It was reported yesterday that comic book legend Steve Ditko passed away at the age of 90. Most of his online tributes talk about how Ditko was the co-creator of such legendary comic book icons like Spider-Man and Dr. Strange. Others will talk about how Ditko shunned notoriety and just wanted to draw comics. Even others will talk about how he was a devotee of the Objectivist philosophy. Instead, I’m going to talk about how Steve Ditko indirectly influenced me into the writer I am today.
I’ve been a fan of comic book heroes since I was young. From watching the Batman ’66 reruns to the Super-Friends cartoon to picking up my first copy of The Flash from a 7-11 in the 70s, I’ve always been a fan on the superhero genre. In the late 80s as a young adult, I came across a comic at my local comic shop that caught my eye because of the protagonist’s aesthetic. It was Hub City’s trench coat and fedora-clad vigilante, The Question as written by another comic book legend Denny O’Neil and drawn by gritty artist Denys Cowan.
For those who may not be familiar with the character, news reporter Vic Sage dons the faceless visage of The Question to get the answers a journalist just can’t get. While Ditko wrote him in the 60s as a vigilante with a black and white moral code, O’Neil took the very unique approach of writing The Question as a Zen detective dealing with various shades of gray. While O’Neil’s take was a far cry from Ditko’s, he stayed true to the character’s core principle of an insatiable need to find the truth.
I first got on the internet and started creating websites back in the late 90s before blogs were even a thing. Back then mostly everyone used screen names to protect their identity. Influenced by The Question, I chose the name of TheTrenchcoat. (Not a typo, all one word with two capital Ts.) As many of you know, when Columbine happened, this led to me being confused with the so-called Trenchcoat Mafia. This was the impetus which got me into writing about crime online since I wanted to dispel many of the mistruths of that fateful day, which many are still told today. You might even say that I had an insatiable need to find the truth. The rest is history.
As I posted on social media yesterday, had it not have been for Steve Ditko creating The Question there probably would not have been the Trench Reynolds you see today. So from the bottom of my heart, thank you, Mr. Ditko.
This is a follow-up to my post about the most recent ‘school shooting’ video game which I posted here. If you haven’t read it yet, I ask that you please read that first before continuing.
Over the holiday weekend, there was a slew of news articles about the parents of school shooting victims who were outraged over the game. I was all ready to write a post asking them to just ignore the game. I understand that it’s a slow news weekend and the media is shoving microphones in your face looking for a sound bite. I also understand that you’ve endured a pain that only a few but increasing number of people understand and your outrage is understandable.
However, that post was rendered null and void after the video game platform Steam removed the game from its store. That does allow me to talk about the game by name since I doubt the so-called developer will be making any money from the world’s largest online distributor of PC games. The game was called Active Shooter and Steam has pulled the game from its store not due to any outside pressure, or so they say, but because the developer was a known troll who had been banned from the platform previously.
Steam said in a statement that the creator of the game that simulates a school shooting had previously been banned from the popular platform but changed the name of his business to return to selling games. The company called the game’s creator a “troll with a history of customer abuse.”
That developer has published other controversial games called “Tide Pod Challenge” and “White Power Pure Voltage.”
As an aside, I looked at the Steam page of White Power Pure Voltage and it wasn’t a game about anything racist. It seems that only the name was designed to court controversy, but I digress.
My point is, we’re at a time where video games can be made by just about anyone. They’re no longer the sole domain of giant game companies. So when one of these games comes out that’s designed by a basement-dwelling edgelord, the best thing to do is ignore it and it will wither on the vine. I realize the media is constantly throwing controversy in our faces, but as a society, we need to reserve our outrage for more serious matters. If we’re outraged at everything then we’re actually outraged at nothing.
So there’s this video game coming out next month that has the media and various other pearl clutchers up in arms. It was announced shortly after the recent school shooting at Santa Fe High School in Texas and it’s being referred to as a ‘school shooting game’. I’m not going to link to the game or any articles about it or mention it by name because it doesn’t even deserve the attention it’s getting. The game is centered around a mass shooting. Supposedly, you can play as a member of a police SWAT team responding to the shooting, or, of course, you can play as the shooter. Distasteful? Yeah, pretty much, but as a society, we need to stop being so sensitive about things like this without knowing the facts.
First off, it’s been over 40 years since video games have been able to be played at home and still there are too many people who think video games are just for kids. Video games have been made for both kids and adults for over 20 years now. Having said that this is not a game that is going to be released by a major publisher where it will be on every store shelf waiting to be played on your kid’s Nintendo Switch. As far as I can tell the game is being made by one man and is only being released on Steam for the PC. This is the equivalent of some nobody making a controversial YouTube video in their basement and everyone else reacting to it like it was a major motion picture.
The creator of the game claims he’s not trying to cash in on a tragedy, but we’ve heard that story before. There have been severalinstances in the past where after a major school shooting some attention seeking troll tries to get everyone riled up by making a game based on the shooting. They either claim it’s art or they’re making some grandiose political statement when in reality it’s more like sophomoric mass murderer fan fiction. The only difference being is the killer doesn’t have some kind of weird fetish sex with the game’s developer.
As for the people who might get a sick thrill out of this game, they’re already lost to us, but they are a very small minority of gamers. This or any game isn’t going to turn your kid into a school shooter. However, if I had a kid of school age, I would not let them play this game. Since it’s only available on Steam it will require a credit card or PayPal to be purchased. If you allow your young children to run amok online with any of these forms of payment then the real problem is you.
When games like this come out what we should do is ignore them. Media outrage and social media conniptions are exactly what these Philistines are actually after.
I haven’t done one of these in a while. Don’t expect them regularly because I suck at keeping schedules, and there aren’t really that many good comics worth noticing out there right now. Plus I have space to fill since a lot of the crime content has been moved to Social Mayhem and Crime Classified.
However, I have been a little disappointed with the character since the New 52. I’d rather see him as DC’s version of the Punisher than another member of the Bat-Family.
I still read Red Hood and The Outlaws since Jason Todd is still one of my favorite characters. The most recent issue isn’t spectacular or groundbreaking, but it made me laugh when Lex Luthor threw out the following quote after promising to heal Bizarro.
If that quote doesn’t ring any bells, it’s a quote from the horrible movie adaptation of the video game Street Fighter. The only saving grace of the movie is when Raul Julia, playing M. Bison, turns to Ming-Na Wen, playing Chun-Li, and says…
For you, the day Bison graced your village was the most important day of your life. But for me, it was Tuesday.
Here’s the entire scene for reference.
And for that reason alone, issue #13 of Red Hood and the Outlaws is my pick for comic of the week.
Normally I don’t review things that are bad. I don’t believe in spreading negativity about a project that a creative team probably poured their hearts and souls into. However, The Killing Joke was such an iconic comic that I felt I need to do a review of it that’s not your typical internet nerd hate-fest.
I’m not exactly sure when my disdain for Nancy Grace started. If I had to hazard a guess I would say it was when the Melinda Duckett incident happened. For those who may not remember, back in 2006 a child by the name of Trenton Duckett went missing. His mother, Melinda, was thought to be a person of interest in his disappearance but no arrest had been made before she appeared on Nancy Grace’s Show. Grace relentlessly hammered at Melinda Duckett asking her where Trenton was. Melinda Duckett broke down on-screen and committed suicide the next day. To this day Trenton has not been found. Grace was sued by Melinda Duckett’s family and the lawsuit was settled back in 2010, but not after Grace sued to keep her deposition in the lawsuit private. I personally thought that Grace should have been charged with interfering in an investigation but my legal knowledge is limited in that aspect.
I guess my distaste for her increased while she was pummeling the American public with her incessant coverage of the Casey Anthony story. To be honest I was even posting about Casey Anthony since there was a MySpace angle to the story at the time, but once psychics and Nancy Grace got involved I stopped. At the time it seemed like I couldn’t go anywhere without hearing Grace droning on about the ‘Tot Mom’. Grace basically took the most negligent woman to ever dare call herself a mother and made her a celebrity.
A few years after the Casey Anthony story broke it became personal between Nancy Grace and myself. In 2008 she appeared on an online call-in show that predated today’s livestreams. I called into the show because I wanted to bring attention to the story of 5-year-old Giovanni Gonzalez from Massachusetts, who disappeared after a weekend with his father. The story received little media attention outside of their local area so I asked Ms. Grace if she would consider it for her show. She asked me for as much information as I could provide and said that she would look into it. While talking to her I felt like I was selling my soul to the devil but I thought it was worth it if it could get national media attention for Giovanni. Giovanni was never featured on her show. Outside of a brief mention on America’s Most Wanted, Giovanni never received any national media attention. One could argue that it may have been because Giovanni didn’t fit the description of Grace’s usual subjects, white, blonde, and female. Much like Trenton Duckett, Giovanni Gonzalez has yet to be found.
Fast forward to 2013 when I was contacted by a producer for the Nancy Grace Show. He asked me if I’d ever consider joining the show to talk about various cases. Even though I think she is everything wrong with crime journalism, not that I’m a journalist by any stretch of the imagination, I had full intentions of selling out if they responded to my acceptance. They never did. I had no delusions of them ever hiring me although if they did I wonder if I would have stayed for the money or would I have eventually ‘dropped the mic’ so to speak.
“I will continue my fight for justice across a variety of traditional and new media, where victims’ voices can reach an entirely engaged audience.”
If I had to hazard a guess, it sounds like she’s going to attempt some kind of online project whether it be through social media or some form of video. If that’s the case it could be the biggest disaster since Geraldo Rivera opened Al Capone’s Vault. The internet has a long memory and a low tolerance for bullshit artists. If her next project is to be online it is doomed to be a short one and we’ll all be better for it.
I just wanted to do a quick blog post about DC Comics’ new universe reshuffling called DC Rebirth. I know it’s only been happening for two weeks but I’m really enjoying it so far. It seems that Rebirth is correcting a lot of mistakes that the New 52 created. I mean I still get choked up every time I see Barry Allen pull the original Wally West out of the speed force. It also seems that we’re going to get some good storylines out of the new reboot as well.
I’m also intrigued to see not only how they’re going to bring the Watchmen characters into the main DC Universe but what they’ll do with them once they’re there. I’m not one of those people who thinks that Watchmen is some sacred cow that can’t be built upon. I actually enjoyed a lot of After Watchmen.
So far two of my three wishes for the reboot have already been granted, the original Wally West is back and Ted Kord is alive. Now if only we can get Vic Sage back to being the non-magical Question.
As an aside since DC’s parent company, Warner Brothers, came into ownership of the Hanna-Barbera properties I thought that they could make an interesting comic book universe with such characters as Space Ghost, Birdman and a few others. Not only is DC Comics now doing this with the title Future Quest but they’ve also taken the old Wacky Races cartoon and made it into an adult post-apocalyptic Mad Max style comic.
I’ve been doing some freelance work lately that keeps me glued to my keyboard, because of that I listen to a lot of podcasts. To be downright honest, I’ve been listening to podcasts for years but lately I’ve been listening to a lot more. Mostly I listen to them while working but there are three that I listen to just for pure enjoyment.
In no particular order…
The JuRY Show hosted by Justin Robert Young. You can also watch it on YouTube or livestreamed at Diamondclub.tv on Sunday nights at 7PM PT. I like Justin a lot because he has the ability to see a third side to most stories that a lot of people wouldn’t see. <>
The Rooster Teeth Podcast from the company that brought us Red Vs. Blue. I’m a huge fan of RT for the fact that Burnie Burns started the company in an apartment bedroom before the advent of YouTube and online video. The podcast is very entertaining and funny but very NSFW. You can see it at RoosterTeeth.com or on YouTube and RT Sponsors can watch the livestream Monday nights, among other extras, for $5 a month.
The Weekly Planet podcast hosted by Australia’s own Mr. Sunday Movies and Nick Mason, the official podcast of ComicBookMovie.com. As you may have guessed it’s all about comic book movies. These Aussie lads do not have the usual nerd outrage when reviewing and discussing comic book movies and shows. They may agree with the nerd outrage but they don’t take it too seriously. No livestream that I know of but the show comes out Mondays in the US and is also available on YouTube. Mr. Sunday Movies also has some other great commentary videos on his YouTube channel as well.
I’m always on the lookout for new podcasts. If you have a favorite podcast that you think I may like please leave it in the comments.
In case you haven’t heard by now at the end of Marvel’s new comic Steve Rogers: Captain America #1 it’s revealed in the very last panel that Cap is supposedly an agent of Hydra. The series’ writer has even gone on record as saying, he’s not mind controlled, he’s not a Skrull, he is Steve Rogers. Personally I thought it was a great reveal and I’m looking forward to see where the story goes from here. I haven’t been this excited for a Captain America storyline since the USAgent days.
On the other hand, the collective internet nerd outrage machine knee jerked all over this issue and said “How dare they make Cap into a nazi.” For those of you not familiar with Hydra they are a spy organization that was started under the Red Skull during WW II. In Marvel continuity the Red Skull was one of Hitler’s closest advisers, hence the Hydra-nazi connection.
To those people I would like to give a collective ‘Get Over Yourselves’. First off it’s a comic book. Yes, I enjoy them too but in the grand scheme of things they’re not all that important. Secondly, you have no idea what the creative team has planned. For all you know they could have a brilliant story arc planned for us that may have the greatest conclusion to it of all time. Next, what Marvel superhero hasn’t had his or her ‘dark’ phase? As they say in professional wrestling it’s hard to name a wrestler who was a face, or good guy, his entire career. Ricky Steamboat was but I digress. Lastly, do you honestly think that Marvel is really going to throw away 75 years of Cap’s history by making him a ‘secret nazi’? Who do you think is making this, DC Comics?
So relax internet and let the story unfold before dumping all over it. I know that’s not what the internet does but it was worth a shot.
Speaking of DC Comics you really should pick up DC Rebirth #1. It will get all that bad Hydra taste out of your mouth.
I can’t recommend Stardew Valley enough, If you’re an old-time gamer like myself or you appreciate retro-style games then this game is for you. It is very reminiscent of the 16-32 bit era games. To me it reminds me of all the best minigames from Suikodens II and V, my favorite games of all time, then throws in just enough of Minecraft and a little Zelda-like dungeon crawling and you have yourself a great PC game. Granted it is technically a farming simulator but it has such great RPG elements that I’ve already sunk 50 hours easily into this game and I’m only 2/3 of the way through. In my opinion this is how games should be. No DLC, no micro-transactions and no online play, just a complete game at purchase.