Entry for August 22, 2007: Condolences, congrats, and comic book adaptations

First, I'd like to offer my sincere condolences regarding the untimely passing of college acquaintance Miles C.'s wife Kim after a battle with cancer, as reported by the Binghamton University Magazine. I forwarded that announcement to the "Bellevue-Camelot" cohort. Also, I hope that onetime gamers David A.H. and James B. are able to overcome their recent legal troubles.

On a lighter note, good luck to David I.S. on his relocation from Ithaca to Rochester, New York, and to Corbin A.Y. & Andria K.Y. on moving again! I also hope that Steve M.R. & Aleece Z.R. and young Connor enjoyed their recent travels and have fun in their new home… This coming weekend, Janice and I will be with her family in Upstate New York for the wedding of our niece Jesse. I look forward to seeing all of our nieces and nephews.

Last night's D&D3.5 "Vanished Lands: the Broken Chains" Arabian fantasy session went better than the previous week's game, and we had a full house: Paul J./"Rache," Alex J./"Karril" (& Serena), Beruk A./"Kunal," Greg D.C./"Killian," Brian W./"Mumtaz," newcomer Ben R./"Slink," and "virtual" Byron V.O./"Kemosh." The current Player Characters encountered a mysterious Viking-style longhouse and assorted monsters in the Halmed Desert.

We also briefly discussed Wizards of the Coast Inc.'s (WotC) planned release of "Dungeons & Dragons" Fourth Edition next summer. Some role-players are reluctant to shell out more money for new books, while others are eager to see streamlined rules and potentially reinvigorated interest in our hobby. EnWorld.org has been my primary source of information after WotC's Web site.

Sure, there are numerous other "tabletop" systems — I like the version of the D20 Open Game License used in Green Ronin's "Mutants & Masterminds" 2nd Ed. and True20, as well as Steve Jackson Games' Generic Universal Role-Playing System, but the latter hasn't been as well supported lately — but most people who don't solely play collectible or computer games are still familiar with D&D.

Unfortunately, the D&D3.5 "Vanished Lands: Holy Steel" team will miss another week because Byron/"Ibrahim" must travel for work. Last week, as CW and other news outlets reported, Skype's teleconferencing was down after Microsoft Corp.'s "Patch Tuesday." If, as WotC says, D&D4 has a significant online component in addition to the print sourcebooks and plastic miniatures, that may help me stay in touch with remote gamers such as Byron and Dexter V.H./"Faelonia." It's only a substitute or an addition to the camaraderie of proper face-to-face, pen-and-paper, pizza-and-dice role-playing.

Still, a week off from one party isn't a bad thing, enabling me to catch up on reading and television before tomorrow night's "City of Heroes" multiplayer online game and this weekend's travel.

Speaking of superheroes, BrokenFrontier.com has an excellent two-part recap of the history of Green Arrow, one of my favorite DC Comics characters. Elsewhere on the Web, SyFy Portal has a retrospective on short-lived but entertaining genre television shows: "Smallville"-like "Birds of Prey," "The Chronicle" (and similar "Special Unit 2"), horror/detective show "Witchblade" (like "The Dresden Files"), supernatural bounty hunter "Brimstone" (see also "Supernatural" and "Ghost Rider"), and cyberpunk "VR5" (does anybody else fondly remember "Max Headroom" or "Total Recall: the Series?").

This past weekend, Janice and I watched the direct-to-DVD "Doctor Strange," which successfully continues Marvel and DC's animated adaptations. Of course, some have been better than others, and it appears that Marvel is using them as test beds for ideas for full-blown movies, while DC is trying to bring classic storylines to the small screen.

Casting is under way for the second season of "Heroes" (I'm pleased that "Veronica Mars" star Kristen Bell chose that over "Lost," which I don't follow), the "Star Trek" relaunch, Frank Miller's cinematic take on Will Eisner's classic "The Spirit," and a possible live-action "Justice League" movie (see Alex Ross art above), so genre fans have lots to look forward to! Superhero Hype is a site I recently found that has decent coverage.

And that's not to mention next summer's "Batman: Dark Knight," featuring "Roar's" Heath Ledger as the Joker; Ron Perlman returning in "Hellboy 2: the Golden Army"; "Iron Man," with Robert Downey Jr. leading another all-star cast; and Edward Norton's reboot of "the Hulk," as well as the gestating "Superman" and "Watchmen" films! I thought that the trend of Hollywood studios raiding comic books and graphic novels for ideas might have already crested, but we'll see how good these and other flicks turn out.

Since I probably didn't win the MegaMillions lottery, I can't run for president, but I still intend to post some political thoughts soon. In the meantime, as Stan "the Man" Lee says, Excelsior!