Some TV, some gaming, and a relaunch makes this a true morning ramble. I continue my look at the first episode of American Gods, I advance in baby steps in Destiny, and I eagerly begin the install of Secret World Legends – I am so looking forward to this game and hope it takes off from where TSW left things.
As usual, I’m all over the place with my Morning Ramble today taking a further look at American Gods, finishing off the World’s Grave in Destiny, and looking to pre-order merchandise for Comic-Con 2017…less than a month to go.
Destiny: Finishing with the World’s Grave
Well, last time I got close. I made it past wave upon wave of baddies, took out a slew of knights, and blew up the Siphon Witches with headshot from my sniper rifle. But…I didn’t get past Telthor the Unborn before I had to log off.
Today I head back to the World’s Grave to finish off what I started.
The Siphon Witches are just so cool looking, but other than rapid fire shots, they’re not too difficult since they don’t move too much. It’s pretty easy to snipe them and then get down to the rest of the swarm.
For more on my travels, check out my Destiny journal.
American Gods: The Prison
In this installment, I continue to look at The Bone Orchard and specifically the Prison scenes from about the 7:28 mark to about 14:47 when Shadow leaves the relatively sheltered life of the facility.
So basically after we’re introduced to the show by way of the Vikings trials and death, we’re thrown into a prison where we meet Shadow Moon played by Ricky Whittle.
Here we see Shadow making a wry observation that the best thing about prison is you don’t have to worry about if they’re gonna get you since “they” already got you. And I can see this comment as being relevant to the belief systems and gods that flow throughout the story, who I’m pretty sure are gonna make a play at getting Shadow on their side.
His next words also look to be telling about his character since he claims he’s willing to believe things when there’s evidence and reason to believe but not when its something he can’t see. So while Shadow’s not superstitious, he’s open to influence given the right circumstances. He then says he feels like there’s an axe hanging over his head even though he can’t see it…perhaps he’s a bit more open to faith than he let’s on. With his comments on his belief system made, we flash to a gratuitous glimpse of a bunch of white supremacists playing with a noose…regardless of the foreshadowing, how’d they get that in the prison yard without the guards going crazy?
Anyway, we next see Shadow talking with his wife on the phone with only 5 days to go until he’s released but he still feels a ominous foreboding that I think Whittle expresses pretty well. I know him from The 100 where he played one of the more prominent Wildlings but he’s being asked to act a lot more to carry this series than his supporting role in that show required, and so far I’m liking what I’ve seen.
The next big scene is the actual bone orchard the episode gets it’s name from. Shadow dreams he’s in a forest with dead trees and skeletons littering the ground.
There’s a huge tree in the center of this forest that “marks” him by scratching his cheek with a branch and then we see it drop a noose from another limb…Shadow wakes up. Actually, he’s buzzed awake by a guard.
It turns out the warden needs to speak with him. We learn he was sentenced to 6 years for aggravated assault and battery and had served 3 of those years and was gonna be released on Friday. But they’re letting him out early on account of his wife dying in a car accident that night. Guess that foreboding feeling had a basis in reality after all.
- Shadow’s had an interesting past and is not afraid of violence.
- He loved his wife (Whittle showed some good emotion in his scenes featuring her even though he was on the screen by himself) and she him (at least that’s what she’s said).
- Something’s going on with that noose they keep showing.
- He was well behaved in prison and was gonna be released early anyway.
- I think Shadow pretty much represents “everyman” in that he’s willing to believe things that he can see, that he has a good reason to believe, or that he has a strong feeling about, but he is somewhat skeptical.
Next time I’ll take a look at what Shadow does when he leaves the prison and the first impression of Mr. Wednesday.
Comic-Con 2017: Con Merchandise
Comic-Con merchandise was announced this week and is available for pre-order from their website.
They’ve got 5 different designs for t-shirts, book and tot bags, tiki mugs, and baseball caps. This year, they’re requiring that you have a badge for Comic-Con 2017 to order shirts and stuff, and you need to go through the Member ID system. Personally, I’m liking the Jack Kirby Centennial and of course the standard Toucan and I need one of those hats.
I’m kinda all over the place in todays morning ramble taking a look at another comic I’ve been reading, stepping back into Destiny, reading about the upcoming Steam sale, and reading a newspaper article about honoring Luke Skywalker.
Mark Hamill Drive
While the city council recently voted to keep the citizens disenfranchised in choosing what to do with Jack Murphy Stadium in Mission Valley and expanding the downtown convention center, they have no problem unanimously approving a street name change to “Mark Hamill Drive”.
Apparently Luke Skywalker lived on the street way back when and went to school nearby so the council decided to take action. Sure, it’s not as expensive as a allowing the citizens to vote to expand the convention center so Comic-Con can continue to be held in the city for the foreseeable future, but at least I get to drive by an homage to Star Wars on my way home from work everyday.
Destiny: World’s Grave
It’s been quite a while since I put together anything related to Destiny, but I have been playing it somewhat. I’m hoping to make some traction in posting about where I’m at in the game and get rolling again. When I last left off it was April and I was standing in front of the Temple of Crota and gearing up for my next big fight.
Getting though the initial bad guys wasn’t much of an issue but I did meet an Ogre for the first time. This guy is pretty tough but I got past him alright and I headed down to the World’s Grave.
But that didn’t stop me – I quickly respawned and came back to take them on again. This time I remembered to wait until their shield went down before I started shooting the big guys. They didn’t stand a chance.
Getting past them, I shot up a bunch of Acolytes as I headed to find the Siphon Witches…they were my next big target.
This guys had a very fast fire rate but I quickly figured out that I could easily take them out with my sniper rifle – bam, bam, bam 3 head shots and no witches. But there was more to this section of the World’s Grave.
That of course meant – there’s gonna be a ton of baddies showing up real soon…be prepared. I counted at least 3 Knights that I had to take down in the 1st wave alone and there seemed to be a never ending series of waves. Then Telthor, Unborn showed up.
For more on my travels, check out my Destiny journal
The Beginning of the Darkseid War
Yesterday I jumped back into a bit of DC Rebirth reading – actually I’m still leading up to Rebirth and am a few dozen issues away from the starting event but there’s plenty going on.
There was a shakeup in the reading list I was following and instead of reading Titan’s Hunt immediately after the Aquaman Out of Darkness story, the list now calls for a read of Justice League Darkseid War. This was coming up fast anyway and since the reading order is a moving target, I’m fine with the switch.
Justice League #40 is the prologue to the Darkseid War which looks like it’s gonna be a pretty big event in the New 52 universe. While I’ve never read any comics with Darkseid in them, I have heard of him and I’ve always thought of him as a pretty big player in the world of DC Comics…as in he hurts a lot of people. For the most part though, this issue revolves around someone called Metron and it seems to cover multiple iterations of the DC Universe.
I certainly didn’t understand all of it but it was an interesting read. Some of the pages have incredibly detailed art and make me wish I actually knew who all the characters depicted are. More important, this is what I remember from reading Justice League as a kid – they always seemed to have pages full of wide-screen, edge to edge conflicts with tons of heroes and villains. But then I used to know everyone back then and that was before the universe was rebuilt multiple times. I don’t know who put together the art for these huge shots, but there are 6 artists on pencils (Jason Fabok, Phil Jimenez, Dan Jurgens, Scott Kolins, Jim Lee, and Kevin Maguire) and another 7 artists on inks (Jason Fabok, Phil Jimenez, Scott Kolins, Kevin Maguire, Jaime Mendoza, Jerry Ordway, and Scott Williams) and they’re really impressive layouts. In any case, it was a good start to what looks like a major event.
Steam Summer Sale
Finally, it has been confirmed that the Steam Summer Sale is gonna begin on Friday. Multiple sources have published reports about the start date, but I didn’t see anything official on the Steam store. I do believe the reports though. In any case, it’s time to go bargain hunting again. Personally, I’ve got a love-hate relationship with the Steam sales. I love to see and buy all the discounted titles but I hate that it simply builds up my backlog of games I never finish. Worse still, I’m pretty sure I’ve got over 100 games in my library that I haven’t even installed, much less started up. And yet every year I add more. Too many titles sound enticing and like something that could be really good. Or they get great reviews and are in a genre I enjoy.
Sure the deals are great, but I have to work hard this year to resist the urge to buy them all…we’ll see how well I succeed.
I’d be lying if I said I didn’t like mythology, but recently I’ve been feeling a bit overwhelmed by Norse Mythology.
In SMITE, in Marvel Heroes Omega, on American Gods, in Marvel comics…all kinds of references to Thor or Odin or Ymir. It’s interesting to think about the old days when everything was attributable to Superbeings. Creation, fertility, thunder, pestilence, famine, rain, all were considered the realm of the gods. And you better be on their good side.
In SMITE, I’ve not played much Thor or Ymir, but I did pick up Odin and gave him a whirl. He’s got some good CC with his abilities and AOE, but his Ultimate is a challenge that demands enemies trapped to stay and fight – it definitely means a team fight is gonna happen – no running away.
In Marvel Heroes, I just tried Thor for a few levels and he’s the first hero I’ve encountered where I actually feel the cooldown delay in some of his abilities. His first AOE attack – Son of Odin calls down a lightning strike that hits everyone nearby, but it’s got a 12 second cooldown. It really feels like it’s longer. Perhaps it’s because his Hammer Strike ability is a melee skill and I don’t enjoy melee as much as ranged combat. I’ll have to give him some more levels to see how I like him.
In the Marvel Comics, I’m continuing to read through the Avengers Disassembled event and have gone through a few issues of Michael Oeming’s Thor. I’m enjoying it but there are certainly a lot of characters mentioned. It seems like they opened up the old Dieties & Demigods handbook from D&D and listed off everyone from Norse Mythology. Balfour, Loki, Vidal, Odin, Ymir, Sif, Volstagg – so many, and so many I don’t know anything about. I’m hoping this helps me understand Thor better afterwards, but I almost feel like I’m back in school having all these mythological names thrown at me.
The most interesting version of the Norse gods may be on American Gods where the whole idea is that if people keep the idea and thoughts of the old gods alive in the present day, then they continue to exist. Thinking of that, perhaps all these references to mythology are a means to do just that – keep these gods alive even in a world ruled by science and technology.
In today’s Morning Ramble I take a look at the next issue in my DC reading list – Superman 33 from the New 52 line, and I think up a few tips while playing Marvel Heroes Omega on the PS4.
Superman #33: The Men of Tomorrow: Part 2
Superman 33 continues the Men of Tomorrow story arc and in it we learn more about Ulysses, who we met last issue, and the situation at the Daily Planet.
Perry White wants a story on the new teamup between Superman and Ulysses but no one seems to know a thing until Clark shows up but he has other things on his mind. Apparently Mr. White wrote an article for the paper about the Ulysses Research Lab and their attempt to break the dimensional barrier. He also covered the disaster at the lab after they opened a link to the second dimension. Before we learn anything further, Ulysses shows up at the Planet and causes a commotion. After Clark explains the nuances of “secret identity” to Ulysses, Superman heads to the destroyed research lab to find out about Ulysses origin and what happened to the scientists. As Superman investigates the lab, Ulysses goes out about town and encounters some “Green Army Men” that look suspiciously like Titano did in the last issue. The two heroes take down the army men and Superman takes Ulysses to meet his parents who actually survived the disaster at the lab.
So Ulysses has a similar origin story to Superman but it turns out his world and his parents didn’t die. 20+ years in another dimension without human interaction, though, would definitely make you a different person but it seems Ulysses is decent enough. We’ll see what impact the revelation that they’re still alive has on this Man of Tomorrow and hopefully gain a better insight on who this reaper type dude is and why there are so many Titano type robots running around.
My main takeaways from this issue are:
- Not sure I like the comment on how a 1 hour fight between Superman and Titano equates to a week of gridlock in terms of climate change – I wonder how much globo-whabo would happen if Superman didn’t fight Titano
- Trying to break the dimensional barrier makes me think of Buckaroo Banzai
- Cat Grant is mentioned as being hired back by the Daily Planet – I only know her from the Supergirl TV show.
- Something is up with these Titano type robots but I’m not sure what
- Klerik was the sworn enemy of the world Ulysses adopted, he was banished and he’s now hibernating at the Stryker’s Island Prison – I suspect he might wake up soon.
- The reaper type dude shows up at the end and says Clark has “to be alone…for now”
A lot goes on in this issue and I enjoyed the art, pacing, and advancing of the plot. I rate it a B+, the same as last issue, primarily for the reveal of Ulysses’ parents and their survival.
Marvel Heroes Omega
- Make sure you go through the tutorial for each character. With the tutorial you advance to level 3 or 4 and gain access to your main skills that you’ll need to at least get through the beginning of the game. What I found was if I went into the game as say Deadpool at level 1 I didn’t have an AOE attack or a slow. All I had at that point where my pistols which while they did some damage, took an awful long of time to take down any of the mobs. Going through the tutorial set me up to level 4 and I not only had my four main skills to start but I also had some equipment to give me some damage and some defense mitigation.
- Try to make sure you’re using the best equipment at these early levels because every little piece of damage and defense can make a big difference at this point in the game.
- It took me a while to figure this out, but once you get your 5th ability you need to start using the L2 trigger. While the 4 buttons on the controller work well for your initial 4 skills, the 5th get placed on the X button, when you press the L2 trigger. It takes a bit of getting used to but you should pay attention since I figure that the 6–8th abilities will also require the L2 trigger.
The game’s been fun so far but I haven’t progressed any further than I did with Marvel Heroes 2016 on my PC. I am trying out different heroes this time though – Iceman and Deadpool so far are working out well.
Today I take a found out about and downloaded the beta for Marvel Heroes Omega, I planned at least one panel I’m going to at Comic-Con, and I finished off my Marvel Reading from 1962.
Marvel Heroes Omega on PS4
Stan Lee Coming to San Diego Comic-Con
Over the past couple of years, he’s pulled back from visiting every convention in the country to only a few and I’m thankful San Diego is still on his hit list. It’s always good to see an icon like this…and he’s still making significant impacts on pop culture after so many years in the industry. I only hope I’m as active at his age.
Tales to Astonish #38
55 years ago, Stan helped pen Tales to Astonish 38 and he’s still going strong today. While TtA 38 wasn’t the best issue of the series in 1962, it did introduce Egghead who will show up from time to time in the Marvel Universe. In this issue, Egghead is drafted by the local mob to take care of Ant-Man since they can’t conduct any crime with the miniature hero around town. Egghead plans to use the ants and flypaper against our hero but he appeals to the insect’s sense of greed where they have none. Instead, they are friends with Ant-Man and betray Egghead to help out their friend.
The set up for Egghead is pretty good as a scientist spurned by the government. It’s clear the feds push the brilliant man towards a life of crime and it’ll be interesting to see where he goes after this – he did get away in the end. The mobsters, though, get caught and thrown in jail.
As the last issue of Marvel 1962, I feel a bit of sadness that the year is over, but I’m looking forward to what 1963 will bring. As for this issue, I give it a C and hope for more.
The Fantastic Four are broke. Yup, Reed made some dicey gambles on the stock market and lost all their money; they’re gonna have to sell the Baxter Building, the Pogo Plane, and all the neat gizmos Reed built for them. But all is not lost as they get a letter from a Hollywood studio to make movies. Arriving in California, the team learns the studio is owned by Sub-Mariner and he’s got plans for a great superhero movie, so they sign on for a million dollars. But once filming starts, we learn that Namor has plans to destroy each of the team one-by-one. He sends Mr. Fantastic to an island to face the Cyclops, Johnny is dropped off on an island where the local tribe has a fire immunity potion, Namor decides to fight Thing in hand-to-hand combat for supremacy, and I think the worst is the sleazy way he gropes Sue as she tries to evade him. Each of our heroes overcomes their obstacles with their superpowers and regroup to face Sub-Mariner who in the end is saved by Sue’s sense of decency and the fact they need his money.
- The artwork is pretty cool, particularly some of the Hollywood scenes with the different actors of the time hanging about, and I think Kirby has settled on how he wants to depict both Thing and Human Torch after 9 issues.
- Namor/Sub-Mariner seems to be the big bad of the first year of the Fantastic Four since he shows up as the villain 3 times (4,6,9) while Dr. Doom only has 2 guest appearances (5,6).
- Regardless of how gropey Namor gets, Sue still defends him – she sure seems to like the bad boy.
- Alicia seems destined to stick around as Ben Grimm/Thing’s friend – at least she was only an accessory to crime, not the actual criminal.
In my view this was a pretty decent issue and I rate it a B+. I hope this signals a trend in Marvel heading into 1963.
Made it to Venus in Destiny
While I’m not technically considering this part of my steps through Destiny, I do feel like I made an accomplishment that I had to commemorate with a screenshot. I finally made it to Venus and am starting on the quests there. Actually, I had to reinstall Secret World the other day so I took some time away from my computer and jumped on my PS4. From my experience, Destiny is a game I can easily shift back into whenever the feeling strikes – the controls are pretty straight forward and there are not to many complications other than point and shoot. Sure, you have to avoid too much damage and it helps to know who has a shield or who can teleport, but the game is forgiving enough that you can figure these things out as you go…at least that’s how it seems at my low teens level. It’s also nice that I don’t have to struggle to find a build guide to try to min/max my character so far. Sure, I enjoy having a guardian that can easily take things down, but I don’t feel that I have to follow what others have done in order to enjoy the game. In any case, I think I’m about half way through the basic game and then I’ve got a bunch of expansions to get through before the next version comes out. I’m looking forward to getting through this story to see where it leads.
Morning Ramble 337 covers a variety of interests from trying out Kukulkan in SMITE to learning about the Eisner Award Nominations and my reading plans for the month of May. I’ve kinda broken up my plans for May right now since I didn’t put a full post together with my thoughts so I’ll try things this way and see how they go.
Oh, and I figured out that this was the 337th Morning Ramble so I wanted to track it more like a comic book numbering scheme rather than by the date.
I started on my quest to master 10 gods by the end of May with a few games of Janus and Kukulkan. Both seem to be pretty decent mages with some interesting abilities. KuKu does some really good damage when he gets some items and I love Janus’ ability to send enemies into the void zone. I have to say though that it really doesn’t seem who I play as, Bellona seems to always be in my games and whichever team she’s on wins. I’m gonna have to give her a try one of these days since from where I’m sitting, she has nearly a 100% win rate.
Eisner Award Nominees
The Eisner Award nominees have been announced and I am looking forward to reading a bunch of them before Comic-Con. Brian K. Vaughan received 2 nominations for Best Continuing Series with both Paper Girls and Saga nominated. I’ve read a bit of both these and they’re on my short list for future reading. The other competitors for the category include Astro City by Kurt Busiek, Kill or Be Killed by Ed Brubaker, and The Mighty Thor by Jason Aaron. It’s funny that I’ve read both BKV series but none of the others that were nominated, but it means I have some good stuff to look forward to.
Plans for May – Books
I was looking at my plans for April and what I accomplished and I felt pretty good about the amount of reading I got done. I read 5 books in April when I set out to read 4. This month will have the same goal – read 4 books. I’ve adjusted my goals a little since previously I focused on reading novels, mostly SciFi and Fantasy books, but with last month, I started reading some non-fiction and it was pretty good. So which 4 books should I focus on? I’m already reading the Pulitzer Prize winning Black Flags: The Rise of Isis by Joby Warrick as my non-fiction focus for the month and I know I’ve got The Day I Died by Lori Rader-Day to read for my Mysterious Galaxy Book Club. I think I’ll leave the others up in the air for now until I get to them…sometimes I feel more like a SciFi book or a Fantasy story so I can adjust as I see fit. One interesting thing in my reading of Asimov is that the next book – Robots and Empire – is not on Kindle for some reason; and I didn’t see it on Audible either, Amazon doesn’t even sell it themselves, it’s only on their third party sellers list. Not sure what’s up with that, but I suppose I’ll have to carry around an actual book to read.
Morning Ramble for May 2nd, 2017 in which I get my first disconnect in SMITE, I’m queried by HiRez about how I feel for obviously mismatched games, and I look back at the month of April for my Angels…they did pretty good surprisingly.
Today I experienced a disconnect for the first time and of course it was not fun. I’m not sure exactly what happened but I was simply playing Ra in the mid lane and about 5 minutes into the game, I was staring at a black screen. I alt-tab’d out and back to no avail and when I tried again, I saw some dialog with an Anti-Cheating failure asking me to click. I suppose the anti-cheating app crashed and that screwed up the game. I closed everything down and restarted and got back into the match without any further issues, but when I got back in, I saw that I was in base, facing away from the game and I had 2 other teammates sitting there as well. Loki seemed to be stuck partway down mid lane and a minute later – he disconnected. Only one of my team didn’t disconnect and I wonder if perhaps they were the cause of the anti-cheating crash, but who knows.
So I go from that game to one in which it’s pretty clear the Match Maker screwed up. HiRez even asked afterwards what my thoughts were on the balance of the match. We lost something like 7–33 and it was a clear rout. There was never a point in the game where we had any chance to even feel like we were competing in the game. It was 0–7 before 3 minutes into the game and they had 2 of our towers down by 5 minutes – it was crazy.
Two quick surrenders and I finally ended up in a game where our team had a chance. I played Ra mid lane and did pretty well. I didn’t rack up many kills – only 3, but I had the fewest deaths on our team – 5. We were dominating for most of the game and I feel I was contributing with lane control and vision – I actually purchased wards and started learning where to place them. It helped but it wasn’t enough since we had a 0–14 Cernunnos on our team. Even though we lost, it was a fun game since we were competitive as opposed to the previous 2 games.
Angelic in April
I have to say I’m surprised that my Angel team pulled off a successful April. They eked out a win the last game of the month against Texas to take the series and their 3rd series of the month. Sadly they lost 4 series including a 0–3 match to KC and a 1–3 set to Houston. They did finish the month with a winning record at 14–13 though and they sit in 2nd place in the AL West. With so many injuries – Richards on the 60-day DL, Skaggs out for 10–12 weeks, Cron and Bedrosian on the 10-day DL, and Tropeano and Heaney not even expected to pitch this year, it’s surprising they can field a full team some nights. Trout has really carried the team so far with his best April ever. His 7 HR, 18 RBI, 2 3B, 9 doubles and his .364 average and .707 slugging percentage are all tops for him in April and he’s near the top in many categories in the AL. Hopefully he can continue to carry the weight of the team while the injuries heal – perhaps they’ll then have a chance to play like I really want them to.
Morning Ramble for May 1st, 2017 in which I gush over the greatness of The Leftovers and the new American Gods TV shows, I recognize I have to start warding in SMITE, and I learn that I’m not so far in 1st place in my fantasy baseball league as I thought.
My team performed well again this week but I was surprised to discover an emerging trend. While I’ve won most of my match ups, my nearest competitor has beat me 3 outta the 4 weeks we’ve been scoring. It’s not by much, but even this week, while I won 11 outta the 14 competitions, he beat me 13–5–2, sweeping me in the offensive categories and almost winning each of the counting stats in pitching. I’ve gotta look into things or I stand to fall outta 1st place.
I managed to get in a bit of mid-lane Ra today and I think I did pretty well. One thing I need to work on is what I do after the laning phase. I’m usually pretty good hanging out in lane and knocking down the outer tower regardless of who I face, but I tend to get a bit lost after that. If I try to roam, I seem to fall behind in level and then start getting killed in the jungle. It’s probably due to a scarcity of wards. I haven’t felt comfortable running around without mana and health pots yet so I haven’t been placing many wards and since I’m playing with others that seem to be learning the game, they aren’t placing much vision either. I’m thinking I’m gonna have to bite the bullet and start playing with fewer potions and more wards. Vision is so crucial in MOBAs that I need to start taking on that responsibility myself.
OMG! TV was great last night! American Gods premiered and was as good as I expected it to be. I think Ricky Whittle who plays Shadow Moon is turning out to be a better actor than I expected from just seeing him as Lincoln in The 100. He showed depth of emotion and I was impressed how director David Slade was able to tell a lot about his character by what he didn’t say as much as by his dialog. This is really gonna be a fun show to watch. I also watched what I consider the best episode of The Leftovers this season – Crazy Whitefella Thinking. Scott Glenn (Kevin Garvey Sr.) was great and I just love how the writers told such a good story that wove and circled and ended up being adventurous and emotional at all the right spots. The pacing was incredible and while the series’ main characters were not in the episode much, I still got a sense that things were moving forward significantly in the overall storyline – Australia makes so much more sense now.