5 Shows Cancelled Too Quickly.

Now I know we’ve all got our own ideas, and I’m sure readers will see familiar names and say they got movies or whatever. Movies are great, they tell stories and generally wrap up a story that was started in the movie fairly well. However, this should really only happen after a TV show has had its full run, and if it hasn’t, a movie will just leave fans wanting more, either in between the series and the movie or after the movie. That being said, let’s get started. Here are 5 shows cancelled too quickly.

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5. Almost Human, 2013

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In a lot of ways, this isn’t just about the show Almost Human, it is also about how much FOX seems to hate sci-fi shows. The show Terra Nova also got the boot after a half season, and even though Fringe got 5 seasons, people still say it was too early for that show as well. I personally just enjoyed Almost Human the most among the shows FOX has recently put out and cancelled. The show was easy to follow and didn’t require you to necessarily tune in every week which is under-appreciated in a lot of television today.

The show follows a loose cannon detective John Kennex (Karl Urban) who dislikes androids but partners with one, Dorian (Michael Ealy). Yes, it is essentially the plot of I, Robot but there is a lot to flesh out in a story like that. There will always be racial undertones to address when creating a race of some kind, and in this case androids. There is always the buddy cop story, and whatever back story Kennex had. On top of this, the show had a build up to something called The Wall, and we really never get the pay off for that.

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4. Arrested Development, 2003-2006

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I’m well aware that it had a 4th season on Netflix, but did that really feel like Arrested Development? I would say no, I know the actors are all doing their own thing right now and that is why the season is made and shot the way it was. That is why I think the show was cancelled too early, and it is easy to say it would have been preferable for the show to have continued opposed to it being revived some years later. It isn’t bad by any means now, it just isn’t the Arrested Development fans fell in love with years back. Season 5 is also supposed to be happening at some point according to the creator of the show, and hopefully that’ll be more aligned with what we’re used to from Arrested Development.

No context, just felt right.

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3. Freaks and Geeks, 1999-2000

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I’m currently watching this show for the first time, and am dreading the fact that it will only last for one season. Even though it is set in the 80’s, there was a lot to learn about life and growing up in that series. The series follows a group of geeks Sam Weir (John Francis Daley), Neil Schweiber (Sam Levine), and Bill Haverchuck (Martin Starr). While it also followed a group of freaks (which in this case means slackers and burnouts) and the main character that was becoming friends with them, Lindsey Weir (Linda Cardellini), Nick Andopolis (Jason Segel), Daniel Desario (James Franco), Ken Miller (Seth Rogen), and Kim Kelly(Busy Philipps).

That’s quite the cast, and it is no coincidence that those are actors of numerous Judd Apatow films as he was the executive producer of Freaks. The show had a great balance of comedy and drama, while teaching characters and viewers about life, what it meant to recognize who you are and growing up.

That’s a pretty important life lesson. The show became a cult classic and obviously all of those actors went on to be pretty successful Hollywood actors, and since it has been gone for 14 years now, it’s unlikely to make any kind of return, but fans of the show will know that these actors constantly find screen time with each other in other shows and movies.

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2. Young Justice, 2010-2013

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Ah, the curve ball of the group. Young Justice was an animated series on Cartoon Network that followed the adventures of former sidekicks (don’t call them that though) as they formed their own team to take care of the business that the Justice League couldn’t, or wasn’t able to. It had a great voice cast led by Nolan North, Jesse McCartney (Yes, that Jesse McCartney), and Danica McKellar.

Essentially Young Justice was just another victim of Cartoon Network’s need to sell toys. The show had incredibly mature themes and very dark undertones, and apparently did not appeal to kids enough for them to purchase toys. However, the show had a great following from an older crowd and that crowd has tried numerous things to try and get the show back on the air. Including change.org petitions and crowdfunding. Both to no avail.

This isn’t the first time something like this has happened with CN, they also cancelled Teen Titans on a cliffhanger as well. However, they did bring the titans back in a much more goofy manor with their current show Teen Titans! GO! Needless to say though, fans aren’t satisfied and are extremely upset with Cartoon Network still.

There are plenty of things running around the rumor mill about this show. It could possibly return as a live action show on the CW, a DC animated movie could always be in the works, and maybe CN finally grows a goddamn heart and brings back a show to at least tie up its loose ends.

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1. Firefly, 2002-2003

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There is a reason that the largest Comic-Con in the world still has a panel every single year for Brown Coats(fans of the show). There is a reason that when Joss Whedon was asked “what cast would you most like to reunite for a passion project, given infinite resources” during his Dark Horse q&a panel 2 years ago, he would pick the crew of the Serenity to bring back together. There is a reason that this show is referenced to in numerous forms of pop culture, ranging from The Big Bang Theory to Futurama. There is a reason that Nathan Fillion’s current show Castle has a crap ton of references and callbacks to Firefly.

For those that don’t know, Firefly was a sci-fi western about a rag tag group travelling the universe trying to make ends meet by doing odd jobs. They have various run-ins with authorities and the scum of the underworld, while also dealing with dangers that are far more scary and terrifying in Reavers. Firefly included numerous clever and new twists on sci-fi, such as Mandarin being the popular language.

The crew was littered with groundbreaking and interested characters. You had a companion(some would say whore), a mechanic that was the sweetest girl in the world, the over-the-top macho guy with a name more common for girls, the wisecracking badass captain, the super cool pilot who was married to this girl that was the captain’s right hand woman, a doctor who cared deeply for his sister and did everything to protect her, and the sister who had the craziest of secrets. How could you not already be in love?

Yes, I’m also well aware of Serenity, and I loved it, but the universe had so much more to find and offer that couldn’t have been fit in one single movie. The cast have all gone on to new projects including voice acting, new shows, movies, and video games. However, that doesn’t stop them from popping up in each other’s show here and there which makes every brown coat cry a single tear every time.

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19 Gifs For Moments of Everyday Gamers.

Sometimes gamers have trouble expressing emotion. Who needs emotions when you’ve got gifs?

For when you and one buddy win an against all odds situation.

For when you school a younger kid at his own game.

Don’t reach, youngblood.

For when your teammates are arguing and you don’t know what to do.

For when you wreck someone who has been talking smack all game.

 For when you’re a girl playing an online game (or so I’ve been told).

For when you and your team execute a plan perfectly.

For when you and the rest of the team are dead and watch one player make an epic play.

For when you guess the opponent’s next move and you’re exactly right.

For when your team tells you to be be careful because the other guy is supposed to be really good.

For when you start playing for real.

This isn’t even my final form.

For when you get an amazing item in a randomized box.

I have no idea what the 2-0 is for in this gif.

For when noobs complain about you using a “cheap tactic”.

 

For when you get wrecked after talking a bunch of smack.

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Nerdswole is at San Diego Comic Con!

You heard it right! Brian, Alex, and Erin will be at the swolest nerd event of the year: San Diego Comic Con 2014!

Of course, we’ll be on the show floor, waiting for panels, and hauling all sorts of swag. However, we’re also here to witness the big events. Keep checking up on the Nerd Swole homepage for live updates and articles about the breaking news and releases that will be unveiled here at San Diego Comic-Con! Starting Thursday, all three of us will be posting as often as possible up until Sunday to cover the convention and make it like you came here yourself!

Now, to add to the SDCC hype train, here’s a list our must-see panels and booths!

Erin

Every year I’ve been going to the Walking Dead and Game of Thrones panels because they always have good footage and bring out the entire cast to talk and answer questions. Both panels are always a fun time, the creators and cast seem to love the environment. Apart from that, I think everyone should be watching the Image Comics panels to see all the best of the best in the comics industry and to hear what’s new creative ideas are releasing soon.

The Walking Dead Panel 2013
The Walking Dead Panel 2013


Brian

I’m super excited about Saturday’s Hall H presentations. Hall H will have Marvel and Warner Brothers. I’m also extremely excited to test play Super Smash Bros 4 in the Nintendo lounge. However, my favorite activity is always looking at all of the amazing cosplay people do. Here are some examples from last year:

Otacon from the Metal Gear Solid franchise.
Otacon from the Metal Gear Solid franchise.
Warriors of Asgard protecting Mjolnr.
Warriors of Asgard protecting Mjolnr.
Red Son Superman
Red Son Superman
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Brian will be cosplaying this year, look out for his costume!

Alex

While the con itself was jam-packed with every fandom in existence, events and locales around the area were just as incredible. From the Nintendo Lounge (aka the mini-E3), the DC Charity Booth featuring custom KIA vehicles and auctioned off artwork, and even the Walking Dead obstacle course at Padres stadium, the whole city was alive with passion and excitement. Within the con, I can hardly wait for the Marvel and Warner Bros panels on Saturday, along with the premiere of Batman: Assault on Arkham!

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Promotional Hobbit set piece from 2013.
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Auctioned off Batman artwork.
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And lastly, exclusives! Megaman & Megaman X from Capcom Booth!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Please feel free to contact me/us if you want to meet up at SDCC 2014!

Brian: @theTwentyTwo
Erin: @GuyNamedErin
Alex: @Bumsteezy

 

PREVIEW: Upcoming DC Collectibles

I love toys. I’ve always loved toys. Let me share my love for toys with you. Here are a few of my picks from the DC Collectibles solicitations that are previewed and slated to come out sometime this summer.

Batman: Arkham City Rabbit Hole Batman

batmanrabbitThose familiar with the Batman: Arkham series will recognize this Mad Hatter induced version of our caped crusader. This figure nails the look with some good detail and comes around 7 inches tall.

Green Arrow Bust (Jim Lee)

gabust

It’s a good rule of thumb to never miss a statue or bust designed by Jim Lee. This bust just looks and screams Oliver Queen/Emerald Archer, as Jim Lee’s design nails the practical suit, quiver, bow, arrows, and overall pose. This bust will be limited too, so for all Green Arrow fans out there, make sure to watch this release come May.

Superman Pool Cues

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Pool fan or Superman fan, these cues have come to Earth destined to strengthen your strokes, breaks, bank shots, caroms, etc. In both primary colors and black and white, these cues come with their own matching carrying cases so that you can travel the world inspiring humanity with your pool skills. At $200, you might want to start practicing at your local bar before investing in the fancy stuff.

World’s Finest: Powergirl and Huntress 2-Pack

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Coming off of their recent World’s Finest ongoing comic series, these Earth 2 heroes are becoming the more lovable version of the Superman/Batman team up. These figures will come at 6.75 inches and are articulated well so that you can mimic the action while you read the issues.

White Lantern Power Battery and Ring

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This 1:1 scale comes in around 11 inches, to fulfill your lifelong dream of joining the space-faring corps. Releasing in June, these replicas will also come in the other colors of the spectrum so you can start building the lantern corps of your choice.

Batman Black and White (Jae Lee)

bwbatman

Fans of toys know to always watch out for the next Batman Black and White statue, a longtime series that puts the industry’s best designers and artists to the test to create their own highly detailed, and obviously black and white, version of the Dark Knight. This summer sees the release of Jae Lee’s Batman, recent artist on Batman/Superman series written by Greg Pak. Lee’s art is known for its mystical feel and creative panel shapes, with environments connecting with characters, and this Batman shows some of that with the long, flowing cape.

What toys are you excited for or raving about? Comment below and share with our Facebook page!

The Breaking Point

I’ve come up against a lot of adversity this week.

Whether it’s family feuds, work troubles, issues with the ladies, or even handling friends, nothing has really come up Alex. Small victories here and there have been great, but when I was excited about a big thing, event, happening, just something coming through, the end result has been nothing short of disheartening.

It hasn’t been an easy few weeks.

Coming out of a tiring last semester of college, a chaotic summer of change, a relationship with a fallout worse than a plane crash, change of lifestyles from student to fully employed, losing friends, and even paying bills. It’s all been against my nature and I’ve lost a lot of things I’ve taken for granted. This all peaked near the beginning of this past summer.

It began at work in the early morning on a rainy day in June. Due to an employee’s lack of observation, a large glass table with broken corners was left in a main hallway where I work. This should have been immediately disposed of. I hadn’t noticed it because I was in a rush for a pickup we had to make that morning, and in my haste, I walked quickly past it, slicing open my knee straight across. It felt like a sharp paper-cut as it happened so fast, but when I took a second to look down, the severity of my wound began to hit me. I was able to walk myself over to the restroom; in my desperate attempt to clean and bandage my bloody leg, I was clearly panicking began to lose control of my body. I had lost enough blood to pass out and wake up sweating in a car, waiting for an ambulance to come on the rainiest day of the summer so far. Everything had been dropped to make sure I was okay. It took a work related accident to  put me out of commission for 2 weeks. In that time, everything was put on hold. At my peak, I go so many places, I’m physically involved in 99% of my job, my exercise, my life, and back then, for my long distance relationship. I was forced to take a back seat to everything (both literally and figuratively).

So with two paid weeks off and nowhere to go, I turned to something that has been with me since birth. My inner nerd. I spent the time playing Batman: Arkham City. My love of comics, animated superhero shows, and video games all combined to give me one of the best experiences on a console.

With the single goal of bringing back Gotham from the chaos of Doctor Strange, The Joker, The Penguin, and everyone else under the Bat Signal, I was Batman. I have the gadgets, I executed the moves, I took control, and from one play session to the next, that was all I was. A nerd enjoying a game I took too long to get around to. Except for Gotham, most of the weight of the world was off of my shoulders. I had stretched myself too far, trying to do everything except be myself. Trying to be a professional, trying to be an adult, to be the best boyfriend, to be a great friend, to be the best employee. I couldn’t do it all and with my mind in shambles, I built myself up by starting at the core: a quiet nerd who enjoys games and friends.

I am a nerd. I enjoy who I am, what I love, how I carry myself, and while I may get yelled at, chewed out, commanded, scrutinized, and taken advantage of, I can’t change who I am and I shouldn’t have to.

So many times, I’ve been told that my way doesn’t work. You can’t be understanding with everything. You can’t fight back, you’ll look more arrogant. You have to yell back, stand up for yourself. Everything contradicting and pushing me to let out all of my pent-up stress. Everything has pushed me to believe that being who I am was wrong and didn’t work. For me being the nerd that I am, it all correlated to one thing. One change. My breaking point. In the fall when everything seemed to be breaking apart at the seams, I had decided it was time to put on my black suit.

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My silence had become an anger. A rage that stemmed from the growing frustrations in my life. It took a toll on my relationship, friendships, and my career outlook as all of my frustrations continued to accumulate. I felt alone, I felt out of options, I felt stuck in a cycle. It never escalated to anything physical but in my mind, I was consumed by a flood of emotions, screaming at me and criticizing all that I am.

Fortunately, anger can be vented out. It wasn’t an overnight process, but slowly, as I vented out my frustrations through writing, through friends, and most importantly, through flexing my nerdiness and being true to who I was. Eventually, I felt like putting back on the webbed red and blue and life continued on. The world didn’t fall apart just because I needed a break from being everything but a nerd.

This whole collapse and rebuilding process has been tough and I write it now because my nerdiness saved me during the second half of this year.

It all became clear to me just yesterday. I had gotten in another argument with my brother. We’re in the midst of cleaning up the house and going through old things. He and my mom continually bicker over the amount of progress being done. I’m trying to be understanding to her hesitance in throwing away old things that mean a lot to her and his insistence on going through things quickly and efficiently. I eventually got dragged in between them. What I had to bring was a different story. He continually berated me and stressed to me his concerns I had well-known long ago. He yelled out of anger. He screamed out of frustration. I told him to be patient with our mom as she cleans through her things, and I was able to convince him that while he was right, it was not the right way to go about things. Like Spider-Man, I didn’t want to fight and simply cause trouble. I’d rather talk it down to a simpler solution. Understanding and patience over rage and force. Eventually, my brother understood that his rage did nothing as well and conceded to my suggestion. I felt a power that I had never had. I had control and it was out of respect, not through power. Things I had been learning through my nerdiness and incorporated into my life. Everything may not be coming up Alex, but it means something when you can affect someone through positive thinking.

When your back is to the wall, you don’t have to fight and let negativity take over. There’s always another solution and you don’t have to change who you are to show people what you are all about.

You can check out more of my articles here and feel free to explore the rest of the site for more great stuff from Brian and Erin!

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Thoughts About Stuff: The Arkham Franchise.

“But Brian, NerdSwole already did a Retrospective dedicated to the Bat, do you really have to write another article about him?” I don’t know, did we really need a rebooted Batman to be featured along side the boy scout in blue so early? If we’ve learned nothing else, it seems as though the world cannot get enough of Batman. And him being in the running to be my favorite hero, it’s hard to resist talking about a new game he has coming out. This will mainly be a glowing praise of Arkham Asylum and City, but mainly it will be my thoughts about the upcoming Origins. People will argue whether or not Batman or Superman would win in a fight, it goes back and forth either way. One place where Batman absolutely dominates Superman though? Video Games. I will also say that when the Arkham Asylum first came out, I had many doubts about the game. It just didn’t seem possible to make a good superhero game, let alone a great one. With previous games like this, I think you’d understand my caution:

superman-64
Of course my first picture in a Batman article is this.

Superman 64 is arguably one of the worst games of all time. For those that haven’t played the game, you’re probably thinking “Well Superman is overpowered as shit, why would a game with him in it be any fun?” The same reason Saints Row IV is fun. It’s fun to fuck shit up after leveling up. The real problem with Superman 64 is the lack of effort. The story doesn’t buy into itself. The controls are awful, the graphics are inconsistent, and enemy AI that was beyond stupid and pretty ridiculous. Possibly even this ridiculous:

Admittedly, this is so bad it’s hilariously awesome.

Superhero games struggled heavily after Superman 64, usually being reviewed as average, some games came along that were fun for a bit, but none of these games crossed into the upper echelon of games. Some honorable mentions: The Spider-Man games independent or movie based were still pretty fun playing through. Marvel Ultimate Alliance is fun for what it is, a couch co-op to play with friends. Rocksteady Games changed the game though. Arkham Asylum is not only a great superhero game, it’s a great game. The story is amazing, you buy in right away, the scenery, the opening, the voice, holy sweet jesus the voice (as far as I’m concerned, Kevin Conroy is Batman, and Mark Hamill is Joker). It helps immerse you into Arkham quickly. The game play is incredible, the enemies aren’t idiots, and there are plenty of unexpected curve balls along the way. I loved this game, and when Arkham City came out, I wasn’t sure it could top Asylum, I was dead wrong, and that is why I have come to trust Rocksteady as a studio. Which brings me to the game set to come out in three days. Arkham Origins.

New studio. New voice actors. New comic book consultant. Prequel. Hmmm. Originally when I heard of these startling pieces of news, I was concerned. Like, really concerned. Concerned to the point where I wasn’t sure I should buy this game. However, after watching quite a bit of gameplay, and attending a panel at San Diego Comic-Con 2013, I have to say I’m excited for this game. At the panel I attended, Eric Holmes, the lead designer of the game quickly addressed the concerns of many. He told us he wasn’t going to change what made the Arkham games great, and he recognized that Rocksteady did a fantastic job, and they could not be replaced. He did however, feel like there was a gap in time for Arkham’s Batman to grow, his origins. The studio, WB Montreal also created the armored edition of Arkham City for the Wii U, so they showed experience. This reassured me that they were familiar with the elements of game play that were necessary to carry on the Arkham torch. Holmes also showed how much of a Batman fan he was, citing things such as Year One and Legends of the Dark Knight. The latter being much less known by ordinary fans. Which brought me to my next concern.

The new comic book consultant. For those that don’t know, the consultant and writer for Arkham City and Asylum was Paul Dini. Paul Dini’s other notable works include Batman: The Animated Series, The New Batman Adventures, and Batman Beyond. Now anyone who knows me knows that when we talk about Batman: TAS this is essentially my reaction:

So when I discovered Dini helped with City and Asylum, I was not surprised one bit. I had to know who helped write these stories that were so clever and refreshing, yet so familiar. So now, imagine my response when I discover that Dini is no longer going to be the consultant for the Arkhamverse.

I really expected good things when I opened that article.

So this new unknown consultant was taking over for Arkham Origins. Great. I didn’t even want to know who the new consultant was going to be, but I decided to attend the Arkham Origins panel at SDCC because I didn’t have anything else to see at that time slot. Then came onto the panel Geoff Johns. Faith restored. Geoff Johns is a bamf. While I won’t claim to have read everything he has written, here are some notables Brightest Day, Blackest Night, critically acclaimed runs on The Flash, Justice League: Origin, and many many other awesome things. While he wasn’t Dini, I had to say that I was excited to see what Geoff was bringing to the table, because when he writes Batman, Batman gives 0 fucks in the best kind of way.

Canon. Obviously.
Canon. Obviously.

So the studio looked up to the task. The new consultant writer had reason to be believed in. A prequel though? After the ending of Arkham City, me like many others wondered where the Arkhamverse would be going. Where could they go if they were making a sequel? Me, personally, I thought they were going bigger. I read many theories that agreed with me also, that the thought process was that it was finally going to be time to leave Gotham. At the very least have some new people enter Gotham. I wanted Arkham Batman to meet the Justice League, or at least some members of the League. This seemed to be completely within the realm of possibility as throughout the games there are many easter eggs referencing the other DC heroes.

There are more than the ones in the video, but it gives you a pretty good idea. However, the powers that be decided to go in a different direction. While I’m happy to play another Batman Arkham game, I really wish the DC Universe was getting bigger. However, when I saw the trailer for the game, I noticed that it wasn’t an origin story, so much as it is a Year Two story about Batman learning his city and how to be the World’s Greatest Detective. So I’m more or less meh about this being a prequel, I wished it was a sequel and they were getting bigger and expansive, but I’m not opposed to seeing the start and rise to greatness.

Finally, the voices. This is what really concerned me the most when I first heard about the changes that were happening in Arkham Origins. More than anything else, having Kevin Conroy and Mark Hamill do the voices of Batman and Joker respectively, would sell me. Neither is on the game. But when I went to the panel at SDCC Roger Craig Smith(the voice of Batman in this game, and Ezio from Assassin’s Creed) reassured me how familiar he was with how iconic Kevin Conroy’s voice was and how he was doing his best to make his own voice but pay a great deal of respect to Kevin. The first trailers of Arkham Origins seemed to purposely not have Batman speak, and it made me think that the voice was going to be so different that it’d be really jarring. However, when I did first hear him speak, he made me do a double take, because he said two words really quickly, I did for a second think it was Kevin Conroy. After further review, I noticed the big differences, but I think it works for a younger Batman. Here is the comparison.

I like it enough to find it acceptable for this game, but if there are future Arkham games placed after City, I’d love for Conroy to return. The Joker though seemed even more difficult to recreate or go in a different direction with. You have to know though, Troy Baker is one incredibly talented guy. I heard his Joker voice once, and I was sold. Starts at about 2:12.

Do you also need a new pair of pants? As one of my friends said, “Troy Baker, the voice of everyone.” So, in the end here are my thoughts about this stuff: Arkham Origins will be a great game that respects where it came from, but wants to become its own entity, and be a great addition to the Arkhamverse. At the very least, it has earned its chance.

As always. Feel free to disagree with me on here, facebook, twitter, or any other platform. Also, share this or any of my other articles, and I will owe you a hug or high five. I’ll even let you choose.
twitter: @thetwentytwo
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Batman: The Retrospective

It’s the retrospective you need, but not the one you deserve.

Here at NerdSwole, there is no shortage of love for the caped crusader. With Batman: Arkham Origins due to hit stores this week, we decided to dedicate this retrospective to look back at our favorite adventures in Gotham.

As most kids in Gotham tell it differently, I have to ask. What did you think when you first saw the Batman?

Erin: That he would probably be my best friend until the day I die. Batman is definitely one of the first five superheroes/comics characters I encountered in life, and he made me very excited to become the nerd I am today.

Alex: I first saw the Batman when I played Batman Returns for the Super Nintendo and loved clobbering baddies. But I didn’t really know who Batman was. He was just a guy in a cape who threw stuff and took on people twice his size (not too uncommon of 90s video game characters). It wasn’t until I saw the animated series that I understood who Batman really was. I grew up with him in his fight for justice in Gotham. For those sweet 22 minutes, I knew there was a silent protector who wouldn’t sit by as injustice and crime run rampant.

Brian: I thought he was amazing. I first saw him in Batman TAS, and here was this guy dressed up in a crazy badass outfit, beating people not only physically as every other superhero does, but with his mind. In a way, Batman made it cool to be smart.

So far into the Arkham franchise, what’s your favorite moment?

Erin: I’m all about the scenery. I love seeing Arkham Island and being able to explore the various buildings and then how that transformed into Arkham City and basically getting as close as you could to experiencing a real-life Gotham environment.

Alex: The scarecrow moments from Arkham Asylum have always tripped me out. Thematically, they’re creepy and heart-wrenching. Technically, they’re a nice break in pace and the battles remind me of the Psycho Mantis battle from Metal Gear Solid where I was scared my console crashed.

Brian: The plot twists of Arkham City.

Now a round of favorites: Comic, Film, and Costume.

Erin: Gonna go cliché (but truthful) and say my favorite comic is Batman: Year One by Miller and Mazzucchelli. Favorite film is of course The Dark Knight. I actually appreciate a lot of the different suits Batman has had. My real answer is probably the suit from the animated series. My less real answers are the suits from the Brave and the Bold TV series and the killer Zur-En-Arrh suit.

Alex: The Batman comic that always stands out, for me, is The Long Halloween/Dark Victory. The artwork, emotional punch, and best Bat-monologues. Jeph Loeb & Tim Sale are one of my favorite teams in comics and their work in the Batman universe is forever etched into my brain. For films, I don’t think I’ll ever get past how incredible The Dark Knight was when I first saw it and how emotionally stirring it remains every time I watch it. And I have to go with the Long Halloween again on the suit. The cap flows beautiful and cloaks Batman as much as his city does. It’s also the perfect mix between 1970s blue batman suit and the modern age/new 52 black and gray.

Brian: Killing Joke. Justice League: Doom. Batman: TAS

We all know that any hero is nothing without a villain and Batman never has a shortage of any crazies in his city. Name your top 3 villains. 

Erin: The Joker, Catwoman, and a tie between Doctor Simon Hurt and the Court of Owls.

Alex: Mr. Freeze, Two-Face, and Clayface. Mr. Freeze’s “Heart of Ice” really moved me as a kid and remains one of my favorite Batman episodes. His following appearances and revamped design into the comic universe Two-Face has always seemed so tragic to me. No matter what Bruce does, he can never get back one of his few friends. The dichotomy between the two speaks wonders about Batman’s guilt and his never-ending quest to help Harvey Dent. As for Clayface, I loved his animated depictions. I feel anytime he is present, he can be drawn and animated with such wonder and creativity. From the end-scene of “Feat of Clay” to him being featured in Justice League and Arkham City, everything about Clayface is tragic and beautiful all at once.

Brian: Joker, Bane, and Deathstroke.

Now here’s a tough one. Who makes a better team: the Dynamic Duo or the World’s Finest?

Erin: I mean as much as I love Batman and Superman, I have to go with the dynamic duo of Batman and Robin, specifically if the Robin is Dick Grayson or Tim Drake. Bruce just has a huge soft spot for Robin, and it actually adds to their cooperation and teamwork rather than make them weak. Clark and Bruce just fight too much and fight together more out of respect than love for each other sometimes.

Alex: As much as my childhood would hate to say it, I think Batman and Superman make the better team. I feel the Robin (in his/her various forms) have always complimented Batman. No matter who is behind the eye-mask, Batman is in charge and Robin is the soldier. This is not the case for the Batman/Superman team. They represent different ideals and have their own methods. They challenge each other at every decision, even when on the same side. And most importantly, they can accomplish more at once. I say World’s Finest.

Brian: With so many different Robins it’s hard for me to say. If we were talking grayson/drake then it’d be a toss up for me. But since we’re talking about all of the robins through out different eras and timelines, I’m going World’s Finest.

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What’s one tool (that Batman doesn’t already have) that’s missing from the utility belt?

Erin: The same sort of helicopter helmet/head that Inspector Gadget has.

Alex: I’ve never understood why every robin has a staff but Batman never carries one. I’m sure he loves jumping around and smashing everyone’s faces in with his own hands and legs, but for a man of efficiency, I think an extendable weapon would help more than hurt.

Brian: A quick inflatable batman that he could just throw out after the smoke bombs.

If Bruce Wayne were to actually die in battle (like real people do, not like Superman) or go the way of Peter Parker and be swapped indefinitely into nothingness, who do you think could be Batman?

Erin: I honestly like the way Christopher Nolan and the animated universe interpreted the Batman symbol in that anyone could really take up the mantle. Anyone with the passion and heart could learn from Bruce Wayne, in the same way that John Blake (Robin) and Terry McGinnis do. It has to be someone as troubled or hurt as Bruce Wayne though, so that they can be driven by that passion to save a corrupt area.

Alex: If he were to die and be gone for good, I would hope that Batman would have inspired someone new to take his mantle. Someone who would’ve figured out how to do some of these things. I just watched The Dark Knight Returns in full and seeing the sons of Batman from the comics compare with the film versions, I think someone must have taken it upon themselves to become a Batman in case he dies. Brian reminded me that this is akin to the Reign of the Supermen! and I think someone like Steel, who is inspired by Superman to do good, could become Batman and be inspired by hope of a better Gotham. This new guy (or gal) would not be Batman Beyond, because I would hope for this Batman to become all their own without Bruce Wayne.

Brian: To me the precedence that was set, was someone who was taught or learned heavily from Bruce Wayne. Whether it be nolanverse, animated, or comic book. The mantle of Batman can be a symbol, but it always comes back to Bruce Wayne in some way. That’s why I’ll go the obvious answer, and say Dick Grayson.

In your opinion, what makes Batman one of the greatest superheroes of all time?

Erin: Oh man, the million dollar question. He’s flawed and not afraid to explore those flaws. In fact, his brooding and introverted nature make him unique. He’s also one of the only detective superheroes, and the original too. He has one of the darkest pasts and origin stories in all of comics, and beyond anything else, he’s a character with so much depth that there are never a shortage of great stories about him. He’s not afraid to do what’s necessary, but at the same time he’s very compassionate deep down. His complexity is unmatched by any other superhero, and honestly, that’s what makes him so cool.

Alex: Batman, for me, symbolizes everything that Superman is not. Superman has always had to power that helps him save those who do not. Exponential strength, an never-ending list of new powers and creativity using them, finding peaceful solutions to subdue enemies instead of killing them (whether it’s trapping Doomsday in a series of tele-porters or subduing the Elite by faking his own madness) and above all, doing everything in the name of peace. He lives to inspire those to stand proudly above what’s wrong. For Batman, he had to strive to do this all his own. He became a legend in his streets, an enigma to 99.9% of the world, created a family to help in his fight for justice, and honed his body and mind to perfection. Superman does everything with a smile, but Batman remains a dark, grim face that accomplishes everything with fists and wits. For Batman to endure all the fights, all the tragedies, and all the suffering is a colossal burden to bear. All the while having his body withering away and his mind becoming more and more jaded by the terrible things he sees, Batman never gives up. No matter what anyone thinks of Batman, there is always the upmost respect for him around the world because of his dedication to his duty and a compassionate heart that is forever shrouded by the bat.

Brian: It’s interesting, a lot of people look at Superman and call him the beacon for what humanity should strive to become. What I think is really cool and inspiring about Batman though, is that he is essentially the perfect example of what the peak of human perfection can be when completely committed to a cause. His mind, body, and soul are completely focused in his mission for justice. And even though he is motivated essentially by vengeance, he still shows what a human, that is completely committed with an indomitable will, is capable of. Despite having constant setbacks and tragic happenings, you can never truly count the Batman out and that isn’t a superhuman power unless you have a certain green ring, but with Batman, it certainly seems like it is.

For more guys going gaga over heroes, make sure to visit NerdSwole for a new retrospective every monday!

A Look Back At Grand Theft Auto and Open World Games

In honor of Grand Theft Auto V releasing last week and breaking all sorts of media records, the dudes at Nerd Swole took some time to reminisce about the series and the success of open world games in general.

Erin (E): So I’ve been a fan of Grand Theft Auto since I was a 10-year-old kid watching my uncle play Grand Theft Auto III, intrigued by the idea of stealing any car you wanted and driving across the horizon. Since then I’ve only played San Andreas and Grand Theft Auto IV, and after seeing and hearing so much praise for V, I just can’t wait to trade my sleeping hours for hours spent on learning all of the characters and exploring the beautiful Southern California-esque city in the game. What I love about the Grand Theft Auto series is it’s not afraid to be controversial. Not only does it allow the game to be incredibly fun and endless, but I think what keeps me and other gamers coming back for more is how engrossing and thought-provoking the story and characters can be. You’re usually playing these angelic, infallible protagonists in games, so I’ve always respected the GTA franchise for introducing us to morally ambiguous and layered characters. How about you guys, what are your favorite open world games and why?

Brian (B): Saints Row IV has to be my favorite open world game currently, and I know it started as a GTA knockoff, but since it’s embraced it’s crazier and more ridiculous side I believe it’s come into its own. Other open world games I’ve played weren’t focused on that aspect of the game. Arkham City is a pretty good example, while it was open world, who wasn’t trying to constantly do story missions to see what Batman was about to do?  So yeah, I’m huge on Saints Row, and it’s ridiculous antics and crazy stories.

Alex (A): Well here I am, the odd one out. Confession time: I’ve never played a GTA game. Not that they aren’t my cup of tea, but I’ve been a Nintendo fanboy and I don’t follow the releases on 360 (which I only owned recently) and PS3 (which I don’t have) too closely. However, I think a lot of the games post 2000 have made big strides because of the breakthroughs from the franchise. You don’t get to a fifth release and see this much anticipation in many franchises, and it’s not like call of Duty or Madden where you see new iterations every year. We see the Rockstar puts a lot of effort into each release and the critics agree that the games never drop the ball. But to stop rambling and answer the question, probably the closest thing to GTA, and one of my favorite series, is the No More Heroes franchise. I think Ubisoft really found a great development team at Grasshopper to make such a creative game, especially on the Wii, whose games have been aimed at a younger crowd. Technically, Legend of Zelda (my favorite game series ever) is part open-world, but I almost put it in its own category since you don’t see too many, adventure/action/RPG/puzzle games. So yea, No More Heroes is the Tops, at least on Wii.

E: All great games definitely. I think it’s interesting that Alex, you still respect the GTA/open world franchise despite never playing those games. And it’s good that you guys bring up how other open world games have since tried to diverge from the GTA path and make their own moniker. So let’s talk more generally then about open world games. Why do you think they’re important to the video game industry and/or art form and what makes an open world game transcend that social barrier to become a work of art?

B: A lot of open world games have allowed you to make decisions that affect your story or make the game easier in some way. Essentially it allows more customization or reveals more story to the protagonist or another character. Assassin’s Creed 2 had its homage to Altair through side quests in the open world, as well as recruiting an army. Arkham City had numerous easter eggs and references to the DC universe. Saints Row IV has huge rewards for you if you complete all of the side quests. So on and so forth, open world games allow you to play at a pace you want, and reward you for that.

A: I think the idea of non-linear gameplay really exploded the minds of players when GTA exploded on PS2. RPGs allowed so much customization, but the presentation and direction is narrow, as you fill the party’s main objectives and follow the righteous path to destroy evil. GTA really put the player in control in a modern setting and really gave players the choice to let loose. I’ve had fun with the clearly inspired Simpson’s Hit & Run, but I was always aware that my flipped station-wagon through the Kwik-E-Mart was kiddie stuff compared to GTA IV’s glorious destruction, such as firing bazookas at helicopters and dealing with all sorts of gang wars. 

It’s truly iconic.

I’ve also become aware of GTA due to public scrutiny and allegations of corrupting kids into doing terrible acts. I think that this freedom illustrated in the game is something new. Freewill and choice. Games before have had linear gameplay (insert 95% of Megaman titles) that thrive in portraying a hero’s arduous journey. But there’s little swaying from that life. The options and decisions are countless and that’s a perk of real life and the genre of games. You can be bad, you can be good, and you can snuggle into that gray area. Gamers were ready for that type of freedom and the sandbox genre has affected many other franchises. I’m not a fan of corrupting kids, but I’m not an idiot and know that there are all sorts of bad things that can corrupt things, and there are beautiful things that can corrupt them. I hope that the parents educate their kids about the games, become conscious about the potential dangers, and watch accordingly as they trust their children to make the right choices in life. Realizing that games, like most media, is entertainment and is not to be imitated in real life.

E: I definitely agree with a lot of what you both said. I think open world games offer an immensely deep and immersive experience that you can’t find anywhere else. The video game medium is unique in that we, as consumers of entertainment, get to control the entertainment hands-on and make the decisions that lead to the end. Where open world games succeed is that you control the flow, pace, action, order; literally almost every aspect of the story is left to the consumer to decide. In a way, open world games are a whole different interactive medium that I hope to see continue being produced for years and years to come. You have to be careful though because I think it’s really easy for an open world game to err on the side of gimmicky when there’s too little structure and too little direction in the design. But, as you both mentioned, it’s all about that story and how the writers/developers/creators can drown you in this world they created through the details they add and the paths they allow you to take.

That’s it for our brief reflection on GTA and the merit of open world video games. As we await our chance to play GTA V, tell us your thoughts on the series, new release, and just your favorite open world games in general by commenting below.