Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Review of the Week: Mega Man #43

In this issue Mega Man continues to work his way through the Mega Man III robot masters, in this issue Gemini Man, Magnet Man and Needle Man, Dr. Wily gets caught sending unauthorized transmissions to his Robot Masters by Auto, who Dr. Wily then attacks and takes out Auto's memory chip, and jailed terrorist Xander Payne continues to prophesize about another Sonic/Mega Man crossover.

This was a solid issue, and it did explore the characters of these Robot Masters with surprising depth, but it still felt like filler. This book often suffers from being written with the trade paper backs in mind. Also, as I've said before, doing another Sonic crossover this soon is a mistake. All and all though this is a solid book and worth checking out, despite a few flaws.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

The James MacDonald saga continues.

Several months ago I wrote a piece on this blog about the negative influence James MacDonald and his Harvest Bible network of churches had on my former church and how it was the reason I decided to resign my membership there. I tweeted the article out using MacDonald's Twitter handle rather than name because never say behind a man's back what you won't say to his face. He responded by blocking me. This month I wrote a follow up piece as new developments had happened between me and my former church, sadly none of which were pleasant. Kind of hoped I was done with the topic really. Then this morning who do I find following me, but James MacDonald's son Luke who is also a pastor in this web of churches.
That was a rather odd thing to wake up to to say the least. Why on Earth would he want to follow me? I had to know, so I politely sent him a DM saying "Not that I mind, but I'm rather curious why you would want to follow me." No answer. But some people don't get DM's so I figure I'll send a tweet asking the same thing. I wait all day and still no answer. Well, I figure maybe he just didn't see it, his mentions might be hectic after all, so I delete the tweet and then resend it. He then finally does respond.
That's weird right? It's not just me? You follow someone and then when they ask why ignore them? And then have a snarky response like that? Like I'm stalking you there Luke? You followed me. I didn't even know this man existed until this morning, remember it was his dad I criticized after all not him. Well Luke, if you don't want to talk that's fine, you just sit there and be a good little spy for your Borg collective, or whatever the hell it is you're up to.

Seriously, just when I think I'm done with this topic, things get weirder.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Review of the Week: Superior Iron Man #1

So as a result of the events of Axis, Tony Stark as turned evil, or at least more evil than he usually is. Seriously, after Civil War, am I really suppose to believe Tony needs a magic spell to turn him evil? Seems like he's hanging out in the grey area on his good days. Anyways Tony has given everyone in San Francisco the Extremis so they can be super hot superior versions of themselves. But you only get a taste for free, after that it will cost $99.99 a day. This douchebaggery has him running afoul of Pepper Potts and San Fran's newest super hero, Daredevil (with the help of an old Iron Man armor he got from Pepper).

This is a damn good start to this series. As I said, Tony has always been just a bit of a shit bag to begin with, so having him pushed in this direction somehow feels far more like a natural exaggeration of his darker aspects than some of the other heroes gone bad in this. And the confrontation with Daredevil should be interesting, those two don't have a lot of history together so it makes them interesting opponents. And having them in San Fran rather than New York means its more likely to be just the two of them facing off without interference from a dozen other super heroes. All and all this was a very intriguing start to this series and other than Axis: Carnage, this is my favorite tie in so far.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

James MacDonald Killed My Church Part 2: The sorrow of being proven right.

A few months ago I told the story on this blog of how the influence of James MacDonald and the Harvest Bible network of churches poisoned my church with a spirit of authoritarianism. Since then new developments have made a follow up post necessary.

After writing that post I had determined I would simply seek another Church. I thought I might still go to the small group Bible study I had been attending, as I had grown quite fond of the people there, got a lot out of it, and by all accounts contributed quite a bit back into it. Beyond that though I thought I would simply move on. But I was challenged by one of the members and someone who was practically family to me to keep going to see if I may have been wrong about things. I accepted if for no other reason than love and respect for the person making that request, and in the weeks that followed actually saw quite a few tremendously positive signs. Despite the problems it seemed God was indeed working in wondrous ways with some of the people there. Call it hopefulness or naivety, but I was actually beginning to think things had turned around, after all it was almost entirely new senior leadership. Perhaps, I thought, the problem had left with the old guard. Then I was given the news that I had been invited to one of the Church Elder meetings.

During that Elder meeting I was challenged with the verse from Matthew 18 about how to approach brother's in Christ with grievances. And I will say publicly right now, that while I did indeed go to the leadership with my concern before resigning my membership and posting about it here, I should have made more of an effort. It was a difficult situation, I tried to do things right, but I could have and should have done them better. I do however have no reason to assume the outcome would have been any different. It simply would have added a few weeks to the process. But that doesn't excuse me of my responsibility. I did not handle this as well as I should have and I am sorry.

That being said, it seemed to me that many of the elders were saying at that meeting that I needed to take down the blog post, recant and repent of ever daring to question the church leadership, or be simply no longer welcome there, despite the fact that I was indeed invited back by a member of good standing. I say "seemed" because there was very little said of much substance, frankly just a lot of beating around the bush. The next night I talked with the one elder I was close friends with and he assured me that despite my getting that impression, they were simply concerned for my spiritual well being and want us to all be in unity and work things out and no one was thinking of banishing me, that would be ridiculous. He was wrong. Just a couple of weekends the one elder called to indeed inform me I was banished until further notice and the matter would be discussed at the next Elder meeting. I had amazingly been thrown out of a church I already quit, after being invited back no less.

This meant I was no longer welcome at the church or the small group. I must admit, the small group part actually hurt a bit. I will miss that, although thankfully I am still friends with the people from it. So I suppose I should give credit where credit is due, they managed to get me back for my critical article. They managed to get, if not a whole pound, at least a few ounces of my flesh. And they managed to cloak it in a veil of religiosity no less. A thin veil, but still. That's kind of impressive actually. Touche.

They banned me from a church. I don't think I've ever heard of that. Because I dared to publicly voice a disagreement with the leadership, I may not come into the church. Despite, and again I think this needs to be remembered so let me whip out the bold font, being invited back by a member in good standing and the wife of an elder. I have never heard of such behavior outside of a Kool Aid drinking cult. I've heard of church discipline, I've heard of taking away someone's membership and treating them as an unbeliever as is lined out in scripture for church members who defiantly persist in sin. But even that doesn't excuse banning someone from a church. I mean, you do let unbelievers in the door after all, you want them to hear the Gospel don't you?

I talked to the leaders, I went to the initial meeting, and spoke on the phone with the one elder a couple of times trying to work this out. Over and over again, I was told this was all motivated by a desire to see me grow spiritually, but the actions did not reflect that. I was willing to listen to them, even acknowledge where I went wrong, as I have earlier in this article. No such meeting half way, agreeing to disagree, or compromise of any kind seemed to be coming from the other end. It seemed as though nothing short of their domination would satisfy them. Again, I say "seemed" because all attempts to get them to pin down what it was they actually wanted proved futile. It ultimately reached a point where I simply had to say this was getting us all nowhere and move on, wishing them the best.

In these last few weeks I spoke to quite a few former members, and it seems this pattern of petty authoritarianism was hardly unique to just the leadership's interaction with me. And here in lies the hardest part of this post. What do I say about these things I was told? What can I say? These are second hand accounts I can't absolutely verify, even if I have no reason to doubt them. Ultimately I've decided I will not share the particulars of these stories, because as I said, I cannot verify these things first hand. What I can say first hand is I am clearly not the only former member who feels the leadership of this church is, to put it mildly, a bit intoxicated with its power.

In my last article I said that this former church of mine was dead. I should clarify that a bit; I in no way am saying that every member of this church is dead, or that God cannot use this church, or its members for his purposes. God can use whatever he pleases after all. And indeed he has used members of this church in spectacular ways and continues to do so. But I believe that to be happening in spite of the leadership there. I was asked to return to see if I was right, and it is with great sorrow I must conclude that if anything I may have underestimated the problem. This church is still possessed by a spirit of authoritarianism. Those in charge there grasp at their power with far too eager and tight a grip, and as life has often taught me, those who desire power the hardest are almost always the most unfit to wield it. And with that said, it is my sincerest prayer that I need never revisit this topic again.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Review of the Week: Amazing Spider-man Vol 3 #9

So here we have Spider-verse officially starting. Even though there have already been a ton of Spider-verse comics, this is the start, those were just prequels, although why would it start here and no the main Spider-verse mini? Shouldn't this be a tie in story? This event is going to be confusing as hell. I don't even want to do a full plot synopsis of this, as I would be here all night. The main things that happen are the various spider-characters of the main universe (Earth 616) are brought to Earth 13 with all the other Spiders to figure out what to do. Why is Earth 13 safe? Because that Spider-man still has his Captain Universe powers and could kick the ass of Morlun should he show. Why doesn't he just go kick Morlun's ass then? Because his Captain Universe powers are tied to that universe and when he leaves it he's just another Spider-man. Also we see that 616 Peter is "The greatest of them all" because he defeated Morlun before.

The interactions between the various Spider-men and women are fun, but this crossover is already getting a bit out of hand. Things are rapidly becoming confusing even for an old hat at this like me. Mind you, it's a fun story so far, but the way it's laid out doesn't help a premise that can easily become a mess to begin with. Why does the main story start here and not the main mini series coming out later this month. With any even the main mini needs to be the backbone of it and all others are (ideally optional) tie ins. Also I didn't care for the main universe Peter to be "The Chosen One", I would have preferred it if he was just another soldier in this war. Part of the brilliance behind Marvel numbering it's main universe 616 is that it's just another world, not Earth 1 like at DC. And really? In no other reality did a Spider-man defeat Morlun? In all the trillions upon trillions of universes of the multiverse?

I like this event so far, but Dan Slott needs to be careful here, this could quickly go off the rails, and if that happens the novelty of tons of different Spider-men as well as the nostalgia factor of revisiting eras and spin offs of the franchise won't be enough to keep this afloat.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Top 5 characters who should be in Super Smash Bros but aren't.

I love the Smash Bros series. Hard to believe this is only the 4th one. Premiering on the N64 back in 1999, I can never remember a time when people weren't playing or talking about this series, despite having so few games in that 15 year time. This is one of those series where the games have so much staying power, where each one only seems to be eclipsed by the next. So much of what's produced by AAA studios doesn't seem to have that. Seems like a game is played and talked about for a few months then forgotten in favor of the latest space marine shooter. Since this series has expanded to include non-Nintendo characters, I thought I would take a look at 5 icons of the cartridge/arcade era who should find there way into a future Smash brothers game.
5) Q*Bert: I can't say I was ever a huge fan of Q*Bert, but it's hard to deny the presence he had in arcades, and early consoles. I even had Q*Bert for the NES and I don't even remember asking for it. I just had it. Not sure how you could make combat work with a character with no arms, but I'm sure Nintendo could think of something.
4) Earthworm Jim: For a few years there in the mid 90's, this guy was huge. Even had his own cartoon show with Dan Castellaneta (the voice of Homer) doing Jim's voice. Earthworm Jim's games had an odd, surreal, and even gross art and humor style, kind of MTV's Liquid Television-ish, which makes him very much a product of his time. I highly doubt a remake or revival would work. But nostalgia is one of Smash's biggest themes isn't it. So this quintessential product of the 90's would fit right in. By the way, this art is by MegaRyan104 on DeviantArt, you should check out his stuff.
3) Vectorman: This "Orb-bot" was the star of two fantastic run and gun platformers on the Genesis late in the system's life span. I reviewed the first one a while back, and this character really deserves to be remembered more than he is. This is also some of MegaRyan104's art.
2) Sparkster: This little guy starred in the Rocket Knight game series, an anthropomorphic medieval steampunk sidescroller game series, of which I reviewed the first one, that, like Vectorman, deserves to be remembered far more than it is. There was a remake of it recently, but it was a digital only game and I hate not having a hard copy so I haven't played it. Still, with swordplay and a jet pack, this character would be a blast to fight as. And the world just needs more Sparkster.
1) Bomberman: I actually had to look up that this guy had not been in Smash already, because I can't believe Nintendo hasn't brought Hudson's flagship character into the fray already. They've worked in Hudson before in the past on the Wario vs Bomberman game Wario Blast. Come on Nintendo, if anything he should have been in there before Pac Man.

So there you have it, my top 5 non Nintendo character who should be in Smash. Don't agree? Well then, make your own damn list.



Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Review of the Week: Axis: Carnage #1 and Mega Man #42

So Carnage is a good guy now...sorta. During the events of the Axis event a spell was cast that altered the personalities of the heroes and villains there, turning the good guys bad and the bad guys good. And now Carnage wants to be a hero, the only problem, he really doesn't know how. Meanwhile there is a new Sin Eater running around who has supernatural, semi Ghost Rider-ish powers. This new Sin Eater kills a news anchor and we see his fellow news anchor, who he was romantically involved with, crying over this in the news cast. Carnage sees this on the news and figures she is a good person and would be able to help him be a hero. Turns out she's not though, she's actually a cold manipulative bitch who is barely even really sad over her lover/co worker's death. Carnage shows up in time to save her from the new Sin Eater and the issue ends with him asking her for guidance.

As a long time Carnage fan I actually enjoyed this issue, despite not liking the plot device that brought us here. In the Axis mini Magneto recruited Carnage among other villains to fight the Red Onslaught by telling Carnage that going hero would be the ultimate random act from him, and after the events of the recent Deadpool vs Carnage mini, Carnage would be desperate to regain that unpredictability. That alone would be a good enough reason for Carnage to go on this misguided attempt at redemption. It wouldn't even be him being actually good, as he would only be doing it out of a sense of spite for people's expectations. That would be considerably more interesting than Carnage forced to be good because of a magic spell. And besides, isn't a spell turning heroes evil and villains good so silver age-ish? Like cornball DC comics silver age no less? Still though this is an entertaining book, and it is interesting to see how messy the road to redemption can be. Definitely worth checking out.
We continue to have Mega Man work his way through the Mega Man III robot masters, this time Shadow Man and Gemini Man. And there really isn't that much more to the plot than that. We do get some interesting flashbacks into Shadow Man's history and his connection to the Stardroids, as well as some solid character development for him, but all and all this issue is filler. One of the faults of this series is it writes with the trade paper backs in mind, and as a result it's had it's share of filler issues over its run. Still, a decent read, but nothing really all that special.