Archive for September, 2012

The Lunar Archivist’s Sketchbook – Part 6

2012/09/30

Today’s page from my sketchbook comes with a story.

While attending Montreal Comiccon 2012 two weeks ago, I had the opportunity to not only meet the legendary George Pérez, but also to have him sketch something for me. (Not for free, of course, but for a pretty reasonable amount given a comic book artist of his stature.) But who to choose, with both the DC and Marvel Universes at my fingertips? Well, given my rather vocal objection on this blog to Scott Lobdell‘s interpretation of a certain alien princess combined with the fact that the character was co-created by Marv Wolfman and Mr. Pérez himself, my decision turned out to be a no-brainer.

Me: “I’d like a sketch of Starfire, because I don’t like what they’ve done with her in the New 52.”

To which he responded:

George Pérez: “I don’t, either.”

I think my little raging fanboy heart skipped a beat when he said that.

This led to a brief exchange between the two of us which pretty much confirmed what all of Starfire’s fans already knew. Mr. Pérez didn’t, for a single moment, deny that she was eye candy. But her sexiness was never sleazy. What made her so endearing was that she was naïve and oblivious to the effect she had on men; she was “a wide-eyed innocent”, to use his exact words, and it’s in that form that he chose to immortalize her for me in my sketchbook:


So, here’s the tl;dr version:

1. Fan vindication by a character’s creator on creative mismanagement can be sweet enough to induce a diabetic coma.

2. Suck on that, Lobdell.

UPDATE (2013.05.27.): Despite the relative obscurity of this website in the blogosphere as a whole, I pride myself on having some sense of journalistic integrity. So when a deviantART Internet troll questioned the reliability of my claim that Mr. Pérez had ever referred to Starfire as a “wide-eyed innocent” in this comment thread, I decided to go straight to the source and ask the big man himself via his Facebook fan page, which he himself runs. Even though I thought it was a long shot, George Pérez surprised me by answering less than three hours later and confirmed my original statement. And here’s my proof:

Suck on THIS, Matthew Lane. :P

Suck on THIS, Matthew Lane. 😛

That is all. 🙂

Strange Moments in Video Gaming – Part 5

2012/09/26

For everyone who things that bad taste in video games is a relatively recent phenomenon, I’d like to offer you this little gem from 1982:

When the Dow drops, so do the bodies.

Behold! Wall Street by Century Electronics UK Ltd., where, among other things, you play as a pair of firemen carrying a life net...and attempt to bounce suicide jumpers into the safety of a nearby ambulance as the Dow Jones Index takes a nosedive.

Sex and Dating, Superhuman Style – Part 11

2012/09/22

Being a superhero(ine) means having access to an entirely new list of excuses when it comes to explaining away your cheating.

After a hat trick, where’s the shame supposed to fall again?

This exploration of suprahuman commitment issues courtesy of Empowered – Volume 7 (May 2012) by Adam Warren.

The Litwak’s Family Fun Center Gang

2012/09/18

NOTE: This blog post was originally published on September 18, 2012, but has been revised twice since its original publication and will be stickied from October 28 to November 4, 2012 in anticipation of the movie’s release.

With the release of Disney’s Wreck-It Ralph – which is shaping up to become the video game equivalent of Who Framed Roger Rabbit – a little over seven weeks away, I thought it might be fun to add to the already rampant online speculation by not only summarizing what my fellow nostalgia gamers have managed to piece together thus far but also trying to figure out what other games are present in Litwak’s Family Fun Center myself (and thus also which other characters could potentially make cameo appearances) from existing publicity stills and footage from all of the trailers that’ve been released.

Before we start, I’d like to clarify that I’m only sticking to 100% verifiable information and purposely omitting lawyer-friendly cameos such as the ones made by the Kano and Smoke lookalikes. I’m also going to be working under the assumption that all the cabinets present house exactly one game each (as opposed to multi-game arcade machines such as Nintendo’s PlayChoice-10, for example).

So, let’s get down to business! Based on the following external shot of Game Central Station – the “transportation hub for travelling from game to game within the arcade”…

I’m surprised this arcade hasn’t burned to the ground yet.

…there are twenty-three arcade cabinets present in the establishment. Of those twenty-three, three are the fictional games exclusive to this movie and homes to the four main characters: Fix-It Felix Jr. (Fix-It Felix Jr. and Wreck-it Ralph), Sugar Rush Speedway (Vanellope Von Schweetz), and Hero’s Duty (Sergeant Tamora Jean Calhoun). So what are the other twenty games? Well, if you do the math, all of them have been accounted for either directly or indirectly, believe it or not…

1. Confirmed Titles

The following video games have either been explicitly named or enough of their distinctive screens and logos are visible to identify them beyond a reasonable doubt:


Pac-Man
[1] and Space Invaders [2]…


Frogger [3] and Virtua Cop [4]…


Dig Dug [5]…


Tapper [6]…


Finish Line [7] (a fictional game) and Tron [8]…


Burger Time [9]


Dance Dance Revolution X2 [10] and Street Fighter II [11]…


Time Hunter 4 [12] (another fictional title)…


The House of the Dead [13]…


…and Sonic Championship (a.k.a. Sonic the Fighters) [14].

2. Educated Guesses

While the following titles aren’t confirmed to be present, there’s a reasonable amount of circumstantial evidence to support the idea in each case (mostly in the form of cameos by their characters).


Talk about blink and you’ll miss it! Even though we’ve already firmly established the presence of Pac-Man – the orange ghost Clyde even has a supporting role in the movie! – this shot of Game Central Station not only features appearances by his compatriots Pinky, Inky, and Blinky, but also by one of the flying ostrich-riding knights from Joust [15], the nameless paperboy from Paperboy [16] (who is seen crashing his bicycle behind Ralph at one point), and the paddles and ball from Pong [17].


While the plight of the down-on-their-luck refugees from Q*bert – specifically Ugg, Slick, Coily, Wrong-Way, and the eponymous character himself – is certainly heartbreaking, the fact that their machine is unplugged means that it doesn’t count towards our total (unfortunately). On the other hand, we can add another fictional game to our list, as we see a yellow Tyrannosaurus Rex standing in the entrance to a game called Dino Havoc [18]. Also note that, to the far right, we see Chun Li walking alongside of Zangief.

And finally, at Ralph’s Bad-Anon meeting, we see, of all people, Neff, the main antagonist of Altered Beast [19] in his anthropomorphic purple rhinoceros form. And, of course, the generic, dual hatchet-wielding zombie Cyril from The House of the Dead on the far right.

3. Complications, Curiosities, and Uncertainties

Be warned: major spoilers ahead.

In the previous two sections, I purposely avoided using information from the opening sequence of the international trailer to support any of my guesswork unless there was additional evidence to corroborate it. And this was done for a very good reason: though not explicitly called attention to, the difference in appearance of establishment owner Mr. Litwak at the beginning and end of it…


…coupled with the rapidly moving people and shifting arcade cabinets indicate that this is supposed to be a time lapse sequence covering the last thirty years of the Litwak Family Fun Center’s existence since Fix-It Felix Jr. premiered there in 1982. While we see several games, both real and fictional, as the camera pans out, there’s no direct evidence either supporting or disproving the idea that they’re still around in 2012 with the sole exceptions of The House of the Dead and Sonic Championship – as Cyril, Sonic, and Dr. Robotnik’s cameos in the movie’s present will attest to – plus one other title that I’ll be naming at the very end of this section.

What makes this montage particularly interesting is that, even though many of them only appear on screen for one or two frames, the names of some of the titles have been blurred out by censor bars, even though their distinctive logos make it blatantly obvious which ones they’re supposed to be. In some cases, the reasons are likely due to copyrights or trademarks issues, where permission had either never been acquired or not yet been granted at the time this montage was assembled. In other cases, legally acceptable parodies were created as placeholders. And then there’re some head-scratchingly baffling examples, such as Space Invaders being one of the games whose names was censored out in the international trailer even though it appeared uncensored in trailers released several months earlier and even in other trailers which have (parts of) the same time-lapse sequence incorporated into it. Go figure.

One extremely plot-relevant detail worth mentioning at this point comes in the form of a fictional overhead arcade racing game, which we catch a brief glimpse of at the very beginning of the sequence, sitting right next to the Fix-It Felix Jr. cabinet.


In two of the trailers and previews that’ve been released so far, M. Bison, Fix-It Felix Jr., and Q*bert all refer to Ralph’s actions of  breaking typecasting and game hopping as “going turbo”. Given the onetime existence of a game called Turbotime in this particular arcade, we can draw a pretty reasonable conclusion about what this otherwise puzzling statement means: at some point in the past, the main character from this game, whose name was presumably Turbo, decided to do the exact same thing and ended up getting his machine unplugged and both it and himself removed from the establishment…which explains why all of Ralph’s associates are getting so jittery and nervous when he begins displaying subversive behavior.

And while we’re on the subject, two more brief plot points that aren’t immediately apparent: not only is the unassuming-looking King Candy likely a secondary villain – or at least a misguided antagonist – based on his biography on Disney’s official site for the movie, but the primary menace in the movie come in the form of the Cy-Bugs from Hero’s Duty, something that Entertainment Weekly hinted at way back in February. In the international trailer, Ralph is seen accidentally stepping on a cute baby Cy-Bug…


…who proceeds to viciously attack him…


…and, after he accidentally triggers an escape pod…


… both he and it are accidentally ejected into Game Central Station. The rest you can probably guess: the Cy-Bug escapes, and, without Sergeant Calhoun and her soldiers to contain it, is now free to multiply, infiltrate, and infect the other games in the arcade. Well, at least until the end of the movie, where I’m betting that we’re going to see a mind-blowingly awesome, multi-world, crossover battle sequence where video game heroes and villains alike are forced to team up in order to contain the infestation and Ralph ends up learning the true meaning of being a hero by (seemingly) sacrificing his life to destroy them. And, lest you think that death is meaningless in this movie given Fix-It Felix Jr.’s played-for-laughs resurrection in one trailer, I’d like to emphasize the fact that, as Sonic the Hedgehog points out in his public service message announcement, the rule is that characters are only able to respawn indefinitely within their own game worlds. If they’re killed outside of it, their deaths will be permanent. Yeah, this is a Disney movie and I’m pretty sure nothing too terrible’s going to happen, but still…

But we’ve wandered way too far off-topic already. Let’s get this train back on track by taking a closer look at the remaining titles (which you’ll need judicious use of frame-by-frame replaying in order to independently verify):


Asteroids and Battlezone


Food Fight, the original Street Fighter (although it mistakenly displays graphics from Street Fighter II, specifically of Ryu fighting Dhalsim in his stage in India), and Centipede


Agent X and Dragon’s Lair


the Atari version of Star Wars from 1983 and Fatal Assault (a fictional game)…


District 51 (which appears to be a pastiche of Atari’s Area 51 and the movie District 9), a Star Wars game with no known real-world equivalent, and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles


…and Hoop Jamz: All-Star Edition by Halfway (an obvious reference to Midway’s NBA Jam: Tournament Edition).

In the closing shot of the montage from the present day, you’ll see that one machine from the opening is still present, having only swapped positions with Street Fighter II in the intervening years:


Yes, that’s right, Dragon’s Lair [20] has apparently been a mainstay in this particular arcade for three decades, which may just be the most ridiculous premise that this movie is asking us to accept considering that the laserdiscs players which shipped with this game were notoriously prone to failure and the earliest cabinets had a life expectancy of between as little as 650 hours (less than one month) and as much as 50000 hours (a little over five and a half years).

4. Cameos

And finally, here’s a list of established characters from the movie whom I haven’t previously mentioned or posted pictures of yet:


Dr. Ivo Robotnik, M. Bison, and Clyde


Bowser and Zangief


…the unnamed bartender from Tapper


Dig Dug and the nameless frog from Frogger

Ryu and Ken


Cammy…

Yuni Verse


…a Fygar and a Pooka


Peter Pepper


…and the one and only Sonic the Hedgehog.

5. Summary

So, in conclusion, here’s an alphabetical list of the twenty-three arcade game cabinets known to be present at Litwak’s Family Fun Center:

  1. Altered Beast (real)
  2. Burger Time (real)
  3. Dance Dance Revolution X2 (real)
  4. Dig Dug (real)
  5. Dino Havoc (fictional)
  6. Dragon’s Lair (real)
  7. Finish Line (fictional)
  8. Fix-It Felix Jr. (fictional)
  9. Frogger (real)
  10. Hero’s Duty (fictional)
  11. The House of the Dead (real)
  12. Joust (real)
  13. Pac-Man (real)
  14. Paperboy (real)
  15. Pong (real)
  16. Sonic Championship (alias Sonic the Fighters) (real)
  17. Space Invaders (real)
  18. Sugar Rush Speedway (fictional)
  19. Street Fighter II (real)
  20. Tapper (real)
  21. Time Hunter 4 (fictional)
  22. Tron (real)
  23. Virtua Cop (real)

How many did you spot? 🙂

Oh, and this goes without saying, but if anyone reading this happens to find anything that I missed, let me know. 😀

UPDATE (2012.09.25.): New information from the release of the “Game Changer” television spot yesterday was added.

In the original version of the article, I stated that the fact that we see Chun Li in her classic outfit combined with the presence of Cammy (also in her original costume) suggested that Super Street Fighter II: The New Challengers, Super Street Fighter II Turbo, or Super Street Fighter IV: Arcade Edition was one of the games at Litwak’s Family Fun Center. The new commercial has since proven me “wrong”, as the pictures of the establishment floor, the arcade cabinet, and the screen itself – specifically the sunset version of Ryu‘s dojo rooftop stage – all point it being a regular Street Fighter II machine.

Just to be clear, my placement of the word “wrong” in quotation marks isn’t due to sour grapes but because the movie’s creators have apparently made a continuity error. The three games that I mentioned are the only instances where Cammy and Chun Li appear in the same game together wearing those particular clothes. Cammy wasn’t even in the original Street Fighter II. She first appeared in 1993 – two years after the release of the original game – in Super Street Fighter II: The New Challengers.

Still, as someone on a message board thread pointed out, considering that the entire movie requires us to buy into the premise that there’s still a profitable video game arcade being operated in North America in 2012, I think that I can live with this mistake. 🙂

UPDATE (2012.10.28.): The original article has been heavily revised with new information from the various trailers and previews released during the past month as well as plot speculation and spoilers.

Comic Book Sexual Innuendo – Part 26

2012/09/14

Strange were the ways of flirting and talking dirty back in the Silver Age.

She means the milk from the cow, Clark.

This unusual but welcome invitation has been brought to you by Superman #165 (November 1963) by Robert Bernstein, Al Plastino, Curt Swan, and George Klein.

Robosexuality – Part 10

2012/09/10

Just because robots don’t engage in sexual reproduction, doesn’t mean that they’re completely ignorant about the process.

Talk about a whole new kind of baby boom.

This example of spectator birth trauma has been brought to you by Mega Man #7 (January 2012) by Ian Flynn, Chad Thomas, Patrick Spaziante, and Gary Martin.

Variations on a Theme – Part 4: Mickey Mouse Cobra Commander

2012/09/06

Yes, you read that title right. But more on that later.

While I usually jump right into comparing variants in this series of blog entries, to fully understand the differences this time around, a quick lesson about the early history of the G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero is in order.

When the 3¾ inch toyline first appeared in 1982, the action figures featured a then-unprecedented degree of movement. Specifically, when viewed from the front, these points of articulation included:

  • A head that could turn left and right.
  • Shoulder joints capable of rotating in a full circle around the abscissa (horizontal or x-axis) and a little over 90 degrees of rotation around the applicate (z-axis).
  • A waist capable of a full circle rotation.
  • Elbow, hip, and knee joints that could bend up to 90 degrees.

In the years that followed, the amount of articulation actually increased. Since the second wave of figures released in 1983 not only sported elbow joints that could rotate 360 degrees around the ordinate (y-axis) but also featured updated versions of the sixteen original ones that had been modified to include this trait, in order to differentiate them, the first wave figures were retroactively dubbed straight arm versions (due to their comparatively stiff arms) by collectors, while their second wave counterparts were christened swivel arm versions (a name derived from the yellow “Swivel Arm Battle Grip” blurb that appeared in the bottom left front corner of the cardback advertising this new feature).

The “straight arm” (left) and “swivel arm” (right) versions of Cobra Commander.

Two years later, in 1985, the last major change in the articulation department was made when the heads were changed from a pivot joint to a swivel ball. As a result, the fourth wave figures became the first ones in the line’s history that were capable of not only looking left or right but also up or down.

So, did you get all that? I know it’s a lot of information to take in, but if you’ve made it this far, then the upcoming comparison should be extremely straightforward and comprehensible.

As was the case with previous articles in this series, the most common version of today’s figure, the original Cobra Commander, is located on the left while the least common variant is on the right. What’s different this time around, however, is the presence of an intermediate version between the two of them.

“We three kingsss of Cobra-La are…”

The swivel arm version was part of the second wave of releases in 1983, while the straight arm versions were only available in 1982 as either mail-ins or as part of the Cobra Missile Command Headquarters, a Sears department store exclusive playset. But things start getting really interesting if you take a closer look at the Cobra insignias on the chests of the straight arm versions.

Standard Cobra insignia (left) and “Mickey Mouse” Cobra insignia (right).

While the one on the left is the standard logo that appeared on the second edition of Cobra Commander onward, the one on the right was only seen on the first edition. And…well…it looks pretty damn ugly, doesn’t it? In fact, this downright crude, primitive, and overly stylized insignia is where this particular variant got its name: since the snake’s eyes and upper head have been reduced to an inverted crescent with two solid red bumps that resembles nothing so much as a Mickey Mouse Ear Hat, the figure has become known to collectors as Mickey Mouse Cobra Commander. Yet in spite of having been slapped with such a stupid monicker for posterity, its value is nothing to laugh at: while the asking price for an excellent to near mint swivel arm Cobra Commander is between 20 and 40 dollars, a Mickey Mouse Cobra Commander can command sums as high as 90 to 150 dollars or more.

Yes, welcome to the wonderful world of vintage toys collecting, where a reduced level of articulation and a half-assed paint job can actually make you more valuable. Go figure.

As always, special thanks to the Yo Joe! website for bringing this particular variant to my attention.

Oh, and since I’m sure at least some people reading this came here looking for subversive artwork featuring a certain cartoon mouse, I see no reason to let you leave empty handed.

“DISSSNEY!”

PQ and OQLF? STFU and GTFO!

2012/09/04

Today’s the day of the 2012 Quebec General Election, and I’m hoping that any Quebecers reading this will do their best to keep Pauline Maroisthe sum of whose political ambitions entirely fall into the categories of “separate Quebec from Canada” and “discriminate against English speakers by reinforcing the already draconian language laws or creating new ones” – out of office.

Remember: A vote for the Parti Québécois is a vote for the giant, scary, malfunctioning robot from the Quebec Board of the French Language, who will use his evil powers to translate every English sign he sees into French.

Sadly, this isn’t too far from the truth.

For everyone who isn’t Canadian, a French speaker, or more than 20 years old, here’re some quick translations and explanations:

  1. La langue française: The French language.
  2. Pneu 101% québécois: 101% Québécois Tire. Canadian Tire is the name of a Canadian retail store chain.
  3. BlocQuébécois Vidéo: Quebec Bloc Video. The Bloc Québécois is the name of a Canadian federal political party.
  4. Manger sur: “(To) eat on (top of)”. Eaton was the name of a now-defunct Canadian department store chain.
  5. La banque des impérialistes colonistes de Toronto: The Bank of the Imperial Colonists of Toronto, a riff on the Toronto-Dominion Bank, the second largest bank in Canada.

This dark vision of things that may come to pass courtesy of Angloman 2: Money, Ethnics, Superheroes (November 1996) by Gabriel Morrissette and Mark Shainblum.

Do As I Say, Not As I Do…

2012/09/02

For everyone who follows my Twitter feed – and, really, who does? – and might’ve been wondering about a question I asked Mark Waid a few weeks back, here’s a little background information and explanation.

Back on August 7, 2012, Mr. Waid guest wrote the following strip of the webcomic The Gutters, entitled “Mark Waid’s 4 Panels That Never Work”:

“The Gutters #330: Mark Waid’s 4 Panels That Never Work” by Mark Waid and Jeremy Rock

Now, while I found this strip hilarious, the second panel gave me pause for thought.

“You’ve got to admit: if it were real life and this purple guy in a white hood with a hook hand appeared on it and ranted silently, a lot of people would stop and stare.” – Jay Thomason

So, in all my fanboyish zeal, I decided to tweet the author and ask him about it:


For the uninitiated, I was specifically referring to the following sequence from Kingdom Come #1 (May 1996), where Norman McKay and numerous observers – human, metahuman, or otherwise – learn about the destruction of Kansas due to the irresponsible actions of Magog and the Justice Battalion.

Quick! Someone use the giant remote control to increase the volume!

So, what was Mr. Waid’s response to my seeming accusation of hypocrisy on his part?


As I admitted in a follow-up tweet, he has a point. Since the entire sequence contains no dialogue except for Norman McCay’s narration, it’s never made clear exactly what caught everyone’s attention.

Curses! Foiled again! I’ll get you one day, Waid! One day! *shakes fist*


%d bloggers like this: