Geeks of the Round Table

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Super Smash Bros. 3DS

I have always loved Super Smash Bros. From the first time my babysitter brought the game over to keep us quiet, I dreamed of the day that I myself would own this glorious tribute to mascots pummeling each other.

That day has long since passed, from buying my own Gamecube with Melee to this very day picking up the new game for the 3DS. Though I have not gotten a chance to really delve into each individual character, I think I've played it enough at this point to give you all a general feel for the game's functionality.

First off, there are a TON of characters and settings unlocked right of the bat. Worried that you'll have to spend hours of play time to unlock Little Mac or Mega Man? Worry no more, because they're all there right from the start. Final Destination is also an option right from the get-go, and I can see a lot of people feeling that this removes the incentive to play the single-player game.


Super Smash Bros is not meant to be single player. Half the reason I got this version was because of the online capacity to play friends. Let's be honest, making the most desirable characters and maps in this instance, that is to say for a party game, is actively detrimental to the cause. Nintendo, as one of the few game companies that remembers video games are about FUN, realized this and gave the people the capacity to enjoy the game how they choose right from the get-go.

That's not to say there aren't unlockables, because boy are there. Challenges, Mii accessories, trophies, a few special characters, but nothing that would feel like you have an incomplete game without.

The single player functions that do exist are mainly series of challenge modes. The classic single-player campaign from the N64 days is there, though it's updated, as well as multi-enemy challenge modes. They're all decent and pretty standard fun-wise for what we've come to expect from the series.

As far as the feel of the controls go, I'm certainly impressed. While this is a game that would be easier to player with a 3DS XL, it's certainly approachable. It's clear that they went for emulating the console controls as closely as possible, but there is the option to switch the buttons around. This is good, because, at least in my experience, there are more comfortable configurations than the default. That said, however, the controls are responsive, and it really does feel as though you're playing a Smash Bros. game.

As far as downsides go, the biggest complaint I have are some of the larger maps. The limited size of a 3DS screen means that when the camera zooms out too much, it becomes hard to follow where you are. Second, while it does feel like a Smash Bros. game, so far in my experience it's not quite different enough from Brawl to feel like a new version, new characters aside.

But, this is just a very first impression. I'm sure there will be plenty more ups and downs to figure out as I keep trying out new characters and getting more unlockables.

For now though, good job on Little Mac, guys. You did not disappoint there.


The Fat Kid Road Trip part 4: The Search for Spock

 Call me Ishmael.

Okay, don't actually do that, but finding the Moonshine Store was like our white whale. We crossed what felt like an endless sea of green fields, spying the waves of corn and hearing only our stomachs rumble in anticipation for something we were only mostly sure existed. Joey's epic road trip play list (which consisted of two techno remixes and the entire Ronnie James Dio cover album) did little to cure our impatience as the GPS led us deeper and deeper into the exact middle of nowhere.

My point is, if you ever feel like going to the Moonshine Store yourself, don't be discouraged by the absolute lack of anything anywhere. Likewise, don't be daunted by what looks like an old farmhouse, because that's exactly what this place is.


Name: Moonshine Store
Locations: Martinsville, IL
Suggested by: Joel
Some say he's written works that would put Chaucer to shame. All we know is, he's Joel.
Despite the extremely remote location the Moonshine Store is a crowded place. Located at 6017 E. 300th Rd in Martinsville, the store is open from 6 a.m. to 1 p.m., and you'd best not wait until the last minute to get there, because once they run out of beef, they close up shop for the day on the spot.

The inside of the facility is like if all the nick-knacks of a hundred Cracker Barrels were swept in by a tornado of charmingly quaint antiquities. There are no tables, no chairs, just a counter to order, a table of condiments a rack of chips and some coolers of drinks. Memorabilia aside, it's probably the most straightforward and least gimmicky establishment I've ever experienced. When you sit down at the picnic tables outside the building though, you aren't worried about that. No, you've trekked through some of the most barren stretches of Illinois to get here, and you're only worry is whether the food in front of you is up to par.

Did it ever exceed my expectations. To have a place this far from any town, this far from what could reasonably be called your target buyers, and to have it be so crowded, you have to be doing something right, and what the Moonshine Store does right are the burgers. I have no idea what they do, I don't know what kind of beef they use, but something about the way these things are cooked makes for a wonderful slab of meat on a bun.  

Whether or not the food is worth the trip probably depends entirely on how much you like hamburger, or beef in general. If you like it as much as I do, then this one is a no-brainer.


The Fat Kid Road Trip part 3: The Revenge

After our stop at Chicago's most unusual hot dog venue, we departed to the magical land of Portland, Wisconsin...I mean Milwaukee, Oregon...I mean...

Maybe it was just the district we were in. Maybe it was because Summerfest was happening in roughly the same area. Maybe we were just being judgmental. There was no denying, however, that there were a lot of people who's legs were apparently uncomfortably hot while their heads were apparently uncomfortably cold.
If you or someone you know is afflicted with being a hipster, seek professional help
Hipster's aside, Milwaukee is a pleasant place during the summer (which I understand lasts roughly two days). It has more of a small-town vibe than a big city feel, and getting around is nowhere near as harrowing an experience as somewhere like Chicago.

We hadn't come to wonder at the population of hipsters or the scenery, however. We came for the Comet Cafe.


Name: Comet Cafe
Location: Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Suggested by: Joemiroquoi

Despite the extensive vegan menu and soda menu consisting of things “you've probably never heard of”, Comet Cafe and I can find common ground in one way: we love bacon. Few non-vegan dishes on the menu are without this champion of meat, and that alone is something I can appreciate. With that in mind, Joel and I ordered different variations of the bacon-wrapped meatloaf.
More like the MEAT TOWER
Before a meatloaf at Comet Cafe is cooked, the entire pan is covered with bacon. Once the beef is prepared and added, the bacon is wrapped around the entire block, giving every slice an outer shell of pure goodness.

Joey had come for one thing though, and strangely enough it was one of the few non-bacon dishes. He had come for the “Thanksgiving in a Ball”.
A dish so American I just saluted thinking about it
Turkey, stuffing and mashed potatoes all rolled up into balls larger than baseballs and deep fried to perfection. The picture does not do justice to the magnitude of this dish. Joey looked as one who had achieved Nirvana, but there was a problem: there was too much food.

He plowed through a ball and a half out of three, and although he said the food was just as good as the first bite, there was only so much his system could take. There was no way, however, that we were going to have driven that far just for him to give up halfway through. Joey needed inspiration, and we had just the thing.

The previous night we had been playing the fighting game Dead or Alive 4. There were four catagories of characters in that game for Joey: Ones he likes, ones that were okay, ones that were bad, and Akira.
Try not to get my gi mom just bleached it
For those who haven't played the game, Dead or Alive relies heavily on a counter system, meaning you have to be good at predicting the kind of move your opponent is attempting. Akira's off-tempo style makes this very, very difficult. Oh the rage, oh the ranting, oh the insults towards to a set of animations. Joey's loathing of Akira and everything he does in that game was as passionate as it was hilarious, and it just might have saved the day. Turning to Joel, I said the magic words.

“You know, I bet Akira could finish that.”
(artist's rendition of the reaction)
That lit a fire in Joey's eyes. It wasn't pretty, he wasn't in good shape after, but he conquered the Thanksgiving in a Balls. I'm not saying we had to get a wheelbarrow to get him out of the establishment, but I'm not going to formally go on record to say we didn't.

It was early in the trip for a meal to be so difficult to put down, and it would only get harder from there. Would the trip south bring greater challengers? Would we be able to finish everything on our plates? The quest continues in Martinsville.


He is the Knight

Just a classic image of a classic character. Doesn't get much better than that.


The Fat Kid Road Trip part 2: Electric Boogaloo

The first full day of our journey for a larger waistline took us northwards, and as the northernmost resident of Illinois, I got to be behind the wheel. I can't speak for how many readers regularly travel the city of Chicago, but for those who haven't gotten the chance, let me be the first to congratulate you.

It's not fun.

If you adhere to the tenants of defensive driving and general “not-feeling-like-you're-an-inch-from-death” then the Windy City is not the place for you to commute. Want to change lanes? Well, you're more or less forced to cut someone off to do so. Don't worry though, because odds are you'd have been cut off with brake-slammingly little warning about three times by that point. And make no mistake, you will certainly have to contend with this. Unless you've memorized the highway layout, figuring out what lane to be in at what time is going to be like a sodoku puzzle locked in a Rubik’s Cube given to a color-blind man.

But I digress. We made it to our destination with surprisingly little hassle and surprisingly large chunks of our car intact, just in time to enjoy some Hot Doug's.


Name: Hot Doug's Meat Emporium
Location: Chicago, IL
Suggested by: Geekasaurus Mike

I like hot dogs, and I'm sure as a red-blooded American, so do you (all of what google tells me is a surprisingly large Russian audience can ignore that statement). In my humble opinion, there are few better places to enjoy encased meats than Hot Doug's.

Located at 3324 N. California Ave in Chicago, the establishment is well known for its high-quality product, it's unique atmosphere and staff (more on that in a moment) and it's creative dish naming. Every one of the regular menu items is named after a celebrity, and those names change on a regular basis. The Bo Derek, an Andouille Sausage, for example, has been formerly called the Brigette Bardot, the Salma Hayek, the Madonna, the Raquel Welch and the Ann-Margret.
None of which are pictured here
Hot Doug's major claim to fame, however, is the Game of the Week, or a hot dog made with a different unusual animal meat every week. These have included yak, rattlesnake, wild boar and kangaroo in the past. Every Friday and Saturday, the restaurant also offers “duck fat” cooked fries.

If you're looking to eat at a decent hour, you'd better get there early. We had a half-hour wait outside just to get inside the building, let alone to the cash register. Doug himself was working the till when we arrived, and that's when their unusual take on customer service began. Upon learning that we were eating in, Joey was implicitly told to order a small drink, but just take a large cup so he didn't have to keep refilling it. I can't name many places that would argue with someone trying to pay more, but there you are.

The second unusual thing was, as we were sitting outside due to space, a voice rang out from behind me.

“Hey! Joey!”
From the tone, I expected a miracle coincidence had occurred where someone Joey knew had run into us. I was wrong. The voice belonged to our server. The third unusual thing was that it was a Chicago hot dog store that had ketchup bottles.

What we hadn't realized upon leaving, sadly, was that the establishment was cash-only. We were somewhat limited in our choices therefore, but although we had simple Chicago-dogs, corndogs (the Shirley Hardman) and a Bo Derek between us, Hot Doug's certainly managed to live up to its reputation.

If you want to eat at Hot Doug's, you'd best hurry. Sadly, Doug will be retiring, and closing his shop on October fourth. Until then, I highly recommend giving it at least one shot before it's gone forever.


The Fat Kid Road Trip Part 1: The Beginning

Between start of the World Cup, and the coming of Independence day, there was an age undreamed of. Hither came three men, destined to consume the greatest dishes in all of Illinois (and some in other states). It is I alone who can tell you of our story.

Let me tell you of the days of the Fat Kid Road Trip.

Hey, it's still better than this one.
The Fat Kid Road Trip began when Joemiroquoi's Joey Mason and I were talking after our podcast, “MikeJoeSoft” (available at when we realized something that would forever alter our destiny: we like to eat. We talked about where and what and just how long we estimated we had until our hearts gave out, and we came to the decision that a great journey was needed. From Milwaukee to St. Louis we would roam, stopping and feasting at the best places that the road had to offer.

We mapped out our course, and invited our third friend, Joel “The unGoogleable Man” to aid us in this mighty deed.

Some say he hasn't eaten anything he didn't kill with his bare hands. All we know is, he's Joel.


Name: Alehouse Pub
Location: Kankakee, IL
Suggested by: Geekasaurus Mike

They say that the journey of 10,000 miles begins with a single step. In our case, the journey of significantly fewer miles began with a trip down the street, to the Alehouse Pub. I had been there once before, and the moment my food was brought out I knew it had to be a stop on the Fat Kid Road Trip. Though from the outside it may advertise itself as a bar for craft beers, the burgers are some of the best you're likely to find.

Take for example, the Tennessean (show picture) ordered by Joey. That's a kobe beef patty topped with pulled pork and deep-fried Mac N' Cheese.
I will take a moment to allow your heart to stop freaking out at the idea. 

I myself got a burger called “The Cheesehead”, a Bison beef burger smothered in cheese with cheese curds on the top. 

Dangerously cheesy
When you order a burger at the Alehouse, you select your type of burger, your meat (angus, kobe, bison or veggie) the type of bun (regular or pretzel) and toppings. There is no way I know of to go wrong with any combination, but I'd be more than willing to do some experimenting to find out.

The pub also boasts an extensive beer menu, one that changes all the time to fit the season. If you're like me and love your beer as black as the night, or if you walk on the lighter side, Alehouse Pub in Kankakee has you covered.

Unfortunately, we had just missed the bluegrass band that had been performing, but local musicians are a regular commodity at the Alehouse, and it's free admission to all of them.

The Alehouse Pub provided some of the best burgers, fries and beer that any of us had experienced, but it was not being compared to McDonald's and Burger King. To hold it's place, it would have to contend with some of the best beef in the State. Would it hold that title? Find out next time.


Awesome Comic Tuesday

Yeah, this is a point of confusion amongst a lot of comic readers...myself included...


99% sure the bride's refusal to continue a wedding is enough to stop it.


Awesome Comic Tuesday: The Hectic Life of Batman

Fun Fact: "What's Opera Doc" is one of the two Loony Toons shorts currently preserved by the Smithsonian.


Awful Comic Thursday: Laundry Day

Fortunately, the antics of a third grader pretending to be Batman will keep my identity safe.


Awesome Comic Tuesday: Superman and Super-Science

I'll admit, I'm not the Niel DeGrasse Tyson worshiper that the internet seems to be as a whole, but this is still a pretty awesome moment in the New 52.


Web Comic Wednesday: The Adventures of Dr. McNinja

Do you need to see anything else to understand why you should see this web comic in all its glory? There is a GIANT LUMBERJACK fighting a T-REX. Anything else I can say here is moot. But fine, I'll say things anyway, its probably what you came here for.

The Adventures of Dr. McNinja is a comic about a ninja who is also a doctor. Does that sound absurdly silly? Well, what if I told you his receptionist was a gorilla, and his sidekick was a raptor-riding child bearing the most magnificent mustache this side of Burt Reynolds? Then it might be starting to sound crazy-awesome.

Dr. McNinja and his associates protect the city of Cumberland, Maryland from a variety of threats, including but not limited to Dracula, zombie ninjas, 80's action stars turned super villains and “the most radical man in the radical lands”, known only as King Radical.

The Doctor himself comes from a family of Irish ninjas, and his main interest in superhero and ninja skills in general come from an obsession with wanting to be Batman. Despite his best attempts as always being the hero, his ax-crazy nature as a ninja often comes out, especially in the beginning. He has issues with obsession in general, as seen when he tries to thwart King Radical, but is still highly skilled in both doctoring and

I can't even begin to list all of the side characters here and do them any justice. There the time-traveling mayor, the rest of the McNinja family, who are disappointed in their son's choice of career, the citizens of the Radical Lands, the Doctor's mentor Ben Franklin (a clone of the original) and the list just goes on.

The Good
If you enjoy crazy-awesome, then this one of the best things out there for you. Nearly everything runs on a mixture of rule of cool (you kind of have to be familiar with tvtropes to understand me, huh?) and the best cliches of 80's action movies.
Well, the ones not in here.
But you know what? They're still good stories in the conventional sense. There's still an arc, still character development in which they find out things about each other and themselves, and the twists and climaxes are still clever and exciting. Creator Chris Hastings has worked on Deadpool since the this comic has come out, and reading it you can certainly see why.

There is a fine line being being awesome and being off-putting and confusing, and this comic has a fantastic grasp of where that line is. There is a point where Dr. McNinja has to surf a rocket-powered robot from Dracula's moon-base back to Earth, and in context every single one of those words makes sense.

The Bad
I can't think of much to put in here. If you're looking for something artsy or dramatic, this isn't your comic. If you like Tarantino's movies, or just want to read something that's off-the-wall fun with little to no limits, then this is definitely up your ally.

The Verdict
In case you'd forgotten.


Holy crap fan art!

JustPlainJim at deviantart brought the characters of Eclipse Nightfire and Gammie to life!


Web Comic Wednesday: XKCD

As a student, I always hated math. It's not that I was terrible at it, I could just never shake the question of when in my life I was going to need to use cosine, or calculate the surface area of a pyramid. SO when I heard about XKCD, a comic entirely based on science and math, I was skeptical of my capacity to enjoy it.

Fortunately, my skepticism was soon quashed. Understanding of math and science isn't usually a requirement for understanding the jokes here, though it just might make the better. I wouldn't know. I don't understand math. Instead, the humor comes from, frankly, incredibly clever writing. Sometimes there isn't really any humor, but the writing and ideas are still interesting enough to keep you fascinated.

I realize that I'm not doing a great job of telling you what this comic is about, and that's because it's a very difficult thing to define. There are no main characters, no overarching plots, just whatever Randall Munroe thinks is funny or insightful at the time.

The Good
As I've said, the writing and ideas are top-notch, and will almost certainly keep your interest. Several times a comic will get incredibly deep or existentialist, then be brought back to humorous through the sudden use of water guns or carnivorous dinosaurs.

Others that don't have humor at all are more of experiments with the art form of online sequential art. Notably, one comic titled “umwelt” displayed a completely different comic depending on your browser, location and IP address range. Others will take advantage of zoom, panoramic view or gifs to make their joke.

If it seems like this “the good” segment is relatively short, its because its hard to put into words what makes this comic good. Do not misunderstand me, this comic is better than good, this comic is great. But the existential nature of a lot of them, combined with the lack of overarching structure makes reasons and themes somewhat difficult to pin down. At the end of the day, all I can really say is that each comic will leave you feeling...something. Even if you aren't sure what that something is.
I THINK I was amused...
The Bad
If you're looking for a comic with a load of deep characters or a complex plot line, look elsewhere. Likewise, many may be turned off by the stick-figure art style, or the comics that are all text. If visual art is what appeals to you, well, maybe this isn't for you either.

There are also a number of comics that remind me of those “inspirational” posters you would see behind a manager's desk. They're more heartwarming and tell the message better, but you can't shake the feeling that they're telling you “what life is all about”. Some people really get into that kind of things, I'm just not one of them, I suppose.

Lastly, for the sake of fair warning, the first comics on the site are not indicative of the entire thing. They're doodles from Munroe's school notebooks, and if you skip until you start seeing stick figures, you'll be at the actual comic.

The Verdict
Read this comic. Seriously, at least give it a good chance. It makes you think, makes you chuckle, and makes you...well, we'll just say “other”. There are reasons you may not get into it, but from what I can tell they're few and far between.


Web Comic Wednesday: Least I Could Do

Ryan Sohmer is a comic creator that I can't quite decide if I like or not. On the one hand, there is a strong argument for his comic “Least I could Do”'s central character Rayne Summers being a self-insert Mary Sue (a character too perfect to be interesting), and he can come off as a bit cocky through his comic, such as his current storyline where he-I mean Rayne, has an idea that everyone's sure will revolutionize the news industry, or when he implies that he's the only hard working guy in the entire web-comic industry.

But here's the thing, unlike characters like Ethan from Ctrl+Alt+Del, both Ryan and Rayne having redeeming qualities that make them bearable, and even enjoyable. Sohmer may come off as cocky, but in fairness he really is one of the busiest people in web-comics, currently running three of them at once.

LICD mainly focuses on the antics of Rayne Summers, a guy in his late-twenties going through a variety of real-life and exaggerated-real-life events with his friends. There is no real overarching plot here, just a series of mini-arcs.

The Good
Rayne himself is, as stated, a more likable version of Ethan. His antics, while wild and absurd, usually don't go too deeply into the realm of illegal or mean-spirited. More often than not, at least in recent years, we find out those antics have a greater purpose in trying to help his friends and their families. That's probably what actually makes him tolerable: his loyalty. Sure, Ethan may help his friends out if he gains by it...or he isn't distracted...or he isn't the one harming them in the first place...but Rayne's help seems to genuinely come from a place of love. He also developes as a character, starting as a one-note sex fiend and slowly figuring out the worth of his other relationships, especially with his young niece.

The other characters, while still usually foils to Rayne, actually have their own characteristics. Noel, Raynes best friend, is often the straight man, but has his own life with a marriage and children, as well as limits to his patience with Rayne. Mickey has to deal with being overweight, low-self confidence in the beginning, but he too goes through character development. Rayne's roommate Mike is depressed, lonely, but tries to keep a brave face and can still be funny when he needs to be.

There is some drama in the series, but its never as sudden or as jarring as in Ctrl+Alt+Del. When we find out (spoilers) Rayne has struggled with depression, the explanation makes sense with everything we've learned about him before. When we find out (again, spoilers) that Mickey's father was murdered when he was a child, its jarring, but there's less of a tone in the mood of the comic than you would think.

Finally, the scenarios seem more real (usually). Unlike Ctrl+Alt+Del where the problems and settings are fantastical, the problems closer to real-life are easier to connect with and actually care about. That has a lot to do with worlds more clever writing and infinitely more likable characters.

The Bad
The comic can be a bit preachy at times, especially on the occasions where Sohmer decides to write about world issues.
As stated above though, the biggest complaint made is usually about Sohmer's perceived arrogance and how it transfers into Rayne. I suppose once it was pointed out to me I started to see it, but to be honest its never anything too jarring for me. If you're really put off by things like that, I could see how you would not like this comic.
Likewise, if you're put off by constant sexual humor, start about halfway through the comic's run. At the start, that is literally the entire joke of the comic. Rayne likes sex. A lot. Again though, it gets better.

The Verdict
I'd suggest at least giving this comic a chance. If you're put off at the first few comics, hop into the archive and start from the middle, or latter third. If you still don't like it, well, I won't blame you, but I think most of you will find something to like here.


Awful Comic Thursday: The Bat-Ape

I guess DC was attempting to boost sales by tapping into the largely forgotten ape demographic.


Web Comic Wednesday: Crtl+Alt+Del

Oh Ctrl+Alt+Del comics, what a rocky relationship we've had. When I started reading you, I thought you were great. Your characters were funny, your jokes were funny, Chef Brian was funny, it was just an all around funny thing.

Then something happened. I don't know what it was. Maybe I grew up a bit, maybe my tastes changed. More than likely, however, you stopped making jokes and started your string of “serious” plots right out of a junior high notebook.

But you know what, Ctrl+Alt+Del? You've gotten better. No, I still don't like you as much as I did when I was 15, and I doubt I ever will, but you've ditched your overcomplicated cast of characters and your only semi-competent grasp of creative drama, and gone back to making jokes. Is it only a matter of time before you decided to “expand” the characteristics of players 1-4? Probably. But for now, you've reached the lofty goal of “there are worse time wasters you could do.”

Okay, I've rambled on about this enough. Ctrl+Alt+Del is a webcomic by Tim Buckly, and at its start was about a pair of gaming roommates (lamp shading their own “originality” from time to time) as they talk about video games and the turns the industry is taking. Okay, so this sounds like dollar-store Penny Arcade...and it was...but then things get a little hairy.

Ethan, the standard “crazy but apparently considered “lovable” in universe” character becomes smitten with a girl named Lilah, who is, for reasons utterly beyond me, smitten in return. This is where the drama switch gets pulled. If you follow the web comic world in the slightest, you know what happens. They get married, Lilah gets pregnant, and completely out of nowhere a miscarriage ensues. Because drama.

There are other characters, such as the relatively straight-man archetype Lucas, the sentient and sapient x-box he created named Zeke and their mysterious and rarely-seen third roommate Scott, but at the end of the day, the story mainly falls down to Ethan who, to be honest, isn't terribly interesting. He's random, kookie and operates under what can only be defined as 'insane troll logic', and while that amused me to no end at 15, I just find him annoying now. Lilah and Ethan don't have terribly much personality either, they're mostly just foils to Ethan.

The Good
When the comic decides to make jokes, it can be at least passable. Your time is still better spent reading Penny Arcade, but they're not all that bad.

The best thing to ever happen to this comic was the decision to completely lose its “main cast”, and just goes to using the Players (a group of characters named Player 1, 2, 3 and 4) for commentary, or using actual game characters to lampoon the flaws in the work itself. Again, they're decent.

The Bad
I've heard a lot of rumors about Tim Buckly, but until I get verifiable reports telling me they're true, I'm not spreading them here. Besides, we're here to talk about the comic itself.

First off, the lack of effort. Buckly has made videos showing how he makes Ctrt+Alt+Del, and they are maddening. He as a set of angry eyes, a set of lazy eyes, a set of hopeful eyes, and he just clicks and drags them over to the blank face for that scene. Wow. Just wow. The same goes for every facial feature and plenty of the background.

Second, as I none-too-subtly stated above, the drama isn't really well integrated into the story, or all that well thought out. It seems that Buckly will just decide that there's been too much fun for too long and pull the drama lever, throwing in the most horrible thing he can think of completely out of left field.

The Verdict
I've said it already. The recent ones are okay, but seriously, just go read Penny Arcade. It's a better use of your time.


Awesome Comic Tuesday: Badass(er) Batman

Batman has a crossbow and a motorcycle. All your arguments are invalid forever because Batman.


Jolly Cooperation: A Link to the Past, Part 4 (or 5...depending)

After the real part four's video footage suffered catastrophic failure, this was deemed the new part 4! Turk and Mike's magical adventure through A Link to the Past continues!


Web Comic Wednesday: 8 Bit Theater

In this inaugural outing of Web Comic Wednesdays, I find it only fitting that we talk about the first web comic that I ever read: 8-Bit Theater on

A parody of early Final Fantasy games, 8-Bit Theater follows the adventures of Fighter, a delightfully naïve buffoon that also happens to be an amazing swordsman, as well as his only semi-willing traveling companion: Black Mage. Probably the most famous character of the comic, Black Mage is a proudly evil sociopath with not at all hidden aspirations of conquering the world.

The two (mainly Fighter) decide to form a heroic questing party to become the Warriors of Light, and end up recruiting an elfish thief named Thief (sensing a pattern yet?) who is every con-artist rolled into one, and a red mage know, I'll give you three guesses, and the first two don't count. Red Mage is modeled after a hardcord D&D player, complete with his own character sheet, which somehow actually effects his real-life skills.

Along their quest, they meet several other characters, such as the straight-man (or woman) character White Mage, her bodyguard Black Belt, who is basically like Fighter but with martial arts, and a wide variety of villains and NPCs, all on their quest to obtain the four elemental stones and save the world. At least, that's what the rest of the world thinks.

The Good
As the first web comic I read, and the number of years ago I read it, it's very possible that I just have nostalgia blindness here, but at least the first half of the comic's story and the characters are the best parts of this. Fighter is the buffoon, but he can range from being strangely insightful to the “achievements in ignorance” trope, such as when he invented and implemented “sword-chucks.”

That trope also applies to Red Mage in spades. In this universe, the Red Mages dedicated their whole order to understanding the mechanics of the world, so somehow, against all odds, through his stat sheet, Red Mage achieves the absurd. This includes surviving having his skeleton forced out his mouth, because he lost his pencil and couldn't mark his damage taken.

Black Mage is delightful in his cynicism and just all-around pathetic nature. He's an extremely powerful wizard in his own right, but the world just won't give him a single break. Black Mage is the first character to chastise anyone else's shortcomings, which is made better by the fact that we all know one of his own is about to become glaringly obvious.

If there's one main character I'm “meh” about, it's thief. I've played in games were one person grinds the story to a halt to try and steal everything, and it was as boring then as it is now. I enjoy that he can steal anything that isn't “nailed down or on fire”, to a point that he steals the soul of a Lich, but I'm still lukewarm.

The Bad
The comic takes a long while at the beginning to find its comedic voice and its identity, but that's to be expected. The story drags around a fair bit, and just sort of peters out near the end. The jokes get less frequent and frankly less funny, and the bits I just stop caring about become more and more often. Happily, this is probably due to the creator, Brian Clevenger, becoming more of a real world cartoonist and not having as much time on his hands. In terms of the comic alone, however, the second third to half is frankly mediocre and uninspiring.

However, there's still nothing exceptionally “bad” that I can think of about it, it's just not as good. If you have a free day or two, I still recommend checking out 8-Bit Theater, once again on


Awesome Comic Tuesday: Thor goes on a culinary adventure

Thor approves of our..."creamsicles." Between this and Wonder Women in the U52 Justice League, I have to wonder why we're the only race to discover ice cream.


Pokemon Red Part 1 - The Name Game

Tim, Mike, and the invisible and inaudible Andy sit down to play Pokemon Red in this first episode of the adventures of No Homo, and his trusty squirtle: Can they climb the ranks of the pokemon league and one day become the very best, like no one ever was? Or will they be drowned out in a slew of dick jokes? Either one is equally possible! They'll probably just get stuck on a naming screen though.

Let's play channel:
Not Another Reviewer -


Awful Comic Thursday: Superman can be a Jerk

So to grab people's attentions, DC had a habit of showing Superman doing really douchey things. Honestly, this is probably one of his more reasonable requests.


Awful Comic Thursday: Superman-o?

I was honestly unsure of whether to put this in the Awesome or Awful. Is the super-sombrero bulletproof as well?


Superhero movies: Effects vs. Story

I won't say there's no end in sight for the superhero movie trend. Now that the Batman trilogy is over and done with, DC has got to be banking on the success of Batman vs. Superman to even stay in the game. Marvel is still going strong, with Thor: The Dark World receiving decent praise at the box office, as well as by critics, but the somewhat lackluster third installment of the Iron Man trilogy made me wonder if they may finally be running out of steam.

That all said, however, we can still look back at the early 2000's and marvel at just how far the superhero movie has come since the days of the first X-Men movie. Sure, technology has improved, and film rights to certain characters have been hashed out, but I think there is an additional factor we can consider: finding the balance between special effects and a good story. The first X-Men movie, for example, seemed to be more of an exercise in seeing what cool powers could be brought to life, with considerably less emphasis on having a story, or character development, or avoiding terrible dialogue.

What happens when a toad gets hit by lightning? Terrible writing, that's what.
As a kid, I was super (haha, puns) impressed by the special effects. As I got older, however, I came to realize that they did not make a movie good, just sparkly, like an arts and crafts project made of a cloud of glitter with no paper to be glued down to. X-Men 2 and 3 were, admittedly, better about it, exploring the homophobia allegory that's always been a staple of the comic, but they never really “wowed” me.

Then came “X-Men: First Class”. Unlike its bad to just unimpressive predecessors, I think First Class is a great movie, easily one of the best in its genre. The characters are no longer just walking special effects, they're people. Mystique is interesting, Beast is interesting, Magneto is incredibly deep for a comic book character, and although you know he's technically the “villain”, you can see that he as a very valid point. Sure, ultimately they're foiling the plan of a super villain, and Emma Frost reaches Kristen Stewart levels of bland, but there are other stories and character developments happening at the same time. The powers are what they should be: elements of the story, rather than the primary focus.

“But Mike,” some of you are saying, “aren't the superpowers the reason we come to superhero movies in the first place?” That's a valid point. After all, you didn't pay $10 to see “Captain Explosion 2: Return of the Mega-Pecs” to see all quiet, talky scenes with a lot of character development.

For a moment though, let's consider “That 70's Show”.

Bear with me. What did people like about “That 70's Show”? Easy, Kelso was the loveable idiot, Fez was awkward an naïve, Jackie and Red were hilarious (though vastly different) jerks, and Eric and Donna were, more often than not, the straight foils to the antics of the others. Know what's missing from that list, though? The fact that the show was in the 70's. At the end of the day, the premise and even title of the show had nothing to do with why we liked the final product. We usually like stories because we like the characters. They're the ones we're supposed to want to see win, who we feel bad to see fail. When a character is just walking laser vision, like Cyclops in the first two X-Men movies, then we really can't care about what happens to him.

However, I wouldn't go so far as to say remove the powers entirely. After all, the biggest complaint about the Iron Man movies is that there was very little actual Iron Man, especially in the third flick. Character building and getting us invested are important, to be sure, but if if the amount of payoff is disproportionate to how long we've waited, then we feel like we've had our time wasted. The Avengers did this as close to perfectly as I think any movie has. You knew every quiet talky scene was building up to another explosive fight scene, and it always delivered. Avengers are being gathered? Let's have them fight Loki. Now there's a lot of talking and arguing? Uh-oh, Banner's Hulked out. Post-shock depressing scenes after the battle on the Helicarrier? Well, that's okay. We know the climactic final fight is on the way.

While I think the superhero movie as a trend will go away, I seriously doubt the genre will ever really die out. Let's face it, if the Phantom, Tank Girl and Steel didn't kill it back in the 90's I doubt there's much that will. Plus, I think we'll come out of this fad with a better understanding of how superhero movies can continue to get better for the future, even if they aren't as frequent.

Of course, Xavier went from being “the guy with mind powers” to “the guy who the 70's vomited on”, but we'll see where that goes.