browns, their consistent offense and dominant defense have been the key to their success. Goddammit, I left my keys in my truck, and this is after the dealers tried to swindle me with that spare key bullshit. Maybe I’ll just take the top off and make it a convertible. Anyway, I think the Chargers, like me, will blow the roof off this thing. Browns will put up a fight, but eventually, they’ll get flushed down the drain.

PICK: CHARGERS

POWERS’ PREDICTIONS

New York Giants @ Dallas Cowboys – October 10th 4:25PM ET

Dak Prescott is the only quarterback from the 2016 draft class still playing for the same organization that drafted him. Jared Goff was traded, Carson Wentz was benched (then traded) and Jacoby Brissett is… a person? (What’s that, Bill? Brissett’s playing for… the what?….. the Doll Skins? What a creepy name for a…. OH, the Dolphins? You’re pulling my leg, right? Who the hell would name a football team after DOLPHINS, Bill? What? No, I will not calm down! YOU CALM DOWN!! You’re not the only one with a PhD, you know!) The point I’m getting at here is that the debate on “best QB from the 2016 draft class” is about as settled as day-old steak. I’m not a Cowboys fan, but coming off injury as well as an emotional year off the field, I have to give Dak Prescott a significant hat tip for the state of his play. And divisional game be damned, I don’t see New York winning a second week in a row, much less against the Cowboys’ offense. Maybe the Giants manage to keep it a low-scoring affair, but I think the Cowboys pull out a ‘W’ in this one.

PICK: COWBOYS

Green Bay Packers @ Cincinnati Bengals – October 10th 1:00PM ET

There was a significant period within the last few years when I honestly forgot the Bengals existed. I don’t harbor any ill will toward the team, but they had simply been profoundly mediocre for a stretch of time. Take a look at the Bengals this season, however, and they’re a decidedly different team thus far. Joe Burrow has apparently been using “Jeopardy-like” review sessions to practice reading defenses, so he’s clearly been studying the enemy. It doesn’t even matter that Aaron Rodgers isn’t on the defensive side of the field. It’s a power move. It’s Joe Burrow sending a clear message to Aaron Rodgers that he’s not afraid of a former Jeopardy-host-turned-NFL-quarterback, and he knows that Aaron Rodgers doesn’t like playing in Cincinnati. Not to mention, I haven’t even brought up Rasul Douglas yet, who was recently signed to Green Bay in the cornerback position. If Douglas does see snaps this Sunday, Philadelphia fans will know the answer all too well.

“Rasul Douglas getting burned on deep routes and consistently committing penalties can be described by this commonly-used insurance term.”

“What is liability?”

PICK: BENGALS

THE GUEST GUESS

Philadelphia Eagles @ Carolina Panthers – October 10th 1:00PM ET

So this week y’all have asked for my personal predictions on the upcoming game, pitting together the Carolina Panthers against those Philadelphia Eagles; and might I just say for this game, there is NO question as to what will be the final result. The crowd won’t be learning to spell like on Sesame Street, but instead they are going to be singing SWEET CAROLINE…BUM BUM BUMMMM!!!!!! Judging by the Eagles current standings with 1-2 and Jalen Hurts playing like he is, one might call him a little bird who’s had his wings clipped and is unable to fly. Now when it comes to the Panthers, there is only room for one QUEEN of the Animal Kingdom. Sam Darnold is going to lead his team like General Patton and conquer those little birds this coming Sunday. Everyone better look up because that sky is CAROLINA BLUE BABAY!

PICK: PANTHERS

LAST WEEK 

RICKS PICKS: 1 – 1

POWERS PREDICTIONS: 0 – 2

GUEST GUESS: 1 – 0

OVERALL

RICKS PICKS: 5 – 3

POWERS PREDICTIONS: 4 – 4

GUEST GUESS: 2 – 2

**DISCLAIMER** Like a conservative talkshow, the opinions and views here are a joke.


Catch up with Dr. Mitch & Rick’s previous picks here:

Not A Football Fan? Here’s Your Starter Guide
Fast Five Picks From the GC Experts for NFL Week 2
Fast Five Picks From the GC Experts for NFL Week 3
Fast Five Picks From the GC Experts for NFL Week 4

Categories
Uncategorized

Unearthing The Hollow Heart: A Conversation On Queerness

Rook: Hollow Heart had a grip on me before I laid eyes on the first page. The cover of issue 1 is dominated by the main character’s skull-like face, shining eyes peering out from the dark. It’s unnerving, but at the same time, there’s a human emotion there. The more I looked at it, the sadder he seemed. And then, well, I read the premise, and realized that was the point. 

Bobby: It reminded me of Nemesis from Resident Evil. There’s this one image from the game I remember seeing where it was as if he was looking directly at me while holding a dead body. Not that I played the games, but I remember seeing that image and I think I felt that chill. That’s what I got with the main character, but instead of putting the book down, I wanted to see more. 

Jessica: I love how that chilling image draws you in, and then you realize that the terrifying monster on the cover is the most human character in the whole book.

Credit: Paul Allor/Paul Tucker (Vault Comics)

Bobby: I think what’s interesting about Hollow Heart is how it appeared to be a horror book and I feel like with such an image, I was expecting that, but when I see that face, there’s a tenderness to it. 

Jessica: EL’s characterization is incredible. The book achieves so much emotion with just a slight change to their mouth or a different level of light in their eyes. Some of my favorite horror stories are tragedies, and this book was much more emotionally affecting than I expected. 

Bobby: I agree. There’s a vulnerability to them. EL’s face resembles a skull and I feel like with such imagery, I was expecting to stare into nothingness when it came to his eyes. 

Jessica: I think that’s part of the point. Most of the people at the research facility look into their eyes and they see nothing. But it’s not because EL lacks humanity; it’s them who lack it. What you see has less to do with what you’re looking at than with the person who is doing the looking. 

Credit: Paul Allor/Paul Tucker (Vault Comics)

Bobby: Thinking about the above image, I find it interesting that despite looking, well, not human, El is probably one of the most human characters. They are self-conscious about their voice, and Allor’s lettering uses that “robotic” (if that’s the right word) voice of theirs to imbue them with the sentience of a human.

Rook: Absolutely. Hating that their voice is so crudely synthetic is a very humanizing moment. It’s also a very tangible way of showing how trapped they feel — for obvious reasons, yeah, but even if they escape their current confinement, their voice is still going to sound wrong to them; it’s one more bar in the prison that holds them. That strikes me as a very deliberate choice to highlight some of the book’s queer themes.

Jessica: Feeling claustrophobic in your own body or trapped in a very small, confined — and misunderstood — identity is a smart way to introduce queer elements to a character who reads to other characters as incapable of love or desire, which in itself is a problem that queer people face from others at times, so it’s doubly meaningful, I think. 

Bobby: I think it’s very interesting how it can be applied to a wide variety of situations. For me, that was dealing with the fact that I lived in an environment where “queerness” was something out of the realm of what is considered “normal.” It’s something that I think every queer individual struggles with as they grow up in a world where they realise that they are operating outside a certain convention. That was how it felt when I realised my bisexuality as a teenager before I went back into the closet thanks to being dismissed until recently. It’s almost akin to the situation with EL, where they tries to escape their prison, but they end up back in square one.

Rook: Yeah, I feel you. Hell, I was in a pretty supportive environment in general, but a lifetime of believing I was one way made me doubt I was bisexual for years before seriously considering it. Every time I felt like I was getting closer to accepting that, some societal obligation or thing I thought I was expected to do kept me stuck. 

Jessica: Exactly, just like EL says that they didn’t even realize there was this whole world of emotions and sensations they were capable of feeling or allowed to feel, compulsory heterosexuality limits your field of vision regardless of what your inner self is telling you. 

Credit: Paul Allor/Paul Tucker (Vault Comics)

Rook: Well said. And I think it’s interesting that EL sees this as something that was deliberately kept from them, while Mateo is a little more generous and believes that it was simply that it didn’t occur to people to do better by them. I personally feel like the truth is somewhere in the middle, where people didn’t open themselves to the possibility that EL deserved better because showing empathy to them would reveal some things they couldn’t stand about themselves. 

Jessica: It’s much easier not to care or think about someone’s rights or feelings when the Other is a monster or not quite human. It allows you to think of yourself as a good person even while you’re doing horrible things, because you’re not doing it to someone you think of as being of equal humanity. This book is terrifying and heartbreaking, but not because of the image that drew us all in and appeared to promise a spooky story about that eerie skeleton on the cover. Seeing what these people did to EL — even Mateo, who said he loved them! — is really going to stay with me for a while. 

Rook: Same here. Something that I thought was particularly affecting was how Allor and Tucker took the time to humanize all of these horrible people, adding details of their personal lives, their families, their losses, their children. They had all of these things binding them to humanity but chose to block themselves off from empathy at work. 

Bobby: I don’t think I was expecting that humanisation. Everyone’s got their own prison in a way and I think that prevents them from understanding someone like EL. It leads them to put other people in prisons, whether metaphorical or literal. In the case of the former, I think it could apply to their personal lives, whereas with the latter, we see that with what they do to EL. And I think that prison prevents them from connecting towards others and trying to, if it’s the right word, to empathize.

Jessica: I agree completely, and I found it very interesting that every character is queer, not just the most sympathetic ones. It gives a lot more depth and nuance to the story, and it shows that — whether we’re discussing queer issues like internalized homophobia or other forms of bigotry or just human nature and cruelty — everyone is susceptible to this Othering or this lack of empathy, so we need to examine that within ourselves lest we end up in our own prisons. 

Bobby: In a way, I can understand it. I think there’s definitely something to be said about how even folks like us can do the Othering. Part of me does wonder if this is a consequence of living in a system where our opportunities to understand can be manipulated. In this case, most of the people holding EL captive in the facility happen to be queer and a part of me wonders if it’s because they’re led to believe, or maybe taught to believe that EL is a “test subject” as opposed to a person, regardless of how EL was made. 

Credit: Paul Allor/Paul Tucker (Vault Comics)

Rook: I think that’s a convenient enough excuse for them to shield themselves from the realities of what they’re doing to EL. The label of “test subject” is just the latest in the long line of convenient words that let people call others subhuman. It’s really easy for people to fall into the trap of thinking that the group they identify with simply can’t be that bad, that they can’t make the same horrible mistakes as others have — people have been saying “it’ll all be better when those old racists in charge die off” since the baby boomers were young, and look at how that worked out for them. Now they’re the cohort in charge, and things aren’t exactly sunshine and rainbows, because that narrative was always too simple for reality. We’re all human. We all have the same potential to care, or to smother our emotions.

Credit: Paul Allor/Paul Tucker (Vault Comics)

Bobby: Even if we could make ourselves think that we can care, I think the book shows that it’s not enough. I remember thinking about Mateo and how for me, he represents that escape from the prison. He’s kind to EL and he tries to make their life easier. They talk about escaping together but then I read the scene where the narrator talks about how he has an ability to understand people’s feelings on an intellectual level; and yet he “couldn’t truly feel it.”

Credit: Paul Allor/Paul Tucker (Vault Comics)

Jessica: I found the narration so fascinating, especially the ostensibly unrelated stories that carried so much meaning through each issue. 

Bobby: Initially, I was under the assumption that it was a third-person narrator until the ending and I think in a way, each of the stories make sense, at least with what we’re seeing in the book. I do wonder if the stories are a part of EL’s consciousness and their idea of Mateo is someone they envision him to be as opposed to who he really is.

Credit: Paul Allor/Paul Tucker (Vault Comics)

Jessica: Yes I don’t think either EL or Mateo really saw each other for who they really were. It’s a good depiction of a relationship where each person has different goals and a different idea of what the relationship is, and how horribly wrong that can go, even if the real-life examples aren’t quite as extreme as this one. The emotional damage can still be quite significant. 

Bobby: I think in reality, it’s the idea of loving that idea of a person and finding out that they aren’t what you see them to be. In Hollow Heart, it’s probably “literalised” with both EL and Mateo. Heck, I might as well say that even with someone like Holly, who has a family. You start with the ideal of a relationship, but you carry on with that ideal and it can damage you and the person you’re involved with. 

Credit: Paul Allor/Paul Tucker (Vault Comics)

Jessica: Holly was one of the most intriguing characters to me. She has what society often tells us is the dream: a wife and a child. But she knows nothing about them, because all her time and energy is devoted to her job. It’s a job that to us seems to be quite evil, but to her it seems to be a calling; a higher purpose. I keep thinking about her wife screaming at her in the street, asking her who she is. Do people change, or do we slowly realize that they were never the people we thought they were? Or is the answer somewhere in the middle?

Credit: Paul Allor/Paul Tucker (Vault Comics)

Rook: Great points about Holly. I personally feel like the answer is in that murky middle ground, because few things about the human psyche fit into neat boxes. I feel like the text supports that to a certain extent, but lets the reader draw their own conclusions as it presents these snapshots of the personal lives of the people involved in maintaining EL’s hell. They’re all ambiguous, caught between a history we barely glimpse and a future we can’t know. The voice of the comic is also…I don’t want to say free of judgement, because it straightforwardly presents evil things the facility does to EL as evil, but it’s more concerned with giving you an honest and revealing view of these characters rather than sussing out who’s the worst and why. That’s such an unusual perspective, but I really appreciate it. It leaves the reader free to wrestle with and figure out their feelings on each person, from Mateo to Holly.

Bobby: I think Allor’s style of presenting events is meant to make us ponder on what we make of the overall situation. And I think introducing some of the nuances that each of the characters have helps in that means things get more complicated. Holly is someone with a wife and a kid. I know that she probably seems to see this as what Jessica said was a higher purpose, but on the other hand, I also do wonder if she’s doing this out of a need to put money on the table? I could say that for the other characters as well, such as the guard for example. All of that does make me wonder if part of the reason why events are presented in a certain manner might be because of the system, by which I mean the system that informs society. It’s the system that creates a situation like the facility with EL. Now I don’t know if that is clear, but that’s what I got from reading the book. Because I was thinking about how science can be abused by those in the system who have power and I wonder if that is indeed the case with this story. 

Rook: I think all of the characters feel the weight of that system pressing down on them, directly or indirectly. Regardless of whether Holly is doing this for a “higher purpose” or for fame or just to put cash on the table, those things are all incentivized by the society we live in. 

Monstrous things get excused in the face of those priorities all the time, and I feel the people in this story illustrate a lot of perspectives on that. They’re making Frankenstein’s goddamn monster; something clearly beyond the pale in our world. But horrors like separating immigrant children from their families have become regular occurrences here, and people got used to it. Some terrible things become invisible, acceptable, and so many of the characters here let that happen because their jobs necessitate it. That’s not an accident on the creative team’s part.

Jessica: Absolutely. When you just think of yourself as a small cog in the wheel, as a capitalist society encourages you to see yourself, it’s easy to ignore or get used to awful things because either you’re not pulling the lever yourself or you’re only pulling the lever on someone else’s orders. Personal responsibility gets diffused throughout “the system,” and we can all think of ourselves as good people working through a bad situation. It encourages complacency, which becomes the death of morality. The detached narrator emphasizes that. 

Bobby: I think it should be noted that all of these characters, or at least most of them are queer, which I think puts forth the idea that nobody is really safe from dealing with a capitalist society. Which is what makes it really interesting when I see EL try to break out of that mold. They’re not human. They were created and I think there’s something to be said about how unlike a human who is complacent, EL wants none of that; escape is the only option for them, and that’s through Mateo, the one human who seems to care for EL, but as mentioned, has his own plans. In a way, I guess EL is being imprisoned by Mateo, who seems to symbolise that sort of compassion that some believe can co-exist alongside something as ruthless as capitalism. And tragically, EL can’t escape that. 

Credit: Paul Allor/Paul Tucker (Vault Comics)

Rook: I think every character in this story is presented as a kind of monster, in a way. Even somebody as benevolent as Mateo, willing to repeatedly injure himself in an attempt to understand a kind of pain that only EL can feel, is well past the parameters of what’s typically considered normal human behavior. And despite his compassion and understanding towards EL, he still makes some monstrous decisions because he can only see the lesser evil as a real option. The system limits everyone’s choices, until they feel like being a monster is the only choice they have.

Credit: Paul Allor/Paul Tucker (Vault Comics)

To me, Hollow Heart is about coming to understand monsters, and the pain that makes and perpetuates them. 

Hollow Heart’s trade paperback, which collects all of the five issues that comprise its story, will be released by Vault Comics on the 19th of October. Be sure to pre-order your copy as soon as possible!

Categories
Episodes

Doom Patrol: Season Three, Ep. 5 ”Dada Patrol” Review

We’ve reached the halfway point of this season, and I’m pretty sure the main point to talk about is the Sisterhood of Dada. This is the first time we meet them after some teasers from Madame Rouge and their mysterious history together. For me, seeing them in live-action was crazy. We don’t get much of an explanation as to who they are, what they do, or why they do it, but just because of their personalities alone, they’re hypnotically entertaining. Everyone is portrayed with such precision down to the way they walk. The way they fuck around with the Doom Patrol’s brains without even really trying was great and made for some of the best moments in the whole show.

Although my favorite part about the episode was Cliff’s conversation with the mysterious person in the crystal cage. When he ran away from the rest of the team, high as fuck because of all the pills he took, I assumed he was going to be in a tad more comedic role for the episode. But oh boy, was I wrong. His monologue about how afraid of death he is now that he’s finally in a place where he’s being able to heal was just heartbreaking. It destroyed me, and I think it’s up there, or maybe even better, with the scene where he has a mental breakdown and asks himself why should he be alive, which ends up being an amazing parallel, even if unintentional. Again, between all the insanity of the show (Which is gladly welcome), you have a character slowly coming to terms with the fact that he might be fading away. The only thing he retains from before his accident is failing him, and there’s nothing he can do. It grounds the show in a way that I imagine must be truly difficult to achieve, but of course, the writer’s team excels at it.

But it’s not all Sisterhood of Dada in this episode. It starts strong with Jane discussing with another one of Kay’s personalities, the Doctor. Kay’s actress has grown up a lot in the three years that passed since season one, and while it could be just ignored, the plot decides to do something with it. While not addressing she looks older now, we see her ask for more independence from the rest of the personalities, even wanting to be out and experience the real world, presumably for the first time since Miranda took over after all the trauma she suffered. It’s truly interesting, especially considering the rest of the Underground’s stance on it, with at least the Doctor being opposed. 

Then we have Rita and Madame Rouge, or Laura De Mille. While Laura was annoyed at Rita’s insistence to be around her and attempts to investigate the connection between the two, the relationship was allowed to grow, for a large part of the fandom, in some expected ways (Meaning they have a lot of sexual tension).

But of course, that’s not all they do. Laura is facing the fact that she might be what Niles accused her of being in the last episode: A horrible, despicable person. I think she could easily turn into a villain, but I would be much more interested in seeing the show exploring the attempt of a villain such as her who deeply wants to be a good person since she has no memory of her actions. Knowing this show, I think it would make for a great storyline. But meanwhile, she’s just getting drunk with Rita, who ends up traveling through time with Laura’s machine after being told that was ‘’not who she was’’.

And that marks the end of this episode! Doom Patrol has no bad episodes, in my opinion, but somehow this season has some of the best in the whole show, which is still true with this one! It has such a perfect balance between weirdness and drama. The Cliff sequence that I mentioned is easily in my top 5 scenes of Doom Patrol, and the way it sets up the Sisterhood of Dada and keeps progressing the characters is perfect. Shoshana Sachi, the writer of this episode, managed to create another absolutely great chapter to this beautiful story that we all love!

Categories
Episodes

Texas Chainsaw Massacre

The GateSlashers month of programming begins in the Lone Star State! The Grave Robber gives the hosts the first ever live audience of one, his name is Bubba. Listen as Scarlett and Dan talk about The Texas Chainsaw Massacre I & II. They talk about the films’ focus of themes of animal cruelty, social issues, and much more. The Grave Robber hopes you enjoy his first episode…

Subscribe now or listen below!

Halloween GateCrashers

The GateSlashers continue their dive into all things horror as the Grave Robber gathers a fresh group of innocents to experience The Night He Came Home. Yes, we’re here today to talk about Halloween 1978, and Halloween 2018, to get you prepped on everything Michael Myers before the new film releases this week!
  1. Halloween
  2. Texas Chainsaw Massacre
  3. Interview with Marcus Parks (Last Podcast on the Left)
  4. James Bond 007
  5. X-Men
Categories
Video Games

Final Fantasy XIV – The MMO That is so Good, it was Released Twice!

“Pray return to the Waking Sands” – Minfilia, Scions of the Seventh Dawn.

Well met would be adventurers! Today I am here to tell you the story of Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn, the hit MMORPG from Square Enix that is currently FREE to play through its base game AND its first expansion, all the way through level 60, with NO cap on playtime. If you know, you know.

Before I dive into the nitty gritty details of the game, here is what you can expect from this MMORPG.

  • An open world that feels lived in.
  • An amazing story that places you in the protagonist’s seat.
  • Loveable characters.
  • Unique classes and the ability to try them all with ease on ONE character.

If that list gets your fingers itching to mash some buttons, stick around as I tell you about the new player experience for FFXIV: ARR.

FFXIV is VERY new player-friendly in terms of gameplay. The classes all start with just a small handful of abilities and organically add new buttons to press as you level up and play through the story. You can learn the class as you play, as opposed to having to figure out complex rotations and spell combos all at once. For me, that is a huge win for the game because MMOs are known for being a bit complicated. Now, let us dive a little bit deeper into the class/job systems of FFXIV. When you start the game, you have the option to choose from a handful of Classes, with many more opening up as you play through the game. Upon reaching level 30, these classes evolve into more specific Jobs, which are more powerful versions of each class. Final Fantasy might see some familiar names.

First of all we have our tanks. The job of the tanks is to keep the attention of all of the baddies so that the other classes can focus on taking them down and healing. The first tank is the Gladiator. Gladiators use a Sword and Shield as their weapons of choice and focus on protecting themselves and their party members from damage. At level 30, they evolve into the Paladin job.

The second tank we have from the start is Marauder. They swing a big ol’ ax around and do lots of damage to keep the bad guys focused on them. At level 30, they become Warriors.

Next up, we have our DPS or Damage Per Second classes. Their job is to kill the enemies and bosses as fast as possible. Within this category, we have even more options such as Melee DPS fighting up close and personal, Ranged Physical DPS who attack with physical weapons from afar, and Ranged Magic DPS, who sling spells at the baddies.

Up first for Melee DPS is Lancer. They use a spear and attack using jumping abilities to help close the distance between them and their target. At level 30 they soar into the Dragoon job.

Next, you have the Pugilist. (Forever cursed to be mispronounced by me.) They use their fists to solve their problems, and at level 30, they turn into Monks.

The only option for Ranged Physical DPS is the Archer. They bombard their foes with a bow and arrow, but upon reaching level 30, they become Bards, which not only attacks but also uses musical magic to support their friends.

Ready to pew pew magic at your enemies? Ranged Magic DPS is the job for you. The game opens up with two options for you to choose from.

Starting with the Thaumaturge. They carry a staff and call upon powerful ice and fire magicks to attack their foes, and upon reaching level 30, they turn into the Black Mage job.

Secondly, we have the Arcanist. Using their grimoires as a focus, this class is a bit special. They start off as a ranged DPS class, using the power of summoning magic along with Damage Over Time spells (DOTs) to support their attacks, but upon reaching level 30, they have the choice to turn into either a Summoner, which continues to be a Ranged Magical DPS class or a Scholar which is one of the healer jobs available in the game.

Speaking of healers, the only healer available to you at level 1 will be the Conjurer class. They carry a wand or staff and call upon the magicks of the elements to heal their friends and attack their foes. At level 30, they become White Mages.

This was a very brief overview of all the classes and jobs you can start with, and as mentioned earlier, there are so many options that become available to you as you continue to play the game, the first being at level 10!

While being named “XIV” (Fourteen), you do not need to play any other Final Fantasy game to understand the plot as this game, as with many of the games in the FF series, takes place on its own self-contained universe. Our adventures take place in the world of Hydaelyn, primarily on the continent of Eorzea. Five years before the start of our adventure, some really bad things happened on Eorzea, which ushered the world into the seventh umbral era, also known as the Calamity. All to say, the world is pretty messed up, and it is a very prosperous, albeit dangerous, time to be an adventurer.

Depending on your chosen class (which, again, is changeable throughout the game), you will start in one of three major city-states on Eorzea, all of which are inhabited by the various races of the world at this point. There is the nature-loving Gridania, The desert jewel Ul’Dah, or the island city of Limsa Lominsa (say that 10x fast). As you adventure, you will find many other settlements throughout Hydaelyn, but these three will always be revisited time and time again. Without giving too much away, as you explore, you will become very well acquainted with an organization referred to as the Scions of the Seventh Dawn. This fun group operates outside of the governments of Eorzea, hellbent on making the country a better place for all by stopping the wicked beast tribes from summoning their Primal gods and causing massive destruction. This group grows and shrinks throughout the story of the game and has a very loveable cast of characters that you will grow to love as you venture alongside them.

This game is truly a lot of fun, but you might be wondering why it is called A Realm Reborn and not just Final Fantasy XIV Online. Well, that story is rather long-winded, but the general gist is: The original game really sucked, and the player base did not like it at all. It under delivered on many of its promises but instead of packing it in and calling it a loss, the current director Naoki Yoshida, took it as an opportunity to hear the players’ concerns and start over from ground zero. This event is even referenced in-story and via the 5-year time skip mentioned earlier. The new game was everything the player base wanted and more, and it has been thriving ever since. It is currently competing with that other game that shall not be mentioned for most played MMORPG, and many internet celebrities and streamers famous for their content on that other game have started playing FFXIV as well, creating a boom of new players starting their adventures in Eorzea.

So if you are looking to start the game, the hardest gate to crash through is downloading the damn thing, but I will put this link right here for you to help make your life easier.

Let us know if you end up giving this fun game a try! My favorite part about this game beyond the lore and gameplay is the community. The community of FFXIV is famous for being incredibly helpful to its new players, also known as “sprouts”. Gone are the days of being ashamed for being new to a dungeon and not knowing where to go. Just ask, and nine times out of ten, the other players will be glad to help you out! The game is riddled with Free Companies (guilds) that are all welcoming to new players and full of seasoned adventurers looking to help you start your journey. Another great feature is that there is content for every level of gamer. From casual to hardcore, there is plenty of content to keep you busy. If you want to try your hand at some of the hardest content in the game, there is plenty of it, but if that is not for you, do not sweat it. There is plenty of casual content, and NONE of the stories is locked behind hard content.

I am currently playing on the Primal Datacenter on the Lamia server. Feel free to look up Davola Steel in-game if you need any help or want to fight some monsters together!

Happy adventuring, and see you in Eorzea!