Breaking and Entering

Breaking and Entering 73/100 (73.0%)

That number, 73/100, has been staring me in the eyes today. That percentage, 73.0%, has been making me crazy. I only need twenty-seven more wall posts until I complete the Breaking and Entering quest.

Before I even dedicated myself to getting this quest, there were those who would look at my profile, see that I still needed the quest, and post on my wall only for the sake of the quest. It was pretty kind. I don't remember if I did them a kindness previously. I don't know if I did any kindness at all. But they returned me a kindness nonetheless.

The place where I found the most help for this quest was the forums. There is always at least one thread dedicated to people dropping one another messages in order that they might help one another complete this quest. I added my name to the thread and proceeded to contact everyone else on the thread. Of course, the thread itself was from six months ago and most of them had already gotten the quest. I suppose I could have checked this detail on their profile before posting. But the fact of the matter was that many of the people who had completed the quest still wanted to help me out. I really have to thank the people from the forum for their help as well.

And finally, I want to thank the people who will propel me past 100 wall posts, and those people are you and a couple other people. I know that there are quite a few people who read my blog posts, and I feel really fantastic at how many of you there are. Including a couple of my own responses, there were 22 comments on my last post regarding Blessed From on High.

So, let's discuss the Breaking and Entering quest here. Tell us of your trials and tribulations, and of course, of your successes. Let's discuss strategies. And let's discuss results. Have you made a really cool friend on Comic Vine as a result of Breaking and Entering? Have you felt like you are on the edge of being spammed as a result of the quest? Leave some thoughts. But also, leave some wall posts for me. Also, feel free to tell me if you need the quest, and I can drop you a couple of posts myself.

You people are great.

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The New DCU Simulblogs

Here are a few links to a simulblog series that myself (Cavemen Go) and a couple of friends (Political Jesus, Fat Train, and Arthur the Lesser) have been doing in response to the new 52.

Week Zero: August 31, 2011

Cavemen Go

Political Jesus

Fat Train

Arthur the Lesser

Week One: September 7, 2011

Cavemen Go

Political Jesus

Fat Train

Week Two: September 14, 2011

Cavemen Go

Political Jesus

Fat Train

Arthur the Lesser

There's still two weeks left. I hope that you enjoy reading these blogs, and I hope to post the results from the next couple of weeks soon.

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Blessed From on High

Oh, my goodness. I've been working so hard that I'm not on Comic Vine as much. That kind of sucks.

Well, I wanted to write this today because, like many of you, I'm trying really hard to get the Blessed From on High quest completed. But unlike the other quests, Blessed From on High is not accomplished by some singular and simple thing I can do, like clicking on the character page for Banshee. It requires that, by chance, a moderator or staff member notices you and decides to follow you.

I followed a couple of people merely because they have gotten the achievement. I've inquired as to what they did to get the achievement. Nobody has gotten back to me yet, but I imagine that they will answer that they do not know. "I edited this and commented on this, but in truth it just seems completely random that I got chosen as opposed to someone else."

I know a bunch of you are thinking that spamming the walls of moderators might be a good way to get this quest. But if you were a moderator, would you want to be spammed? The moderators and staff members here, at least as far as I know, are good people like us. They read comic books. They want to support this community. They volunteer a lot of their time to make our lives easier. When I've actually spoken with moderators they have always been concerned with what I have to say and done everything they could to address my concerns. In other words, don't spam moderators. On one of the forums it suggested that one ought to private message moderators and kindly ask them for a follow. I don't even know what I feel about that. Isn't that a little bit of an invasion of privacy too? (I'm really interested in what you think - Are there people out there who have gotten Blessed From on High by PMing a moderator? Are there any moderators out there who would like to explain the most respectful way that people can make it obvious that they want a follow for the sake of completing this quest?)

I suppose my hope was that this blog post would get me noticed, that a moderator or staff member would follow me as a result, and that I would complete the Blessed From on High quest. But then I realized that it might also function as a way for us to discuss strategies of being noticed, to construct projects that will help the site and make sure that we are noticed, and also if people want to complain to me rather than complaining to the moderators about the fact that they can't get a follow. Let's just talk, and maybe some of us will be "Blessed" in the process.

Finally, I wonder if I'm not deserving because the only blog I've written since July 7 is regarding help with a quest. I hope, within the next week or two, to publish links to a blog series (a simulblog) a couple of friends and I have been doing regarding the new DC reboot. We're reading all the number ones and posting our ideas regarding the construction of the new DC universe. I'll start with that, and then continue doing good work for this site until I've done enough good to get recognized.

Until then, let's have a good conversation here.

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Spoiler Alert: DC Universe Online Legends #11

Spoiled: DC Universe Online Legends #11 (comic book), DC Universe Online (video game), Countdown to Final Crisis/Final Crisis (comic books)
 
I would imagine that the title "Lost" refers to the fact that Superman's powers are lost. That's not entirely true. His powers can be turned on and off. For yet another issue we see most of the story from the point of view of Lex Luthor, who is playing both Brainiac and Superman. Much like Brainiac, he wishes to destroy all of the planet's metas, and much like Superman he wishes to protect the human population of Earth. While it is not entirely clear how he will work this, we know that Luthor is trying to destroy the public trust in Superman while also building positive PR for Luthor's Legion, a new superhero team comprising the four new metas who have gone public following the empowering of all Daily Planet employees. Meanwhile, the fact that Superman's powers can be turned on and off by Brainiac frightens the Justice League. They realize that he can be controlled, and that any of them who are infected can also be controlled. As a result, Superman decides to leave them in order to prevent his being used against them. When he goes to tell Lois his decision, she reveals that she also has powers. When Lex Luthor sees Lois and Superman kissing, he realizes that Superman's secret identity is Clark Kent because Lois and Clark are married and Lois wouldn't cheat on him. 
 
I really like how Lex Luthor, in many ways, represents many of the Republicans from the last few decades who have climbed into high office as well as a few of the Democrats. He plays on American xenophobia, suggesting that we ought to have "home grown" heroes as opposed to the Justice League's heroes from other planets and nations. He also manipulates the fear of Brainiac to make the American public easy to control. As the ten year anniversary of 9/11 approaches, it is clear that this is a reflection of how the American people have been treated ever since the terrible tragedy. I really want to applaud DC comic for taking a stronger approach to political critique in the form of interesting superhero narratives than Marvel has in the last decade. It is certainly different when all of Marvel's heroes live in New York City, and their approach of relating to the immediate crowd of the tragedy has often been really heartfelt. Heck, maybe we need both sides. Maybe we need to cry with Ultimate Marvel when Ultimatum drowns all of New York, and then critique the use of fear in the Sinestro Corps Wars. 
 
As for a down side, I'm really starting to think that now that DC Universe Online Legends is really on its feet it doesn't have many. I'm not the biggest fan of the art, but it's really not bad. It almost seems to me like DC Universe Online Legends was a backup idea that somebody brought to the board to DC while they were discussing the plot of Final Crisis. The events of the game/comic take place right before Countdown to Final Crisis. In some sense, I see this as a choose your own adventure. This is what would have happened if the events of Final Crisis involved Brainiac taking over the world and draining the metas of their powers instead of Darkseid killing the New Gods and destroying the multiverse. It's an interesting mini-series, and part of me wishes that it could have been part of the canon Earth 1 comics. Maybe then they could have gotten someone like Jim Lee to do the comic and not just the video game design.

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Spoiler Alert: Ultimate X #5

Spoiled: Ultimate X #5 
 
The conclusion of the first and final storyline, "Origins" is titled "What is Ultimate X?" Ultimate Sabretooth nearly kills Jimmy Hudson, Wolverine's kid, and this convinced Jean/Karen to recruit Bruce Banner to her team. She promises that Banner will be able to control the Hulk and will be known as a hero once again. Hulk gets some payback on Sabretooth for Jimmy's beat down (which he still can't heal from), and this forces a head to head between this newly formed X-Men and the newly formed Brotherhood lead by Quicksilver. When Banner starts asking how Jean/Karen found him, she reveals that Nick Fury has been pulling the strings all along. The government is seeking a cure for mutants, and Fury just wants to do the right thing. Things won't be easy however, because Quicksilver reveals that his sister Scarlet Witch is still alive. 
 
It's good to know where some of our favorite mutants are. Rogue is apparently in hiding. Colossus has been captured by the government. Havok is in a mental ward. Quicksilver, Scarlet Witch, Sabretooth and Mystique are still alive. It's also nice to know what Bruce Banner/the Hulk is up to. I like that the X-Men remain devoted to fighting for those who cannot fight for themselves, and I think it is fantastic to know that they are not a group that is limited to mutants. Otherwise they'd have thrown Hulk to the curb after this. Furthermore, since the United States government is so unjustly against all mutants, and both the X-Men and the Brotherhood are struggling to survive and preserving the mutant race, it's not so obvious who is good and who is evil. A lot of the heart of what's good about the X-Men is in the process of returning. 
 
Unfortunately, this comic book simply pisses me off. It took an ungodly amount of time for the last two issues to get released. The art wasn't all that great. We've been staring at pictures of Hulk on the cover of this issue for months, so it was no surprise that he was back. Also, the returns of both Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch were cameo'd prior to the reboot of the Ultimate universe, so that's no surprise. I'm starting to understand why a lot of people don't like Jeph Loeb anymore. I can never stop loving him because of some of the magnificent stories that he's given me, but he needs to learn to tell good stories like in Superman For All Seasons and stop giving us twist after twist. This run was pretty crappy, and it might be a big reason for why Ultimate marvel is already getting its second reboot. I am excited, however, for what can happen with this start off and a new writer. 
 
Here's looking forward to the reboot of Ultimate X-Men!!!!

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Spoiler Alert: Batman: Arkham City #3

Spoiled: Batman: Arkham City #1, 3 (comic books), Batman: Arkham Asylum (video game), Batman: Arkham City (video game)
 
Batman: Arkham City #3, titled "Choosing Sides," tells the story of a "crook named Lester Kurtz" in Arkham City who is trying to choose sides between the two villains who are trying to rule Arkham City, The Joker and The Penguin. Joker's initiation process is rigorous, and while he survives the gauntlet he decides not to join Joker's mob. Penguin doesn't even have a process to weed out the bad seeds. He merely sends all of his new recruits to get a shipment of guns from the Arkham City Security. After Kurtz blows up the weapons in order to save The Penguin's men, The Penguin sends Kurtz to lead a raid against The Joker's crew. Kurtz is revealed to be Batman, who was gathering information regarding the tension between the two organizations. While he ponders who is pulling Mayor Sharp's strings, it is revealed that the sinister Strange has been watching Batman the entire time. 
 
This is by far the best story to date for the Batman: Arkham City comic line. But that's not saying much. All it means is that there is actually a clear story that is remotely interesting. The issue features an interesting survey of what gamers will face in the upcoming Batman: Arkham City video game. I was left wondering a couple of things, which means that my interest was piqued. First of all, who is "the man downstairs" that the Penguin had his traitor sent to? As a call out to Batman: Arkham Asylum and the somewhat terrifying journeys through the sewers, my first guess is that the man downstairs is none other than Killer Croc. However, it is entirely likely that this is a way of introducing a villain who wasn't in the first game, someone like Solomon Grundy. Second, I was left wondering whether the use of disguises will be part of the gameplay of Batman: Arkham City. 
 
Unfortunately, "Choosing Sides" was an incredibly transparent story. As soon as two or three pages had gone by without an appearance of Batman, two things were clear: 1. Lester Kurtz was going to be the protagonist of this story, and 2. Lester Kurtz was simply a disguise used by Bruce Wayne/Batman to gather information. If that wasn't clear enough, then the destruction of the weapons cache should have said everything. I must say at this juncture, however, that despite this completely predictable twist, this was still the best entry into the Batman: Arkham City storyline. 
 
While the story itself is not the most interesting thing going on, I think the main question of the limited series Batman: Arkham City is whether or not the things we are witnessing provide spoilers for gameplay modes and events that will occur in the video game. It has already been hinted that the city will be divided between The Joker, The Penguin AND Two-Face on twitter and elsewhere, and we saw Two-Face attaining some Titan Serum in issue #1. And we won't know how much is in the game until the game comes out. This is me waiting until October 18.

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Spoiler Alert: The Guild: Bladezz One-shot

Spoiled: The Guild: Bladezz One-shot (comic book), The Guild (web program), Forgetting Sarah Marshall (movie)
 
Remember on The Guild when it was revealed, much to his embarrassment, that Bladezz has done a great deal of modeling work for cash? Well, this is basically the origin story of Bladezz and his modeling gig. When his mother begins dating a photographer, Bladezz is forced to get a job modeling. Struck with the embarrassment of being a model, but also the feeling that his recently divorced mother is moving too quickly into another serious relationship, Bladezz seeks out friends on-line. The only one to answer the call is Vork, who, reeling from the loss of his grandfather, profoundly proclaims, "In the face of a very unpleasant experience, sometimes you have to become someone else to move forward." While this could describe Batman and a great deal of other superheroes, it is meant to describe Bladezz's transformation into Finn Smulders, a diva model who ruins the career and love life of the photographer who was dating his mother. 
 
The back-story of the divorce of Bladezz's parents is dealt with artfully, in much the same way the break-up is handled in Forgetting Sarah Marshall. In that film, the sadness of a difficult break-up is undercut by the farce of Jason Segel crying while naked. In this one-shot, we see the tale of divorce and family re-structuring undercut by the farce of Bladezz's modeling career and apparent aptitude for finding the right pose. There's some really good emotion hidden in here, and this issue was much better of a read than I was expecting. Bladezz's mother is depicted as incredibly attractive, and I'm sure I'm not alone here in hoping that she might be a recurring character in the next season of The Guild
 
On the down side, it is pretty difficult to get past the quality of the art, and unfortunately, while the story did end up being pretty solid, we're not talking Neil Gaiman quality writing, the kind that could justify crappy art. I was also kind of disappointed with the weird gimmick they introduced in which Bladezz apparently goes catatonic when he's in front of a camera and essentially poses in his sleep. For one thing, it just doesn't make sense. For another, it just seems like a cheap way to maintain his cool in spite of the fact that he's embarrassed at being a model. It's a comic book, so we are used to suspending our disbelief, but honestly, this kind of seemed like laziness on behalf of the writer. 
 
The Guild one-shots are hit or miss, but in the end they are just place-holders until the next season of The Guild airs. Last thing I heard was that the next season is already filming. Here's to hoping it airs soon. The other down side of The Guild comic book is that you don't get to see a live-action Felicia Day. So, bring back The Guild already. We're getting restless.

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Spoiler Alert: Thor: Tales of Asgard

Spoiled: Thor: Tales of Asgard (movie) 
 
Because Thor is the son of Odin he does not face the same challenges of your ordinary, average Asgardian warrior, and as such he has never had an honest fight in his life. In Thor: Tales of Asgard, we follow Thor on a quest to find his manhood, which takes him to Jotunheim where he searches for the sword of Surtur. While this quest for manhood is meant to be a kind of snipe hunt and the legendary sword might actually be a myth, Thor manages to defeat the Kobayashi Maru, if you will, by finding the sword of Surtur and stealing it from the land of Jotunheim. A war and a series of half-cocked lessons follow. Premiering on video nearly two weeks after the release of Thor in theaters, Thor: Tales of Asgard displays many of the key background characters that are so important to Thor's story.
 
There are a couple of things that I liked about this film, but they were mostly details. Thor sails from Asgard to Jotunheim, which reflects how the ancient Scandinavians would have thought of their gods. It was interesting to see Thor encounter Fenris for the first time, not knowing what part Fenris will play in Ragnarok (and perhaps motivating Fenris to become part of the events leading to Ragnarok by stealing his beer). One can't ignore the obvious love that Thor and Loki have for one another at this age and the beauty of this love before it is tainted. But the real gem in Thor: Tales of Asgard is the depiction of the tragic figure of the dark elf Algrim. Algrim is melancholy from the loss of his people in a war with the Frost Giants, and when he mentions that his children were no longer among the living, it became clear that Algrim has experienced more suffering than any individual should. And yet he is a surrogate father and guide to the children of Odin, specifically Thor. Algrim remains heroic until, like Boromir in Lord of the Rings, the power of the fabled Sword of Surtur, tempts him into vengeance and potential annihilation of the Nine Realms. He is an enemy, but it is not hard to relate to him, much like Magneto from the X-Men mythology. Our heroes have never faced loss as great as Algrim, and as a result they have never been tested enough to determine whether or not they would walk his path. This part of the film was fantastic, but it was unfortunately only a minor distraction. 
 
I wasn't a big fan of the animation. The voice actors were uninteresting. (Is Thor Australian or Scandinavian?) While an emotional connection is written into the story, it feels superficial. The Valkyries were a welcome sight, but I was unhappy with how they were reduced to Wonder Woman clones. They were closer to Amazons, nymphs, or even the denizens of Artemis than they were to Valkyries. And the relationship between Thor and Siff was forced, underdeveloped, and completely unnecessary. Was she only inserted into the story to prove that Thor is not gay? The Asgardians reflect the Aryans of Hitler's obsession, and as such there is a great responsibility for a Thor tale to speak against racism, imperialism and genocide. Certainly, the heroes strike out against Algrim's genocide, but Algrim is much closer to a Holocaust victim than to a fuhrer. (Of course, to continue the Magneto analogy, the two are not always mutually exclusive.) The tale is full of blatant racism. Thor is like a rich suburbanite who feels inclined to prove his gumption by stealing beer from peoples' garages and burning curse words into neighbors' lawns with gasoline. He is a hotheaded, entitled brat, and what is supposed to come off as courage ends up smelling much more of egotism. In many ways, Thor is the villain of this movie. He and his fellow "heroes" disrupt the peace in a bar, only to burn down the establishment that welcomed them as they escape. Thor kills two Frost Giants because of his need to prove himself, and the war that he started because of his actions lead to the deaths of many more. Loki is much more of a hero than his brother. All he does is attempt to make right what his brother has made so wrong. In fact, I think this film may have been more interesting if  Loki had been the protagonist and we had seen the events unfold from his perspective. 
 
While I am not normally a fan of "when they were young" stories, I recognize that I am not always the primary audience for animated features. Perhaps Thor: Tales of Asgard is only intended for younger audiences. I think this critique of my critique is weak for a couple of reasons. First of all, DC's animated films cater just as well to adults as they do to children. If DC can do it, why can't Marvel do it? DC's animated films prove that you can tell a children's story without alienating the adult viewers. Look also at shows like Spongebob Squarepants, which offer plenty of jokes and situations that adults can appreciate. I suppose it might be interesting to ask a parent to show films from each company to their children and determine which ones the children like more. But this brings me to my second point: Regardless of what the children like more, Thor: Tales of Asgard teaches children all the wrong lessons. It supports racism, imperialism and war, all of which without question. (Even someone capable of entertaining a just war theory of aggression must have some means for determining/questioning which acts of war are just and which are unjust.) It suggests that no matter what heinous and horrendous things a child does, at the end of the day the scales reset and there are no consequences. If this were the case, that would be fantastic. The dead would be reborn the next day and they would be the better for having experienced death. But this is not the case. The dead remain dead. Children have to learn that their actions have consequences, and this idea is nowhere to be found in this film. I'm not suggesting that Thor be put to death for his actions. I'm not a fan of eye for eye. But the fact that Odin basically credits Thor for the greatest security his empire has ever faced and the fact that his subjects follow him better than ever tells children that when they do terrible things magical positive outcomes will result. 
 
I think the biggest sadness I feel is that this film's existence probably means that the story of Algrim will not be touched upon in further Thor films, which means that Kenneth Branagh will not get a chance to take on this ever-so Shakespearean villain. These are the consequences of making a bad animated film!

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AV Club Secret Quest

The easiest quest set I have yet to accomplish is AV Club. I recently worked my butt off in order to be anal enough to view five videos the first day they are posted. After that, for some silly reason, I thought I was in the clear. Then I looked at the next quest, which was titled Secret Quest. According to the wording of the quest ("You're either really fast or really obnoxious. Strive for the former... or else."), it seems like you have to be the first one to watch a video on Comic Vine. 
 
Apparently, as I have read in the forums, when you complete this quest it turns into a quest titled First! Sure enough. You have to be the first one to watch a video on Comic Vine. This seems tedious and annoying, especially with the amount of people who are gunning for this quest and the relative few videos posted on a week to week basis. Have I basically completed all of the easy quests and started on the nearly impossible quests if this is my easiest quest set? 
 
I know there's no easy or quick way to complete this quest. Of course, if you're reading this and you've completed the quest and have some hints as to how it can be done quicker and easier, I am all ears. But my point in writing this is to express a little bit of exasperation. I've been able to watch videos before they were even posted to Twitter and I couldn't get this quest. I watched videos before anyone has commented on them. Still no quest. 
 
What does this all mean? I guess I'm in for the long haul. Any time I'm on my computer I need to check the Comic Vine videos page and hope I'm the first to notice. I must be obnoxious, because that's the only way to beat an obnoxious quest such as this. 
 
So, if you're in the same frustrating situation, feel free to drop me a comment and we can commiserate regarding this Secret Quest. If you've already accomplished the quest, feel free to come here and share your success story and drop some hints if you know of a way to beat others to the video. If you're not interested in even accomplishing this quest, drop me a line and tell me why it's not worth your time. 
 
(Keep in mind: I always follow people who comment on my blog, so if you need a follow, the best thing to do is comment. I hope you'll leave a quality comment, but anything will do really. I just want to keep the conversation going. Nobody's dropped me a line in a couple of days.)

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