Article

The Late Gamer Plays Grand Theft Auto V

A Review By Hidai Moya

I’m 7 years late to the party but I finally finished GTA V for the very 1st time. Being the #1 grossing action title in all of gaming history it had a lot to live up to.
As someone from California, what I respect most is its immaculate recreation of Los Angeles & the surrounding county as its playground for mayhem. It’s a very life like imitation of the streets of LA (I also found its graphic rendering very good).

Like GTA SA however its scope & broad nature can often make the gameplay feel too unfocused. Rockstar really likes to show off its world to the point where no one thing stands out from the crowd. Michael being a “Tony Soprano” clone, Franklin being a soft interpretation of a contemporary CJ more or less, & Trevor being a wildcard all have their own unique attractions as characters but none of them ever impressed me the way that someone like Tommy Vercetti did. As a result their individual goals felt less personal and more generic in the long run.
GTA V is a very polished game with numerous possibilities to stir things up. The driving & shooting is good but it’s not like I hadn’t gotten better experiences doing these things in more focused games about those genres.
In the end I was just “whelmed” by it all. It’s certainly a fun game but not the GOAT experience I had hoped it would be.
Grade B+

Comic Discussions: Brubaker’s Cap v Morrison’s Bats #10

By Christopher Franey & Rafael Encinas

Hello again friends and we welcome you back to our adventures in these amazing runs which also happens to feature the returns of Steve Rogers and Bruce Wayne.  I think we are in for amazing stories as we take a look at the trade paperbacks of Captain America:  Reborn (featuring Captain America Reborn 1 – 6 and the digital prologue) with Batman & Robin:  Batman & Robin Must Die! (featuring Batman & Robin vol 1 13 – 16 and Batman: the Return) alongside Batman:  the Return of Bruce Wayne (collecting Return of Bruce Wayne 1 – 6).  To make things easier in this discussion Rafa will be in ITALIC FONT and I will be in BOLD FONT.  So, Rafa why don’t you open things up and treat us to your awesome insights to Captain America Reborn by Ed Brubaker?  

Captain America Reborn tpb

Thank you, Chris! As always, having you to share in this experience makes reading through these tales that much more fun and insightful, and god! This was both a fun and insightful run of Captain America. Once again, Ed Brubaker knows how to set the pace to lead to an extravagant, memorable, and meaningful epic that could honestly be its own movie. Captain America: Reborn, like Batman: The Return of Bruce Wayne, as you will read shortly,  is a culmination of events carefully set in motion. Brubaker has done a fantastic job of spinning his story of legacy, sacrifice, and redemption. We started this run with two best friends in Bucky and Steve, and now we get a return to greatness with an awesome team-up of two Captain America’s that just feels so triumphant! 

interior art from Captain America Reborn #1

This is the payoff to all of Brubaker’s groundwork which is the actual return of Steve Rogers; the return of Captain America. We continue to get premium quality in writing with all conspiracies and mysteries laid out for us. This is Brubaker’s crescendo, his climax into Steve Rogers’ ultimate clash with The Red Skull. What I love about this story is how Brubaker explores Steve’s history once more to ultimately bring him back into the present. It is interesting how this espionage, action-thriller transforms into a science fiction adventure with time travel guns and Nazi mind prisons. It is a story of the unstoppable will of a man who refuses to let evil win. The return of Steve Rogers felt great, and I absolutely loved it. What were some things you loved about this story, Chris?

This was a great read and like you said, Rafa, it builds off of so much that Brubaker has created which helps me as a reader feel invested and validated with Cap’s return.  Plus two Captain Americas fighting side by side was such a great visual that I enjoyed and look forward to what is next.  Ed did so much with this series that there are so many talking points to look at; if we start with Steve Rogers himself, talk about the agony of having to be a passenger through your life but not being able to do anything for fear or destroying the timeline.  That was a very clever trap that Red Skull and company created for Steve and I like that Steve actually found a way to use their own plot against them by way of the Vision.  Once again the villains are just so much in this series but it works magnificently because at the time Marvel was going through the Dark Reign.  

interior art from Captain America Reborn #4

It was great to see Norman Osborn get involved, Dr. Doom has to share his genius once again and not let it be unsaid either, then to see Red Skull, Crossbones, and Sin all working this plan together was just awesome and not wasted pages or needless crossover.  Sharon Carter had great moments as well with deciding to stand and face her actions in order to save Bucky; Sam “Falcon” Wilson also had great moments of being a hero saving the day.  I even forgot how much Hank Pym was involved in this, of course as the Wasp…yup strange times at Marvel.  Of course the big payout moment was the heroes having to fight to save Cap’s body while Steve and Skull fight over the mind, but when that finally happens and we see Bucky and Cap reunited, I can hear the audience jump up and scream!  This was a great adventure and I really enjoyed revisiting; just a stronger testament to how amazing Ed Brubaker is as a writer.  What would you say was your overall favorite moment Rafa?

interior art from Captain America Reborn #6

That is hard, because there are so many standout moments. If I have to pick a favorite moment, I would have to say it’s the fight between Bucky Captain America and Red Skull Steve in front of the Lincoln Memorial; I mean talk about the symbolism and stakes in that fight. I really enjoyed how Red Skull was fighting both Captain Americas on both a physical and mental plane. It is a fight you feel invested in. After all the groundwork that Brubaker puts into his epic story, watching Steve overcome the Red Skull’s mind and bringing himself back is awesome! This to me is what makes all of Brubaker’s run so important.  Also, I really enjoyed the moments where Steve is trapped in time. You can see how someone could become crazy from experiencing that. 

interior art from Captain America Reborn #3

Particularly, I love the scene where he relives the moment in which Namor dislodges him from the ice. The way he pleads for his friend to look at him feels so helpless and so sad. It was a poignant moment that showed me a man that was just tired. It is these moments where Steve is humanized, where he is made to relive the trauma of his life as he is trapped in the timeline of his past that makes this so much more endearing. You actively root for Steve to escape. Overall, this was something I truly loved about Brubaker’s Captain America; Steve is a man I want to root for. 

Spot on observation that was a harsh moment and honestly when he couples that with saying he wished his eyes were closed makes me think how hard being the ice really was for him.  Bryan Hitch did such a great job with that facial feature that I can’t help but feel for him.  So now that we have shared about Steve’s return it is time to talk about the return of the Bat.  For this read we would recommend the following road map of starting with Batman & Robin vol 1 #13 – 14, then Return of Bruce Wayne 1 – 6, back to Batman & Robin vol 1 for 15 – 16, and ending with Batman:  the Return.  Rafa why don’t you open this up for us as I know you really get into the mind of Morrison. 

Batman and Robin Must Die tpb

Thank you, Chris! Morrison is just one of those writers who does some truly weird things, but that just adds to the magic, and there is just so much magic in these stories!  Morrison’s third volume of Batman & Robin, as well as his Batman: The Return of Bruce Wayne read well separately, but are even better when read together as one cohesive story. Again, thank you Chris for providing the recommended reading order for these two tpbs. Volume 3 of Batman and Robin is entitled Batman & Robin Must Die, and it is a return to form for Morrison. This volume plunges us into the depths of a Gotham that has been doused in fire; a metaphorical fire that threatens to burn down the city. Doctor Hurt is back and with his 99 Fiends and Professor Pyg, he really causes some strong conflict for Dick and Damian. 

interior art from Batman and Robin vol 1 #16

The theatrics are turned up to eleven, and the art by Frazer Irving is truly something beautiful to behold; the way he commands texture and shadows is masterful and makes the reading feel much more pulpy which may be a way to pay homage to the Batman stories Morrison plays with. Personally, this volume felt like it could have been directed by Quentin Tarantino; akin to the likes of Kill Bill, it felt like an epic in the making. Morrison sets the stage for something big to happen; for some kind of payoff. And this is where I think this is a great read. It  shows exactly how bad Gotham can get without the real Batman, and this is perfectly where The Return of Bruce Wayne comes in.

the Return of Bruce Wayne tpb

Batman: The Return of Bruce Wayne read so much better this second time that I read it. It is such a weird story, and it feels like Morrison has a fun time putting it together. The insanity of the plot with Batman never really dying (from back in Final Crisis) but instead being booby-trapped as a doomsday weapon by Darkseid and aimed at the 21st century is just peak Morrison. It feels so over-the-top, but in a good way. It plays to the campy absurdity of Batman’s original stories, and I think this makes it so much more endearing. I love how each chapter takes us into a new time period where Bruce is basically summoned to be an avenging demon, a dark angel of retribution! No matter where in the timeline Bruce ends up, he is always ready to help those that need help. We get a prehistoric Batman vs. Vandal Savage brawl; we venture to the Vanishing Point while Bruce takes on a hyper-adapter in an “old Salem-esque” Gotham; we get some pirate shenanigans; we get Jonah Hex taking on Cowboy batman. It is awesome because we get an anthology of different Elseworld Batmans, but it is all in continuity and it serves as a vehicle to explore the legacy of Batman, while at the same time bringing him back to the DC landscape.  

interior art from the Return of Bruce Wayne #3

Batman’s venture through time leads us to one undeniable fact: there will always be a Batman in Gotham. It feels poetic and it is just a really cool concept that is fleshed out really well. This is important because the story therefore becomes so much more than just a fun series of stories focused on different forms of Batman; ultimately, it builds upon itself. With all the talk of the bat-people, Barbatos, and songs of prophecy and superstition, this all creates a meta analysis of the Batman mythos. Both in the comic and out in the real world, we are allowed to see how the legend of the Batman gains notoriety based off of others misconceptions. This is how Batman works. It is not just his detective skills or dope fighting skills that make him a threat. His genius and his power stem from the fear and superstition that people build into his legend. This is just a man after all, but a man who allows others to feed into the legend of the dark knight. What did you take away from Morrison’s writings this week, Chris?

interior art from Batman and Robin vol 1 #13

Doctor Hurt is a super scumbag!!  What a villain and I was so excited to see him back for his part in the “modern day” by trying to summon Barbatos and also getting to learn more about him.  I will have to keep reading his appearances even after Morrison leaves the Bat books because I’m sure I’ll love to hate this character even more.  Honestly that reading order helped make this even more exciting.  With those two issues of Batman and Robin setting up just how lost Gotham City is getting, how wicked the bad guys truly are, and the fact that the Joker is going to help was just drama!!  Then shifting gears to the Return of Bruce Wayne was interesting and like you said it created a bunch of Elseworld style tales but they are in continuity while also playing with DC Comics’ history of characters like Vandal Savage, the Black Pirate, and Jonah Hex.  

interior art from the Return of Bruce Wayne #5

I really enjoyed when Bruce got to the Pulp era in issue 5 and we come to find out the dame he helps sets him up for that crazy video that has been floating around since R.I.P. man did Morrison plan!  But I have to say that if I read Return of Bruce Wayne on it’s own I don’t think I would’ve liked it as much, but adding Batman and Robin to it just made it so much better.  Like Return of Bruce Wayne #6 felt very weak in regards to Bruce is back, but when he made his return in Batman and Robin #15 that was the moment I wanted to stand and cheer!  Plus we still get great addons with issue 16 but seeing Bruce, Alfred, Gordon, Dick, and Damian fight to save Gotham City’s soul which was just B-E-A-utiful!!  I love that Batman: the Return also sets the direction that Morrison will be taking Batman and family along with that introduction of Leviathan and some of those members; it helps that I remember some of the conclusion so it was exciting to see those seeds be planted. 

interior art from Batman and Robin vol 1 #15

I completely agree, Chris, that Batman: The Return was a great way to see how Morrison would be navigating into the next piece of Batman’s story in Batman: Incorporated. Like you, I think it is excellent to see Morrison planting the seeds for what comes next. It makes all the interconnectedness of his stories that much more exciting. All the lunacy and theatrics aside, The Return of Bruce Wayne and Batman & Robin Must Die both conclude into something truly cathartic, and something worth your time. In an adventure with Vanishing Points, time paradoxes, ancient bat demons, and designer drugs, we get a conclusion that reinforces the idea that Bruce has never been alone. Morrison’s Batman story is one of isolation vs. community. Morrison cleverly both narratively and symbolically “isolates” Batman through the introduction of Dr. Hurt’s isolation experiments at the very beginning of his run, but he then slowly introduces elements that shake this concept to its core.

Batman gets a son. Batman gets an heir to the Batman mantle in Nightwing. Morrison begins developing a sense of community for Batman. It takes all of the intertwined events of Batman: R.I.P., Final Crisis, Batman & Robin, and The Return of Bruce Wayne that allows Bruce to see that Batman has never been alone. Watching Morrison lay the groundwork for some truly thematic storytelling while still telling that story inside a bat-shit crazy narrative is both impressive and exciting. While we get lost in the absurdity of the drama, we don’t realize the nuance and attention to detail that Morrison puts into the Batman mythos. He creates a humanized Batman that may come from extravagant legend, but when all is said and done, Batman is still  just a man. A man who dares to do the impossible. A man who, with a little help from his friends, is able to make the impossible a reality. I for one am so happy to see this fully realized version of Bruce. I look forward for what’s to come.

DC Direct’s line of Return of Bruce Wayne action figures

So I have to ask Rafa because I know you love toys even more than I do…what did you think of DC Direct’s offering of Return of Bruce Wayne figures?  Did you get any of them and what are your thoughts on them regardless of owning or not?  

I actually never picked up any of these figures. At the time they came out, I wasn’t really into them. As we all know there are three things that are absolutes in this world: Death, Taxes, and Batman Toys. However, I do think they are a really cool concept, and I am a big fan of owning them one day. By far, the Prehistoric Man-Of-Bats is my favorite but that cowboy Batman also just looks so cool. It is the fact that we can recreate these stories with these “elseworld” Batmen in plastic form which is insanely great! Now you can create your own Return of Bruce Wayne Story. Or you can even just put them in your office, and when they catch your eye at the end of a long day, you are taken back to these wonderful stories and your spirits are filled. 

I tell you I miss DC Direct and am very sore that they didn’t make a Dick Grayson Batman figure, but maybe in some other Elseworld…oh well.  Come back next week and join us as we continue to welcome back Bruce to the cowl and see how Steve helps to liberate Marvel from the bad guys as we read Batman: Bruce Wayne the Road Home tpb (collecting Bruce Wayne: The Road Home – Batman and Robin #1, Bruce Wayne: The Road Home – Red Robin #1, Bruce Wayne: The Road Home – Batgirl #1, Bruce Wayne: The Road Home – Outsiders #1, Bruce Wayne: The Road Home – Catwoman #1, Bruce Wayne: The Road Home – Oracle #1, Bruce Wayne: The Road Home – Commissioner Gordon #1, and Bruce Wayne: The Road Home – Ra’s al Ghul #1) and a double dose of Captain America with the Two Americas tpb and the Marvel event, Siege.  

For Cap’s adventures we suggest the following reading order:  Captain America: Who Will Wield the Shield?, Avengers: The Way Things Are, Siege: The Cabal, Siege 1 – 3, Siege Captain America 1, Siege 4, Captain America 602-605...I know but you’ll thank me for it after that mess, haha.  Please feel free to reach out to us and let us know your thoughts and opinions as we would love to get your views as well as share this excellent read of comics with you all; you can find me on Twitter as @StuffIShudSay and Rafa as @Mobilerafie, please check out all Geek Elite Media has to offer on this site as well as our podcasts and social medias and always remember to GEEK OUT!

Comic Discussions: Brubaker’s Cap v Morrison’s Bats #9

By Christopher Franey & Rafael Encinas

Welcome back avid readers of our review/read of Ed Brubaker’s Captain America and Grant Morrison’s Batman. We have had the pleasure of delving into deeply thematic, action packed, and immensely enjoyable stories dealing with the legacies of two of the most important characters in the Marvel and DC universe respectively. We have read the journey of two young men thrust into impossible situations and iconic roles. This week, Brubaker and Morrison set the stage for the return of these iconic characters with Captain America: Road to Reborn (Captain America Vol.5 49-50 and 600-601) and Batman & Robin: Batman vs. Robin (#7-12) and Time and the Batman (Batman 700-703). During this read, Chris will be in BOLD FONT and Rafa will in ITALIC FONT as we express our views on these great comics! Chris, what did you think of Brubaker’s Captain America this week?

Captain America Road to Reborn tpb

So this set of stories has my FAVORITE issue of Bucky with Captain America v5 #50…Bucky’s Birthday!!  That was such a fun recapping of his origin story and then that surprise of the Underground Avengers waiting to give him a celebration was just the best.  

Captain America vol 5 #50

It just made me think about how important this journey for Bucky really is.  It isn’t just about finding redemption and carrying a legacy but also rediscovering how to be a person again; talk about being able to do that with good company like those Avengers.  It is so great to see the humanity in Bucky grow and also I believe this is the start of making Bucky older when he started being a hero; most of the time he was a kid sidekick who look to Cap like a “dad” and here we start to see them as brothers for the first time.  

panel from Captain America vol 5 #50

I also appreciated the “Marvel Math” with a celebration of issue 50 then jumping to 600 but it was really fun and they were great, but let me backtrack to issue 49; I love the fact that Sharon is back in the picture and she is getting stronger by overcoming the trauma that has happened to her and using that to build herself back up and help recover Steve.  Brubaker does a great job with not letting her be a victim but instead making her a strong survivor so her getting the spotlight in 49 was great but it was even better to see her in 600 as the beacon of hope that lets the heroes know Steve is still alive out there.  601 was a nice tribute to Gene “the Dean” Colan as he was a Marvel Master Artist back in the day…plus Gene won an Eisner Award for his work on that issue which was a great “atta boy” to a legend.  What about you, Rafa?  What did you think of this trade?

You bring up very good points, Chris. I completely agree that issue #50 is an important stand out moment for Bucky. This entire run, we have watched Bucky struggle and suffer through so much; we have seen him take on the mantle of a man he admired, and we have seen him doubt himself and put immeasurable pressure on himself to live up to an impossible standard of heroism. It is heartwarming to see James, the man, have a moment to be appreciated, to see the fruits of his labor and hard work reflected in the eyes and smiles of those at his surprise birthday party. That was a very humanizing moment for me, and I think it endeared me to the character that much more. It is nice to see heroes be appreciated; this redemption of his past sins is welcomed, and it adds greater depth to his overall character. 

Also, I love how we also get the pieces put into place with Sharon finding the gun she used to kill Steve. Brubaker sets up another mystery to be solved with Sharon remembering something deep inside her memories, and finding out that the gun she used to kill Steve is not an actual gun at all. We also get a masterstroke of a scene with the anniversary of Captain America’s death, and how Norman Osborn and his Dark Avengers use this moment of solidarity to bring themselves into a positive light. Brubaker does a great job of making his story matter. It is not just a one-off story that doesn’t matter in the greater context of the Marvel universe, Brubaker’s stories live and breathe in the universe, and it makes the story matter. Overall, this was an awesome story that I am very happy I read. Anything else you want to share about this Captain America volume, Chris?

panel from Captain America vol 1 #600

I totally love that you mentioned the one year anniversary of Cap’s “death” and the Dark Avengers; like Brubaker totally tells his story but also keeps it deep in that era of the Marvel Universe.  So when this was live and happening it had that excitement of being involved in the comics universe but at the same time doing it’s own thing.  Such a cool scene and just adds to the cunningness of Norman Osborn and how he can be such a good PR villain.  Let us switch gears to Batman and we can start with Batman and Robin vol 2:  Batman vs Robin, Rafa why don’t you get us started? 

Batman and Robin vol 2: Batman vs Robin tpb

Batman and Robin v2 is entitled Batman vs. Robin, and this is important because it illustrates the nature of the story. Morrison once again spins a vivid and wild tale.This story celebrates the occult, the weird, and the macabre. It builds on the mysteries of lineage and of superstition. Morrison continues to introduce strange villains and brings up contents from his past stories, tying together different threads from Batman R.I.P., Final Crisis, Blackest Night, and the Return of Bruce Wayne. All of it is interconnected, and it creates a wicked story that feels multilayered. At its heart, this story continues the deep dive into Dick’s approach at being Gotham’s new protector and Damian’s positive role-model. I enjoyed this story because it was all a set-up into the return of Bruce Wayne. We find out that it is not Bruce’s body that was destroyed by Darkseid, and it sets in motion a new mission for Dick, to find Batman. 

panel from Batman and Robin vol 1 #9

We also get a deeper look into Damian’s motivations and thoughts on being Robin. We see that he likes the role, and that he is willing to defy his own mother and his own heritage and birthright in order to be a soldier of the Batman. Through his cold demeanor, we can see that he has warmed up to Grayson and Alfred, and he tries to be a better person. Seeing his body controlled by Deathstroke was interesting, and I liked how hard Damian fought to regain control of his body. It was a good glimpse into the stubborn nature and tenacity of the son of Batman. Chris, what did you think of the story?

I really enjoyed this set of issues, like this was fun seeing Dick go to crazy lengths to bring Bruce back and discover a bigger mystery.  I also love that they didn’t shy from calling Dick out since he basically stopped Tim Drake from using the Lazarus Pits for his family, so why shouldn’t Dick be questioned about it as well.  I really enjoyed that as it did make sense for why you shouldn’t but also why you have exceptions to the rule.  Pulse like you mentioned earlier, it builds that mystery and makes it deeper.  I enjoyed all the guest stars as it made it fun and really hammered home the idea of Batman at an international level, so Grant was really planting seeds for what he was thinking of next.  

panel from Batman and Robin vol 1 #7

The story that Damian goes through really showed great growth in my opinion, yes he can still be a brat but now we see that it is part of his shell.  Like you mentioned Rafa we can see he is warming up to Alfred and Dick which is fantastic.  Plus you nailed it with the title of Batman vs Robin…wow Talia has usually be a passive villain for me but with how she played Damian I was just in shock that is why when Dick and Damian beat them I love how Dick just smacks Slade around for what he did with his part in that battle.  How did you feel about that with how Talia was used in this story arc, Rafa?

Batman and Robin vol 1 #12

I am conflicted with how Morrison uses Talia in this story. This is where we begin to see a huge change in Talia’s feelings toward Damian. I loved how Morrison wrote Talia in Son of Batman and the Resurrection of Ra’s Al Ghul. She was cool and in control, a bit cold, but she loved her son, and she showcased that she would do anything for Damian. In this volume, we see a complete change in Talia and she rejects Damian outright, claiming that she can always make another son. It is this cruelty that is always a bit jarring for me, but i think that makes her a great villain,and it sets her up as a big power player later in the story. Overall, this was a fun story, especially when paired with Time and the Batman. Seeing this Batman R.I.P. epilogue was great because it shows the reader how Batman ended up at the mercy of Darkseid. This sets up the catalyst for Bruce’s return, and I am excited for that. What were your thoughts on this, Chris?

Batman: Time and the Batman tpb

Time and the Batman was just perfect!  I love the missing chapter of R.I.P. and how it can explain why we didn’t see much of Batman between R.I.P. and Final Crisis and how Dr. Hurt really got inside Bruce’s head.  I also enjoyed the fact that this helped to make sense of Whatever Happened to the Caped Crusader and how it could fit in with Grant’s stories.  Like it was just perfect since Bruce is bouncing around time that it would be his mind processing this mess from the Gods and how he is just a man trying to deal with it.  This was just a brilliant band-aid that Grant made and used to help keep his masterpiece a well connected machine.  Plus it really drops some major clues…which we now know them to be but before they are interesting phrases and images.  

Batman vol 1 #702

I think both of us were very satisfied with this week’s reads as Brubaker continues to deliver with action, suspense, and character all the while Morrison brings the adventure, mythology, and abnormal to his stories.  Highly recommend these sets of TPBs as you won’t be let down.  So make sure to join us next week as we bring Bruce Wayne and Steve Rogers back by check out the following:  Batman the Return of Bruce Wayne tpb (Return of Bruce Wayne 1-6) and Batman and Robin Must Die tpb (Batman and Robin 13-16 and Batman the Return) alongside Captain America Reborn tpb (Captain America Reborn 1-6 and the digital prelude).  Please be sure to hit us up on social media as we would love to get your insights as well; you can find Rafe as @Mobilerafie and myself as @StuffIShudSay and keep reading us here at Geek Elite Media and as always GEEK OUT!

The Late Gamer Plays The Witcher 2

A Review By Hidai Moya

‘The Witcher 2’ isn’t for casual gamers. Though the story is a grand tale of political intrigue ala ‘Game of Thrones’, its a significantly shorter & denser game than ‘The Witcher 1’.
This can lead to a few issues since the complex story zips by so fast its narrative doesn’t really get a chance to sink in & even the most attentive gamers can find it challenging to keep track of its big glossary of people & places that are constantly referenced. The combat is rough & unforgiving, the side content is anemic, some of the boss fights are unimaginative, & there is also a perplexing lack of music. What little music there is is fantastic which is why its so absurd that CDPR decided to use it so sparingly. This game never awed & surprised me like the amazing world building, pacing, & story of the 1st game.

I think it was a mistake to make this game so short & hamper the open world design with maps that behave more like glorified hallways. As the middle chapter of a trilogy much of its plot is more concerned with edifying story points that don’t actually pay off in the end since they are just placeholders one has to wait until the 3rd game to get resolved, as opposed to a singular closed story arc.
The truth is that ‘The Witcher 2’ is an average middle chapter that is bookended by its much greater counterparts. Nonetheless its secondary characters like Triss & Vernon Roache are well written & acted that their company make the short journey enjoyable.
Grade B

Comic Discussions: Brubaker’s Cap v Morrison’s Bats #8

By Christopher Franey & Rafael Encinas

Here we are at part eight of our tour of Ed Brubaker’s Captain America and Grant Morrison’s Batman which continue to showcase great story and character while creating legacies that still stand today. During this read to make it easier for the reader I will be in BOLD FONT and RAFA will be in ITALIC FONT as we express our views on these great comics.  In this part, we continue our adventures with both Bucky and Dick continuing with the mantles as Captain America and Batman.  For those of you reading alongside with us, we will be discussing Captain America: The Man with No Face (Cap vol. 5 #43-48) which was first published back in December of 2008 and Batman: Life After Death (Batman vol. 1 # 692-699) and cover dated December 2009.  Rafa why don’t you open this up with your thoughts on Batman’s adventures brought to us by Tony Daniel this week?

Batman: Life After Death tpb

Tony Daniel’s run at Batman is something that unfortunately is not up to par with the rest of Morrison’s run. While I can appreciate the story that Daniels is trying to tell, it unfortunately comes off as boring and a slog to read through. We’ve got Dick continuing to try and bring order to Gotham. The use of villains, the motivations, and the overall pace of this story is just uninteresting. There are some good moments where we get to see Dick use his inner monologue to continue and rationalize his time as Batman, but it isn’t witty or that interesting. However, I do appreciate that Daniels tries to bring closure to the story brought up on Battle For The Cowl with the use of the new Black Mask, but it just doesn’t feel like a Dick Grayson Batman story. It feels like it tries too hard to bring mystery and excitement to a Batman story. What were your thoughts, Chris?

I’m right there with you, I honestly felt like it was quite the chore to get these issues read and that is super unfortunate as I love Dick Grayson as Batman.  I honestly thought this was going to be a continuation of Judd Winick’s Batman from the previous story arc of Long Shadows which dropped hints of Dick Grayson’s family and origins yet nothing was touched upon.  You’re right when you mention that this is clean up from Battle For The Cowl which is nice but that should’ve been what we last read in the Batman comics, so overall that makes this and the last arc super disjointed for Batman/Dick Grayson stories.  I found myself teased by moments in the story that sadly didn’t go anywhere or honestly weren’t needed, like this kiss right here.

from Batman vol 1 #693

Like it is great tension playing with Dick and Helena’s past relationship but to just toss it in there and then force the idea that Barbara (Batgirl/Oracle) Gordon is jealous was just nothing but an exciting panel.  It would’ve been nice if it was actually played out like maybe Dick or Helena are conflicted with their feelings for the other.  The part with the Riddler at the end of this trade was just useless and like it opens a question, was Riddler faking the hero gig?

from Batman vol 1 #698

So this shift in him playing the hero feels like it was a long con in order to get his former partners out of the picture which is such a shame to the stories where he was a hero.  Like I can understand him returning to his roots, but the panel doesn’t play it well that his demeanor was shifted to and then back.  Also with Dr. Jeremiah Arkham being revealed as the new Black Mask, so it was a neat idea but again…it doesn’t go anywhere.  Like did Jeremiah lose his mind or is the Black Mask possessed?  I wish I knew.  So I’m glad to have read these issues but there is so much that could’ve been done better for the characters and the story in my opinion.  Any last thoughts on Batman, Rafa?

I think you perfectly put it into words with how this volume of Batman reads, Chris. Like I said, I can appreciate what Daniels was trying to do, but many of these elements that you bring up, just feel forced or lead to nowhere. This story does not elicit the excitement of what this run has done in the past; however, we got more than enough excitement in Ed Brubaker’s Captain America. This is a fun story because it allows Bucky to build on his legacy in his own way. Time has passed, we have gotten through the Civil War and Secret Invasion events, and Bucky is now more seasoned in his time as the new Captain America.

Captain America: The Man With No Face tpb

This story takes us back to the past as we see him continue to wrestle with his past sins. However, this time, it becomes that much more personal. We get an awesome team up with both Black Widow and Namor. We have Bucky chasing ghosts; righting the wrongs of his past. It is excellent storytelling because it presents a new dynamic to Bucky’s story that does not enter on the Red Skull. It is this breath of fresh air that really brings new life into this already excellent story. What were your thoughts on Captain America this week, Chris?

This was a fantastic story and adventure; perfect international espionage with reuniting with old friends.  Which hits to the point that Bucky is also a man out of time just like Steve is.  When you see how Bucky has interacted with Professor Zhang Chin and the Man with No Face (who actually was a late Golden Age character) it really showcases the homework Ed Brubaker does for these stories.  To take actual comic book characters from various times and then inject them into real world political battle is just awesome; plus he still manages to make a compelling story without having to use big named villains.  

from Captain America vol 5 #43
from Captain America vol 5 #44

With the two panels above this I love how the pasts of Bucky and the Winter Soldier intersect with one of the villains; like it is just perfect how the Professor wants to dissect a friend from Bucky’s past yet also wants revenge on the Winter Soldier for taking his wife’s life.  I just love how this villain is that greedy yet also that much of a menace too.  Plus we get some awesome fights with Batroc the Leaper and the relationship between Bucky and Natasha is well played as they are lovers yet spies and will do what they feel needs to be done and hope the other understands.  What about you Rafa?  

Ultimately, this story succeeds in the fact that it can bring in a bunch of new characters and immediately create a story that you feel invested in. I never knew anything about Batroc, and seeing him in action was a lot of fun. I could hear his French accent and I thought that was a great choice for a villain because it continues to show you the scope of a Captain America story. I find it funny how so much of these stories do not happen on American soil. I especially liked how they gave Bucky some more meaningful interactions with other characters besides Sam.

Seeing his interesting dynamic with Namor was a highlight for me because you could see there was a deep connection and appreciation that Namor has for Bucky, but he could only show it in his own stubborn way. I really liked this. I think it made me like both characters that much more because I could relate to that kind of friendship. And at the end of the day, this is what makes these stories from Brubaker so endearing. Even though they pertain to deep espionage and explosive hero action, it is the human heart that makes them so impactful. Any last thoughts, Chris?

from Captain America vol 5 #48

Reading your thoughts here made me realize that the connections Bucky has in the here and now are very important and since his reintroduction he has gained quite the “family” of his own.  Bucky messing around with “Subby”, as he called him, was great and they do have a trust that is forged from being brothers in arms during the great one.  Knowing that Natasha will forsake all to help save Buck is such a dynamic love and it really adds depth to Natasha that I haven’t seen in her past relationships with Daredevil or Hawkeye.  I am so glad I read this after Batman because it hyped me up again and you called out a lot of great points to Ed Brubaker’s writing and stories.  This run of Captain America has been fantastic and I am really looking forward to our next reads which start to set the stage for some big returns.  

Come back and join us again as we continue our read with Brubaker’s Captain America: Road to Reborn tpb (issues 49-50 of Captain America volume 5 and return to renumbering of vol 1 with 600-601) and a double dose of Grant Morrison with Batman: Time and the Batman tpb (vol 1 issues 700-703) and Batman and Robin: Batman vs Robin tpb (Batman and Robin vol 1 #’s 7-12).  Please feel free to reach out to us and let us know your thoughts and opinions as we would love to get your views as well as share this excellent read of comics with you all; you can find me on Twitter as @StuffIShudSay and Rafa as @Mobilerafie, please check out all Geek Elite Media has to offer on this site as well as our podcasts and social medias and always remember to GEEK OUT!

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Don’t Breathe (2016) is another example of the “home invasion” slasher movie reinvented to be wholly unique and shocking. Stephen Lang is so good in this; the suspense chills you to the very core as the narrative sinks deeper & deeper into chaos!

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