Sunday, March 27, 2016

Lets Play Star Trek Online - Better With Friends

If you look closely you can see a cloaked ship


Welcome back to 'Lets Play Star Trek Onlin'... we are continuing our adventures in the Delta Quadrant with 'Better With Friends'...

As you saw last week, the best chance we have at defeating the Vaadwaur is the build an alliance of all the Delta Quadrant species that doesn't want Captain Janeway's head on a pike, but some need extra convincing... after all, war is much better with friends than enemies right?

This is of course a 5-part system patrol bundle, to introduce new daily grind missions. The good news is that these are fairly quick missions, with one large exception It's probably best to be at the very top of the Delta Quadrant sector map or at the very bottom since 3 of the missions are at the very top of the map, Subcommander Rai's mission is in the middle, and the Kelsid mission is at the very bottom of the sector map.

Even though this isn't the order I played the missions in, for the sake of this break down, lets say you're starting at Kelside and working your way upward

And let's talk about Kelsid mission first... basically, we're responding to a Talaxian distress call, one of their ships broke down and one of their captains insulted the Vaadwaur...so it's a mad dash to set up as many defense satellites as possible to fight off three waves of Vaadwaur ships. I've never gotten all the satellites set up, but they do pack quite a bunch.

After this mission, hail Rai and head to Xiokel system. Rai has a unique idea of capturing a Vaadwaur ship to stage an attack to get the Benthans and the Hazari on good terms. This is a breeze to walk through, as Rai gives you some tactical support when capturing the needed ship, you go off to another system, greet the Benthans and the Hazari, fight off the ship you captured and then sit back and watch our allies tear about a group of Vaadwaur ships that think the alliance won't stand.

Once you're done, head up to the Izad system,save the ship that is under attack and then agree to help the Benthans in luring our and ambushing Vaadwaur ships.

Now we come to the most difficult of these missions, the Zahl system... the Vaadwaur are attacking a Benthan colony world... and your job is to rescue ships trying to run the blockade. There aren't that many Vaadwaur ships... but the problem comes with the fact they have artillery that can and will blow you out of the sky. So having a fast smaller more maneuverable ship is a lot better than having a big bulky cruiser... plus having speed batteries (which I forgot to use) and making frequent use of evasive maneuvers.

The final mission takes place in the Farn system, you respond to a distress call of Borg Cooperative ships, that have been disabled thanks to a solar flare, and Vaadwaur ships are coming in. Make sure you quickly repair the Borg Cube and Sphere ASAP they will join in the fight against the Vaadwaur. On top of that, there are solar flares to contend with, which play havoc with your ship and the Borg vessels. I normally complain about 5-ways of enemies, but with help, it's a breeze.

Factoring in the travel time, this mission all together probably takes about 45 minutes, however my game-play video for this takes an hour, due to where I started (in the middle of the map, working my way up for the Izad, Zhal and Farn systems, then heading down to Xiokel and Kalsid.

Daredevil'ish Thoughts Omnibus

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 Yes, I've combined by two original Dardevil'ish Thoughts into one, mainly because it's interesting to see how my mood soured.

Part 1 - Orignally published March 21, 2016
Hello and welcome to The Basement...

While many have binged watch all 13 episodes of Daredevil Season 2, I am going at a much slower pace... as the time this video, and it's corresponding blog , was produced after viewing episode 6 of this season, meaning I have seven episodes to go. I will keep this as spoiler free as possible.

Right off the bat, let me say the lighting is still absurdly bad to the point I have to watch the show with the lights on, just to see any damn thing when it's set at night or in a dark location. And I've watch it on my phone, TV and PC, and basically it's a poorly lit show. That's my major complaint, it carries over from last season, but let's hit do the run down of the things that are obviously talking points for the first six episodes

Frank Castle, aka the Punisher, is a one man army, gunning down gangs, punishing them for what they did to him and his family... and it appears that the DA Samantha Reyes (who appeared on Jessica Jones), is out to get Frank, and our heroes Matt 'Daredevil' Murdock, Foggy Nelson and Karen Page are caught in the middle... of stopping Castle from his murderous campaign and playing nice with the DA... plus there's the added complication of Elektra, a love from Matt's past, arriving to draw him into her issues that she has going on.

Damn... keeping this spoiler free is going to be tougher than I thought...

Anyway!

From the first six episodes, it appears that this season is being broken down into the chapters, episodes 1-4 deal with Daredevil and The Punisher at odds, in particular with methodology in dealing with crime... and we get a lot, I mean a LOT of plot exposition... I would say it's overly talky when Matt and Frank are face to face, but since they have make the Punisher a 3-Diemensioanl character, there's only one way to do it, as he does get some actual character development, particularly when he interacts with Karen. As mentioned earlier Reyes, the DA, has it out for Frank, and there is a lot of mentions of the cartel and, in less than subtle fashion it's implied that she is quite dirty (in the political sense)

Once the apparent issues with The Punisher are 'resolved', things switch gears as Elektra is introduced at the end of episode 4, with episode 5 having flash backs, and her basically luring Matt into her world, with him trying to stay out of it (which he fails too). Basically Elektra knows Matt is Daredevil, and knowing what he can do means she sees him as an ally (UN-willingly mind you) in dealing with a Yakuza styled organization. While I have an idea of how this is going to fit with The Punisher side of the story, the obvious bit from the start is that Matt is going to have a dual-loyalty problem, which is heavily indicated in episode 6, when it's clear he's really needed to be with Frank, Foggy and Karen when a... ah crap... so much for keeping this spoiler free. Basically Frank is captured thanks to Daredevil and ends up pleading not guilty and Reyes is fast tracking his trial to give our heroes 'no chance' when Matt is off with Elektra.

So, both story lines are compelling... but obviously not as good a season one with The Kingpin's rise and fall, but I'm going half way through the season. I think every character is very well defined, and the interactions come across to me as natural. If there are negatives with the story telling, it probably is at least up to the point I watched is the implied juggling act Matt is going to be doing heading into episode 7.

But I'll give my thoughts on that when I watch the remainder of the season.

Part 2 - Orignally published March 24, 2016
I'm not really sure what the make of what we saw (or didn't see as my same complaint about the poor lighting still stands)... and I'm not fully sure where to begin to try and make sense of this. Actually the best starting point will have to be with where the main focus was for the first chunk of the season.

Frank Castle... aka The Punisher... we get his trial.... and the subsequent implosion of Nelson & Murdock... and it's treat all as a subplot thanks to the Elektra story line, and I have to say... that's real damn shame. I get that the things that went down with Elektra, The Hand and so-forth are all apart of the Daredevil mythos... but man, did some things get royally screwed here. As I said before, The Punisher by far isn't the most interesting character in the Marvel Universe, but when he is on screen and in particular with Karen Page (whose own character growth is tied to his), it gets and actually got frustrating to see his story arc being treated with less importance. He goes to prison, escapes, there's a manhunt, the DA Reyes and other folks tied to the death of Frank's family is killed, he finds out WHO WAS RESPONSIBLE and has some awesome character moments with Karen who is going through her own character turmoil with Nelson & Murdock imploding... and its all treated as secondary. The Trial alone which should've been the focus of the second half of the season, was over and done within two episodes, Frank's in-prison for all of one episode, which sees Wilson Fisk return and we see what he got up too, The Police are going all out find him for 1/2 an episode (And is only brought up when Karen is on the screen)....this raises the question of why wasn't The Punisher just given his own series if basically they were going to shove him aside like this. The best thing that came out of this was the sit down conversation he had with Karen in a diner where he basically set her straight as it relates to Matt Murdock.

And speaking of Matty.... Why is it that every single Superhereo ends up going to through a screwed up hybrid of the Batman-Spider-Man mindset, as in 'the weight of the world is in my shoulders and no-one understands that the mask is more important than the man' b.s. that turns the character into a freaking idiot? We've seen this recently on The Flash with the Earth-2 stuff and it's a reoccurring theme on Arrow. Hell the only actual character development Matt gets is that he got his famous billy-club.

Now lets talk about the mess with him, Elektra, Stick and The Hand...first up, it's this storyline that leads to the rapid implosion of Nelson & Murdock, as it distracts Matt from the task at hand, putting all the weight (as brief as it was) of the Punisher trial on Foggy, who ends up going to a big law firm as a result, but it's treated as a non-issue the further into the season you go despite being what the season was building towards. Because the real focus on the season was all about Elektra and everything else was secondary, we get flash backs of her past, her relationship with Stick, the fact that she is a living weapon. She is the cause of the budding romance of Matt and Karen to falter, the cause of the end of Nelson & Murdock (not to mention a huge reason why the trial of Frank Castle ends up being a non-issue, she's the macguffin used to eliminate a key witness). Now I know she has closer ties to Daredevil than The Punisher does, hell they made sure Elektra was a huge part of the Ben Affleck movie but her presence forced so many rapid changes to the status-quo on the show that I wasn't exactly moved when the character died. Now I know I wouldn't have minded it so much if her story line was the whole season, because the effects caused by her presence from a character standpoint really have no time to breath to feel the weight. Not to mention that her story line basically ends up having nothing to do the with The Punisher story line in no way beyond her presence screwing up the trail.

Damn....

Okay... If I had to describe this season in one word it would be 'crowded', and I think this would've been better served if the focus was kept on Frank Castle, turning the season into about the trial for a longer period of time, his escape from Prison with the investigation of the cartel that's bringing in drugs in large shipments to Hell's Kitchen, as it does tie in directly to events from Season 1. Elektra could've been introduced with a slow build up to tease things for the 3rd season, where the implosion of Nelson & Murdock could've taken place, with her pulling Matt away from his actual job. Not to mention the obvious tie-in with The Punisher and Wilson 'Kingpin' Fisk is very much underplayed.

Grading the season on the whole.... I'd give it a C-.... they had great ideas, but having two very different story lines that had zero to do with the each other other than the one derailing the other just because you want to use more than one Marvel Universe character was an idea that weakened the season as a whole.

Of course you don't have to take my word for it, check Daredevil Season 2 out for yourself on Netflix.

Star Trek #45 (1989 Series) - Comics From The Basment

Trelane is back...and wants Captain Kirk's help with women?!


Hello and Welcome to Comics From The Basement

For the past week or so you saw this, Star Trek #45 sitting in the background... and guess what today I'm reviewing it, but of course I have to get some history our of the way.

On January 12, 1967... The Star Trek episode the Squire of Gothos premiered, debuting Trelane, a powerful alien being that has the ability to create seemingly anything and have total control over his environment... but in reality was a boy, a child within his race of super beings... and one would think this would've been brought up more times in the show, a reoccurring antagonist that the crew has to out-wit?

Well no.... actually... in fact Trelane is never referenced to again in any Star Trek episode, despite being for all intents and purposes being considered fore-bearer for Q in the Next Generation. Then again the Next Generation only made ONE reference to the Original Series, that being in The Naked Now, which borrowed quite loosely the plot from The Naked Time... and I'm getting off topic here.

Actually, I'm not... cause as I said, Trelane is never referenced on the 'canon' side of Star Trek ever again... and he's barely appeared in any of Star Trek's expanded universe. In fact you could count those appearances on one hand - appearing in the game Star Trek: Judgement Rites, as the main villain in the novel Q-Squared (which ties Trelane directly into the Q Continuum), and in two comics, Star Trek Unlimited #7 from Marvel... and this week's comic, Star Trek #45 from DC. I shall note now: that just about every one of these stories act as a direct sequel to the 'Squire of Gothos' episode... so one has to stretch to see try and place them into any type of continuity logic.

Anyway time to do the break down!

Cover: Adding this bit, because, it is a great cover, drawing attention with Trelane himself, and the phrasing 'Why Yes It's Trelane! With A Whole Slew Of Lethal New Games You Simply Must Play! Also of note is that Kirk looks down right pissed while Savvik (The Robin Curtis design) looks amazed... how un-Vulcan of her!

Writer: The writer for this issue was Steven H Wilson, who has a rather brief comic book resume as far as I can tell. I have read the Star Trek comics he was commissioned, and he certainly captured the 'What Would The Fans' like to read spirit that some other writers failed to do.

Art Team: The inker was Arne Starr... who pretty much had all the inking assignments for all of Star Trek's second run with DC (since this was the 1989 series), so he basically had the style down to a science, with every thing looking as it should. Beyond Star Trek, he's worked on Power Girl, Booster Gold, and Legion of Super Heroes. The penciler was Rob M. Davis, who did work not only on DC's Star Trek comics, but also a lot of work over at Malibu comics for their Deep Space Nine Series. If I have to describe his approach, I'd say he's one of those who is able to get the likenesses down pretty darn well, though in this issues there is certainly a few odd results, but everyone looks like they are supposed too. Beyond Star Trek, his comic credits include Quantum Leap, Judge Dredd: Lawman of the Future and work that has appeared in the Doctor Who magazine.

Plot: Called 'A Little Man To Man' Talk', Trelane has come to James T. Kirk to seek his advice on women and romance... yes that's right Trelane has gotten older and is noticing girls! And despite the obvious comedic set up, the story isn't treated as a joke. Trelane takes Kirk to a seedy space port, arranges a reunion with Yeoman Ross (who appeared in the Squire of Gothos episode), and even takes Kirk to see Carol Marcus... however the twist here is that Trelane is wanting to learn how to deal with women because he himself is being pursued. It is an enjoyable one-shot story, that shows that not only has Kirk aged, but also one of his adversaries.

Positives: As I just said, the story is enjoyable, the artwork is solid, it's a light easy read the covers familiar ground for Star Trek fans while not being weigh-downed too much to alienate non-Trek fans, as it's a story of a 'boy wanting to know about the birds and bees'... with said boy having powers of matter transportation and transmutation. Also when Trelane doesn't get his way, he does lash out at Kirk. Then there is of course the factor, that this was Trelane's first major appearance in Star Trek since the 'Squire of Gothos' episode, and unlike in the Peter David novel 'Q-Squared', Trelane isn't killed off.

Negatives: The artwork can be a little... 'meh' at times, as I said Rob Davis certainly is one of those who can get likenesses down, but sometimes things just doesn't look right to my eye.

Weirdness: Kirk's reaction to Trelane wanting to see him on the Field of Romance, being that of 'You Want To Spy On my Personal Affairs?' is answered by Trelane with, "Personal?' Come, Come Captain, YOUR Affairs are the Stuff of Legend!"... and it's the kind of self-awareness that one doesn't normally see in anything Star Trek related.

Which actually led me to reach out to Steve Wilson himself about that one little aspect, and I'll give you a summary of what he told me, first off we never got to see how the media viewed Kirk in the 23rd century, and with his exploits, he probably would be viewed in the same way we view George Clooney today, with endless speculation about his personal life. Also Trelane in the story is presented as the 'bratty little brother' who wants to be like Kirk, cause he's probably been watching him since The Squire of Gothos, and anything Kirk does was legendary. But also that looking back on his story from 20-years ago, he was probably taking full advantage of the easing up on the creative restrictions Paramount had on DC, wanting to remind the world that Kirk was indeed a ladies man.

Recommendation: So... what's the recommendation here? Since it's a stand alone story, It's easy to say check it out. For a deeper enjoyment of the comic, it probably helps a little to be somewhat familiar with the episode 'The Squire of Gothos', and Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan and Star Trek II: The Search For Spock.

Of course the trick is probably tracking down the comic itself, if you can't find it at mycomicshop.com or eBay, you might want to track down the Star Trek: Complete Comic Book Collection DVD-ROM, which has all the Star Trek comics from July 1967 to October 2002.

I also want to thank Steve Wilson for giving me his insight for this issue, be sure to check out his website at www.stevenhwilson.com

Well that wraps it up for this week... next time, maybe we'll go Under The Sea

Sunday Night Clip: Redshirt & Golden Axe III

Here are highlights from my November 19, 2017 broadcast that featured Redshirt & Golden Axe III Support This Channel By Shopping  ...