Temple of Elemental Evil in DDO

Temple of Elemental Evil in DDO

On Wednesday March 25, Severlin, Steelstar, Knockback, and Cordovan from the DDO team posted a video on YouTube to preview the upcoming Temple of Elemental Evil quest from Update 25, which should be coming out sometime in April.

The first thing i noticed while watching the video is that it looks phenomenal. Each new piece of content that gets released has more impressive graphics than the last. Better lighting effects and background details help keep this game fresh after nine years. i can tell you from personal experience, the look of DDO has developed a ton since those early days. While by comparison to new games that launch all the time, the graphics might not be up to their caliber, i still think it’s a great looking game with excellent gameplay.

One of the things they show early in the video, which i was a tad disappointed to see, was another new crafting system. This one involves using mushroom mats gathered in ToEE to customize new, unique weapons, armor and gear. Already in DDO, there are at least a dozen other crafting systems like green steel, alchemical, thunderforged, dragontouched, altar of insanity, Cannith crafting and so on. Years ago, i purchased a gargantuan ingredients bag and i fear even that may reach its limit.

In a forum thread, Steelstar offered some insight into the reasoning behind new crafting systems vs. expanding existing ones, and while he does make good sense, i can’t help but feel like there are better solutions to those issues. i’ve played a lot of MMOs, and they seem to be able to include crafting without having a dizzying array of different ways to do it. In DDO, since there are so many of these different systems, several of them have grown to be essentially useless over time, and yet still the mats drop and clutter your inventory. Take the altar of insanity stuff, for example. At the time it was introduced, there were some pretty nifty effects you could add to the various items from those quests. But anymore they’re just junk. Not only is there better lootgen stuff, but even if there weren’t you out-level their usefulness so quickly. What you end up with is a bag full of adhesive slimes and brain samples.

From the preview, ToEE looks to be a huge quest. In fact, it’s actually broken up into two quests, available in heroic levels at seven and epic at 30. Based on what i saw in the video, they look gigantic. i think this could be somewhat of a drawback, though. If they are a huge as they seem to be, it could take a significant amount of time to complete just one part of the quest, which i think could deter people from running it due to not having that much time to invest at once. On the other hand, it could also lead to parties splitting up, which in the tabletop version of D&D typically spells disaster. But DDO is a different animal altogether, and folks are used to soloing things a lot. i could envision a lot of “okay you take the air temple, i’ll hit the water temple…”

What i thought while watching the video was that it would be neat if they broke up the quest into several shorter quests. For example, the temple grounds, each of the four elemental temples, and then finally the main one with the BBEG fight at the end. That might have given more opportunity to create content, and it would be neat if there were named items in each quest flavored for their location.

One of the developers commenting on the preview video talked a bit about the lore of ToEE, and how it’s a place that is often utilized by various factions of evil that take up residence there. This made me imagine another sort of design scenario that would be really cool – if the inhabitants and goals of the quest changed over time depending on how many times you’d ran it, or possibly randomized between a list of different possibilities upon entering.

Like Haunted Halls of Eveningstar, ToEE is based upon a classic D&D module, something i really hope they continue to do in DDO. There’s tons of awesome, classic adventures that i would love to see in DDO, especially the Expedition to the Barrier Peaks. A quest inside what turns out to be a crashed alien spaceship would fit nicely in the Eberron setting, i think. Unlike Haunted Halls, the map for ToEE looks like all the other content in DDO instead of appearing like a graph paper map. That is one of the coolest things about Haunted Halls, and i hope they change the map before U25 to be more like it.

Part of the story in ToEE involves “mysterious remnants,” which were introduced to the game when they tweaked the recent Champion Monster system to provide unique rewards for defeating them. In ToEE, a new faction called the Gatekeepers are collecting these fragments, as well as Falrinth, a major bad guy boss in the quest. i’m curious to see what the connection is between the remnants the players collect and ToEE, and i’m holding on to mine in case there’s a neat interaction with them inside the quest.

There’s also a new Monster Manual coming out with U25, which is awesome. i love the inclusion of Monster Manuals in DDO, and i hope they continue developing them. This new one has mindflayers added, along with mummies, orcs and a few others. In the video, i spotted a few new types of monsters for existing Monster Manual entries too, like gargoyles and earth elementals, so that will be fun to get closer to some of the benchmarks.

Speaking of monsters, though, ToEE doesn’t have any brand new monsters that i’m aware of; i think they flat out say there are no new monsters at all, which is a bummer.

A glaring omission are myconids, the fungal humanoids from D&D who feature prominently in ToEE. The devs in the video make mention of how they are not included, which is disappointing. Especially since they realize enough to address their absence, why not put some time into creating them? Even if they were just reskinned creatures of another sort with some different abilities, it would make a lot of players happy to discover some new monsters. The devs give a pretty weak answer to a viewer question about myconids and how they ought to be in there since the BBEG is Zuggtmoy, the Demon Queen of Fungi. They say she’s a demon queen, so that should give a clue as to the types of monsters that will accompany her. Nice try, devs, but us players want to fight mushroom people!

The end fight against Zuggtmoy looks to be rather exciting and somewhat raid-like. The chamber where the fight takes place is very large, and there are nice graphical effects of glowing motes floating through the air. But they’re deadly, too. The motes are actually spores of Zuggtmoy, which can cause continuous damage throughout the battle.

Overall, i’m definitely looking forward to U25 and Temple of Elemental Evil. Any new content is good, and this looks to be another terrific quest like Haunted Halls of Eveningstar. By the time it launches, i’m sure there will be other bells and whistles added, too. The location of the quest also lends itself to some intriguing possibilities as well, being neither in the Forgotten Realms or Eberron, if i understood the devs comment correctly. Could we be seeing yet another world to travel to, which i believe would be the World of Greyhawk?

Temple of Elemental Evil will be free to VIP players, and of course available for Turbine Points in the DDO store. Cordovan mentioned that the cost will be comparable to Haunted Halls, but no exact cost is available right now.

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Thanks for visiting The Long Shot!  If you liked what you read please click Follow at the top of the page and share/Tweet/repost your favorite articles. i’m getting close to 500 followers, a milestone i hope to reach this year. Thank you so much to everyone who already follows this blog, it means a ton and i appreciate each and every one.

Follow @longshotist on Twitter for frequent shares of related articles and (hopefully) humorous nonsequiters.

Remember – if you would like to contribute to The Long Shot, i’d be happy to make that happen! One team of contributors will be going to Yuri’s Night Space Party at the Great Lakes Science Center, where they were asked to be judges for their official costume contest. So be sure to check back for coverage of that. If you are celebrating Yuri’s Night anywhere in the world (or off of it – looking at you International Space Station) please share your experiences and photos!

My Week in Geek column also appears alongside other great blogs at The News-Herald Blogs (click the logo at the top right of the page for the main site).

Check out the articles i’ve written for The News-Herald.

Thanks for reading!

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Women Warriors – Katana: Soultaker

Women Warriors

The second installment of this discussion group at Cleveland Public Library, hosted by Valentino Zullo on March 19, focused on the DC Comics trade paperback Katana: Soultaker, a 10-issue series written by Ann Nocenti.

Katana Soultaker

Although there were less people who showed up for the group discussion, they were all faces familiar from the first meeting and our talk focused more on the book itself. At the meeting focused on Ms. Marvel, the conversation often strayed away from the book and although some worthwhile topics came up, they were broader ideas that didn’t cleave to the reason for the meeting. Valentino did a fine job of circling back to Ms. Marvel, but we wound up talking a lot about just comics in general.

When it came to Katana: Soultaker, the general consensus was that overall no one really enjoyed the book all that much. That itself was a poignant thing though, as Valentino mentioned that while he didn’t enjoy the story a whole lot himself, it was one of the few examples he could find of a female superhero who also fit the mold of intersecting qualities – in this case gender and race.

Katana: Soultaker follows what the group agreed was a disjointedly told journey of the titular hero through a revenge story. This narrative structure was itself one of the drawbacks to the book, which offered an example of a common trap for female heroines in that it makes the character a passive participant in their own story. In Katana’s case, she is motivated only by revenge for the murder of her husband, and in these sorts of stories, the revenge seeker has no real inherent drive of their own – their actions are spurred on only by the quest for revenge itself. This became particularly problematic for this story, too, after a major plot point is revealed towards the end of the series.

Following a similar path through the book is the supporting character Shun, who is first presented as an intriguing character with an important role in Katana’s journey. But as the story progresses, she too falls into a revenge cycle that by the end of the book finds her essentially just a bland, cliche-spouting engine of violence. However, because of the aforementioned plot point, and the actions she takes as well as those perpetrated upon her, she ultimately becomes more interesting than the main character.

Much of the book’s flaw stem from the storytelling, which was just straight-up messy. Scenes break at awkward times consistently throughout, and one of the group’s participants succinctly described the story’s execution by likening it to “that feeling you get when you waited until the night before your homework is due, and you just rush through it.”

The other big flaw in the book is that, while the core of the story is really not that bad, Katana’s character becomes irrelevant. In fact, her “real” identity and name were something the group had to refer back to the book just to remember. In contrast, the Ms. Marvel book’s Kamala Khan is vital to the story, her non-superhero identity a critical factor to understanding and appreciating her journey.

Overall, the book was just plain disappointing in many ways. As a tale of a Japanese warrior woman, it was riddled with just about every cultural cliche and stereotype that comes to mind. Packed with Yakuza, samurai, ancient clans, drunken masters, ninja stars, and all the accompanying cheesy dialogue you might find in a dubbed kung-fu flick. Mind you, i love those old kung-fu movies, but i can’t imagine that was the vibe they were going for in this book.

Katana’s actions and reactions to things were very often nonsensical, with her switching allegiances and allies several times, and even her goals were bewildering. At the book’s start, she’s trying to, i think, put an end to this large underworld syndicate. But also get revenge for her husband’s murder. And take over the syndicate. And stop some prophecy. And end some ghost’s curse. And stop The Creeper, who for some reason is nothing like The Creeper and instead is like an Oni spirit…?

This is The Creeper. i don't know what the heck was in Katana: Soultaker

This is The Creeper. i don’t know what the heck was in Katana: Soultaker

In the course of her quest, she returns to the same places over and over, getting in lots of fights where she barely escapes, then collapses from injuries or exhaustion, and then wakes up safely somewhere else. At the climax of the book, it’s not even her actions that bring triumph and a conclusion to her quest, but the spirit of her dead husband. This occurs so quickly and in so few panels that, as a group, we all had to refer to the book just to piece together what happened.

And then there’s a single splash page to wrap it up, conclude the story AND the series as a whole.

Despite all the bad things about this book, the group discussion was terrific. Although we ran out of time, we thought it might be interesting after the discussion series is over to talk about what we learned about what makes a great female hero and perhaps even try to come up with our own character, based in Cleveland, who possesses intersecting traits. i hope we stick with this proposal, which sounds like a lot of fun.

Coming up this Thursday, April 2 is the next discussion group, and i’m really looking forward to this one because the topic is Batwoman: Hydrology. Batwoman is a fantastic character, and i’m hoping for a lively conversation. Not only is she a relatively new character with staying power, her comic has been one of the most enjoyable ones i’ve read in the last few years due in no small part to the stunning artwork.

It’s also worth noting that Cleveland Public Library makes a great effort to have plenty of copies of the books discussed in this group for readers to check out. The graphic novel, comics and trade paperback section of the library is frankly enormous. Because of the Ohio Center for the Book, which has been around since 2003 thanks to an initiative by the Library of Congress to promote literacy, they are able to offer these sorts of programs and books in the community. Initially, there was only the National Center for the Book, but it was expanded to a state level where they can highlight each state’s authors and writers.

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Thanks for visiting The Long Shot!  If you liked what you read please click Follow at the top of the page and share/Tweet/repost your favorite articles. i’m getting close to 500 followers, a milestone i hope to reach this year. Thank you so much to everyone who already follows this blog, it means a ton and i appreciate each and every one.

Follow @longshotist on Twitter for frequent shares of related articles and (hopefully) humorous nonsequiters.

Remember – if you would like to contribute to The Long Shot, i’d be happy to make that happen! One team of contributors will be going to Yuri’s Night Space Party at the Great Lakes Science Center, where they were asked to be judges for their official costume contest. So be sure to check back for coverage of that. If you are celebrating Yuri’s Night anywhere in the world (or off of it – looking at you International Space Station) please share your experiences and photos!

My Week in Geek column also appears alongside other great blogs at The News-Herald Blogs (click the logo at the top right of the page for the main site).

Check out the articles i’ve written for The News-Herald.

Thanks for reading!

Robotech is more than just transforming robots

Robotech: The Movie?

i read some news the other day about the real possibility for a Robotech live action film. As a kid, i fondly remember rushing home from school to watch this classic animated series, and i’ve rewatched the saga several times since, including just last year.

robotech

It’s been reported in various places that this-or-that person is attached as a producer, or is interested in the franchise or whatever. i can’t conjecture what any of that means exactly for the potential of a film franchise, but i am certainly excited about the possibilities. One article i read said something about Leonardo DiCaprio, and my first thought was “he’d make an awesome Roy Fokker!”

One of my friends, who is himself a flimmaker, told me that there’s some issues with the rights to the actual Macross Saga story though, which is troubling. i can’t imagine making a Robotech film without the seminal storyline and characters.

At any rate, the thought of seeing this franchise made into a movie with the amazing technical options of today’s cinema is just completely amazing to me. Robotech captivated me as a kid, not just because of the cool veritech fighters and SDF-1 but the complex relationships between the characters and mature themes. It says a lot that a cartoon with jets that turn into robots fighting the giant Zentradi took a back seat to Rick Hunter’s infatuation with Lynn Minmay and evolving relationship with Lisa Hayes. Likewise, if it weren’t for the well-developed relationships between Roy and Claudia, and Max and Mirya, the action and danger wouldn’t have had the same impact. Even the gruff Admiral Gloval added a lot of gravitas to the story, always weighing their options against the loss of life and compromising principles.

If and when a Robotech film franchise develops, i sincerely hope all effort is put into thoughtfully developing the weighty themes and relationships from the animated series. In the mean time, i’ll be keeping a sharp eye out for any news related to this project!

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Thanks for visiting The Long Shot!  If you liked what you read please click Follow at the top of the page and share/Tweet/repost your favorite articles. i’m getting close to 500 followers, a milestone i hope to reach this year. Thank you so much to everyone who already follows this blog, it means a ton and i appreciate each and every one.

Follow @longshotist on Twitter for frequent shares of related articles and (hopefully) humorous nonsequiters.

Remember – if you would like to contribute to The Long Shot, i’d be happy to make that happen! One team of contributors will be going to Yuri’s Night Space Party at the Great Lakes Science Center, where they were asked to be judges for their official costume contest. So be sure to check back for coverage of that. If you are celebrating Yuri’s Night anywhere in the world (or off of it – looking at you International Space Station) please share your experiences and photos!

My Week in Geek column also appears alongside other great blogs at The News-Herald Blogs (click the logo at the top right of the page for the main site).

Check out the articles i’ve written for The News-Herald.

Thanks for reading!

Week in Geek 3.27.15

Week in Geek – a roundup of science, technology and pop culture news with commentary each Friday

You managed to survive without a Week in Geek on 3.20.15 and you’re back? My hats off to you, readers!

Gaming Helps

For this week, i had an opportunity to speak with Deaths Crowbar. No, it’s not a metal band – it’s an individual.

Joshua Turner is the geeky gamer guy behind the Deaths Crowbar persona on his YouTube channel, Twitch, Twitter and elsewhere, creating and sharing videos and writing gaming news, reviews, podcasts and more. But beneath all of that is a young guy with a lot of heart, who seeks to fuse his love of gaming with a real desire to help people. In fact, if he had one superpower, he was quick to say it would be the power to heal others.

Deaths Crowbar

At the age of 12, Joshua was diagnosed with leukemia, and fought hard for four years to overcome it. He credits gaming for helping him cope with the ordeal, primarily in dealing with the depression and loneliness he experienced while undergoing treatment and all the stresses involved with his battle against cancer. On his YouTube channel, he has a series of videos called Cancer Stories, where he shares his experiences with various aspects of that part of his life.

“Gaming became a very important thing in my life during that time,” he says in one of those videos. “Because it was how I communicated with people.”

Although he’s a lifelong gamer, being in the hospital for weeks at a time meant he didn’t get to interact with friends or other people, and he discovered MMOs were a great way to do that. Speaking with Joshua, with his easy laugh and positive outlook, you wouldn’t think he’d gone through such extremely difficult challenges in his life. You can tell through his videos and the other work that he does how important it is for him to do what he can to bring that hope and optimism to others, too.

In that regard, a video he posted just yesterday is geared towards helping his uncle, an important figure in his life who introduced him to gaming when he was a child. His uncle has some serious health problems, and Joshua is doing what he can to help by reaching out to people through his YouTube channel. There is a GoFundMe venture to raise money for a procedure he needs as soon as possible, and Joshua has also pledged on his own to reward a donor with a Nintendo gaming package worth hundreds of dollars.

i came across this impressive 18 year old from Texarkana, Arkansas while looking for inspirado in creating custom Funko Pop vinyl figures. In his tutorial video for doing that, he created a Nightcrawler figure, which he later told me was his first attempt at doing so as well as being his most viewed video to date. It was also one of his favorite videos to make, because he enjoys actually creating things. As it turns out, there’s very few channels out there with that particular sort of content, and a lot of viewers discover his channel through that video.

As a sidenote, he received some feedback that the video might be too long, clocking in a just over 35 minutes. But he followed up by checking the stats on it which showed that 88 percent of viewers watched the whole thing straight through to the end. <editor’s note: take that, people who think videos – and blogs – shouldn’t be too long!>

Just recently, Deaths Crowbar reached some important milestones in subscribers and partnerships. But i’ll let him tell you all about that:

“I just make videos to have fun and stuff,” he said humbly about his work so far. “It’s nice that people are liking them.”

The origin of the name Deaths Crowbar is first question most people ask Joshua. In one of his earlier videos he talks about how he wanted to come up with a unique name because there’s a lot of Joshua Turners in the world.

“When I played the original Halo game, instead of just wanting to go with ‘Joshua’ or whatever, I was trying to go for something that was interesting and unique,” he recalled of coming up with his moniker. “My dad works with tools a lot, so I went with Crowbar. When I got XBox 360 and Xbox Live, Crowbar was taken. So I thought, let’s add a possessive or an adjective here, and figure out what we can do to make this interesting.

“It actually goes well with the ‘You were killed by…Deaths Crowbar’,” he said with a laugh. “Not a regular crowbar. Deaths Crowbar.”

Joshua has been making YouTube videos for a few years now, and in earlier days he had a different channel that he said was more sporadic in terms of both content and frequency. He decided to get more focused though, and keep the content centered on primarily gaming, so he launched the Deaths Crowbar channel about two years ago to do just that.

The response from friends and family to Joshua’s work has been a mixed bag. There’s some skepticism, but he notes that his dad in particular has been supportive especially since he’s started traveling to conventions and speaking on panels and with people in the gaming industry. A few people have some reservations, until he starts making money from his efforts. For other friends, they look to him for inspiration and advice on starting their own YouTube channels.

“What I’ve noticed when looking at other people’s success is that ‘so-and-so noticed them, and then…’,” he said of other YouTube success stories, noting that it takes perseverance and hard work.

In that regard, Joshua has already experienced some steps forward through a recent partnership with Fullscreen Inc.

“Fullscreen is a multichannel network,” he said of his newest venture. “They offer tools and tips, and help with things like copyright issues. They help you work with other people more easily. You get a manager who helps you with tips on how to improve.

“They try and help you grow your channel, and so far it’s pretty much just been me, so something to help me along will be nice.”

For the nuts-and-bolts of his videos, Joshua studied other YouTubers and what he noticed is that a lot of videos are highly edited and/or scripted. For his videos, which often feature continuous footage, he wanted them to feel like he’s engaging directly with the viewer, talking “through heart and head.” Going forward, he might utilize some editing techniques based on advice he’s gotten. In particular, adding custom images and similar content can help videos show up in the sidebars for related videos, for example.

“You need to interact with the people a good amount,” he said, in terms of building a community around his YouTube channel, outside of the content creation itself. “It’s also good to have people who will interact with each other, who are in a way loyal to your fanbase.

“Networking is a big, big deal,” he said.

In addition to maintaining his YouTube channel and posting regular content, Joshua is also a straight-A college student currently taking care of the general requirements at the local branch of the University of Arkansas. He’s also one of the top writers and does public relations for Christian Gamer, where he is often a voice advocating for more open-mindedness from the community there.

“There’s issues with a lot of games, yes,” he said of the perspective of approaching gaming from a christian viewpoint. “There’s some I really don’t agree with…but I’m one of the people who’s different than a lot of the people who come in, in such that I advocate for certain games, whereas a lot of them will gripe about it.”

As an interviewer himself, he’s had several opportunities to speak with gaming industry professionals. Most memorably, he was able to speak with a developer of Neverwinter Online when that came out. That came about by simply sending a message to Cryptic Studios’ COO Craig Zinkievich and asking if he could send someone for a podcast Joshua was involved with, and at the time there’s wasn’t much press from bigger sites like IGN so it was a great opportunity.

For others interested in becoming a YouTuber, who might be hesitant for whatever reason, Joshua has some advice to share:

“Just grab a camera and try,” he said. “Really, it’s not as much about whether you can or can’t do it, or you’re shy or uncomfortable. I am not always the best with cameras and things like that…but eventually you get used to it. You get comfortable with it, and once you get that comfort zone, I think is where people start noticing and really want to watch you for your personality.”

Going forward, opportunities continue to open up for Joshua stemming from his YouTube channel and the work he does developing a concept called Gaming Helps. Although still in the planning stage, he hopes to grow this idea into a charitable organization that combines his love of gaming with a strong desire to help others. He also has some potential opportunities to become involved with game development as well, something he’s really excited about but can’t reveal details on just yet – so keep an eye on his channel for more news of that.

Almost all of Joshua’s videos feature his custom signoff, which is something he put thought into after noticing that other popular YouTubers typically have a signature intro or signoff themselves. In keeping with the spirit of speaking off the cuff, he went with whatever came off the top of his head which a friend told him was awesome and that he needed to keep.

And what better way to wrap up a talk with Deaths Crowbar than his signoff message, a statement i can fully stand behind myself:

“To all you nerds out there, and to all you gamers and all you geeks – keep doing what you do.”

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Thanks for reading the latest edition of  Week in Geek in addition to visiting The Long Shot. Of course, there were many more exciting things that happened in the world of science, technology and pop culture this week…but these are the ones that most caught my attention!

Since my interview with Deaths Crowbar ran longer than I anticipated, i’ll be creating another post this weekend for some other geeky news, so be sure to check back for that.

If you have any news you’d like to share, drop me a line and let me know – i try to keep up with stuff but i can’t read everything!

If you enjoy what you read at The Long Shot, please click follow at the top of the page and sign up for email subscriptions so you never miss a post.

If you would like some further reading, about some science, technology and pop culture stuff that happened this week, here’s a few links i hope you find as interesting as i did:

Follow @longshotist on Twitter for frequent shares of related articles and (hopefully) humorous nonsequiters.

Week in Geek will be back next week, and i’d love to see you here! In the mean time, check out what there is to know about Yuri’s Night World Space Party and how you can contribute to this global celebration of space exploration.

Remember – if you would like to contribute to The Long Shot, i’d be happy to make that happen!

Week in Geek also appears alongside other great blogs at The News-Herald Blogs (click the logo at the top right of the page for the main site).

Check out the articles i’ve written for The News-Herald.

Thanks for reading!

Yuri’s Night World Space Party

In my post-Wizard World Cleveland write-up i mentioned one of the cooler things i saw was the booth from Great Lakes Science Center, which attracted me with their huge sign that read “Space Party.”

The display was advertising their contribution to a 15-year tradition aimed at increasing public interest in space exploration and inspiring the next generation of explorers.

Yuri Night

Over half a century ago, humankind sent our first representative beyond the borders of our planet Earth. Yuri Gagarin, piloting the Vostok 1 spacecraft, became the first human in space on April 12, 1961. NASA’s inaugural space shuttle launch took place 20 years later to the day, on April 12, 1981.

Details of the mission were kept secret by the Soviet government due to their embroiled Space Race with the U.S., and reactions here in America were a mixed bag of fears of increased military power and appreciation of the incredible accomplishment.

Vostok 1 - the spacecraft that carried Yuri Gagarin, Earth's first human in space

Vostok 1 – the spacecraft that carried Yuri Gagarin, Earth’s first human in space

Regardless of how world powers viewed the breakthrough mission, the idea of human spaceflight captured the fascination and imagination of the world whose inhabitants previously only saw people in space through science fiction entertainment.

Perhaps most the most telling and compelling of perspectives on how we can view exploration beyond our atmosphere comes from cosmonaut Gagarin’s reactions to his single orbit of Earth, of which he said:

Circling the Earth in my orbital spaceship I marveled at the beauty of our planet. People of the world, let us safeguard and enhance this beauty – not destroy it!”

These sentiments are echoed still today by those brave folks who explore, perhaps not the final frontier, but certainly the next one. For evidence of this, look no farther than the new documentary “Planetary” which features interviews with those who have followed in Yuri’s footsteps and traveled to space and back again.

“The really wonderful thing that happened to me when I was in space was this feeling of belonging to the entire universe,” recounts NASA astronaut Mae Jemison in the film.

Much as how travel beyond our hometowns, states, regions or national borders helps broaden our perspective and gain deeper understanding of our connectedness with others, viewing the planet we all live on drives that point home even more.

So to honor these milestones in space exploration, we have a party!

Yuri’s Night – often called the World Space Party – first launched in 2000, now has celebrations in close to 60 countries around the globe.

In Cleveland, Yuri’s Night Space Party is held at Great Lakes Science Center  – the perfect venue for an event aimed at fans of science fiction and fact, space aficionados and socialites alike at the home of NASA Glenn Visitor Center.

In 2014, the Plain Dealer touted Yuri’s Night as one of the 15 hottest parties of the year, and 2015 aims to deliver once again.

Featuring live music from Cleveland bands like Abby Normal and DJ Justin Nyce, the 21-and-over party should keep attendees dancing and having a great time celebrating the past, present and future of spaceflight with beer, wine and cider along with hors d’oeuvres included with ticket purchases (there’s a cash bar for cocktails as well).

New to Yuri’s Night in 2015 is a Solar Fire Light Show, and weather permitting, an outdoor deck party with additional live music including a special appearance by rocker/writer/biker/geek Michael McFarland. The Solar Fire Light Show promises a cosmic trip, and although i’m not sure exactly what this means, in my imagination i’m picturing a mashup of the ending from The Black Hole, ’60s psychedelic rock music videos and the boat ride from Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.

Attendees are encouraged to participate in the fun, too, with a space-themed costume contest. If any readers of The Long Shot attend Yuri’s Night in Cleveland – or anywhere in the world for that matter – please share your photos! i’d love to see what sorts of costumes people wear to the World Space Party and share them here. Bonus imaginary points for Star Trek TOS attire.

Professional cosplayers will be happy to note that the Great Lakes Base post of the Rebel Legion – a Star Wars-based costuming fan club – will be on hand. In addition to building a community of like-minded cosplayers, this international group puts effort into charity events as well with their “Rebel For A Cause” program.

XTend Technologies from Broadview Heights has partnered with Critical Hit Games from Cleveland Heights to bring a Kinect and tabletop game lounge to Yuri’s Night, too.

What this all amounts to is that Yuri’s Night World Space Part at Great Lakes Science Center is set to be a majorly awesome event. There’s something for all tastes, from music and dancing to cosplay and gaming, and all under the banner of celebrating human scientific achievement.

In an era where private enterprises are launching spacecraft every week, talk of establishing colonies on Mars are a real possibility in the not-too-distant future and the job of Space Lawyer is a real thing, Yuri’s Night reminds us how far we’ve come in just a few short decades while creating excitement for where we’re headed.

General admission tickets for this event are still on sale now online, by phone at 216.621.2400 or in person at Great Lakes Science Center. The cost for admission is $55 in advance, or $70 at the door the night of the party April 11.

Great Lakes Science Center has parking available in their attached garage for $7, or you can summon a ride with the handy Uber app, like i did for Wizard World Cleveland in February.

For an even greater experience, VIP tickets are available exclusively through Living Social for $85. The VIP Lounge is accessible only through this deal, a special area overlooking the party that has an open bar and food from some of Cleveland’s best restaurants – which is impressive indeed since this foodie town has several world-renowned restaurants. The lounge will be open to VIP ticket holders from 7-11 p.m. and this special offer also grants general admission to the party.

If you attend Yuri’s Night in Cleveland, please keep an eye out for the pair of correspondents for The Long Shot who will be on hand to provide you with the best firsthand experience write-up following the party as well as taking lots of photos to share here. The News-Herald will also be creating a photo gallery to showcase their pics from the party.

If you’d like to share your experience of Yuri’s Night, no matter where in the world you celebrate, why not Take a Shot and write something up yourself? i’ll be more than happy to share it here on The Long Shot.

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If you enjoy what you read at The Long Shot, please click follow at the top of the page and sign up for email subscriptions so you never miss a post.

Follow @longshotist on Twitter for frequent shares of related articles and (hopefully) humorous nonsequiters.

Remember – if you would like to contribute to The Long Shot, i’d be happy to make that happen!

Week in Geek also appears alongside other great blogs at The News-Herald Blogs (click the logo at the top right of the page for the main site).

Check out the articles i’ve written for The News-Herald.

Thanks as always for reading!

Week in Geek 3.13.15 extra

Week in Geek – a roundup of science, technology and pop culture news with commentary each Friday

i mentioned the other day some NE Ohio tech community news as a follow-up, and thanks to CWRU computer science student Stephanie Hippo graciously taking some time to speak with me over the weekend i have that to share with you here.

Women in technology

Stephanie is in her final semester at CWRU, graduating in just seven weeks. As a staunch advocate for women in technology and the computer science field, she recently presented her article “You Gotta Want It” that addresses the issue.

CWRU computer science student Stephanie Hippo works hard to help make computer accessible to women

CWRU computer science student Stephanie Hippo works hard to help make computer accessible to women

According to Bob Sopko from CWRU’s Blackstone Launchpad, “Stephanie has a massive impact on bringing the tech environment into reach of young ladies on campus.” The article showcases not only that impact, but also speaks to the broader issue of women in the technology field from her personal experience.

For Grace Hopper’s sake, how did I not know the other women in my classes? – From the article “You Gotta Want It.” (Grace Hopper was a pioneering American computer scientist and rear admiral in the Navy who made vital contributions to the field)

i particularly enjoyed the thread of humility that runs through Stephanie’s article. Woven into the story is her search for role models that young women can look to for guidance and inspiration, and through her efforts she becomes one herself, donating her time and assistance to help young women overcome some of the barriers or obstacles to a career in computer science.

Originally, Stephanie entered CWRU as a biomedical engineering student, with a desire to  advance the medical field. Although she’d done some computing in high school, the idea of pursuing it as a career isn’t something she’d considered or even known much about until getting to college. A introductory freshman course on the subject with a follow-up internship at a software company changed her mind though, and she changed her major to computer science.

“I had the support of my friends and the support of the department,” she said of her initial steps in the field, despite the small number of other women to look to for guidance. “But, it’s a big university, so it’s difficult to affect change at an institutional level.”

Her work in advocating for other women in computing, including her article, emerged after she was given advice to engage in projects to expand her portfolio beyond her degree and practical work in the industry.

“I just wanted to let other people know about the issue and realize some of the work that goes in to making it a reality – how much time goes into it, and why people choose to put their time into it,” she said. “I was hoping this article would articulate why I care about it. It’s made a lot of noise on campus, and gotten the support of some really great alumni.”

The response to her article, and the work she’s done, so far has gotten a great response. Hundreds of people have read and shared the article, and she said the response has been nothing but positive. Just this past weekend, she was asked to speak at a high school about women in technology, a last-minute request that presented her with 12 hours to come up with an hour-long speech – a challenge she was happy to accept.

In the article, she mentions her involvement with CWRU’s Hacker Society, a student organization for those “who are interested in digging into the innards of things; for those who use, produce, or support open-source software (or hardware); and for those who would like to learn more about open-source development,” according to their website.

hacker-society-small

A large part of the impetus for her advocacy was her position as the one of the only female members of the group, and the article’s title refers to her want to change that. For those not familiar with computer science, the term “hacker” can carry a negative connotation, like what you hear in the news about groups who break into secure networks or steal people’s identities. To programmers and coders though, those sorts of activities are far from the truth.

“A hack is more of when you open something up to see and learn more about how it works on the inside,” Stephanie explained. “To learn more about how computers work, or hacking something together quickly. We try to encourage people to throw together small projects so they can better understand how programming language works, or how some protocol works. It’s more hack, as in explore, than illegally break into something.”

Hack events, also called hackathons, like the recent HackCWRU, are held in cities all over the world, giving technologists the opportunity to engage in collaborative computer programming. If you’re interested in hackathons, finding one near you is as simple as doing an Internet search for “hackaton <insert city name>” and you’ll find all sorts of resources about them in your area.

“There’s just so much you can do with it,” Stephanie said of computing. “I think it’s hard to know exactly what you want to do at 18, and you’re thrown into college and told to pick a major. There’s so much you haven’t been exposed to yet. It’s hard to even know what you haven’t been exposed to yet. Computer science is just a huge field that’s really everywhere now. If you’re interested in one industry or another, there’s probably some way to apply computer science to it.

“It’s a lot more creative than people give it credit for. I’ve talked to some women that might be a little hesitant to jump into it at first because it’s very technical, but there’s a lot of creativity that goes into it as well, with problem-solving and individually with things like app design or web design. There’s an unlimitedness of what you can do, combined with the creativity that goes along with it as well.”

For any non-students who are interested in learning more about computer science, Stephanie said there has been an explosion of resources out there. Online, things like code.org and codecademy can start people on the path to learning code, but Stephanie said building a community is an important factor. Having other people to connect with and work with in person helps not only novice coders, but even for those with degrees in computer science or who already work in the field collaborating with peers is incredibly useful.

“Cleveland’s pretty lucky to have a larger community around the intro to programming – not just for women but for anyone that really wants to get involved,” Stephanie said. Groups like HER Ideas in Motion, for example, offer hands-on workshops for girls to learn from career professionals. And TECH CORPS is a society for K-12 students that gives access to technology skills, programs and resources.

“Eventually, you have to make the jump and the time to do projects, and it’s so much easier when you have an actual real person there,” she said of online self-instruction. “That’s why groups like those are so important.”

Later in the day after speaking with me, Stephanie was involved with an event through Tigress, an organization that offers entrepreneurship and creative arts programs to young women. In addition to groups like that, there are plenty of other resources in the Cleveland area to assist young people and women gain a stronger foundation in technology.

Coming up in April for example, Blackstone’s 2015 Future Women Leaders Program presents seminars, networking and skill-building sessions with professionals that provides early exposure to the finance and business sides of technology.

There’s also a Women’s Leadership Symposium at my alma mater Cleveland State University on April 15.

Thanks to Stephanie Hippo for her time, not just in speaking with me but her efforts to open the field of computer science for women. Her tireless work connecting with young women in high schools and at CWRU has expanded the Hacker Society, and she’s helped open the door for others to careers in computer science.

Women in comics

Perhaps serendipitously, the rush to finish up Week in Geek last Friday meant i couldn’t get to the last two comics on my digital pull list for the week, both of which star female superheroes.

Thor #6 cover by Russell Dauterman

Thor #6 cover by Russell Dauterman

First up, Thor #6 was another terrific installment in the series that in some ways is divisive for comics fans. This issue, we didn’t see much of the thunder god, instead getting some backstory on Dario Agger aka the Minotaur, so far the series’ primary antagonist.

We also follow the Odinson’s continuing quest to find out the identity of the woman wielding Mjolnir, and a conversation he has with Heimdall reveals that, far from being omniscient, the guardian of the Rainbow Bridge sees only that which threatens the realm of Asgard. And since he cannot spy Thor from his post on the pathway to the seven realms, we know she truly is a hero.

Most of the book follows a glum Odinson around, and his melancholy musings reveal that his desire to learn more about Thor stem more from his wish to discover why he is no longer worthy to wield the hammer. A visit with cancer-stricken Jane Foster, being cared for by Asgardian doctors although refusing their magical healing, does little to alleviate Thor’s down-in-the-dumps mood, but he does cross her name off his list of potential suspects of the mighty Thor. The scene with Jane Foster i found particularly interesting though, because we see her looking frail from her illness and chemo treatments but standing beside the musclebound Odinson in his “I’m not worthy” depression actually makes him look all the weaker.

From there, he makes a visit to SHIELD agent Phil Coulson, perhaps showing off a bit of his un-worthiness by violently lashing out to get his way in a tantrum, and then we’re back to Agger in a meeting with Malekith the Accursed, dark elf and ruler of Svartelfheim. The two of them strike a bargain that allows Agger’s Roxxon Corporation exclusive mineral rights in Malekith’s realm until the end of time in exchange for a magical artifact.

Finally, four pages from the end, Thor shows up. We only get to see her for one page, but the full-page panel is well worth it to watch the Roxxon security team’s hail of bullets bounce off of her.

thor tickles

Then we’re whisked back to Asgard, where Odin the All-Father continues to be a chauvanistic a-hole to his wife, who thankfully smacks him upside the head and hints that his desire to get Mjolnir back might give him more than he bargained for.

Unfortunately, he’s already dispatched the Destroyer to take care of Thor and bring the hammer back to Asgard, leaving us with the animated armor’s arrival on the scene, turning its energy-blasting face towards the downed superheroine.

i’m really looking forward to the next issue of this book to see how Thor handles this threat.

A lot of the debate surrounding this development of the longstanding Thor character centers on whether or not Marvel should have just created a brand new character and left the traditional Thor alone.

i think it’s just wonderful, and to be honest i don’t really care who’s under the helmet. It could be just a random earthling and i’d be fine with that. In fact, if that were the case it would speak even more to the traditional Marvel model that anyone can be a hero that the readers can identify with.

So far in the book, i’ve really enjoyed the character’s inner dialogue, which sounds not at all Asgardian, contrasted with her spoken words sprinkled with the “thee’s” and “thou’s” we expect from Thor. Internally, too, we learn that she is sometimes uncertain of herself and her capabilities, but what she’s displayed so far is not only prowess that makes her worthy to wield the hammer but in many ways showed innovation that surprises even those familiar with Thor’s abilities – something Frigga alludes to when admonishing Odin’s obsession with getting the hammer back.

Giving this new person the mantle of an established character gives her instant credibility, not only with her peers in the superhero community but also with the audience. It is extremely difficult for creators to present brand new characters who stick around, so i think it was a fantastic idea to take Thor in this direction. Eventually, she may break away from it and establish her own heroic identity…but if this is the Thor we have for years to come i’ve got no problem with that.

From a marketing standpoint, Marvel has generated a ton of buzz for the character, and story-wise they’ve given a ton of potential for Thor as an individual as well as within the larger contextual universe. At a time when the most recognizable female superhero – Wonder Woman – still struggles to find a foothold in the medium after 73 years, i think it’s awesome that this change to the Thor has already given greater prominence to the character as a top tier superhero who is also drawing in new readers.

In all my life, i don’t think i’ve ever bought a Thor comic until this new series, and it’s become one of my favorite books, so i hope it continues indefinitely and i can’t wait to see what happens next.

Spider-Gwen #2 cover by Robbi Rodriguez

Spider-Gwen #2 cover by Robbi Rodriguez

After a brief recap of her debut issue, Spider-Gwen #2 picks up with the arachnoid hero coming to on a garbage scow after her battle with the Vulture. Some old-school Spidey ingenuity kept her from going splat.

An imaginary Spider-Ham helps her make her way back to the city, where she wakes up on the couch of her bandmates place, still with Peter Porker providing running commentary. Including this unusual character is a treat, since i actually kept up with his series in the 80’s and always considered it to be one of the more colorful oddities in Marvel’s library.

Some police drama followed, with a hard-nosed Detective Castle questioning an incarcerated Kingpin about his involvement with Spider-Woman. Since i only started following this character with issue #1, i’m not sure about some of its alternate-reality characters and i wonder if Det. Castle will eventually become this reality’s version of Frank Castle, better known as The Punisher. His threat to off Kingpin right there in the prison interrogation room leads me to believe he will. It was also surprising when Kingpin’s lawyer got on the phone and it turned out to be Matt Murdock, who in the regular Marvel Universe is his arch-enemy Daredevil.

On the next page, we see Murdock beating information out of the Vulture, and at this point i’m not sure what his position is – a hero or a criminal mastermind, or maybe something in between.

To be completely honest, this book hasn’t captured my imagination beyond the character’s slick visuals and the shake-up of familiar names, so i’m still on the fence about it. i’ve always enjoyed the Spider-Man character even though i haven’t collected much in the past. The ultimate version didn’t really interest me, so i thought this series would be a good jumping on point. Spider-Gwen has the same vibe that Spider-Man does at his core, a young hero with personal problems, and i dig the street-level crime world she’s involved with, so those are pluses. i’ll come back to this one for at least issue #3 and go from there. It’s not a terrible book by any stretch…but there’s something missing i can’t quite put my finger on just yet.

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Thanks for reading this special extra edition of Week in Geek in addition to visiting The Long Shot. Of course, there were many more exciting things that happened in the world of science, technology and pop culture this week…but these are the ones that most caught my attention! If you have any news you’d like to share, drop me a line and let me know – i try to keep up with stuff but i can’t read everything!

If you would like some further reading, about some science, technology and pop culture stuff that happened this week, here’s a few links i hope you find as interesting as i did. Since i’m pressed for time today, and based on the site’s stats i don’t see anyone really clicks on these links, i’ll just provide them without my usual commentary this week:

Follow @longshotist on Twitter for frequent shares of related articles and (hopefully) humorous nonsequiters.

Week in Geek will be back next Friday, March 20 and i’d love to see you here!

Remember – if you would like to contribute to The Long Shot, i’d be happy to make that happen!

Week in Geek also appears alongside other great blogs at The News-Herald Blogs (click the logo at the top right of the page for the main site).

Check out the articles i’ve written for The News-Herald.

Thanks as always for reading!

Week in Geek 3.13.15

Week in Geek – a roundup of science, technology and pop culture news with commentary each Friday

This week, my duties as a reporter for The News-Herald kept me busy during the free time i typically put into following up on any of the multitude of story ideas which continue to accumulate on my desk. There was the big donkey basketball game at Cardinal High School in Middlefield, and a pair of profiles on National Historic Register buildings in Lake County for an upcoming special section.

Unfortunately i was unable to schedule time for a timely interview to coincide with International Women’s Day on March 8, but with any luck that will come together for next week.

On a side note, i was going to refer to my duties as a stringer, but that wasn’t quite accurate since i’m employed by the paper primarily as a copy editor, page designer and social media provocateur (that’s not what they call it, but it sounds more exciting that way). However, while looking into the term “stringer,” i discovered something called a superstringer that’s sort of the same thing except the writer is contracted with a news organization. It seems that with the collapse of the traditional newspaper model and the emergence of the Internet, stringers are fading away. But i am pleased to consider myself a superstringer, because it “super” is part of the word. Super cool.

Embracing life as a night owl means it's not unusual to make coffee at 3:00 a.m.

Embracing life as a night owl means it’s not unusual to make coffee at 3:00 a.m.

What free time i did enjoy this week came in the wee morning hours, which thanks to daylight savings time means the sun is coming up when my head is going down on the pillow. It’s a strange lifestyle that took some getting used to, coming to terms with not feeling lazy for sleeping in until noon because i was up all night at work.

So, what did i do with those precious hours, when there wasn’t anyone to Skype or speak with about Northeast Ohio tech and pop culture?

Discover new programs

Two new shows that break me away from my typical niche of serial killers and crime procedural dramas debuted recently.

The Last Man on Earth stars Will Forte as Phil Miller, in a delightful comedy about life on earth after every one on the planet but him is gone due to a devastating virus. Phil, like anyone can imagine, spends a couple of years searching the United States for other survivors before returning home to Tucson in a bus laden with artifacts from across the nation.

Resigned to life as the solitary human left on the planet, he proceeds to indulge in increasingly outrageous behavior while gradually loosening his grip on reality. Just as he reaches his lowest point, spending his days lounging in his margarita pool, he decides there is no reason in continuing and plans to commit suicide. But just as he’s about to go through with it, he spots a distant plume of smoke rising into the Arizona sky and rushes to discover another survivor.

The Last Man on Earth, Phil Miller spends his days immersed in a margarita pool

The Last Man on Earth, Phil Miller spends his days immersed in a margarita pool

And it’s a woman!

Carol, played by Kristen Schaal, quickly gets under Phil’s skin though, and what Phil desperately hoped for sours as the two of them learn to deal with each other.

Both of the show’s stars have been making me laugh for years, and this vehicle is a great opportunity for Will Forte to shine. It would be a disaster if either of the two characters didn’t allow for some kind of audience connection, and thankfully they both pull off an excellent blend of evoking some sympathy while at the same time remaining human enough in the sense that their actions border on the bizarre, irritating each other but not viewers. And, of course, both Forte and Schaal are very funny people who portray their characters terrifically. With only each other to play off of, timing is everything and each accomplish the comedic beats with aplomb.

Post-apocalyptic comedy doesn’t get any better than The Last Man on Earth, which airs Sunday nights on Fox.

In a similar vein, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt spins comedy out of a disturbing premise. This Netflix show, which in streaming program fashion dropped the entire first season at one time, stars Ellie Kemper as a former doomsday cult captive who decides to start a new life in NYC after being discovered and rescued.

Ellie Kemper is Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt

Ellie Kemper is Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt

i’m really only familiar with Kemper’s work as Erin on The Office, a show that for me was must-see for its entire run. As Kimmy Schmidt, she brings the same sort of awkward naiveté that she did as Dunder Mifflin’s receptionist, except amped up to the Nth degree. i’ve read that the Erin character was originally supposed to be more sarcastic, but was altered by the writers to fit Kemper’s real personality more.

In an interview she did years ago regarding her role on The Office, she described Erin as “an exaggerated version of myself.” After watching a few episodes of Kimmy Schmidt, i get the feeling this new show is the perfect opportunity for Kemper to ramp up her comedic skills by exaggerating her personality even more.

There’s something almost magical about Kimmy the character, with Kemper’s body language and physical comedy matching her verbal delivery to spin out some really funny laughs. The absurdist alchemy she performs on the show transformed me into an instant fan, and i’m happy to discover there’s at least a second season planned.

What a Wednesday!

With a lifetime of interest in comic books distilled these days down to a selective few titles from Marvel Comics, there’s typically only one book per week on my digital pull list.

This past Wednesday, March 11, i opened up the Marvel Comics app to find there were five comics to add to my library!

Ant-Man #3 cover by Mark Brooks

Ant-Man #3 cover by Mark Brooks

First up was Ant-Man #3. Longtime Long Shot readers will know that new books get three issues to make a fan of me, and Ant-Man did it in just one back when Ant-Man #1 came out in January. When it comes to comics, i have pretty particular tastes. Classic superheroes are my favorite by far, but i’m just not interested in the standard sorts of stories about monthly superhero slugfests, big event crossovers and whatever villain is threatening mankind/the universe/whatever.

i’m more interested in what these colorful characters do when they’re not punching bad guys or each other, and Ant-Man delivers those stories. In this book, current Ant-Man Scott Lang (to be portrayed by Paul Rudd in the upcoming MCU film) is more concerned with being a good father and making a decent living than foiling nefarious schemes, with dramatic beats more about ties with his daughter and ex-wife than life-and-death struggles against supervillains.

Written by Nick Spencer, who also penned Superior Foes of Spider-Man – one of my favorite books that was of course canceled – brings the same brand of offbeat humor and breaking tradition to Ant-Man while still acknowledging the character’s place in the greater Marvel Universe.

As you can see from the cover to issue #3, Ant-Man runs into trouble with Taskmaster, a great Marvel villain who shows up to give our tiny hero a hard time. Like in earlier issues, Ant-Man uses his powers of both shrinking and communicating with ants to some clever effects against the guy with the photographic reflexes, and also manages to crack wise by about something i’ve long wondered myself:

“Your costume? It doesn’t make any sense! It’s like ghost-pirate-Captain America clone. With a cape!”

Howard the Duck #1 cover by Joe Quinones

Howard the Duck #1 cover by Joe Quinones

This was a surprise to see under new comics for the week: Howard the Duck #1 by writer Chip Zdarsky and artist Joe Quinones with color artist Rico Renzi. A new title starring this talking duck who displays remarkable common sense in a world gone mad was not something i’d heard about, and i felt compelled to check it out.

Not surprisingly, this new series debut was funny and unusual, setting up Howard the Duck as a private investigator whose first case provides him and readers to an introduction into the Marvel Universe. His pursuit of the case brings him for a visit to She-Hulk’s law firm, which occupies space in the same building as Howard’s office, and from there he has a rooftop meeting with Spider-Man.

A one-page training montage that involves dodging laser pointers and somehow integrates D&D miniatures results in success when he and new mysterious new assistant, the tattooed Tara Tam, run afoul of Black Cat before the interstellar hunter shown in the book’s beginning pages comes back around to abduct the book’s star at the behest of The Collector – something those who stuck around for the after-credits scene from Guardians of the Galaxy will find familiar, along with an appearance by one of that team’s members on the final page that will presumably lead to an escape attempt in the next issue.

i’m curious to see where this series goes, and the first issue has me intrigued enough with the wonderfully colorful art, irreverent humor and nod to the character’s ties to Cleveland from the 1986 film that was set in my hometown. Also, i wonder if there’s potential for discussion at the Get Graphic! group at Cleveland Public Library since the series organizer Valentino Zullo mentioned his interest in intersections of character traits like gender, race and so forth. With Howard, we’re given an intersection of mankind and aquatic bird, a character traditionally used for satire and social commentary that i hope continues to do so in this new series.

Waugh!

Silver Surfer #10 cover by Mike and Laura Allred

Silver Surfer #10 cover by Mike and Laura Allred

Another installment of cosmic ginchiness arrived with Silver Surfer #10, written by Dan Slott with art from the incomparable Mike and Laura Allred.

This issue wrapper up a storyline that had earthling Dawn Greenwood discover Surfer’s past as a herald of Galactus responsible for the World Eater’s destruction of countless planets and their inhabitants.

Packed with pathos, Surfer won the trust of a planet populated by the only survivors from world already consumed by Galactus who initially hated and feared the skyrider of the spaceways (with good reason) as well as a building on the humanity of Norrin Radd when, in the midst of trying to fend off Galactus, he admits to himself as much as to Dawn that he loves her.

Awww!

The emotional core of Silver Surfer has always been one of the things i’ve most enjoyed about this character, who despite vast cosmic power and awareness still cleaves to the humanity he gave up to save his own planet long ago. Despite everything he has seen and endured, and his basically limitless power, he still understands the importance of individuals in the cosmic scheme of things.

One of the other things i’ve most enjoyed about this book during its run is the development of the Surfer’s board (dubbed Toomie by Dawn) as a supporting character. The ways in which the writer and artist give Toomie a personality are creative and fun.

The end of this issue has a lot of tears and heartache, but hope as well – a hallmark of great Silver Surfer stories. In a clever twist of the paradigm Galactus shares with those who seek out planets for him to consume, the Surfer declares himself a herald once more. But this time, he is a herald of those who survived, and vows to find them a new planet.

i’m a little surprised that this book hasn’t included a letters page yet, since most of the other Marvel books, at least the ones i read, have a page or two at the end for reader interaction. i sincerely hope they are receiving astronomical amounts of great feedback on this series, because frankly its one of the all around best comics out there right now and it would be sad indeed if it were to get canceled.

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Thanks for reading the latest edition of  Week in Geek in addition to visiting The Long Shot. Of course, there were many more exciting things that happened in the world of science, technology and pop culture this week…but these are the ones that most caught my attention! If you have any news you’d like to share, drop me a line and let me know – i try to keep up with stuff but i can’t read everything!

i’ve got to wrap things up prematurely today due to a work emergency, and i didn’t get a chance to go over a few other noteworthy things (and thereby clear a bit from the To Do List). i’ll also include the usual further reading links that no one ever clicks on because hey why not?

Please visit again soon (like, tomorrow) for a follow-up Week in Geek to cover two other books, a little gaming update and – thanks to a reply i just received – some NE Ohio news from the tech community.

Follow @longshotist on Twitter for frequent shares of related articles and (hopefully) humorous nonsequiters.

Week in Geek will be back tomorrow, Saturday March 14, and i’d love to see you here!

Remember – if you would like to contribute to The Long Shot, i’d be happy to make that happen!

Week in Geek also appears alongside other great blogs at The News-Herald Blogs (click the logo at the top right of the page for the main site).

Check out the articles i’ve written for The News-Herald.

Thanks for reading!