Saturday, 25 March 2017

Reading tea leaves: 40k 8th edition reveals

Yes, reveals, not leaks. GW's commendable turn of telling people things continues with a preview of the mechanics currently being tested for 8th edition. Yes, its time to read some tea leaves and make some assumptions that are almost certainly wrong. Let's go!

Movement Characteristics

Yes! The basic sense here is that the generic unit types (Infantry, Jump Infantry, etc,.) will be going and replaced by a Movement characteristic on the unit's stat line. This knocks out a chunk huge of the main rulebook, which is just sensible, and puts more emphasis on the individual Codex. The less flicking between books the player has to do, the better.

Charging units fight first

An unfortunate reality of 40k's meta is that if you play a low Initiative army you're most likely to play against high Initiative (read: Space Marine) armies. If nothing else this rule is an inducement to dust off my Orks since my mighty close combat army might actually get to fight a combat round or two in this edition.

Armour Save Modifiers (for shooting)

Whether its a Strength based modifier or a Rending value as in AoS is unclear but I do think its sensible to bring this concept in. The fact that, say, an AP3 weapon completely knocks out the protection of power armour but has zero effect whatsoever on Terminator plate has always been a strange abstraction to me and modifiers are a simple way of bringing that concept into play whilst still keeping the spirit of how these weapons are meant to work (lascannons will still be the shit, lasguns will still be just shit).

3 Ways To Play

Definitely better to bring this in at the beginning than how they did it with Age Of Sigmar. Its the same tryptch of Open, Narrative and Matched play. Now, Open Play is still as unappealing to me here as it was in AoS but I can't pretend that having more options of play is somehow a bad thing.

Command Points”

Um... this one is a bit complicated because it isn't really explained. The basic idea is that if you build an army as the background dictates you get Command Points, a series of benefits like re-rolls and unspecified army specific special rules.

How army selection actually works under this system is left unsaid. Most likely, in my view, is that the Force Organisation Chart becomes optional and you get Command Points for following it. Also,perhaps the chart will be bespoke to each army, completely replacing the generic version rather than just supplementing it as the bespoke charts in this edition have.

Age of Sigmar morale checks

About the only one I'm not thrilled by. Its not a mechanic I'm super fond of in AoS and that's a game with the option of large units. 40K has always generally lent towards five- and ten-man squads so I suspect this mechanic will be a lot less forgiving, especially the high-cost elite units like Terminators.

Overall, though, I'm looking forward to this, which I wasn't expecting to be. 

Friday, 24 March 2017

Comic Reviews

Horrible week, comics arrived a day late, capsule reviews, motley...

Lumberjanes #36
Might As Wheel

Yay! After an epic catch-up session, this is my first “as new” issue of Lumberjanes and not only do I get to enthuse about this great series in a timely manner, I think I almost understand roller derby. Watching the hardcore lady types from the world's most deeply strange girl scout camp playing roller derby against a team of sasquatches .

That's enough. That's enough weird to draw me in. That the hardcore lady-types are doing this on behalf of a family of yeti who the sasquatches have turfed out of their treehouse is icing on the cake. The fact that somehow the roller... ring? Circle? Thingy?... become a death trap for no readily apparently reason is the cherry on the icing.

Extraordinary X-Men #20

An underwhelming end to an underwhelming series that was the backbone of an underwhelming era of X-Books. Its not completely without virtue, going out on a rather sweet scene that either promises or threatens a return to more traditional X-Men stories in the new series depending on your taste. The main meat of the issue, though, is Storm having some meta musings that are pretty obviously Jeff Lemire bitching about the holding pattern Marvel had this book in through his entire run.

Still, a major theme of the issue was having Nightcrawler smiling again which is one hell of a step up from having him as some sort of morose avenger figure for God alone knows what reason.

Mother Panic #5
Broken Things part 2

Mysteries stack on mysteries with this series. On the one hand we get some concerete answers on how Violet got her powers and the nature of Gather House whilst on the other the actions of Violet's mother bring up further questions and not just in a “crazy person talks prophesy” sort of way. I hate that trope, I've seen too much of the real thing to find any romance in it.

Oh, and the Gotham Radio back-up finally got my attention by bringing back a minor league Bat-villain I always thought there was much more potential in.

Unworthy Thor #5

I guess it works.

Okay, for serious, I think the mystery of “What did Nick Fury say to make Thor unworthy?” just plain went on too long. I know they had to address who the new Thor was first but at a certain point you just end up in a place where no answer is going to be fully satisfying. The rest of the series? Very satisying, there's a reason Jason Aaron has been writing this character (and his distaff successor) for so long and if he could find an excuse to use Beta Ray Bill more often I'd be a very happy man.

So, I guess it works.

Invincible Iron Man #5

I may have soured a little on Bendis' style a little the last year or so but I love his Iron Man series, even if I question the logic in bringing in a villain from the last Tony Stark stories this soon in Riri's run. Everything with Riri and Pepper has been gold and there's something pleasingly real in how over-earnest Riri is in dealing with Sharon Carter when SHIELD turns up.

Detective Comics #953
League of Shadows part 3

A Cass focus issue? Yes, please. That this is turning into a very Cass-centric arc is very gratifying since there was a time when she (and Steph, for that matter) was brushed off by DC editorial as a “toxic” character that they didn't want to use. We also get yet more of her interacting with her biological mother Lady Shiva, one of the great dropped threads of the old DCU. There's also a lovely little scene with Clayface trying to connect with Cass over the fact that neither of them are particularly good at expressing their feelings verbally, which I hope bodes well for Clayface's continuing face turn.

I still don't like the Orphan identity, though, and I rather hope that this issue signals that Cass might eventually grow beyond it. I hope. 

Thursday, 23 March 2017

In which Dan Floyd assures me I am not stupid

I love the Extra Credits and Extra Plays channels on Youtube and for the last little while Dan Floyd has been playing through various Sonic The Hedgehog games to get b-roll for an animation series.
He just finished up five episodes on Sonic Adventure and I have never been happier to see a man so confused.

This isn't sadism, its because I found that game to be the most obscure, unexplained and damn near impossible to work out experience of my entire gaming life. No Final Fantasy game has ever flummoxed me like this awful bastard half and half offspring of a mascot platformer and an adventure game.

It hides level entrances from you and watching Dan Floyd, with the greatest respect to the man, suffer as I did in 2003 has been enormously validating. The man is a professional, he knows his stuff and he's played a hell of a lot more games than I ever have so if he finds it obscure and poorly explained there's weight to the charge.

I swear to you this is true: Sonic Adventure DX is the only game I have ever bought a strategy guide for. Not Final Fantasy, not Pokémon... Sonic Adventure. It is one of the few “bad” Sonic games I believe deserves its reputation.

Also it introduced Big the Cat because, obviously, what the Sonic franchise needed to exploit the power of the Dreamcast was fishing mini-games. 

Wednesday, 22 March 2017

The Kanto Diaries #0: Pre-Game

A little housekeeping before I launch into the first phase of my “Pokémon Grand Tour”. Just some decisions I want to write down before I get into the game proper.

My Trainer

When Professor Oak asks, I will identify myself as a girl called Drake. She wants to travel and study Pokémon, though unlike Red and Ash before her she dreams not of being a Pokémon Master or Champion but a Pokémon Professor someday, albeit a more successful one who has actually done some field work and research (which few, if any, of the series' Pokémon Professors ever seem to achieve before handing off a Pokédex to the first random child who turns up).

More background for this character will develop as I play.

My Starter

Back in the day, Bulbasaur was my boy, my dude. Fantastic design in all his evolutions, best of the starters in my humble. I used him in the original Gen I game (I am old) and chose him again in Kalos when I was given my choice of the original starters by Professor Sycamore.
Still, I want to shake things up this time around. That leaves me with Charmander and Squirtle and I hate Charmander. He looks bland, Charmleon looks worse and Charizard looks nice but he's a dragon who isn't a Dragon-type. So, as much as Wartortle looks like pants, I choose Squirtle.


I am not doing Nuzlocke, I have neither the discipline nor the patience and the objective is to play through these games from start to finish.

But I am going to institute one rule on myself: one capture per area. For one thing, not combing through the long grass trying to capture one example of everything in Kanto will cut down the time this will take. For another, it feels in keeping with the theme of following in Ash Ketchum's footsteps that I'd only capture one Pokémon per “episode”, as it were.

I'm not going to go into it blind, though, if nothing jumps out at me immediately (metaphorically, obviously things will be literally jumping out at me constantly) then I will consult Bulbapedia to see what's available in the area.
I want an Ekans, so that's Route 4 sorted for a start.

Also, I will be naming every Pokémon I capture. I like coming up with the nicknames and I do feel it helps to personalise the team and make it feel like its something that belongs to you rather than just a jumble of sprites and statistics.

Tuesday, 21 March 2017

Why my Runemaster won't be ginger

(Apologies for any typos, my word processor has gone insane and is flagging everything with a red underlining so any misspelled words are just going to get lost in the shuffle).
Whilst I did buy this Runemaster before the Kharadron Overlords were announced I am determined to paint him. However, he is absolutely not going to be ginger.

Part of it, I admit, is resentment. I've wanted a Slayer army since I started in this hobby and when it finally comes along in plastic they aren't Slayers. They've got the right god and the right hair but, essentially, they aren't the same army I ogled when they were unaffordable metals. They're wearing armour, for a bloody start. Cowards!

As much of their background and aesthetic as I like I do prefer to view them as the new concept they are rather than as a continuation of an old concept they don't quite fit. The Battletome has no shortage (if you'll pardon the expression) of alternative colour scheme but none of them inspired me. However, a description of the Sepuzkul Lodge from the short story Four Thousand Days by David Guymer really grabbed my attention:

... this one's wargear was black, fluted and moulded into the appearance of bone. His face had been painted with white powder, except for the eye sockets where the brazen red of his skin showed through. His beard was an unnatural grey. The twinned plumes of his helm designating him a karl of his fyrd might have been a reassuring point of commonality, but the likeness crafted into the black helm was that of a skeletal wyrm and the plumage itself was short, white and brittle.”

Now, we don't learn much about this Lodge and its origins but given all the imagery and that some of its members swear using Nagash's name as well as Grimnir's I think its pretty obvious they're from the Realm of Death.

So let's break that description down and decide how the model will be painted: armour black, beard grey, crest white, I'll skip the face paint because that's too fiddly with the helmet and since I can't re-sculpt the dragon face on his helmet I'll simply paint it as bone. Also, to carry on the “Realm of Death” theme the flames coming from his brazier he's carrying will be that sort of luminous green used on Hexwraiths and Realmgates if I can find a tutorial. Also, to keep the model relatively dark any metal that doesn't have to be gold will be brass and bronze. Not sure what I'll do with the scale cape but I'm sure something will occur as I work through the other stages.

This is actually one of my favourite AoS models: commanding pose, lots of interesting and intricate detail and plenty of chances for experimentation. I'm really looking forward to tackling this for a bit of variety whilst I whittle away at the Kurnoth Hunters. 

Monday, 20 March 2017

Conan the Postmodernist

Honestly, one of the things I love about classic sci-fi and fantasy, especially foundational stuff like the Conan stories, is how little of a shit these authors gave for what would one day be the “rules” that define the genres.

For instance, in a sword and sorcery series I do not usually expect to encounter an immortal flying elephant man from outer space.

I am not joking. This is a thing that is in one of the stories. This is, in fact, the thing that one of the stories is about, the revelation that its all leading to.

God, I love these stories.

Sunday, 19 March 2017

Hobby Goal: Taller Trees

Whilst my very, very fun, very, very visually interesting and very. Very time consuming idea of doing as many different coloured leaves as possible on my Dryads meant I didn't get them finished this week they aren't far off. I literally just have to do the leaves and a little blue to pick out the eyes and mouths and I'm done.

So. seems like removing the stress of needing to finish the unit in a week actually got me further than trying to meet the deadline. This week...

Hobby Goal #12
Kurnoth Hunters

I have virtually nothing done of this unit even though they're my favourite models from the Sylvaneth range. I have the soft inner wood based and inked and that's it. So this week they're what I'm going to be working on whenever I sit down to paint.

Let's see how this goes. 

Saturday, 18 March 2017

The Pokemon Grand Tour Begins

Having finished the story of Pokemon Sun (I still have to face the League) I found myself thinking about how much of this series I just haven't played. I've finished all other the 3DS games, played but not completed most others and I've never played any of the Gen II or V games at all. I also got talking to a friend who, unlike me, didn't take a huge break from the series between Gen I and IV and I decided I really wanted to try the “complete journey”, as it were.

So, on a whim, I trawled the local charity shops and Amazon to plug the gaps in my collection so I could do the “Grand Tour”, as I've decided to think of it.

So, the itinerary runs FireRed, HeartGold, Alpha Sapphire (though, having completed that game, I might spring for Omega Ruby), Platinum, White Version 1 and 2, and Pokemon X. I also, rather naughtily, got a copy of the fan game Pokemon Uranium from a friend, which I'll probably slot in between the DS and 3DS games.

There's also the matter of my player character. Given that I'm playing this as a single epic journey I feel the need to have a single character throughout it all, canon conflicts be damned, my own personal Ash Ketchum.

Her name (I always pick the female option) will be Drake. Hopefully she'll develop a personality and training style over the course of her journey.

She's certainly going to develop a lot of contradictory family backstory.

Friday, 17 March 2017

Comic Reviews

This week a bunch of my favourite series came out including a new one. On with the motley...

Patsy Walker, A.K.A. Hellcat! #16

America Chavez checking out Jubilee. Its only a little moment but it was rather sweet.

Anyway, I finally get around to talking about one of my favourite ongoing series and it ends with a note saying this is the last issue of the regular storyline and the next will be the end of the series. Bugger. Still, this has been a hell of ride, speaking of which...

Sadly, this issue's cover is 100% misleading. There is no pajama party, no playdate for Shojo Lee and Dani Cage, no Luke and Jessica, no Ian. Instead, we get group therapy in a hell dimension. This is the big idea the series plays out on. Mad but brilliant and a great way to deal with the issues between Patsy and low-rent series antagonist Hedy Wolfe.

I bloody love this series. Kate Leth has assembled such a sweet cast of characters that I just love spending time with. Most of all I'm going to miss Jubilee as a working single mum vampire. This is the best angle the character has had in years and I don't think losing that is a price I want to pay for a new Generation X. Oh, and Attaché, sweet little henchgirl that she is will be sorely missed.

I just hope that Kate Leth gets to return to the Marvel Universe some day soon.

U.S.Avengers #4

Surprisingly, not a Monsters Unleashed tie-in. Could have been. Wasn't. Its a done-in-one that's all about the title fight: the new Red Hulk versus the American Kaiju, an odd creation from when this Red Hulk was a villain in the previous incarnation of this series.

Its all done in this campy style with bite-size chapters like those “complete in one issue” stories in sixties comics. Deadpool's there for very little reason but he's used as a vehicle for some nice little meta jokes so that's okay. The issue continues Ewing's obsession with the mad scientist side of the MCU which, frankly, is what I love most about this series.

And just when it seems like this is just a nice little bit of fluff between story arcs, Steve Rogers turns up in Roberto DaCosta's office and he is pissed. Now that's a hook, even if the face off between the two top dog superspies of the Avengers franchise is bound to be a little tainted by the whole secret Nazi thing.

Guardians of the Galaxy #18

So, yes, a week of my favourite things and then there's this...

At the end of the issue it turns out that Grounded might actually have a point. Right at the end of the issue, in a way completely irrelevant to the rest of the arc and even this issue itself. Oh, and Bendis takes a quick moment to just dismantle the romantic happy ending Angela got at the end of her solo series for no good reason.

As I've said before, maybe I'm just getting old but Bendis' waffling is just getting on my nerves these days.

Batman #19
I Am Bane part 4

But if we want to talk about writing an issue to ratchet up tension on the way to final confrontation, right here is a perfect example. While Guardians had a pretty irrelevant mini-adventure for Angela leading to a revelation about a big bad coming their way, this issue is all about the big bad marching towards Batman and the anticipation for the big fight.

The entire issue follows Bane as he walks through the corridors of Arkham Asylum searching for Batman and the Psycho Pirate. To delay him, Batman has freed and armed the rogues gallery and so we get a series of vignettes with Bane confronting villain after villain after villain. Some of them are just one panel, one punch cameos but there are some with some real meat to them that I hope are quietly setting up coming events in the series.

King turns in a particularly nice twist on the Scarecrow, with good old Doctor Crane waiting behind a locked door for Bane to come charging through, scared witless and reciting the fears he's feeling as he feels them. He writes a good Riddler, as well, confident to the point of suicidal in the face of Bane's threats. I have no damn clue what's going on with Maxi Zeus but I hope we get to find out in greater detail later.

Every confrontation, every time Bane almost effortlessly bests one of the more classic rogues, serves to build up his threat level and the tension for the inevitable confrontation with Batman.

Which is how its meant to work, frankly.

Batwoman #1
The Many Arms of Death part 1

Bennett and Tynion bring back Julia Pennyworth, because between Maggie Sawyer, Harper Row and Renee Montoya I didn't ship Kate Kane with enough people, clearly.

Seriously, this issue sees Kate travelling with Julia on a yacht in search of black market Monster Venom. Its a black ops mission, as befits our ex-army vigilante and her special forces operator, and the two characters make great super spies. The issue is mainly setting up their operation but there's another tantalising flashback to Kate's “Lost Year”, the site of which they end up visiting in the present.

Sadly, there's not much more to say plotwise except that everything this issue sets up has me salivating in anticipation of where this is all going and I can't imagine I'm the only one. This is one of the fortnightly series, right?

To be honest, my one disappointment is that there's a startling lack of Doctor Victoria October given her prominence in the Batwoman Begins two-parter and the fact this series is continuing the Monster Venom storyline, but that's just my own personal gripe and no reflection on the quality of the finished product. 

Thursday, 16 March 2017

Undertaker vs. Roman Reigns vs. audience sympathy

I don't hate Roman Reigns. Seriously, I don't. He's a perfectly competent wrestler and I've nothing against the man.

That having been said, if they're feeding him the Undertaker's retirement match, worse yet if Reigns wins, I will burn England to the ground (to paraphrase Adam Blampied). The problem is that you know that if this is 'Taker's last match he's going out on his back. He is the oldest of the old school and he is not going out on a win. No matter that not a wrestling fan in the world would begrudge him going out on a win. He's the Undertaker, only Hulk Hogan has legitimate claim to being more iconic than this man.

And even if 'Taker has to go out on a loss, why oh why does it have to be Reigns? I don't hate him but the WWE's obsession with selling him as a main eventer is what's burying him with the audience. They had to turn down the audience audio on Reigns/Triple H at the last Wrestlemania because of thunderous audience booing.

Now they're giving him the Undertaker match? Perhaps the final Undertaker match?

If they waste the retirement match of a legend on Reigns I don't think his standing with the audience will ever recover. I think the resentment will follow him forever and that would be sad. I genuinely believe Reigns could get over as a mid-card heel, at least on the evidence of his recent feud with Rusev. That worked, albeit in a funny way where the bookers thought Reigns was the face even though he ruined Rusev and Lana's wedding. Still, he acted like a bad guy and the feud fed off the existing heat he had with the audience.

Now, I don't think any final match will really equal the mythic status that 'Taker's last match should have but throwing it away trying to get a man over out of sheer belligerence is just squandering a unique opportunity. 

Wednesday, 15 March 2017

A time consuming idea occurs

As much as I insisted I didn't care about finishing the Dryads for my Hobby Goal this week, it was starting to look tantalisingly plausible. I had the main body of them painted and drybrushed, I had the leaf loincloths done and the bits of skeleton in their branches done but for the drybrush. All that really left to paint are the little leaves on their branches.

I started off thinking of just doing them in Deathworld Forest like the loinclothes. Then I thought maybe Khorne Red for an autumnal feel, just to get some variety into the unit.

Then I think maybe mix it up a bit: some green leaves, some red ones, some yellow ones.

Then a friend got involved, a nature loving friend who reminded me there are a lot of different coloured leaves. I could put some purple ones in there.

This all means I'm going to go through my painting tutorial books for anything that could believably be a leaf colour. I want as many different colours in this unit as possible, mainly because the basic shape of the Dryad doesn't lend itself to variety.

So I'm probably not getting this unit finished this week but it will look bloody sweet once its finished.  

Tuesday, 14 March 2017

Conan the Geneticist

"Snakes. Why did it have to be snakes?"

I'm currently reading The Scarlet Citadel, a Conan “novelette” (so Wikipedia calls it) by Robert E. Howard. Its part of a Complete Collection edition I got cheap on Kindle because I realised that, as much as I loved the original Arnie movie, I'd never actually read any of this absolutely foundational fantasy series.

The fact that Conan not only knows the word “genealogy” but can use it correctly was a moment almost as brain-breaking as all those times Holmes and Watson would ejaculate towards each other after one knocked the other up.

No, I'm not kidding, those two phrases turn up again and again in the Doyle stories.

So, anyway, Conan knows about genealogy which surprised me but probably shouldn't. The thing is, the Conan I'm used to is the young adventurer of the Arnie film and the relatively decent '90s cartoon but the Conan presented here (and so far exclusively in the collection) is the older Conan, Conan The King.

The thing is, even from my limited knowledge of the character, I know that Conan is a smart guy and by this point in his timeline he's been king for a while and so, naturally, he would learn about kingly things like bloodlines and genealogy. In fact, he uses the word in a middle of a rant about how earned his throne in blood whilst the kings holding him captive simply inherited the thrones their fathers bled for.

I'm very much looking forward to see how else Howard is going to surprise me. 

Monday, 13 March 2017

The industry conservatives should love but never will

A while back an article did the rounds bemoaning the fact that millennials were destroying the paper napkin industry. More recently a similar article lamented that the same looming fate hitting fabric softener companies. Another said millennials weren't buying enough breakfast cereal. On a larger scale, real estate is in crisis because the younger generation simply can't rely on the sort of longterm employment and stable wages needed to afford a mortgage.

To a certain sort of cold, calculating neoliberal conservative this is simply market forces at work: if your business can't create demand then it deserves to die. Never mind the unemployment and shattered lives, to people like this the perfect business is one that never needs a subsidy and adapts perfectly to fill the needs of a changing economy.

Few businesses actually manage this and, in practice, conservative governments sign off on bailouts all the time to banks, to manufacturing concerns and even sports tournaments; they subsidise whatever arts they see as worthy; and, they pass laws intended to protect businesses they can rely on for financial endorsement.

There is one industry, though, that perfectly conforms to the neoliberal capitalist ideal. An industry that has never needed a bailout, never claimed a subsidy, that has survived every technological shift that should have sunk it and weathered every attempt to legislate it out of existence:


No, I'm not kidding. Neoliberal conservatives should love porn, and not just because if they watched more of it they probably wouldn't get caught with rentboys quite so often. The porn industry quite literally does everything they think a business should do.

Porn has never cost the taxpayer a penny, it is entirely self-financing. In fact, it contributes huge amounts of tax revenue in California, ironically a place where conservatives constantly try to destroy it through legislation. It has weathered every recession the world could throw at it. When the print and video distribution models began to collapse it was one of the first (perhaps even the first) entertainment industries to seriously monetize the internet, saving itself from annihilation with no outside help and pioneering models of revenue now used by the likes of Netflix, Amazon and WWE Network.

Hell, they even do the “charity is good business” thing with Pornhub recently announcing that they were starting a sex education website. An actual, honest to God sex education website that will be written by actual doctors and psychologists teaching safe sex and consent.

Now its not a perfect industry by any means, of course, but the simple fact is financial conservatives should love it. They don't, of course, because it involves sex which is a filthy endeavour fit only for animals and so they'll never acknowledge the one place their business values are actually practised and instead continue to subsidise the corrupt and unethical behaviour of banks or handing out headline friendly loans to business that will never actually stop outsourcing labour to cheaper countries. 

Sunday, 12 March 2017

Mark IX Power Armour? Well, Maybe...

Just to be clear because this seems to be a very, very contentious subject at the moment: I have no dog in this race. I have plastic Maximus and Iron armour kits, I am happy forever. Still, here's the image that's been doing the rounds purportedly featuring a new Mark IX power armour kit:
"Can you tell me the way to Amarillo?"
The thing is I'm pretty sure this is a conversion and the supposed larger scale of the model is entirely down to the other figure being a very old Last Chancer and therefore a bit smaller the modern Guardsman. The real killer is the new bolt rifle which seems to be bent like two components were glued without being properly filed one side of the join.

The thing is, though, its a pretty good redesign. It bulks out the arms and legs with additional armour plating, the backpack rides higher on the back giving it extra height, that gorget bulks it out forwards as well: its a real lesson in how to enlarge the armour in all directions for the illusion of size more than the reality. The new bolt rifle, whilst a bit squinty, looks like a more heavy duty weapon even than the standard bolter: more high-powered because of its size and more suitable for longterm deployment because of the huge drum magazine.

GW could do a lot worse than this: it adds a lot of visual interest and size with its new elements whilst maintaining the absolutely essential and iconic outline of the Space Marine.

Its not Maximus armour, though, which will always be the best pattern. 

Hobby Goal: Advanced Carpentry

Well, I didn't get all the wood painted on my Sylvaneth arm but that's okay because for once I got distracted by something relevant:

(I had to over-expose the image a little because I was shooting at the last minute in less than ideal conditions).
Yes, when I was production lining the army I got fascinated by the Spite-Revenants and finished them. That's one seventh of the army actually finished, plus I have at least some paint on everything except the Treeman. I admit the paintjob is a little simpler than it could be but just for once this army isn't mean to be an all-singing, all-dancing production number. Still, I like some of the effects, especially the black-washed Stegadon Scale Green of the Spite's flesh.

On the design side, I love how the sculpters used a split in the body to create branches that twist through each other. Its an interesting use of It makes for a slightly frustrating building experience where you have to dry fit again and again to make sure everything is in exactly the right place but the effect is more than worth it.

Moving on, this week's hobby goal:

Hobby Goal #11
Work on the Dryads

I said I was swearing off the “finish X unit” goals because I never finish them but that's not what I'm doing here. Considering the size of the army and that I already have a finished unit, the rest of the goals for the month are going to be me taking a Sylvaneth unit and concentrating on it for the week. Doesn't matter if I finish them, just that I make some progress on the unit.

(Though if by some miracle I did finish the unit that would see the army more than two thirds of the way done, which would be sweet).

Completed Models (2017)
Chaos (Tzeentch): 1
Dwarfs: 5
Flesh Tearers: 6
Genestealer Cults: 5
Renegades & Heretics: 5
Sylvaneth: 5


Saturday, 11 March 2017

Learning to live with the Fastlane (result)

Right, its been a week and I figure anyone who wanted to see Fastlane either bought it on pay-per-view or has the WWE Network plus what I want to talk about is all over the internet so I feel safe writing this without a spoiler warning. Regardless, I want to go into the result of Goldberg/Owens so be aware.
Goldberg is Universal Champion and it is baffling. He won it in a main event match that officially ran for 22 seconds after some dicking about from Owens; in his current run with the company he has (according to Adam Blampied, whose job is to know these things) wrestled for exactly 108 seconds in singles matches and hit five moves.

He's fifty years old, which wouldn't necessarily be a problem if not for the fact that he's first “old guard” talent to win the Universal belt. Finn Balor was the inaugural champion, then he was injured and Owens picked it up thanks to interference from Triple H in a way that made it clear he was being anointed as the future of the company and H's new favourite now he and Seth Rollins are on the outs.

Unless they have one hell of a swerve coming, the only match for Goldberg at Wrestlemania that makes sense is Goldberg/Lesnar part three. Two part timers, one of whom is fifty and has yet to prove he can still put in a proper match and the other who just doesn't seem to care all that much about what he's doing anymore.

They're doing this when they could have had Kevin Owens facing Jericho in the main event and now that's going to be a non-title match. Its not even as if Jericho needed the heat from costing Owens the belt, the man has managed to get the audience invested in a scarf, a jacket covered in LED lights and a scarf, I feel certain he doesn't need help selling the fact he's pissed off with Owens.

And Owens... why take the title away from him now and like this? Owens is a fantastic talent who, if treated right, will be with the WWE for years to come. Goldberg is a fifty year old part timer who, let's face it, is pretty likely to drop the title at 'Mania and leave. I mean, it makes a kind of sense for Brock to win after two defeats, as much as him holding the Universal title thrills me even less than Goldberg having it.

Oh, and I'm just as baffled that they ended Charlotte's streak at Fastlane when they had the ref clearly see Sasha interfere in the match. They could have given Bailey a DQ victory and kept the streak intact for 'Mania.

Good grief, this was a weird show. 

Friday, 10 March 2017

Comic Reviews

This week: a lot of praising with faint damnation.

Inhumans vs. X-Men #6

Without wishing to spoil, this was a perfectly fitting end to this era of the X-Men: loud, action packed and dull. To call the final solution a literal plot device is to be generous. I mean, the whole “Endangered Species AGAIN” angle was never a winner and I'm all in favour of it ending but it really did boil down in the end to the characters flipping a switch to shut down a storyline that never worked.

There are a few consequences, of course, and the usual teases but at the end of the day I'm interested in seeing what happens with the X-Men next now they aren't shackled to the crappy status quo of the last couple of years and my interest in the Inhumans has not increased one iota.

Detective Comics #952
League of Shadows part two: The Five Fingers of Death

The core Bat-titles just don't disappoint these days. After last issue introduced Lady Shiva as the ultimate killing machine she always deserved to be, this issue we get to see her in action and get an answer to one of those “Is that thing I remember still canon?” questions that was just going to hover over the arc until it got addressed.

Most of the issue is fight scene, firstly polishing off last issue's cliffhanger and then moving into the big confrontation with Shiva. There's definitely a growing emphasis this arc on Orphan, which I for one wholeheartedly approve of. The more action Cass gets in this series the happier I am, especially now that Steph is off the board for the time being.

Christian Duce slots in to art duties this issue with a much more rounded and fluid style than the series has had up until now. I personally like it, it gives a lot of grace to Shiva's movements but I imagine the transition between styles in the collected edition is going to be downright painful to some.

Mother Panic #4
Broken Things part 1

Am I just being an old man about these Young Animals series?

Mother Panic is definitely my favourite of the Young Animals imprint, mostly because it gets to the point. Now, there are a lot of mysteries set up surrounding what happened to Violet Page as a child and how it affects her, both physically and emotionally, as an adult but the whole plot isn't drowning in obscurity. Take her headquarters: after the dreamlike introduction of the first arc we're presented with it now in more concrete terms. There's also Violet herself, who we get to see another side to as she's interviewed on a late night talk show, peeling back another couple of layers.

This series isn't just oddity for oddity's sake, which has seemed a bit of a problem for Doom Patrol and Shade The Changing Girl.

But is this just because its familiar? The art style and even the way the credits are arranged on the page have a very 1990s feel. Don't get me wrong, in every aspect of writing and production this is definitely superior to the comics I grew up with but I can't deny there's a certain comfort zone feeling to reading this series.

Star Wars: Doctor Aphra #5

I love the different flavour this series brings to Marvel's version of Star Wars. Okay, its a continuation of what was going on in Gillen's Darth Vader series but now Aphra is completely cut off from important canon characters who have to develop a certain way there's a lot more scope to explore the dirty side of the universe. Plus, Rogue One has come out now so the idea of Aphra isn't a million miles removed from the sort of characters we saw there.

I admit, I'm not that fussed about her relationship with her dad. It might be the whole hook of this first arc but I'm more interested in seeing which way Aphra and her band of merry bastards will jump in any given situation, especially the droids. Just imagining Triple Zero's dialogue in C-3PO's voice is a perverse pleasure all its own.

Jessica Jones #6

Well, someone's getting good at structure again. This has been a well-paced six issue arc, a nice little mystery with a satisfying conclusion that hasn't tried my patience at all. Issue 1 was big on in medias res and laying out a bunch of different plots that pretty much all came together here for a big finale. There's a bunch of other stuff to tie up, not least the status of Jessica's marriage, but those plots haven't been left to fester, they've all seen positive growth on an issue by issue basis.

Maybe its because this series and this character are Bendis' own baby that he pulls out the stops for it and avoids the kind of roadblocking filler that sometimes makes his ongoings a chore to read but it absolutely works and I hope this runs a damn long time. 

Thursday, 9 March 2017

GW: complex solutions to simple, unrelated problems

(This post deals with the rumoured conclusion of Games Workshop's Gathering Storm storyline and speculates on where that rumoured conclusion might lead. Whether the rumour is accurate or not I do not know but, please, treat this as spoilers and proceed accordingly).
A few days back, Lady Atia reported on her blog War Of Sigmar a short extract apparently from the conclusion of Gathering Storm III: Rise Of The Primarch:

The Gathering Storm is over.

We saw Cadia burn, a Craftworld shattered, and we followed Eldar and Saint into the nightmare. We saw a Primarch rise again, and we went to hell itself to reach Terra.

The Gathering Storm is over.

Old Night is once again upon us. the gods fight against each other and laugh. But we won't give up without a fight either. We will muster. A new Great Crusade must begin. For Terra, and for the Emperor!”

Okay, so this here's a rant that's been building for a long time.

See, a problem I think Games Workshop has is that it keeps addressing the wrong problems. They killed off my beloved Fantasy because it wasn't selling. Their solution was to destroy the world they'd spent decades building in order to create a new setting out of mangled Norse mythology that had golden Space Marines in it, retooling what units and ideas they could and discarding others including basically the entire continuity, almost every established character and every setting they'd ever created.

Why this was the first instinct to a sales problem in a game that had seen massive per unit price rises in an edition that simultaneously incentivized taking forty man or larger block units is anyone's guess.

And now they're blowing shit up again. They blew up Fenris, they blew up Cadia and by the looks of things the whole galaxy is about to get a bad case of warp storm. Also, as with Age Of Sigmar, it looks like there's going to be shift of emphasis away from the ordinary footslogging human level to the level of warring gods.

The problem with 40k, as so many people claim loudly on forums and comment threads, is that it does not advance. Now, I can understand the complaint and once you'd lived through a couple of editions the fact that every few years you buy yet another Codex for your favourite army for which you get incrementally higher production values, one or two new units, a slight points rebalancing and exactly the same background with a polishing rewrite does get a bit frustrating.

But has it occurred to anyone that maybe just blowing up whole settings is probably not a sustainable way to grow the story?

I mean, they've chopped Fenris and Cadia. So much of the unique character of the Space Wolves comes from living on that ice-covered, pre-feudal hellhole. Similarly, Cadians are the go to, bog standard Guardsmen in their fiction and now they're a finite resource in the universe.

Cadia and Fenris are both planets with unique characters within the universe, with aspects many writers have used to craft brilliant stories. Blowing them up was good for a moment of shock value, even if going for the same shock value twice is a pretty dumb mistake professional writers should know better than, but it doesn't subsequently offer anything new for the Space Wolves or the Cadian Shock Troops to do. It turns the Space Wolves into yet another chapter who lost their homeworld except that most chapters with that background usually didn't have such a strong and developed investment in their origins as the Space Wolves do (everything from their psyker training to the board games they play are established to have a strong connection to Fenris). Meanwhile, every Cadian regiment in the galaxy is just the Tanith First & Only without the Scottish nationalism and we've already had thirteen novels and a short story collection featuring those guys (and please, please release The Warmaster soon, Black Library), nevermind the fact that a couple decades further down the timeline they'll just all be dead or charging out of the trenches on their grav-zimmers.

This isn't plot progression, this is empty spectacle seemingly building to the creation of a Horus Heresy-esque status quo with a new Old Night and a new Great Crusade.

Well, okay, but there are warp storms everywhere already and its not like the Imperium is short on crusades left, right and centre. Mainly right, ultra far right (fascism joke). Its not actually much of a change and how screwing over the Cadians and Space Wolves (the latter, at least being a really, really popular faction) was useful in setting it up is questionable at best.

Its just massive overcompensation. Instead of actually taking a look at the dozens and dozens of potential plot hooks they've been dangling for the end of the 41st millennium in their Codex timelines and using those to drive the plot forward one army at a time they just decide to make a big noise blowing up perfectly useful planets for show and trying to make the setting more like The Horus Heresy because that system is massively popular with high-spending players.

Oh, well, its not as if I paid much attention when they destroyed the Warhammer World, is it?

Wednesday, 8 March 2017

International Women's Day: Be Bold For Change

Today is International Women's Day, an event that is probably more necessary now than at any other point in my lifetime.

(Oh, and just to forestall the usual bullshit: there is an International Men's Day, it is on November 19th every single year and if you cared about serious discussion of issues peculiar to men instead of using the idea as a gotcha at the mean feminists, perhaps you'd have taken the five seconds necessary to Google it and not need me to tell you).

I mean, where to start? Pay disparity is a hardy perennial, of course, and the theme for last year's IWD Pledge For Parity campaign; the Global Gag Rule was reinstated, putting the lives of potentially tens of thousands of women at risk; last year's US election will be keeping Gender Studies academics in textbook material for decades; and, for reasons beyond sane comprehension, the revelation that Emma Watson has breasts and can still call herself a feminist has shocked the civilised world.

I was raised by women. My dad was around but he had to travel a lot for work: he was an engineer, it was the aftermath of Thatcher's Recession and the only job he could get meant a massive car journey to the next county over so the raising of me, the actual teaching of me to be a person, mainly fell to my mother and two grandmothers. I love my dad and we get on great now but the simple fact is that a lot of who I am came from those women.

Both of my grandmothers have passed on but I think about them a lot: one solid and practical, the other rather more flighty and jovial. I couldn't begin to list the lessons they taught me, the ways they helped me become the person I am.

So there's a reason I take women's issues seriously. I've known a lot of men who don't and I've often wondered what their lives must have been like to be like to think like that. Yes, these are usually the sort of men I shouted at in that parenthetical who think its unfair for women to have a day and not men even though it isn't and we do.

Fuckers, is the technical term, or misogynists if you're being polite, which I very rarely feel the need for these days (thank the paternal grandmother for that one, my mother's mother was very much the one for proper manners in all situations).

This year's IWD campaign is simply about being bold, about providing the leadership you can in the space you occupy. Whether the person doing it is in a position of power or getting involved in some project at the local level, its an act of rebellion and empowerment to create whatever change you can on whatever scale you can.

Because we just saw the largest co-ordinated protest march in history by women on every continent over a single issue. Feminism, like every liberal philosophy and movement, has some tough years ahead and I know, as a white man, I am speaking from a position of enormous privilege and being mildly queer doesn't take that away. We literally live in a world where even admitting on tape to sexual assault doesn't stop a man being elected President of the United States. I can't imagine a world where Donald Trump could have said that shit about grabbing my genitals and it be okay.

And that's why today is necessary, possibly more necessary than its been in a long time, but to quote the immortal words of Norman Stanley Fletcher: “Don't let the bastards grind you down.” 

Tuesday, 7 March 2017

Completed Model: Chaos Sorcerer Lord

Yes, I've decided to keep score. It feels good, its content and it appeals to a deep part of me that likes making lists. Going through my hobby posts from the last two months tells me that this is the twenty-second model I've completed this year and that's a nice feeling, so anyway...
Angrelthir, Lord Herald of the Last Banetower
The first finished model for my Tzeentch Chaos army: the plastic Sorcerer Lord. I wanted to try a few things with this model, some of them worked, some of them didn't.

The flesh method worked. Its a base of Rakarth Flesh shaded with Carroburg Crimson and drybrushed Changeling Pink. Its not a method I think I'll use on the other “human” units and characters but it might bear keeping in mind for when I start painting up Tzaangor (the blue flesh GW uses on their exemplar models would look too much like the blue cloth I'm going to use to tie the human units together).

I painted the base in a method I saw on a WarhammerTV painting tutorial (for the Balefire Realmgate, incidentally). I like how the stone came out with a Karak Stone drybrush and now I have a new way of doing “mountain” bases for my Dwarf units. Also, it turns out that Steel Legion Drab comes out pretty well on a Mechanicus Standard Grey base which was a surprising solution to a problem I've been having since I started doing base rims in Steel Legion: it doesn't cover over black or brown very well.

Always nice when you solve a problem by accident.

The bright silver armour, however, just doesn't work. It isn't terrible here, the gold breaks up the brightness, but I imagine if I painted the Warriors' armour like this outlined by a Thousand Sons Blue cape it will lack contrast. Right now I'm thinking Kantor Blue armour, as I've used for the shoulder guards and such on the Kairic Acolytes, but we'll see how I feel when I get there.

Models Completed (2017)
Chaos (Tzeentch): 1
Dwarfs: 5
Flesh Tearers: 6
Genestealer Cults: 5
Renegades & Heretics: 5


Monday, 6 March 2017

Why Logan works and Batman v. Superman didn't

(NO SPOILERS HERE. I'll probably put up a review at the end of the week but this is just a short, general terms discussion of things that are absolutely clear from the trailers and advertising).
Logan is a good film. Actually, its a bloody excellent film but the problem is that what makes it work is basically impossible to copy. Its not the 18 rating (in the US, over here it passed as a 15), though it certainly helps that Wolverine can finally use his claws on people as well as props.

No, what makes this film work is that Hugh Jackman and Patrick Stewart have been playing these characters for nearly twenty years. Watching these two living in a Mexican shack as broken old men has an emotional resonance that just telling Ben Affleck not to shave and trying to pass him off as an older Batman couldn't hope to.

This is actually a pretty big problem for DC: they keep trying to deconstruct things they never properly constructed in the first place. They tried to do the big blow out fight between Batman and Superman with a Batman we've never met before and a Superman we barely know; they've commissioned a Nightwing movie without doing any work on the idea of what Robin is so we can't appreciate what it is in this world for Dick to have moved on from the role; we were expected to care about Wonder Woman over a year before we got her origin story.
Not that I think DC are the only ones scheming away trying to work out how to make their own Logan. You can bet your arse that some misguided soul at Sony is trying to wrestle Spider-Man: Reign into a pitch document, an idea that might just have worked if Tobey Maguire was still in the role but there's not enough make-up on Earth to turn Tom Holland into Old Man Peter Parker so we'd end up with yet another live action Spider-Man.

So let's... not, okay? Let's allow a unique film based on unique circumstances no one could have planned to remain the singular little gem it is and move on to good ideas.


Sunday, 5 March 2017

Hobby Goal: Woodworking

This week I'm going to try to get the big production line stages finished on the Sylvaneth Wargrove. What I'll be aiming to finish are the largest block areas of colour common between most or all of the models in roughly this order:

1) The light interior wood, basically the joints and moving parts of the Treelord and Kurnoth Hunters using Rakarth Flesh, a Seraphim Sepia wash and an Ushabti Bone drybrush.

2) The hard exterior wood on all the models using Dryad Bark with a drybrush of the new Sylvaneth Bark dry compound where necessary. The Dryads will be based entirely like this, incidentally.

3) The remaining wood elements, such as weapon hafts and branches, in Mournfang Brown, washed Agrax Earthshade and tidied with another layer of Mournfang.

They're simple methods and all ones I've used for wood in the past so there's no trial and error here, just reliable methods I can be confident in. I might not get as far as finishing all the Mournfang wood but I feel confident I can at least get pretty far into the Dryad Bark stage. 

Saturday, 4 March 2017

Sylvaneth Month #1: The Village Green Preservation Society

Assembled and undercoated, this is my 1,000 points Matched Play list: a Branchwraith (my general), 20 Dryads (as one or two units, I'm not sure), 5 Tree-Revenants, 3 Kurnoth Hunters with Kurnoth Scythes, 5 Spite-Revenants and a Treelord. That's just shy of a thousand points.

I have to admit, the fact that a complete mid-size army weighs in at thirty-five models feels reassuringly achievable. Anyone I play will gladly tell you that I like my hordes of disposable minions and that I can turn any army into a horde army but when you're starting virtually from scratch a low model count is a blessing. Given my record with such things I'm not going to say anything to tempt fate like “Oh, I can probably get this done by the end of the month” but I should have something vaguely presentable in a couple of weeks, especially given that there are enough common colours I can probably production line a lot of the army.

Its not particularly optimised, as far as I can tell, its just based on what I had to hand and what I had a yen to paint. I absolutely wanted some of both Revenant units and the moment I saw the scythes I knew that was what my Hunters would be armed with.
I also had a little money left in my “Getting Started” budget so I also picked up my favourite AoS miniature: the Fyreslayers Auric Runemaster which did take me slightly over budget but I really like the model. That and I found a cheap copy of the Legends Of The Age Of Sigmar omnibus in the Oxfam Shop so that's my research material dealt with.

Hopefully I'll have some painting progress to report soon. 

Friday, 3 March 2017

Weekly Comic Reviews

This week Amerikate gets one step closer to canon, Bane develops the depth people always accused him of, a giant red Tyrannosaurus Rex loses on coolness points to a bowtie, my monstrous case of event fatigue worsens, and Nightwing proves why he really deserves that movie DC are going to royally fuck up.

America #1
Pa' Fuera, Pa' La Calle

I am not too clear on what's going on here, I suspect I missed a short story or something along the way because this just feels like something that had set-up somewhere else. Either that or wasting over a third of the issue on an Ultimates mini-adventure was a huge pacing mistake.

Anyway, the idea here is that America Chavez is going to university. Mad as balls sci-fi university with a holographic teacher and a Department of Radical Women & Intergalactic Indigenous Peoples. Also, Prodigy turns up, probably the last Young Avenger I expected to turn up anywhere let alone here, if I'm honest. The first Young Avenger I expected to turn up, Kate Bishop, dutifully does and if the creative teams aren't planning a crossover between their two titles somewhere down the line they're insane, these two are the best besties Marvel has right now.

Definitely a promising beginning but I hope we get to see a lot more of America on her own adventures and a lot less of her as leader of the Ultimates. I also hope there's more to Gabby Rivera's plans for Lisa the paramedic than we see in this issue. I'm an old romantic at heart, sue me.

Batman #18
I Am Bane part three

Good grief, but I love the core Bat-titles right now. Tom King has an excellent sense of structure, he knows better than so many other authors working right now how to structure a single issue as not just an actual chapter but as a singular experience. Not to mention that I really have to give kudos to David Finch and Danny Miki, who absolutely kill on the pages that present us with parallel takes on the origins of Bane and Batman.

As this storyline has built we've been given what so many Batman/Bane stories have lacked: a real sense of the two titanic wills that clash when these two men face each other. After all these years I'm finally starting to see what people like about Bane as a villain (as opposed to an anti-hero, which Gail Simone convinced me of years ago in Secret Six).

And, of course, King's take on Catwoman continues to impress and I really hope she gets her own series again sometime soon.

Unstoppable Wasp #3

In a series of strong, memorable characters designs, Nadia's latest girl genius recruit Lashayla is perhaps the strongest yet. Black lady Eleventh Doctor might not sound like much of a pitch but the end result is fantastic and her interest in teleportation as a science has a wonderful little origin. Also, for a moment it seems the writing is building her dad up to be an absolute ogre and then the whole thing gets turned on its head.

Jarvis continues to work well as Nadia's straight man and we finally get an appearance by Nadia's sort-of stepmother Janet “Your Mama's Wasp” Van Dyne, who has been conspicuously absent from the series given how important she was to Nadia's introduction in All-New All-Different Avengers. There are more recruitments and attempted recruitments, a bit of Devil Dinosaur, Nadia's reunion with what I will continue to refer to as her ex-girlfriend until canon tells me otherwise (and probably not even then), and the return of a villain I honestly thought I'd imagined because no one else remembered her.

Not that the issue is without disappointment. I did not expect to be saying this, even after enjoying their dynamic so much last issue, but I wish Nadia and Moon Girl's meeting was more than a bookselling crossover. Who knows, maybe somewhere down the line they'll team up again. Still, the book's supporting cast is rounding out nicely with original creations who have strong enough character designs that they shouldn't fall into the mire of “Which one were you again?” that a lot of large civilian casts in superhero comics tend to fall into after a while.

Totally Awesome Hulk #1.MU

Its a bad sign when I'm three issues behind on an event series and the tie-ins are still providing me with perfectly functional entertainment. I may be looking a gift horse in the mouth here but that's not how its meant to work. I've read literally only the first issue of Monsters Unleashed, feel little pull to catch up on the series itself and yet the random #1.MU one-shots are more than enough for me. I liked the All-New X-Men, Avengers and All-New Wolverine ones and the Champions issue is quite high on the to do list even if I missed it on release week so I'm not reviewing it here.

Hell, this issue alone gives me something to rant about because Ty Templeton, artist on the main feature, uses a change in art style the way a change in art style is meant to be used: to serve the bloody story. Okay, most times when art changes its because of an emergency situation but sometimes its intentional and if it were handled this well even half the time it would be a lot less intrusive. The art style changes at a specific point to make a specific point.

There's also a Maddy Cho and Lady Hellbender back-up story that's a good little character study even if the pay-off leans more towards “please read the main series, James” than seems rational at this point. All in all, I think I'll probably remember this event for the fun done-in-one issues like this taking characters I love and setting them up against Kaiju and classic comic monsters rather than... whatever is actually going on in the main series that I'll maybe get around to at some point.

Also, is South Korean hero White Fox a new character or something dug up from the Marvel vaults? I like her design even if her character doesn't deviate much from the standard template super spy. Well, I just read the triumphant comeback of Lady Hellbender, maybe White Fox will turn up again some day.

Nightwing #16
Nightwing Must Die part one

Funny how nostalgia works. On the one hand, the days of Grant Morrison writing Dick and Damian as Batman and Robin in their flying Batmobile don't feel that long ago. Then again those days were a decade and three massive line-wide shake-ups ago. I might as well admit to myself that “DickBats”, as those days are affectionately known, are long enough ago that DC can get away with doing a reunion story that trades on nostalgia for that run right down to a cameo by the flying Batmobile.

And damn me if this issue isn't an absolute manifesto for the movie DC could (and, inevitably, won't) make out of this property. We see Dick having fun as Nightwing, beating down on some z-list armour car robbers and not only loving every minute but acknowledging that he's loving every minute. The central dramatic tensions of the issue comes from his relationship with his ex-supervillain girlfriend and from Damian's insecurities about which of them will carry on the Batman legacy some day.

Hell, there's even a nod to Dick's past relationship with Starfire, a couple of lines that could have been a whole story in and of itself, a story I would have loved to read.

And in an insane coincidence, it seems that this series might even be about to show the world how to do the terrible, grimdark 90s villain I was afraid would come along to spoil the movie. Funny how these things turn out.