Why I Hate Batman 1: The Saboteur

People assume that because you love comics, you love certain comics characters. I always found that a bit strange. After all, if you tell me you love movies, I’m not going to automatically assume you love Luke Skywalker and E.T. But I get it all the time…

“Whattaya like? Spider-Man? X-Men? Superman?”

Usually the answer is “if the story’s good, I like the story”.  I sidestep the question, rather than insult the questioner.

But if you go “Batman?”…well, hell no. I do not like Batman.


I’ve liked Batman comics, mind you. I’ve liked some of the movies. I’m sure there’s an action figure I like. The first animated series is on? Heck, I’ll watch. Got some bootleg Adam West action? Yes, please.

But Batman seems to intersect in my life in weird ways that just irk the heck out of me. It’s a strange anti-synchronicity that just lingers like an infection. When Batman- not the fictional character, but the concept, the business entity, the corporation (not to be confused with Grant Morrison’s new Batman Inc. comic- intersects with the real world, bad things happen.

Case in pont: The Saboteur, a video game I’m in love with right now.

The Saboteur is a sandbox game for the Playstation 3 and XBox 360. The game is set in Paris during the Nazi occupancy in World War II. You play Sean Devlin, an Irish race car driver who seeks revenge on a high-ranking Nazi for killing his friend. You can climb Parisian rooftops, blowing up sniper nests, propoganda speakers, and anti-aircraft installations. You can race in the countryside, or try to outrun German motorbikes in the street. You can even take in a sexy burlesque show (if you have the downloadable content, which came free in my copy of the game).

Unlike other sandbox games I’ve played, the optional missions actually play a part in the overall game. You get contraband for your accomplishments, which you use for weapons, ammunition, explosive, and other perks. And while you’re playing, jazz vocal music from such luminaries as Nina Simone and Ella Fitzgerald wafts through the air. The art in the game is gorgeous, and the color palette actually changes depending on whether or not you’ve freed an area from Nazi rule. It’s one of the best games I’ve ever played.

It’s also the last game released from its developer, Pandemic Studios. And this is why I hate Batman today.

According to numerous reports (including this Kotaku story), the parent company of Pandemic, EA, secured the rights to a tie-in game to the Batman: The Dark Knight movie. However, the rights would expire in eighteen months. Miscommunication led to a forced revamp of the project a few months in, and despite a scramble to finish on-time, a sellable game was never completed.  As a result, the company was eventually closed by EA during a round of cost-cutting.

So, because of Batman, I’ll never get to play The Saboteur 2. And that’s a damn shame.

Damn Batman.

Today’s links:

Bill Sienkiewicz breaks the silence about Big Numbers #3. Fantastic scoop by Pádraig Ó Méalóid.

Colleen Doran talks about the success of the Distant Soil webcomic. You ARE reading A Distant Soil, aren’t you?

Heidi McDonald talks about her struggles with the technology that powers one of the best blogs about comics today, The Beat.

Wired Magazine got every prediction right about 2010. At least they THINK they did…

Dueling Analogs perfectly sums up my feelings about most videogames. (But not The Saboteur, because that’s just awesome.)

Don’t be down about 2011, says Charles Stross.

Tom Spurgeon interviews the curator of the Comic Art Museum, Andrew Farago.

Finally, an interesting look at sales of Jamie Hernandez original art.

The end of media stores, and the death of the Craphound culture

On the way home from Sunday shopping, I noticed a big “STORE CLOSING” sign on the Coconuts music and movies store in Toms River. I wasn’t surprised by its impending doom; I haven’t set foot in any of their stores in years. In fact, I wondered why it had stayed afloat for so long.

Clearly, according to the stock price of the parent company, Trans World Entertainment, I’m not the only one. When a company sells for less than $2 a share, the thought is that it’s close to bankruptcy. A quick look at a few press releases shows a number of money-losing quarters, and you can’t stay in business long if you don’t make money. Since TWM had already filed bankruptcy once (in 1996), you have to wonder if this company will live to see the end of 2011.

If it is a doomed company, it’s not the only media dealer in trouble. According to a Publishers Weekly story last week, the book retailer Borders has stopped making payments to certain publishers, and one unnamed major publisher won’t ship more books until the payments resume. Borders is now trading even lower than TWE, and many analysts feel the end is near.

Truthfully, my heart doesn’t bleed for TWE or Borders. When I worked in Manhattan a few years ago, I had so many bad experiences at the Borders at Penn Station that I vowed to stop shopping there. But my heart does bleed for my old college haunt, Rainbow Records. I spent what feels like whole semesters rooting through used CDs at their location on Main Street. Now, the store has cut hours, and will give up half its retail space in the next few months.

Is any of this a surprise? Of course not. We buy MP3s indtead of CDs, and we buy them from a handful of online stores (iTunes, Amazon, eMusic) for the most part. Amazon controls over 75% of the book market, and even that is rapidly becoming an ebooks market. Blockbuster’s nearly gone, and its successor, Netflix, is rapidly becoming a streaming company instead of a distribution company for DVDs and Blu-Rays. Video game sales are dominated by a handful of big companies, led by Gamestop, and even that business is moving online. Even comic books are going digital; Marvel and DC both have iPad stores, and the independent Comixology application has moved over a million digital comics.

We no longer have a crying need for physical media in our life. I’m not complaining about this- I love my iPod, my Kindle, and my networked PS3 like any red-blooded American male. But I do miss what Cory Doctorow wrote about in his short story, “Craphound“- the hunt through back issue boxes, used CD stacks, piles of books in the back of the store, garage sales, and later eBay listings. I spent a lot of my 20s this way- traveling to flea markets for old Atari cartridges, bent over quarter boxes in dusty comics stores, or driving around going to that *one* store 100 miles away with a copy of some desired story or song.

I got exposed to a lot of neat stuff through those hunts- Matt Feazell comics, Los Bros Hernandez, Peter Bagge, funk music, and so much more. I once scored from a dealer in South Jersey three boxes of indy 80s comics for $10 per long box, and ended up with mostly full runs of Nexus, Grimjack, and other First and Eclipse comics; from another dealer, I got the entire fun of Marvel’s New Universe, which had its moments in its later years. Through record store cutout bins, I was exposed to Joe Jackson, one of my favorite musicians to this day.

I won’t complain about the modern world. I love deliveries from Amazon. I get my comics from a mail order company, DCBS, at fabulous discounts. I get great customer service from these companies and others. But I do miss the thrill of the chase for the obscure, the surge of happiness when you found that comic, that CD, that old book… but alas, the thrill is gone.

Today’s links:

Johanna Draper Carlson goes through the dross of January’s Previews catalog to find the graphic novel gems.

Saccharin’s mostly sweet following- a great article in the LA Times about the primary sweetener in Sweet and Low.  (I also highly recommend Sweet and Low: A Family History by Rich Cohen.

New Adventures: oh god i’m forty

How the hell did THIS happen? You wake up in the morning every day long enough, and eventually, you’re 40. Granted, the alternative is worse, but still! What did I do to be punished like this?

I don’t feel forty. I’m still the same guy with a desk of Marvel Super Hero Squad action figures, still wearing goofy t-shirts every chance I get. But there’s no denying it- I’m biologically starting my fourth decade of existence.

It’s also the start of 2011, and while I usually don’t make resolutions, I think there’s two I need to do.

I’m going back to blogging.

I’ve let this blog lapse- and I’ve done it many times before. I’m like most non-writers: I have ideas, man!!!, but not enough self-discipline to pull it off. Well, the only way I know to build self-discipline is to do the same thing over and over again. So that’s what I’m going to do- log in to the blog, write something, and do it again every day until I can’t imagine a day without blogging.

I’m going to the gym.

Notice how there’s few photos of me on the site? Here’s why- I’m fat.

Now, I am less fat this year than I was last year. Thanks to my wife, I joined Weight Watchers. I’ve been posting about my WW progress on Facebook every week, and I’m going to do the same here. I started in the beginning of September at (ugh) 316 pounds. I’m down to 285 pounds, down 31 pounds. My eventual goal is to get back to my high school weight of around 175-185 pounds.

Now, 30 pounds in four months sounds really good, but there’s a catch- I’ve plateaued. I weighed 286 on December 4, and 285 on December 31. Despite staying within my diet, I didn’t lose any weight. I’m making some changes in my diet again to get back to where I was before, but I’m also going to get serious about working out again.

This isn’t going to be easy. Because of some problems in my back, I’ve always had problems with creating a workout routine for myself. I’m clueless about the gym. I can use the treadmill for a half-hour, but other than that, I’m really outside my comfort zone. So I’m going to get some personal training at my gym, and also take some time to educate myself on a beginner’s workout routine.

And maybe if I do this long enough, I’ll feel good about posting pictures of myself. (Naaah…)

Stuff I liked on the web today:

"Who said anything about coming back?"
Halo Jones

A Moment Of Moore
: A daily blog about Alan Moore. Looks like a daily image dump of random Alan Moore panels, but what’s wrong with that?

Bleeding Cool- Visual of the Year: A nice look at some of the more famous (and infamous) images in comics from the past year.

NJ Woman Charged With Setting Her Boyfriend On Fire On New Year’s Eve: Ah, New Jersey, my home sweet home.

Quick Adventures, 090309

Random thoughts today:

Wearing this shirt today (out of print at shirt.woot.com):

Almost Human
Almost Human

Early dinner debate: Chick Fil A or Arby’s? (Wife is working late tonight.)

I bought tickets to see Living Colour live in Teaneck, NJ next week. Anyone want to join me? Email me at ray@raycornwall.com.

Why is the soundtrack to Say Anything not available as a (legal) MP3 purchase anyway? Argh.

Here’s the state of my desk today:

My Desk

Today’s pressing internet debate: Who’s the better bassist for Living Colour, Doug Wimbish or Muzz Skillings?

Sunday at Five Guys

Five Guys logo
Five Guys logo

So CL (my wife) and I decided that we had to have a good burger on Sunday. Per the recommendation of noted French fry enthusiast Glenn Walker, we went to Five Guys. A new location had opened up near the Target in Ocean, NJ.

If you haven’t been to a Five Guys (they just opened their 400th location, according to the web site), you should if you’re a carnivore. All they do is burgers and fries, but they do them right. The burgers are fresh and made on the spot, with tons of toppings available. And the fries- wow. Hand-cut, fried perfectly, not overly salted.

The interior aesthetic is definitely low-rent; they are huge bags of potatoes and peanuts around, and you’re encouraged to help yourself to th peanuts while you’re waiting for your order. Our order took about ten minutes, not bad for a busy Sunday. We’ll definitely go back.

We’re also going to try Bobby’s Burger Palace, a burger joint run by famous chef Bobby Flay, very soon. We actually didn’t realize that this place, with a really weird exterior, was one of Bobby’s places until a neighbor told us. There’s an interesting article here.

Hey, Glenn, you’ll have to come over and review it! Maybe we can do a podcast from there!