Snow on the scarecrow


This just doesn't seem right
Happy Halloween 2011!

After an optometrist appointment on Saturday, 29 October 2011, I drove to the spacious apartment of Josh C. & Sara F. in Abington, Massachusetts, for Josh’s one-shot of Fortune’s Fool. I enjoyed the alternate history/fantasy game, in which I role-played “Giuseppe de Cellini,” an Italian Halfling gentleman rogue and swashbuckler.

I was joined by Bruce K. and Rich C.G., who are in one of my FATE 3e “Vortex” space opera teams, as well as Josh & Sara’s friends Rob & Ginger and Robyn, whom I had met at a cookout. The scenario involved our Player Characters looking for demon summoners around fourteenth century Paris. Despite a slow start, we enjoyed the Fortune’s Fool session, Josh’s punch spiked with mist-making dry ice, and the Chinese food that we ordered. Janice had also baked brownies for the potluck.

We did find Fortune’s Fool‘s rules, which use Tarot cards rather than polyhedral dice for conflict resolution, to be overly specific for combat (reminiscent of D20). They were also a bit “swingy,” granting only about a 50% chance of success for anything, given our average skill levels.

History buffs like Jason E.R. and I also had some questions about why a Renaissance would even be necessary in a world whose demihumans had long lifespans and memories of classical culture and technology, but such details would be more of a concern in a long-term campaign. I’ve tried to blend fantasy and alternate history in my own GURPS Steampunk/D20 Etherscope: “Gaslight Grimoire” adventures.

Bruce, Rich, and I left around dinnertime, before Josh & Sara’s Halloween party, to avoid the worst of an early Nor’easter. Boston’s inner suburbs got only a few inches of wet, heavy snow, but areas north and west of us got as much as a foot. Most of our autumn leaves haven’t even fallen yet, but raking will have to wait until after the snow melts.

Janice and I lost power briefly on Sunday night, but our Verizon FIOS (telephone, Internet, and cable television) was disrupted. Fortunately, we have more than enough to read and watch on DVD in the meantime. For instance, we watched some more 1940s Superman serials, Batman: Year One, and a few episodes of the anime Case Closed.

I thought that Year One was very faithful to the influential Frank Miller/David Mazzucchelli graphic novel, which depicts Bruce Wayne, Jim Gordon, and Selina Kyle at the start of their crime-fighting careers. I also look forward to the all-star voice cast (similar to that of the videogame Batman: Arkham City) for the upcoming direct-to-video release of Justice League: Doom.

Without connectivity or quorum, my Pathfinder/Skype: “the Vanished Landstelecom fantasy game again didn’t meet last night, and the “Vortex” group is skipping a week because of the holiday. I look forward to greeting trick-or-treaters tonight. Have a Happy Halloween!

P.S.: Verizon will be sending a technician out this coming Thursday, so I won’t have land-line phone, Web, or TV until then. Still, my situation is better than those of the many people still without power. Stay warm!

All-Star Superman review

Grant Morrison and Frank Quietly's Superman
All-Star Superman

Just over a week ago, Janice and I watched All-Star Superman, the latest in DC Comics/Warner Brothers’ direct-to-DVD animation line. It’s based on a well-received story by Grant Morrison and Frank Quietly, who respectively also wrote and illustrated runs of the X-Men, Justice League, Doom Patrol, and Batman.

The cartoon adaptation is fairly faithful to the source material, including its concise retelling of Superman’s origin and allusions to the character’s science fiction adventures of the 1950s and 1960s. While I’ve found some of Morrison’s writing to be too densely self-referential, the 12-issue All-Star Superman is much more successful as a timeless tale of our would-be savior than Frank Miller’s over-the-top and incomplete All-Star Batman.

The animation captures some of Quietly’s style, especially in farmboy/reporter Clark Kent’s slouch or Lex Luthor’s egotistical posturing. The action scenes are well-choreographed, and like in Young Justice, the urban landscape of Metropolis is ironically more realistic than its current Marvel animated counterparts.

As usual, Andrea Romano has assembled a strong voice cast, including James Denton as Kal-El/Clark Kent/Superman, Christina Hendricks as Lois Lane, and Ed Asner in the role he was born to play, Daily Planet editor Perry White. Anthony LaPaglia doesn’t have the menacing gravel of Clancy Brown, but he’s a decent Lex Luthor.

I’d give All-Star Superman three stars, a B+, or an 8 out of 10. It’s rated PG for some violence. I like Justice League: the New Frontier, Batman: Gotham Knight, and the Green Arrow short that was packaged with Superman/Batman: Apocalypse more.

I’m also looking forward to Green Lantern: Emerald Knights and Batman: Year One. Miller’s oft-praised Dark Knight Returns would be better as an animated feature than a live-action movie, even though his vision of Gotterdammerung has influenced many Batman depictions in the past 25 years.

Coming soon: Belated Megamind review and Rango!