Toy Commercial Tuesday: Iron Man & X-Men

This week’s TCT is a fun little double whammy thanks to YouTuber CraigLeeThomas. As you can see it starts off with an Iron Man spot followed by an X-Men one. I found this particular video because I couldn’t remember if there were actual X-Men toy commercials back in the 90s. I figured there must have been more than that first one I wrote about a while back, especially considering the cartoon was so popular and that Toy Biz line seemed like it was around forever, but couldn’t remember any specifics.

So, we kick off with that Iron Man commercial and, while I don’t remember seeing it, I definitely had all of those toys. Those were the glorious days you could get four figures for a $20, so I added a lot to my collection especially while visiting my grandma in Cleveland. I loved the snap on armors with all the different accessories, but also how the bad guys in this line each had a cool action feature. Oh, plus, MODOK toy, right?

Then you’ve got the X-Men commercial which featured that huge, rad Sentinel toy. I didn’t have him, but I’m sure I wanted it if and when I saw it. Gotta love all those destruction points for a variety of play options. As far as the action figures go, that was definitely my first Wolverine toy and I might have gotten Rogue later on down the line, but I gravitated towards other versions of Gambit, Beast and Cyclops.

Finally, while I find the commercial’s conceit that Rogue would be so easily captured and need saving is problematic, it’s kind of adorable hearing that boy do a Southern accent.

Casting Internets

If you want to see what I’ve been working on lately, head on over to my author page on CBR. I talked to Paul Pope and John McLaughlin and also did another installment of my collectible column Toying Around!justin aclin's star wars comic

My pal, one time boss and all around rad dude Justin Aclin talked about writing a Star Wars OGN for Dark Horse over on his blog. As you  might expect, I’m super proud of him and super jealous at the same time.

Karen Burger leaving Vertigo is pretty huge when you think about all the amazing series’ she helped foster. Good luck to her! (via The Mary Sue)

Everyone interested in comics and comic production should read Jim Zub’s breakdown of costs and profits for such books. Then he wrote about digital comics. Eye-opening stuff.

I fell in love with Neil Gaiman’s Neverwhere when I first read it. I’m very excited about the BBC radioplay version that will include James McAvoy, Anthony Head, Benedict Cumberbatch and Christopher Lee! (via Hypable)phil noto 70s storm

I love Phil Noto‘s series of original art pieces that are supposed to be photos from Hank Pym’s collection. Dig this Storm he posted.

Esquire scored an interview with June Diane Raphael, the wonderfully funny co-host of one of my favorite podcasts How Did This Get Made and a  recurring player on the equally wonderful New Girl.experiencing nirvanaI’m pretty curious about Sub Pop co-founder Bruce Pavitt’s e-book about Kurt Cobain and Nirvana in Europe in 1989. $5 isn’t too steep, but is it only available on the iPad? That’s no good. (via Rolling Stone)

Billy Corgan talked to Rolling Stone about my first ever Smashing Pumpkins album Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness.

Rolling Stone talked to Jimmy Page about his days in the Yardbirds. I’m sure I knew most of this stuff from Hammer of the Gods, but it was still a nice read.

Speaking of music, I discovered The Pogues’ “Fairytale of New York” by way of a cover and fell in love with it. This Guardian story about the song’s origins are pretty interesting.

Whoa, this skateboarding video posted over on One Cool Thing A Day is AMAZING. Tricks you’ve never seen before, guaranteed.

I hope you’re enjoying 25 days of Doctor Who goodness over on the BBC’s Adventure Calendar.

I’m pretty excited about Comedy Central giving shows to Nick Kroll, Amy Schumer and Anthony Jeselnik. Here’s hoping I’ll actually know when they’re on. (via THR)

Speaking of funny people, Louis CK answered the Proust Questionnaire over at Vanity Fair.

Lastly, I’m grown to really love Judd Apatow’s movies. I always liked them, but as I get a little older I can relate to the truth and honesty in them a lot more. As such, I’m very excited for This Is 40, though I have no idea when I will see it. Until then, I’m happy reading interviews about him and Leslie Mann from The Chicago Tribune.

Ad It Up: X-Men NES Game

Going as far back as I can remember, I’ve been a big fan of comic book-based video games, even before I started reading them. Unfortunately, most of them kind of sucked, including the X-Men game seen in the ad above. If memory serves, this one was a top-down game much like Zelda, a game I never got into. As such, I only rented this one a time or two. Still, that art in the main part of the ad is pretty rad, right?

Casting Internets

Sam Sarkar’s The Vault is a pretty interesting book, check out the story I did on it over at CBR. Same goes for All Nighter, Mysterious Ways and Shinku.

I also did some goodness for Marvel.com about the upcoming Black Panther Point 1 issue!

The hilarious and awesome Rob Bricken of Topless Robot fame did an excellent FAQ based on the never-to-air Wonder Woman pilot.

In the last year, I’ve discovered I’m a big fan of gin, so Esquire‘s Summer Gin Guide was quite informative.

I thought John C Abell’s post on Wired about how eBooks are falling short right now was a fun read.

Ed Brubaker’s Criminal has never really lit me up, but his recent interview with Tom Spurgeon definitely has me curious about this new mini.

I’m linking to my buddy Ben‘s post about Batman being the worst JLAer not only because he name checked me in it, but also because it’s a convincing argument.

This might be a little creepy, but I actually wished I had these kinds of video glasses when I worked in the city because, as David Cross said, when walking the streets of NYC you’re constantly deciding whether to look at the most beautiful woman in the world or the craziest guy in the world. I also would have settled for simple camera glasses. (via Wired)

Anyone interested in comics, regardless of what kind, should be reading Jim Shooter’s blog. It’s fascinating. Take the one about the origin of the Dark Phoenix Saga as an example. I love this kind of behind the scenes stuff.

Speaking of behind the scenes comic book stuff, check out Ron Marz’s latest CBR column where he discusses what went into his decision to leave Witchblade. If you just thought “Pfft, it’s Witchblade, who cares?” I recommend checking out the first trade, it’s good stuff.

Wow, Jimmy Page came out to reprise his role as session guitar player for Donovan’s Sunshine Superman in London. I hope someone recorded it. (via Rolling Stone)

The Red Hot Chili Peppers will have a new album out on August 30th called I’m With You with new guitar player Josh Klinghoffer. Their most recent records have been musically amazing, but not necessarily the most interesting records. Hopefully this one brings back more of the funk. (via Rolling Stone)

I’ve never been so interested in a headline and then immediately worried by a subhed as I was with this Rolling Stone.com example: JACK WHITE MAY RECORD MUSIC FOR ‘SCHOOLBOYS IN DISGRACE’ MOVIE Film version of Kings concept album is being developed by Bobcat Goldthwait.

Dig this crazy skate park designed like a pinball machine! (via Wired)

Kinect Star Wars looks exactly how I want it to. Can’t wait.

Speaking of lovely time wasting video games, Spider-Man: Edge of Time sounds pretty rad too. The fact that it’s written by Peter David is awesome. I’ve still got to get my hands on Shattered Dimension, but have plenty to keep me busy until the used price drops a little lower. (via CBR)

I’ve listened to and really enjoyed Derek Trucks and Susan Tedeschi records in the past (she’s an amazing vocalist), so I’m happy to see their new band Tedeschi Trucks Band got a good review for their first record on Rolling Stone.

Late To The Xbox Party: X-Men Origins Wolverine

A lot of people have said that the video game version of X-Men Origins Wolverine is far better than the movie. I have no idea if that’s the case or not because I haven’t seen the flick, but I think it might have raised by expectations a little higher than they should have been. This is one that I waited on at Game Stop, waiting for it to get down to a pretty cheap price. I was jazzed when it finally got down there and I started playing it a while back. It didn’t disappoint as it kicked off and I learned the various controls and eared more and more special moves. Being Wolverine and tearing through dozens of jungle mutants or high tech mercenaries is a ridiculous amount of fun in the beginning, but it wears a little thin after a while. But, what wears thinner faster has to be the boss battles that take place in the jungle levels, most of which involve a giant monster of some kind trying to smash you and you waiting for just the right moment to lunge (a great function of the game) and attack the back of his head. It was alright the first time, but man, that shiz got old QUICK and it happens over and over and over again.

I can’t speak to the story behind the game, which I’m guessing follows the movie at least to some extent as I wound up fighting Blob, Gambit and Deadpool towards the end. As usual, I ignored most of the story aspects of the game and listened to podcasts while playing the game (I love multitasking my entertainment whenever possible), but it seemed really repetitive as it bounced from jungle to inside levels where you first fight soldiers and then robots. There are some geek moments like where you fight a Sentinel, but 75% of the game felt like it was all the same stuff on a loop. I did like one of the levels towards the end where you’re chasing Gambit around a building site and have to jump around and fight all the different bad guys from the previous levels who are also trying to kill each other.

So, I enjoyed the game for the most part, but I walked away with a somewhat negative feeling for two reasons. The first is a practical one, I couldn’t beat the damn thing. The last boss you have to beat is the weird version of Deadpool from the movie who can apparently teleport, snikt swords from his forearms and shoot lasers from his eyes. You’re stuck fighting him up on a big circular loop thing. Just when you’re about to kill him, according to his health meter, he ‘ports away and does a huge blast that takes the floor right out from under you. If you can’t jump away in time–which happens because the game glitches and slows down for some damn reason–you die and have to continue from the very beginning. It’s not just frustrating, but infuriating. I tried ten times and just freaking quit. I didn’t feel too bad about it because, hell, I got the last guy, that’s close to winning right?

My second problem with the game is a little more philosophical, I guess. In the game you’re freaking Wolverine, yet there are a lot of things that get in your way and inhibit you. You can’t interact with the environment as much as you probably should be able to. Your claws don’t do nearly the amount of damage they should. Your special moves don’t do nearly enough damage. I had a similar problem with Marvel Ultimate Alliance 2. I don’t want to start off as a schlubby version of a superhero, I want TO BE A FREAKING SUPERHERO! I’m cool with getting more used to the powers and learning how to do more things with them, but I should have the full extent of that character’s abilities, which means my indestructible claws that can cut through anything should let me cut through anything, even if it is a soldier with body armor. I know what you’re thinking, “But then you’d just coast through the levels.” Nay, I say! Send thirty bad guys after me all guns blazing and I’d still have to do my damnedest to stay alive while they’re attacking.

So, in the end, the game’s not bad, but it’s not really much of a Wolverine game. Heck, it doesn’t even have ninjas! But, I had enough fun playing it. I actually started playing the Red Faction game for 360 which is kind of funny because in THAT game you can destroy all kinds of stuff with a freaking sledgehammer. They could have changed a few things and dropped Wolverine into that game and I’d be having a blasty blast. Makes me wish I knew how to mod a game.

Late To The Xbox Live Party: Marvel Ultimate Alliance 2

To give you an idea as to how slow I am when it comes to finishing video games, I got Marvel Ultimate Alliance 2 for Christmas last year and just finished it last night. There was many-month gap there were I didn’t even both playing it for a few reasons. First off, I had trouble with the save aspect of the game and wound up having to play the same level several times even though I thought I had reached a save point. Even after that I had a little trouble with the save/load menus because they give you two options that seem to be the same thing: load and continue. What’s the damn difference? I never quite figured that out. My other problem was that I loved the original game and this one didn’t come anywhere near that one for several reasons which I’ll get into shortly.

When the first Marvel Ultimate Alliance came out, I was working at Wizard. Though I had gotten there a little late for the epic Halo 2 marathons that I still hear about now from a few folks, the game makers sent a special Xbox 360 to the office and allowed us to play an advanced copy of the game which was such a fun experience. Tons of huge comic book fans all in one room surrounding a TV and cheering on their friends and coworkers beating up on various Marvel minions was so much fun and, of course, jumping in and playing ourselves, was great. That game spanned the breadth and depth of the Marvel Universe and really gave us a lot to have fun with. Eventually we had to send the 360 back, but after the game officially came out, Activision sent a bunch of copies to the office and I got to play through on my own. I had fun with the game even though it was pretty much the same kind of game as X-Men Legacy.

So, as you can tell, I had high hopes for the sequel. I was also hoping to play online with some friends, but I didn’t really push the issue too much (the one time I get a new game around the time it comes out and no one else is playing it!). The story of the game kind of follows the story behind Civil War, but actually has a more sensible ending and wasn’t nearly as meandering as the actual comic book story. That’s about all of the good things I have to say about the game. I mean, it wasn’t bad. I had a good enough time beating up on the never-ending parade of goons to fight, but I had a LOT of problems with it.

First off, video games starring superheroes should start off more powerful right off the bat in games like this. I understand that there need to be elements that can be upgraded as the game goes on, but it felt like if you weren’t playing one group of characters for most of the game, you’d be kind of screwed by the end of the game. Basically what I’m saying is that the Thing should never get killed in four seconds of any battle and that happened to me a number of times later on in the game. Leveling characters up is cool, but having to do so to survive later sections of the game takes a lot of the fun out of the whole endeavor. They give you all these awesome characters to play with, but you’re more rewarded for keeping the same team throughout the game. I got Venom and Green Goblin pretty late in the game and wanted to play with them, but they were so weak that it wasn’t worth it, they also didn’t have all their powers. I will claim ignorance and blame a little of that problem on myself because I forgot about the upgrade mechanics until just before I finished the game, but still, I’d rather just have powers that kick ass and go from there. The characters you’re given to play with also don’t seem powerful enough to play the game. I mean, I love Iron Fist and Gambit, but they’re not the guys I would recruit if I was fighting a supposedly world threatening enemy.

My other big problem with the game was how small it felt compared to the previous one. In MUA you went from Hell to Asgard and just about everywhere in between. This time around you go to Wakanda and Latveria. Woopdeedo. I know it’s hard to top such a huge story but fighting some heroes and villains who have been overtaken by Nanites really isn’t the way to do it. The lack of scope spread to the game’s end too. Anyone who played the first one will remember that, as you went through the game, there were a series of choices you had to make, whether to save this character or that and at the end of the game you were given a big overview as to how your decisions changed the entire Marvel Universe. This time around there was none of that.

All in all, I’m not sure what the point of making this game was as it turned out to be a huge disappointment both because it didn’t live up to expectations but also because, at the end of the day, it’s just another game like a bunch of other games that didn’t improve on anything. I finished and really just thought to myself, “What was the point?”