The Forgotten Namco Arcade Classic

Namco is one of the most successful video game companies to come out of Japan. Before they merged with Bandai, they created games such as Klonoa: Door to Phantomile, Tekken, and Soulcalibur. Arguably their most successful time, however, was the age of arcades in the 1980’s. Their lineup at the time was almost impossible to compete with. Pac-Man needs no introduction, Galaga is a legend, and Dig Dug is a personal favorite of mine. However, there is one game that everyone forgot about that I think needs more recognition. And my fascination with it came from a product of a fad in the 2000’s. Continue reading “The Forgotten Namco Arcade Classic”

I Guess he’s back, back again.

Good morning everyone. Marvel Comics decided to kill off Wolverine, the mighty mutant Canuck nearly 5 years ago. He died in a series apptly named The Death of Wolverine. Just so everyone knew what was coming.

Wolverine was a very popular character for decades. He was the crop of characters that joined the X-Men in the late 1970’s. He had previously been introduced fighting the Incredible Hulk over in his book.

Wolverine would spend the 80’s and 90’s growing into one of Comics most popular characters selling with the likes of Spider-Man, Batman, and the Fantastic Four.

Wolverine or Logan as he was known to his friends, was a killing machine that was impossible to kill. He would end up with a heart of gold though and would take the scared, new mutant kids under his wing and teach them the way of the Samurai and stuff.

Bad thing was, Wolverine was so popular it became a running joke about how in the hell he could appear in 7 x-men books, his own book, a one shot special and make a guest appearances in Daredevil all in the same month?

The biggest blow to good ole Logan would be the inevitable washing away of what made him cool in the first place. Wolverine was really a man of mystery set to fits of bezerker rage. He didn’t know who he was or where he came from.

Marvel would eventually throw all that out the door. He even gave up his iconic cigars. I mean it’s cool if YOU smoke Logan, you have a mutant healing factor! No, Marvel would take away all the mystery in 2 mini series called Origin.

Origin would take away all the mystery from the story. Who he was, which was apparently a rich land owner’s son. It just stole the mystique of the character and he couldn’t go back. So while Origin sold very well, it would only go down hill. Because when he was an unstoppable weapon of death he still had no idea about himself. He constantly battled his demons and wether or not he was a man or an animal. Now he was no more complex a character than any one else. James Howlett was his real name, and he was actually an heir to a rich family name and was nigh invulnerable. Essentially Batman and Superman mashed together.

No one was interested in this. They made him a head master at the Xavier school. Now Wolverine was a teacher. They had him and Storm date post her divorce from the Black Panther. He would lose his healing factor. Then get a super suit. No one cared. Let’s just kill him off.

So he died.

He was still around though. Hugh Jackman was ever present on screen. During the Secret Wars story line a alternate universe Old Man Logan would be brought to the main stream. The Ultimate Universe Logan had a son named Jimmy Hudson who would show up in X-Men Blue, and normal universe Daken would be around on drugs and fighting Moon Knight. Plus, you had the next gen Wolvie, Laura Kinney. Laura was a clone of Logan who had a messed up story and lots of doubt about who she was, coupled with “are clones even real people” syndrome that most fictional clones seem to have.

She would step up to fill Logan’s blue boots. It would be pretty awesome. They would take all the good and cool of the legend of Wolverine and not give it all away. Plus little girls could pull the claws now and ask random bubs what was up? Oh and plus Honey Badger! She’s a clone of Laura and she’s just a kid but tons of fun.

Well, like all things in comicdom, James Howlett AKA Logan AKA Wolverine is coming back. Something about a damn infinity stone because there’s a Marvel Movie about Infinity Stones so we gotta cram that into the comic pages. With Logan’s return, they have kicked Laura out of her All-New Wolverine costume and back to her X-23 belly shirt. It’s kinda sad. She had grown a lot as a character in the last four years.

Have a great week everyone and like always Make Mine Mid-American-Culture!

The Nickelodeon That Almost Nobody Remembers

One of the most popular TV channels of all time is Nickelodeon, and I’m pretty sure everyone knows about it. It rose to fame with its unique orange logo, imaginative bumpers, and great shows like Rugrats, Rocko’s Modern Life, and SpongeBob SquarePants. They started airing these “Nicktoons” in 1991, but you’re probably unaware of what it was like beforehand. Did it always have that logo? What were its bumpers like? That’s what I’m going to go over today. Continue reading “The Nickelodeon That Almost Nobody Remembers”

The Miseducation of Ben Reilly Part 1.

It’s funny how you get to a certain age and for a brief moment you can hyper identify with music and literature, film and heroes real and fictional. At around 18 your life is changing and a person looks to make their own way in the world. For some it’s a journey of figuring out who you are and who you wanna be.

I have always been a massive comic book geek. I lived for the first 7-8 years of my life in a trailer park in Proctorville, Ohio. The trailer park was just off of State Route 7 and ran along the Ohio River. Well across the main drag of my trailer park was a little mom and pop convenience store called Holderby’s. I used to go to this store a lot with my folks and the deal was always that if I was good, which I always was, I’d get a quarter for the Ms. Pac-Man standup and a comic from the spinner rack. The time period here is the early 1980’s and Spider-Man was hands down my favorite character, still is for the most part.

After my folks had returned their soda bottles for change and I had fallen to the 4 bit ghost of the arcade game, we’d return home and just before bed one of my parents would read me my fresh new comic as a bed time story and show me the art as the story went along. Soon I’d fall asleep to dream about what is certainly Stan Lee’s most famous creation, Spidey and his friends.

Eventually when I was nearing the end of my High School years in the mid 90’s Marvel drops a bomb shell on it’s readers. The Peter Parker/ Spider-Man we’d been reading for years may not be the real thing. A clone of Parker’s created by his college professor, Miles Warren had returned.

The 1990’s was the most gimmicky time in the history of comics. All the heroes were either being killed off or changing into grimacing anti-heroes. Superman died, Batman had his back broken, Green Lantern was evil and called all the GL corps. Tony Stark was an evil teenage version of himself. Plus all the cover were holograms and bagged.

The gimmick was that a throw away clone character, who supposedly died at the end of a story in the 1970’s was actually alive and back in New York and he’d crossed paths with the original.

The Peter Parker clone would take the name Ben Reilly. Ben from Peter’s uncle, the Power and Responsibility, one and Reilly was Aunt May’s maiden name. After being back in NYC for a bit in a story called The Exile Returns Ben decides he’s gonna stay, he’d been living on the road for years always on the move. Partially because he didn’t feel like he was a real person and didn’t belong. There was also the fact that another failed Parker clone named Kaine was out to kill him. Comics right?

So Ben adopts the alias of the Scarlet Spider. It was a totally throw away costume designed by comics legend Mark Bagley. The outfit was made up of a plain red Spidey type outfit with a blue hoodie he bought at zoo gift shop. I gathered he felt like a cheap knock off so why not go with it?

So now the Scarlet Spider is making a place for himself in the world. This goes back to my original point. I was 16-17 at the time and I strongly identified with the character, I too was ready to go out into the world and find my own place. Plus Ben was super poor and worked in a coffee shop. I didn’t have a lot either and worked in a grocery store.

Well as it turned out the character was I initially super popular. He had beaten Venom, which Spider-Man never had. People really liked the character, and Marvel really liked money. So, it all gets amped up and the slide to Hell begins. Marvel gets the idea that maybe Been was the real Spider-Man the whole time! So in a story designed to last 6 months, we get drug out for over a year. The Peter we’ve followed for 20 years is married to M.J. Watson and he’s going insane or something. All to comfort the blow of the rug being pulled out from the feet of long time readers.

When Ben is revealed to by the real Spidey, comic fans lose their minds. It’s hate mail and boycotts. This was Marvel Pre- Disney ownership and money was a worry in the late 90’s. So marvel has to reverse course after a year of Ben as Spidey and Peter and M.J. off having a baby in Portland, Oregon.

The best way the editors decided was to bring back ole Norman Osborne, the original Green Goblin. He’d also been dead for quite some time. However the whole Clone Saga was simply a big gotcha to Peter.

The entire year plus story line known forever as The Clone Saga, would be wrapped up in 4 issues spread out over one month. The story was called Revaltions.

Marvel needed their corporate icon back to normal and it was deemed that Ben was out. All the way. 💀

Ben would die saving Peter from Norman’s Goblin Glider. He’d die thinking he was the real deal. It was sad.

It was also here that Pete and M.J. would lose the baby or it was kidnapped or something. It was all retconned away later any how. From here Ben Reilly would be forgotten for about 5 years then he was teased repeatedly for another decade plus. However we will get to that next Saturday in The Miseducation of Ben Reilly part 2. Thanks for reading and have a great week.

Reviews Through A Friend: Talking Heads’ Remain in Light

Let me start off by saying that reviewing music is by no means my strong suit. While I did write an article about Drake last week, I consider myself to be uniquely qualified to do that because of how big a fan of his I am. I can talk politics, sneakers, and Attitude-Era professional wrestling with the best of them, but the intricacies of music are not something I fancy myself to be an expert on. However, for the sake of Mid-American Culture and the Reviews Through A Friend series, here is my attempt at it.

heads

Remain in Light is one of the more interesting albums I have ever heard. By interesting, I’m not entirely sure if I mean genuinely intriguing or downright weird. In all likelihood, it’s probably a little bit of both. Apple Music has the album listed under the “pop” category. I’m glad they managed to stick some sort of label on it because I have no idea what to call it.

In my opinion, the album has three standout tracks: Once In a Lifetime, The Great Curve, and The Overload. Each of these songs has a respective quirk that drew me to each. I am a fan of slam poetry. Talking Heads front-man David Byrne uses a vocal style toward the midway point of Once In a Lifetime that reminds me of the cadence one would use when delivering slam poetry and I really enjoyed hearing it. The Great Curve is the most lyrically interesting song on the album. The Overload, the album’s closing number, features a darker tone than the rest of the album I found this sound to be particularly appealing. I wish the whole album had this darker vibe.

Overall, I found the album to be quite an interesting listen. I will be perfectly honest. At first, I was not a fan of the album. After the first couple of songs, I thought I was going to hate it. It was so different from anything I normally listen to that I was simply put off by it. Even after I discovered the three tracks discussed above that I particularly enjoyed, I was not crazy about the album. however, I found myself re-listening to it in the days following my initial listen and soon I found myself beginning to enjoy it more and more. I really liked the psychedelic vibes and the unique musical qualities. I would rank the album as a 6.5-7/10 and would certainly recommend it to someone looking to experience a new, unique kind of music that they have probably never been exposed to before.

Make sure to check out the other posts in our Reviews Through A Friend series and to give our Weekly Waves playlist a listen. Thanks for reading!

Twitter: @ BigRedAFerg

My All-Time Favorite Album

A favorite album is something very personal; something you have a connection to that you don’t have with anything else. If you’re like me, you’ll find yourself bobbing and weaving through different musical moods – one week you could find yourself in a 60’s psychedelic rock mood. Another you could be in a 90’s hip-hop mood, and after that you could find yourself listening to classic country. But a favorite album is something you can always return to – something to serve as an intermission between your varying musical preferences. And, for me, that album is Murmur by R.E.M.

Continue reading “My All-Time Favorite Album”