Folks who read through my back posts containing the "review" tag will find very few as relates to RPGs or gaming in general; instead, most of these are reviews for various films and television shows I've watched, most (all?) of which could be called part of the "geek" genre (science fiction, superhero, fantasy, etc.). It's been a while since I've written one of these reviews, but it doesn't mean I've stopped watching this kind of thing...just means I've stopped blogging about it.
But the fact is I've probably watched more "geek media" since the pandemic started. Not necessarily because we've been shut in (that's part of it, though) but because my kids are older now so some of the shows we previously skipped with them have been rewatched. And (often) rewatched multiple times.
The last month or so, that's been Marvel stuff found on Disney Plus. We streamed the Wanda-Vision series and now we're watching the weekly installments of Falcon-Winter Soldier as well as the previously cancelled Agent Carter (which none of us saw at the time it was being made. Too bad...it's excellent.). Along with the old Chris Reed Superman and Avengers films (including Black Panther, Doc Strange, Iron Man, etc.), and the multiple viewings of DC's Wonder Woman films, I've been steeped up to my eyeballs in the cinematic superhero genre.
[the family also enjoys the old Adam West Batman TV show on occasion...still a hundred or so episodes yet to be streamed!]
I have not seen the most recent re-edit of Justice League, so I can't comment, but my taste in superheroes probably does run along a more "Disney-fied" vein. Heck, I enjoyed WW84 quite a bit...for me, it was reminiscent of the Wonder Woman I grew up with (in TV, cartoon, and comics)...campy and fun. My kids liked it a lot less than the first film (because they love the WWI stuff), but I just can't get behind a WW with a sword and shield, getting all stabby like a Greek hoplite or something. Give me more magic lasso any day of the week.
*ahem* But that's DC stuff, where the power levels scale way off the chart of plausible (remember when Superman reversed time in that first movie?!) and I'm still (mostly) a "make mine Marvel" kind of guy.
And, man o man, do I love love LOVE the Captain America stuff. The Falcon-Winter Soldier is right in my sweet spot for the genre. As far as "lore" goes, Cap has some of the best, and Falcon, Bucky, Zemo, U.S. Agent (!! Shout out to Wyatt Russell who is, like the perfect casting choice! Can't wait for him to turn psychotic!) just really gets me cranked. It's just such a cohesive bunch of comic book gobbledy-gook with plenty of Marvel soap opera mixed in to this idealistic concept set against the shady backdrop that is the military-industrial complex.
*sigh* I could gush on-and-on about all these characters (and Carter, too! She's part of the whole Cap stuff), but I will spare my gentle readers. However, I will say that all this "hero stuff" has inspired me to once again look at the idea of running a superhero game (see Trey? You're not the only one!) and Lo And Behold the system I've been looking at most recently is NOT the B/X-based system sitting on my design board but (rather) the old Marvel Super Heroes RPG from TSR...a game I "gave up on" some decades back. I'm tinkering with it at the moment, especially with its universal FEAT mechanic, finding ways I could scale it down AND up at the same time.
[hmmm...that last bit probably makes sense to no one but me]
Unfortunately, as usual, I'm a bit pressed for time so all explanations (if any...sheesh I'm bad about this stuff) will have to come out in a future post. What I do have time to say, at the moment, is the following:
- I think (I think) that, for me, the super hero comic book as a source of "lore" and as a genre may be a dead one. I just don't care very much about "the ongoing story" because most of it is just...eh. Let's just leave it at "I don't care" but ESPECIALLY I don't care about all the new "hero teams" that have been created over the last 20 years (mixing various heroes and villains like a Wild West version of NFL free agency with no salary cap). Just. Don't. Care.
- I think the cinematic MCU is fairly coherent and is a good model to try emulating. Trey, over at Sorcerer's Skull, started doing an analysis of cinematic supers (how they differ from their comic counterparts) and I think that's a pretty good place to start.
- Some may detest the light-heartedness and camp that creeps into these films, but I enjoy much of it, not least because it's too hard to take the genre uber-serious. While I appreciate the new DC films since (and including) Nolan's Batman trilogy, there is something I find very pretentious about using grim-dark to tell stories about characters in tights and/or hot pants with silly code names. I like that the actors take the material seriously, but the writers and directors (i.e. the filmmakers) needn't do so. Damn. Have some fun with it!
And these three bullet-points I think are my new jumping off place for my own private Super-verse. A core "bible" of titles that doesn't play mix-and-match hell for "innovation." A downplaying of four-color costumed shenanigans with lower power levels (though still powered). And a willingness to not take the thing too serious, to allowing humor and the occasional eye-wink to show up.
The supers genre doesn't (generally) make for great "art," but it can still be fun, escapist fantasy. The same could be said about RPGs. But I have to say that the more I consider the genre, the more differences I find from the D&D genre, and the more I feel I want to escape from systems that build on D&D's design tropes. Jeff Grubb's MSH was a far cry from the opus of Gygax and Arneson, despite some similarities (ability scores, power classes). I kind of want to go back to that well...I think there's still water there.
All right. Later, gators.