Sunday, March 29, 2009

Top 5 Favorite TV Shows

Now I’m not a fan of the television. I hate laugh tracks, commercial breaks, censorship, political agendas of networks, reality TV, fake/sensational news, and having to abide by their schedule (thank the dodo for Hulu). There’s just so much about the idiot box that pisses me off. That’s why this top 5 is especially important. See, this week I’m doing my top 5 on my favorite TV shows. There are some gems on TV (past and present) that have done a great job of showing me that this is indeed a medium that is worth saving. Now 99% of the stuff on TV is crap and I’m sure most people when they think about it would agree, but that 1%...that little tiny 1% some how makes it all worth it. So here we go, my top 5 favorite TV shows.

5. Buffy the Vampire Slayer

I know what some of you are thinking. How can this teeny bopper show be on anyone’s list unless they were either 14 or retarded? Well I’ll admit, I thought the same thing until I actually watched it. When I thought of Buffy, all that came to my mind was the B movie from the early 90’s with Luke Perry (Ben Affleck was in it for a second too but he’s not credited). The cheerleader turned super hero just seemed really ridiculous to me, and I’m into some really ridiculous shit. I also have to say that I try to grasp onto whatever piece of masculinity I can because as it’s been brought to my attention many times before, I’m a huge pussy. So really, taking myself to the level where I will watch a show that seems to me to be an estrogen fest was a big leap. But another show on my top 5 motivated me to give this a try, and it turned me into a whole new kind of nerd that I never even knew existed.

So the title does a great job of explaining the premise. It’s about a girl named Buffy who fights vampires and other demons. It’s honestly pretty simple. I’ll admit that the first season (which is really only a half season) is a little slow and in my opinion kind of campy, but if you stick with it season 2 will take you on a roller coaster of love, betrayal, tragedy, and somehow humor. See, BTVS is a very tongue in cheek kind of show. Most of the time it’s not very serious and the dialogue is very witty. I personally think this is why when serious things happen on the show they have such a huge impact on the viewer. You really don’t see it coming because the show has such a light hearted feel to it…that is until season 4. In season 4 the bar really gets raised on the show and it takes a much more serious tone as the characters get older and have to put the high school years behind them. I’m not kidding, heads fucking roll. The show really grows up and during the sixth season it’s like watching a fantasy version of Trainspotting. It’s dark and you kind of feel sorry for/hate a lot of the characters. Then when we get into the final season we’re treated to a pretty epic conclusion of the show as all out war breaks out with the forces of evil.

The show has excellent character development with probably the best supporting cast of characters on network TV. Every character is amazing and it’s impossible for me to say who I like the most. I’m also a huge fan of shows where there’re women in powerful roles. Joss Whedon (creator of the show and uber nerd) is also a huge fan of that and just about every project he’s worked on features strong female characters as the lead. This goes all the way back to when he was the lead writer on Roseanne. I could go on all day about him, but this is about Buffy. Buffy also has a spin off show called, Angel. If I were doing a top 6 it would be on here. Both shows have a hugely successful comic line that takes place after the shows so you can still get your Buffy/Angel fix. They’re legit too because Joss Whedon works on both of them.

Seriously though, if you’re a fan of things that don’t suck, you need to take the time to watch Buffy. If you get through season 2 and you’re still not a fan, I seriously think there’s something wrong with you.

4. Entourage

So here’s another show I thought I would totally hate, but now quote like crazy. Seriously, it was described to me as, “It’s about this rich actor guy and his free loading friends.” Wow. That sounds awesome (insert sarcasm here). But you know what? It’s awesome. The best way to describe it is, it’s the male version of Sex and the City. I honestly don’t think there’s a better show out there that is really all about what it’s like to be a dude. Also the description of the show that was given to me was actually a little off. It’s not about a rich guy and his friends. It’s about the friends and the rich guy. Yes, they’re leaching off their friend, but really they’re trying to figure out what there place in the world is supposed to be.

Like Sex and the City, each character represents a different characteristic found in most guys. E is the smart and organized guy who’s looking for true love. Drama is the shallow burn out who has a confident exterior that hides a vulnerable inner child. Turtle is the pathetic, unattractive one of the group who in many ways is the most creative. Vinnie, the actor, is really what every guy wishes he was, the hugely successful, attractive guy who is able to breeze through life. Through these characters eyes we’re able to see the devil world that is Hollywood. We’re also treated with Jeremy Piven playing the role of Ari Gold, super agent of the stars. Seriously, you can watch the show just for him and be completely satisfied.

Aside from the psychology, when it comes down to it the show is just hilarious. I mean genuinely funny. The characters and the dialogue just feel so real and believable. I think it does a good job though because it’s a huge satire of the entertainment industry, complete with a celebrity cameo almost every episode. I think it’s also important to point out that Mark, “Marky Mark,” Wahlberg is an executive producer on the show. There’s speculation that a lot of the content of the show is based on some of his personal experiences in the industry. On top of all that, they make a freaking Aquaman movie directed by James Cameron in the show. That hits so many of my nerd buttons that it’s not even funny.

3. The Venture Brothers

What happens when a Hanna Barbara cartoon decides to go on a bender of booze and crack? You get The Venture Brothers. This show is basically the funniest show I’ve ever seen and it’ll only make sense to less than 1% of the people in the country. I think that’s what makes it such a good show though. It’s basically a big spoof on Johnny Quest. It’s about two half witted brothers, Hank and Dean, their pathetic father, Dr. Venture, and their mullet sporting, beef cake body guard, Brock Sampson. This team of adventurers basically travel the world every episode to find themselves in dangerous situations, much like in Johnny Quest, Scooby Doo, or any of those other great children’s shows. The main difference is that this show is definitely not for kids.

Villains such as The Monarch, Dr. Girlfriend, Phantom Limb, and Baron Underbheit are just a few of the ridiculous enemies of the Venture family. There are also parody characters of many superheroes. It’s so hard to explain this show to people who haven’t seen it. Again, probably one of the reasons it’s so great. It’s like the entire show is one big inside joke. Kind of like Robot Chicken in the sense that if you didn’t grow up with the stuff they’re making fun of you’ll have no idea what’s going on.

Honestly I’ve never had this hard of a time writing about something that I love so much. Seriously though, rent it because it rules. If any of my readers who have seen it can comment on their opinion of the show I’d greatly appreciate it. Maybe it’s just one of those things that’s so awesome words just can’t explain it. Yeah, I’ll cover up my inability to articulate my thoughts with that excuse.
2. Firefly

So I’ve said in the past that I’m a fan of science fiction in theory. It’s one of the requirements for being a nerd. The issue I usually have is that most sci-fi shows usually end up being terribly cliché with bad make up, porn caliber acting, and dialogue that sounds like it was written by somebody who’s never had a conversation before. Seriously, if dialogue on a show isn’t top notch I won’t even make it to the first commercial break (the main reason I’ve never seen a full episode of CSI. Seriously people, it sucks). So when people told me I needed to see Firefly I basically ignored them. I kept this up until Serenity came out in theaters. So I saw it with a few friends who had also never seen the show either. Why we decided to go to a movie based on a show we knew nothing about is still beyond me, but the point is we enjoyed it immensely. In fact, Serenity is on my top 5 favorite movies list. The sad thing is that I became extremely angry with myself. I should have listened to all those people that told me about the show. The anger was because the show was canceled after only half a season aired. I have this feeling of guilt, like if I was there from the beginning I could do something to prevent its fate, even though I know I couldn’t.

The show is basically a western in space. It takes place 2 years after a galactic civil war in which the independents lost to the alliance. The show follows independent war vet, Malcolm Reynolds, as he and his crew basically drift through the verse trying to be free. Meanwhile they pick up a few passengers who bring with them a lot of baggage. So while trying to harbor fugitives, a sheppard (priest in firefly lingo), and a companion (high class hooker), the crew of Serenity is basically forced to run from one troubled situation to another. It’s full of action, great special effects, witty dialogue, great characters, and not one stupid looking alien. Aliens ruin sci-fi. They’re only good for 2 things, Mr. Spock and Captain Kirk’s bedroom playmates.

So this show was created by Joss Whedon who I will go on record as saying he is the best writer when it comes to character development and I would say television in general. He knows how to develop long term story arcs that are intriguing and entertaining. Like I said earlier, this show opened me up to Buffy and Angel, as well as his work in comics with Fray. He also did a huge story arc of the X-Men, and a small arc on Runaways as well as overseeing and writing the Buffy and Angel comic series. He’s written many huge movies such as Toy Story, Titan A.E., and Alien: Resurrection. I do have to say though that his current project, Dollhouse, does not live up to his previous work. I’m trying really hard to get into that show, but right now it’ll be lucky to make a top 25 list. Like most great television shows, Firefly was canceled by Fox. Fox also canceled Family Guy, The Ben Stiller Show, Arrested Development, Futurama, Dark Angel, Greg The Bunny, Brisco County Jr, and Undeclared. All shows that were pretty damn good and better then most television ever will be. The lesson kids is that we don’t want to make a good show for Fox. Firefly still lives on with 2 comic mini series with more planned for the future.

1. Battlestar Galactica

I’m talking about the current series, not the 1978 one. I think it’s funny that I usually can’t stand sci-fi and my top 2 are sci-fi shows. As I’m writing this I have a friend upstairs who is currently getting hooked on this like an inner city kid on crack. I gave her the first disc today and just told her to see if she likes it. She’s now on disc 3. She loves it. I feel like a pusher. This show seriously is the bomb diggity though and regardless of whether or not you like sci-fi, you’ll like this show. The show basically has humanity spread out over 12 planetary colonies. They created artificial intelligence which they named Cylons that they used basically as slaves. The Cylons got sick of that and declared war on the humans. After a couple years of ass kicking an armistice was called and the Cylons left for deep space never to be seen from for 40 years. When they came back they nuked all 12 planets and basically destroyed humanity. The last Battlestar, Galactica, is charged with protecting the last few ships of refuges (totaling about 50,000 people) while they search for the fabled planet Earth.

The show has so many great things going for it. The writing is spot on and gritty, the plot is epic, the acting is amazing, the special effects are the best I’ve ever seen in a show, there’s a lot of social commentary, there is absolutely no gender bias (if anything it makes women look stronger then men), and the show was able to end on it’s own terms. They were able to basically tell the story the creators wanted to tell and finish it off without pressure from the studios. The ironic thing is before NBC/Universal/Sci-fi got a hold of it, it was licensed under Fox, which as I showed earlier would have probably led the show to cancellation. I think it’s so amazing that this show was able to have the life that it did because it is probably the darkest show I’ve really seen. I have friends with depression issues that have had to stop watching the show because it was really putting them in a bad place. That just goes to show you how well they portrayed the reality of what it would be like if you were basically the last of humanity being hunted down by machines.

I’ve had the great pleasure of viewing the final episodes with friends in a crowded theater with 600 other people. On March 20th we watched as the final 2 hour and 11 minute episode aired. It was sad to see such an amazing show end, but I feel they left it with a real sense of closure as well as giving a huge sense of hope and a foreshadowing of our possible future. The show is over with but there are still going to be projects in the future. There’s a movie that will be coming out in the fall called, The Plan, that takes place before the show and a spin off series taking place 40 something years before the series called, Caprica. I don’t think Caprica will be nearly as good but my hope is that the story leads up to the first cylon war. I have not met one person that has watched the first episode (Which is 3 hours) and not been in love with the show. I give you my guarantee that you will love it. So say we all.

So that’s my top 5 favorite TV shows. After writing it I’m in the mood to watch them all over again from the beginning. If only I had the time. Join me next week for my top 5 greatest life moments. It’s been a really good month for me and I really want to reflect on some great times in my life.


P.S. I posted this on my facebook page but I got my first writing job for a comic company called Planet Blue. They’re a start up company and I’ll be one of their first two writers. So, yay for me. Give me a few years and I’ll be running DC or Marvel. Just you wait and see. So thanks for all the people that supported me so far because this blog project was what got me motivated to write again. A super huge thank you to Lindsey Kaczmarski for sending me the link to the job posting and really pushing me to do it. You’re totally my hero and you reminded me to stay focused on my life goals. So in a few months you should hopefully see a real comic from me and I’ll actually have something to show for the last 25 years of being a nerd.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Top 5 Favorite Concerts

So last week I completely forgot to say what next weeks top 5 would be. The truth is at that time I had no clue. I’ve been super busy these last two weeks doing absolutely nothing. So with a little help from Summer and my anticipation of seeing the best band ever next week in concert (Bayside for those of you who haven’t read my first top 5 yet), I’m going to be doing my top 5 favorite concerts. I’m going to be throwing in a little extra credit as well with my ultimate dream concert.

So as previously established in my first blog, I love music. I really love it. I’ve been to a lot of shows, put on a lot of shows and even put on epic rock shows in my car while driving. I’m honestly most at peace, but at the same time more alive when the music is so loud that it drowns out everything around me. It helps me focus my emotions, think, and basically let it all out. Even right now I’m blasting my ear drums into an early grave. When I’m at a good show, packed in tight between the guy that never heard of deodorant and the little high school girl who thought it would be a good idea to get to the front, I am alive with an energy I’ve only ever felt at a damn good rock show.

So I’ve seen some good shows and some bad shows. I’ve seen bands that I thought would be great that sucked. I’ve also seen bands that I thought would just be okay that ended up blowing my mind. Here is the cream of the crop.

5. NOFX/Alkaline Trio/Jello Biafra

Let me start out by saying that Kevin Shoop is an idiot. I love him to death, but he’s by far my most absent minded friend who you can’t trust with a dollar. I got us tickets literally the second they went on sale while we were at the Battle of the Bands where Stop to Think rocked it. I had the tickets for about 2 months before the show. Now I knew then that Kevin would lose his wiener if he didn’t play with it so much, but he insisted that I give him his ticket a few weeks before the show. So like Kevin he lost his ticket. His solution? Scalping. So we go to the show early to find tickets. These tickets retailed at $35 so we were hoping to find another one for about $50. Not much of a chance at that. $80-$100 was the going price. Another thing about Kevin is that at the time he had two jobs, lived with his parents, apparently bought nothing and was somehow always broke. It defied all reasoning. So I found out that while we were looking for tickets that he was indeed still broke. Now we had driven 90 miles to go to this show and I wasn’t about to leave my friend out in the cold while I had the time of my life, so I covered for him and then spent the next 4 months trying to get my money back, which usually came in the form of chips and fast food. I love you, Kevin. Remind me to tell you guys about the time her burnt his hands.

Now when I first went to this show I was going for NOFX. I had never heard of Alkaline Trio and the Dead Kennedys were long before my time, so I wasn’t expecting a lot until Fat Mike took the stage. Well silly me. Alkaline Trio opened. They came out in crushed velvet suits. They were pretty damn good. It inspired to pick a few of their albums, and what I didn’t have my buddy Dan provided for me. This is another band that I would for sure put on a top 25. After Alkaline Trio blew my mind, Jello Biafra, former lead singer of the Dead Kennedys came out and talked about the war and got everyone fired up and ready to revolt against the government. I did forget to mention that this was the, “Rock Against Bush Tour.” He was very inspirational and by the time he was done the crowd was ready to vent their frustrations. So the greatest punk band of all time, NOFX, gave us all the outlet we needed.

For those of you that haven’t heard of NOFX, let me give you a little history. They’ve been a band since 1983. For those of you that have your shoes on, that’s over 20 years. They’re always touring and recording. They refuse to have any of their stuff on the radio or MTV/VH1. They’re just about the most successful independent band ever. I love them and you should too. They played songs from every era of the band including B-sides and unrecorded material, including one of my favorite songs, Idiot Son of an Asshole (it’s about Bush). I really had no idea what to expect from them and it was great. They were funny, drunk, played like shit, and made fun of the crowd. They ended with the song, Theme From a NOFX Album, where Eric Melvin kept tearing up guitar solos as the lights came up and everyone else from the band had left stage. No encore, just Melvin. It was just rad.

4. Nine Inch Nail/ A Perfect Circle

The first real concert I ever went to was technically the Beach Boys (John Stamos was drumming) when I was 7 or 8. Now that was great, but I don’t really remember it all that well. Nine Inch Nails was really the first concert I really remember. Let’s set the mood. I was 17, hated the world, liked to think I was dark and mysterious but really I was fat, cuddly, and looked 12 with a stupid hair cut. Looking at myself now I’m not much of a fan anymore. Not to say I don’t think their music isn’t great, because it is, but I’m at a different place in my life. I’m no longer the hopeless kid that just wanted to scare the shit out of people. Nine Inch Nails was a band that basically said, “You’re having a bad day? Well let’s have a bad day together. You’re not alone.”

The show opened with A Perfect Circle. APC was a side project from the lead singer of Tool, Maynard James Keenan. It was similar in style to Tool, but I would describe them as slightly easier to listen to for the uninitiated. They played great and put on a strange show where Maynard was lying down for about half the set. Something to this day I’ve never seen again. Their show wasn’t psychedelic like Tool shows are famous for being, but Maynard’s voice was spot on and it warmed me up for NIN.

NIN’s set was great and I was pressed up against two really hot girls the whole time. In fact, this show marked the first, and so far only time I’ve ever beat up a drunk man. He kept trying to grab at the girls and push me down. So I kicked him in the back of the leg. When he was off balance I pushed him into the mosh pit which where he got tossed around until we didn’t have to deal with him anymore. Needless to say I was a hero of Conan caliber, and was treated to very close dancing (especially during the song closer) with those hot chicks for the rest of the night. My 17 year old hormones loved me so much. The girls actually wanted to hang out after the show. I then broke the news that I was 17. They were 28. At that point I was no longer invited. So NIN marked a few firsts and almost firsts which is really the main reason it make the list.

3. Saves The Day/Senses Fail/The Early November/Emanuel

This show would have been number 2 if the original line up had actually made it. Say Anything was supposed to play but Max Bemis had a break down and canceled the tour resulting in Emanuel taking their spot. In fact the last track on the first disc of Say Anything’s album, In Defense of the Genre, is actually about that same break down. It took a show that would have probably been the greatest show ever and turned it into a show that was just amazing. Emanuel played well and it inspired to pick up their records, but they were no Say Anything.

Now I’m a huge Early November fan, and if they hadn’t broken up they would have beat out Brand New for my top 5. I’ll go more into them a bit later. They came and rocked it in traditional Early November fashion. Little did I know it was the last time I would ever see them on stage, so looking back now it’s actually making me a little sad. Senses Fail played great. In fact I think they’re much better now that the guitarist from Midtown is playing for them after they split. The lead singer, Buddy Nielsen (no relation), has a hard time hitting the high notes live, which would them put him off key a few times, but it was okay because I was singing along pretty loud to cover for him.

Now for most shows I just love to be in the pit singing along, but for STD I went up to the balcony and grabbed a seat. I really wanted to take them in. Some people hate Chris Conley’s voice. I say those people can go to hell. That guy is a freaking angel. He has a way of taking a string of lyrics that just shouldn’t work, and making them work. He’s unconventional and amazing to watch live. He responded so well to the crowd and you could tell that he loves every single one of his fans. I sang along to every song, just like 90% of the crowd. I felt like a damn hippy. They played stuff from every album, and the crowd lit up at the beginning of every song. So far they’ve been the single greatest band I’ve seen, but it’s not about the single band, but the entire show.

2. Warped Tour 2004

This one is kind of cheating. It’s technically a music festival but I saw so many great bands here that I’ve always wanted to see in one place on the same day. So here’s the list of the bands: New Found Glory, Alkaline Trio, NOFX, Anti Flag, Bad Religion, Story of the Year, Thursday, Taking Back Sunday, Flogging Molly Yellowcard, Coheed and Cambria, Bouncing Souls, and my friends in BXF got on for the Portland stop. There were so many bands that I had to choose not to see Senses Fail and My Chemical Romance. These bands listed above make about half of the bands that really shaped me today, so seeing them all in one place was basically the most amazing thing I’ve ever experienced. No warped tour line up before or since has been this good.

NOFX was characteristically drunk and seemed to play every 50 second song they had. Yellowcard seemed like a bunch of assholes, but who knows. Certain bands were just astounding. Thursday and Flogging Molly really impressed me. Justin from NFG basically spent the show in the crowd passing the mic around for fans to sing along. It got to me twice. Story of the Year are practically a bunch of gymnasts. Adam Lazzara from Taking Back Sunday climbed the rigging and sung a few songs while hanging upside down. Over all it was just an amazing experience.

Now I mentioned I would talk more about Early November. Their lead singer, Ace Enders is probably my favorite singer/songwriter. Every project he’s really done has actually just been bands playing what he wrote, but The Early November is definitely my favorite project he’s been a part of. He’s such a mellow guy and he loves his fans. He basically hung out at their merch booth until it was show time. Now I’ve had a great experience when I’ve met my heroes and this encounter was no exception. We talked about music and his upcoming projects. He seemed to really like me because he sold me stuff for well over half off and waved at me while they were on stage. Just getting to have a conversation with Ace made the day all by itself. Pick up The Early November if you haven’t yet, also I Can Make A Mess Like Nobody’s Business and his current project, Ace Enders And A Million Different People. There’s a rumor that The Early November might get back together sometime in the future for a reunion tour and I would love to see everyone there.

1. Weezer/Tenacious D/Jimmy Eat World.

So before Weezer started sucking they used to be my favorite band (Seriously though, Make Believe sucked. Red was pretty good though). It had basically been my dream since the fifth grade to see Weezer live. So of course when I get to middle school they break up thus destroying my dreams. But something happened six years later, the first evidence in my life that there may be a god. Weezer got back together and released two albums 364 days apart from each other, one of them being my all time favorite Weezer Album. On top of that they were touring nonstop for two years with only one scheduled stop in Portland. I had one chance at this mother and I wasn’t going to miss it for the world. On top of that they were playing with the D.

So I had heard Jimmy Eat World before in passing, but when those lights dropped in the coliseum and they started off the show, I was hooked. The lead singer, Jim Adkins, had so much energy. I still to this day have not seen a lead singer with as much passion as him. I heard of them before, but after one song live I was a life long fan. Every one of their albums has been amazing and they can be enjoyed by most varying tastes in rock. After that Tenacious D took the stage. Never in the history of the world have two fat men with acoustic guitars and Nerf weapons owned a gigantic stage all by themselves. This was in the transition period from when the D was just doing stuff on HBO to their major release that made them a house hold name. Jack Black had also only done a few small movie roles at this time. They were funny. They really entertained in a way musicians would as well as stand up comedians. At one point I swear I locked eyes with Jack and was taken to a completely different world. There’s something going on inside his eyes that could hypnotize a snake.

So now it was time for the main event. I remember clearly this ass hole at the barrier who kept pushing people down and basically being a douche. So I picked him up and threw him over the barrier and took his spot right up front. When Weezer took the stage I started getting flashbacks of screaming El Scorcho at the top of my lungs, making out to Only in Dreams, and blasting Buddy Holly in my car until my speakers started clicking. They didn’t have the most energetic show I’d ever seen, but they were tight. They played so well you’d think it was Milli Vanilli on stage. They played about 20 songs, before going off stage before the encore. When they came back on they played a few more songs before ending with Only in Dreams. Every person has that one rock ballad that sticks out in their mind from their youth, and Only in Dreams was it for me. Not only did they play it, but they played it epically with huge guitar solos and a huge finish where glitter, confetti and balloons dropped down on the crowd. I was so incredibly happy that I cried the most passionate tears of joy in my life.

As for the show I would love to see if the stars aligned. In order of appearance on stage we have Brand New, The Early November, Say Anything, Bayside, and finally Saves The Day. I put Saves The Day over Bayside in this one situation because Saves The Day has a bigger fan base so I’m sure the crowd we be a lot more into it, thus making them the obvious choice to close out the show. Now we just need to work on getting TEN back together.

So that’s my top 5 favorite concerts. In one week I’ll be seeing my favorite band, Bayside along with New Found Glory. With any luck this will make me revise my list. Everyone has some favorite shows so comment. Join me next week for my top 5 favorite TV shows. Until then…courage.


Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Top 5 Favorite Video Games

I love games. I really do. I consider myself a gamer. Hardcore at times, but mostly I just like to have fun and immerse myself in another world. I’m into video games, pencil and paper role playing games, board games, you name it. There’s nothing better when it comes to social situations or when you just need to blow off some steam. Specifically today I want to focus on video games.

I’ve always been a gamer since I can remember. We had an Atari before we got a Nintendo when I was six. The first games I had were Mario and Batman (See mom and dad, it’s your fault I’m into Batman). After the Nintendo I was hooked. Between me and my brothers we had an Atari, Nintendo, Genesis (with the Master System add on), Turbo Graphics 16, Super NES, Nintendo 64, Playstation 1, 2, and 3, Dreamcast, X-box, X-box 360, Game Cube, Wii, Game boy, Virtual Boy, DS, and a PSP. We had just about everything. I’m starting to get more into a gamer community and I’m finally considering competing in some tournaments (even though I’m sure I’d get my ass handed to me).

So I didn’t realize how tough this subject would be. I figured that there were certain games that would have been shoe ins, but after careful consideration and about 20 hours of game play over the last 3 days, many of my shoe ins became just good games. I used a criteria for judging this list again. The game has to have a good story with a lot of player interaction. My favorite genre is role playing games so you’ll see a lot of RPG’s because of that story requirement. I also looked at overall production value. Did the game feel rushed or did they put their time into making it all it could be? And finally, did the game change the way I looked at gaming? Was it just a game, or did it leave me going, “whoa?”

You won’t see games like Halo, Grand Theft Auto, Mario, Guitar Hero, or any of those other super block buster games on my list. They’re great games (well at least one of the Halo’s is and I’ve never really played GTA) but they’re not the games that really define me as a gamer. So what you’ll be seeing is the cream of the crop games that have stolen years of my life, my top 5 favorite video games.

5. Chrono Trigger

So I got into this game a little late. It originally came out on the Super Nintendo in 1995 but at the time I wasn’t really into RPGs. It was actually a genre that I didn’t really know anything about. The closest I had come to an RPG at the time was Zelda, but I didn’t even realize it fell into that category. Now, over a decade later I have come to understand how truly wonderful this game is.

Chrono Trigger was created by Akira Toriyama, the same guy who created Dragon Ball, Dragon Warrior, and Dragon Quest. He was a manga and anime creator first, but a pioneering video game genius as well. It’s the story of a boy named Crono and his time traveling adventures to save the world from Lavos, the monster that would destroy the world in 1999. You go from 65,000,000 BC to 2,500 AD to piece together all the clues as to what Lavos is and why it’s bent on destroying the world. The game is about 40 hours long, had 14 endings, great characters, wonderful graphics for the time, some of the best 16 bit music out there, wonderful control, and most importantly it was different. Many people will probably disagree with me, but I think it might be the first masterpiece in gaming…at least to me.

Now like I said, I didn’t play it when it came out. I didn’t play this game until about 6 years after it came out. Since then I’ve played it on SNES and bought it on Playstation and Nintendo DS for the road. The game has basically been released every 5-7 years since it came out because it’s so damn good. It’s usually been unchanged as well with the exception of new content. Proof that there’s no need to fix something that’s not broken. A sequel was made called Chrono Cross, but it sucked ass and isn’t worth anyone’s time.

4. Gears of War 2

This is the only next gen game on my list and is an X-box 360 exclusive. There are a lot of great next gen games but this is the only one so far that’s really punched me in the gut. On top of that it’s the only game on my list that’s really a shooter. See, this is my problem with shooters. Why? It’s the most diluted genre of games in gaming today. Do we really need another game where some over muscled tough guy is carrying around and inappropriately huge gun that is representative of their man hood? I’m sick of the Master Chiefs. I’m sick of the first person perspective. I’m sick of guns that would never exist. And then Gears of War comes along and I’m a total gramer (they’re the people who say they’re gamers but all they play is Halo, Madden, and GTA). Now I’m online pwning nwbs left and right and having people wanting to be my friend for the soul reason that I can turn any punk into my bitch.

So what is it about Gears of War that makes me change my view on the shooter genre? Well it’s not in first person. It’s an over the shoulder 3rd person view, which from a narrative perspective is good for the story. It makes it feel more cinematic. This brings me to the next great thing, the pacing. These games have it all. Over the top action, moments that make you mess your pants, over the top gore, and an amazing story. It’s basically a story about what humanity will do to survive. Earth is long gone and the planet Sera, where humanity has relocated to, is pretty screwed as well. It’s just an intense game. The characters are funny, engaging, well developed with stories that all lead back to what they’ve had to sacrifice to get to where they are. Honestly the game feels more like an interactive movie.

On top of the awesome story mode, Gears has one of the most amazing on-line set ups in gaming today. This turns a 10 hour game into an unlimited hour game. Not only can you play the whole game in co-op online but all the different multiplayer modes are great as well. My personal favorite is Horde where you have a small team that needs to defend against 50 waves of bad guys. This takes more than 3 hours to complete and you need an amazing team to do it. If everyone dies, that’s it, you’re done. Team work is essential and if you have one person that isn’t on a headset you’re basically screwed around round 10. This game made me understand why people go crazy for all of these shooters. So if you’re looking for an intense game that you need to keep away from your kids, but that also brings you an amazing multiplayer experience as well as an epic story mode, Get Gears of War and Gears of War 2. Gears 2 makes the list because of the Horde mode and the polished controls, but get both because they rule.

3. X-Men Legends

This Playstation 2 and X-Box title is a lot of fun for people who are fans of the X-Men, but also just fans of a great game. Most video game adaptations of comics usually suck hard, but X-Men Legends, X-Men Legends 2, and Ultimate Alliance set a new standard for what a comic book game should be. This is really the first comic book game where you can play as a whole bunch of characters and each one is extremely different. There are 15 playable and completely customizable X-Men as well as cameos from a whole bunch more. I can’t tell you how many times me and my nerdy comic friends sat around talking about what our favorite X-Men team would be. Now thanks to this game you have the ability to actually create it and play as it.

The game plays great as well. You control one character at a time with customizable AI settings for the other people on your team. Switching back and forth between players is as easy as pressing the D pad. The game is an over the head hack and slash RPG so it’s designed to be intense with you plowing through legions of bad guys. Now the game isn’t without its flaws. The plot is great because they actually had X-Men writers come in and do the story, but it feels like their children did the dialogue. The games have notoriously bad one liners and the voice actors really over play on character traits. But like I said the plot is great. They pull from a lot of X-Men lore and create a story that you could actually imagine happening in the comic. In X-men Legends 2 they go a step further and focus on my all time favorite X-Men story, The Age of Apocalypse, where so much of the story is a nod to that series complete with the ability to change their costumes to the AOA themes.

So like I said, X-Men Legends spawned a sequel, X-Men Legends 2: The Rise of Apocalypse and a spin off that involved the entire Marvel universe called, Ultimate Alliance. A sequel to Ultimate Alliance will be out soon as well so there’re a whole bunch of games in this series to enjoy that are all made with the same quality. DC has tried to emulate it with their Justice League game, but sadly it fell short and couldn’t really compete. This is sad to me because I would love to play a great DC game with the same ideas. So if you’re a comics fan and a gaming fan then go out and pick up these classics.

2. Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic

That’s right. I got a fraking Star Wars game on the list. Much like comic book games, Star Wars games usually suck too. There have been a few great exceptions and Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic is the grand daddy of exceptions. Now when the X-Box came out I could have cared less. There were no good games and still to this day, the original X-Box ranks up with the Atari Jaguar as one of the crappiest systems ever made (The 360 is so not the case though). The one thing that it had going for them was this exclusive, which I believe is by far the best Star Wars games ever and one of the best RPGs of all time. It was actually the only reason I bought an X-Box and it was the only game I had for the system until its sequel came out.

So ever since I saw Star Wars when I was a wee one I fell in love with the Jedi. I always wanted a lightsaber to the point that every flashlight I could find became one in my mind. Now of all the Star Wars games to come out over the many years of Star Wars games, none really focused on the coolest and most unique part of the saga, the Jedi. So finally this game comes along and does it right. It takes a hint from the pencil and paper RPGs and basically creates an entire game around that rule concept. The story happens over 3,000 years before the movies and really focuses on the rise of the Sith. Everything cool about Star Wars is in this game from the Mandelorians, to the planet Kashyyk. They really dug into what the fans wanted to see in a game and basically tailored it for the nerds. A few months back Screw Attack did a top 10 OMGWTF moments in video games where one of the major twists of the game made the list because it’s on par with, “Luke, I am your father.”

The game won multiple game of the year awards as well as a sequel that saw a lot of the same praise. The main reason KOTOR gets on the list and not KOTOR 2 is because the sequel was admittedly incomplete. Even though it was a great game you could tell that there were parts that were rushed and a few plot holes, including the ending. It’s still amazing and worth playing, just not complete. An MMORPG is being developed right now that takes place a 1000 years after and there’s a rumor that there will be a third installment to finally tie up the Knights trilogy. This is probably the game that I’ve replayed more than any other in my history of gaming and I’m confident that it will always be regarded by me as a must buy for people with an X-Box or a 360.

1. Final Fantasy 7

So yeah, this is basically the greatest game ever and it single handedly changed the way I looked at gaming. Not just video games, but all gaming in general. Now like I said I’ve always been into games, but I never knew anything about this genre called Role Playing Games or RPG’s for short. I was in eighth grade and after football practice, Larson Hess got this game. He was hands down the most annoying person I’ve ever met but he had this game and he was at my friend Chris’s house playing it. At first I looked at this game that was turn based and I thought that it was slow and lacked anything exciting. It sure looked pretty, but I just didn’t get what was going on. As I kept watching I learned that you were playing a story. There was a lot of dialogue, and plenty of decisions that had to be made that would affect the outcome of the story. You were basically playing a chose your own adventure book. Then it happened. The biggest OMGWTF moment in story that I’ve ever seen. One of the main characters gets killed. I was seriously choked up. It’s like that moment in a movie that just breaks your heart. This wasn’t a game anymore. This was something completely different. This is also On Screw Attack’s list at #2, but for me it’s by far #1.

So I was intrigued. I then started the all time greatest Christmas wish list campaign in history. It was Final Fantasy this, Playstation that, do whatever needs to be done to get this game style campaign. I think I even became a good kid for a little bit. Sure enough it paid off. I got a Playstation, Final Fantasy 7, the FF7 strategy guide, and a cardboard cut out of the main character, Cloud. Honestly, it was the best Christmas ever. Over the next few weeks my brother and I played this game non stop. If I had to go to school, he was playing. If he was working, I was playing. This game turned me into a freaking junkie and it opened the door to a whole new genre of gaming where each game is basically 30-40 hours of length. I played Chrono Trigger, all the other FF games, Wild Arms, Dragon Quest, KOTOR, Kingdom Hearts, and the list goes on and on. It even turned me onto real RPGs where I got to create my own characters and my own stories.

Now FF7 goes down in a lot of greatest games lists because in all honesty it’s very much worth it. It’s spawned a movie called, Final Fantasy 7: Advent Children which takes place a few years after the game, another game focusing on the character Vincent called, Dirge of Cerberus, and a prequel staring Cloud’s idol, Zack called, Crisis Core. There are other spin offs but these are the most accessible and notable ones. The main point is that this game in a phenomenon that changed everything I know about gaming. It had a brilliant, complex story, great graphics and cut scenes, and original characters. If you haven’t played this game and you have a PS 1, 2, or 3, or a PC, spend the $10-$20 and get this game. With any luck you’ll be changed too.

So that’s my top 5 favorite video games. I know everyone has one so put yours down. Again, thanks for the comments, emails, calls, naked photos, etc. I really appreciate the support. I’ll really try to have it come out on time from now on. Happy St. Patty’s.


Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Top 5 Places I'd Love To Visit

So my one major regret so far in life is that I haven’t traveled nearly as much as I’d like. There are so many places I’d like to see that I just haven’t been able to go to yet. It’s been kind of frustrating because so many people that I know who are around my age have had the chance to really traverse the world. I don’t want to see all the world, I mean lets be honest, most of it sucks, but there are a few places I really want to sink my teeth into. One of the reasons I’m working on becoming a teacher is so I can plan trips every summer.

So today I’m going to make a list of the places I’ve always dreamed of going to or things that just interest me so much that I must experience it first hand. My top 5 list of places I’d love to visit.

5. Japan

I’ve had many family members and friends that have taken trips over there over the years and they all come back telling me the same thing. Amazing. Apparently it’s impossible to not have a good time over there. Beautiful landscapes, nice people, a million things to do, and it’s very educational. How many more reasons do you really need to go somewhere?

I’ve been into Japan since middle school. I’ll admit it, I’m a huge Dragonball Z fan. I used to be really into all kinds of anime as well (don’t worry, I learned my lesson), I used to poor over books about the Tokugawa era and play video games based on the feudal wars, I’ve read an awful lot of manga, ninja’s rock, samurai are bad ass, I want to put Pokemon in captivity and have them fight, and lets be honest, I’d be a pretty good sumo wrestler. It’s just been a place that’s been on my mind for sometime.

So my goal is to go over there with a friend or two for a few weeks and see what comes my way. I promise to avoid the scarier, more perverted parts of the country and promise to go to all the cool things possible. With any luck I can become a Power Ranger or get my very own pet giant robot.

4. The Winchester Mystery Mansion

I’ve heard of a lot of crazy shit in the world, but this place really takes the cake. Sarah Winchester (as in the rifle) went bat shit crazy after her husband and child died. Her psychic friend told her that she was cursed and that the thousands of the people that the guns have killed were haunting her. So being completely retarded she decided to use all her money for the next 38 years to have people constantly add on to the home 24 hours a day to make room for the spirits. The result being the most screwed up place on the planet. We’re talking Willy Wonka screwy.

The most interesting part of all this is that she designed it all. Every single thing was from her. Every stair case has 13 steps. Every chandelier has 13 candles/lights. Stairways that lead to the ceiling. Doors that open to walls or above rooms (as in they drop down). There’re multiple ballrooms and kitchens. All in all the place is over 160 rooms and 3 stories. It used to be bigger too. It was 7 stories until an earthquake fixed that problem.

So of all the places on my list this is the one that’s easiest for me to get to because it’s in San Jose. I’ve really wanted to do a trip down there and take a look at all the crazy stuff, but every summer I’ve been broke. My goal is to do a San Diego Comicon/Winchester Mystery Mansion trip in August, so if anyone wants to go let me know. The more people the cheaper it’ll be.

3. Uluru and Kata Tjuta

Who would have thought a prison colony could become such a flourishing country and continent. After Europe did it’s darndest to move themselves in, Australia became a pretty cool place to live, complete with rabbit problems and baby eating dingoes. The thing that I find interesting about Australia is really the landscape and how intact the indigenous people still are after their culture was disrupted. I also think Ayer’s Rock (Uluru) is a spaceship and I want to try to find the entrance.

In all seriousness though it sounds like the people there are pretty cool. They have a very liberal society, great healthcare, and some of the happiest people on the earth, all without having to step on another country or pissing the world off. But I think the coolest thing there is Uluru and Kata Tjura. They’re places of spiritual significance to the Pitjantjatjara and Yankunytjatjara people and there are many places there that they believe should not be photographed. They also don’t want people to walk or climb on them but the Australian Board of Tourism did away with that silly rule a long time ago (that’s sarcasm).

Some people are awestruck by the Grand Canyon or Niagra Falls, but give me a big brownish rock in the middle of nowhere any day over that other crap. Just look at it, it’s just beautiful. So many people have told me about the calm power you get from places like this. I’m not a very spiritual person and maybe that’s why I want to go. Maybe to try to feel what so many people are talking about.

2. The San Diego Comicon

So my nerdiness has taken me over like I was possessed. As I mentioned with the Winchester Mystery Mansion entry this is something I’ve been trying to do for a few summers now and I’ve either had no one to go with me or I was broke…or both. I really really really want to go this year and looks like I can’t again. I feel like this is my pilgrimage to Mecca. It’s basically the greatest gathering of just about everything I’m into.

That’s right, there’re multiple reasons for me to go. You see, it’s not only comic books anymore. While that’s still the main attraction, many other things have moved there way in. Movies and video games have now made a nice little home there with the success of so many comic movies and games. So it’s basically three conventions in one where you have the opportunity to meet so many creators. I’ve been to a few local comic conventions and they tend to be sad and boring. I want one with some freaking balls.

So again I plead. Anyone wanting to take a trip to Comicon and the Winchester Mystery Mansion hit me up and let’s set a freaking date. If I can get 3 other people we should be able to make it pretty cheap if we all pitch in on gas and rooms. Help make a dream come true people. I promise I won’t wear a costume.

1. United Kingdom

For some reason when I look at pictures of the UK it just feels like home. It’s like I’m supposed to go there. And it’s not just England, but Scotland, Wales, and Ireland too. Everything just screams to me that I need to go there. I grew up just thinking I had some Dutch in me but I recently found out that I’m also Welsh and Scottish, so maybe that has something to do with it.

I’ve always loved every story from there. Robin Hood, King Arthur, William Wallace, Robert The Bruce, etc. Sure, some of those are fiction but the mythology there is so rich. I want to see Stonehenge, Big Ben, every freaking castle, Loch Ness, Tolkien’s house, the Robin Hood tour, everything. I honestly think I want to spend a month there and just spend a day at everything. Really take it in.

If I ever get one of those wife things this is definitely where I would want to go for our honeymoon. I just can’t think of anything more romantic then the lush country side or as exciting as touring a whole bunch of castles. It’s a land of great history…and mystery (spooky). So Mrs. Right, if you’re out there let me know.

So that’s my top 5 places I’d love to visit. Let me hear yours. Join me next week for my top 5 favorite video games.

And don’t forget you can read this in a more official capacity at


Monday, March 2, 2009

Top 5 Favorite Comics

Hello everyone. I just wanted to start off by thanking everyone who commented or sent me emails. I really appreciate it. This has been the best writing exercise I’ve done so far and it’s really helping me build up my confidence as a writer and it’s motivated me to start work on other editing and writing projects. I probably wouldn’t be at this point without everyone’s encouragement. So thanks from the bottom of my heart.

Now that the sappy shit’s out of the way I’ll jump right in. This week I’m doing a top 5 that I’m sure many of you have probably expected from me the beginning of this. My top 5 favorite comics. This is the other piece of the tri force of my life (music, movies, and comics). If you’ve talked to me for 2 minutes you know that I’m into comics. Not just the pretty pictures and scantily clad characters, but I’m in love with the story telling medium. It’s a graphic, non-juxtaposed, sequential story telling art form that relies on non verbal queues to convey subtle story points. If done wrong you just have a bunch of pictures with some word balloons, but if done right you come out with an amazing piece of unique literature.

For most of my life comics have been stigmatized as children’s material or exclusive for nerds because of the dominant super hero genre. That’s like saying TV only has crime dramas and reality shows. Comics also have a large and diverse selection. I’ve read romances, crime dramas, mysteries, fantasy, science fiction, spy fiction, and many others. Many major motion pictures have been made after these books such as From Hell, Road To Perdition, Ghost World, V For Vendetta and many others. In fact, many of the highest grossing movies since 2000 have either been based off comics, or largely influenced by them (Hancock, Unbreakable, Kevin Smith’s entire career, etc). So everyone goes to see the movies based on the books, but still people refuse to acknowledge that they’re a legitimate and important medium for story telling. It seems that it’s changing slightly, but it’s not where it should be.

So the goal of my top 5 today is to let all my loyal readers know of a few of my favorite books in hopes that you’ll go out and give some of these a read. I cover a few different genres here so hopefully there’ll be something for everyone. Now I’m going to let you guys know that there’s a lot of awesome stuff that’s not making my list such as Watchmen, Green Lantern, Daredevil, Y The Last Man, Mage, Jinx, Strangers in Paradise, and Captain America. Not because they’re not awesome books (go get em), but I want to say the 5 that really ring loud in my heart as the most influential. The ones that in many ways turned me into the nerd I am today. So…here we go!!!

5. Battle Chasers

Joe Madureira’s first (and so far only) gig writing and penciling a comic was by far the best work he’s done in comics. He first hit the scene as a sixteen year old prodigy at Marvel doing covers for Excalibur and the X-Men. When he turned 19 he became the regular artist for Marvels consistently best selling book, The Uncanny X-Men. At the age of 22 he left Marvel and started up Cliffhanger comics with his first original set of characters. Madureira was voted by Wizard Magazine as one of the ten best comic artists of all time and one of the top 25 most important things to happen to comics in the 20th century. He’s by far my favorite artist and his story of getting drafted out of high school is inspirational to me and a long time day dream of my youth.

Battle Chasers at first glance is just another fantasy epic. In fact, in an interview with writer/penciler, Joe Madureira, he admits to it being loosely based on Dungeons and Dragons adventures he had with friends as a kid. So of course you have the warrior, thief, wizard, etc, but what makes Battle Chasers unique is that it doesn’t suck. Now I’m a fan of sci-fi/fantasy in theory, but most of the time it’s just a good idea wrapped with terrible dialogue and cookie cutter characters. Sci-fi/fantasy usually consists of more stereotypes than a rap video. Everything about Battle Chasers is awesome. The story is great, the dialogue is snappy and engaging, the art is phenomenal, and a little girl is the most powerful person of the group. That’s just cool.

Unfortunately, Joe Mad is extremely ambitious and decided to leave comics to become a video game designer. So far no game he’s worked on have ever come out (although one is supposed to come out this year) because the companies he’s been a part of have either folded or been acquired by larger companies. Because of his departure from comics he let the series end on the 9th issue with a huge Cliffhanger. He recently made a return to comics on Marvels, The Ultimates 3 (which I have a 5 foot wide poster of in my room), so there’s a chance he might come back and finish up his series. It’s extremely hard to track down in single issue from it and as far as I know there isn’t a complete collected volume, but if you’re looking for the best art comics has to offer with a great story, shell out the cash and get Battle Chasers.

4. Ex Machina

So I don’t want to give to much of the plot away on this one, but I’ve got to rope you in. This is the story of civil engineer, Mitchell Hundred. He obtained the ability to talk to machines in a freak accident. Being a fan of comic book super heroes as a kid he figures he should use his powers for good and become a costumed hero named The Great Machine. The thing is, he sucks at it and usually causes more harm then good. He decides to give it up, reveal his identity and run for mayor of New York. He knows he has no chance of winning but he wants to do some good in the world. Then 911 happens. The first plane hits the tower. Hundred decides to put the costume and jetpack on one last time to help. As the second plane comes in he uses his power to talk the plane down, thus saving the second tower. He wins the election by a landslide. Ex Machina is the story of a real hero trying to make a difference on a political level. He’s someone who’s actually concerned about the people.

Written by Brain K Vaughn (TV’s Lost, Y-The Last Man, Runaways) and penciled by Tony Harris, Ex Machina is one of the best on going series I’ve ever read that tackles a lot heavy issues such as gay marriage, racism, drugs, the education system, terrorism and super villains. Hundred is neither a republican nor democrat. This puts an interesting angle to his decisions because he often swings from conservative to liberal on many issues showing you don’t have to be an extremist in politics.

Ex Machina is easy to track down with most collections being relatively cheap for comics. So far seven books have been released, but you can collect it monthly from single issues. I recommend the books because you get a good chunk at a time and it’ll be easier on your wallet. So if you’ve ever wondered what it would be like to see someone have a conversation with a toaster then make a controversial judgment on gay marriage, Ex Machina is a book for you.

3. Kingdom Come

Kingdom Come is about the end of the DC Universe. It’s told from the point of view of Pastor Norman McCay who has been receiving visions of the apocalypse. He’s guided through the DC Universe to observe how the heroes react to the events unfolding. The story takes place in the distant future where after the death of Lois Lane to the hands of the Joker, Superman decides to quit. Over the years many other heroes follow suit as a new generation of heroes take the reigns. The problem is that the new heroes are reckless and seem in many cases like villains. When their irresponsibility triggers a nuclear disaster in the bread basket of America, Superman and the heroes come out of retirement to clean up the mess. This triggers a super hero civil war of biblical proportions. All the while basic humans have their fingers on the nuclear weapons in fear of the battling gods.

Written by Mark Waid and painted (yes, painted) by Alex Ross. This marks Alex Ross’ 2nd major main stream comic effort (the first being Marvel’s, Marvels) and is easily the biggest spring board for his career. He used models for every character of the comic to make it look as real as possible. Every frame feels like looking at a photograph making the story hit even harder. This is also by far the best writing from Mark Waid. He’s practically a DC historian and it shows with how beautifully connected everything is and how much history is dug up for the story.

I first read Kingdom Come during my freshman year of college and I’ve probably reread it more than any other comic. There’s so much social observation layered through the book as well as religious commentary. What would Armageddon be like in a world where gods live among us? Before writing this top 5 I was on the phone with a friend who said, “How can you not love Kingdom Come?” He didn’t know at the time that I was putting this on my list. So if you’re looking for the ultimate knock down, drag out battle in history with the best visuals and story telling, pick up Kingdom Come. It’s easy to find because it’s been reprinted many times. You will not be disappointed.

2. Powers

It’s NYPD Blue meets the Marvel Universe. Powers in the story of Detective Christian Walker and Detective Deena Pilgrim, who specialize in police cases involving metahumans. There are so many crime dramas on TV these days but none as interesting as cases involving super humans. How are you supposed to perform an autopsy on someone who has impenetrable skin? How are you supposed to arrest a suspect who can break through hand cuffs like they’re string? What happens when a hero snaps and decides to try to take the planet with him? It’s all in this book.

This is by far the best ongoing series I’ve ever read. Brian Michael Bendis has been my favorite writer since I first read Ultimate Spider-Man. He has the best dialogue I’ve ever seen and his frame pacing is nothing short of genius. I’ve now met him a few times and every time he always offers great feed back and support as a prospective writer. I actually met him on my birthday when he randomly dropped in on the comic store that I go to (he lives in Portland). I grew some balls and introduced myself to him. We then proceeded to talk about comics for more than 45 minutes. It was like picking the mind of God. It was amazing and he gave me some great things to read that were big influences to him. A few months later he even gave me an autographed copy of The Powers Script Book for free because he remembered the conversation we had when I first met him. That was the first time I ever met one of my heroes and he lived up to every expectation. The artist for the series, Michael Avon Oeming, has designed such a great world that makes you throw a double take. The art seems so cartoony, but the content is so raw. It’s like watching the Batman animated series if The Penguin was a serial rapist and The Justice League hated each other.

Powers consistently wins multiple Eisner awards (The most honored award in comics) and it constantly seems to be upping the ante every story arc. Every time there’s a new issue I’m left feeling like there’s no way that can be topped, and yet every issue they do it again. I believe there are 12 collections out now so collecting them all will take some time and money, but I assure you it’s very much worth it. When I see shows like CSI and Law and Order I have to cringe because they are just tired and boring compared to Powers. The best crime drama on is in comics.

1. The X-Men

What can I say about the Uncanny X-Men? Everything. They’re life changing. I remember when I was a little kid in K-Mart with my brother. He got a Nightcrawler action figure and I got Cyclops. I had absolutely no idea who these characters were I just knew my brother liked them. When we got home he introduced me to X-Men #1 with art by Jim Lee. I’d never really read comics before, hell I never really read before. When I was a kid I had trouble reading, not because I was slow, but because I was stubborn as hell and school stuff didn’t interest me. X-Men did. X-Men is probably the main reason I’m even literate. The characters were just so cool and so different from Batman or Superman.

I didn’t even realize when I was younger the social undertones of the entire comic. It’s all about racism. The book originally came out in 1963 right in the heart of the civil rights movement just 5 years before the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. Ever since the beginning it was always about humans and mutants living together in peace in a world where humans hated mutants. During the Cold War and Vietnam the team line up changed to represent people from all around the world. Every person had a different nationality, religion and political view. Wolverine (Canadian), Cyclops (American), Storm (Kenyan), Colossus (Russian), Banshee (Irish), Nightcrawler (German) Sunfire (Japanese), and Thunderbird (Native American) made up probably the most diverse cast of characters ever. In the last century the X-Men started showcasing homosexual heroes Like Northstar, Phat, Vevisector, Anole, and Karma. It seems that whenever there’s an issue of the world not accepting people, the X-Men are there to save the day.

Aside from the politics of the comic and the childhood nostalgia, there have been some amazing stories to come out of this series. I literally have completed the entire X-Men collection. Every x-title and every issue amongst those is in my possession. I can go over the whole history of the comic for you, but just so you won’t hate me I’ll recommend a few story arcs for people who just want to get a few good stories under their belt. You should be able to find collections of these on the internet or any comic store worth anything. X-Tinction Agenda, Operation: Zero Tollerance, The Astonishing X-Men, The Age of Apocalypse (I’m currently rereading it), Deadly Genesis, and of course the classic Phoenix Saga.

So that’s my top 5 favorite comics. Most people I know really aren’t into comics so hopefully some of these will interest a few of you non believers. If you’re local I’ll probably let you borrow some of these too because I am totally for spreading the love. If you have a top 5 on this I’d love to see it. Go see Watchmen this Friday and join me next week for my top 5 places I’d love to visit.

P.S. Like I said last week I’m going to also be posting my top 5 on a real blog site. So here’s the address for that.