First Minecraft Skins – Superman Mother Box and Doomsday

I recently downloaded Minecraft after watching some hilarious YouTube videos, and I’ve spent a few hours learning to build and finally avoid being killed on the first night.

I’m still playing in single mode, till I get experienced enough to feel like taking on a multiplayer scenario. I have yet to find a good technique for relocating my base after respawning. Everyone says build a compass but I haven’t managed to craft that far yet.

Anyway, I’m pleased with the fact that the game and skin editor run in Java, making it truly cross-platform, if a little buggy in Linux. I’ve also been reading Superman: Doomsday The Aftermath and have been influenced by the costumes for my first 2 skins:

Superman with Mother Box Armor

Doomsday Minecraft Skin

Not bad for a first attempt? I’ve uploaded them to Skindex, so just search for wafitz.net to find them.

I kind of enjoyed creating the skins more than playing the game… maybe I’ll do some more.

New Green Hornet Trailer

I first saw this advertised at a Cinema in Germany, so I had to do a double-take as I knew the Green Arrow is coming out. Finally, it’s being advertised in the UK and looks like it would be worth checking out, especially if GA doesn’t hold up to the hype.

(You may have to disable adblock to see it)

Bookshelf: The Mammoth Book of Zombie Comics

The Mammoth Book of Zombie ComicsI bought The Mammoth Book of Zombie Comics last month looking for a good chunk of zombie apocalypse escapism. A unique collection of a dozen or so zombie stories, some long, some short, some hit… some miss.

The tales interweave with both widely recognised zombie fiction (Necrotic: Dead Flesh on a Living Body, Black Sabbath, Might of the Living Dead, The Haunted Ship, Pigeons from Hell and Job Satisfaction) and departures from the usual clichéd tales (Pariah, In Sickness, The Immortals, Dead Tales, MAZH, Dead Eyes Open, The Corpse, Zombie World: Dead End and Zombies) as well as including one story which has more roots in real life than in fiction (The Zombie).

By far the longest story was ‘Dead Eyes Open’, but I felt it took up a lot of space in the book. Even though it re-spun the zombie tale into a story about zombie rights, I found it a little tedious to read through to the end. On of my favourite stories of the book – also long – was Pigeons from Hell – though more for the captivating artwork and storytelling than the story itself. As I turned the pages I really felt the eeriness and sense of foreboding. It was truly scary for the first part – until the Sheriff showed up. That’s great storytelling – in a comic no less.

Other stories of note were ‘In Sickness’ – but who didn’t see that coming? ‘The Immortals’ – a classic twist. ‘Dead Tales’ – confusing at first but I eventually got the gist as a kind of ‘It’s Wonderful Life’ gone horribly, horribly wrong. ‘The Corpse’ – another classic twist. ‘Zombie World: Dead End’ – one twist I didn’t see coming which was a nice change. ‘Zombies’ – a kind of reflective story on what would happen if you were the only survivor you knew and how you’d cope – a fitting end to the book.

As I said, it’s well worth a read despite some of the less inspiring stories included in the book. There’s definitely some art that you will recognise, even if you’ve only ever stuck to mainstream comics, ‘Necropolis’ should have a familiar feel to it. I wouldn’t say it compares to The Walking Dead, though one Amazon reviewer did so unfavourably. There are definitely some stories in there that are on par with, or even surpass the storytelling of Walking Dead – but unfortunately they are dragged down by the overall mediocre feel of the lesser ones.

Still, there are better short story zombie novels out there, for example Zombie Tales: v. 1 which is available free to read online (I guess I should do a review of that too).

Bookshelf: WE3

Home where my thought's escaping, Home where my music's playing, Home where my love lies waiting, Silently for me...I read this graphic novel about a year ago, before I started this blog. It’s a short, well written simple story which seems inspired by those Homeward Bound type of stories, but with the introduction of futuristic technology and killing machines. Which is to say it’s still a heart-warming story but with added blood and guts as the animal protagonists fight literally tooth, claw and rocket launcher to find their way back from a top secret military experiment to somewhere they once called home.

The artwork by Frank Quitely is easy on the eyes, similar to All Star Superman and I really like his style. The story is a nice diversion for Grant Morrison who I’m mostly familiar with through his previous work on Batman. Since these guys have teamed up again for the new Batman and Robin post events of Batman: R.I.P. and Battle for the Cowl (which I still have yet to read), I’m looking forward to seeing their new work (of course, I’ll be waiting a longer time for the graphic novels).

WE3 is a powerful one-off story, which is guaranteed to tug a little at your heartstrings. It would make a nice introduction to graphic novels if you’ve never picked one up. If you’re into graphic novels already then this makes for a short but engaging read and change from your usual favourites.

Graphic Novel Review: Zot! The Complete Black and White Collection

Zot! The Complete Black & White CollectionZot! is another one of those classics that I missed at the time when it wasn’t a classic, it was new. Thankfully, a couple of years ago Scott McCloud brought out the complete black and white collection so that guys like me could become new fans and get completely engrossed.

When I first spotted this book on the shelves of Borders (aah Borders, remember them?) I knew it was one I wanted to pick up at some point and read. It went on my mental wishlist. I had flicked through it a couple of times, inspired by Manga and a popular Japanese superhero, but not quite all Manga, just enough of Americana and Manga to make it a perfect blend.

It just so happened that I was browsing through Borders during their final sale, that I spotted the one and only copy left on one of the mobile trays of unsorted books and immediately I snapped it up for a good reduced price. This has to be one of my best graphic novel purchases of recent, if not all time!

Zot! is not your average teen astroboy superhero yarn, there are themes covered more suited to older teens. It’s also not an average superhero yarn in the sense that it centers largely around the relationship and growing love between ordinary earth-girl Jenny and boy from another dimension Zot. In fact, it’s more of a love story that occasionally features hell bent supervillians and save the world scenarios. If you don’t mind a love story in your dose of action adventure then this is an epic story you should not miss.

Zot and Jenny
Image from newsarama.com

That said, the villains themselves are no push-over. As the story goes on we are introduced to ever more dangerous characters who bring death and the threat of total annihilation. Perhaps it’s the casual way Zot approaches them, or the way the story unfolds that makes them seem less so, but there’s no monologuing when it comes to bad guys like 9-Jack-9, if he wants someone dead he’ll just do it, quickly, efficiently and without warning.

Zot! is the kind of comic that people like me wish they had read the first time it came around, before it got “discovered”. It’s the kind of story that when you’ve finished it, in less than 2 weeks, you wish there was more out there in the pipeline, but have to come to terms with the fact that this is a series that finished years ago.

Despite McClouds self-abasement over his amateur artwork, I though the artwork was absolutely fantastic. I say this as someone who often spots annoying oddities and inconsistencies in many comic books I read. A few colour pages would have been a nice inclusion (or even a section in the middle somewhere with a sample of colour artwork), but by no means is the art lacking in anyway. The panels are easy to follow, the black ink used extremely well in many places.

The only criticism I can give it is negligible, the way the story diverges on political issues of the day towards the end. It feels unnecessary reading something like this in 2010 rather than 1991.

The other quibble I have is with the inclusion of the special feature ‘Getting to 99’. Yes, I know it’s draft copies and that’s cool and everything, but I did read the story through and some of the storyboards of Zot basically zipping through endless corridors felt like a bad video game to book conversion and was slightly tedious. But this I can forgive in the face of such an epic novel.

If you’re into a slightly off beat superheroics, with a good story and character development, this is one not to miss.

Get Zot!: The Complete Black-and-white Stories: 1987-1991 at Amazon.co.uk

Graphic Novel Review: Maus

Last year I read Watchmen for the first time. I read it before watching the movie because I didn’t want my perception of the novel to be influenced by the movie, I wanted to compare the movie to the graphic novel.

I’ve read edgy graphic novels before, but I was primarily brought up on a diet of 2000 AD and Batman. After reading Watchmen however, I made a pledge to broaden my reading spectrum and seek out more edgy, interesting and unusual graphic novels that don’t feature super heroes – particularly ones that have not yet been made into movies. I picked up a copy of 500 Essential Graphic Novels: The Ultimate Guide and one of the first novels I decided to purchase was The Complete Maus by Art Spiegelman.

Maus is the true story of the survival of Spiegalman’s father and mother through the Nazi holocaust with Jews depicted as mice and Germans depicted as cats as well as Polish pigs, French frogs and others which go to form visual metaphors for the range of nationalities featured and their attitude towards events at the time.

Despite its animal theme and comic format, Spiegelman pulled no punches in depicting the realities of life at the time, including the violence and death that encircled his immediate family. At the same time, the novel does not attempt to paint Vladek (Speigelman’s father) as a wholly innocent and guilt-free victim. Not only do we see Vladeks resourcefulness and caring side, we see prejudice, paranoia, stinginess and even racism. In fact this is part of what makes the story so powerful – the fact that his father, despite all he has been through, is human just like the rest of us.

The story recalls to my mind both Watership Down and Animal Farm. Both of which use animals as metaphors to convey certain characteristics, and both of which deal with violence, persecution and other mature themes. The story is both intense and immersing. I didn’t want to put it down, but had no choice due to it being so weighty in words. I do not think it is intended to be a tragedy, nevertheless this is the feeling you get when you come away from it, yet there are moments of humour and hope punctuated throughout the story, including towards the end where Art and Vladek seem to become reconciled towards one another, as well as Art’s revelations through meeting with his shrink. I particularly like the way Spiegelman has drawn himself ‘shrinking’ to the size of a little boy whilst sitting on the couch!

Rich in details and character driven, I highly recommend Maus, it’s a story I think that will appeal even to people who don’t usually read graphic novels.

I hope you liked my first review of a graphic novel, actually my first review of anything really. I just hope my next one is a little shorter and less work!

Amazon Wishlist

Well, just in case you were feeling generous….

http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/registry/1MURBITZMDZV1