Barnestorming #9874.4- Spartacus in Review, Dishonored, Cerebus, Arrow

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Barnestorming #9874.4- Spartacus in Review, Dishonored, Cerebus, Arrow
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 Jupiter's Cock!

On the Table

So yeah, Spartacus. I heard rumblings about this right after Gen Con from none other than Bill Abner. He said it was a big hit there, and I took notice. There is one critical flaw, I think, in that it’s a essentially a three hour take that game with a very simple miniatures duel and an auction strapped on. And I do mean strapped on. But it’s somewhat too long given its scope, which is disappointing because at an hour…it’s this year’s King of Tokyo. There are options to shorten the game and I’m starting to think that I would actually recommend them over the “full” version, but by and large I think you guys are going to dig this one if you haven’t tried it already. It’s NASTY. They didn’t put the F-bomb on the box and a rule that specifically says “don’t be an ass” in there for nothing. Then there’s the Jupiter’s Cock card.

Do you like men? If you do, there’s lots of strapping, muscled men in it too. Seriously, I heard that thunderclap and “it’s rainin’ men!” the whole time I played it. The show has lots of pretty ladies and tons of nudity, but oddly there are no boobs in the game. Sorry Steve Avery, it fails the “i liek boob&bomb” check in that regard.

So a thumbs up for this one at NHS, for sure.


On the Consoles

Holy fucking shit Dishonored. Remember when you said how much you missed narrative-driven adventure FPS games like they don’t make anymore such as Thief, No One LIves Forever, System Shock 2, and Bioshock? Well buddy, get thee to a copy of this game. It’s amazing, almost certain to be a fixture on year-end best-of lists. It’s immaculately designed with zero blubber (despite the whaling-based economy in the setting) and the art direction is to die for. It’s NOT steampunk in any way, shape or form. It’s blubberpunk.

But yeah. Bad ass stealth gameplay, high tension, compelling narrative, mystery, exploration…possessing rats…man. This is the game to beat this fall, I wrote it up a little more at NHS if you care to go look.

I’ll probably hit XCOM next week after I finish this one…I’ve also got a review copy of Forza Horizon coming. It’ll be interesting to see how Forza handles open roads.



I got the Can’t Stop app, and it’s pretty good overall. The canned music is horrid, it’s like an ancient, badly recorded MP3. Suprisingly sloppy from Playdek. The gameplay is all there (not  like that’s a feat) and it is hugely addictive. One major complaint is that you can’t speed up (or eliminate) the animation for the AI turns, so games are too long. The AI is also terrible, which is a disappointment, but there is a time attack mode where you see how fast you can win. Overall not a bad debut on IOS for Sackson. Man, oh man, I’d love an IOS Acquire.

On the Comics Rack

I don’t even know where to start this week. How about Cerberus? Apparently Dave Sim did a Kickstarter to get Cerberus digitized (along with, apparently, some kind of freaking AUDIOBOOK thing where he reads in the voices of the characters) so it’s hitting Comixology. They’re starting with High Society and I think the idea is to do two issues a week. The really, really nice thing is that they’re a dollar a piece and they’re very, very nicely remastered and scanned including all original advertisements and…duhn duhn duhn…the crazyhouse letters pages. There are also PAGES AND PAGES of crazy archival material, ranging from distributor invoices to scans of Sims’ notebooks, which include a lot of never-before-seen art. Needless to say, this stuff is essential. I read the first two issues and having not read much Cerberus, I’m definitely excited for more even though he’s a crazy bastard.

What else…how about a list.

-          New Avengers- Don’t know why I even bothered, this was garbage. Ben…Bendis. What?  Huh…super…superhero team…can’t…write…duhn. Six issues of Marvel at its worst.

-          Thor: Blood Oath- This was fun, a sort of rollicking adventure with Thor and the Warriors Three. Definitely a light book, done up by Michael Avon Oeming. Not essential, but it was pleasant enough and the art was very nice.

-          Doctor Strange: The Oath- Doctor Strange takes on the  supervillain team-up of the healthcare system and the pharmaceutical industry. I’m not kidding. It was fun at first but it winds up in one of the most dishonest, forced endings I’ve ever seen in a comic book. Seriously, the last panel was such a betrayal for the reader but also for poor Wong. It’s Vaughn, so I’m not surprised that it wound up trite and silly.

-          Green Lantern/Green Arrow- read a couple of issues of the Adams/O’Neil run. They were fun, but boy oh boy are they old fashioned. It’s pretty cool that they get in an old beat up pickup truck (green, of course) and ride around with a Guardian to stick it to the man. They talk about Bob Dylan and just like, you know, help people, man.

-          Slaine: The Horned God- stupendous Bisley art, dark black metal-friendly story of Celtic myth. Blood cauldrons, warp spasms…good stuff. I read this a long time ago and forgot almost everything about it.

-          X’ed Out- Charles Burns (Black Hole) latest. It’s…interesting. Sort of a willful cross of Naked Lunch and Tin Tin with some of the uncomfortably honest teenage stuff from Black Hole in it. There’s only one issue, I’d like to see where it goes.

-          Morrison/Millar Flash- the “Emergency Stop” storyline- this was good stuff. The bad guy is a costume. Flash breaks his leg.

-          Evil Eye- Yech. Cutesy-poo wannabe Edward Gorey stuff. Not very impressed with this. I wanted to read it back in the 1990s, I think I would have liked it better then.

-          Sherlock Holmes & the Vampires of London- a Spanish comic about what Holmes gets up to after Reichenbach Falls, which apparently means working under duress for a clan of vampires trying to catch a rogue one. It’s pretty good, the art is extremely nice as usual for a Eurocomic. I’ve just read one, definitely want to see the follow-through.

-          Thorgal- Great art, Eurocomic, blah blah blah. Sci-fi Viking epic with some surprising twists and a really, really cool sense of Northern European myth.

-          Korrigans- absolutely beautiful moonlit/firelit illustrations very similar to Froud. A cool Celtic tale that captures that compelling darkness of Irish myth. No cute fairies here.

-          The Mercenary- oil painted Spanish fantasy. Story is kind of meh, but it looks great and it has that awesome 1980s sword and sorcery vibe.

-          Irredeemable- I’m up to issue 20 now, I had lost interest but I’m back into it now. Some interesting turns of events. The thing I don’t like about this book though is that I can read an issue in like ten minutes. I blew through eight issues in like 45 minutes. I don’t know what it is, maybe it seems short because I’ve been reading these Eurocomics that take more time to get through.

I like to read comic books.

On the Screen

River is very excited about “Halloweens” so fortunately that yearly imbroglio of whether to watch The Nightmare Before Christmas at Halloween or at Christmas was solved for us. And that’s all. We. Have. Watched. For. Days.

Don’t get me wrong, I love the movie. But dang. I’ve got a bunch of toys from the movie so we dug those out and he’s having a field day with them. They used to be really collectible and valuable. Now they’re his.

I watched Arrow last night, CW’s Green Arrow show. Why the hell didn’t they just call it Green Arrow? And why isn’t it Star City instead of Starling City? This is a show that’s almost embarrassed about its subject matter and goes to great lengths to distance itself from it. Unlike the Chris Nolan Batman films, that are still very firmly comic book, it’s like the people that wrote this show wanted to get as far away from “comic book” as possible and the result is a pointless show that’s more about Oliver Queen smirking and acting like a privileged PTSD victim than being a cool hippie out to stick it to the man and help out the little guy. But then, he starts killing people with the bow and I’m ready to check out. We talked about this. Superheroes shouldn’t kill people. So yeah, this is a big fail.

On Spotify

See the “On the Screen” section. Despite my attempts to do a Talking Heads retrospective, we’ve been listening to The Nightmare Before Christmas soundtrack. Constantly. “This is Halloween” fades out and from the back seat…”AGAIN”.

But I have to say, hearing my kid singing “this is Halloween, Halloween, Halloween” is pretty god damned awesome. That’s the kind of thing you live for.

Oh, and speaking of living, today is my birthday. What did you get me?

There Will Be Games

Michael BarnesFollow Michael Barnes Follow Michael Barnes Message Michael Barnes



Sometime in the early 1980s, MichaelBarnes’ parents thought it would be a good idea to buy him a board game to keep him busy with some friends during one of those high-pressure, “free” timeshare vacations. It turned out to be a terrible idea, because the game was TSR’s Dungeon! - and the rest, as they say, is history. Michael has been involved with writing professionally about games since 2002, when he busked for store credit writing for Boulder Games’ newsletter. He has written for a number of international hobby gaming periodicals and popular Web sites. From 2004-2008, he was the co-owner of Atlanta Game Factory, a brick-and-mortar retail store. He is currently the co-founder of and as well as the Editor-in-Chief of Miniature Market’s Review Corner feature. He is married with two childen and when he’s not playing some kind of game he enjoys stockpiling trivial information about music, comics and film.

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