Fandom Review(05/19/17)

Sorry about the lateness of this article but there have been some other big things going on such as Guardians and Secret Empire so here’s an article of just different quick hits that I’ve missed over the last few months.

Fox Marvel

So Fox is off and doing some big things with their side of the Marvel Universe and hopefully it pays off for them much better than the Horrendous X-Men : Apocalypse did.

First up we have “The Gifted” it’s an X-Men show directed by Bryan Singer and it’s focusing on a family on the run after their two children develop mutant abilities. It features well known X-Men like Polaris, Psylocke and Blink while not actually focusing on The X-Men team itself. This is something that I wouldn’t do because I think the X-Men are perfect for a television series but if you’re gonna go with a more basic storyline of Mutants on the run then this works and I think that Singer’s best work has been in televison(House) and so this might actually surprise me and be really good. Here’s the official trailer for the show :

Next, Fox has released the dates for three different X-Men films in 2018.

April 13: The New Mutants

I find it odd that the one that’s less than a year away is the one that I know the least about. Maisie Williams, Anya Taylor-Joy and Nat Wolff have all been rumored to have different roles in the film but nothing’s confirmed yet, not even Xavier’s role is confirmed.

Josh Boone is the official director of the film and has hinted at Wolfsbane, Mirage, Cannonball, Sunspot, Magik, and Warlock being the main characters with Williams as Wolfsbane and Taylor-Joy as Magik. I’d be perfectly fine with those choices for them and I love all the other characters so I guess I’m ready for the new mutants…even though I hardly know anything about it.

June 1: Deadpool 2

Deadpool 2 is finally on it’s way for everyone who loved the first one. Josh Brolin has officially been cast as Cable and Zazie Beets will be playing Domino in this new film directed by David Leitch(John Wick)

My thoughts on the first one were of the minority of a lot of people but Ryan Reynolds does play a good Wade Wilson and if they focus on Deadpool more as an actual hero then I’ll be happy with this one.

November 2: Dark Phoenix

Now this one, I’m just struggling to have faith in. This isn’t the first time we’ve tried the Phoenix storyline and it’s also focusing on a Jean Grey that’s willing to kill someone in Cold Blood.(Angel, sorry about the spoilers but honestly the movie isn’t worth it.) I might just be ready for the entire series to go back to Marvel, who’s consistently given us great films. Unfortunately, Fox won’t do a merger. So we’re gonna have sub-par X-Men films for a long time.

Injustice 2

Injustice 2 is nothing short of Brilliant. It’s been an incredible playthrough and I haven’t completed the story just yet but I can say that the gameplay mechanics are incredibly improved for just about every character and the new characters fit into the roster very well. The balance between fighters is about as perfect as you can get for a fighting game and the only issue I had was with Green Lantern losing a good amount of his previous abilities but maybe I just need to play as him more because he’s honestly the only character I have a problem with so far.

The Multiverse Mode and The ability to customize your character only make for a more immersive experience and allow you to really get more out of your game. It makes it a lot more interesting to try out different loadouts for different play styles.

Overall, I can’t say enough good things about Injustice 2 and it’s definitely worth picking up if you’re a DC fan or a Fighting game fan.

Marvel vs. Capcom Infinite

Obviously I’m really excited for this one. Although the previous outing had a few different issues for a modern day fighting game this one looks like it could more than redeem the series and bring it back to the forefront where it belongs. The two trailers reveal some pretty big additions to the game such as characters like Ultron, Sigma and Captain Marvel being in the game as well as the new infinity stone dynamic. According to the MVCI website you can choose an infinity stone before you fight to help out your character in a different way. So far the power and space stones are all we see being used in the trailers but we’ll no doubt see more soon enough.

Here’s the story trailer for you :

And here’s the gameplay trailer :

Shadow of War

Shadow of War is the sequel to monolith’s hit, Middle Earth : Shadow Of Mordor game. I’m very excited for this as I am a huge fan of the Middle Earth mythos, as well as the first game, and I just think that they’re going to improve on everything that made the first one great. The combat looks fresh and even more brutal and the nemesis system featuring attacking and defending strongholds is definitely a welcome change in dynamic for the series. I’m sure there will still be some stealth elements but I’m really happy to see a switch for larger battles that can test our consoles hardware.

And for those of us worried about exploration and being tied down to one area too much then check out this trailer :

I can’t wait for this game and I’ll probably be pre-ordering it soon.

 

Star Trek Discovery 

Star Trek is one of those fandoms that I just never got into. It wasn’t that I didn’t like it or that it wasn’t interesting to me. It just seemed Daunting to jump into a series that had 5o years of backstory. I had the same issue getting into shows like Doctor Who or animes that had hundreds of episodes like Dragon Ball or Naruto but after watching this trailer and falling in love with the reboot films then I have to say that I am incredibly ready for this series. James Frain as Sarek is basically fan-casting in my opinion and featuring multiple throwbacks to the original series while also going to new planets and new stories. Which makes me wonder, is there a big discovery that they find or is it just a fitting title for Star Trek in general? We’ll have to wait and see this fall.

 

Inhumans

Now a lot of people have been giving this picture a lot of crap and yes, Karnak and Gorgon don’t look perfect but honestly they kinda look deformed in the comics so maybe this is a good change in the aesthetic. Medusa is supposed to have a lot more hair but I’m assuming that it’ll expand and recede around her during fight scenes and anything else like that. Crystal looks like she’s just straight from the comics so I’m perfectly fine with her but the part of this image that really sticks out to me is Black Bolt and Maximus. I’ve never watched Hell on Wheels but I’ve heard that Anson Mount is great and I’m excited to see the gravitas he brings to the King of Inhumans and as for Maximus…Iwan Rheon was practically meant for this role. We know how great he is at playing a villain from Game Of Thrones and I think he’s gonna do some great things here.

Overall, I’m excited for this show and if I have the opportunity then I’m gonna go see it in Imax when it comes out but I do worry about both it, and Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. struggling with a Friday night time-slot. It’s typically considered to be a death sentence for most shows and I hope this one breaks that rule.

DC Dark Days and Beyond…

There’s some big stuff going on over at DC, first off we have the major summer crossover that’s being spearheaded by Scott Snyder. Yeah, take that in for a bit. Snyder, arguably the best writer of the last ten years, is doing a major DC Crossover. First up is the two Dark Days Preludes : “The Forge” and “The Casting” and the only thing that’s really been revealed is that The Forge will have the first appearance of the Joker since Rebirth started…which is pretty huge in itself but there’s also been a secret of The DC universe that’s set to be revealed and then pave the way for “Dark Nights : Metal” which is the return of Snyder and Capullo working as a team. Here’s a preview image :

Batman with battleaxes, a bloody mouth and a tattered cape in front of a giant fire is about as Metal as it gets. Want more? I know. Here’s Capullo drawing the Justice League as Gladiators :

I might be too excited for this book. I have no idea what it’s actually about yet but I know it’s going to be fantastic.

Now as interesting as I think Metal is going to be this next image is what makes me have a lot of questions :

So we know from the above image that Dark Days, Night and Matter are banners for each different/period of Comics. According to reports from DC these new stories will focus heavily on the artworks as well as the writing and will even give the artists the top billing on the covers. Metal is going to be one of six different series but they’ve kept a lot of it close to their chests and I don’t blame them. They did release this image telling us which artist is working on what :

So far the only writer that I know of Scott Snyder, Who’s working on Metal with Capullo and on New Challengers with Andy Kubert. But I’m excited to see where some of these series go because these are genuinely some of the better artists in the world.

All of this is what will be leading us to Doomsday Clock which is due out in November.

Obviously I’m happy to see Johns and Frank coming back together to do anything but I’m especially happy that they’re handling the major crossover between DC and Watchmen. Apparently it’s been heavily influenced by different things that are happening in the world following the anger, fear and general divided state of the world and it’s people. It’s being described as Optimism Vs Pessimism by Johns and will mainly focus on Dr. Manhattan and Superman. Other characters will show up but they’re the main focus and I think that’s the best way to do it. My thoughts on Watchmen have always been a minority and I’m glad that from the sound of it, Johns and I fully agree on the story but we’ll get to that and more on this crossover soon enough in my article : “Rebirth Revisited”

We Need to Talk – Iron Fist

Look, everyone, we need to talk.

So Iron Fist, the latest in Marvel’s series of Netfllix shows, is not very good. It starts out at a 3 and gradually achieves a semi-solid. And honestly, that’s OK. Marvel is allowed to put out something that’s not terrific, and no one can genuinely complain about Iron Fist’s quality when Guggenheim’s masturbatory fanfiction that is Arrow is still on the air. The quality of Iron Fist, while below Marvel’s usual standards, is not inherently offensive and thus is not the reason we need to talk.

The show’s treatment of mental healthcare, on the other hand, is another subject entirely.

As early as episode 2, Iron Fist throws itself into the fire of mental healthcare by using a psychiatric hospital—well, at least what they’re telling us is a psychiatric hospital—as its major setting. This was a bold move, and I was initially excited to see this move since mental illness has previously only been hinted at in passing in Marvel projects with few exceptions. However, as the episode proceeded, my excitement slowly wore away and yielded to disappointment and bemusement at just how inaccurate their portrayal of mental healthcare turned out. The show has been out for a while now, so I have been growing more and more surprised at the fact that no one else seems to have noticed how poorly this subject matter was handled. This is why I’m writing this article, my friends.

We need to talk about mental healthcare.

For some background, I am a mental healthcare professional–bachelors pursuing a masters pursuing a doctorate in clinical and forensic psychology. I have worked at a psychiatric hospital for a year, and my work and volunteer experience with the mentally ill total well over three years. I like to think I know my stuff respectably well. I also think that the writers for Iron Fist emphatically do not know their stuff. So just what was so inaccurate about Iron Fist’s portrayal of a psychiatric hospital that I found so upsetting? Well, here we go (SPOILERS for early episodes of Iron Fist).

I’m pretty sure that initial scene in the hospital speaks for itself, but let’s recap for fun. We find our protagonist Danny Rand strapped down to a table in an isolation room while a man in a white lab coat speaks to him, presumably a doctor. This man then tries to kill Danny, and we learn that he was actually a fellow patient who stole a doctor’s coat and snuck into a seclusion room holding a restrained patient.

If I had a week to explain everything wrong with this scene, it wouldn’t be enough time. So let’s act like Kanye West and hit the highlights: in a real psych hospital, patients would not have been able to get a doctor’s lab coat. Those things aren’t just lying around. They’re, you know, being worn by doctors. Also, patients would not be able to get into other rooms that easily. Rooms not meant for patient entry are locked. Understandably so, seclusion rooms are definite no-fly zones for patients to walk into, especially with a damn patient currently inside of one. By the way, patients are rarely restrained, and if they are, they are not left unsupervised. At psych hospitals, we intensely care about our patients, and patient safety is the absolute top priority. Basically, think the exact opposite of this scene where orderlies—not licensed nurses or doctors, orderlies—stab Danny in the neck—you know, where arteries lie—with medicine to knock him out without checking to see if he’s harmed after just having a metal fork (hmm, how’d that end up in a psych hospital) shoved in his neck. I personally think that’s a little unsafe, but what would a humble man with actual clinical experience know?

I can’t talk about this scene without mentioning that Danny is in a seclusion room in restraints for safety purposes yet still has a lamp to keep him company. A lamp, for those who don’t know, can be used as a blunt object for bludgeoning and has a cord that can be used for strangling. But it’s understandably just sitting there chilling with a dangerous supposedly psychotic man. Eh, semantics.

While this opening scene is the most blatantly ridiculous portrayal of psychiatric care, it is not the only incidence. I personally couldn’t go more than 5-10 minutes watching it without pausing to rub my temples and question how low their research budget was to so poorly reproduce mental healthcare in America. Openly aggressive patients are left to freely intermix with confused and victimized patients. Danny, despite being considered extremely dangerous, is left alone with a doctor in his office full of electronics and ways to hurt himself or others. Orderlies are charged with giving medications despite the national standard being licensed nursing professionals. Readers, a damn straight jacket is used. Let us dispel this myth here and now: straight jackets are not a modern staple of psychiatric care. In all my clinical experience, I have never even seen a straight jacket, let alone used one on a patient.

Now, I’m sure many of you are wondering why any of this matters. Sure, the portrayal of psychiatric care is flawed and inaccurate, but what’s the big deal?

Because mental illness, unlike Iron Fist, is real.

Some people are legitimately ill. And unfortunately, some people are so severely ill that they have to be institutionalized, some for only a little and some for a very long time. By making their portrayal of mental illness and mental healthcare so scary and flawed, Marvel has perpetuated the stigma that the mentally ill already face every single day and has contributed to one of the most dangerous lies of our society: it’s not safe to seek help.

The patients in Iron Fist had it all figured out. Once you get a diagnosis, you’re there for good. The psych hospital is your new home, and you’ll be incredibly lucky if you ever leave and get to see your family again. If you don’t take anything else from this article, please understand this: nothing is further from the truth. As soon as we get a new patient, there are as many as 30 different people working together to get that person stabilized, keep them safe, and send them home in a better emotional and psychological place than they were when they arrived. Patients receive three meals a day and additional snacks, are allowed outside as long as it is a safe environment, and are offered classes and activities to improve their health and quality of life inside and outside of the hospital. And believe me, there is nothing we hate more than when patients have to stay any longer than the minimum length required for their case.

If I were undergoing severe psychological distress, Iron Fist’s portrayal of mental healthcare would scare me away from ever seeking clinical help. Honestly, the way the show fetishizes homelessness and demonizes mental healthcare makes me question what point the show’s producers were really trying to convey. Is it better to live under a bridge dying of a drug overdose than to stay in a psychiatric hospital where you are fed, provided shelter and clothes, and are cared for by people seeking treatment and placement for you to improve your life? But then again, those qualities found in real facilities were nowhere to find in Iron Fist.

Perhaps the show’s rushed production is to be blamed. Perhaps Marvel didn’t have the time or resources to have people do actual research on psychiatric care or medications (by the way, thorazine is not a lobotomy drug. I actually had to stop the episode to laugh at how ridiculous and uninformed that line was). Perhaps there was a deeper meaning to the antiquated treatment of psych care that I didn’t quite get. Perhaps the show’s writers just had a ridiculously bad experience with a poorly run psych hospital that tainted their perception of healthcare. Whatever is to be blamed for the portrayal, the question remains: when are we going to stop glamorizing mental illness and start admitting that maybe scientists and doctors know more than we do?

This is not a new issue. From such media as Perks of Being a Wallflower and Twilight to such music as Lana del Ray and 21 Pilots to the demonization of mental healthcare by Iron Fist and Hannibal, society’s understanding of mental illness is so delusional that I can basically taste the irony (it tastes like blood and not-yet-ripe zucchini, by the way). Let me say this as a mental healthcare professional and friend to many with mental illnesses: psychological disorders are not beautiful. The people who suffer from them are. But the disorders themselves are a source of incredible pain and distress than need more specialized help than some BS artistic sense of superiority can provide.

If you struggle with mental illness, I hear you. And I want to tell you that it’s safe to seek help. Whether it be a licensed therapist, social worker, psychologist, psychiatrist, or psych hospital, you will be safe. Workers won’t go around blabbing your confidential information to anyone on the phone, and you won’t be left to rot in a padded room. And if you’re one of the many people who know someone with a mental illness, encourage them to find help. Be there for them, offer to go the therapy sessions with them, hold them accountable with their medication. They need friends during such trying times. And finally, if you’re one of the people who glamorize mental illness, who ridicule and demonize psychiatrists and mental healthcare, and who go out of their way to tell people that their suffering and suicidality are what makes them unique, then I have news for you. Your devotion to dramatic irony is hurting people, and you’re no better than the delusional preacher who tries to pray the gay away.

If you victimize the mentally ill like that, then you and me—we need to talk.

The Fall Of The House Of Marvel

*Major Spoiler Warning For Civil War II, Secret Empire and Captain America : Steve Rogers*

Imagine for me, if you will, that you’re a seven or eight year old that’s going to Free Comic Book Day. You’re looking through and you pick up different ones here and there but then you see one called Secret Empire and it has Captain America on the cover. Well you love the Marvel films and love everything about Captain America…until you pick it up and realize that the entire issue is all of your favorite heroes being defeated by Captain America and agents of Hydra in the most brutal way possible.

Vision is infected with a virus, Scarlet Witch goes Catatonic, Thor drops the hammer, Black Widow gets shot, Iron Man gets stabbed, Quicksilver gets electrocuted, both Spider-Men are beaten within an inch of their life…and it’s lead by Captain America who then is able to pick up Mjolnir for himself while he stands on top of the bodies of Spider-Man(Peter Parker), Ms. Marvel, Iron Man, Quicksilver and Hulk.

Quick Recap : All of your heroes have been defeated before your eyes, Mjolnir’s entire history is rewritten…thus ruining most Thor stories, your other heroes like Captain Marvel and the Guardians are about to be killed by an alien race and worst of all : It was all part of Steve Roger’s Plan. He wanted to destroy the entire Marvel universe from within and he’s not brainwashed. It’s all him.

Everything I just told you about happens in a free comic that Marvel has published for mass production…that’s primarily targeted for children and people looking to get into Comics for the first time. In other words, This is the Fall of Heroes, The Fall of Good Writers, This is the Fall of The House of Marvel.

I don’t want to write this article. I want to tell you that everything is perfect in Marvel Comics, but as a Writer and a Fan I can’t sit idly by and allow this to continue without writing against it and that starts with this : I’m Sorry. I was Wrong.

A little under a year ago I wrote an article defending Nick Spencer’s Captain America plot twist where he was revealed as a Hydra Agent. I even compared the man to Stan Lee. I have never been so wrong and I want to apologize for the article because Spencer and Marvel have since proven that they don’t actually care about their fans thoughts and ignore the problems with Sales.

I want to be wrong about this article so badly, but I don’t see it happening.

Let’s rewind about about a year and a half ago. Marvel has acquired writers such as Kelly Thompson, Chelsea Cain, Ta-Nehisi Coates and Dennis Hopeless, Greg Pak over the preceding months and is focusing on building up a lot of their lesser known heroes and books and allowing them to flourish and become headliners alongside the likes of Iron Man and Captain America and everything seems to be going good. Secret Wars was a great event and we’ve got some really interesting storylines on the horizon with only a few problems here and there.(And that mainly depends on your view of Jane Foster as Thor.) It looked like Marvel was on the way to a brilliant new age of wonder and Then it all starts to fall apart around the time that Civil War II happens : War Machine gets killed by Thanos, Hulk gets killed, Hawkeye is his killer and is now on the run, Iron Man’s in a coma, Captain Marvel is now an outcast and of course : Steve Rogers is a Hydra Agent.

Seriously, It was like The Red Wedding of Comics. Joe Quesada, Axel Alonso, and Tom Brevoort basically came up to us and said “Rob Liefeld sends his regards” and then stabbed us. (I know that Bendis wrote most of the events I just spoke about but I feel like there was a lot of editorial interference during that.) But many of us still had hope, we said “Wait and see what happens.” “Nick Spencer’s had a good run.” or “It’s not the same Steve Rogers or something like that.” But we were all deceived just like the characters in the story and I get it : “Hey, let’s boost sales and get people talking about crazy things.” But that’s where their problem lies, no one likes this storyline. The only marvel comics that have consistently been selling were either Spider-Man or Star Wars Titles and that makes sense considering most of those have phenomenal writers with them whereas Nick Spencer is all flash and no substance. Once again, I admit that was wrong to write my previous article about Nick Spencer being a decent writer…but here’s why I did it.

Most people know me to be an optimist but I also try to think things through logically and logic never allowed to considered that they would actually do this with Cap. When Steve originally said, “Hail Hydra” for the first time it was at the end of his first new comic for a while and this was after he and Sharon had discussed them doing something drastic to take down this new Hydra regime. So I thought : “Hey, he’s gonna be deep undercover and then he’ll have to keep his secret and it’s basically gonna be like 24 only starring Steve Rogers.” All of that would’ve been fine but then they made it seem like he was brainwashed and I was ok with it…it’s incredibly overdone but comics have always redone a lot of storylines before but then the unthinkable happened. What’s changed in the last few months is that it’s not brainwashing, or regular reality warping that has changed him. No, what happened was the Cap that we knew was from a fake version of reality where WWII was won by the allies and Cap was a hero. Instead, what Nick Spencer is saying is that the Axis was the actual winners of the war and that the Steve Rogers we’re seeing now is the real one.

Let that sink in. Axel Alonso, Tom Brevoort and Joe Quesada all allowed Nick Spencer to say that the actual reality is one where the Nazi’s won WWII. That hurt and offended me just by writing about it. So just take a second before you continue reading.

Still here? Ok, so let’s just skip how offensive that is from a historical level because clearly Marvel doesn’t care about that. Let’s stick with what we know for right now. Marvel comics has a plethora of characters and if they’re going to do this storyline then I can’t think of a character that this would be worst for except Magneto, Black Widow or any character of Color. Literally name another Marvel character and the storyline could possibly work but not this symbol of hope. Which, by the way, has died. Rick Jones is a character that has evolved through the years but he’s basically the Jimmy Olsen of Marvel. Recently he was a tech-whiz that spilled a bunch of S.H.I.E.L.D. secrets and then spilled Hydra ones as well. After this happens he’s captured for treason and tell’s Steve that Captain America is still his hero.(Wait, it gets worse.) Then he’s going to be executed by Firing Squad and his last words are “Avengers Assemble!” right before he gets mowed down. Yup, Congratulations Kids. There go all of your hopes and dreams.

Obviously this offends me as a Captain America fan but I’m fine. I’ve been through comic mishaps before and I still believe in heroes and I know that following this they’ll try to get Cap back on top eventually but the reason I’m worried is because we’re at a new place and Marvel has a lot of work to do to fix things. They have some absolutely amazing writers and if you stick to the right books then Marvel’s ok right now but this is a line wide event that makes multiple people uncomfortable. Marvel has also sent out promotional materials designed to be a Hydra Takeover of Comic Book stores and of different comic sites(It will not happen here. Period.) but different stores have spoken against it. The most poignant being from Greg Gage in Utah saying : “There’s a rise of anti-Semitic behavior in this world right now. The last thing I want to do is force my queer, Jewish employee to wear a Hail Hydra shirt.” I don’t blame him and yes, other stores like the event and are using it to boost their sales. That’s their right and they’re more than welcome to support it but as for me. I don’t support it.

Marvel has even had the audacity to say that the recent sales numbers could’ve been caused by Diversity and people’s hesitance to support Female Heroes or Heroes of Color. Considering that Black Panther was the best selling comic of 2016 and that characters like Kamela Khan and Miles Morales are fan favorites I’m fairly sure that isn’t the problem.

I just don’t know how they’re gonna turn it around and make this seem better for the company as a whole. I will be getting Secret Empire over the next few months but it’s only to stay up-to-date on the story. I’m ready for Marvel Generations/Legacy which is going to follow Secret Empire and is supposedly about getting back to the basic Marvel characters which could definitely turn things around but it’s still not going to be easy.

In conclusion, I miss Marvel. I miss Captain America. I’ll always believe that it will get better but it’s difficult when one of the heroes I learned that from has become a villain.

“Never Break The Chain” Guardians of the Galaxy Review(Spoiler Free)

So I’m going to do this without spoilers…which is going to be difficult because they honestly hadn’t revealed anything in any of the trailer. Which I thought was a very smart move for James Gunn to have control over marketing and showed great care over his work.

Now, I have to admit that the cosmic side of Marvel is one that I’ve never been incredibly knowledgeable on but since the first film I’ve tried to enlighten myself a bit more from time to time. The fan in me was incredibly happy about them building on different aspects of the series by adding in new characters and new elements that I won’t spoil here but they also allowed me to care more about the characters that we had already seen. Characters like Nebula, Yondu and Kraglin not only get more screen time but they also get more involved stories and I genuinely enjoyed learning about them.

This film also allows us to build on the main five characters as well. Rocket, in particular, gets a bigger storyline in this one and it made me love his character even more than I already did. About 20 to 30 minutes into the film, certain characters split up for different reasons and they all get different introspective moments with other characters and it creates a really great storyline where we get to learn more about everyone we’re watching and it’s just done very well. It wouldn’t work as well in any other film but between the charisma of Gunn’s writing and direction and the ever impressive cast it works when it probably shouldn’t. That’s the true strength of this film, the knowledge that any other team would’ve let this movie fall flat but Marvel Studios knows exactly what they’re doing.

I’m gonna counter on the reviews that have said that this film doesn’t have the same magic as the first one because I think it does but in a different way. This isn’t the same Guardians movie because this isn’t our first time seeing them, it’s obviously gonna be very different and I think it works in their favor that they try out new things in this one.

It does have to be said that the entire cast shines in this one, the returning heroes only get better the more we see of them and new characters like Kurt Russell as Ego and Pom Klementieff as Mantis make this even better. Russell is clearly having the time of his life in this role and you can tell that this won’t be the last time we see a talent like Klementieff. I can’t say much more about their roles but just take my word that they’re great.

And of course the soundtrack is absolutely phenomenal. It’s the perfect backdrop to the rest of the film from the opening of “Mr. Blue Sky” to the best usage of “The Chain” that I’ve ever seen.

Overall, this film is not only a perfect representation of the Guardians but even just Superhero films in general. It draws a balance between comedy and drama that many films only hope to come close to.

A Return To The Stars

Long before I began on my journey as a writer, certainly before I picked up my first comic and even before I travelled all across Middle-Earth there was one fandom that started it all : Star Wars.

This year marks the 40th anniversary of Star Wars coming out and that’s why I wanted to talk about what this series meant to me. With the exception of Star Trek or Flash Gordon, we had never seen anything like it until this film, we were given glimpses into the lives of these fantastical characters and new worlds that we never wanted to leave and there’s always more on the horizon even far after the main characters stories are told.

The first film was what introduced us to characters like Luke Skywalker, Leia Organa, Han Solo, Chewbacca and many other classics that would stick with us for years. But why? Why were these wild stories so close to us? I think it’s because we’ve all felt like Luke before, I think we’ve all worried about our place in the universe and I think that resonates with us. We’ve all wanted to be Strong like Leia, cool like Han, wise like Obi-Wan or Yoda and loyal like Chewbacca, R2-D2 or C-3PO. That’s why Star Wars hits home with us is because of how powerful the storyline is. There will never be a scene that affected me more as a kid then Vader saving Luke from the emperor and him wanting to see Luke with his own eyes one time. We finally saw Anakin for what he was and it’s just an incredibly powerful and emotional scene.

Another reason the film was groundbreaking was THX and ILM. These studios basically built the special effects department and it’s why most of their effects still hold up to this day. Practical Effects will always hold up because they still look real even if the film is older and that’s why movies like The Force Awakens and Rogue One stuck with them so much. Their stop motion work with the AT-AT’s on Hoth was nothing short of phenomenal and it’s clear to see why that scene is considered so iconic. Think of Star wars in your head and you might get a certain visual of something you loved like a character or a ship or a lightsaber but the lightsaber doesn’t work as well without sound and the sound of the Tie-Fighters is what makes the Death Star battle so intense. Think of most of your major blockbusters over the last 30 years and they were probably helped by something that ILM or THX created. Prime Example : You like Pixar? John Lasseter got his start with ILM along with half of the staff from the first Toy Story. In other words, would we have had Pixar if it wasn’t for Star Wars? Possibly, but it still would be very different.

And of course, we can’t talk about Star Wars without mentioning John Williams. His work on multiple different films have made him one of the most iconic composers of the last 50 years but it’s Star Wars that’s his crowning achievement. Whether it was something classical like “The Imperial March” or something new like “Duel Of The Fates” John Williams’ music is something that we all associate with Star Wars.

Memory is an interesting thing because I can’t tell you when I first saw these films and I can’t tell you the exact moment that the love of this galaxy overtook me but I can tell you exactly how it felt to hold a micro-machines X-Wing in my hand and imagine that there were worlds out there with stories for ages. I can tell you how I longed to become a Jedi Knight like Luke following Obi-Wan. But most of all I can tell you how it felt when me, my family and my friends got together to watch these films and enjoy the galaxy of lore together. When I really look back at it, to paraphrase Obi-Wan, these were my first steps towards wanting to become an entertainer. I’ve always wanted to create stories and characters like these because I want people years from now to have the same feelings as I did when I first saw the Tantive IV being chased by the Star Destroyer, watched the Millennium Falcon narrowly dodge Tie-Fghters or was drawn to the edge of my seat as Luke made the Trench Run on the Death Star.

That’s what Star Wars truly means to me. It’s the nostalgia of that childhood magic, the excitement of the battles and the wonder that there’s something else just beyond that horizon. It’s that feeling that carries me through my career…and that’s all because of Star Wars.

“Thoughts on The Prey Demo” by Carter McDaniel

 

Upon learning that Arkane was developing a new Sci-Fi title, I was immediately interested. Dishonored was my favorite game when it came out in 2012 and is still to this day my favorite single player game. Arkane’s new title Prey while having nothing to do with its predecessor bearing the same name, distinguishes itself with immersive gameplay and a gripping story. I recently had the opportunity to play the first hour of prey as Arkane released the demo to the PlayStation and Xbox stores. The game takes place aboard a space station called Talos 1 which has a very Dead Space feel to it. As for the gameplay mechanics, it brings back what I love about Dishonored, while creating its own identity. Prey presents numerous choices in how to approach every situation. Even though the demo is only supposed to represent the first hour of Prey, I found myself spending far more than that exploring every nook and cranny, finding crafting components, weapons, new enemies to fight, and ways to get around them. While the level of exploration felt very much like Dishonored, Prey sets itself apart by presenting itself less as a stealth game and more like a horror game. The audio cues are very similar of that of Dead Space and the environment bears the same haunting emptiness as Bioshock. The most common embodiment of this horror is the mimic; spider-like alien creatures that can take the form of any object in the game. From a coffee mug, to a table, to a chair to a locker. Any object you walk past could be waiting to kill you. While not available in the demo, later in the game, it is possible for you to take this ability and use it however you see fit, be it turning into a cup to sneak past enemies or turning into a fully operational turret to mow them down. In Prey, you gain new skills by using neuro-mods, devices that directly install new abilities into your brain via a needle to the eye. The demo has a fairly limited selection of these neuro mods since it was restricted to such a small area of the game. The mods that were obtainable include the ability to repair items, the ability to lift heavy objects, or the ability to wield a weapon more effectively. Later in the game you can find alien neuro mods to copy the abilities of nearly any enemy alien you meet.
Spoilers ahead
I didn’t expect Preys story to grab me like it did. While I love Dishonored, I never felt it had a particularly incredible story line. The fact that Prey opens with a twist akin to that of the “would you kindly?” moment from Bioshock had me immediately sold. The game starts with your character, Morgan Yu, waking up in his apartment on his first day at his new job. Morgan puts on his suit, walks outside and greets the maintenance man before taking the elevator to the roof of his apartment building and flying a helicopter to his new job. Upon reaching his new job he meets his brother, Alex, who informs in that there are some first qualifying test before he can begin. Alex warns Morgan that the tests are unconventional in nature. The first test involved Morgan moving boxes out of a circular area as quickly as he could. The second test had Morgan attempt to hide in the room, the only option being to duck behind a chair. And the third test had Morgan cross a room as quickly as possible. The entire time these tests were going on I was confused as to how Arkane could justify shoehorning in such an awkward and out-of-place tutorial. During the tests, however, the scientists comment things like “are you sure you did that right?”, and “no something’s not right here.” Before the final test which is simply answering a few questions to gauge Morgan’s personality. During this test Morgan looks up and sees a scientist drinking coffee. The scientist looks into the cup and says “wait, this is empty. Is this my co-.” before the cup turns into a mimic and kills him in a most gruesome fashion. The room you’re in is filled with gas and Morgan wakes up the next morning… or rather the same Morning. The alarm mentions the same date says he reporting to his first day on the job and that he has to be there by 9 a.m. just like the morning before. Only this time when Morgan stepped outside his apartment he’s greeted by a horribly mutilated maintenance man. Morgan then gets a call saying he needs to get out of his apartment. Naturally I went to the elevator that I went to the first time I played through the scene except the elevator was no longer there, so I went back to Morgan’s apartment and looked for something I could use to escape. I found a wrench, and started looking for something to hit with this Morgan’s apartment has a balcony closed off by a glass sliding door and, since I didn’t know how to open the door I hit it with a wrench. That moment is something I will never forget my gaming career. When the glass shattered, I wasn’t looking out over a balcony but rather a room. A lab of some kind. as I explored more, I found a simulation helicopter rig. I flipped a switch that made it look like my ride over to the job on the first day, and I found a lobby where it looked like my testing had begun. Someone had been keeping Morgan like a lab rat resetting his memory at the end of every day. I never learned why in the demo, but for some reason Morgan’s brother Alex is behind the memory wipe and daily testing. I hope the full game lives up to the expectation it set by opening with such a dramatic twist. For now with my interest thoroughly piqued, I’ll wait with bated breath for the full launch of Arkane’s Prey.