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“Pathfinder” Comic is OK, Except for Terrible Writing

“Pathfinder: Dark Waters” is an adaptation of the Pathfinder role-playing game (which is a form of Dungeons and Dragons). Typically, Dynamite does an excellent job adapting story lines from other media forms into really enjoyable comics. However, with “Pathfinder: Dark Waters” they fell short.

The title is not without merit. The art is quite good, and the pages are action packed. The second half of each issue provides everything needed to play the story from the first half as a D&D adventure; this includes dungeon maps and character sheets for each character featured in the story. While this format is an innovative way to present a role-playing setting, such an approach  does not lend itself to good writing.

For those of you unfamiliar with Dungeons and Dragons, the players typically follow a preset plot and interact with various characters in that plot. This typically does not lend itself to incredibly well polished story telling, but that is made up for in the game-play experience. “Pathfinder: Dark Waters” is written like the transcripts from a D&D game and leaves very little for non-role playing readers. The dialog consists of a cascading stream of exposition focusing on introducing characters or explaining the character’s actions. Such writing would not be a problem if the comics were exclusively marketed to D&D players or were given out free with merchandise. However, if Dynamite expects readers to continue to buy this comic, they must improve the quality of writing.

  

Comic-Con Episode IV: A Fan’s Hope

Here’s a review of Comic-Con Episode IV: A Fan’s Hope from Bob Westal:

Yeah, so it’s got a lousy title and it’s not earth-shattering cinema, but Morgan Spurlock’s entirely watchable and entertaining little Comic-Con movie accomplishes the task it sets for itself. In 88 minutes, we get a very decent gloss on the Comic-Con experience and just what it can mean for some people, minus the aching feet, sleep deprivation and $8.00 hot dogs.

Looks like he enjoyed it . . .

  

REVIEW: “Superman vs. Muhammad Ali”

There’s a certain temptation to open this review with the classic trifecta of assurances which have emblazoned countless comic book covers over the years – you know the ones I’m talking about: “Not a dream! Not a hoax! Not an imaginary story!” – but, really, anyone who grew up in the 1970s and had even a passing interest in comics will doubtlessly remember this all-time classic, originally released as a DC Treasury Edition in 1978, and as far as we were concerned at the time, this story was about as real as it got.

Try to think of a single present-day sports figure who has the positive reputation and cross-demographic public recognition level to warrant being teamed up with one of the most famous and popular superheroes of all time, let alone one whose abilities allow him to come to the table with a possible storyline already in place. I’m willing to listen, but I suspect you’ll probably come up blank. Then again, there’s a reason why few argued with Muhammad Ali when he called himself “The Greatest.”

DC Comics has reissued “Superman vs. Muhammad Ali” both in standard trade paperback size and in a hardcover facsimile edition which is the same size as the version released in ’78, but if you have fond memories of reading the story back then, there’s no question that you’ll want to see this thing reproduced just as it was when you first thrilled to the story. If this is the first you’ve heard of this strange tale, however, here’s the back story: creators Denny O’Neil and Neal Adams took the idea of Ali being the greatest boxer on the planet and asked, “Yes, but is he the greatest boxer off the planet?” Just as Clark Kent, Lois Lane, and Jimmy Olsen are preparing to interview the Champ, Rat’Lar, the leader of an alien race known as the Scrubb, arrives and demands that Earth’s greatest champion battle the Scrubb’s greatest champion…and if the Scrubb win, then Earth will be destroyed. Superman volunteers as Earth’s champion, but Ali, unsurprisingly, argues that he’s the greatest, rightly rationalizing that Superman isn’t originally from this neck of the woods. In turn, Rat’Lar demands that the two of them battle it out, with the victor of that fight taking on the Scrubb.

That Earth wins in the end is a given – I mean, we’re still here, right? – but the most entertaining part of the story comes first from watching Ali train Superman in the sweet science, then from watching Superman get his Kryptonian ass handed to him in the ring. It’s also a blast to examine the cover of the book and see which celebrities you can pick out in the audience, though there’s an index inside which identifies everyone of note, thankfully. (I still think it’s awesome that one of the biggest faces in the crowd is that of Kurt Vonnegut.) No, “Superman vs. Muhammad Ali” isn’t a classic comic in the traditional sense, but it’s a groovy ’70s artifact that still makes for an extremely fun read.

Buy Superman vs. Muhammad Ali now

  

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