Streetfighter X G.I.joe review

So the the biggest comics of February has finaly arrived. No, not Aveners the secret of Pleasant Hill or what ever it’s called (Although that is a cracking good tale) no silly, we finally have Streetfighter x G.I.joe arrive. The story itself is pretty sweet, with the reason the tournament is conceived is that Destro can have the ultimate weapon that can only be powered up by one on one fights. While it may not be the best story ever conceived, it does provide a fantastic back drop why they are fighting in the first place. The winner gets access to the weapon, but all things being comics, I suspect some one will cheat meaning the good guys have to team up to stop M. Bison and Destro.

The fights themselves are really cool,visually interesting and are really entertaining. Writher Aubrey Sitterson and artist Emilio Laiso   has exceeded my expections and delivered a ripping good read. The action is broken down into 4 fights for the first two issues, and features comedy gold. Roadblock some where things it’s appropreaite for him to use his 50 calibre machine gun in a martial arts tournament is a pretty funny. The fights never really as go as you think they would, and while you can sort of guess the overall outcome, half the fun is arriving at the end.

The book also features character profiles on the fighters involved and a quick recap for fights they couldn’t show you which is better left for you to read. It isn’t for everyone, and while it’s designed for mostly fans of either franchises, anyone can pick this up and enjoy it. Aubrey Sitterson has done a fantastic job in writing a book that is equal parts welcoming to newcomers as for diehard fans themselves, and if you’re a fan of fighting comics or either franchise then check it out.

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5 things to consider before you publish your own comic.

So I published my own comic last year, and but I’ll spare you the heavy handed sales pitch, and instead offer free advice for anyone who wants to publish their own comic, either online as a web comic or via comixology.

1: Get formal training.

So this step isn’t really as important as the others, mostly because like any skill, you can self teach yourself. But for my part, it was money well spent, as you can probably tell. There are many courses you can take, but for me I went with Andy Schmidt’s comic experience. Andy is a former editor at Marvel and IDW comics so he does know he way around a comic. It’s online, which is how a bloke from Australia was able to take it and you get access to the workshop, a forum where you can post scripts and get feedback from fellow writers.

2: It costs a lot of money.

So the worst thing about starting out in comics is that there is very little money to be made if you self publish but I’ll come back to this later. The reason why it costs money is that there are numerous costs involved, from the artist if you can’t do the artwork yourself. Colourists if you want your comic coloured, letterers and cover artists. Again, you can learn to do this yourself, and there many programs out there that can help you learn. Most artists are also starting out or at least semi pro and their services can be pretty cheap. The awesome Shawn Decker did my comic for $50 a page, which was well worth it. A letterer guy I know did the lettering for $10 a page, and if your comic is 20 pages, well you can do the math. If you have the time, you can learn these skills yourself and cut the costs down a little bit.

3: Your reputation matters.

When your paying some one for services rendered, it helps to have the money ready to go when they are done. Paying for art work is no different. Now, I know it seems scary, having to fork over a thousand dollars for artwork (or there about depending on page rate) but most artists often allow you to pay in instalments. In fact, out of all the artists I have worked with, I’ve used a contract which stipulates installments. If you don’t pay promptly, this effects your reputation. I had an artist I worked with ask if I still needed an artist for a project, because of my reputation. I also have an artist I am currently working with now that while fantastic, is one I may not be using again. Being professional helps, and may even lead to repeat work. But people generally remember the bad more then the good.

2: Expect long waits.

Everything takes time, from writing your script, to finding your team to work with, to getting the money together to fund the whole operation and it doesn’t stop there. The artwork can take a long time, depending on what the artist has going on in their life. They have their own life outside of the project, and unexpected things can happen, family holidays for example. Remember this is a hobby they’re trying to make money off. Giving them a super narrow time frame doesn’t help, but that said, you are paying them for a job so if they are dragging their heels, you are allowed to be angry. And you can’t really move on until each part of the project is finished. Then you’re waiting for the letterer, then the cover artist. Finally you’re ready to submit to comixiology if you want, where you can wait up to five months.

1: It’s totally worth it.

Look, even though I’m out of pocket by a lot of money, and they only way I’ll get it back is if over three thousand people decide to download it and give it a read, and they way the payout structure is at comixology, I’ll only see any money if I earn over a certain amount which wont be happening any time soon. But at the very least I’ve accomplished some thing. Not many people can say that they’ve self published their own book, and because I want to break into the comic industry at some point, it does help to have at least some thing on the market that you can point to and say “Hey I did this”. I’d do it all again as well, because why not? Nothing happens over night and so if I do want to be a comic writer, I need to have examples of my work, and not just half finished scripts laying around.

And because I have no shame please buy my book!

Kickstart(er) my heart

Many years ago if you had an idea for a product, game etc, the only way you could make it real was getting a loan out from a bank, creating a business plan and then having a go making it yourself. But who needs all that pesky hard work when you can just ask people for money and then sit back while all that sweet, sweet coin rolls in. Okay so I’m being cynical about the entire process, and crowd funding sites have done a lot of good, creating games, items etc that otherwise would’ve stay dreams, but it’s not without its problem.

For those who don’t know what crowd funding is, it’s the process of some one coming up with an idea such as shoes, a game, a book, a statue of Robocop etc that they need money to build. Crowd funding sites, like Kickstarter, Indiegogo and gofundme were set up to help people achieve their goals and in return, you could get what ever it was that they were creating. There are different pledge levels offering different rewards, with stretch goals if you reach your target and then some.

I’ve mostly done it for comics and games, and for the most part I’ve been happy with the results. It’s basically just an extended pre-order but there are risks involved. While there is an estimated delivery date, in my experience those are about as accurate as a stormtrooper. Some can take over a year to produce any meaningful results, or change the plan with little regard to their original mission statement. Is this frustrating? It sure is, but I guess it can’t be helped. Then there is shipping delays, product delays etc. Some times, on very rare occasions, the product doesn’t even ship, leaving you out of pocket.

That said there is some thing to be said about helping some one achieve their dream by way of crowd sourcing, and seeing your name show up in the “thank you” section is a bit of a treat. But then there is also the soul crushing lows when some ones project will not be funded, and despite what you think is a great idea that the world needs, there is little you can do except to feel their pain.

If you are on the fence about whether you should give kickstarter a go, it can be pretty cool, if costly venture. Think of them as financial time bombs that go off when you least expect them too. I backed exploding kittens, and got two copies of the game for half the current price. But I’m still waiting on things that I was told would be in my hands in 2014 so I guess back at your own risk. That said without crowd funding I wouldn’t have had a chance to play some great games such as Tavern Fame or read books like Mae and Blast Furnace by Ryan Browne. And if I hadn’t read Blast Furnance, then my life wouldn’t be complete. Only you can really decide if you have the funds and time to give crowd sourcing a go, but some times, it’s worth the risk.

G.I.Joe 3 or hurry up and annouce it!

There is a third G.I.Joe on the way, I’m not being delusional here or have some form of wish fulfilment this is fact. The second one did okay business, enough to warrant a sequel, but not enough to strap a rocket to it’s production. But the fact remains, what will the third one be about? Movie sequels are all about escalation and going bigger. Die Hard 1 was set in a building, Die Hard 2 was in an airport and 3 had New York etc. So the third G.I.Joe movies needs to go bigger. If I was asked to write it, and lets be perfectly clear I have a better chance getting a high five from Emma Watson then writing a movie based on my favourite franchise, but here goes.

Firstly I’d tie up the loose end of Destro. I wont spoil the second movie for those who haven’t seen it, but lets say he’s fate is left undecided. I would dedicate the first opening few minutes to Destro’s private Army, the Iron Grenadiers rescuing him from his hole in the ground and getting the Baroness from her prison cell/ hospital where she was left in the first movie. Destro, left bed ridden would swear revenge on Cobra Commander, and using the Baroness’s grief for the loss of Duke, she would be the leader of his army, which include a gender swapped Scrap Iron.

Cobra would be reformed using the twins Tomax and Xamot, with the twins from the Serenity movie and their Crimson Guardsmen are planning another scheme for world domination, or at the very least have their own plan to wipe out Destro’s army for good. Throw new characters of Slice and Dice and Zarana and the Dreadnoks and you have a sizeable plot for a third movie.

The major plot would be Destro and Cobra planning a massive attack on each others bases, and the Joes, not wanting to live in a nuclear winter have to race and stop both leadership before their all out war can harm the planet and the population. The minor subplot would be Zarana wanting revenge on Storm Shadow and Snake Eyes for killing Zartan, now her father because why stop the changes. The Dreadnoks would just exist as bodies to be thrown around by the ninja duo and Zarana is spared, noting the cycle of revenge can be tough to break free. Kristian Nairn as Roadpig is some thing that should happen and quite frankly is a sham that it hasn’t already.

The overall theme of the movie would be “Look at the cost of revenge” the Baroness, wanting revenge for the loss of Duke, is willing to wage war on Cobra and end the lives of anyone in her way. Zarana would be willing to kill two strangers for her father in her grief. Slice and Dice would be the body guards of Cobra Commander and should be played by the two blokes from “The Raid” and would have the all important Ninja action quota sorted. The fight scene alone between Slice and Dice and Storm Shadow and Snake Eyes would be main selling point of the movie.

One the Joes side, there is really many new ones I’d want to add to the plot because it’s pretty full already. I’d bring back the original bunch, because why not and add Leatherneck, Zap and Slipstream. I’d settle for a gender swapped Cross Country and the H.A.V.O.C. vehicle in a pinch because you need to sell toys with the movie. What ever the movie plot is, I’m sure it’ll be decent, even if they want to shoe horn Matt Tracker from M.A.S.K for his own movie because why stop at remaking properties from the 80’s.

As of writing there is little hard evidence to go on about what will be in the new movie, which is a shame but understandable. Creating a movie is an incredibly long process which takes months, even years to create. The only reason it’s taking so long is that there are trying to figure out how to shoot the end credit sting where Serpentor is created by Dr Mindbender, setting up the vents for number 4. There is no other logical reason it can be.

An Ultimately ignoble end

So I have a confession to make. I quite enjoyed Marvel’s Ultimate Universe, at least most of the stuff before Ultimatium. There I said it. It’s out and in the open and I am not ashamed by it. For those who don’t know it, the Ultimate Universe was the attempt to restart the Marvel universe, creating a jumping on point for new readers telling stories with classic Marvel characters, such as Spider-Man, Iron etc but with a twist. Spider-Man was now a teenager, Captain America was more militaristic by nature, Hawkeye kills people, the Fantastic Four were teenagers etc. For the most part these changes were interesting, and it created an environment for fresh story telling due the blank canvas a fresh universe brings.

Brian Michael Bendis’s work on Ultimate Spider-Man was fantastic, as was the first two volumes of the Ultimates, despite Mark Miller using similar story beats throughout both volumes. The best work, and the stuff you should get if you’re so well inclined is the Brian K. Vaughn Ultimate X-men arcs and the Warren Ellis/ Mike Carey Ultimate Fantastic Four work. Apart from the books I already mentioned that is.

But after a while, the universe had its own messy continuity and it was in dire need of a shake up. Thus the Ultimatum Wave happened and unleashed one of the single biggest missteps of the entire comic industry. This event was an excuse to kill off the majority of the characters in utterly gruesome ways, and the overall story doesn’t make much sense either. Plot points get brought up with no pay off. It’s a nasty story that didn’t need to exist, mostly because It doesn’t add any thing interesting to the universe. To its credit though, if a character died in the Ultimate Universe, they mostly stayed dead.

There were attempts to rebuild the Universe after the wave, with only Spider-Man retaining any sense of credibility. In fact if it wasn’t for Ultimate Spider-Man and Ultimate Comics Spider-Man then the entire universe would’ve been a wash, which is a shame because the universe started off so strong, and the books themselves, apart from Spider-Man just got in my opinion worse and worse to the point where they were almost a chore to get through.

But none of that matters because with the publishing of the “Ultimate End” tie in to Secret Wars, we wave good bye to a Universe that had over stayed its welcome. It is for the best though, because there is only so many restarts a universe can sustain before it just becomes a shadow of itself. What was once a brave and exciting Universe ended up being written into a very large corner, despite the creators best efforts. For every brilliant idea such as Arcade being a ruthless killer using gadgets in a game where he hunts for mutants set up by Mojo now an albino character, Rhino being a guy in an armoured Suit rather then just super strong and kick arse redesign of Thor there were some terrible ideas. Petrio and Wanda being lovers as well as twins, a Tony Stark/ Black Widow sex tape and the uncomfortable Hank Pym domestic assault arc perhaps it’s for the best the universe has ended.

The only disappointing aspect was how it went out, not with a bang but with a dull whimper. But then again, it does seem fitting that what started off as a hot property with so much potential ended up dying off in an event that had so much potential and then just finished half halfheartedly.