you can't tell from the image, but there is an embossed lady of pain on the cover, crying a tear of blood. nobody else seems to think it is good graphic design, but i'm more the target audience, so screw them! i was disinclined to like this; i like the factions of sigil. they made enough sense, & little enough sense, to be plausible organic groups. really added to the planes; instead of lining up along alignment axes, they line up along opinions? gold. so coming into, knowing that it was the death knell of planescape, i had my concerns. at the same time, i mean; you can't just tell tame status quo stories. see! torn! & i can only assume that monte cook (& some other guy- sorry other guy, amazon doesn't have your name & the book is at home) knew planescape was on its way out. was this even maybe the last book for it? i could believe that. one last thing about "letting go"; after reading the factol's manifesto (did i forget to review that?) i realized that the factions had only existed in sigil for 600 years or so. i guess history made it easier on me.
the book itself is, really, the kind of adventure module that i wish still came out. rather than a linear or even flow chart design, the story is based more around events; the pc's can interact with them as they feel like. they can ally or oppose, the can kill or save, they can take the money & run, whatever. a few of the bits were great; a few were whatever. spheres of annihilation on the loose! great. evil monomotive hag, boring. over all the greats had it by far. i even almost cared about rowan darkwood or whatever. i mean, not quite enough, but the book did a great job of underselling him/overselling him. everytime his ambitions were discussed, there was always "poor berk. he's a clueless, though, not a blood. can't see how barmy it is to go up against the Lady. primes just miss the point." so yeah; cute.
exemplars of evil by robert j. schwalb, eytan bernstein, creighton broadhurst, steve kenson, kolja raven liquette, & allen rausch.
who is this book for, is my question. i mean, it boils down to thirty (30) pages about "villain archetypes" & then aproximately fifteen (~15) pages about nine (9) villains. the first bit is...something that has been in a dozen books so far, & that i've gotten no use out of. "your villains need...a motive! your villains need...skills!" yeah, okay? check. maybe this book is written for, you know, a less venerable gamer. you know, a thirteen year old coming to the table for the first time, wondering how to go about making a campaign big bad. do those guys need this book? if so, i'm not begrudging; but i don't. each of the villain entries were...okay. they had cute moments, even. but who is the guy saying "you know what. i'm not really into this whole inventing npcs thing." i guess i fundamentally don't get this style, especially when contrasted with the above faction war. that was all "you probably have a trustworthy npc from your player's adventures. use him or her here." the style of dungeon mastering that takes all the creation out of the dm's hands? what is that? i mean, there are good ideas to be found inside of here. "the thing in the hold" was pretty great, the vampiric red dragon companion i really like, & the al-iborak were sold to me on the basis of the drawing alone. but i mean...i wouldn't have looked at this book if we hadn't gotten it into the store without my effort. sorry, but i'm just not interested except to kill time on the train.
new avengers: civil war by brian michael bendis, howard chaykin, pasqual ferry, & olivier coipel.
okay, first, i've said this a million times but i want to say it again: civil war sucked. it was a gigantic pandering fest, & there wasn't really any political allegory other than the most middle-brow, ham-fisted kind (fascism is bad!). then they killed captain america at the end, proving that marvel is just trying to ape dc's sales tactics from a decade ago. don't get my started pointing my finger at you, dc-- you've got just as much to answer for. but anyhow, civil war happened. here, lets talk about some of the comics that had the chance to be any good. okay, issue twenty-one (#21); nice to see steve drawing, but um...howard chaykin, i don't think you are a very good artist. issue twenty-two (#22); god-damn, see, i told you there might be a couple of diamonds in all this coal. the art is great, the story is fucking solid, & luke cage is a character that can actually make the racial comparisons without it sounding lame (like captain america should have been doing with the nazis. cheap, but captain america-- & i guess nick fury-- are the only two people that are exempt from godwin's law). plus, luke cage has a neighborhood, & a girlfriend. or wife by this point. good. issue twenty-three (#23) is another piece of silver lining on this cloud; but whatever happened to spider-woman? & why is iron man's package hanging out there like david bowie's in labyrinth? seriously, bendis had a good stretch of making jessica drew valid; i don't want to lose that. issue twenty-four (#24) was a whatever issue. good to see the inhumans always, but it includes tony stark being a relentless dick for no reason. sorry iron man, but if you fly to the moon & zap a member of the royal family for no good reason, black bolt should tan your hide. seriously, i'm on the team that is sick of you getting the crap kicked out of you in everybody's magazine. i'm on that team. but this stretched credibility. i'm pretty sure american sovereignty doesn't extend to the moon, asshole. okay. so that is a slip up; then in issue twenty-five (#25) the whole comic is...iron man getting....scolded? this was a fucking boring issue, but at least it made iron man director of shield (an interesting idea). now...where is maria hill? i want her to be shield's number one (#1) agent, all kicking ass & shit. is that happening in some comic i'm not reading?