Category Archives: History

Sadly, Neil Armstrong Has Passed Away

In honor of the first man to ever walk on the moon, here is a celebration of that great achievement. Warning, there is some foul language. Armstrong was 82.

The Day I Killed Hitler

Stargazing was a bit different in 1944

Sniper Elite V2 casts you into the role of a rugged, chiseled, surprisingly well-coiffed sniper at the end of WW2. With an emphasis on stealth, long-range shootouts and setting traps, this game is beautifully detailed and far more satisfying than the majority of WW2 shooters I’ve played.

It’s always the one in the middle.

With a spring in your step and a song in your heart, you traipse through the rubble of Berlin with your trusty sniper rifle, utterly annihilating any opposition that stands in your way. Most of your kills will result in a slow-motion presentation that follows your bullet from the barrel of your gun on its merry journey into the body of the least-fortunate nazi in the world. This is combined with an x-ray display of exactly how horribly your victim died (in the same vein as Mortal Kombat 9), just before a score is presented on your screen, rating any given kill you make.

Now he’ll never be head nazi.

Being both English and Jewish, I can tell you that I always feel a bit of smug satisfaction when I blow a Nazi’s tonsils off, but it’s rare that a gaming system tells me how well I did at snuffing out his life. And while it might seem arbitrary and pointless to congratulate a player on the act of killing a nazi (an average gamer could kill fifty per day and still not find it worthy of boasting about), it’s an immensely satisfying feeling when I get a high score for a beautifully-rendered, often gruesome kill. It feels a bit like getting an outstanding mark on my report card, or winning a cheap prize at a boardwalk game booth.

The game plays smoothly, and the graphics for the PC version are extremely detailed. In all, you receive a very deep, gratifying gaming experience for your money, with only a few real gripes about it.

For one thing, almost every encounter ends in a firefight. And while that’s half the point with most WW2 shooters, it somehow feels as though you’ve failed as a sniper when the entire population of the Nazi Germany turns on you after your very first shot. And while the game offers you chances to conceal your activities while sniping (timing your shots with the explosions of bombs or the chimes of churchbells, for instance), you usually don’t have too much stealth to your advantage afterward. At this point it stops being about killing a specific target, and more about killing Everyone.

Thankfully, they haven’t yet discovered the concept of Nazi zombies.

As you assassinate every Nazi in the world and deal with Soviet soldiers on your mission to kill a group of Nazi V2 Rocket scientists all by yourself, you get the distinct feeling that not only are you winning the War single-handedly, without an Ally in sight.

The multi-player experience allows for less stealth, as a team of two is far easier for the enemy to spot, but it’s nearly as satisfying as the single-player mode. Using teamwork and a shared hatred of nazis (but sadly no baseball bats), your partner takes the role of an anonymous, somewhat generic fellow soldier as the both of you engage in a wholesale slaughter of the Third Reich.

If you’ve beaten the campaign, however, and your craving for goose-stepping aryan blood isn’t sated, you can kill Hitler for a little extra in the game’s only current DLC.

Some experiences may vary.

Sniping Hitler sounds more satisfying than it is, however. For one thing, the DLC is single-player only, in the form of a Challenge-level. Here, you’re thrown into a parallel reality in which Der Handlebar arrives at a train station by motorcar, and you are there to take the shot that ends his life.

Your objective is to sneak to a vantage point before Hitler arrives, and snipe him on his way to the train. You’re spotted, however, and it becomes a Nazi shootout with the Fuhrer darting from one bit of cover to the next. Once you’ve killed every nazi in the level, Hitler rushes to the train itself, and you have a window of about five seconds to snipe him in mid-sprint.

Before I played this, I wasn’t sure if any game company could ever take the gratification out of the possibility of blowing Hitler’s moustache off, but Rebellion Games has succeeded. Killing Hitler is something that should be savoured. It’s something that you should take your time doing, and enjoy it as long as you can.

While I can appreciate that it’s a CHALLENGE map, the challenge should have been getting into position and getting away with killing the Nazi leader–not in the assassination, itself. This could have been done in any venue: Sneaking into a building overlooking one of Hitler’s speeches, or shooting him through the window of his estate, or a diner. The fact that he knows its coming and does everything he can to evade it completely eliminates the point.

As a game, I can’t recommend Sniper Elite V2 enough. Despite a few minor flaws, it’s an amazing romp through the second World War and I’m happy that I got to experience it.

As for the Kill Hitler DLC, there are two additional rifles that it offers aside from the three available in the Campaign mode that you may enjoy, and despite the linear, joyless method in which you have to complete the mission, you can still glean some satisfaction in killing the greatest monster of the 20th century.

I give the game 8/10, and the DLC 6/10.

Happy sniping!

Calvin Coolidge: Mummy Slayer!

In the spirit of Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter comes this spirited, low-budget parody trailer starring no one ‘s favorite president, Calvin Coolidge. “Keep Cool with Coolidge,” as Abe Simpson once said. Especially if there are mummies around! Made by The Sketchersons.

This is also a good time to tell everyone that my car is likely dead after a freak ‘check oil light’ catastrophe yesterday afternoon. Sooooo…I’m probably going to be worried about that for the foreseeable future. But I’ll try to keep posting fun stuff if I can.

FDR v. Nazi Werewolves 4 Hire

This is absolutely wrong, but so, so deliciously right in so many ways. We have so many memorable quotes (and Doctor Who appearances) from Churchill, and I think it’s only right that Roosevelt should be immortalised in some special way across the pond.

And in flamboyant American fashion, I like to think this is it.

Shit Goblins.

6 Unsung Patriotic Superheroes

Everybody knows about Captain America. He’s a living legend! Plus he had that big, fancy movie earlier this Summer. But you don’t come here to Henchman-4-Hire to read what you already know. You’re here for greater depth in your comic book knowledge. So in honor of Labor Day, I decided to write up a quick list of 6 America-themed superheroes that you probably never heard of.

Some successful. Some not.

6. Uncle Sam:

Kicking ass for America!

Yes, the actual and literal Uncle Sam come to life. Starring in DC Comics alongside Superman and Wonder Woman, Uncle Sam was even a supporting character in the Justice League. He’s got a whole host of general super-powers, like super strength, speed, agility and the ability to just plain kick ass. His origin is that the Founding Fathers performed an occult ritual to give the ‘Spirit of America’ a physical form. He served as various guises over the years until finally emerging as Uncle Sam in the late 1800s. Nowadays he’s the leader of the Freedom Fighters, a badass team of super spies and secret agent superheroes working for the U.S. Government.

5. Iron Patriot:

Evil in the name of America!

You’re right, that does look like a cross between Iron Man and Captain America. That’s the point. In reality, it’s the Iron Patriot, the ‘heroic’ guise of Norman Osborn! Remember him from the Spider-Man movie? He was the villainous Green Goblin. Norman Osborn is a crazy man, but he’s also a businessman. And in that capacity, Osborn stayed sane long enough for certain government people to start trusting him. Then he was put in charge of the Thunderbolts, a government team of super-villains being used as heroes.

When he helped repel an alien invasion, Norman was seen as such a hero that the American government put him in charge of H.A.M.M.E.R., a new version of S.H.I.E.L.D. He was America’s top cop, and as such, he formed his own team of Avengers, all of whom were secretly villains posing as heroes.┬áNorman took on the identity of the Iron Patriot, repainting some of Iron Man’s old armors. Stark was on the outs with the government at the time, viewed as a bad guy. For a few months, Norman led the ‘Dark’ Avengers on a few heroic missions. They actually helped people, despite being super-villains in disguise.

In the end, though, Norman bit off more than he could chew by leading his Dark Avengers against Thor and Asgard. He was revealed to be the psycho that he was, and got locked up. Though there are hints that he’s soon to be free and troubling the heroes once again.

4. The Spirit of ’76:

Old timey and fun, I suppose

Now that’s an exciting superhero name! He was created in the 70s as a patriotic hero for Marvel Comics, and his history is that William Naslund wanted to do more for the war effort in World War II. So taking Captain America as an inspiration, Naslund became really athletic and created this costumed identity. He served as a member of The Crusaders alongside a bunch of other random heroes. So basically a poor man’s Captain America serving at around the same time.

When Cap was frozen in the Atlantic (like at the end of his movie), the U.S. Government recruited Naslund to replace him. They gave him a costume and a shield, and Naslund was Cap for a few years before being killed by a robot. Comcis, everybody!

3. Mister America:

Possibly the lamest superhero costume ever

There’s a whole line of superheroes in the DC Universe who go by the name of Mister America. The first one, Tex Thompson, actually debuted in Action Comics #1 in 1938, the same comic that was the first appearance of Superman! As the costume implies, he’s just a dude in some patriotic-colored clothes who has a whip that fights crime. Thompson went on to become the Americommando during World War II.

That picture is from the modern day Mr. America in the pages of Justice Society of America. Similar to the Justice League, the Justice Society is made up of heroes that debuted before Superman and Batman in the comics timeline. It’s a little bit complicated, but essentially the heroes in the Justice Society are all old men in their 50s and 60s, whereas Superman, Batman and their generation are all in their 20s or 30s. In Justice Society, these old heroes are training and working with the next generation of heroes, composed of descendants of old heroes.

Thompson’s descendant debuted in the first issue of a recent JSA relaunch, only to die in that same issue. Dumbass. Then his FBI partner Jeffrey Graves took up the costume and whip and has had a much more successful superhero career.

2. Isiah Bradley and Patriot:

The black Captain America

Did you know there was a black Captain America? In a somewhat controversial comic released a few years ago called Truth: Red, White and Black, it was revealed that after Steve Rogers was given the super soldier serum, the U.S. Government tried to recreate it and conducted secret, often-fatal experiments on African-Americans. It treated them like lab rats. Something akin to the Tuskegee Syphilis Study.

The only survivor of the experiments was Isiah Bradley. He was taken overseas during WWII, and using a stolen Cap costume, he stormed the Nazi’s own attempts to recreate the Super Soldier Program. He successfully defeated the bad guys, but got kidnapped and brought before Hitler himself! Eventually Bradley was saved and returned stateside, only to spend nearly 20 years in federal prison on a court marshal. He eventually got pardoned in the 60s and spent the rest of his life at home, since the experiments had failed to recreate the true Super Soldier Serum and instead left Bradley with a deteriorated mind.

But throughout the years, he became a living legend as the ‘black Captain America’, but that legend only seemed to exist in the black community. He was visited by many important black icons. And eventually, Bradley had a grandson named Eli Bradley.

He's like a tiny Captain America!

Eli is the hero known as The Patriot. He’s a member of the Young Avengers. It was a surprise hit series from a few years ago. The idea was silly (kid Avengers?) but the writer hit it out of the park and the Young Avengers became a popular success! They’ve had a few series, since the writer hasn’t exactly been reliable, and they appear now and again in big Marvel stories. Eli was on a short list of young people that the Avengers were keeping track of, and the young version of Iron Man got ahold of the list and put a team together to fight Kang the Conqueror, a time traveling super-villain.

Eli led the team to victory, though it was later revealed that he didn’t have any super powers. He was actually using a recreational drug that gave people super powers. When his friends found out, they turned their backs on him until he cleaned up. Later, Eli was injured and had to get a blood transfusion from his grandfather Isiah Bradley. The super-powered blood from grandpa finally gave Eli powers for real.

1. U.S. Agent:

100% American Badass!

The man who would be Captain America! Picture the Captain America you know, now imagine him as far more conservative, badass and something of an arrogant jackass. That’s John Walker! He’s a second-rate Captain America, copying him in powers, costume and shield. But he’s stuck around for years, and has served as both an Avenger and a member of Alpha Flight. He’s a legitimate hero, not just some chump joke. Whereas Steve Rogers is more heroic, good-natured and inspirational, John Walker is just a hard-nosed, brutal ass-kicker. I’m a big fan.

Walker debuted in the 80s as a soldier who, after he was discharged, decided to get some super powers. There’s a villain out there called the Power Broker, and he gave Walker super strength, speed and agility. Powers similar to Captain America. Walker became the Super-Patriot to pay off the Power Broker, and then went around challenging Captain America while also doing good for the country. Eventually, Steve Rogers stepped down as Cap because the government wanted to turn him into something of a lapdog. Cap wasn’t about to be used, even by the U.S. Government, so he resigned. The government then scooped up Walker to be the new Captain America. Much like The Spirit of ’76 once served as a fill-in Cap. But then Rogers eventually came back, and Walker switched to being the U.S. Agent.

Eat hot patriotism, motha'fuckers!

He continued to serve the U.S. government, and eventually joined both the Avengers and the West Coast Avengers, who were based on the west coast. Yep. He made a few costume changes now and again, jumping in with different teams and organizations, but most recently he returned to his more well-known red, white and black Cap knock-off costume. He was a member of the good guy Avengers again when Norman Osborn led his assault against Thor and Asgard. During the fight, Walker got his arm and legged ripped off. Most people would retire when that happened.

But not John Walker! He just went ahead and got a robotic arm and leg and became the warden of a super-villain prison!

That's just a flesh wound!

Honorable mentions: There are a ton of random American superheroes. I chose some of the main ones from Marvel and DC comics, and that’s not a full list. There’s still Battlestar, Liberty Belle, Major Victory, S.T.R.I.P.E., American Dream, American Eagle; plus heroes from other comic companies like The Shield, Captain Flag, Yankee Girl, American Maid and many more!

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