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Subnautica

This falls into what I'm starting to recognise as a category, computer games that are incredibly beautiful in multiple ways, but I play for five minutes and decide I don't have time to play properly. You crashland on an ocean planet, and oh my gosh, the water is so WET it practically comes out of your monitor. And warm and clear and inviting, with tropical reefs stretching endlessly.

The actual game is a bit like minecraft, find the right materials to feed into an emergency fabber to make more complicated tools to get more useful materials and components, until you eventually repair a distress beacon. (I don't know if that's all or if there's also underwater aliens or whatever).

Avatar on Wii

Rachel bought some old-ish games and it's been lovely to have something fun but simple-ish we can play together occasionally. One person controlling and one person kibitzing works surprisingly well, a lot is "what now" where having the trigger finger isn't the important thing.

It looks great, very avatar-y. It's not set at any particular point in the chronology but has a feel of an avatar well-respected but also young and unpracticed well. And your abilities work like that too: you have quite powerful abilities but you have to unlock them by levelling up, and they have cooldowns, so you feel powerful, but also like you can only succeed by being skillful, which fits the tone very well.

I have a few quibbles. The wolves appear intelligent to manufacture, or at least habitually carry, headbands of +2 armor, and yet not intelligent enough to avoid spontaneously attacking the most powerful humanoid bender on the planet. The avatar indiscriminately slaughtering wolves and taking their stuff seems tonally inconsistent on multiple levels. But that's computer games.

Also, Zuko can jump down behind Kitara and grab her and she's suddenly unable to fight back? Why didn't he try that on all the OTHER waterbenders there?

Flintstones comic

So... there's a gritty flintstones reboot. Except it's not *very* gritty. Not like gratuitous gore. But it deals with consumerism. And colonialism. And PTSD. And so on. I've no idea how this came about, but it works really quite surprisingly well. A few panels are incredibly biting. I loved the animals-used-as-appliances talking to each other, and calling the pet dinosaur a traitor.

On other occasions, it does veer a bit puerile, making simplistic jokes and criticisms of modern life that aren't especially telling. But worth reading some of.

Irredeemable

About a superteam where the most powerful superman-like member goes rogue and starts killing people, and everyone else has to figure out what they can do from there.

The worldbuilding and characters are pretty good -- it feels really LIKE famous superteams, while all the individual members are not knock-offs of specific characters from a single team, but embodying the *sort* of iconic characters that usually exist.

It's mostly about the characters, and what they do and their relationships with each other. There are quite a lot of *further* story developments of one sort or another, it doesn't just dwell on the premise forever with nothing evolving.

I've some quibbles. Things would drag on a lot less if people stopped going back and forth on when to try to contain someone and when it was necessary to kill them. And it's not a *lot* of sexism, but there's some.
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https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saturday_Morning_Watchmen

The fictional saturday morning cartoon version of Watchmen was really funny. But it also looked pretty fun. Like actually, maybe a lot of what people responded to in watchmen was the characters, the worldbuilding... things which were good but separate from the "real life superheros would suck" message, and could be incorporated into an annoyingly-up show just as easily as an annoyingly-down show.

Just like you have Batman appearing in heroic, campy, and grimdark versions.

And in some ways, it's making the same parody about how the low collateral damage of of superhero fights used to be unrealistically low, but showing them EVER LOWER, rather than VERY HIGH :)

But also, given how relentless grimdark has become since, "happy watchmen" might be almost as subversive now as the original was :)
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I'm still loving Saga vol 3. I love how it follows all the characters, even the antagonists. And how each volume adds to what was going on, but also closes things off and opens things fresh.

I was reflecting, Saga is about a horrible, misogynistic universe, even though the point is deconstructing and criticising it. And that's good, because it raises lots of interesting thoughts, but bad, because it means the comic is full of things which are a bit nasty to read about.

But after reading vol 3, I felt things fell more into place, I reread the first two volumes and was satisfied I'd followed all the flashbacks, etc, etc.

And it does the thing lots of starwars-ish universes do, it has lots of cool details -- alien worlds, ghosts, teleportation, healing spells, etc, thrown in which give an overall impression of the world. But that means you kind of pick at it -- if healing spells, teleportation, etc, exist at all, what's the limiting factor that stops it being commodified? (OK, the "wilt plants" spell, it makes sense is fairly niche :))

And I read vol 3 of Kamala Khan as Ms Marvel. Yay! Nothing can be as cute as Kamala with Wolverine, and as giant cuddly teleporting dog Lockjaw in Vol 2. But it has Loki, and it creates antagonists who are relevant to Kamala's own identity and to her superhero identity. And it goes on checking off good implicit messages without being preachy.

Ms Marvel

Apr. 21st, 2015 02:00 pm
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About a nerdy muslim girl who gains the powers of captain marvel (iirc). It does right all the things you'd hope it does right -- showing the positives and negatives of living in a non-Christian religious family in the USA, being sympathetic and non-judgemental while also showing the problems internal and external; showing a young protagonist coming to terms with unexpected powers and how to keep them secret; beginning to introduce a nemesis.

All the things I thought I wanted. But I'm not that hungry for more -- I felt that even though it was very good, it didn't add a lot I didn't already expect, so it didn't suck me personally in, even though I love it for being a much more modern "introduction to superpowers" story I could recommend to people without apologising for it.

ETA: A friend asks, what's the best way of reading recent mainstream comics digitally?

ETA: And almost all of the books I review, I own in paper format, and am eager to lend to people, whether you're following one of the awards, or come on it years later and say "do you still have..?" I realise, most of the time, it's more hassle than it's worth, but you're very welcome if you'd like!
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Rat Queens reminds me of several DnD inspired webcomics done professionally. I love the setting, adventuring groups, tavern brawls, a non-ostentatiously female-dominated cast. I felt there wasn't much to the story yet, but I definitely want to read more.
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Recent

"Gods behaving badly". Sitting on my to-buy pile for ages because I saw a good rec online. Greek gods in much reduced circumstances in the modern world. Felt more mainstream than fantasy. Fairly well done, but didn't add much over other similar books.

"Watership Down" Reading along with rmc's readthrough. I realised that when I said "I'd read it", everyone didn't automatically interpret that as "...every couple of years and love every chapter of it" (despite the flaws).

"Walking Dead #1" from humble bundle. Modern comic about classic zombie apocalypse. Good, but I need to decide if I can be bothered to read further.

"The Wicked and The Divine" about twelve gods who incarnate in the bodies of twelve people who die after two years, but live the high life in the meantime. I love the finger-clicking. Got the first volume and read the first two issues, definitely going further.

"Almighty Johnsons series #2", about Norse gods reborn in New Zealand. All the usual problems I'd expect from mainstream media, but less so than many, and funny and engaging. I only just realised how much of an innuendo the title is.

"West Wing" Finally saw series #3 thanks to ghoti.

"Misfits" UK TV show about young offenders in a community service program who get superpowers. I want to watch it in order so I bought the box set, but aren't really excited about each individual episode.

Upcoming

Hope to see "Big Hero 6" with Liv at the weekend if I have the dates right.

Legend of Korra season #2. I'm assured this gets more Korra-y and less love-triangle-y later on, so after not being sure after season #1 I bought the next one.

More "Sandman", the fifth absolute volume! Liv and I got this for Xmas and have been reading another chapter when we've had time, which has been not nearly enough. But we've been good about neither putting it off too much, not binging too much!

"Two serpents rise". I need to re-buy this!

"Foxglove summer" I said I'd wait for the paperback because I really really wanted to read it, but didn't need to read it right now and hate cluttering my shelves up with hardbacks. But now I'm regretting it, but the paperback is that much closer...