Don’t worry, the Doctor saved us. It will be just shiny and it’s not a trap.
So, out with the old, in with the new.
Every year, hordes of people gather together in party clothes and funny pointed hats. They drink too much cheap champagne. Some couple gets in a fight. Some couple finally gets together. A couple of people make some bad decisions and everyone makes a lot of promises that they keep for about three and half weeks.
This year, as with most years, I and many others will be those promise makers.
But rather than vow that by hell or high water I will fix my thighs or remember to do yoga every day, I propose making happy Nerd Year resolutions.
Assassin’s Creed came out five years ago and if you’ve been following our candid posts on the IHOGeek fan page, you’ll notice mine have been about Assassin’s Creed lately. Being the busy (read: not busy at all, just lazy) person that I am, I’ve finally settled into my new position at work and have begun playing video games I missed due to being broke as fuck. Before I dive into my thoughts about the game itself, let me tell you a little story about how I can now afford to play these games. I recently got addicted to the Facebook game, Marvel: Avengers Alliance and I needed an ass ton of “gold” in order to recruit Beast. Or Hercules. Or Emma Frost. Either way, I needed this “gold” so I took a peek at their “Earn Gold” offers, where you would receive X amount of gold in exchange for completing an offer, such as applying for a credit card, and so forth. GameFly gave you the most gold for the least amount of work, and hey, I already have Netflix, why not have GameFly as well!?
It’s not my finest moment, but now I can get games and play them and you, my lovely readers, get to read my thoughts as I complete each one, because I know that’s really what you wanted for Christmas.
I began my quest with tutorials galore and after a confusing bit of back story about my present time character Desmond, a scarred lip of a douche bartender in a line of assassins, I began to revel in all his past form in the late 1100’s was able to do, until my skills and weapons were taken away because this past form of Desmond was an arrogant jerk off.
Story aside, I enjoyed running from building to building and leaping from the tallest peaks I could reach and I did this quite often, lazily searching for hundreds of flags in different cities, but neglecting to get them all, cause fuck flags. The scenery is drop dead gorgeous, but this too ceased to matter as I hopped onto a horse and galloped around. Gameplay was pretty basic and if I had any complaints it’d be the camera, but I’m super picky when it comes to camera control in video games.
After several hours of just not being able to pickpocket anyone successfully, I had just about had it with Assassin’s Creed, but a sticky button showed me the error of my ways and with that I was able to game the hours away.
The storyline was quite linear, with the quests being easily laid out for you with waypoints all but yelling which direction to go, so if I had any gripes about this particular aspect, it would be that I wished you were able to explore a bit more freely. Thankfully, this appears to have been amended in later games in the series. As you might expect, a large portion of the story revolves around you assassinating people of note during the Crusades and I must say, it was an absolute pleasure shoving my knife into people’s necks and watching the blood squirt.
Predictably, your old as fuck mentor is the bad guy and after an exhilarating boss fight, the game ends abruptly. I sat there with a dumbfounded look of WTF on my face, blinking at my television screen in confusion. There were no credits or any sense of finality (I figured out how to activate the credits after sitting there and pressing buttons for 10 minutes) so for me, the overall story of the game was pretty shitty, warranting a 5/10.
I’d like the say the music was beautiful but it made no impression whatsoever except for the couple of times it blared out of nowhere, startling me. The soundtrack I would also give a 5/10.
Effects were the only time I felt this game really shine as the landscapes were gorgeous with the insane amount of detail given to them. Bonus points are awarded for the dubious amount of violence I was allowed to wreak on both innocent and criminal peoples and for my very unique looking outfit which still allowed me to blend in with anyone at anytime so a 9/10 is awarded.
Overall, I honestly don’t see myself continuing the series as I felt the amount of time put into it did not reap a proportionate amount of satisfaction. It was fun, particularly the Informer missions where you’d have to do stuff in a set amount of time (usually assassinations or flags), but not enough fun. Definitely not worth buying to me. Since I’m sure most of you have played this, what do you think? Should I give part two a try? Let me know!
Let’s talk about the current Robin, Damian Wayne, and how people draw him. The little prepubescent ball of angst, anger and “ttt” grade arrogance (dare you to not imagine him having a soft international British-English influenced accent) who also has a startling vulnerability, has won over a lot of fans since his introduction. He has sky rocketed into popularity following his donning of the Robin mantle in 2008/2009 through his endearing relationship with Dick and surprisingly, Stephanie Brown as Batgirl (truly one of the worst of the reboot losses, their Batgirl/Robin dynamic was too good and his relationship with Babs is nonexistent and bland at best). A mixed-race child taking the mantle of a well-known and ‘iconic’ character should be a big deal; however, this fact isn’t emphasized as much as it should be. He is constantly portrayed by DC Comics’ artists as yet another Bruce Wayne clone: Caucasian, pale, blue eyed and black haired. People generally wouldn’t know he was of mixed heritage at all unless they know the history of his character and the al Ghul family.
Genetics are a funny thing and many children of mixed marriages can either favor one parent over the other or be a strong mix of both. Bruce’s extreme WASP/ possibly Ashkenazi Jewish (if Martha Kane, his mother is related to the same Kanes as Kate Kane, Batwoman, then she was most likely Jewish or partially Jewish herself) heritage is the whitest of the white. There’s no skirting around that. So yes, Damian could very well favor his father. The problem isn’t if he favors his father, it’s just that many elements of his mixed heritage from his mother’s side are promptly ignored by DC artists completely. That’s the problem.
Fan artists seem to understand him a bit more and give him more distinguishable features. In a lot of fan-art online, you see subtle inclusion of Damian’s true heritage; whether its eye-shape or facial structure that suggest he is not white, or he simply has tanned skin, these artists identify him as multi-ethnic. What’s the deal DC? Why can’t you do the same?
One thing that is a hot button issue and I feel I need to get out of the way are his blue eyes. As shown by the Shortpacked comic, most people argue that because he has Chinese and Arab heritage he must have dark eyes. That’s just not true. Many fancasts for live action “Batman” often cast him with young 100% Iranian actor Arsalan Ghasemi specifically because of Arsalan’s vivid blue-green eyes.
Arsalan sadly is much too old now to play Damian, as you can see. Additionally, no one knows of his acting abilities or English speaking, but the sentiment of casting Damian or basing his look off of someone actually from the Middle East is quite admirable. That’s where most of Damian comes from! He could look like that! But just because Arsalan has blue eyes does not mean he is particularly special or worthy of being a good face cast. Many people of various ethnic groups from the Middle East and even Muslim peoples and other communities in China have fair eyes, skin and hair, and many, many different skin tones and features. All are people of color, all are nationally Iranian, Afghan, Pakistani or Chinese. Arsalan Ghasemi’s looks are not that unusual at all for the Middle East. People look like that from there! It’s the same all the way to communities into India as well. So yes, Damian can very well have blue, blue-green or hazel eyes, especially since Bruce can only genetically offer shades of blue and possibly green. Good chance Damian wouldn’t have them? Yes, most certainly. But those features are much more common in in the Middle East than people here in the States would like to believe, as it goes against the stereotypes we are taught about race and how people in those countries look. China is a huge country with many peoples. So is the region of the Middle East.
There are many boys and most likely actors from those areas of the world that look just like him. They are Damian.
The problem with Damian also comes from an inherited and continued problem from his mother’s family and their portrayal. Talia al Ghul herself has a very mixed heritage and how she is portrayed is very problematic. Her canon mother, Melisande, was of explicit mixed Chinese and Arab ancestry. Talia, when portrayed as good, is often drawn and colored as white. When placed in the role of villain, she sadly is often drawn or colored with darker skin and more “foreign” features. There is no excuse to not keep a consistent, and respectful look for her that keeps her looking like the multi-ethnic person that she is and not be deemed dangerous or ‘exotic’.
Her father, the over 600 year old skunk haired Ra’s al Ghul, is problematic and ambiguous himself. Touting an Arab name and hailing from a “a city whose inhabitants’ ancestors have journeyed to the Arabian Peninsula from China”, his race has always been hotly debated but drawn as more or less as Caucasian. He was, like his daughter, played by white actors in Nolan’s Batman trilogy; Liam Neeson and Marion Cotillard respectively. At best, I would put him as being very mixed himself, with an ancestry much like Melisande. Ra’s green eyes are not improbable either, influence of the Lazarus Pit or not, it’s the same as Damian’s blue eyes. Regardless, Ra’s should look mixed, Talia could appear even more so herself.
With Damian, colorists at routinely at fault, coloring Damian as lily-white when they could feasibly choose to do a darker skin tone. That doesn’t excuse artists who draw his features as anything but Caucasian most of the time either. Now, they could keep the Caucasian face structure, he looks a lot like Bruce, but color him with more of an olive or tan skin tone and a slightly different eye shape. Many fan artists seem to go that route, giving Damian simply a noticeably different complexion than the other former Robins. On the flip side, he could be drawn with more traditionally Asian or Arab facial structure and features but be colored as being pale, like Bruce. There is room for easy compromise to show what he truly is. There are many different possibilities. All don’t look exclusively white, blue eyes or not. Why is that so difficult?
Out of any of the current artists at DC Comics, I find Patrick Gleason is the only one who draws Damian as consistently more mixed looking. His Damian actually looks like he has a lot of Asian heritage, from the nose and face structure and in particular, his eye shape, especially as a child. His inking or the inking on his work never leaves room for the colorist to color the irises blue as others do, so they are mainly blacked out and dark. This is not to say that it’s good that he is shown with dark eyes, as I explained Damian can have very blue eyes and it’s perfectly fine, but Gleason gives Damian a very different look which you normally don’t see. The colorist colors him as very pale, but he actually looks mixed.
Despite Damian’s ambiguous appearance or DC’s inability to portraying him accurately, the reason why I think it is important that he be drawn as mixed is all about representation. There are many girls and boys of mixed heritage similar to Damian, or who are Asian or Iranian, Afghan or Pakistani; any of these particularly ignored groups aren’t portrayed often in Western pop media often in roles that are not bad guys or terrible stereotypes, particularly in the world of superheroes. And they need to see themselves. Entertainment in the US is very, very white, and to see a mixed child in a big pop-culture role as Robin is huge. It’s akin to having Miles Morales take over as Spider-Man in the Ultimate universe, and DC should be making more of an effort with Damian in that regard. He could be sold as such a benchmark, but they choose to ignore it instead. They’ve already wiped away Cassandra Cain from the Bat family, with no visible intention to bring her back (having deaged her mother, Lady Shiva, thus making it impossible for her to actually be Cassandra’s mother, a rather passive aggressive blow to Cassandra fans while they fret her existence and relationship to the Batfamily), it really wouldn’t hurt to emphasize the actual diversity that is present in the Batfamily with Damian, considering what little is left now. The fact that DC overlooks this opportunity is really sad.
So, as 2012 wraps up, we take a look back on the year and all the highs and lows it provided. The victories, the defeats, the part where Rob Liefeld threw a fit on Twitter and supposedly retired from comics and then took it back and we all continue to wonder what is UP with him not being able to draw feet?
Let us bid a fond farewell to 2012 and look ahead to 2013, when we’ll see massive cross-over events, characters LIKE YOU’VE NEVER SEEN THEM BEFORE and something that will CHANGE THE UNIVERSE IRREVERSIBLY…until it is inevitably reversed.
The more things change, the more they stay the same.
And since you’re all joining us on January 4th for our drinking party and giveaway on Google+ (you ARE joining us, correct?), let’s take this chance to rework that classic song “Auld Lang Syne” into something a bit more…relate-able, shall we?
Should Spider-man yet be retconned
and never brought to mind!
DC bids Morrison goodbye
for auld lang syne!
For auld lang syne, my dear
for auld lang syne!
We’ll all deny CYCLOPS WAS RIGHT
for auld lang syne!
And surely you’ll buy your BATGIRL
and surely I’ll buy mine!
We’ll see Steph and Cass reintroduced
for auld lang syne!
For auld lang syne, my dear
for auld lang syne!
at least we get Iron Man 3
for auld lang syne!
–Ashly is actually looking forward to comics in 2013, you can see her occasionally reference them on Twitter @newageamazon
So I’m about to head out-of-town for the weekend, so I don’t have a whole lot prepared for you people. But having recently watched The Hobbit, I’ve been reinvigorated by riddles. How about we play a game?
If you win, you may visit somewhere else on the internet, and if you lose… we eats you?
*Ahem* Obviously, you can cheat and look the answers up on Google. But forever know that you are a dirty, rotten cheater.
1) I can run, but not walk. Wherever I go, thoughts follow close behind. What am I?
2) I am the beginning of the end, and the end of time and space. I am essential to creation, and I surround every place. What am I?
3) Think of words ending in -GRY. Angry and hungry are two of them. There are only three words in the English language. What is the third word? The word is something that everyone uses every day. If you have listened carefully, I have already told you what it is.
4) What is it that you can keep after giving it to someone else?
5) There once was an evil wizard. He took 3 woman from their homes and turned them into rose bushes that looked exactly alike. He put them in his garden. One of the woman had a husband and children and begged the wizard to let her see them. He agreed. At night, he brought the woman to her house. In the morning he came and took her home. One day the husband decided to go rescue her. So he snuck into the wizard’s garden. He looked and looked at the 3 identical rose bushes trying to figure out which could be his wife. Suddenly, he knew the answer and he took his wife home. How did he know which rose-bush was his wife?
This year is winding down, which naturally means I’ve been reading like a demon to finish the few novels that I didn’t have time to read all semester. Good thing, too. There are some amazing books coming out in 2013 now that the world hasn’t ended. Here’s a few we’re really looking forward to:
Doctor Sleep-Stephen King
A sequel decades in the making, Doctor Sleep continues the story of Danny Torrance years after that little incident where his father went apeshit and tried to murder him in an evil hotel. Danny is now 40+ and works in a hospice helping the elderly pass on (his unofficial job, I’m sure). This was an especially exciting announcement because, before Stephen King decided that he had more to say on the boy with a touch of the shining, I hadn’t even known that Doctor Sleep was a thing that I should want, but now I do. I really do.
The Ocean at the End of the Lane– Neil Gaiman
“A novel about memory and magic and survival, about the power of stories and the darkness inside each of us.” I have to admit that the only one of Mr. Gaiman’s solo novels that I have read, American Gods, didn’t really do it for me. However, since we’ll be getting a new Sandman miniseries, I’m willing to give this book a shot. I’m not sure if that reasoning makes any kind of sense, but there it is.
April 2013 (hopefully.
Sound it out. Try again (it’s okay, it took me a few times). The King family is looking forward to a great new year (Joe is Stephen King’s son), but Hill has earned a mention on this list all on his own. I have read both Horns and Heart-Shaped Box and have nothing but the highest of expectations for Hill’s third full length novel. The book is about a “very bad man, with a very bad car.” I can dig it.
Earth Afire-Orson Scott Card
If you’re not familiar with Card, you will be very soon. The film adaptation of Ender’s Game starring Harrison Ford (among others) will hopefully do the war/scifi-featuring-battle-hardy-children-genre justice. This book, however, is the second in what should be an epic prequel trilogy featuring the major players in the first formic(scary bug-alien) war. I say should be because Earth Unaware, the first book in the trilogy, remains one of those pesky 2012 publications that I haven’t gotten around to reading yet.
Star Wars: Scoundrels-Timothy Zahn
I actually just saw this book available in a store and was very confused because it’s not due out for a few days. The official release date is the first however, so it just squeaks in to this list. Zahn’s probably the name most associated with the literary Star Wars EU, and it’s so freaking exciting for his next title to feature everyone’s favorite scoundrel (sorry, Lando, but you can come too). “To make his biggest score, Han’s ready to take even bigger risks. But even he can’t do this job solo.” Brilliant.
Dead Ever After-Charlaine Harris
The final Sookie Stackhouse Novel! Thirteen will hopefully be a lucky number for us and our favorite Southern waitress. Events in the books have long since ceased to have any bearing on the crazy directions the HBO show takes, but I’m still pulling for Sookie to get her viking in the end, once and for all.
Books we wish were coming out: Winds of Winter. Come ON, GRRM!