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The New DuckTales

I grew up loving DuckTales, so you can imagine how excited I was to hear that there’s a new DuckTales series, complete with a cast of well-known faces. The new series feels both familiar and modern, which is definitely what I want from any nostalgia-fueled reboot. It premiered last Saturday with a two-part special that’s available to watch on YouTube, and will begin airing weekly on September 23.

Reborn

All your life you did the right thing, always putting others before yourself. This is your reward.

Reborn is an imaginative look at the afterlife from writer Mark Millar and artist Greg Capullo. We’re introduced to our hero Bonnie Black as she passes away from a stroke, only to be reborn in the afterlife, younger and apparently the prophetic savior of everyone who had lead a good life. Bonnie is joined by her battle-hardened father and war-ready childhood dog on a quest to stop the forces of darkness.

We’re all familiar in some way with stories of traditional heaven and hell style afterlives, and while Reborn certainly doesn’t deviate from that style, it refreshes it with a vibrant fantasy world and an over-arching examination of life, death, what we leave behind, and what we bring with us. My only complaint is that Millar and Capullo have constructed such a vibrant fantasy world that it seems impossible to cover in this first volume, so it’s filled with imaginative visuals that are accompanied by little to no explanation. I preferred to fill the gaps in myself, as Bonnie’s journey of discovery and acceptance makes it hard not to wonder what we’d do in the same situation.

Reborn is just one volume so far, but according to Millar, there is a strong possibility of four more volumes, a series of novels, and a television series. The first volume has a solid ending and can definitely stand on its own, but I’m excited to see the rest of this world that Millar and Capullo have built.

Net Neutrality Day of Action

net neutralityNet Neutrality is a big issue that everyone should be concerned about. When you request a website, or any information over the internet, you expect your ISP to deliver it as requested with no interference. This is what the FCC’s Net Neutrality rules protect. Without Net Neutrality rules, your ISP could block sites they don’t like or slow down access to sites that don’t pay a fee, and those rules are in jeopardy.

The FCC is considering repealing the Net Neutrality rules, but there’s still time to stand up for what’s right. The FCC is currently requesting your feedback, and the first comment deadline is July 17, so make sure that you send your feedback to let them know what Net Neutrality means to you. Next, join the Net Neutrality Day of Action protest tomorrow (July 12). There are many ways you can participate listed there, and if you have a WordPress site, use the Fight for the Future Alerts plugin.

Millions of people spoke out in 2014 to establish the Net Neutrality rules, and hopefully we can do the same this year to save them.

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Help Test the Future WordPress Editor

Last week, WordCamp Europe 2017 was filled with lots of opportunities to make WordPress better, including the announcement that the future WordPress Editor (codenamed Gutenberg) is now available for use as a plugin. The future of WordPress editing will be built on positionable blocks, where each block can be pretty much any kind of content, like this gallery:

There have already been plenty of great posts that go in depth on the current state of Gutenberg, so I won’t bore you with the details here, but the short version is that folks who are new to WordPress may find this to be an intuitive experience while long-time WordPress users may encounter a bit of a learning curve. Fortunately, Gutenberg won’t replace the existing WordPress editor until WordPress 5.0, so there’s plenty of time to install that plugin and start contributing.

P.S. This post was originally written with Gutenberg 0.2.0 on WordPress 4.8, but required a few tweaks after publishing, so please help us test this and contribute to make it better. 🙂

WordPress 4.8 Released

WordPress 4.8 has been released! This release introduces new widgets for images, videos, audio, and rich text, as well as new link boundaries to cure editor frustrations and a new Dashboard widget which displays nearby WordPress events!

346 volunteers contributed to this release, lead by Matt Mullenweg and Jeffrey Paul. At the time of writing this, WordPress 4.8 has been out for about 9 hours, and has already been downloaded 1,315,250 times!

All users can safely update from Dashboard -> Updates or download and update manually, though you should probably backup first just in case, unless you’re already using VaultPress, which you really should be.

If you run into any problems, stop by the known issues first, and please let us know if it’s not covered there!

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Earth Day, 2017

Today is Earth Day, a day to reflect on this planet we call home, so it’s a great day to start saving the environment for free and donating to The Conservation Fund.

Also, take the time to consider ways in which you can help the environment yourself with just a few changes to your routine, like switching out your lights for LED bulbs, walking or biking to closer destinations rather than driving, planting a tree or two, and even something as simple as properly separating your recyclables from your trash.

Today is also the global March for Science, so it’s a great day to spend some time outdoors and possible even share your advocacy for science. If today isn’t such a great day for you to enjoy our world outside, at least enjoy this video.

Klaus

Only one man has to work at Yuletime, and that’s me. There are gifts waiting for your children. Tell them the Santa wears the red and white of Grimsvig. White for the snow of our homeland, red for the blood of the working people who built this town. Your colors.

Klaus is a surprisingly good tale from writer Grant Morrison and artist Dan Mora. I think it’s safe to say that most of us have a read a folklore adaptation or seen a Santa Claus movie that wasn’t even worth the time spent doing so. It’s rare for a creator to take an established icon of folklore and do something completely different with it, and when they do, it’s usually terrible. Klaus, billed as “How Santa Claus Began,” is different.

The imaginative origin story follows a banished soldier who returns to find his hometown under tyrannical control. Fueled by a deep sense of honor and guided by benevolent spirits, Klaus uses his skills as a woodworker and soldier to free his hometown, bring joy to its children, and face off with the fearsome Krampus. The characters are well-developed and believable while the stakes are high and ever-present, both a rarity in such stories, and yet it never manages to lose a subtle sense of levity.

I bought Klaus heavily discounted on impulse simply because the art is great. I didn’t expect much of the story, but I was pleasantly surprised, and found it to be original, fun, engaging, and not heavy-handed in the slightest. The premise is ridiculous, and yet it works beautifully. If you’re looking for a fun and imaginative origin of a folklore icon, Klaus won’t disappoint.

Descender

I’m your creator and designer, but that does not make me your family. You have no real family. You aren’t alive. You do understand that, don’t you?

Descender is a beautiful series from writer Jeff Lemire and artist Dustin Nguyen, and in many ways, a coming of age tale both for our young protagonist and civilization itself. Set at some point in the very distant future, when many species have colonized the stars and mostly work together, the story follows a young robot who may have an ancestral connection to the robots who suddenly appeared and wiped out hundreds of millions of lives before vanishing just ten years prior.

The writing is engaging and reminiscent of many of today’s great provocative TV series, while the art is captivating and reminiscent of finely detailed water colors. Throughout the story, you’ll find yourself growing attached to the young robot who seems set on a path to outgrow his programming, while remaining constantly aware of the terrible toll the rest of the galaxy paid for that growth. The story is not as heavy-handed as it seems, rather it is presented with a balance that is delicately maintained throughout, accompanied by an eclectic cast and spread across an energetic plot.

Descender has been running as a monthly series since March of 2015, with three volumes already published and a fourth on the way. You definitely won’t regret diving in, and I’m sure you’ll want to stick around to see how it ends. I certainly do.

Internet Archive: No More 404s

Just a little bit over a year ago, I wrote about the Internet Archive’s Smart 404 Handler, which aimed to help site owners put an end to useless 404 Not Found errors on their own site by offering a link to the content (if available) on the Wayback Machine. Now, the Internet Archive has set out to solve the problem of useless 404 Not Found errors for everyone with a new extension for Firefox, for Chrome, and for Safari!

With the extension installed, if you encounter a 404 (or really any from the range of “unavailable” errors) for content that exists in the archive, you’ll see this very handy pop-up:

As that button describes, clicking it will take you to the archived page, so you’ll never have to wonder about what you were missing. But, that’s not all! Do you feel like a page looks a little bit different today? Are you feeling nostalgic for how pages looked when they were first published? Just open the extension in your browser’s toolbar for even more fun:

Thanks to this new extension, and the Wayback Machine’s hundreds of billions of archived pages, the experience of missing out on lost content could finally be a thing of the past! Also, if you find this extension useful, don’t forget that the Internet Archive needs donations to be able to provide all of that for free.

Secret War

You are heroes. More than me. Maybe one day you’ll look around and you’ll see the world like I have to, and you’ll know I did the right thing. Or at least you’ll understand why I did it.

Secret War, a masterpiece by writer Brian Michael Bendis and artist Gabriele Dell’Otto, is the best graphic novel ever produced by Marvel Comics. Blinded by diplomacy and arrogance, the United States government refuses to acknowledge the imminent danger as a foreign threat continues to grow. How far will one man go to defend his country? The decisions made, and their consequences, will forever change one of Marvel’s most iconic legends.

Luke Cage and Jessica Jones return home to find a strange woman standing by the window. Suddenly, Cage’s apartment explodes in a bright, white light. Cage takes the brunt of the explosion, sparing his wife-to-be. He is rushed to the hospital where he lapses into a coma and is diagnosed with severe trauma to his internal organs. He needs emergency surgery, but the doctors have no way of breaking his steel-hard skin. Cage’s fate is now in the hands of God, and the question on top of everyone’s list is, “Why?”

When Nick Fury, director of S.H.I.E.L.D. (Strategic Hazard Intervention, Espionage and Logistics Directorate), arrives, he is the first to be accused by Jones. Her question, pointedly stated, “Do you know who did this to him? I mean, why are you here? See what I’m saying?”

One year ago, Fury noticed an increase in the quality and power of technology held by some of the world’s deadliest villains, and he was shocked to learn that the funding for that technology came from Latveria, a new Latveria that had supposedly rehabilitated itself in the eyes of the world after the death of its former dictator, Dr. Victor Von Doom. Despite clear evidence of the threat, the President refused to accept the reality of the situation. After Doom’s death, the United States had sent several million dollars in aid to Latveria and even arranged the election of the country’s current Prime Minister, Lucia Von Bardas. The President assured Fury that, if there were a problem, it would be dealt with diplomatically. To Fury, this was unacceptable. He had presented clear evidence that the United States was in danger, and the federal government has refused to acknowledge it. For Fury, there was no choice between diplomacy and the safety of innocent people. He couldn’t let this happen.

Fury rapidly assembled a team of the world’s greatest, yet most misunderstood heroes: Luke Cage, Daredevil, Spider-Man, Captain America, Wolverine, Black Widow, and fellow S.H.I.E.L.D. agent Daisy Johnson. With no knowledge of the mission at hand, they departed under false identities and rendezvoused with Fury to prepare for the overthrow of Latveria’s government.

In the present, Peter Parker (Spider-Man) has been having nightmares of himself and other heroes fighting hordes of technology-powered soldiers. He joins Matt Murdock (Daredevil) on a trip to see Cage at the hospital when they are suddenly attacked by two technology-powered villains. Meanwhile, Steve Rogers (Captain America) barges into Cage’s hospital room after being attacked in front of his home. He is shocked to see what has happened to his friend, and immediately lashes out at Fury screaming, “Damn you for what you did to us!”

Something happened on that mission one year ago. Something that only Fury and Rogers remember. And those who were harmed during that operation, those who lost the war, are back for revenge. What was Fury willing to do to protect his country, and will he be able to face the consequences of his actions? Does the end ever justify the means?

Brian Michael Bendis’ story is a dark tale packed with mystery, drama, and action. The dark, emotional, and character-driven drama of Secret War has led it to be agreeably titled as, “The Darkest Chapter in Marvel Universe History”.

Gabriele Dell’Otto’s art is beautifully painted on every page. It brings the emotion of every scene to life and captures the darkness and characterization of Bendis’ story in a way that I have not seen since Alex Ross’ work on Kingdom Come.

Secret War is a must-have for any fan of great artwork and a great story. It is a tale of right and wrong, of sacrifice, and of consequence, the ramifications of which will be felt for years to come.

This review was previously published on Splash Panel on October 22, 2006.