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Thursday, September 22, 2016

Joe Stickman: The Legend Continues...


Cast your minds back to the 10th and 11th of September 2016. What were you doing? Huh? Something boring? Thought so...

Ricky, Pete and Adam were attending the ICE/Comics Uncovered double whammy in Birmingham.

Saturday saw them doing the things they do best: selling issues of Copperopolis, and talking to people.

Adam and Ricky also set about approaching the fine men and women who were guests at the convention on Saturday; in hope of expanding the library of Joe Stickman art, and as always these professionals were happy to have a go at doing a Joe.


First up we have legendary 2000AD writer John Wagner's Joe.



Here is 'Limbo' artist Caspar Wijngaard's interpretation of Joe.




And here is 'Limbo' writer Dan Watters' top-hatted Joe.




Here we have the talented Anastasia Catris and her stick-wielding Joe Stickman.




Marvel-ous artist Declan Shalvey (who also works for the Distinguished Competition too) gives his Joe Stickman a little humour-filled 'Injection'... ahem... we're done with the puns now.




That 'Dark Horse' Laurence Campbell (sorry, we couldn't resist) decided to get to the bare bones of our beloved Joe.



One of comics'  hottest artists, Sean Phillips, here with a dynamically drawn Joe.



Superstar artist Duncan Fegredo decided to transform our simple mascot into the porcine 'Joe Pigman'. What a swine! (Joe, not Duncan!)



Marine diving fanatic and fantastic artist, Ian Churchill, has our Joe really packing a punch.




 We have our first 'repeat offender'! The stellar writer, Rob Williams, and his second Ghost Rider Joe. 
Rob is currently writing 'Unfollow' for Vertigo Comics. This title is a particular favourite of Adam's and both he and Rob would love for you to pick up a copy from you local comic shop.

If you want to see which comic greats we get to draw a stickman next make sure you stay tuned, same stick-time, same stick-channel!



Joe Stickman: The Legend Continues...

Cast your minds back to the 10th and 11th of September 2016. What were you doing? Huh? Something boring? Thought so...

Ricky, Pete and Adam were attending the ICE/Comics Uncovered double whammy in Birmingham.

Saturday saw them doing the things they do best: selling issues of Copperopolis, and talking to people.

Adam and Ricky also set about approaching the fine men and women who were guests at the convention on Saturday; in hope of expanding the library of Joe Stickman art, and as always these professionals were happy to have a go at doing a Joe.


First up we have legendary 2000AD writer John Wagner's Joe.



Here is 'Limbo' artist Caspar Wijngaard's interpretation of Joe.




And here is 'Limbo' writer Dan Watters' top-hatted Joe.




Here we have the talented Anastasia Catris and her stick-wielding Joe Stickman.




Marvel-ous artist Declan Shalvey (who also works for the Distinguished Competition too) gives his Joe Stickman a little humour-filled 'Injection'... ahem... we're done with the puns now.




That 'Dark Horse' Laurence Campbell (sorry, we couldn't resist) decided to get to the bare bones of our beloved Joe.



One of comics'  hottest artists, Sean Phillips, here with a dynamically drawn Joe.



Superstar artist Duncan Fegredo decided to transform our simple mascot into the porcine 'Joe Pigman'. What a swine! (Joe, not Duncan!)



Marine diving fanatic and fantastic artist, Ian Churchill, has our Joe really packing a punch.




 We have our first 'repeat offender'! The stellar writer, Rob Williams, and his second Ghost Rider Joe. 
Rob is currently writing 'Unfollow' for Vertigo Comics. This title is a particular favourite of Adam's and both he and Rob would love for you to pick up a copy from you local comic shop.

If you want to see which comic greats we get to draw a stickman next make sure you stay tuned, same stick-time, same stick-channel!



Tuesday, September 20, 2016

What's So Civil About War Anyway: Team Cap Vs Team Iron Man

I wrote this earlier in the year before Captain America: Civil War was released but never got round to posting, so with the recent release of the home video version it seemed like a good time to post it.




Whilst at the Geek Gathering in Llanelli a few weeks back me and Pete were talking about  Captain America: Civil War, Pete mentioned that coming from a comic book reading house his daughters were frustrated that all their friends are Team Iron Man. I found this interesting but didn’t think too much more about it, that was until earlier in the week when I was invited to the cinema with some of the guy’s I work with to watch Captain America: Civil War. This invitation got me thinking about it again, and I asked out of curiosity if they were Team Cap or Team Iron Man, and all of them were Team Iron Man. This is where I got a bit more interesting as I am firmly Team Cap because of the comics I read; so I decided to conduct a quick poll amongst my friends and found that this trend for the most part continued with comic book fans saying that they were Team Cap and the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) fans siding with Team Iron Man (there were a few exceptions either way).


WARNING FROM THIS POINT ON I WILL BE GOING INTO DETAILS OF EVENTS THAT HAPPEN IN THE CIVIL WAR COMIC BOOK SO THERE IS SOME POTENTIAL FOR SPOILERS IF YOU HAVEN’T READ IT!



The big marketing ploy for Civil War asked the question “Whose side are you on?” and from the outset there were claims that it was an impartial look at the question and readers could decide who was more right. I will admit that I do have a bias towards Team Cap as I used this series as part of my dissertation and felt that the depiction of the anti-registration team and their actions in the name of freedom were more justified. However, knowing this bias existed I decided to revisit the series for the first time in a few years and note what I considered to be questionable actions by both sides, and found some interesting points that I hadn’t considered before.


For the pro registration side led by Iron Man, I found eleven acts that I felt were morally wrong and damaged the validity of their argument. I also found that Iron Man isn’t as complicit in some of the actions as I remembered; but as figurehead of the movement he has to shoulder some of the blame. For example: whilst Stark isn’t directly involved in acts such as the ‘Capekillers’ shooting and bombing of Patriot, a Young Avenger who styles himself on Captain America, by letting these actions be done in his name does ultimately make him responsible. However, Iron Man is directly involved in most of the worst actions of pro registration campaign. The worst transgression of the series being the cloning of Thor to create the cyborg Ragnarok; an act that directly leads to the death of Bill Foster/Goliath as the clone does not follow his programming and uses lethal force on Goliath, before attempting the same with the rest of the anti registration forces. Following this event we learn that the Thor clone was a product of Tony Stark, Reed Richards, and Hank Pym but brings to light some disturbing thing about Tony when Hank tells the Wasp;


“Did you know Tony had been holding onto that strand of Thor’s hair since the first meeting of the Avengers? What kind of man combs his furniture for hair follicles and skin cells?”


For me this highlights how calculated every action that Tony Stark takes is; whilst the death might have been a mistake, the fact that he kept Thor’s hair -for years- just incase shows the type of guy Tony is. If these types of actions were driving Tony from the start did he give the mansion to the Avengers for the sole purpose of experimenting on them? He also uses his influence to manipulate Peter Parker into revealing his identity to the world to further legitimise his cause; yet when Parker objects to the extrajudicial imprisonment of anti registration heroes, Iron Man attacks him, uses his Iron-Spider suit against him, and even sets a group of villains on him all despite Parker being a registered and legal superhero at this point. The extrajudicial imprisonment also highlights the extent that Iron Man is prepared to go despite the ramifications, as his forces employ the use of a prison in another dimension. The prison dubbed 42 is situated in the Negative Zone and it is used to hold any Super Human Registration Act (SHRA) violators, without any legal proceedings and whilst imprisoning heroes the pro registration forces were bolstered by villains including killers such as Bullseye, Venom (Mac Gargan), and Lady Deathstrike.


With the opposing side of the conflict it is a lot harder to find these types of faults, outside of they were breaking the law by not complying with the SHRA, but even this seems quite petty as some of the most prominent members such as Captain America and Luke Cage don’t have secret identities and were still fighting for the right to privacy. I wanted to keep as impartial as possible and judge both sides as evenly as possible, as a result of this I think I ended up judging Team Cap more harshly and most of my list seemed petty in comparison to the Team Iron Man list. There are a few standout points though, the first is that Captain America throws the first punch in the conflict that ends in the death of Bill Foster. However, leading up to Iron Man claiming that he only wants to talk, the anti registration forces have been drawn into a trap, their teleporters are taken out and they are surrounded by the opposition. This leaves Cap with very limited options and although he could have tried to talk to Iron Man, but (apart from making the comic boring) Cap chooses to fight. The only other major incident is when the Punisher guns down two villains who are trying to join the anti-registration forces. Whilst this act results in two deaths at the hands of a member of Cap's team Captain America doesn't condone the actions and beats up the Punisher and expels him from the team.        


All the other things I picked up for questionable acts by Cap were actions like throwing a 'capekiller' from a moving van whilst rescuing the Young Avenger, or taking advantage of Sue Storm's relationship with Namor in an attempt to recruit him and Atlantis to the anti-registration cause. These actions are questionable but in comparison to Iron Man using nanites to enlist an army of villains, or his attempt to blackmail the X-men into joining the pro registration side they still come across as a lesser evil.

So whilst I did pick up on a few examples of transgressions by Team Cap I still firmly believe that the anti-registration argument is stronger. Even though Team Cap are the outlaws of the story they act more like heroes in their actions than Team Iron Man despite them having the law on their side. Therefore I am still firmly Team Cap, but "Whose Side Are You On?"







Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Kierans Pokemon Challenge Part 3: Between a Roark and a Hard Place


I’ve taken a bit longer to post this than I was hoping it would but the loss of the shiny Starly really hurt me. I contemplated stopping after the last entry, but then I watched other shiney fails on YouTube and realised that losing a shiny Starly isn’t the end of the world as the many videos show it could have been a legendary that has only 1HP, that gets hit with recoil. Another reason for the delay is how little time I’ve had to actually play the game over the last few weeks. I did try to play a bit whilst at Cardiff Anime Con a few weekends ago, if you were there you might have seen me sneaking a few minutes here and there (and may have even criticised my 2DS, I prefer it so no excuses needed), but my battery didn’t have enough charge to properly play.






I picked back up on route 203 and not wanting to risk another encounter with a stupid Starly I headed straight for Oreburgh Gate. On entering the cave a hiker gives you the HM for Rock Smash, but as I still only have BA Baracus I decide not to use it yet, instead I decided to wait until I could use it after getting the badge needed to use it outside of battle. The trainers in the cave aren’t a match for BA: as he is my only Pokemon, he is close to being three times the level; so even the Psyduck isn’t a match despite the type advantage, the wild Pokemon don’t fair much better either.


On arriving in Oreburgh City a Youngster shows you to the gym, where despite probably being video gaming’s most impatient character ever, The Boss seems to have waited around just to tell me that he has won a badge and the gym leader has gone to the Oreburgh Mine, then runs off. I was both glad and annoyed that I didn’t get to battle him as I’d be at a disadvantage without a trip to the Pokemon Centre but I could do with the XP and Money (having to buy potions is expensive). Instead of heading straight for the mine I decided to head North to explore the long grass, on taking my first step into the grass it initiates an encounter and I can’t believe my luck: it’s a Machop! My luck in this game was finally changing! I hit it with ember to weaken it, only to get a critical hit and make it faint... I try to ignore this; after all I encountered it on my first step, they probably have a high encounter rate here. So, I carried on running around only to encounter Geodude after Geodude with an occasional Kricketot thrown in. This game had decided to toy with me it just seems to know what I’m doing and throwing as many Geodude shaped blocks in my way, and just as I conceded defeat and decided to head to the mine I finally encounter another Machop. Taking no risks I decide to throw Pokeball after Pokeball at it until it gave up and ‘decided’ to join my team after about ten balls. I named him ‘HM Murdock’, taught him Rock Smash, and I was halfway to completing my A-Team! Feeling pleased with myself I headed out of the long grass only to encounter another Machop, using my newly acquired HM Murdock I weakened the wild Machop, and ‘Face’ Joined the team almost completing the A-Team lineup and as a benefit from all the Geodude encounters BA Baracus knows Mach Punch which will be handy in the gym.

I healed up and headed for the mine, putting Face as my lead Pokemon to try and even up the level a little bit. On entering the mine I learnt two massive things about this challenge I’ve taken on, 1) Geodude’s are great for leveling up fighting Pokemon and 2) Zubat’s are the vilest creature known to man! They are super effective, can poison, can confuse, and they don’t let you run away. Even switching in BA has become a risk as the Zubat’s get a free hit to confuse or poison you. Zubat deserves every meme ever aimed at it!



Other than being shown Rock Smash, and the endless Zubat’s trying to kill my Pokemon, the Mine is pretty much pointless for me in this challenge; I don’t really need to be shown Rock Smash; to be honest the name is pretty much self explanatory. Colin and Mason do offer some XP for my new team members but they aren’t really a challenge, so I dispatch these guys and head back to the gym trying to avoid Zubat encounters, repels are going to be another necessary purchase.


The Oreburgh Gym has two trainers, Roark the gym leader, and a useless long path that allows you to avoid the trainer battles. By this point in the game the avoidance option seems redundant as any starter should be able to easily dispatch the trainers rock type pokemon for easy XP and Pokedollars, if not you’re doing something wrong (like stupidly playing through the game with one type of Pokemon like me). Even Roark and his terrible pun name isn’t really a challenge; using HM Murdock and Face I take out his Geodude and Onyx without him using Stealth Rock. Then I switch in BA Baracus who Mach Punches Craidos back to the stone age and getting me a Coal Badge and the ability to use Rock Smash outside of battle, I guess it’s lucky he showed me how to use it after all.


Check back soon for the next installment, where I try to complete my A-Team line up