Irritating Archery #4 – Opening the Door

There I go again. Rhyming away. Rhythmically pounding the title with my fists until it bleeds with horrid pun sauce. Or whatever is made when you bleed horrid punnery. It makes sense though. Originally I was going to go on about my love of Grell but due to something I have coming up, that will have to wait. Instead you get to listen to me wax on and wax off about the origins of my geekdom. The ups, the downs, the ins, the outs, and whatever other weird terminology you want to use. But It’s always nice to get inside the head of people whose life revolves around hobbies and the love they have for them.

My gaming addiction came at a young age and progressed in a weird way. It didn’t so much start as some obsession with gaming. I have a friend with a Nintendo. I never really thought anything of it. It never appealed to me. It all just seemed like such a dull waste of time. That was before the Gray one. You see every year my family has a big reunion at a resort up in Muskoka Ontario. Well at this place there were always a few canucks that were up there at the same time. One year when I was a wee lad. One of them brought his Nintendo. But he didn’t bring what all my friends had. No, he brought games that were called Contra and Final Fantasy. In fact those were the only games he brought.

Every night before going to bed we sat and played games on this little TV we kept in the closet of the bedroom that we shared along with his younger brother and my younger sister. We stayed up as late as we could rocking the pure undiluted awesome that was Contra. And it was great. All was grand destroying aliens and getting killed millions and billions of times as we tried to get past the first few levels. After a while he brought out this other game. This “Final Fantasy” What was this game? It played like a story with characters and fun reading. A cohesive plot about a world in ruins trying to be saved. I was amazed. Absolutely blown away by the sheer awesomeness that was this game. You could even create your party. We had the horrible bad assssssss Fighter Tosh, the fireball flinging Black Mage Yomi, the beautiful healer in our White Mage Yamy, and everybody was Kung-fu fighting with out Black Belt Yang. The fact that I can remember every name we used is a testament to how much that game meant in my development as a gamer.

Since then yes, I’ve progressed beyond just playing one type of game but the RPG genre will always be at the very top of my list and I have a tendency to buy every single one that is released regardless of their quality. It’s amazing the kind of things you can do with gaming and one of the thing that keeps me involved is the amazing things you can do with the medium as it progresses. Every year something new comes out that challenges the boundaries of what gaming can do. It’s these things that keep me coming back for more. Last year it was the sheer brilliance of Braid and this year it’s going so far beyond with games like Flower which may be the most beautiful thing I have ever laid eyes on. Comics though are a different story. While gaming has always had a large place in my life comics have had a rocky road and I’m not talking Ice Cream.

Comics in my lifetime have come and gone. As a kid all I cared about was look and glitz. I loved chrome foil covers and Rob Liefeld. If a book had eXtreme or Jim Lee’s name I was buying it. Age of Apocalypse? That’s when you lost me. It’s not that I found that I wasn’t liking the quality of books that I quit. It’s that comics weren’t cool. They were something those loser kids did while they sat in the library playing magic cards. And I wasn’t going to be a loser. I was totally going to have friends because this was middle and high school baby. The time of your life. And comics would totally make me unpopular. Unfortunately I also forgot that dressing differently made you unpopular too and found myself without any real friends for years on end. Funny that I gave up comics because they weren’t cool only to be one of the not cool kids anyway.

By the time I realized that I didn’t give a rats ass what people thought of me though it was too late. Comics were part of a bygone past. Sure I would snag something every now and then but it wasn’t important to me anymore. I had awesome fantasy novels and really, comics are for little kids. Books are for adults. Boy I think I might have been stupid. No, I was definitely stupid. I looked down on the comic reading crowd for years. I was an ass hole. But something happened. Something that made me doubt my belief that comics were for kids.

I went into a comic shop. And it was scary. I went in looking for a birthday present for a friend of mine. I started looking at the trade racks. At that time I didn’t even really know what a trade was. I had been out of comics for so long I just thought they were all floppies. After that I start looking at other things. Just looking at the walls of comics. A bit of scorn definitely on my face. I mean this was where all the loser kids hang out who can’t read well enough to get into real literature. And then I see something. It draws my eye so fast it surprised the hell out me. I was a cover. A cover of a comic whose main character I always looked down on as being the most boring and stupid character ever created. But it was brilliant. It was beautiful. And I had to have it.

What was it you ask? It was Adventures of Superman #631. This brilliant cover of Lois Lane holding a gunshot wound that drew my eye. It was something I never expected to see. So I picked up the book and flipped through. It was interesting. Still not enough for me to actually buy a superman book or anything. But it definitely caught my attention. Which was probably a bad thing for me and my wallet. I went home that day with nothing. But something was gnawing at me. Just eating away. It felt weird. But it just kept grinding itself into the back of my skull. I wanted to try this comic thing again.

So after a couple weeks of this annoying urge to grab more comics I ended up going back in. I just randomly grabbed a trade from the shelf. It was a books called Longbow Hunters. It was at this point that I found god. And his name was Mike Grell. But that is a story for another day seeing as how I don’t want to go on until I lose whoever is left reading this. It would go too long to add it to this. But This Green Arrow character. I loved him. After taking the book home and reading it I found myself back at the shop the next day. I bought some back issues because I really wanted to find out what happened next. What did he do with the money, what happened with his relationship. I wanted to know everything about this character, Absolutely everything.

During that trip I bought a couple of back issues from the Green Arrow series and then that Superman issue that caught my eye along with the next issue. I could claim that it was Longbow Hunters that got me back into comics but that isn’t true. That got me into Green Arrow and back issues. No, it was that Adventures of Superman that got me back into comics. Specifically the scene of Superman Carrying the limp body of Lois Lane into an army tent bemoaning the fact that he wasn’t fast enough. Then the next week I came in and tried more books. The week after that I had a pull list. The week after that my pull had grown and withing 3 months I had 84 books I was regularly buying month in and month out. I still have the second largest pull list in the shop even with it fluctuating. Even today I average 18-20 books a week. It’s comics. And thanks to that one point in time, that one image that is burned into my memory they will be there forever. Because I realize something. Something I denied for so long. Comics are literature. They are art. They are beautiful. And they will have an everlasting place in my cold black heart. And it’s all thanks to one singular image on a superman cover just a few long years ago.

Geek out of the Week – Comics – Fables #81

I can’t really say anything without spoiling it. But I can say this. This may be the best book I’ve read this year. And I’m not talking just the last 2 months. I’m talking the last 12. It’s rare that death has meaning in comics but this. This is almost too much. If you aren’t reading this book you are a fool. Because this, this was sheer amazing brilliance that might never be reached by this series again. It’s not often that I completely gush about a book. Usually things are great, fantastic, brilliant, but this is more than that. This is the best single issue I’ve read in a long long time. There were other great books this week. There was Young Liars #12 and Thor #600 but none of them came even remotely close to this one. This is why I love single issues and why I will continue to keep buying them until the end to time.

Geek Out of the Week – Gaming – Persona 4

I’ve been neglecting my PS2 recently and finally got back to playing this game. Or at least I thought I was going to get back to it. Instead I put it in got to play for 5 minutes and it froze. And then nothing would load. And I cried. Want to know how good this game is though? I went in to town and bough a new Playstation 2 just so I could get back to playing it. That’s right. It’s an extra hundred dollars good. A fantastic mystery story that unravels at a very nice pace it’s had me engrossed since I first started playing it months ago. And now I’m playing it again and still loving every second of it. Great characters and gameplay make it a blast. Both the music and the gameplay are an improvement over Persona 3 although story wise 3 is a far superior game even though the story tropes are different. 3 is a Gothic Horror and 4 is much more of a mystery plot. If you haven’t tried the Persona series you are really missing out. I’d actually say that goes to the entire Shim Megami Tensei series of games put out by Atlus. All of them run in range from good to fantabulously amazing.

Next Week In Geek –

1)Dynamo 5 #0

It’s only a dollar and it’s one of the best indy superhero comic universes out there. One short story and extras as well as text pieces bringing you up to date on everything in the series so far. I highly recommend checking this out so you can jump on the best Superhero Soap Opera being written today. Buy it, like it, then hop on the ongoing train to awesome comics ville.

2)Legacy of Y’s Books 1 & 2 – Nintendo DS – 24/2

If you haven’t played the Y’s games they were very simple. Not very complex, very very old school but at the same time quite fun. One of those series that while somewhat confusing at first once you get into them there is something ultimately addicting to just walking into things to kill them. That’s an over simplification of it all but it’s a fun series of games that I’ve always enjoyed and I don’t know why. Simplicity is sometimes a great thing.

3) Puzzle Quest Galactrix – Nintendo DS/PC/360 (Go DS. This is meant to be portable) – 24/2

More Puzzle Quest is always a great thing. This time in space. If it’s as well made and fun as the original Puzzle Quest this will be brilliant puzzling fun. I loved the original Puzzle Quest. We regularly linked up at work and yes. It was awesome. I’m hoping this game goes the same route of being a lot of well balanced brain teasing fun.

4) Star Ocean : The Last Hope – X-Box 360 – 23-2

I’m hoping this will improve on the glaring flaws of the last Star Ocean game which suffered greatly from a lot of problems. From what I’ve seen this one is looking a lot better. In my eyes this game needs to be good because as it’s title says it’s the last hope for the series. Hopefully it’s good. I’ll let you people know once I start playing it after I get home from the wondercon.

5) Firebreather #4 –

Do you like fun? Well you will probably like Firebreather. This has been one of my favorite books ever since it first popped on my radar in miniseries format. I love it. It manages to be fantastic fun and have great characters and development. One of my favorite books at image. It’s definitely a book everyone should try out. Do it. You’ll like it. It shows that Phil Hester kicks ass as an artist and a writer.

Like or Loathe, let me know what you think. You can leave a comment below or follow my twitter feed at Read as I tweet along with whatever games or comics I’m reading at time. Stop by next week for what will be my Wondercon Prep show and the week after that for my impressions from the convention floor.

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