Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Comic Theory: Lime Blood Powers

Disclaimer: This post was intended as a joke. I made this because I was bored.
Fan art theorizing what a lime blood troll would like
For those not in the know, the trolls (in Homestuck) have can have different colors of blood. The blood color determines a troll social status and their powers (usually psychic in nature). It is revealed that there used to be lime blood trolls. However, the lime blood trolls were hunted to extinction due to having powers that threaten the status quo. Fans have speculated on what were the powers of these trolls and why they were a threat. I am here to throw in my two cents.
First, I need to explain some backstory. All the purple blood trolls are subjugglators, members of an unnamed (at the time of writing) religion that serves as the trolls' counterpart to the juggalo (fans of the Insane Clown Posse) culture. Part of their religion is to consume / produce soda particularly "the wicked elixir" Faygo. Her Imperious Condescension, queen of the trolls, became annoyed by the subjugglators' control over the soda market. So, she produced their own soda, Alternian Soft Drink, to compete. The majesty claimed it had more sugar than Faygo. In reality, it was diet soda so she could drink it without gaining too much weight. Despite the high bloods (correctly) suspecting she was lying, the soda became popular among the more numerous lower caste members. So what does this have to with the lime blood trolls?
Now, here is my actual theory. The lime bloods had the psychic powers that allowed them to realize the content of what they are eating. So, Her Imperious Condescension, wanting to prevent her sales from plummeting and prevent a public relations nightmare, had all the lime bloods exterminated.
What is my logic? Firstly, it seems highly unlikely the lime bloods just happened to become extinct while being hunted. So, them being wiped out was clearly intentional. Second, nothing in the story mentions how old the Alternian Soft Drink is. This combined with the lack of any real indication of when the lime bloods died means the lime bloods could have been around when the soda was introduced. Next, Calliope mentioned the lime bloods had unusual powers. The psychic food power would be unusual since the trolls usually have more traditional psychic powers such as telekinesis, mind control, future sight and so on. Lastly, their powers was probably not very useful if they all able to be killed off. If they say had the ability to calm down trolls (a popular theory), why didn't they just use that power to save themselves?

Monday, September 14, 2015

Critic Corner: Homestuck

The cover to a printed collection of the series
Homestuck is easily the most famous of all the MS Paint Adventure comics. It is also one of the most divisive. What do I think of it? Let's take a look.
What's the plot? John Egbert and his friends obtain a beta for the upcoming game Sburb. However, it turns out the game is able to affect reality. Soon, our heroes find themselves on an epic quest to defeat monsters so they can create a new universe. Unfortunately, things don't proves so simple.
What's good? The humor can be very funny. John Egbert's mental breakdown when he realizes Betty Crocker owns Fruit Gushers is a good example. Act 5 Act 2 manages to take several of the trolls and make them likable particularly Terezi and Karkat. The series is very addicting and gave me a lot to talk about to the point I had trouble stopping until I got to the point the author stopped for a hiatus. The art is simple but elegant.
What's bad? The author doesn't seem to know what he wants to do with the series. Is it a comedy? A dark epic? A post-modern examination of video game tropes? Because of this, the tone is constantly shifting and the plot schizophrenic. It gets to the point I can't figure what the main conflict it is. For the first 5 acts, it seems to be to win the game, but suddenly the focus changes to stopping Lord English with everyone ignoring the game. This is not helped by the fact multiple subplots run at the same time forcing the story to constantly cut between them. The plot moves at a snails pace. For example, it takes three acts to introduce all four main characters. Speaking of characters, the characterization is pretty poor. The characters tend to be defined by one characteristic (Rose is the smart one, Dave is the stoic cool kid, John is the goofball and Jane the quirky one). A lot of the characters are too similar even when it makes no sense. Why are the kids from Universe A-2 similar to the main kids from Universe A-1 when the A-2 kids are the alternate counterparts to the A-1 kids' guardians? On a related note, this series has some pretty boring villains. For example, Doc Scratch does nothing but gives exposition; Vriska is annoying to read because she is never punished for the evil she does and is suddenly made the leaders of the good guys for real reason; and Lord English has unclear motivations and a backstory that boils down to he was born evil. The comic uses a script format for the dialogue. This is annoying because every character has a stupid typing gimmick (which applies to their speech for some reason) and color for their dialogue, which makes it especially annoying to read when we have two characters with similar text colors talking to each other. The dialogue can last for several pages when it would be easier to just summarize it. The troll characters, when introduced in Act 5 Act 1, are unlikable despite being the protagonists of that arc. For example, they include a jerk that goes berserk over everything (Karkat), two doomsday villains (Vriska and Aradia), a social elitist (Equius) and genocidal social elitist (Edrian). To be fair though, some of them become more likable in Act 5 Act 2. Also, why are the sub-acts also called "Acts"? Why not "Part", "Scene" or anything but "Act" since you already used that word? The comic has trouble mixing the comedy and drama. For example, the horrific massacre of innocent people is caused by a guy not wanting to wear his lame uniform. The videos usually have no pause button which can be annoying if I need to leave for some reason. The games (especially the longer ones) aren't intuitive and lack a clear end. There is a recurring gag about how Caliborn sucks at art. This joke is not and never will be funny because it never goes beyond "Ha. Ha. He sucks at art.", which isn't really a joke in it of itself. The timeline is extremely confusing. The constant uses of flashbacks or subplots taking place earlier in the story make the narrative non-linear. There are also plot holes. For example, why is Dad Egbert's computer (which is made to look like singer and actor Bing Crosby) in Act 5 Act 1, which takes place before humanity or even the Earth existed? The mechanics of the world are poorly explained or flat-out confusing. For example, how death works seems to change on the fly with Sollux getting two dream selves (which serve as extra lives) where as everyone else gets one with no explanation. There are interesting ideas in the series, but they are either ignored or handled poor. For an example of the former, the Felt are interesting due to their unique time powers, but are killed shortly (relatively speaking) after their proper introduction. For an example of the latter, the awesome-sounding story of the Condense taking over the Earth and the heroes that opposed her is told to us by Dirk instead of it being shown us as part of the story. The use of real-life images can be jarring compared to the more cartoony art.
Overall, Homestuck is mediocre series. I will admit it has good humor and interesting ideas. However, the writing is terrible being both confusing and taking forever to accomplish anything. I give the series 4 out of 10. 

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Karma Club Update

The cover mine came with (except slightly tinted)
Along time ago, I did a post about "Karma Club". I found a description of the plot from Comicvine and pointed out how flawed it was. Recently, I found a copy on Amazon and purchased it. However, I discovered Karma Club is in fact a book not a comic. In case you are wondering how this screw-up could occur, Amazon lists comics under "books". While this is normally something I won't talk about on my blog, I felt I should discuss it because of previous post. This book is terrible.
What is it about? In the future, humans inhabit three planets (dubbed "Megamalls"): MegaMallopolisticks / Sticks, MegaMallopolisuika / Big Melon and MegaMallopolisine / Nile. The plot revolves around Kemmy, who just moved from the Sticks to the Big Melon. She is part of the Karma Club, a team of teenage secret agents who fight crime with laser-shooting musical instruments while using the cover of a sushi delivery service. After years of peace, MegaMallopolisuika experiences a rash of violent crimes and appearances of a mysterious green goo.
Setting Details
Let's talk about the setting details first. The world building is done poorly. Many elements are put together haphazardly with no thought to how they fit together.
The MegaMalls are given hard to remember names forcing me to memorize their nicknames and not their real names. In science fiction, there is a trope called the "Planets of Hats", where a planet / alien race is defined by one quirk. The writer has to resort to this despite there only being three planets: Sticks is the rural planet, Big Melon is the city planet and Nile is the retirement home planet. The Nile is mentioned to be a desert planet. Why the heck would you send all your old people to a desert? That seems horrible. In fact, it sounds like a dark joke. However, I can assure you that the story isn't treating it as such. The book mentions a fourth planet: Phatlantis. It is only mentioned once in Chapter 3. According to the book, it is a "lost MegaMall" that existed before Armageddon and is the origin of circle / eclipse symbolism used by the Off-Center Intelligence Agency (the organization that the Karma Club works for), whose name is implied to have originated there.  How do you lose a planet?! The book mentions France, America, Asia and Latin America at various points. Where is this story occurring in relation to modern day Earth? This is never explained. Also, there is no explanation for the term "MegaMall".
In chapter 4, we are introduced to the Stare Masters. The Stare Masters are "bald-headed, gypsy-looking, ... overweight old" men that are descended from Monk E, the founder of the MegaMalls. They have the ability to teleport people from MegaMall to MegaMall and are the only way to get from planet to planet. This is constantly described as being done "holographically" despite holographs not being used. This power seems to be magical in nature despite the fact everything else is science fiction in this setting. It is stated that Stare Masters were "trained in the art of molding Karma". What the heck does that mean? Karma is the currency people get for doing good deeds. How do you mold that? It is also mentioned the Stare Masters don't speak (presumably due to a vow of silence). However, they are shown to work at basically amounts to an airport. Wouldn't not speaking greatly complicate working there? It is mentioned travelling from MegaMall to MegaMall is unusual. If that is the case, where do the Sticks and Nile get their food? Cities and deserts (Big Melon and Nile) are usually terrible places to grow food. Generally, you grow food in the country (Sticks).
Speaking of the Stare Masters, let's discuss Monk E. According to Shay, he and his disciples founded the good deed-based economy. First off, he has nothing to do with monkeys. So, why is he called that? Secondly, the E stands for "Enlightenment". Why is he called "Monk Enlightenment" and not his actual name? We don't call George Washington "President Law" or Lewis Carroll "Deacon Humor". Is "Enlightenment" his legal last name? If so, what kind of surname is that? Lastly, a monk is a person that practices a religion usually living in a community of other monks. Despite this, Monk E's religion is never mentioned.
You may have been wondering about the purple plushy. That's not a plushy. It's a Zoo-Pet. What are Zoo-Pets? According to glossary of terms invented for the story (which by the way is incomplete), they are "cloned zoo animals that have been miniaturized and domesticated as pets" and that "can communicate in Zoo-Pet speak". However, the cover shows Quo Quo, the token Zoo-Pet in the story, with hands. The story seems to imply this since he can use a computer. That brings me to another point. Quo Quo is purple and seems to have human-level intelligence, which no one comments on. Are the Zoo-Pets genetically altered? If these animals have intelligence comparable to humans, isn't treating them as animals unfair? What is wrong with having a normal cat or dog as a pet? The story claims Zoo-Pets communicate via Zoo-Pet speak. However, Quo Quo constantly speaks English. It also mentioned that apparently it is unusual for humans to understand ZP speak. Why would you teach your intelligent pets to speak in a language you can't speak?
The law is enforced by the Copiers of Peaceful Yin and Yang. Even ignoring how bad the backronym is, why not just call them police? The Off-Center Intelligence Agency seems to act similar to the FBI not the CIA. For those unaware, the FBI deal with affairs inside America while the CIA deal with affairs outside of America. The agents of the Off-Center Intelligence Agency use instruments that can shoot lasers or create constructs based on how good the music made with is. Why?! Why would anyone build weapons like this? Why not make laser guns that you just need to a pull a trigger for?
Armageddon is constantly mentioned throughout the book. It is implied in chapter 4 that Armageddon led to the creation of the Karma system and had something to do with the old system of money. Nothing else is explained it about despite the fact it is constantly referenced throughout the book.
Finally, lets talk about the karma monetary system. The basic idea is that doing good deeds can earn you money, while doing bad deeds can remove them. People are given debit cards that keep track of a person's amount of karma. So basically, people have no privacy since they are constantly being monitored by their cards. As I asked in the original post, who gets to decide what counts as "good"? Cultural values and differing opinions can shape a person's perception of good and evil. For example, Americans are okay with wearing shoes in the house while the Japanese find it rude. Are the Stare Masters in charge and that how's they are "molding Karma"? If that's the case, they could easily become a priest class and make themselves rich while screwing over the masses. Again from my original post, where is the money coming from? This is never explained despite the monetary system being crucial to the setting. Kemmy talks about how horrible it would be if you could earn cash without doing good deeds. However, this misses one flaw with the Karma system. This is the exact same system as the current American capitalistic system except you can earn money by being good. A major plot point is the shoe company B-Rok, which is a privately owned entity. This means you can sell goods to earn karma thus meaning you can earn money in other ways aside from being good. The book claims there hasn't a crime in years because of the rewards for being good. What about people who don't care about money (like Lee Harvey Oswald) or are crazy (like John Hinckley Junior)?
Plot and Characters
The plot is not much better. I managed to figure out the goo was causing the people to become evil since it appears at every crime scene. The heroes don't figure this out until towards the end of the book. Instead, they decided to deal with it because its acidic.
The main characters are unmemorable. The sole exception is Phoebe. She is notable because she is annoying. Nearly everything she says is her insulting the other characters either directly or indirectly.
The villains are terrible. They want to destroy the good-deed economy. Why? I have no idea. Tunnel just seems to be evil because the plot says so. They don't need complex motivations. It can be something simple like they think the old system was better or they are misanthropes that want to spite society. Ann Noy's only character trait is that he mixes up words. I have no idea if this is supposed to a speech impediment or not because of how inconstantly it's portrayed. The leader of the villains, Dawn Queen, is barely in the book and doesn't do anything important for the plot.
The evil plan makes no sense. Tunnel, the villains, discovered the goo B-ROK uses to make their Jolted Jades shoes make people evil. This occurs if they touch the goo directly or if they wear the shoes although the latter does it slower. Somehow turning people evil via the goo earns you money due to a legal loophole that is never explained. The villains take over a B-ROK factory to produce the goo and then splatter it across the city in order to turn people evil. This plan is moronic since it would obliviously attract the attention of the police. Instead, Tunnel could use the goo to earn tons of money then use the money to buy B-ROK and keep on producing the shoes.
I wanted to talk more about this book. However, I found this covered basically all the major problems in the book. So, I'll just end this by saying this this is a mediocre book.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015


A piece of fan art, by Special-Sari, that helps illustrate the concept
Quadrants are a concept from Homestuck. Basically, quadrants are four different types of romance that a troll (a type of alien in the series) can experience. Each form has an associated color and card suit. The "red" relationship revolve around pity while the "black" one revolve around hate. It has also been stated moirallegiance and auspisticism more revolve around platonic emotions. Humans are stated to only be able to experience matespritship. 
Matespritship (♥)
As stated before, this is the one form of quadrant romance humans can experience. The partners feel affection for each other. However because troll culture, this form of romance can end up becoming violent. John's Dad and Rose's Mom are cited as an example. 
Moirallegiance (♦) 
Moirallegiance occur between a moirail and their partner. In this relationship, the moirail is watched over. Andrew Hussie, the creator of Homestuck, has stated the purpose of this relationship "is to pacify a partner who is dangerous" and "[its] not all about being platonic soul bros forever". The example given is Equius and Nepeta.  
Auspisticism (♣)
Auspitsticism involves three people instead of two. The auspistice acts as mediator that keeps a relationship between two partners functional. It has been shown an auspistice can be the only one feeling the emotions associated with this relationship and not the couple themselves. However, the comic has yet to say whether this is the norm or not. The example given is Kanaya mediating Vriska and Tavros' relationship.
Kismesissitude (♠)
Kismesissitude is based around mutual hatred and attraction at the same time. Despite the hate aspect, the partners usually have to respect each other to some degree for the relationship to last. The trolls discourage killing or defeating your mate since that would mean the end of the relationship. Jack Noir and the Black Queen is cited as an example.
Quadrant Vacillation
However, it is not uncommon for trolls for relationships for "flicker" between multiple quadrants, which is known as "Quadrant Vacillation". This usually is in the form of the Matespirt / Kismesis Double Reacharound or Group Vacillation. In MKDR, one partner experiences "red" feelings to a partner experiencing "black" ones. Either one partner has to change their feelings toward the other or an auspistice intervenes to is needed to keep the relationship stable. In Group Vacillation, trolls, who have a polygamous society, form multiple relationships and the resulting web of relations feature both "red" and "black" relationships.

Friday, July 24, 2015

Vault of Obscurity 6

Captain Napalm
His original "appearance"
Captain Napalm originally was an alter ego of Calvin (see above). However when changing in his alter ego, he accidentally locked himself inside. Later, Captain Napalm was brought back as a fictional comic within the comic. We never see the actual content of the comic. However, the comic appears to be about nineties-styled antihero or at least very gory ("Oh no, Captain Napalm's getting his kidneys punched out with an I-beam!" - Calvin). Captain Napalm is stated to also appear in Thermonuclear League of Liberty, where he is the leader of the titular organization. Calvin mentioned there is a series bubblegum card based on the comic.
The Iron Warrior
Iron Warrior
Rodney Dearth was a treasure hunter that searched through Africa. To aid him, he used the Iron Warrior. The Iron Warrior was a twelve or more feet tall robot. Rodney could use the robot as armor or control it remotely via a control. Like many Golden Age heroes, he would kill people. In League of the Extraordinary Gentle: Black Dossier, the titular document revealed the Iron Warrior was a member of the fifties incarceration of the League.
Miracle Man
Proudly selling out for over 60 years
(yes the comic is that old)
Miracle Man was a superhero from the comic book Sinclair Oil RD 119: The Miracle In Your Gas Tank, a corporate promotion / PSA by the Sinclair Oil Company. Lewis Thomas and his family were driving when their car stopped working. Miracle Man arrived via a magic carpet that has the front of a car. He used his power to reveal rust and corrosion is the problem. Because Lewis refusing to believe it, Miracle Man took the family to Sinclair Research Installation at Harvey, Illinois. Here, an unnamed scientist explained about the rust and how Sinclair's rust inhibitor RD-119 prevent rust. Miracle Man sent Lewis and his son home. However, Lewis was unable to convince anyone of Miracle Man's existence.
Miracle Man can alter people's sizes and teleport them. When he is small, he seems to retain the strength he has at normal size. For some reason, he always says "Sinc-Lair [sic]" when he uses his powers.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Volto From Mars

Volto asking for a cereal as reward for risking his life
Volto, much like Captain Toostie and NFL superhero, is a superhero invented to promote a product. In this case, we have an alien promoting Grape Nut Flakes.
Volto is a martian that came to Earth for some reason that the writer decided not to share with the audience. He decided to become a superhero. Again, the reason why is withheld. Volto befriended a small boy Jimmy, who does nothing to further the plot.
His adventures were told in one-page stories. Each story has a problem emerge. Volto then uses his powers while explaining them out loud. This is often some variation on "my left hand repels" and "my right hand attracts". Then, he eats Grape Nut Flake cereal usually with Volto or some other character praising it.
Volto activates his powers by yelling his name. When this happens, he can repel (via his left hand) or attract (right) an object. Despite this being called "magnetism", the power works on any object not just metal. However, using this power drains energy that can only be restored by eating cereal.
Martians Don't Eat Human Flesh
There is something odd I noticed. Both the Volto Archive and Public Domain Super Heroes claim the other martians eat human flesh. However, none of the comics I could find supported this claim. In fact, Volto directly state all martian eats cereal grains several times.
I also did some Google image searches to see about the human flesh thing.

Friday, July 17, 2015

Don't Read Bad Webcomic Wiki

Edit: I no longer agree with this post but will keep up the post up regardless.
Note: Due to the swearing in the quotes, the cuss words will be highlighted black. This make it so you can't see them unless you highlight them yourself.
Seriously don't. For the unaware, Bad Webcomic Wiki is a website that collect reviews of web comics. As the title suggests, the reviews are negative. That may not sound too bad. After all, Channel Awesome is largely composed of critics that specialize in negative reviews. However, Bad Webcomic Wiki is a horrible website. I'm here to explain why.
The entire website has a smugness to it without any sense of self-awareness. For example, the home page claims "[bad] webcomic creators are psychologically blind to their flaws, their egos are fed by the constant stream of ass-kissing supplied by their semi-literate fans who don't know any better". Another prime is example involves the description of "Not Crazy Reactions" page: "Here we keep the words of artists who responded almost like real adults. I am amazed we have enough of those now for them to have their own section" ("Reactions"). One of the other pages is "Angry Reactions" thus they are implying anyone angry at them are, in their own words, "failures bitching and crying about receiving well-earned criticism" ("Reactions"). 
Compare to the Nostalgia Critic, who the website is clearly trying to emulate. The Nostalgia Critic is a smug jerk that states his opinion is superior to others. However, the series has a sense of self-depreciation shown when the Critic is portrayed as idiot such as when he fails his allies are being mind-controlled in his Matrix Revolution review. The self-depreciation is what keeps him likable. However, Bad Webcomics Wiki lacks this.
The Personal Attacks
This is what convinced me to write this post. The reviews have a section to explain who the author is. On a good review, this would provide insight to the creative force behind the product being reviewed.  It might even explain some of the creative decisions. For example, a creator might have turned their comic darker because a death in the family. However on Bad Webcomic Wiki, the contributors use it to attack the authors. 
A prime example is from the "VG Cats" review. They accuse Scott Ramsooair of being a “misogynist”, “fanboy (yet he hates the company he idolizes)”, “sodomist”, “total asshole”, “delusional prick”, “fucktard”, “creep” and “[pretty] much fucked up...” among other thing. Their "proof" of this is behavior in his comic that isn't supposed to be emulated such as accidentally killing Santa. 
However, the worse example was from their Grim Tales From Down Below review. They accuse the author, Vinson "Bleedman" Ngo, of being a pedophile. They provide no prove aside from a single post that is not a reliable source (the post is literally just calling him a pedophile with no proof). Being accused of pedophile can ruin a person's life. Yet, they did it without any proof. Add to that, they have the gall to criticize Tim Buckley (in their "Ctrl + Alt + Del" post) for being accused for being pedophile. Let me repeat: they criticize him for being accused of being a pedophile not for actual being one. 
Lack of Editing
This might seem like an odd criticism. After all, the reviews can be edited by contributors. My problem is that they don't edit enough. Keep in mind the following examples are only the notable ones.
In their review of Dave Hopkin's Jack, they accuse him of plagiarism. However, they don't expand on this at all except for a picture that implies Jack's design is ripping off Frank from Donnie Darko, which it isn't. This would be simple to remove since there are only two references to it. 
The website is supposed to have warning for reviews of questionable content. However, they called "Chugworth Academy" porn and didn't place a porn warning on the review.  
In their review of Cathrine Alvheim's Jack, they accuse the comic of being a "rip-off by someone who has EVEN LESS TALENT" ("Jack (the other one)") of the previously mentioned Jack comic. However, Dave's comic is about a rabbit that becomes an amnesic grim reaper working for Hell while Cathrine's comic is about the adventures of an undead man trying to get revenge on the people that killed him. They could have done basic research, realize this was wrong and removed the single reference, but this has yet to occur. 
The "Lightbringer" review is out of date. The review states Lewis Lovhaug (who became a comic book reviewer) refuses to review web comics. However, he changed his stance on his and reviewed the first act of Homestuck
The "Billy the Heretic" review has six paragraphs under the "Story" section. However, only one of them actually explains what the story is. The section should have been rewritten. 
Jokes at the Cost of Quality
The reviewers often insert comedy into the reviews. However, these jokes often hurt the quality of the reviews. For example, the "Jack (the other one)" review neglects to give any background info for the sake for a "joke" where the reviewer, oddguy (the name isn't capitialized), accuses the comic of being a rip off. In the "House of LSD" review, they keep on making jokes about the author in the biography section to the point we don't learn anything about her until the third paragraph.