Jeffro's Space Gaming Blog

Microgames, Monster Games, and Role Playing Games

Category Archives: Comics

Chuck Dixon’s Avalon is First Rate

This is the comic that more than a few people have been looking out for Arkhaven comics to get out the door and I have to say… Chuck Dixon does not disappoint! The writing on here is pitch perfect. Every single word just fits. The tempo is impeccable. It’s a real pleasure to read this.

The art is okay. It gets the job done and does not detract from the story. I believe it’s an improvement over Arkhaven’s previous releases.

If I could sum what what this is, it’s basically “Batman Not Batman.” There is a dynamic duo of sorts here and some sort of vigilante type that looks like Cat Woman, yes. But it’s not the characters that feel like they are pulled from Batman– more like just the tone, the grittiness, and the feel of the urban setting.

The moral dimension is really quite intriguing, though. This series deals with the sort of heroes that would pass on working with the extremely well paid United Nations based super group. It’s as if the Justice League (or Justice League International, really) were a scam providing cover for…?

For what? Well they don’t really come right out and say just yet. I’m really curious as to where they’re going with this.

Recommended.

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Ethan Van Sciver Teams Up With Jordan Peterson!

Well I didn’t see that coming.

I’ve been paying a lot of attention to both Ethan Van Sciver and Jordan Peterson lately… and in a surprise twist, it turns out they’ve teamed up to make Jordan Peterson’s latest book extra special. 12 Rules for Life has illustrations by the famous Green Lantern artist!

And yes… this is that book– the one that Cathy Newman was raking Jordan Peterson over the coals for:

Oh… but there is one more twist on top of this.

Note the subtitle: “An Antidote for Chaos”. That Chaos there… it turns out that Jordan Peterson is (after a fashion) talking about the same law and chaos alignment spectrum we spend all our time delving into with old school tabletop fantasy games. Check out this interview at the 38 minute mark:

That’s the mythic landscape: something like… good and evil in a world of chaos and order. It’s very interesting; you know there are games online that have that as their basic structure. The game developers have figured this out. So that’s pretty interesting.

Those video game developers picked up this theme in the same place that they took things like gold pieces, attributes, to-hit rolls, and damage: the original fantasy role-playing game by Gary Gygax and Dave Arneson. And that old law and chaos alignment spectrum itself has a fascinating range of literary antecedents which start with Lord Dunsany’s The King of Elfland’s Daughter, runs through Poul Anderson’s Three Hearts and Three Lions, and culminates into Michael Moorcock’s Elric stories.

You know, I took some flak for attempting to make a case that there was something important hidden with the list of  immediate influences of the AD&D game, but Jordan Peterson gets it. I think that’s pretty cool.

Get the inside scoop on Ethan Van Sciver’s illustrations for 12 Rules for Life here:

The Lack of Ideological Diversity is Killing Comics

Okay, you’ve heard the refrain.

Guys like Ethan Van Sciver, Diversity & Comics, and Kasimir Urbanski all love to roast the more ludicrous efforts of the SJW’s within the comics scene. It makes for entertaining YouTube videos, that’s for sure. But Arkhaven comes onto the scene and suddenly they all want to run an angle on it claiming that these guys are just like the SJW’s except they’re just coming at from the opposite end of the political spectrum. Two sides of the same coin and all that.

Here’s why that’s wrong:

In the first place, the ideology the SJW’s are pushing is so incoherent, it isn’t really fair to characterize it with “politics”. And what they are injecting into the comics media is something fundamentally different from the way that, say, A Princess of Mars or Dune deal with political issues. Actual politics is really quite interesting– from the French and American revolutions to various civil wars throughout history… there’s a lot to it! But there really isn’t any substance to the SJW’s brand of so-called “politics”. There’s nothing to engage with. There’s nothing to have a conversation about. There’s no room for a different viewpoint on complex issues. There is only the opportunity for people signal their support for their freakish revolution as they tear down the cultural reference points of the people they seek to bully and humiliate.

Arkhaven is not doing anything remotely like that. In the first place, they are creating their own characters and settings rather than subverting longstanding icons of the field. And they’re doing it in such a way as to appeal to people that have been under-served by comics, movies, and publishing in general.

Ethan Van Sciver, Diversity & Comics, and Kasimir Urbanski have a particular narrow perspective on all this. It’s as if they would be content with the comics medium if only it were just a little bit less obnoxiously SJW. They are fine with the overall leftist tilt that could be taken for granted within the field throughout the eighties and nineties. And they are triggered at the idea of anyone violating the sort of boundaries and restrictions on expression that were laid down by the sort of people that take for granted that everyone on the right is necessarily boorish, déclassé, and hateful by definition.

But the problem with comics and media in general is that its creative palette has been artificially limited for so long, that people can’t even imagine what things were like when ideological diversity could be taken for granted as a given.

It’s time for that to change.

UPDATE: Kasimir Urbanski doubles down on the “Arkhaven is the mirror image of the SJWs” argument:

I don’t see what you guys are doing as creating “ideological diversity”. I have yet to see ANYTHING from the Alt-heroes previews that leads me to think that it will be even one micron more sophisticated in its propagandism for the ultra-reactionary Collectivist Right than, say, Ms.Marvel or She-Thor are shallow propagandism for the totalitarian Collectivist Left.

I want comics (and RPGs, video games, sci-fi, fantasy, film, novels and TV) that talk about politics, of any kind. I don’t want ANY of the above that are just PROPAGANDA.

My answer: People that would otherwise be systematically no-platformed by the left showing up, producing content, and reaching an audience by definition creates ideological diversity within the field.

 

Quantum Mortis: A Man Disrupted #1

So my publisher is breaking into comics and their first effort has just hit Amazon. Needless to say, comics pros have not exactly sent out a welcoming committee in response.

Most of the backlash has been over the artwork, which frankly doesn’t interest me all that much. Judging by how far and how fast Castalia House developed up until they put together the cover of my book, I think it’s safe to say… regardless of what you think, they will learn and they will get better.

My interest in the matter is the content of the stories, and I think judging from Vox Day’s and Steve Rzasa’s other efforts it’s clear that they bring something to the table that comics today doesn’t have.

Does that matter…? Well it depends on whether you walked away and what it was that caused you to do so when you did. My addiction to science fiction stalled when I realized that dry tales of engineering fantasy were not my cup of tea. Reading through the magazines of the nineties, I opted to leave it altogether because hipster English majors writing about gay alien sex was not what I was there for.

But hey, there was still comics, right? I couldn’t stand what had happened to the X-Men and their spinoffs not long after The Fall of the Mutants. John Byrne’s Next Men kept me coming back to the comic shop, though. I found the whole Image Comics thing to be absolutely demented. Infinite Crisis was the last time I really remember paying attention to anything in comics. The various reboots of Blue Beetle and The Spectre left me more more than a little cold. But Bat Woman’s introduction was flat out absurd. I was done.

So yeah, as someone now mostly outside of the comics scene, I’m glad someone’s making an effort to shake things up. Speaking as a gamer, though… it especially warms my heart that it ended up being a Traveller fan that headed the charge.

 

Only Rebel Can Save Comics

Not sure what it is about this character that gets so many people’s panties in a bunch, but it’s real. Me? I can’t get enough of her. She’s just so danged fun!

And yeah, you can go read the pulps for yourselves and see all the things that could be taken for granted as normal back then that are utterly beyond the capacity of creators today to make. Chief among my favorites would be John Carter of Mars, the Confederate cavalryman whose increased strength at ability to leap prodigiously would provide the template for the rationale of Superman’s abilities.

It does strike be as being more than a bit odd: the number of things that are unthinkable grows every day. Far from the spirit of the “dangerous visions” of seventies science fiction, everything from Gone With the Wind to the Dukes of Hazzard is suddenly supposed to be across the line. This is a world where Apple and Amazon will ban historical wargames that utilize the Confederate flag.

Utterly asinine.

This sort of weird cultural aggression is not just dangerous and creepy. The sort of limitations on expression it embodies is absolute death to creativity and imagination. Sure, people are going to line up to explain that you really shouldn’t go out of your way to violate the demands of today’s commissars of correctness or the “normies” that live in fear of accidentally offending them. I would argue that those days are gone. There simply isn’t a whole lot of space to fall back on at this point. They’ve already called us every bad name they can think of. And far from being the sort that can simply live and let live, they can’t even be appeased.

The fact that something that would have been completely unexceptional forty years ago causes them to literally start shaking isn’t really my problem. But if that’s the way they want it, that’s the way they’re going to get it.