War of Kings is a blog dedicated to my favourite comic books, books, games and movies.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Star Trek!

Finally saw Star Trek. It was awesome. And I only call something awesome if it fills me with awe. It was, in fact, the best Star Trek movie I have ever seen. And I have seen all of them except Wrath of Khan. Kirk was awesome. Spock was awesome. Old Spock was awesome. Sulu was awesome. Chekov was awesome. McCoy and Scotty were good, but not awesome. Uhura was passable. It was nice that she had a slightly better role than 'chick who presses button so Kirk can talk to other ship', and my sister certainly enjoyed the xenolinguisitics angle. But unfortunately I still think the Uhura character is past redemption. Oh, and Captain Pike? He was awesome. It is nice, for the first time ever, to see Pike actually do cool stuff instead of hearing about how cool he was before he became wheelchair-bound. I'm not sure I can do an actual review of it that doesn't sound like fanboy gushing.

My sister loved it. She's always been more of a Star Wars fan, but she really enjoyed it. When I asked, she wouldn't say it was better than Wrath of Khan (which she has seen) or Nemesis, but she said it was up there with the best.

My dad also really liked it, and he actually watched the original tv series beck when it came out. if anyone was going to complain about them changing the way the Enterprise looked, or how they destroyed the entire Star Trek timeline, it would have been him. But he liked it.

Though Star Treek 11 is called it Star Trek without a subtitle, it is actually new name, as the first movie was called Star Trek: The Motion Picture. Which shows you how old Trek actually is. If they can make a Star Trek 12 as good as 11 was, they may be able to rescue this series.

By the way: Beam me up, Chekov.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Fantasy Twist - Dark Elves

Because May is Magic Month, I'm going to look at a couple of staple fantasy races that the Warcraft franchise, especially Warcraft 3, managed to twist in a new direction. I'm afraid I'm not a fan of the online game World of Warcraft, having played Iron Realm MUDs like Achaea and Lusternia combined with a vivid imagination means that I find WoW boring. But I did enjoy the strategy games and books. So, first up, elves.

I already mentioned in my review of Lorwyn that Magic: the Gathering took elves back to their roots by portraying them as dangerous creatures who are likely to kill you on sight. But on further thought I realised that this isn't as unique as I thought. There is a version of elves like this that has become a fantasy staple - dark elves. Sometimes they are called drow. Their exact nature differs from place to place, but they are generally blue- or purple-skinned and evil. In fact, the makers of Warcraft 3 decided that they were such a fantasy staple that they could twist the entire concept and surprise the players of the game.

If you play through the campaign, your first encounter with Warcraft's dark elves happens whilst leading Grom Hellscream's orcish clan, the Warsong, into Ashenvale Forest. Due to Hellscream's insubordination and battlelust, Warchief Thrall has sent him and his clan to collect lumber to build a large warcamp. As soon as you enter the firest, some of the orcs get nervous and complain that it feels like they're being watched. This should be an indicator that something is badly wrong - these are orcs. They do not jump at shadows. But Hellscream laughs it off and tells them to get back to work. Do not believe him. Build up your defenses. Build a second base. Or you will, like I did, get annihilated by the dark elves.

If you carry on, you will manage to defeat the dark elves, who are called night elves, and kill their leader, the demigod Cenarius. But then comes the night elf campaign. As you continue playing them you discover that they are not, in fact evil. After all, when you were playing orcs, you did try to cut down their forest. What did you think they would do? And as you carry on, you realise that the night elves are not only nice people, but that they defeated the Burning Legion thousands of years ago. In fact, they are probably the only people who can stop them this time. Except, you killed their demigod. Oops.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Book Review: Lorwyn

Lorwyn (Book one of the Lorwyn cycle) by Cory J. Henderson and Scott McGough

Reece is a rather popular name in South Africa. Most people spell it the way I just have. In fact, I know only one person who spells it the old way - Rhys. Why am I telling you this? Because an elf named Rhys is the main character in Lorwyn, and in my experience, when most people see 'Rhys' they don't know what to dow ith it. Perhaps that is why so many people use the new age spelling.
We all know what elves are. Professor Tolkien told us, and we all believed him. But his version of elves is not quite what the ancient Teutons and Celts believed in. Sure elves were elegant, beautiful beings. But they were also capricious and fickle. They were often selfish. And sometimes they were downright murderous. The came from the otherworld, and our rules and morals did not apply to them. This is the inspiration for the elves of Lorwyn. And the faeries (fey, by the way, means the same thing as capricious). And, to a lesser degree, the boggarts, who here are a species of goblin.

But there is another difference. The elves in Lorwyn have hooves and horns. Yes, they look like fauns. Think Mr Tumnus from Narnia.

And the final piece of the puzzle is the obsession of todays society with evolutio. survival of the fittest. Lorwyn is all about survival of the fittest, with one difference. The elves decide who is fit to survive. Yes, the capricious, fickle elves. And you think your government is opressive.

So, cool setting. The characters are cool too. There's even a cool overarching storyline about why the world never has night (which I assumed is resolved in the third book, Eventide). but what about this book? Well, it doesn't quite live up to expectations. I'm beginning to suspect this is a trend in Magic books - cool setting, characters and storyline, but the book doesn't quite live up to the rest of it.

Don't get me wrong, I really really enjoyed the book, and Rhys and Ashling, the other major character, are written well. I love how the flavour of Welsh mythology shines through. But it meanders a bit in the middle, as if they're treading water, trying to streach out a one- or two-book storyline into a trilogy. And so many mysteries are set up, but not one of them is resolved here. Sure, I'm all for keeping secrets for the next book, but Lorwyn treads dangerously close to incomprehensiblity, which I'm certain will scare people off. It's good, but it has the potential to be so much better.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Where did all the columns go?

By now I'm sure you have noticed my new header and colour scheme. This marks a new direction for my blog. Actually its not a new direction, its more of a formalisation of the direction I'm going already going in.

When I started this blog I had the idea that I would do regular columns. That is a pipe dream - partly because the method in which I obtain comics means that thier arrival is highly erratic, and partly because I am highly erratic. Its just the way I am. So no more columns. And no more fancy warlike titles of posts. Whilst fun, it is difficult for me to kee the names both clever and consistant, so from now on my posts will be titled according to what they are about. if it is, for example, a review of the movie X-Men Origins: Wolverine, it will be titled Movie Review - X-Men Origins: Wolverine.

So these are the kind of posts I will be making in no specific oder or time schedule:

Comic Book Reviews - See the list on the right for the comics I am buying. Marvel has recently upped the price of many of these comics - but the Rand/Dollar excange rate is the best it has been in the while, so I'm not sure if I'll have to drop any or not.
Book Reviews - I've been pretty bad with this, having read a lot of books recently, but not having reviewed any. I hope to do some of these.
Movie Reviews - I don't watch a lot of movies, but ever so often a whole slew of ones I want to watch come out. I saw Wolverine and Fireproof last week, I'm hoping to see Coraline (in 3D) this week, and I'll be watching Star Trek (does it really not have a subtitle or number?) sometime on the weekend. My sister wants me to watch Angels and Demons with her when it comes out, but I'm not too sure about it.
Magic: the Gathering - Not too sure if i'll do anything about my latest addiction. I have an idea though, I'll see how it pans out.
DotA Allstars - I'll write reviews when important updates occur to DotA, though at the moment i only get to play against AI.
Op/Ed - ever so often i'll feel like saying something about an issue or topic. I belive this is what you call those.
Theme Months - Also ever so often I'll do a theme moth where most of the posts for that month will have to do with a central theme or topic. May is Magic Month. No, not just the game. I'm writing a review of Warcraft: the Last Guardian by Jeff Grubb, which I finally got around to reading, and which features Medivh, the most powerful sorcerer Azeroth has ever seen. I'm also going to write an Op/Ed on the portrayal of magic as a corruptive force, which Warcraft has always done rather well.

So thats it for now.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Movie Review - X-Men Origins: Wolverine

No new comics yet, but I did get to see Wolverine on Monday evening with two friends who don't read comics. MAJOR SPOILER WARNING, but you've already seen the movie, right?

I have to start by admitting that I enjoyed all three of the X-Men movies. I'm not so worried about them changing stuff - the way I see it, there are already a number of alternate universes in the comics, so this is nothing more than another one. Besides, I've never been a big fan of Wolverine, so when they change stuff about him, it doesn't affect me.

I really enjoyed Wolverine too. In fact, I would go as far as saying it does a better job with Wolverine's origins than the comics do. No Romulus conspiricy here.

I have two major complaints. One is about the part where Gambit attacks Wolverine, whist Wolverine is fighting Creed, thus allowing Creed to escape. Surely Gambit knows who Creed is? They hint as much when Wolverine mentions him and Gambit stops dealing cards for a moment. I don't know much about Gambit, but I'm assuming he has a decent amount of intelligence. The second is that Wade is killed (or at least incapacitated) off screen. After his scene in africa, I don't buy that anyone could take him down.

So...I'll do this character by character

Hugh Jackman is still good as Wolverine. I don't know what more I can really say. I really liked how the ethos of "I'm good at killing people, but that doesn't mean I like it" came through. (If you've read my bog at all you will know I have issues with superheroes killing people.)

Liev Shreiber does a really good job of showing us a Victor Creed who is one step away from being an animal. I generally dislike it when thay change actors for a character, but towards the end Shreiber really looked as if a few more years would easily turn him into Tyler Mane (though I'm not quite sure if Creed is meant to be the Sabretooth in X2). Initially I was going to say I would have preferred it if the fight against Weapon XI had been a team-up withh Gambit instead of Creed, but I've changed my mind. Their teamwork was a good moment that reflected the intro sequence (wars through time) and showed that they were still brothers. Oh -the brother thing. As far as I know Sabretooth was always meant to be Logan's brother in the comics, but at the last moment they changed it, deciding that would be too corny. I think that was a mistake. Regardless, we knew from the beginning of the movie that they were brothers, so there was never any question of having a corny reaveal.

I didn't like Danny Hudson's Stryker, but I think that was due to my dislike of actor-changing rather than any fault of the actors.

Daniel Henney's Agent Zero was pure badass, and even his subservience to Stryker added more to the character than it took away. Zero was awesome.

will.i.am's John Wraith seemed incongrous at first - because he was the only black member of the team, and he wore a cowboy hat. And he didn't do much in the scences of the team fighting. But the fact that he decided to go with Wolverine to confront Gambit, and his short but cool battle with Creed won me over, and I was actually sad he died.

I was worried about Freddie Dukes being in the movie, as I was worried they'd play him a a comic character rather than the very credible threat he actually is (really, he is). It threw me when he first appeared, as he was not fat. An un-fat Blob? But I think it was a good idea to only make him fat later in the movie. Make tank blow itself up? Check. Blob is dangerous.

Taylor Kitch's Gambit was really good too. I got a kick out of the fact that if you go back to X2 and watch the scene where Mystique hacks into Stryker's files in the island facility, the name Remy LeBeau pops up, so his presence here makes a lot of sense. I just wish they had found something better for his second appearence than saving Wolverine from being crushed. Being crushed is not a credible threat to Wolverine, so this moment was not as good as it could have been. I am beginning to see why people like Gambit. But I still don't like Rogue.

I didn't think Ryan Reynolds was a good choice for Deadpool - until I watched the movie and saw him play him so well. Deadpool was awesome - until they made him into the X-Men Super-Skrull. The Weapon XI fight was good, but I hope they will be able to return him more to his original form in the Deadpool movie.

The wierd thing is that my three favourite scenes in the movie have nothing to do with the main storyline - Cyclops blasting through multiple floors of his school, Emma turning to diamond, and the Prof rocking up to rescue the kids. Yeah - not a Wolverine fan.

The female member of our group said the ending was so sad. Well, I must say I was expecting it. This is the drawback of sequels - I expected Silverfox to die, and Logan to loose his memories. Thats why the twist reveal of Silverfox being alive was so unexpected, and so good. Though, I knew she would have to die again when she told Logan she loved him the whole time.

Verdict: if you're not a major Wolverine fan, but you like comics, go watch it.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

War Correspondence: Retracing the Steps

Today's post is about me, and what I have been up to recently. Because, if I am starved of my comics, I must turn elsewhere for entertainment, right? And I couldn’t go to Yu-Gi-Oh, as I have stopped playing it since the contract for Europe and the USA (and cause we get our stuff from one of those two places, South Africa) was ripped away from Upper Deck Entertainment. That is not the only reason I stopped playing, but it is a big part of it. Sure, if one of my friends pops over with a deck, I'll play against them, but I'm not buying any more cards. But despite all my good intentions, the universe wasn't going to let me escape from card games. Oh no.

About halfway through last year I bought (on impulse) the Duel Decks:Elves vs Goblins set from Magic: the Gathering. Unfortunately, I discovered that it was not beginner-friendly. And I couldn't pop around to the nearest Friday Night Magic event, because we don't have that in South Africa. And besides, I help out with Junior Youth at the church on Fridays (that is relavent, as you will see later). So the elves and goblins sat in my cupboard for a couple of months.

On my last visit to the Stable's Market, former home of Kick Ass Komix, I found an old tattered copy of a book calle Saviours of Kamigawa. It had fox-people in it. At one stage, the main character in the book I am writing, was a were-fox. So I bought the book for R10, mainly for research purposes, as I knew little about Japanese mythical fox-people, or how they are portrayed in modern fantasy novels. I then discovered that it was a novel set in the world (or rather, multiverse) of Magic: the Gathering. Imagine my surprise. They wrote books set in the worlds the cards came from? The books were good?

I had looked at the cards that I had bought, of course, and couldn't help noticing that many of the elves had horns (pretty deer or antler horns, that is, rather than the other kind). I eventually discovered that many of the elf cards came from a world called Lorwyn, based on Welsh Mythology. I also discovered that there were books about Lorwyn. So I ordered them from the nearest bookshop. After all, if I was stealing so extensively from Welsh mythology for my book, surely I would find these books useful. After all, I'm already stealing ideas from many other books I've read. (Though, hopefully, I'm doing it in a way that won't have people suing me.)

And then one of the other guys who helps at Junior Youth rocked up wearing a Lorwyn T-Shirt. I discovered he was a judge, and suddenly I've found myself meeting at Westville Library every Saturday to play Magic with a group of other guys (including guys I knew from the comic shop). And I'm actually enjoying it, so much so that I'm waiting eagerly for the novel Alara Unbroken (by Doug Beyer) to be published.

Apparently, some people play Magic to win. Others play it for many different reasons. Me, I like the stories. I've always been addicted to stories with a sci-fi or fantasy bent. I now read and enjoy Doug Beyer's weekly column about the stories of Magic (and how fantasy stories are written in general) . I even wrote him an e-mail in which I disagreed with him on how one of the lesser game mechanics (called retrace) should be seen. I knew it was presumptuous of me, having only played the game for a short time, and expected either no reply, or one explaining how I was wrong. So, imagine may surprise again, when he published the entire (rather lengthy) email in its entirety at the end of his column this week, and said he enjoyed it. So I'm gonna do a shameless self-plug and provide the link to it here.

So where to from here? I'll try to do a Quartermaster with the rest of Marvel's solicits soon. If I have time, I'd like to post some reviews of a number of novels I've read recently (I haven't only been playing and reading Magic). And I shall reveal a bit of stuff about my book. In fact, I shall go write something about why elven knights ride cats. I do not know if anyone cares, but I shall do it anyway.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

From the Front - Uncanny #506 - 507

I shall now attempt to review comics which appear to contain payoffs to storylines I have not read. Because of this, I won't put a 'victory or loss' line at the end, like I normally do.

Some scenes of Colossus and Emma Frost kicking the Russian mob around. I expect that if I had read Lovelorn, in which Colossus moped around feeling sorry for himself (I'm guessing this), seeing him cracks some skulls would have been rather more awesome. The theme here seems to be 'big guy with steel skin that can feel no physical pain who has a big heart and therefore feels intense emotional pain'. He doesn't know how to deal with physical pain, cause he usually just goes steel (hence the tattoo subplot) and so he has a really hard time dealing with his pain over the loss of Kitty. I think this is a continuation of a general theme surrounding Colossus, dealing with the feelings of a guy who can't feel anything. I think it is a good bit of character work.

I am liking Emma's story too. Issue #506 begins with a nightmare about her costume transforming from white into black. This is obviously linked to her deal with Osborne, and also the recent mini in Divided we Stand where she questions whether she has truly become good, or if there will always be a part of herself that is evil. Some people have complained about the recent trend showing her self-doubt, as she has always been full of self-confidence, to a fault, and they think this detracts from her character. I disagree - it has made me more sympathetic towards her. After all, some people seem to have hard exteriors but have lots of hidden feeling on the inside. Hmm, this sounds strangely familiar. Maybe she should go diamond, and join Colossus in cracking some skulls. Oh, wait, she does. I just hope that Emma and Scott don't split over the secrets they've been keeping from each other. Here's hoping to what doesn't break them makes them stronger…

As for Beast and Angel's team…um…why didn't Beast contact these people in Endangered Species? I thought that storyline was to show he had done everything he possibly could and there was absolutely no way to undo M-Day. I'm not so keen on this storyline.

I am more happy about getting this series now, last year I found myself constantly having to justify getting it.

As for Guardians #12, I'm still a bit lost. I'll try to work it out and put up a review soon.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Quartermaster - The X-Men in July

I have written reviews of the comics i recived, but they are sitting at home. Oh well. Elections tomorrow. The ANC will, of course, win, and Jacob Zuma will, of course, become our next president. The only question is: will COPE and the DA have managed to pull enough voters away from the ANC to prevent them from retaining their two-thirds majority in parliment (and thus, be able to block the ANC from making changes to the constitution)? We shall see.

For now, I shall talk about July's X-Men solicitations. Spoilers. Unless they're misdirections.

Uncanny #513 and Dark: X-Men: the Beginning #1 & 2 (of 3)
Ah, the famous Dark X-Men cover, featuring the black-costume Emma Frost from her recent nightmare. The guy who looks like Angel has a reason for it. He is Mimic, and the first person to join the original five X-Men as a new member, though it was shortlived. He's not really a shapeshifter, he just gains the same mutations as nearby mutants. The guy in black with an X on his collar I initally thought was Moebius, but apprently he is Cloak, meaning the girl in white is Dagger. Namor on an X-Men team? Not as strange as you would think - both Prof X and Magneto tried to recruit him in the early days. Emma Frost betraying the X-Men? I think there's a lot more than meets the eye here, especially if Professor X is here too. With Cyclop's dodgy dealings of late, I think we shall discover that Emma and the Prof have very, very good reasons for their presence here, and that not all is what it seems. Then there's Dark Beast -not seen on either cover, but mentioned in the solicits. We last saw him in Endangered Species. Dark Wolverine, as we know, is Daken. Which leaves us with the question - who is Weapon X? The only other person on the cover is Michael Pointer, known varously as the Collective, Guardian, and Weapon Omega. But the Weapon X program was always Canadian, so maybe he's going by Weapon X these days. Just to confuse things. Will I get Dark X-Men: the Beginning? Well, while I usually get the X-Men 'event anthologies', and have found some of them entertaining, I don't think I'll get this one. I will, however, be getting the Utopia crossover.

X-Men: Legacy #226
Mike Carey is a good writer. I enjoyed the issues of Legacy that I've read. but I have some sort of mental block when it comes to Rogue. Fors some reason I don't like her, or understand why people thinks she is cool. So part of me wants to get this, and the other part doesn't.

New Mutants #3
Yeah, I never got why people think the New Mutants are cool either. And do we really need to bring back Legion? This doesn't interest me much.

Dark Wolverine #76
Marvel's latest policy seems to be 'when in doubt, make them fight the Fantastic Four'. I may be a FF fan, but this sort of thing does not impress me.

Cable #16 and X-Force #17
Very little about the concusion of Messiah War can be worked out from these, except that Wolfsbane come out of it alive. Nothing of real importance seems to have happened - if it did, wouldn't we would be able to work it out from the solicits, and they'd have to classify them?

X-Factor #46
Two words: Ruby Summers.

Friday, April 17, 2009

The Return

I know i haven't poseted anything for over a month. I thought of posting something a few times, but I coudn't think of anything to say besides 'still no comics', and i was getting tired of that. And commenting on comic news was just too depressing as it only reminded me how out of it I was becoming.

But at last, the drought is over. I have three comics - Uncanny #506 and #507 and Guardians of the Galaxy #12. I don't have any reviews for you yet, because I do not quite understand them. I think this is because I have missed the last six issues of each, rather than because they are incomprehesible. I may have to head over to UXM.com and see if they have any transcripts of the ones I missed. Or....perhaps if I go read them again they will make more sense...

Kirk mentioned on his blog Weekly Crisis that X-Factor is good again. Yay. I'm also happy that Psylocke is returning to Uncanny, in her orginal body. I've always been a fan of her. Never been a fan of Northstar though. If the X-Men needs speed, why not bring in Surge? She's not nearly as inexperienced as Fraction says she is. He's going to have to write Northstar really well to get me to like him.

Friday, March 13, 2009


I know I haven't said much lately, but that's becuase I haven't heard much from Kick Ass Komix. They've been getting shipments, but every time I ask if they have anything for me yet, the answer is no. And the worst part is, I have only a really vague idea of what I've missed in X-Factor so far because no one's posting spoilers, cause Peter David asked them not to, in order to push up sales. It seems to be working, but it doesn't help me much.

On the other hand, I have better access to the internet now, so I don't feel as cut off from the other titles I'm supposed to be getting, as I can get info on them quite easily.

Friday, February 6, 2009

War Correspondence: Solomon Kane and the Priests of Bast

Today I went to the Central Lending Library in Durban to look at a book that is a collection of Robert E. Howard stories about Solomon Kane. You will recognise Howard as the creator of Conan, which led to stuff like Red Sonja and chainmail bikinis. I wanted to see what Howard had to say about the Staff of Solomon, as the Wikipedia article is…strange, and the rest of the internet appears to be silent on the matter. Yes, I did not think that was possible either, but it is.

When Solomon Kane was in Africa, he was given a cat-headed staff by the juju man N'Longa. A juju man is a highly racist version of a witchdoctor, but I won't blame Howard for that. Even H. Rider Haggard was guilty of that sort of thing. It’s a product of the times they lived in. Kane, being a Puritan, suspects that the staff is an Object of Dark Magic, but for some reason, he finds himself unwilling to get rid of it. This is fortunate, as it helps him fight of evil sorcerers and monsters. This reinforces Kane's suspicion that its is an Object of Dark Magic. But then he is captured by Arab slave traders, and is told by an elderly Arab named Yussef that it is the Staff of Solmon. King Solomon of Israel.

The staff has an incredible history - being first wielded by people who's kingdoms now lie under the sea, then by the Priests of Bast in Egypt, then by Moses, and the by King David and Solomon. In all cases it was used to fight of evil creatures and perform miraculous wonders. Then they run across some ancient ruins with a sealed door. Yussef warns his leader not to open the door, as this is likely a prison built by King Solomon to house an evil creature. (Because, of course, all ancient ruins in Africa were built by the Egyptians, Atlanteans or King Solomon.) But the Arab leader thinks that there is a great treasue behind the door. He orders his men to open it, and they do. Out rushes a demonic creature, who attacks and kills the Arab leader, and the rest of them flee, leaving behind Kane and the staff. Kane breaks his bonds, grabs the staff, and uses it to kill the creature. Looking at the staff, he realises that it is not a Object of Dark Magic, but an Object of Light.

I thought Howard invented the staff, but apparently does actually exist in legends. Unless the writer of the Wikipedia article on the Staff of Solomon is making things up. That is possible, as the article lists only one source, which is a description of the adaze(s) of Wepwawet being used in the opening of the mouth ceremony, part of the burial of a Pharaoh. The article claims that the staff is one of these objects. Wepwawet is a wolf-headed god often confused with Anubis - both were said to lead the dead into the underworld. Try as I might, I cannot find a link between Wepwawet and Bast. But apparently the makers of Age of Mythology could, as if you choose to follow Bast, you gain a technology called Adaze of Wepwawet which allows you to cut down trees faster.

Bast is, unfortunately, a very misunderstood goddess. The same can be said about Horus, Osiris, Isis, Set… well, just about any of the Egyptian gods. This problem stems partly from the fact that Ancient Egypt spanned a period of about 3000 years, and over time their beliefs about various gods changed drastically. They also had a habit of combining two gods into one. A further complication is added by the Greeks, who had an annoying habit of taking the gods of other cultures and identifying them with their own gods, and then projecting aspects of their own gods back onto the other gods, and then telling us about those attributes, despite the fact that the other gods never had them to begin with. Confusing enough? Bast was originally a solar lion goddess. Over time, Bast became associated with cats. But she was not the goddess of cats. She was a goddess with a cat head, who sometimes appeared in the form of a cat. She was regarded as a goddess of protection - but she would probably agree the best way to protect yourself is to go out and disembowel all of your enemies. It seems the Greeks decided she was like Artemis, and so told everyone she was a moon goddess. (By the way, the Panther God of Wakandia is apparently an aspect of Bast.)

There is one other problem with Howard's account - if you read Exodus you will notice that there are in fact two staves that perform miracles. At the burning bush Moses' shepherd staff turns into a serpent and back into a staff again, but when Moses and his brother Aaron appear before Pharaoh to demand the release of the Israelites, it is Aaron's staff that becomes a serpent. Aaron's staff turns the Nile to blood, and calls down plagues of frogs and insects. And then Moses' staff calls down hail and locusts. This does not make much sense - until you remember that God is performing the miracles, not Moses, Aaron or their staves.

Later Aaron's staff is put in the Ark of the Covenant, but Moses' one is not. So there may have been a tradition that Moses' staff was kept, and passed onto the Kings years later. But I can find no real evidence of this. This is an important issue, as I want to use the staff in my novel. But if Howard made it up, I don't think I can.

So I have two questions I still need to solve - did Howard make the staff up? And what do the makers of Age of Mythology know that I don't?

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Spoils of War - Catching Up

Right, so I've a) missed a few comics and b) missed most news since the beginning of the year due to two modems breaking one after the other. So, I've got catching up to do.
Remember the Secret Invasion playing cards? The thing where they identified every card with a superhero important to Secret Invasion? Thy did four once a week on CBR. They're doing a similar thing with War of Kings, Except this time its chess pieces. So far we have:
White King - Black Bolt
White Queen - Medusa
Black King - Vulcan
Black Queen - Deathbird

I expect Ronan, Triton, Crystal, Karnak and Gorgon to appear on the white side, and Gladiator to appear on the black side. I'm not sure what they'll do with the Guardians and former Guardians, the Starjammers, Nova and Darkhawk.

Its an interesting and cool idea, as long as we remember that this has nothing to do with the Hellfire Club. Or cult. Or whatever it is these days. Oh, and by the way, it seems that Black Bolt has conquered the Kree. I missed that somewhere. Probably SI: Inhumans. But it seems to be quite a pleasant conquest, Black Bolt regarding the Kree as distant family, and them regarding him with the respect due a great warrior.It seems that Young X-Men is now cancelled - it ends with issue #12. This is not surprising. YXM was strangely handled. I'm sure having Donald Pierce posing as Cyclops to pit the Young X-Men against the New Mutants seemed like a good idea at the time, bit it didn't work. People accused the writer of writing Cyclops badly, when he was actually writing Donald Pierce posing as Cyclops quite well, but nobody knew it. The whole 'someone will die!' plot probably would have worked if Kyle and Yost hadn't already been killing New X-Men with wanton abandon. It may even have worked if the mutant that was killed had been Anole, Rockslide or Dust (or here's an idea - Cannonball) instead of….Wolfcub. People certainly would have been upset, but probably upset in a way that made them buy the book. Instead everyone lost interest, including me, sales dropped, and now its cancelled.

Except, rumour has it that a New Mutants series is in the work. Leading me to suggest that Young X-Men hasn't actually been cancelled. I have the feeling that the stories that were going to be told in #13 onwards will now be told in New Mutants #1 onwards. Natrually the stories will be somewhat adjusted, but essentially the same. I'm not saying this is a bad thing. I think it’s a good idea - they are giving the series a second chance at a start under a name guaranteed to sell a few copies. Now they just have to make sure the stories are good, and work in context with stuff going on around them.
And then there is something called Timestorm. I have a strange relationship with the 2099 line. When I was younger, I watched a Black Panther TV series that took place in the future. I can't remember if it was called Black Panther 2099, but that's basically what it was. I had never heard of the Panther before this, so I will always think of this hero of a dystopian future as the original Panther, meaning I think of the one that hangs around with Storm in the present day as low-tech copy of the original Panther. I know its weird, but that’s the way it is. I doubt I'll get Timestorm, though, as I doubt it will be anything like the TV series.Psylocke is returning to the X-Men soon, at least that's what Sword of the Braddocks seems to indicate. This makes me happy. I like Psylocke. She has a psi-sword. Its cool. Its like Pixie's souldagger. Yeah, I know they come from completely different sources, but lets face it, they're both sharp things that get pulled out of the air, and mess with magic or mental abilities (which are often similar).

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Quartermaster - Restocking the Shelves

Now that I have access to internet, and am not going on holiday or having any important events happening in the near future, I shall reinstate regular posts. I won't have any set weekly or monthly schedule though, as it appears I am unable to keep to something like that.

So, with the changes at Kick Ass Komix, who no longer have an actual store, though they do have a digital one, with me cancelling all my orders and then attempting to remember what I was ordering in order to restore them, and missing a month, I think I should have a run down exactly what I am now buying.

Still getting this, though by now I am missing quite a few of the odd-numbered issues - three or four I think. By now I'm sure you're tired of me talking about X-Factor, so I won't say any more about it here. I think the issue I get next is the gaspshockhorror baby one, so I'll let you know in a couple of weeks what I think.

Uncanny X-Men
I seriously considered dropping this, as the next issue I can get is #506, meaning I'm missing three whole issues in a row. But apparently I'll be able to get the Emma Frost-centric Annual #2, and I want to see how Fraction treats her character going forward. The Fringe Science stuff sounds like fun too, so Uncanny stays for now.

I was excited to get this, but I missed the first two issues already, so I think I'll skip it for now, especially with Young X-Men being cancelled. But if I hear good things I'll pick up the trade.

Guardians of the Galaxy
I'll be getting these from #9, meaning I only missed one issue, #8. Unfortunatly it’s the one with Blastaar in it. Darn, I really wanted to see Blastaar after reading his first appearance (see Marvel Pocketbooks, below). Many of the best characters are just as ridiculous as Blaastar - Starlord, Rocket Racoon, Groot. Groot is even cooler in South Africa because groot is the Afrikaans word for big. I'm also excited about Guardians because it will be tying in to…

War of Kings
I missed Secret Invasion: War of Kings, SI: Inhumans, and the beginning of Kingbreaker. So I'm not off to a good start. But I'll definitely be getting War of Kings.

War of Kings: Darkhawk and War of Kings: Ascension
I think that the second mini is merely a continuation of the first. I wasn't sure if I was going to get these, as no one has made me care about Darkhawk yet, but apparently they involve the Negative Zone, which is both fun and appears to be relevant to Guardians. Who knows, I may end up being a Darkhawk fan.

Marvel Pocketbooks - Fantastic Four by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby
I am really enjoying these, which I get from CAN, a poular bookstore/newsagency/sationer. So far I have The Coming of Galactus!, Doomsday!, and Where Stalks the Sandman!. I saw The Flames of Battle! Is out, but haven't got it yet. They are reprints of the old FF comics, back when it was called the Worlds Greatest Comic Book Magazine! and every sentence ended with an exclamation mark or two. They are of course completely ridiculous and over the top, but quite enlightening. The Inhumans feature prominently, and people like the Silver Surfer, Black Panther, Blaastar and Ronan the Accuser put in first appearances. Various versions of the Negative Zone appear too. I'm afraid no one treats Susan as a serious superhero, though, because she's a woman.

So that’s it. Not a very large collection. Agents of Atlas (Namorita) and Mighty Avengers (Quicksilver and the Witch) are hovering around the edges trying to make it onto the list, but there are two problems - one is the rand/dollar exchange rate and the other is the slightly inflated price of event comics. This conspires to make the same amount of comics cost double what they cost me at the beginning of 2008. So I have to watch what I'm getting, and for now War of Kings trumps more team books.

Oh, and if it interests you I've almost finished writing chapter three of my novel.

Friday, January 23, 2009

The War Effort - Strategic Retreat

Again I find myself apologising for lack of recent posts. I have no internet again. I got a new modem, and it is already not working.

There is some good news. The guys at Kick Ass Komix are not closing down completely after all. They will get comics sent to their shop from the Joburg shop - however they are only getting comics people have ordered, you can only order from the website, and you have to pay for them beforehand. Which is fine, just mans they won't have extra stuff on their shelves for you to buy. I'm not sure if they'll be working from their shop premises or if that will close and they'll work from Greg's house again.

Which means I'll probably start getting comics again late this month or early February. So the trade plan is no longer necessary. It also seems like it will be really hard to get back issues of comics, so I won't be getting the issues I've missed unless I buy the trades.

Hopefully by the end of the month I will have internet again so I can do reviews. Now I'll go check out Andrenn's solicit commentary and see if he put a link to the full solicits, which I haven't seen yet.

See you sometime.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

War Effort: I am still writing, you just can't see me.

So, it's official. I will be buying trades from kalahari.net. I probably should have said that a couple of days ago, but I've been really busy. With work I made for myself, so it’s no excuse. I've always wanted to write a novel (and I've had people telling me I should for years) so I sat down and started writing one. I've already got further than any other attempt, and it’s only been four days, so it’s highly likely I will actually finish it.

However, I am finding trying to write a fantasy novel set in the present day that won't get me sued by JK Rowling very hard work. For example, I have taken a lot of ideas from the blood elves of Warcraft. Inspired by the blood mage and dragonhawk rider I created the Knights of the Phoenix - only to realise that people will probably think I'm copying Rowling's Order of the Phoenix. Darn. Inspired by the enchantment skillset from the online text game Lusternia, I created a Lightning Wand for my main character. It is powered by the feather of a lightning phoenix, which I thought of whilst reading Brenda Rosen's Mythical Creature's Bible. Then I was reminded that Harry Potter's wand was powered by a phoenix feather - so, no lighting wand. In the present day, young children have to go to school - but any mention of a school where magic is taught will get accusations of copying Rowling. Which is only fair. But I don’t know how to get around it, even Terry Pratchett gets asked if the Unseen University is based on Hogwarts. (According to Pratchett, it is, though time machines are involved.) And I really want to include the Philosopher's Stone (a really cool item in history, and in Lusternia) but I guess you can see how that might be a problem. I've even resorted to renaming wizards sorcerers, and magic sorcery.

There is some light at the end of the tunnel though. My main character is female, partly elven and has neither glasses nor a scar. And my elves are obviously Tolkeinesque, rather than ugly creatures who do housework (those are cobolds). I can call female sorcerers by the awesome sounding name ‘sorceress’, and confuse people by having a male witch. I believe my version of gnomes is a unique creation (though admittedly it was my sister’s idea). I know Harry Potter has never met a werehyena. And I am fairly confident that the only other person ever to use the word Bism is Clive Staples Lewis.

So, if you don’t hear from me for a while, rest assured I am slaving away, still writing a book that in all likelihood will get me sued because I forgot someone had already published a similar story. And it’s hard to get excited about comic books I won’t be able to get for six or more months.