March 4th, 2009

M Sipher guest review

That was a close one.

Shortpacked!: Read down. All the way down!

I feel bad about this strip. It's just cranky, not funny, so feel free to yell at me for it. Maybe I'll come up with something with boobs for tomorrow! That seems to be how I apologize for things.

Meanwhile, enjoy a guest review from Greg Sepelak! I don't get much or any Star Wars to review, so I'm glad that he can fill in that content gap for me.

One of the apparently-successful parts of the Star Wars toyline is the Comic Packs. On paper, it’s a pretty good deal: For $13, you get two figures that are normally $7~$8 a pop, and a comic that’s… uh… $3 or so (I think, I don’t really buy comics anymore). Where it kind of falls apart for me, though, is that they’re usually modern “Expanded Universe” comics, and that aspect of Star Wars is… pretty dire, honestly. I’ve picked up a set or two that piqued my interests figure-wise, and aside from the old 80’s Marvel comics reprints, the comics are a big snooze, reaffirming my decision to leave the EU alone.

Yet when they announced these three Wal-Mart exclusive comic packs, I was all over ‘em. They’re chock full of Return of the Jedi alien goodness, and Jedi is my favorite of the movies, due in no small part to the nonstop stream of aliens that inhabit the film. (That was one thing I always hated about the first movie… as soon as it leaves Tattooine, the galaxy is populated by nothing but white guys.)

Ibtisam the Mon Cal (Admiral “It’s a Trap!” Ackbar’s people) and Nrin Vakil the Quarren (aka “Squid Head” per the 80’s Kenner figure line) add new-sculpt heads, forearms and removable helmets to the pre-existing and pretty damn good super-posable female and male (respectively) X-Wing pilot bodies. They fit in the various vehicles that have been available for the last few years just fine even with those weird leg-straps, and the ability for a pilot figure to sit in a damn vehicle is an important one. (I know that sounds like a “no shit” deal, but a whole lot of Star Wars figures can’t sit properly at all, let alone fit in a vehicle.) Nrin works well with the new parts, and I always loved the Squid Heads as a design. However, the Mon Cal are somewhat bulky aliens, making Ibtisam’s oversized noggin and forearms look incongruous on the thin female pilot body.

The backstory on the packaging talks about how the Mon Cal and Quarren have been basically at each other’s gills forever, yet these two end up bonding in their time as part of the same squadron. Now… imagine these two making out, all moist-like. The tentacles. Horrified? Good, I’ve done my job.

The comic they come with? Rogue Squadron is highly popular with the Star Wars fandom as I gather it. But based on this one issue, I can’t see why. Part of it is the art; the story is mostly an extended aerial scrum which is theoretically exciting, yet there is absolutely zero sense of motion at any given point. The ships just hang in the air, no motion lines or thruster contrails to give one a sense of speed or direction. Plus there are no sound effects in the book at all, which really makes the whole thing feel lifeless. To make matters worse, Ibtisam and Nrin, the figures in the toy set, are only barely in the issue. You don’t even see Nrin, just his word balloons and X-Wing in the distance. Surely there had to be another issue that actually featured the characters in the damn figure set (and maybe one that wasn’t terminally boring). Add in some generic leering Sith magician and a traitorous Bothan (are all Bothans assholes or something? Why is every race “nothing but X” in the EU anyway?) wrapped in some plot line that seems to progress nowhere in a single issue (Christ on a Cone of Tragedy, I despise decompressed storytelling), and as a jumping-in point, the issue makes me want to jump right the hell back out.

Despite the comic, I like the toy set and don’t remotely regret the purchase. They’re solid figures of alien-types I like, presented in a way that actually does feel like they should blend into the movies (unlike a lot of the EU), plus they add a bit more variety to the parade of white guys in the Rebel flight crew. (That picture doesn’t even show all the Rebel pilots they’ve made. I skipped a few, and they’re also white guys.)

Next, green vs. green.

Thanks to everyone who participated in yesterday's Joyce and Walky! sale! It's still before midnight in some parts of the world, so it's not totally too late.

I'm serious about not liking today's strip. It's 8pm at the time I'm writing this, and I have three hours until update, and I'm thinking and thinking if I can come up with something different and finish it in that time.

Well, that's what I did! I feel much better. Since I'm sure you'll all be demanding it anyhow, here is the discarded strip. Sorry, almost ran that.