Gears 5 - Something Old, Something New

I’ll open with a disclaimer - I didn’t buy Gears 5, I haven’t even played it. I’m in a foreign country for an indeterminate amount of time and I can’t justify buying a whole new console just to play a single game… so I watched the four hours of cut-scenes on YouTube. Does that count as dishonest, or in poor taste for an Indie-Author? Maybe, but I’m made of neither money, nor time, and so I did what I did. It was either that or wait till I’m back in Australia this time next year, which just won’t do in today’s internet environment. Who will care about Gears 5 in a years time?

Gears 5 is an interesting beast, because in typical Gears fashion the ‘Beautiful Destruction’ aesthetic is visually amazing, and the combat is as intense and solid as ever, but then there’s a few narrative and design choices that left me scratching my head. To further add to this, while JD Fenix couldn’t escape the shadow of Marcus Fenix in Gears of War 4, it’s almost as though Gears 5 can’t escape the shadow of the original trilogy. Over the course of Gears 5 you return to Ephyra, which was in the original Gears of War, the New Hope Facility from Gears of War 2, as well as Azura from Gears of War 3. Along with this, I think Gears 5 only introduced two new characters - Lizzie Carmine and Fahz, and one of them dies real early on. If you’re a Gears fan, you’ll see the names and know which one I’m talking about. Besides those two characters, everyone else has appeared in at least one other game, and most of them were from the original trilogy or Gears of War Judgment. The old antagonists make a comeback too, we see Queen Myrrah in these psychic attacks that Kait is suffering, and we eve cross paths with proper old-school Locust and Sires.

Still the biggest badass in the series… despite being 64 years old.

Still the biggest badass in the series… despite being 64 years old.

It’s almost like the developers were so concerned about other drastic changes they were making that they doubled down on the nostalgia to compensate. They added extra of the old ingredients to help mask the taste of the new ingredients. The developers continually talk about how complex and multi-faceted their new characters are compared to the one-dimensional characters from the original trilogy, but then the originals are all still there. The new heroes are running around trying to make a name for themselves while the old guard are still there, handling everything just like they’ve always done. Hell, you literally build a mural to all the characters that have died so far in the series and you end up seeing their ghosts. So in a weird sort of way, Gears 5 is something sort of fresh but also something very old at the same time.

The ethnically diverse asshole character next to the one dimensional pro-footballer… who is still bigger and badder, despite being a senior citizen.

The ethnically diverse asshole character next to the one dimensional pro-footballer… who is still bigger and badder, despite being a senior citizen.

It does work in one weird kind of way though, because there’s this sense of decaying history to the world. All the old and battered heroes running around the old and battered ruins of a second apocalypse does ground you in the story and it’s setting. Nothing new lasts, it’s just the old that lingers on. While Gears of War 4 added the Dee-Bee’s as the latest technology in use, Gears 5 takes a step back and has you scavenging for the last remaining Hammer of Dawn satellites - because they just don’t make them like they used to. The Dee-Bee’s are cool, but nothing makes a story feel Post-Apocalyptic like scavenging for Pre-Apocalyptic weapons of mass destruction. It’s the simple fact that nothing made after the apocalypse could compare to the super weapons that were built before it.

Because what could possibly go wrong with firing space lasers that haven’t been calibrated in 25 years?

Because what could possibly go wrong with firing space lasers that haven’t been calibrated in 25 years?

Kait was a fine protagonist, and there wasn’t any of the girl power rah rah rah schtick that we so often see in media these days. She’s got her internal and external motivations for chasing after the Swarm, and so she’s driven and she’s always invested in the events of the story. My only problem, still, is what I said when Gears 5 was first announced. Kait being the protagonist of the new trilogy’s second game weakens JD as a protagonist of the first. Now, that’s nothing inherently weakening about Kait, it’s just that swapping protagonists weakens every protagonist, I’d be saying the same thing if their roles were reversed. Having one protagonist over three games will always result in a stronger and more well-developed character than three protagonists who each get one game, that’s just what all that extra time in the spotlight does for a character. Which brings me to my main big issue with Gears 5.

Gears 5 introduces the game-play mechanic of player choice in regards to the narrative, which is just a weird fucking move. Kait is given a choice of who to save, JD or Del - and whoever she doesn’t choose ends up getting their necks snapped. But why? This is the strangest thing I’ve seen in a video game series. Why would you suddenly add in player choice in the fifth game when it’s never been part of the series? How will Gears 6 work out? In a narrative driven series, only one character can live and so how will this choice play out? Which choice will be considered canon? And if it’s only going to be one choice, why bother with the choice at all? I’m actually shuddering at the thought of the choice being made null and void by the other character simply dying at the start of the next game as well, allowing the developers to have their cake and eat it too.

*game show music starts*

*game show music starts*

It’s a weird choice also, because to me it sets up a lose/lose situation. If JD is killed off, then he never managed to escape the shadow of his father and he’s just left as this failure of a character - both in terms of the story and in the series as a whole. But if Del dies, then he can’t be the protagonist of the third game and so not every member of the three-piece team will get a chance to star in their own game. And what would you be left with then? A trilogy where one main character gets one game, another main character gets two and the third just dies? That’s a very strange design choice…

Moving on, I have to say that I’ve never realized how repetitively banal Gears boss fights are. While actually playing the game, and fighting the massive Kaiju monster from beneath the surface of the world, you’re a bit too wrapped up in the action to notice. But while you’re sitting back and watching someone else play, you see that it’s just this back and forward loop of shooting small glowing bits off the big bastard before going in for a king-hit. Wash, rinse and repeat and that’s basically how every boss fight in a Gears game has worked.

See those two glowing bits in it’s mouth? Shoot those, then go press a button.

See those two glowing bits in it’s mouth? Shoot those, then go press a button.

Next, the emotional levels are all wrong in this game, too. We’re following Kait on her journey and you see her and Del grow as friends, but then she’s being mentally manipulated into doubting him. It flares up in one scene but then doesn’t really go anywhere. She get’s her brain toyed with and suddenly the visions stops and she instantly trusts Del again. Kait is shown to be more emotive and emotionally well-rounded character, and she’s definitely more so than the guys, but she’s still pretty blasé about character deaths. She gets a bit upset but she still charges on. And as someone who’s been through multiple deaths already - I can tell you that that’s not really how it works in real life.

The early deaths are handled well, although they’re characters that we’re not really invested in so it’s still a bit meh, but then there’s this really weird stretch at the end where character deaths and handled really poorly. Either JD or Del are killed, and the characters are sad, but it’s nothing on the deaths of Tai or Dom from the first trilogy. Then Cole has a fake death that’s sort of brushed past, because it’s fake. He’s being his usual idiot self, whooping and leaping about in a giant robot instead of being an old man who’s perhaps grown and evolved beyond such behavior. But then when a robot dies, in the exact same way the robot in Gears of War Judgment died, the sound fades away and the sad music starts up. A main character dying, nothing. A main character from the original series (fake) dying, nothing. A fricking robot dies, bring out the orchestra and start peddling the feels.

I don’t know why they thought we’d be investing in a flying robot that beeps and squeaks… it’s not like it has any of the personality of R2-D2.

I don’t know why they thought we’d be investing in a flying robot that beeps and squeaks… it’s not like it has any of the personality of R2-D2.

I feel at this point I need to say something good things about Gears 5, because I’ve just been tearing it apart up until this point. Like I said at the start, the visuals and gameplay all look amazing, but there’s a lot more too. The lore of the series is being expanded, and we’re finally given answers to some very old questions. Who was Queen Myrrah? What’s her connection to the Locust? Along with this, we’re able to further explore the world, and despite visiting a lot of previously visited locations we also get to see a lot of new places too. The world of Sera is become a lot more fleshed out, and it is decidedly pissed at humanity. Super-massive wind flares attack cities, razor sharp hail storms dice those without protection and lightning strikes create large fulgurite structures in the desert sands of an evaporated ocean bed. It’s like the very planet of Sera is trying to eject all life from on, and beneath, it’s surface because it’s simply sick of all the shit that sentient life gets up to. Every time these people; Human, Locust or Swarm, go to war, it’s the planet that suffers the consequences.

Just to wrap things up, I’ll point out this interesting moment that’s probably more of a comment on how the military is portrayed in video games. In series such as Gears of War and the Halo, female characters were often relegated to an officer position. It got female characters into the game, but it tended to keep them out of direct combat roles. The problem was when you had front line grunts, Privates, Corporals and Sergeants, telling a female officer where to shove her orders because they know how to properly handle a situation. Halo did it in Halo: ODST with Captain Veronica Dare taking a back seat to Sergeant Major Avery Johnson. It happened in Gears of War 3 with Sergeant Marcus Fenix ordering around Lieutenant Anya Stroud. It was cool to see chicks in the game, but it didn’t make much sense for the power dynamics to play out like that. That’s just not how the military works.

Literally everyone here outranks her, but she’s still calling the shots. Not because she’s a chick, but because she’s the protagonist.

Literally everyone here outranks her, but she’s still calling the shots. Not because she’s a chick, but because she’s the protagonist.

Gears 5 actually addresses this, somewhat, at least to the extent that we can put the complaints to rest. Fahz, a First Lieutenant, is constantly complaining that nobody is listening to him despite him being in charge, and is eventually told to “shut the fuck up” by a Sergeant. Along with this, we’ve got all these male characters of varying ranks following Kait’s lead, despite the fact that she’s only a Corporal. A character of significantly higher rank than her just flat out tells her that she’s good at leading others. If nothing else, this should show that it’s the protagonist of a game that get the final say, regardless of their military rank and even in spite of the gender. It was never about power dynamics between men and women, it was narrative dynamics between protagonists and side characters. Thanks to Gears 5, it doesn’t matter what you’ve got between your legs, if you’re a protagonists then it’s your story and it goes the way you want it to.

I’ve had a lot of complaints about Gears 5, they took it in a new direction and while I applaud a lot of their efforts I think it’s been somewhat hit and miss. Don’t even get me started on how they whored out the series for cross-promotional purposes - I’ll do another blog post on all that of that. All up, I’m glad I sat down and watched the cut-scenes. I’ll still buy a copy of the game in a year or two when I get back to Australia and settle down in a location a little more permanently, because I still want to play through it on my own. I love the Gears series, and I’m interested in seeing where they take it next. They’ve managed to stay afloat this long, so I’m keen to see how this second trilogy finishes up. At the end of the day, we’ve still got Gears of War Tactics coming out… which, as you can see back here, is something I hypothesized months before it was announced. So I am very much looking forward to that game.

Days Gone - A Flawed Gem

I recently bought, finished and got the Platinum Trophy for Days Gone. Getting the Platinum is not something I usually bother with, usually I only put in the effort for games that I love the most. They’re all Post-Apocalyptic, open world games too - Mad Max, Horizon Zero Dawn and now Days Gone. There’s probably something too that, but I’ll look into it later. This post is specifically about Days Gone, and how I put in the extra time after the main story was complete because I thought the game was worth it.

Spoilers. Duh.

Look, I’ll deal with the negatives right off the bat. This game isn’t complete, and despite first being announced way back in 2016, only to be delayed until 2019, it could have used a lot more time in the oven. There are many technical issues that just seem like small things that a more experienced studio or director would have been able to handle. Dialogue popping up at weird times, often in the wrong sort of tone. Cut scenes and conversations that looked like they were meant to be cut from the game, somehow made their way into the game alongside their replacements. A few weird character animations. It’s all really minor stuff that just looks silly and would’ve been easy enough to fix. I don’t know why these issues are still there, especially when they could just be patched, but they are. Despite all this, the biggest issue I ran into was the load times, which were consistently atrocious. This is the biggest issue I had and it’s far from a deal breaker, just a niggling annoyance, so make of that what you will.

In terms of story, you’re cut off from whole sections of the map until they game wants you to go there. But instead of blocking you off organically, with something as simple as a fallen tree across the road or blocked tunnel, you get this big warning on your screen and then you’re teleported back to the play area. Along with this, cut scenes were filmed to play with certain time/weather settings, so the clock would always advance until the developers had things playing out exactly how they wanted. It worked overall, but it never really felt as organic as it could have. It’s like the developers wanted an open world game, but one with a very linear and controlled story.

That’s the negative out of the way, and so now onto the positive - I freaking love Days Gone (pun intended). The world is pretty well thought out, and the Freakers are an ever present threat that’s constantly evolving as the story progresses. Two years prior, an infection spread across the globe, and still-living zombies (picture the infected from 28 Days Later) are rampaging across the globe. Deacon St. John, a member of the Mongrel Motorcycle Club, throws his injured wife on a helicopter to get her to safety while he helps his fellow gang member, Boozer, get to safety. He looses track of his wife, spends the next two years acting as a Bounty Hunter and Freaker Killer until the events of the game. He’s a fairly typical Post-Apocalyptic protagonist, out for himself and those closest to him, but eventually he starts opening up and helping out others. It’s actually a pretty well played out character arc, and this is in no small part to the acting of Sam Witwer, the actor who lent his voice and appearance to Deacon St. John.

It’s a pretty stellar performance.

It’s a pretty stellar performance.

One of the interesting things about Days Gone is that you’re pretty consistently killing women and children. Now, that sounds like a weird point to make, so let me clarify. In zombie games, you often kill female zombies as well as male zombies. They’re already dead, so it’s never been that big of a deal to kill them. Living female enemies, however, has often been something of an issue. People just don’t like gunning down women, even when they’re trying to kill you first. I remember there were female enemies in Horizon Zero Dawn, but they were few and far between - far, far rarer than the male enemies, which you would kill en mass. Mad Max only had male enemies to kill, except for a single woman that you fight in Thunderdome. Even the shining beacon of Feminist gaming, The Last of Us, had you murdering female Infected, but no uninfected females during game-play. So much for equality?

But then in Days Gone, there are plenty of women who are Marauders, Vagrants or Rippers - and you’re killing them pretty consistently. Along with this, there are children enemies in the game too. Granted, they’re Freakers called ‘Newts’, so they’re basically still under the umbrella of “zombies are already dead, so who cares?” but they’re there none the less. It’s nothing compared to the gunning down of orphans in Fallout 1 or Fallout 2, but still there’s this strange feeling of uncomfortable awkwardness when you smash a Newt into the ground with a baseball bat. I’m not one who takes pleasure in mowing down women and/or children, merely someone who likes to see that aspect of the world realized realistically. At one point, the characters themselves even discuss how uncomfortable killing a Newt makes them feel.

Small time predators roam in packs…

Small time predators roam in packs…

It sounds weird, but if you want a realistic game then this is what you want. Why aren’t there female Hunters, or Infected children in The Last of Us? Where are the females fighting for the Roadkill or Buzzards in Mad Max? If women are equally as badass as men, which Horzion Zero Dawn purports to proudly put forward, then where are the rest of the female enemies? This is something that Days Gone gets right, because there are women fighting right beside the men. They’re not just NPC’s selling wares or defending camps either, they’re rushing in to kill you with baseball bats and rifles. It just makes sense, from a Post-Apocalyptic standpoint and from an equality standpoint. Good representation isn’t just about having more female protagonists, it’s about having more females everywhere - including in the role of cannon fodder for the games protagonist.

So, yeah… that rant explains why I’m so awkwardly happy to be killing women and kids in a video game.

The world of Days Gone is amazing. Set in the ruins of Oregon, Days Gone has you riding a motor bike through back hill forests, sandy deserts and blasted tundra. Your bike starts out noticeably shit (because where do you go if you start off with the best gear possible?) but as the game progresses you steadily upgrade it, and it quickly becomes a joy to ride. You get better and better weapons to fight the Freakers, and this is probably my only other issue with the game. You’re getting this ever expanding arsenal of firearms when I would have preferred to see something like in The Last of Us. Bigger and better guns are cool, but it doesn’t exactly help push the Post-Apocalyptic narrative, so for me I would have preferred to have a few guns that get modified. You’d still get the ever improving firepower, it’s just that it’d be the same guns being tinkered with, which is basically what the Post-Apocalypse is all about. Nothing speaks to the hardship of the world’s end than not having access to the firepower you once did, instead having to modify and make do with your initial weapon.

It’d be quite a nice time without all the psychos and infected cannibals…

It’d be quite a nice time without all the psychos and infected cannibals…

Anyway, you ride around helping out various camps, each with their own flawed views and methods of survival, and you quickly find yourself wrapped up in the greater events of the world. The main things you do in Days Gone is collecting scrap and hunting Freakers - both of these activities remain consistent throughout the game. Far from the eclectic junk bonanza of Fallout 4, collecting scrap in Days Gone is streamlined and simple. Scrap, fuel, kerosene, cloth - you only really need to collect the basics. In terms of hunting Freakers, you can take them on one by one but the real draw is against the Hordes. Literally hundreds of Freakers all swarming their way across the world map in a constant migration between their nests and feeding grounds. These Horde battles can be dramatically intense, but it usually just ended with me running and gunning, cheesing them with Molotov’s and Heavy Machine Gun Fire. They’re fun, but due to game-play mechanics they rarely play out as intended.

Though they don’t vary that much individually, when you’re facing a horde you never lose sight of the forest for the trees.

Though they don’t vary that much individually, when you’re facing a horde you never lose sight of the forest for the trees.

In terms of characters that fill the world, there’s a pretty decent swathe of personalities to encounter. There’re a lot of assholes, but there’s usually some sort of justifying reason behind why they are the way they are. Whoever they are, and whatever their defect is, it’s always interesting to watch Deacon interact with them. Say what you will about an ex-Army outlaw biker being married to a researcher with a Ph.D. in Botany, it allowed the developers to craft a story that was both world shaking and personal at the same time.

There’s a cult of psychos known as the ‘Rippers’ and while yes, they do go around ripping the shit out of people - they’re actually named that for the way their leader ritualistically carved “R.I.P'“ into his own forehead. Let the past die, wash away the mental suffering with physical suffering and you’ll be free to “Rest In Peace.” It’s a nice little bit of word play that I’m kicking myself for not thinking of. Anyway, the point here is that people are talking about the Rippers hunting down two bikers from the Mongrel Motorcycle Club, which is obviously Deacon and Boozer. Deacon thinks they just have it in for them because they’ve killed a few of them, but eventually you find out that the leader of the Rippers, Jessie, is actually a former member of the Mongrel Motorcycle Club as well. The thing is that Jessie had his gang tattoo burnt from his back with a blowtorch before the apocalypse, by both Deacon and Boozer. He started the Rippers cult because he was obsessed with the way that a persons whole identity could be burnt away in a flood of pain. He inflicted suffering on hundreds of survivors in a twisted attempt to free them, because he admired the way the Freakers were free from suffering.

Safe to say that he never really got over the experience…

Safe to say that he never really got over the experience…

Eventually Deacon and Boozer team up to go kill Jessie, and the story spirals upward to more world spanning heights. You eventually find your wife, and she’s working with a paramilitary organisation who are trying their best to preserve humanity. They’re well armed and supplied, and it looks like they may be able to save mankind, but there’s the little issue of their leader being a religious zealot who executes anyone who doesn’t adhere to his strict moral code. Eventually you work with your wife, the botanist, to learn that her research was used in the creation of the Freaker Virus. So while Deacon helped create a monsters of man that plagued the survivors, his wife helped turn men into monsters that plagued the survivors. It’ll admit that it strains credulity, but it was a neat way to personally tie your characters into the story beyond being just some guy and girl who’re saving the world.

You deal with this paramilitary force, going in and taking them out in your usual explosive style, and then you and your wife are finally united and free. After the game, the government agent who helped you find your wife lets you know of a far greater conspiracy that he’s involved in. He’s infected with the Freaker virus, though he’s somehow managed to avoid turning into a mindless Freaker. All the good stuff with none of the drawbacks, except being ugly as sin. I’m sure we’ll find out more about this in the sequel, which I hope takes less than 3 years to be released.

Despite the issues, it’s still got a great character in a great setting.

Despite the issues, it’s still got a great character in a great setting.

Days Gone is a pretty fantastic game if you’re into open world survival simulator or just Post-Apocalyptic games in general. I didn’t realize how sick I was of the Fallout series’ 50’s schtick, until I was cruising through the ruins of a realistic and modern looking Oregon. People lamented not having photos of loved ones, because everyone had used smart phones to store their photos, and high tech medical facilities sprung to life once you started the generators. It was a breath of fresh air to see a more serious Post-Apocalyptic tone, as opposed to the more lighthearted and gimmicky alternatives. Days Gone is a flawed game, but despite that I still think it’s a fantastic Post-Apocalyptic title that is well worth playing.

Return to Form... and an Old Post-Apocalyptic Book!

Hey folks, sorry for the massive hiatus, literally three months since my last update, life has been sort of hectic of late. Living overseas is never easy, and some days are a lot more stressful than others. But that’s not what I’m here to talk about, I’m here to talk about updating the Post-Apocalyptic Writing Guide!

The cover was a very expensive gag… that nobody has got, so I will be changing it to something a bit more appropriate.

The cover was a very expensive gag… that nobody has got, so I will be changing it to something a bit more appropriate.

It’s been a year since I released the guide, and it’s garnered some great comments and reviews… but the things with guides is that they have to stay current. With that in mind, I’m going to update and re-release the guide. A version 2.0, if you will.

Because of this, I’m opening the floor to my Post-Apocalyptic tribe - if you’ve got something you think should, or shouldn’t, be in there, then let me know! I’ve got my own changes that I want to make, sure, but I’m happy to listen and take on board any thoughts or criticisms that Post-Apocalyptic creators and fans have. I want this to be the quintessential guide, and for that I need all of you. There’s already a long list of names in the front, people who’ve helped out, and I’m more than happy to have yours in there too.

If you’ve already got a copy, then flip through it and take some notes. If you haven’t got a copy, then just email me at JJShurte@Gmail.com and I’ll send you one for free. One of the tribe, S.T. Campitelli, has already written up a five page document that’s full of some really helpful stuff, I’m seriously impressed and doubly grateful. But I don’t care who you are, as long as your a fan of the genre, I’m open to any and all input.

Thanks in advance, and best of luck out there!

PS - Yes, I’ll try to update more.
PPS - Yes, I’m still working on my fiction… when I can.

Captain Marvel - Feminism Done Right

I figured I’d wait until all the hubbub around Captain Marvel died down before I threw my two cents at the matter. I’m only coming at this from a storytelling perspective, since it’s not a Post-Apocalyptic film, but I’ve done enough posts on times when feminism has been done poorly that it felt warranted. While I think Captain Marvel was a good film, the main point here is that it delivered its message in a perfectly palatable, and inoffensive, manner.

I’ve made plenty of posts about shows like Van Helsing, Wynonna Earp and Orange is the New Black, about how they’re posing as vehicles of social change when in reality they’re just riding the wave of popular opinion to make some cash. The first two are female power fantasies, where women are given super natural strength to dominate the world around them, while the later is a character drama where all women are victims and men are ineffective losers at best and tyrannical oppressors at worst. They’re feminism done wrong, because they preach to the already converted. They’re made for people who already hold the views they’re purporting to push, which in turn makes them unpalatable to anyone they’d seek to change the opinion of. Making content for a target audience is fine, we all do it, but these shows are catering to the current populist trend of social justice and victimhood. So while they’re appealing to certain peoples sensibilities, they’re not actually contributing anything to their cause beyond “Muh Representation!” and they’re resorting to shit storytelling to do it.

Solid character writing.

Solid character writing.

So basically, that whole paragraph was to show that I’m not a fanboy, I’m not a soyboy and I’m not an ally or anything of the sort. Chicks are cool, gays are cool, I don’t even care about any of that shit, I just want well crafted stories that are water tight. All this pandering to extremists tends to create characters that are two dimensional Mary Sue’s, and narratives that are contrived and cliched. It’s boggled my fucking brain from the get go, because such hamfisted storytelling doesn’t help anyone beyond the creators who can make a quick buck off the moronic herd-minded tribalism that’s so popular these days. I put that last paragraph there to show that I’m not the sort of person who’ll just blindly swallow a cheesy moralizing feminist flick, and that I’ve written enough about such flicks that the following endorsement should carry some weight.

Captain Marvel was actually pretty good, and there wasn’t anything in the film that had me rolling me eyes or wanting to leave. There’s been a lot of negative press and controversy around the film, primarily surrounding the lead actress Brie Larson and her outspoken views on straight white men… but I don’t care about any of that external stuff. Chris Evans says some pretty on-the-nose stuff that’s in a similar vein, and while I haven’t seen any of the Captain America films, I do enjoy his work in the Avengers films. People are allowed to do and say some stupid shit and it doesn’t have to seep into the film. Tom Cruise is a bit of a dick but I watched him in Oblivion and thought “god damn, that man can act!”

He literally paused to eye-fuck the camera…

He literally paused to eye-fuck the camera…

I’ll admit that I agreed with people’s initial assessment from the trailers, Brie Larson did look bored. But as someone with Blunted Affect, I get how fucking irritating it is when you’re told to smile all the time. In the movie though she’s actually quite emotive, so maybe the trailers just focused on the scenes where it’s more serious. There’s a decent amount of humor in the story too, and I found myself laughing with my friends. (Yes, I have friends IRL.) There were several well written female characters, with strengths and flaws, but there were also multiple well written male characters who weren’t nerfed into cuckoldom just to make Captain Marvel look good. This is something that other aspiring feminist films could learn from - making your male characters weak doesn’t make the female lead look stronger, it' just makes her surrounded by a bunch of ineffectual losers and undercuts any achievements she might accomplish. What’s more impressive, a woman playing Rugby against the All Blacks and winning, or a woman competing against the Under-7’s Special Needs division and winning?

Jude Law’s character was well written, and interesting. I honestly hope to see more of him.

Jude Law’s character was well written, and interesting. I honestly hope to see more of him.

I know there’s one scene where her friend says something along the lines of “Let’s go show these boys how it’s done!” But you’ve got to ask yourself, what else was she going to say? They were the only two female pilots, they were surrounded by men and “Let’s go show our coworkers how it’s done!” just doesn’t have the same ring to it. Also, as a guy who works with just one other male, at a certain point you do start spending a lot of time with that person simply based on their gender. Along with this, there’s this montage where there’s a bunch of men in her life telling her that she can’t do things because she’s a girl. Her dad freaks out because she was in a go-kart crash, which is understandable, and her fellow trainees in boot camp are heckling her. I never got to join the military, but it’s a pretty dude-centric institution… and the film is set in the 90’s, so again - what else where her fellow cadets going to say?

She starts wailing on an Skrull that’s posing as an old woman on the train, and the other commuters jumped onto her - that was a nice bit of storytelling there.

She starts wailing on an Skrull that’s posing as an old woman on the train, and the other commuters jumped onto her - that was a nice bit of storytelling there.

But none of it really seemed on the nose or forced, none of it rubbed me the wrong way - it was all just adversity that she’d had to overcome to reach that point in her career. And it worked too, because they had to show that she was pretty formidable before she got her powers, not just someone who went from zero to hero - like Shazam. The cat seemed a bit weird, but they managed to tie it into the humor of the film. Honestly, the only part of the film that sort of jarred me was the reveal about the Skrulls. I read the Secret Invasion comic arc when it came out a few years back, and I don’t know how this is going to mesh with that. They sort of seem at odds with one another, but maybe Marvel don’t plan to explore that story line in which case it’s not even an issue.

So yeah, despite what people may have assumed - I went and saw Captain Marvel and I actually enjoyed it. I think most of the hate for this film has been spurred on by the lead actress’ comments, combined with people just wanting to hate it because it’s got a female lead. But just like Den of Thieves needs to be recognized for it’s accurate exploration of Toxic Masculinity, Captain Marvel needs to be accepted for doing a female lead in an action film the right way. Captain Marvel is strong and capable in her own right and she doesn’t drag men down to build herself up - that’s all I’ve ever wanted. If we can’t even acknowledge when honest and earnest attempts to bridge the gap from the other side are being made, then we’re never going to get anywhere.

I’m pretty stoked to see how they’ll include her in Avengers Endgame, since she’s on the same level as Thor and Hulk in terms of power. I get the concerns about having such a powerful late-game addition to the roster seeming like a deus ex machina moment, but she seems to be on par with characters that’re already present. I’m hoping at best she’ll be just enough to tip the scales in their favor, rather than have her win the day outright. An addition of someone like Wolverine isn’t going to do shit against Thanos, but someone like Captain Marvel most certainly will. Along with this, we’ve already got two super powered dudes, so why not mix it up and make the third a chick? I’ll admit that it can go sideways in a lot of ways, but after the masterful stroke that Marvel pulled with Black Panther (wherein it was basically Trump vs Hitler) I’m pretty hopeful of what they’ll do with Avengers Endgame.

They’ve been building up to this for over a decade, they can do almost anything with it… the only thing they’re certainly not going to do is fuck it up.

Pretty keen to see how it all ends!

Pretty keen to see how it all ends!

Van Helsing - Really That Bad

So, I sat down and watched season 3 of Van Helsing and despite what I said in my last blog post on the subject - it’s doubled down on the man-hating social justice rhetoric and become a clusterfuck of a show. Along with the ridiculous propaganda it’s peddling, the storytelling of the show has devolved into absolute absurdity. It’s not trying to appeal to a broad audience anymore, it’s not even pretending to appeal to a wider audience, it’s purely a radical feminist girl-power romp through the post apocalypse.

Vanessa Van Helsing is a fucking joke of a protagonist - she snarls and stomps her way through this season. I guess they’re trying to show her devolution into a vampire-like being, but she’s just an absolute arsehole. As an example - Axel, the marine with multiple tours of combat duty before the vampire outbreak, is trying to enter a building with some form of tactical awareness, but Vanessa just gives him the finger and waltzes inside. I get that they’re trying to portray her as an experienced combatant who is also superhuman, but this “badassery” would be described as “toxic masculinity” if it were in a male character. She literally kills an innocent man, just to drink his blood, and then forgives herself in the next episode and it’s never brought up again. She even admits that she killed a guy in the first season despite knowing he wasn’t the murderer in their group, simply because she wanted too. To put it as bluntly - she’s just a cunt of a human being.

It’s just this all season - a snarl and this weird cowboy stance.

It’s just this all season - a snarl and this weird cowboy stance.

And the show has totally reverted to it’s original anti-male narrative, where if something bad is happening then it’s typically a man’s fault. A male nurse hits on a side character, who rebuffs him because she’s a lesbian, and he ends up attacking her in a psychotic rage. Both those things already happened in the first episode of season one, but they decided to reuse it for some bizarre reason? If the leader of a group is male then they tend to be evil, or they’re gay and get killed, or they’re female. It’s a female prisoner, who is chained to a really weak and effeminate male, who stages a riot on a prison bus which allows everyone to break free. Axel finds his long lost sister, just like Vanessa found her long lost sister… just like Mohammad found his long lost sister… and it turns out she was kidnapped and used as a sex slave by some guy who ends up having memory loss.

She was alive the whole time, trapped in the basement of the guy he worked for as a kid… and she survived the apocalypse and somehow managed to learn how to use a gun?

She was alive the whole time, trapped in the basement of the guy he worked for as a kid… and she survived the apocalypse and somehow managed to learn how to use a gun?

And the worst example, the one that nearly had me evacuating my bowels out of sheer outrage, was the castration. There’s this twitchy vampire that’s been awkwardly convulsing his way through the series and in this season he’s decided that he wants to join this sisterhood of badass vampires… and they decide to let him join, but only if he has his nuts taken off. As ridiculous as that is, the worst part is that he actually fucking begs them for it…

“Yes, do it. Make me like you. Make me a sister.”

Sorry to break it to you, but having your nuts taken off doesn’t make you a woman - it just makes you a shitty male. And not only does he have his nuts chopped off to join an all-female order of vampires, they go ahead a lop off the sacks of a whole bunch of other male vampires they force to join their ranks. They’re fucking undead, they don’t even procreate. I guess there’s the symbolic gesture of it, but what’s the point of the castration in terms of the story beyond some appeal to a batshit insane form of feminist extremism? How about I write a story about women being forced to get hysterectomies in order to join a gang… let’s see how long I survive after writing that.

This dude is just pathetic, that’s all there is to it.

This dude is just pathetic, that’s all there is to it.

Beyond this inane pandering to an ideology of victimhood, the storytelling itself has completely gone to shit. All the main cast of characters are either immortal or immune to the vampire plague, even though there’s multiple strains of it now. Someone is even healed from near death by being bitten by a vampire, despite also being immune to the virus. The vampires can’t figure out if they’re burning in the sunlight or if the clouds provide enough cover for them to walk around without protection… but it doesn’t even matter anymore because there are “Daywalkers” now. And no, despite making a joke about the shows similarities to Buffy the Vampire Slayer, they couldn’t even give a nod to the fact that they stole the term from Blade. I guess Buffy gets a nod because that had a chick lead, but since Blade was a dude then he can get fucked.

Blade - the one and only Daywalker.

Blade - the one and only Daywalker.

The secret organisation Blak Tek also plays a bigger role in this season but they’re just as stupid and just as mustache-twistingly evil. They’ve set up a safe zone in Denver but it’s all about experiments on unwilling human test subjects and forced labor in prison camps. There’s a bunch of elder vampires who are two dimensional and a prophecy being told by some literal hag who just appeared this season, and it all ends with an ascended Sam standing off against Vanessa and her newly resurrected Van Helsing ancestor. And you just know that the fight isn’t going to happen at the start of season 4 because it’ll be forestalled somehow and dragged out for the entire bloody season.

She lost her sister and gained a great great grandmother… it all balances out.

She lost her sister and gained a great great grandmother… it all balances out.

Van Helsing at least appeared to be correcting it’s course by the end of season 2, but it totally reverted in season 3. It’s shit storytelling combined with a failed attempt to pander to ideologues that’s created this absolute abortion of a show. Vanessa Van Helsing isn’t a strong female character, she’s a shitty male character being played by a woman. There’s still a few half decent characters in this show, but they’re few and far between… it’s like wading through an ocean of shit to find a dime or two.

These are probably the only decent characters in the show, base level humans (or thereabouts) who have real problems and character growth.

These are probably the only decent characters in the show, base level humans (or thereabouts) who have real problems and character growth.

I’m sure I’ll see season 4 at some point, because it got renewed for some reason, simply for closure more than any interest in seeing where the story goes. It’s clearly not written for people like me, it’s a show that preaches to the already converted under the guise of trying to illicit social change… and it can’t even tell a half decent story. But for some bizarre reason these Van Helsing posts are some of my most popular content - which both perplexes and irritates me to no end. Gotta give the readers what they want though, even if it’s a crazed rant about a lame-ass show. I’m just glad I haven’t had to pay to watch this tripe…

How I felt going into each new episode…

How I felt going into each new episode…

The Ultimate Career Goal

So I’m sitting here thinking about all the different apocalypses that I want to bring upon fictional versions of Earth, or some other human-inhabited planet, and I got to thinking about my long term career goals. What do I actually want to do in terms of being an author, especially one that focuses so heavily on the post-apocalyptic genre?

Well, I wrote a writing guide for the genre (which can be found here), so that’s one milestone already done. But something else I can do, is put my time/money/sanity where my mouth (or fingers?) are and actually write a story for each and every post-apocalyptic scenario that I listed in the guide. That’s a grand total of 36 different possible scenarios to work with. Now, planning to write 36 books is a hell of a lot easier than actually writing 36 books, but as the saying goes - anything worth doing is going to be bloody hard work.

Or maybe that was just my old man’s version of it?

Anyway, as I’ve said before in various locations - you rarely get just one single type of post-apocalyptic scenario at a time, there’s a cascading effect that tends to ripple through the system. For instance, you’re always going to get an Economic Collapse and Social Decay scenarios when you end the world… that’s just a natural byproduct of everything going to shit. Now, I can try to tap into this and use those ripples to get ticks in multiple boxes from a single story, but that’s not really what I’m going for.

With that in mind, although it’d certainly be easier, I’m looking at the long term achievement of having a story written in every single scenario. By the time I’m done, I’m hoping to have a catalog of post-apocalyptic stories that cover every possible scenario imaginable. I don’t want to write EMP or Zombie Apocalypse stories over and over - I want what variety I can get while also staying within the genre.

And to be honest, each of those 36 scenarios has some serious fucking wiggle room. That’s a lot of different ways for the world to end, and I’m confident that I can bring something unique to each and every scenario there is. As always, the only real issue is time. It’s not gonna happen overnight, but it will happen.

Just pray I don’t run out of steam and fall back on parody…

Just pray I don’t run out of steam and fall back on parody…

Why a House Can't Always be a Home After the Apocalypse

You see it in Post-Apocalyptic stories all the time, people living in anything and everything except houses after the world has ended. It’s not just for shits and giggles, though the reasons are not always readily apparent either. Why would people choose to live in a baseball stadium, a hotel, an office building, subway stations, military bases, shopping malls, prisons, casinos or a dam? Why not just live in a house like a normal person?

Well, the answer is because Post-Apocalyptic times aren’t normal, and neither are the people who live in them… and they certainly don’t have the same needs that we do in a pre-apocalyptic world.

Plenty of fresh water, possibility of power, easy to defend - what’s not to love?

Plenty of fresh water, possibility of power, easy to defend - what’s not to love?

The thing with Post-Apocalyptic times is that there’s generally something out there that wants to kill you. If it’s not radiation, zombies or mutants then it’s other people. For that reason, a simple house just won’t cut it as a base of operations. You need something that you can easily defend and most modern houses aren’t built to protect you against determined assailants, let alone radiation. Windows are a massive weak point, and even a dead-bolted door isn’t going to save you. And this is all assuming the house is still relatively new as well, add a few years before the apocalypse, let alone after, and you’ve got a seriously insufficient structure on your hands.

It’s remote… but one Molotov and your tiny shack is up in smoke!

It’s remote… but one Molotov and your tiny shack is up in smoke!

Next, you’ve got resources to consider. Chances are that running water is going to be a serious concern for your survivors… primarily because they’d like to continue being survivors. Most modern houses, oftentimes whole towns or sometimes even cities, aren’t build close to fresh water. With our modern water network, people can live in the middle of a desert and still have fresh, clean water at the turn of a tap. That kind of luxury generally dries up once the apocalypse kicks in. Once the taps stop working and all the bottled water runs out, you discover why towns were historically founded on river banks.

High walls, almost impossible to break into, the potential for mass amounts of fuel or other supplies. This works.

High walls, almost impossible to break into, the potential for mass amounts of fuel or other supplies. This works.

Now, it’s entirely possible that you live in a remote town with a river running through it - the zombies don’t know where you are and you’ve still got a reliable source of fresh drinking water. Good for you, you get to keep living in your home. Maybe you can shore up your defenses; board the windows and make some kind of wall… but whatever is out there will likely get through eventually. Why not just move into the local super market? It’s a lot closer to the river, it’s packed full of food and it’s a massive building made from steel and concrete. Besides not having that “homey” feel to it, it’s got everything you’ll ever need.

Busted in windows, having to climb up and down stairs every day to get water… not ideal.

Busted in windows, having to climb up and down stairs every day to get water… not ideal.

There’re a lot of things to consider when choosing where to live after the world ends; space, resources, defenses. You’ve got to weight each of these things against the others, because each site will have it’s own pro’s and con’s, and their viability will depend on what sort of apocalypse you went through. What’s good in a Zombie Apocalypse won’t be as effective in a Nuclear War scenario, and vice-versa.

You’ve just got to find the best place you can, then settle in. The primary paradoxical problem is that the better the location is, the more likely it is to be a target for other survivors. Which is just another factor to take into account when choosing your Post-Apocalyptic housing.

The Bastard's Curse

On the first of September last year, I did a Twitter poll, asking people to help me come up with a random plot. As with any kind of crowd sourcing, it turned into an absolute clusterfuck and spiraled out of control. And so here we are… 166 days later… and the project is finally being released.

It took way longer than expected, but there was a fair amount of real world drama and the core idea changed a fair few times… but it’s done.

Professional Criminal + Environmental Collapse + Social Decay + Forces from Outer Reality + Paranormal =   The Bastard’s Curse  .

Professional Criminal + Environmental Collapse + Social Decay + Forces from Outer Reality + Paranormal = The Bastard’s Curse.

Writing in the 3rd person was actually a pretty big challenge for me, it took an interview with the main-man Evan C. to figure it out - but I usually write in the first person because I have a background in oral storytelling. So yeah, 3rd person was difficult, but I’m happy to report that feedback has been good and I’m content with sending this out to the public… for free.

Well, kinda free? I’ll give it to you, for free, if you sign up to my email list… yeah, that’s what’s happening here.

If general opinion of the story warrants it, then I’ll be happy to write other short stories in this world. It actually turned out to be a pretty unique setting, and I’d like to explore it further. Combining Lovecraftian Horror with the post-apocalyptic genre came with some interesting challenges.

Feel free to rip the shit out of it, as always I’m always more interested in getting better than having my ego stroked. This is a slight step outside my wheelhouse, so I’m more than willing to take on some creative criticism in order to get better at it. Whether you love it or hate it, let me know what you think!

Anyway, without further rambling - if you’d like to collect your free copy of The Bastard’s Curse, then just click here!

Let me know if there’re any drama’s with the links… I’m no good with this high tech wizardry.

It’s scary, how much I relate to this character…

It’s scary, how much I relate to this character…


"That Would Never Happen"

When it comes to Post-Apocalyptic stories, the nay-sayers are pretty quick to point out how unrealistic a scenario is. There’s always some factor or instance that, they think, would undercut the apocalypse and forestall subsequent doom. The problem with this view is that the Post-Apocalyptic genre isn’t stories of the world almost ending, it’s blatantly about scenarios where the world hasn’t ended.

It’s far more likely that the world doesn’t end in some apocalyptic event, that’s a given. If we woke up every day and had to deal with the dread of some random apocalypse transpiring, we’d never get anything done. We wouldn’t have even moved out of our caves, why would we have bothered? The point is that 99.9999% of the time the world will not end, but Post-Apocalyptic stories are about that “perfect storm” scenario where it does. The catastrophic clusterfuck of an apocalypse is found in the insanely infinitesimal.

Your characters can also have absurd ways of surviving the apocalypse. Why not just sleep through the end of the world? ( The Walking Dead  stole this intro from  28 Days Later , not the other way around…)

Your characters can also have absurd ways of surviving the apocalypse. Why not just sleep through the end of the world? (The Walking Dead stole this intro from 28 Days Later, not the other way around…)

Nobody cares about an averted zombie apocalypse. One guy gets turned undead in a lab experiment, breaks free and then infects the scientist, the zombies run rampant through the top secret military complex but they’re eventually taken out by special forces, or a nuke… it doesn’t matter. A recently killed woman rises from her grave and hunts down her murderer, but a local deputy sees her shambling corpse and blows her head off then drags her back to her grave and buries her again. The Post-Apocalyptic genre isn’t about how the world is almost destroyed, they’re your simple Action/Thriller/Drama/Horror stories. The Post-Apocalyptic genre is about the cascading failure that does, despite all odds, result in absolute destruction for humanity.

Sure, there’s enough security around highly virulent diseases that the chances of one of them breaking free and causing a pandemic are slim, but this is about the time that the precautions in place juuuust weren’t enough. There’s a crash while the vials are in transport, the vehicle’s containment cases weren’t locked properly, the virus gets out. A fire causes a black out and the old generators fail to kick in, all the doors unlock due to the fire, the virus gets out. A scientist caught his brother sleeping with his wife, he goes to work and thinks “fuck the world” and… the virus gets out.

Or maybe a group of misguided eco-terrorists frees some monkeys that are clearly fucking psychotic? As in  28 Days Later .

Or maybe a group of misguided eco-terrorists frees some monkeys that are clearly fucking psychotic? As in 28 Days Later.

A lot of small things need to happen for an entire world to collapse, and total ruin could potentially be averted if any of them fail to happen. Go Google those times that the world was nearly drowned in nuclear hellfire because of a flock of birds, or because of some sunlight refracting off of clouds. As difficult as it is for an apocalypse to eventuate, in spite of all the precautions, it’s often in the cracks of absurdity that it slips through.

It’s not about how unrealistic the scenario is, as long as the author has put in the work to make it as realistic as possible, then it’s as realistic as it needs to be. If you’re working on a Post-Apocalyptic story, don’t think of it as destroying a functioning world but instead think of it as creating a destroyed world. Think of how it could happen, don’t get bogged down in all the ways it couldn’t. Sometimes simple bad luck can ruin your life, and it can do the same to the world.

You try to do the right thing, but save the wrong kid - suddenly the virus spreads to a whole new continent… and the whole world is fucked.

You try to do the right thing, but save the wrong kid - suddenly the virus spreads to a whole new continent… and the whole world is fucked.

Berserk and the MCU

I watched Avengers Infinity War last August and then wrote this post but totally forgot about it. There’re trailers for Endgame coming out now and it reminded me to actually finish what I started, so here we go. I actually enjoyed Infinity War, I thought it had a great story and it balanced it’s massive cast of characters really well. The ending had the sort of somber gut punch that I've only found in one other series, Berserk. I know a anime from the early 2000's doesn't seem like it would have a lot in common with the latest Marvel Comic Universe film, but just bare with me and I'll bring it home. 

I'm not shy about the fact that I've moved away from comic book movies over the past few years. It's not just the fact that I was a massive comic nerd in my younger days, and the shift of nerdy interests becoming mainstream irked me to no end. My interests becoming popular doesn't make up for the thousands spent on therapy bills from the days when they weren't popular. No, it's also because I’ve just become burnt out on comic movies. Hugh Jackman was Wolverine for seventeen years! That's a long time to be invested in a character... and for a while it looked like there would be no pay off to that investment. 

We first met Wolverine on the big screen in the year 2000. To put that in perspective, the Twin Towers were still standing when Hugh Jackman first popped his claws. I remember that they actually had to change the first Spider-Man movie because originally he'd caught some criminals in a web between the towers and they'd just been destroyed in real life. That's how long ago these films started appearing, they’re older than the War on Terror. It took them seventeen years, but Wolverine finally died in 2017 in one of the best Marvel films to date. 

Time defiantly took it’s toll…

Time defiantly took it’s toll…

I haven't seen any Captain America films, I never saw Doctor Strange, I haven't seen any of the TV series and the only Thor movie I've seen is Thor Ragnarok. I have watched the Avengers films though, because that's where it all seems to be coming together. The first Avengers film came out in 2012, and if you want to get technical then the first film about an Avenger came out in 2008 with Iron Man. That's 10 years from Iron Man to Avengers Infinity War, which is one hell of an investment in these characters. 

Avengers Infinity Wars was already great, but when Thanos snapped his fingers at the end it went into overdrive. All the characters we'd invested in over the years; Bucky, Black Panther, Groot, Scarlet Witch, Drax, Quill, Spider-Man... they all disintegrated. And their deaths were indicative of what was going on not only all across earth, but all across the universe. Half of the universe's population was disintegrated in an instant, and we experienced that through the loss of these named characters we've invested so much in. 

It’s always interesting seeing how characters act when they mix with characters from different series - how do all the different dynamics work out?

It’s always interesting seeing how characters act when they mix with characters from different series - how do all the different dynamics work out?

I've only passably been paying attention to these movies for a while now. I’d go to the cinema if someone else wanted to, but otherwise I just watched them on the small screen. Even with my own half level of interest, the death of all these characters was executed in such a supreme fashion that it still left me stunned. Black Panther disintegrating as he goes to help Okoye. Rocket staggering over to Groot as he dies, again. Stark futilely asking quill to stay as he's already vanishing, and then having to watch Peter Parker, who had basically become his surrogate son by this point, fall apart in his arms. And finally, Captain America gasping "oh, god" as he realizes the greater implications of their failure to stop Thanos. 

It was fantastic, and it's got me hooked for Endgame later this year. My only issue is that I know that all these characters will come back by the end of that film. Comic creators have this issue with not letting their creations stay dead; death is more of a break than a true end for comic book characters. That's my issue with all of this, this fantastically impactful end to Infinity War is going to be undercut and undone by the next movie. On its own, Infinity War is a great story about failure and its costs, but as part of a series it doesn't even matter. If all these characters are going to be brought back, why not bring back Gamora, Loki, Odin, Quicksilver, Killmonger, Wolverine, Heimdall, Peter Parkers parents... the list goes on. If you can bring back some, why not others?

It reminds me of the artificial hype-train around Negan; it’s the real world delay between the end of one movie and the start of the next that creates the tension. But when you watch them back to back, you realize that it’s instantly resolved. How many modern films/shows rely on false hype to carry their stories?

It reminds me of the artificial hype-train around Negan; it’s the real world delay between the end of one movie and the start of the next that creates the tension. But when you watch them back to back, you realize that it’s instantly resolved. How many modern films/shows rely on false hype to carry their stories?

So, Avengers Infinity War did it pretty damn well, but it's going to be undone later on. A series that got it right, however, is Berserk. I started watching this anime back in 2003, where the six DVD's were released in Australia a month apart. I loved the first few episodes so much that I actually watched everything I had all over again in the week leading up to the release of the next DVD. So by the time the final DVD came out, I'd seen the first four episodes six times, the second four episodes five times, the third four episodes four times... and so on. 

Berserk - hunt down the  original  anime series.

Berserk - hunt down the original anime series.

Needless to say, that at the end of the six months, I was fairly invested in these characters. And I don't want to go into too much detail here, because this is going to get it's own blog post at some point... but in the last episode someone pulls a dick-move and pretty much everyone else is killed in a single, horrific event. I literally sat there on floor in front of the television, mouth agape, just staring as the credits began to roll. It was the craziest thing I had ever seen. If all stories are an effort to get you to feel something, then Berserk was a prime example of a successful story. It got you invested in all these main characters and side characters... then in one fell swoop they're slaughtered in the most brutal of fashions. And then it ended. The world continued, obviously, but that was the end of the series.

Such a dick…

Such a dick…

A key component of this is that it didn't feel contrived or forced. Marvel got this right with Infinity War too - as much as it was a horrifying ending, it was still a satisfying end to the story. It hurts but it still makes sense because it feels like the natural progression of the characters involved. In both Infinity War and Berserk, it feels like the mass slaughter at the end is the only place that it could have ended up. You can look back at the story in hindsight and realize that it was never going to end anywhere else, all the choices and all the mistakes were leading up to that single event.

I'm not even sure I want to see Endgame, simply because of the fantastic end of Infinity War that it’s going to undo. But I know that it's getting made and I know I'll probably just happen to see it eventually. In closing though, if you’re looking for a great series to sink your teeth into then check out Berserk. I’ll do a write up of it later on, at some point.