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Ask the Bastards #21: Aaaaaaand We’re Back!

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In a world gone bad, sometimes, good men die hard. This is the story of a brilliant physicist, popcorn Christmas tree string, a hooker… WHO CAN SING!, and 18 cursed gold coins that may hold the key to the ultimate boner cure. This is Ask the Bastards, and we have finally returned to wreak more undeserved havoc on your browser window. That’s right. For the first time in nearly a year, we’re back to answer more of your nerdy questions, and we’ll keep doing it twice a month for as long as you keep asking them.

For those of you who’ve never done this before, it works like this: Every time we’re getting ready to launch an Ask the Bastards installment, we’ll send out the call for questions on Facebook and Twitter. Be sure you’re following us at both of those places, then wait for your time to shine and ask any nerdy question you’d like of us. We”ll do the rest. And if you’re curious what we’ve answered before, you can browse the Ask the Bastards archive HERE.

Now, on to this week’s questions…

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What’s the 1st thing you’re gonna do in GTA5? – Ryan Leach

I just went and drove all over the place. The details and scope are amazing. The button mashing cheat codes are annoying, as is the lack of an all weapons cheat thus far. Besides that, though, my only real complaint is the unfair one that I always have about these games — we never get to do enough interior exploring in the cities. – Jason Tabrys

Well, the first thing I did was I ran up and punched someone in the face, just for a laugh, and I wasn’t disappointed. After realizing how extremely satisfying it was to run around, punching random people in the face and taking their money, I went and picked up a prostitute, you know, just to make sure that was working right… – Brent Cook

Drive sensibly and obey all traffic laws. Just because it’s a video game is no excuse to be a savage.  – jeremy r! hudson

What’s your best gaming memory? – Ryan O’Callaghan

I’m a sports gamer above all other types, so my best gaming memory is something I’m still chasing — a perfect game in MLB The Show. – Jason Tabrys

I am going to have to go old school. A group of my friends and I entered a D&D tournament at Fantasy Fair back in the days before it became Dragon Con. We loaded up our characters and knowing it was a dungeon crawl, loaded up on Passwall spells. We quickly passwalled down levels until we were just outside the Lich’s lair. We were all rested, full health and healing available so we trounced that Lich in short order. The Table DM called the head judge over to confirm our time, we had finished in 26 minutes. I later found out that no other team made it to the Lich, let alone killed the Lich. We lost. We lost because other teams managed to get more Exp points. When we pointed out that Exp points were not in the contest rules as the determining factor we ended up getting free passes for the next year. – Mark Poynter

I’d say one of my best gaming memories was the first time I beat Resident Evil 4 on the professional difficulty. I won’t lie to you; I am not that good at video games, despite my absolute infatuation with them, so this was a huge accomplishment for me. As a long time Resident Evil fan, I’d say that this is one of my favorite memories in my entire gaming career. – Brent Cook

It’s a toss up between late night, bloodthirsty matches of Mario Party, the original, where we’d form blisters on the palms of hands from trying to rotate the joystick faster than anyone else. Or, the first time I played Cards Against Humanity, which is basically Apples to Apples made by bad people, and nearly died from laughing so hard over the card, “Pac-Man uncontrollably guzzling cum.” – Sarah Moran

It’s probably whatever game of Madden it was when I realized I could constantly score with a single properly executed passing route. Thanks, Michael Irvin! – Matthew Jackson

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Question: I’ve missed out on comics all my life. Now I’m 30, and just starting to get into them. What is one standalone comic I NEED to read for Batman, Superman, the Green Lantern (Hal, specifically), Deadpool, Green Arrow, Doctor Strange, and Zatanna and/ or Zatara? – Blake Lewis

I can relate, as I didn’t really get into comics until my early to mid 20s. Also, strap in, because you’re going to get such a wide array of answers on this. I’ll just say Kingdom Come. It’s not an origin story, but we all have some innate knowledge of Superman and Batman’s origins anyway. This is just a visually striking book with a powerful message about superheroes. It is an essential book. If you want something a bit newer, more political, and non-superhero based, the trade edition of Sean Gordon Murphy’s Punk Rock Jesus will knock you on your ass. – Jason Tabrys

Hey man, I can sympathize. I haven’t kept up with Spider-Man, The X-Men or The Avengers since the 90’s. I’m out of the continuity loop. Outside of any big news that makes it on my social radar (apparently Spider-Man is now Doc Ock… what’s up with that?) I have no idea what’s going on in the Marvel Universe. So what if I’m a little out of whack with the Marvel time line? I’m still an active comic reader, albeit a casual one. I’ve read a lot of good stuff w/o getting hung up on what showdowns, events, loves, deaths or any other significant pins in comic time history. Some of my favorite series are The Walking Dead, Fables, 100 Bullets, and Y The Last Man. Should you pick up any of these, I assure you will NOT be disappointed. Good, good stuff. As far as essential reads specific to Marvel/DC. From the Marvel camp: Whedon’s run on Astonishing X-Men, Thor and Loki: Blood Brothers, and Marvel’s Omnibus  – Wolverine the Jason Aaron collection (an excellent assortment of Wolverine one shots). As far as DC goes, I only really read Batman. Hush, The Long Halloween, The Killing Joke, The Dark Knight Returns, Court of Owls. My favorite, though, is Batman: Black and White. It’s a collection of short Batman stories each written by some of the industries best scribes. It’s easy to read and will turn anyone onto Batman and, well, comics in general. Happy reading my friend. – Luke Gallagher

Why start with those heroes? There’s Mouse Guard, The Walking Dead, Alien Legion, Dreadstar, Fables, Alan Moore’s Swamp Thing, tons more. I would say go old school and pick up some of the Marvel Essentials for Doctor Strange because you’ve got to read and see the Steranko Doctor Strange artwork. – Mark Poynter

All the suggestions above are excellent ones. Kingdom Come is a must, and non-superhero titles like The Walking Dead, Fables, and I’ll add Saga because it’s easily the best comic around right now, should all be required reading. For Batman, there are some definite staples you need to check out like Frank Miller’s Batman: Year One and The Dark Knight Returns, Jeff Loeb’s The Long Halloween, and Loeb and Jim Lee’s Hush. Those will often populate almost any Batman Top 10 list. What I also suggest is looking into anything from Scott Snyder, whether it be his run on Detective Comics overseeing Dick Grayson’s tenure as Batman, especially the issues collected in The Black Mirror, or his current work on Batman in the New 52. Look for the collected edition of The Court of Owls because it is simply put, GENIUS. Oh! And while I’m a much bigger fan of Bats than Supes, Grant Morrison’s All-Star Superman made me cry it’s so beautiful. – Sarah Moran

There are three easy steps to finding the comics you enjoy, it’s going to be a touch time consuming but worth it. First, take a Saturday (or Sunday, I am not the boss of you) afternoon and scout out a few of your local comic shops if you already don’t have one you call home. Find the one that has the most people loitering around, desperately waiting to talk about comics. Like dropping a lit match into a kiddie pool filled with gasoline, you can flare up a conversation with them. Say things like “They never should have resurrected [insert name of any character that was dead but then got better]” or “they better bring back [insert name of currently dead character] soon or I will never buy another DC/Marvel/Archie comic again.” You can then sit back and watch the salvo of comments volley back and forth. Within those comments will be volumes of comic book knowledge eagerly shared. Find out what sparks your interest, hear the opinions and see where they lead you and then browse the shelves a little.

Next, hit up used book stores, smaller comic book shows, flea markets, or your local public library; they can be amazing resources for discovering great books from the past few decades. While the later is free, the first three can often charge around 25 cents for a ‘previously enjoyed’ comic so be ready. The key to this step is browsing. Thumb through the well worn issues of the past and just see what catches your eye. This method is how I found Howard Chaykin’s American Flagg in a used toy store and Warren Ellis’ Transmetropolitan once at a swap meet next to some taxidermied rodents. With a little luck 20 bucks later you can grab a full run of Grant Morrison’s JLA

The third and most crucial step is this: Search, share, and talk about comics. The first comic I ever read was one that was shared with me, the first I ever bought with my own money was based on a cover that made me say ‘this dude is fighting the Legion of Super-Heroes? But he is a hero? He has to be bad-ass!’ (I will give 5 Canadian Dollars to the first person that tells me what issue that was.)

Comic books are the most perfect story telling media we have ever created. They are the synergy of our two earliest art forms. As Neal Adams often says (and I paraphrase) “If you take the greatest writer and the greatest artist in the world and ask them to tell a story, you will get a comic book.”

You said that you got into comic books late in life, I disagree. Sure you took 30 years to get in, but the good news is you actually have the full expanse of 75 years plus to explore and enjoy.  While all the previous suggestions are great, my best advice is just to dive in and see what works for you! You will be the best judge of what you like and taking the social/share/browse method you can explore it all, often on the cheap. Actually, there is also the whole digital thing, which is cheap and expansive as well…  I didn’t want add a fourth step. – Jeremy r! Hudson

It really is very much a function of just what kind of story you’re after. All of the characters you mentioned have been around for so long that each has innumerable incarnations and innumerable storytelling tones. My suggestion would be to sample all the recommendations above, plus a few you’ve never heard of, and see which of those tones you like best. I know that’s scarily vague, but if you can get past the intimidation factor, going in blind is honestly part of the great fun of comics. – Matthew Jackson

How did you come up with the name? – Kelly Getz

I was standing on the edge of my toilet hanging a clock, the porcelain was wet, I slipped, hit my head on the sink, and when I came to I had a revelation! A vision! A picture in my head! A picture of Nerd Bastards. It’s what make nerd news and entertainment possible. That’s a much cooler story than a clever pairing of words. – Luke Gallagher

Wait a minute, I thought “Nerd Bastard” was Luke’s porn name. He grew up on Nerd St. and had a dog named Bastard, right? – Adam A. Donaldson

I’m glad you asked. Actually it was my mother that decided to name me Jeremy. She’s currently unavailable for comment. – Jeremy r! Hudson

How do you feel about Comic Con ‘exclusives’ that are made available to anyone a few months later? I’m looking at you, ThinkGeek – Jan Michael Rempt

If sites like that are simply unloading extra stock, then I don’t really care. It’s probably better for fans than buying the stuff on eBay for an insane markup. A couple of questions for you: if you buy a con exclusive and it ceases to become exclusive, is it less awesome? Is this a frustration born from the loss of the item’s worth or the feeling that you got something that few others could? Please don’t mistake the tone as me being a dick, I’m genuinely curious. – Jason Tabrys

I agree with Jason. If a newspaper gets an exclusive story, it doesn’t mean that it’s the only news outlet that can report that information, it just got there first. Same rules I think apply to Comic Con exclusives. – Adam A. Donaldson

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What villain do you guys think ant man will face in his movie debut and same for doc strange? – Tony Spataro

Fat kid with a magnifying glass. I’m so sorry for that awful joke. – Jason Tabrys

was going to say “the Shoe” but Jason beat me to the bad joke punch, at least that means there won’t be any lame jokes after this… – Jeremy r! Hudson

Uncle-Man . . . wait, aunt is spelled with a “U” in there. With Ultron out of the picture my next choice would be MODOK. Yeah I know MODOK is not a traditional Ant-Man villain, but AIM would be a great starting point, imagine Hank Pym’s work stolen by AIM, he goes to get it back and finds AIM working on MODOK. He can’t let that happen.- Mark Poynter

Doctor Strange will have Baron Mordo as a 2nd tier villain, but he has to face The Dread Dormammu- Mark Poynter

Whats the difference between trekkies and trekkers? – Lowell Weisz

I don’t know, to hell with labels, let’s just all agree that the world NEEDS a new Star Trek series. – Jason Tabrys

An “I” and an “R”. There is really no difference, no matter what any fan says. They’re all chasing around the same mulberry bush. Mark Poynter

A “Trekker” is a Star Trek fan who feels some sense of elitism over others and wants to distinguish themselves from the originally derogatory term, “Trekkies.” Where in fact, in this day and age, any Star Trek fan is a “Trekkie.” The former slur, much like the terms “nerd” and “geek”, has been embraced and you’ll rarely find the term “Trekker” used much anymore. – Sarah Moran

I am more concerned as to why there aren’t Warsers and Warsies… – Jeremy r! Hudson

Well, while you’ve got several worthy answers right up there to consider, I’d say that they’re both honestly useless terms beyond the general “person who’s into Star Trek” definition. Fandom has too many labels. Throw a few of them out and like what you like. – Matthew Jackson

What are your best/worst video games of the summer? Which ones just blew your minds with epicness or failed miserably? – Sherry Fisher

I’m SUPER discerning when it comes to my video game purchases (boy on a budget), so I don’t really deal with the disappointment much since I often rent or try them before buying. My all time video game disappointment has to do with the numerous awful attempts to recapture the magic of Goldeneye 64 (Goldeneye Reloaded, Perfect Dark, and Golden Eye: Rogue Agent), just give us a fucking DLC of the original… PLEASE! – Jason Tabrys

OK, I am going to tell you about buying Infestation on STEAM. It used to be called War Z, but changed the name. Google War Z video game and you’ll see all the bad press. It was on sale for 3 bucks so I picked it up. It has a 20 Meta Score on STEAM which should tell you all you need to know. Yes, it is a little clunky, and yes, you get jumped constantly and lose all your stuff, but I can’t stop playing the damn game. I know I should just go get ARMA II and get the Day Z mode, but I can’t stop wanting to dominate this crappy game before I do it. I want my 3 dollars worth! – Mark Poynter

I know this technically came out in the spring, but played Tomb Raider basically all summer long. I loved playing as the re-imagined Lara Croft, and the weapon modifying system was outstanding. It was a beautifully crafted game, plain and simple. The other game that I’d played in between play-throughs of Tomb Raider was Injustice: Gods Among Us, which was a lot of good, old-fashioned, over-the-top violence. Who doesn’t want to send their friend through three separate buildings in one punch? Other than that, I wasn’t really impressed with any of the games that came out this summer. – Brent Cook

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Why do you guys think DC editorial has gone so far off the rails? The higher ups there have committed like a dozen fuckups in the past few months. – Jan Michael Rempt

The urge to tinker is a powerful one, but you have to trust your people and trust your initial instincts. Let writers write and let artists do their thing without undermining them, their work, and the plan or you risk losing some of them. Sales are still strong, but eventually, DC’s developing reputation (which exists thanks to some very public creator splits from the company) could undercut their success. – Jason Tabrys

It makes me wonder if anyone is talking with anyone else before they go ahead and do things at DC. The Company with the “Girl Friend in the Fridge” legacy should think about how they project their image. Now I am wondering if DC is so wrapped up in NOT looking like Marvel, that their first instinct is to dive head first into the shallow end of the pool. The whole Batwoman thing was handled poorly, like DC is just a bunch of guys making comics in their parents garage. Wait, even those guys wouldn’t screw it up as poorly as DC has lately. – Mark Poynter

Well… here is the thing. To cry out that DC Comics is some how a giant villain “hurmp, hurmp, hurmp”, is a little bit of a misnomer. I should state at this point that I do not and have not ever received any monetary gains from DC Entertainment or any of it’s parent companies or subsidiaries.

Publishing funny books is a business and businesses are about making money so they can stay in business. Makes sense, right? So you have a pile of creative people and you have a stack of business people, how will they ever get along? The answer is they don’t. But in between that, you have the much hated editors and it has been that way since the dawn of the industry.

So here you are about to climb your ivory pedestal with your high horse because you’re armed with a few tropes that you copy and pasted off the internet. But you forget, we live in the era of the internet where ‘news’ travels faster than the speed of rational thought. So some of these perceived issues are actually based on link baiting headlines and half formed ideas that might not actually be as big an issue past the media attention grabbing headline that it spawned.

A great source on this is Sean Howe’s Marvel Comics: The Untold Story, a wonderful insight into how a comic book company that was on the verge of blinking out of existance for finacial reasons was saved by an asshole big mouth editor by the name of Jim Shooter (the 1970’s Dan DiDo). If you read the book, you’ll be amazed at how little things have changed. Now… who wants to ask about Stan Lee/Steve Ditko/Jack Kirby? – Jeremy r! Hudson

Credit where credit’s due: I’m about to basically paraphrase part of an excellent editorial by Comics Alliance’s Andrew Wheeler, which you should read HERE. Basically, we’re dealing with a very specific kind of tone deafness: a group of people who believe they’re acting in the best interest of broad public consumption, but are really making a very specific kind of comic for a very specific kind of readership. For a long time now, DC has been fixated on the darker side of comics, as well as the event-driven, Read This Or Get Left Behind side of comics. In the process, they’ve lost some of the fun, but the buzz is very often still there. The result is a company that cares less about letting creators play in their sandbox and more about making sure a certain kind of comic is being produced every month. That’s a dangerous way to do it when your company is this big. There are other problems, of course, but that’s the root of many of them. – Matthew Jackson

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