Wednesday, May 29, 2013

A Comic Book Day Post? (5-29-13)

Comic book day roundup?

Earth 2 Annual #1

Like Robinson's Earth 2, not sure I'll follow it when he leaves.  This is no exception, BUT . . . DC . . . a comic that continues the same storyline from the monthly and ends on a cliffhanger isn't an annual, it's an excuse to charge me an extra dollar.

Justice League of America #4

I don't think what appeared to happen happened.  Interesting so far, but seriously, I bought the digital copy of this only seeing the thumbnail cover, and I may have passed on it had I seen the actual full sized book.

Avenging Spider-Man #21

I like Yost.  Yost gets to do the fun stuff while Slott has to spend nine issues treading water before he really gets to tell his story.

Gambit #13

This series, like Hawkeye, is fun.  It's so fun I almost didn't shed a tear when I saw that they forced Rhodey into his stupid movie armor.

Indestructible Hulk #8

I thought this book had gotten a little slow, but this one picked up, was a fun read, and started getting more into Banner's new philosophy and why he's doing what he's doing.

Savage Wolverine #5

This series has been kind of over the top fun, but resolving it's initial plot shows how thin a premise this book has.  Wolvie doing fun stuff with guest stars is good.  Trying to shoehorn a larger storyline is not so good.

Venom #35

Eddie Brock has a symbiont again!  I don't know why, but that balances some of the disturbances in the Spider books at the moment.

Wolverine and the X-Men #30

I don't know why, but I just like this book.  I am rarely disappointed in it.  It's not great, but it's solid.

X-Men #1

I've been digging Brian Wood's Star Wars comic, so I picked this on up.  Interesting starting premise and it's enough to get me to come back for #2.

Side Note

If someone had told me a couple years ago that I'd be reading more X-books than I had since the 90s and that one of my favorites would be a Brian Micheal Bendis book, I would have sworn they came from an alternate reality, where words mean different things.

Secondary Side Note

Wow, that was a lot of Hulk this week.  

DCC Again! Our 2nd DCC adventure in the new campaign. (May 16th, 2013)

We started the second session of the new DCC campaign with a training montage.  The group had been picked up as apprentices to an established group of adventurers, so we played through a series of vignettes showing what kinds of things apprentice adventures would learn from their masters.

The group ran from dire squirrels while overloaded with their master's gear while exploring the Halls of the Dreaming Wolf. They learned that dungeons tend to collapse once the final bit of magical treasure or boss monster is defeated, and dodged rubble on the way out of the Cairn of Cursed Corpses.  They attempted to not be destroyed by magical soundwaves when they got separated from their masters in the Room of Reflective doom, as hundreds of magical drums bounced their own words back at them.  They tried to concentrate on reciting a prayer in the depths of the Lost Temple of the Wailing God.

Finally, after months of adventuring, the party was given another task, that of heading out with various amounts of coins to pay off bills and taxes that the adventuring company had incurred over the past year.  The group ended up running from various creditors, and multiple members of the group decided that their apprenticeship was over and that they would just take the purses they were given and strike out on their own.

And a good thing they did, as when Eleanor, the former prostitute and current thief, decided to be semi-loyal and check in on their masters, she found out that the adventurer's mansion had been burned down, there were no known survivors, and the tax collectors had claimed anything that might have survived the fire.

Now free but without a home, the adventurers almost to a man decided to try out the carousing rules using the purses that they made off with from their masters.

The next day a rich elderly merchant in the city sent out a messenger to find the adventurers, and managed to find Eleanor, who tended to be the most accessible of the young adventuring party.  The group gathered to hear the merchant's pitch, a job that would take them to the Lost Graveyard, into a sepulcher that also happened to be the resting place for multiple items that allowed their user to cheat death.

The merchant was only interested in one, a chalice that would make him young and healthy for eternity.  After some threats and some negotiation, the party had their price, got some of their pay up front, and some of them went carousing again  (apparently that year of acting as apprentices caused some pent up frustrations to occur).

Zardock  (a wizard), Marcus  (a cleric), Eleanor  (a thief), Osborn  (a halfling), Chip  (another wizard), and Groot  (a ranger) all set out for adventure.  Before they left the city, they adopted a poor waif named Timmy as their very own apprentice  (one of the players forgot his character from the funnel, and snagged a new 0 level character for the night).

The trip to the Lost Graveyard was less exciting that a Judge might have hoped, but the actual Siege of the Graveyard made up for any lack of excitement.  Rather than try for any degree of subtlety, the group charged headlong at the Death Guard, priests of Death that tended the Lost Graveyard, announcing their arrival.

Soon Timmy visited their deity personally.

The Death Guard consisted of a Captain and four guards.  At the end of the fight, the Death Guard consisted of a Captain and three guards.

Thankfully, the gods were smiling on the battered, almost dead adventurers, and they had all very cleverly fallen into an unconscious state that was so convincingly death-like that the Death Guard carried their bodies to the staging area of the central sepulcher  (everybody was really lucky with their "recovering the body" rolls).

Inside the sepulcher the party began to awaken and found Raoul Something-Something De La Tormenta, an executioner that worked for the Church of Death, but had committed some sins that required his atonement, thus leading to his current posting  (Raoul replaced Timmy, and for the life of me I cannot remember nor read my notes regarding the Something-Something part of Raoul's name, but believe me, every time his name was pronounced by Raoul, it was impressive).

Raoul may not be this cool, but his name is.

Raoul decided that the adventuring life might be for him, but the party couldn't find any greater part of the sepulcher that led to hidden chambers rife with death cheating magic.  Then they tried the key that the old merchant had given them, and the doors at the back of the room, instead of opening into a small, empty, stone room, now opened into an extra-dimensional space wherein lay a larger dungeon complex.

Upon seeing a pile of neatly stacked and polished bones, the adventurers managed to exhibit the same wit and caution that had gotten them this far in their careers, and the mass of bones formed into a swarm of swirling, lacerating bone fragments.  The party battered the whirlwind of sharp calcium into submission, and began to contemplate where to go next, whereupon we ended the session.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

DCC Campaign Reboot--The Funneling! (May 2nd, 2013)

It's been a few weeks, but I'll update how the Dungeon Crawl Classics campaign started out with our brand new funnel. This particular funnel was one that I created top to bottom, which was fun for me, but I did have a bit of an experiment in creating the funnel.

The core concept of this new campaign is to really go Appendix N.  There are elves and dwarves in the setting, and other sentient creatures, but they tend to live "over there," not unlike the Newhon books, where Fafhrd and Mouser might run into ice gnomes far away in the mountains, or ghouls, or what have you, but they didn't run around in the cities and weren't common sights.

Crawl! at RPG Now

So everyone is human or halfling.  I expanded the classes to include the Bard, Ranger, and Paladin classes from Crawl Magazine #6, just to give us a bit more diversity.  None of that really comes into play at this point in the game, however.

The funnel began with the PCs all being captives of a demonic cult that had taken up residence in a long abandoned fortress near the seaside town, and began sacrificing the townsfolk in order to give 1300 souls to a demon lord in order for him to fully manifest in the material plane.

A great elven hero, exiled from the decadent elven empire to the east, carrying the sword called the Voice of Heaven, which gives him missions from the gods, arrived to face the demon lord.  The first order of business was to show up in the fortress, count the number of captives, and kill so many townsfolk that the sacrifices couldn't complete the ritual to fully bring the demon lord into this plane.

After the elf had banished the still weakened demon lord, he opened the locked doors for the remaining townsfolk  (the PCs) and teleported away, telling them to be careful navigating the fortress to escape, and causing several of the players to rightly deduce that elves are jerks in this world.

The experiment that I tried to conduct was to use monsters from Critters, Creatures, and Denizens book for DCC  (3rd party publisher).  I liked a lot of the monster concepts, but upon actually looking at some of the numbers, I have no idea what to do with some of these monsters.  There are a lot of interesting and imaginative creatures in the book, but there are also a lot of monsters that would be impossible for low level parties to hit while posing almost no threat to high level parties, for example.

In a few places, I took inspiration from the book and then tweaked the stats until they "felt right" to me, which is nice, because it's not that hard to do in DCC.

The party immediately split up, which is always a good sign.  Most of the group headed into a maze which functioned as a habitat for the demon lord's pet demon monkeys, while another group decided to try and take the stairs up, and found a box with a genuine magic item that granted luck . . . which was ironic, because it took them so long to uncover the box with the magic item in it that they attracted a pack of ghouls.

The first group of adventurers got a little lost in the maze, and the second group, after losing a member or two, caught up with the group, and brought the pack of ghouls right down on the party.  One of the PCs  (Groot, who was raised by trees), tripped one of the party members that brought the ghouls to them to slow the ghouls down with fresh meat.

Eventually the group divided and conquered the ghouls, after the ghouls had a few snacks.

Before they escaped the habitat maze, the PCs ran into some of the demon monkey chow, which caused stamina damage, and then ran into the demon monkeys.  I'll admit, I didn't quite tweak these guys enough, because they never really got a hit in and yet it took too long for the PCs to finish them off.  Live and learn.

One of the 0 level characters that I handed out was the most insanely over powered randomly rolled monstrosity I've ever seen in DCC.  Between his strength and his lucky roll, he was +5 on damage rolls, and had almost no below average stats.

Thus it was when the Guardian of the Gate, a mist like demon that possessed corpses to gain a physical form, challenged the party, one of the party members convinced the amazingly lucky and unfairly gifted character that his role in life was to be a champion, and once that character challenged the demon to a one on one fight, everybody else broke for the door, except for the people that went for the smaller hidden door that might have treasure in it.

Our poor doomed champion managed to take a hand off the demon before he died, and then a few cheap shots by the rest of the PCs killed the Guardian of the Gate, or at least his current body.  The PCs that went to loot the hidden door had to run by the newly animated "champion" that had just fallen, the new vessel of the Guardian of the Gate, but running like Hell prevailed, and everyone moved on.

At the next juncture of the fortress, the PCs found more survivors, and if they rescued the other survivors, they had the option of using the rescued village folk as human shields of things went bad.  If they didn't use them as human shields, they would gain an extra point of luck for proving that they were the stuff of heroes.

Eventually the group navigated the difficult terrain with no fatalities.

The final challenge before exiting the fortress was a young wyvern, a creature thought almost extinct in this area, and several PCs stole bits of treasure from it and ran out of the fortress, enraging the beast and making sure it was hostile for the rest.  The wyvern took out a few more PCs, but eventually it was decapitated on one fell swoop by on of the PCs.

Outside of the fortress, the group found out that many of their townsfolk were turned to zombies, and they had to wade through the walking dead to reach the boats that would take them safely away from the damned town.  After a few more fatalities, the remaining PCs as well as the surviving townsfolk made it to the boats.

I gave the PCs the option to retire a PC to gain a point of Luck, to thin out the individual player herds.  One of the retiring PCs was a minstrel that managed to roll a natural 20 on their check to compose a ballad about their escape from the fortress, which played up slaying demons and a dragon  (not a very young near dragon . . . details that aren't that important for ballads), and the song made the remaining adventurers famous enough to apprentice themselves to a group of famous adventurers to begin their careers in earnest.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

A Confession About Priest (Only War)

So, I haven't posted about Priest or his band of brothers recently.

This thing happened.

It was kind of my fault.

Also, keeping a journal may not only doom your character, but the whole group.

See, when you run across a group of injured stormtroopers, whose transport was shot down by strange, bear like creatures with wings that can fire energy beams out of their eyes, you might think a medic would be in his element.

If said medic could stabilize said stormtroopers, said medic would look awesome.  Unless he's a penal legion medic.  In which case he doesn't so much look awesome if he saves them, but looks guilty if he doesn't save them.

So let's theorize that someone was really not saved by a medicae test  (00).  Now, let's assume someone else was not saved as well, but said person was dying slowly, and had no chance to live, they just weren't dead yet.

Now let's say you save the other two stormtroopers in the crash.

Then you decide that it might be better to invent a reason why the first two were beyond anyone's help than to let said slowly dying person come up with any potential recriminations relating to your medical talent.  In that case, it might be better if said medic just made the slowly dying person die slightly faster.

Heck, it's even more merciful that way.

Until someone else in your own group sees you doing this, and freaks out, and it draws the attention of the stabilized stormtroopers, who are within arm's reach of their weapons, because you were too dumb to not leave their weapons near them . . . just in case.

"You there, quit killing people with that medkit!"

Now let's say your band of brothers, being shot at by badly wounded stormtroopers, manages to pull together and kill said threat, joyously realizing that four guardsmen and their comrades can take on two badly wounded stormtroopers and win.

Would you then assume that perhaps, just perhaps, the dying stormtrooper that you just tried to mercy kill might be upset?

That would be a good assumption.

Would you assume that said stormtrooper really shouldn't have had a grenade within his grasp when he already knows he's dying and you just killed his allies?  That's a good thought to keep in mind.

The death spiral of critical damage kicked in, and everything explosive everywhere in the scene went off, and the only thing that could claim a victory that day was the flying laser bears.  And the GM, because he got to use them first.

I have a new guardsman now.  She shoots krak missiles at things.  Nothing will go wrong.

Revisiting the Past: Geek Genres as Language

I've had a few discussion about Iron Man 3 lately, and it occurs to me that what I've been missing, what I haven't quite put my finger on when it comes to what bothered me about the film, is something that goes back to an older post I made in this blog.

It's All Geek to Me: Geek Culture as a Language

My wife is geeky, but she is never going to read comics or download them onto her tablet.  She doesn't mind the concepts, but to actually sit down and read sequential artistic storytelling just isn't her thing.  But she gets the ideas behind a lot of that storytelling.

So when we share something that should serve as a means of allowing us to share more of our "geek" language with each other, when a concept is not just less defined or has different details, but is defined as something else entirely, it intrudes upon something that I would rather we be able to share, on some level.

To use another translated property, if I have read that Magneto was a grown man during World War II that was already married, and my wife has seen in a movie that he was a child during WWII, both of us at least understand that being a Holocaust survivor plays a big part in what shapes the character and gives him depths.

If some other media comes along and says that Magneto is an alien robot pretending to be a mutant that is harvesting mutant brains for his alien masters . . . suddenly there is no commonality between what I know and what someone has seen in this new media expression.

Grant Morrison talks about IM3 in this link:

Grant Morrison on Iron Man 3 Twist

I understand what he's saying about the next generation retelling stories, but I think Grant would agree that those stories usually have the same base elements.  If they don't, then they aren't retelling the old stories, they are telling new stories inspired by elements of the old stories, and to use the same names is to create a confusing frame of reference.

But he hits upon another reason to have a commonality of "language" in different movies.  I think that if someone were to be inclined to check out a concept's "native" media, those new readers are probably more likely to stay and settle in for more stories if the elements they have been exposed to are actually similar to what they have already seen.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Sometimes I Really Don't Like Me

I don't talk about personal things on my blog much.  Well, not personal stuff that doesn't revolve around various and sundry geeky pursuits.  Work, family, politics, religion, that sort of thing.  It's just not what this blog is suppose to be about.

However, here is the intersection between geeky pursuits and personal matters.  Sometimes, when I get really wound up about something personal, something that really upsets me and makes me want to retreat from the real world, I do so.  And I get so entrenched in geekiness that I become insufferable.

I got into such an animated discussion of Iron Man 3 tonight that I pretty much loudly spoiled the movie for people nearby that hadn't seen it.  I jumped on topics and rode them into the ground like a pedantic boor.  I got defensive about being a geek and having geeky pursuits, when I know damn well that is what I am.

I was loud and obnoxious and not particularly sensitive to the people around me.  I was "that guy" because I was agitated about real world things, and wanted desperately not to think about the real world, so suddenly everything geeky seemed so much more important that what it should have been.

Anybody that knows me, that happens to read this blog . . . I'm sorry you have to deal with me, and I'm sorry I'm not better at regulating my personality.  I'm sorry that I get too lound, and too defensive, and just so over the top.  I'm not happy with myself when this happens, and I wish I could just . . . fix me sometimes.

I love my hobbies, and I have met wonderful friends through those hobbies.  I have met great, quality people that I enjoy spending time with, and I don't want them to ever regret spending time with me.

I'm going to go retreat in a hole for a while until the real world blows over.  Hopefully when I poke my head out again I can just be a little annoying and geeky, and not boorishly, loudly self absorbed.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

All Juiced Up--Some Marvel Heroic Musings

Because I was thinking about Civil War, and that led me to thinking about throwing in some scenes with Mutant Growth Hormone enhanced bad guys.  Once I started thinking about that, I started thinking about throwing together a power set related to it, and finally, that got me to thinking about what would happen if a protagonist ended up with said powerset, which leads to milestones.

So let's get to it.


Mutant Growth Hormone Enhancement

d8 Enhancement

SFX  Adrenaline Surge  Step up or double a Mutant Growth Hormone Enhancement trait for an action.  If your action fails, shut down Mutant Growth Hormone Enhancement.  Reactivate by participating in a transition scene.

Limit  Burnout  Convert your Mutant Growth Hormone Enhancement trait into a complication to gain 1 pp  (or add a d6 to the Doom Pool, for Watcher characters)

And for those heroes that want to juice up . . .

I'm Not Using

1 XP  When you succeed in an action with a die pool that includes a die from the Mutant Growth Hormone Enhancement, and you feel compelled to come up with an excuse to explain your success that misdirects your allies from your enhancement.

3 XP  When you do something that causes your allies to wonder about how you have managed to enhance your abilities.

10 XP  When your allies confront you over your use of Mutant Growth Hormone, and you either cut yourself off from all of them so you can continue your use of MGH, or you swear off of using MGH forever and get rid of the Mutant Growth Hormone Enhancement powerset.

And as a side note, for anyone that might be running a game utilizing the Distinguished Competition's characters, this same powerset works pretty well for a certain venomous compound that has shown up in those stories, and a least one parentally challenged avenger of the night could have qualified for the milestones related to the powerset as well.

Iron Man 3 and Me--Spoilers Ho!

I'm gonna spoil stuff, so if you haven't seen Iron Man 3 yet and wish to be surprised or to have an unbiased, unadulterated view of the film without my words influencing you  (as if they should), get ye away from the blog now.

Are you gone?

Okay, it's safe to talk to myself then.

Going into this I was pretty sure I wasn't too happy with two things I detected in interviews with Shane Black.  The first was a kind of old school 80s and 90s disdain for trying to seriously adapt comics to the big screen, because clearly that can't be done well.  The second thing that kept surfacing was a sort of not all that well hidden Christopher Nolan envy when discussing how the movie was going to play out.

Before I delve back into Iron Man, can I point out something about Nolan's Batman movies?  Batman has been around twice as long as Iron Man, has had old movie serials, a television series, a ton of cartoons, and a previous set of movies dedicated to him, before Nolan came along.  Nolan's grounded, realistic, artistic interpretation worked on Batman because almost everyone that watched them, except the very young, have already seen multiple interpretations of Batman even outside of the comic page.

We have seen, in live action, goofy Comics Code friendly Batman, gritty 80s style Batman, and more super heroic Batman.  Ultra real with conceptual changes to key characters to fit a stylized character arc in a kind of storytelling experiment is fine at this point, because Nolan isn't likely to be the only measure of who Batman is to anyone that watches the movies.

While Iron Man has had a few animated appearances, none of them have been the high profile animated watermarks that Batman has had.  Before the first Iron Man movie, most people that weren't comic book geeks did not know who Tony Stark was.  So unlike Nolan's Batman movies, the Iron Man movies are actually actively defining who the character is for the first time to a lot of people.

In general, if I can decouple my comic book geek region of the brain, which is hard for me, I'll admit, it wasn't a bad movie, but I'll be darned if I could say it was better than Iron Man 2, let alone Iron Man or the Avengers.

As a comic book geek, I've rarely seen so many concepts and characters with so much potential be named dropped or flashed on the screen and then be subsequently annihilated before they could have any significance.  It's like Shane Black figured that we geeks should be happy to recognize something or someone, about 30 seconds before they get blown up and we are essentially told that we will never, ever see them do anything significant.

It's one thing to do this back in the old days of 80s or 90s comic book movies, because the franchise exists within its own little world.  However, gone are the days where Iron Man is the world's only superhero, and we know that there will never be enough movies to pick up on those exploded potential plot threads that just got erased.

What am I talking about?

1.  AIM is Killian's think tank, but unlike Hydra, the organization itself is just kind of a name they give to Killian's interests.  While it's not impossible for it to show up again, there doesn't seem to be much reason for it to have survived Killian's melt down.  There isn't even an implication that the "think tank" has any other thinkers beyond Killian and Maya Hansen, just nameless thugs using mundane weapons, or named cyborgs and AIM agents from the comics who are rarely actually named, which brings us to:

2.  Lots of cyborgs and AIM agents are kind of name dropped, at least if you look at the credits, but none of them will ever amount to anything, because pretty much everything Killian touched went boom.  Not that there was a ton of potential, but if the guys are going to be faceless grunts, why bother to attach names that imply a connection to the greater Marvel universe?

3.  Lots of armors from across Iron Man's illustrious history show up in movie form here, but they get about as much screen time as the various Transformers that get summarily executed in Micheal Bay films.  Most of these armors have neat specialized features, which is why Tony built them, but you never get to see them, and you never will, because Tony decides to impress his girlfriend by blowing up every single one of them.

4.  Sigh.  The Mandarin.  I could have almost dealt with him being some indistinct nationality terrorist mastermind instead of a criminal genius armed with alien artifacts, although I think the right person could have made the alien artifact wielding Mandarin work just fine.  But to have the Mandarin not even exist.  To have him be a fictitious creation of Killian's.  Worse, to have him be a fictitious creation that appears to be been created initially to cover up Killian's lab accidents . . . and then to have Tony and Rhodey talk about how pathetic the guy is . . . I can't even wrap my brain around how horrible a waste this is.  It would be like have a Batman movie where someone died on the operating table while getting plastic surgery, and their corpse looked like Joan Rivers, so the plastic surgeon makes up the Joker to cover up his incompetence.

But, let's assume for a minute that we comic book geeks should forget about the first Iron Man movie, Captain America, Thor, and the Avengers, which all pretty much showed that you can reasonably translate concepts straight from the comics to the silver screen without having to suck all of the fun and fantasy from the original stories.  How was this movie as a movie?

Again, I can't get over the feeling that Shane wants people to say how great the movie is, "even though" it's a comic book movie, and to get similar accolades to those that Nolan receives.  And it does't work.  But if there is a ton of comedy in the movie, how can it be aping Nolan's franchise?

1.  Tony spends most of the movie out of the armor, exploring who he is and how broken he is after the events of the last movie he appeared in.

2.  Tony does some very Batman like detective work to start investigating the Mandarin that really feels off for how Tony normally operates, and goes all stealthy infiltration (sans armor) several times.

3.  The Mandarin's weird accent and platitudes seem like his concept for this film was, "what if the Mandarin was made up as a front, and that front was actually Bane, but we call him the Mandarin."

4.  People get blown out of a plane, and we get an extended scene showing aerial acts for those that survive the exploding plane.

5.  In the end, Tony just stops short of saying that he could leave this all behind and live happily ever after with Pepper.  I was waiting to seem them at some outdoor bistro.

Okay, okay, but what about if you assume that comic book geeks have unrealistic standards and that all of that stuff, despite all of Black's interviews comparing the movie to Nolan's movies, is just coincidence.  How is the move then?

Plot holes.  Armor plot holes.

1.  Tony apparently has anxiety attacks over what happened in New York, but they kind of hit him randomly while he's joking and being sarcastic, and as is pointed out a few times, often when nobody said anything about New York and Tony has plenty of other stuff that he was doing--right now!

2.  Through most of the movie, AIM is just Killian's think tank, but suddenly at a critical point, we learn that AIM helped redesign Rhodey's armor.  Does Tony tell Rhodey to ditch the armor because they might be able to control it?  Um . . . no.  Somehow Tony uses Rhodey's log on to access Killian's YouTube videos where he documents all of his criminal failings, then everyone forgets that the last nefarious arms manufacturer that tinkered with Rhodey's armor managed to take the armor over.

Even when the current nefarious arms manufacturer takes the armor over, nobody even makes a reference to the fact that they probably should have seen this coming since it just happened in the last movie.

3.  Despite the fact that SHIELD was all over the first two movies, not a single SHIELD agent shows up in this film, and despite the fact that the Mandarin is apparently a really big threat, SHIELD has other things to do then to stop a multi-national terrorist that has blown up thousands of people and is threatening the President of the United States.

Which I guess makes as much sense as does the fact that the only person that appears to be officially looking into the Mandarin is Rhodey, who is just flying from place to place based on random "have you seen a weird terrorist" tips.

4.  At one point, it looks like Killian wants to stabilize the Extremis virus so that it doesn't kill a percentage of the people that get it, and that people that use it too much don't go boom.  To do this, he seems to need Tony, who drunkenly half solved the problem years ago.  Except that we have no indication that Killian knows enough about it to reproduce it without Hansen, he kills Hansen, and then gets ready to kill Tony, who is the guy who is suppose to stabilize it.

So if he doesn't care about stabilizing it, why did he need to worry about Tony at all?  There is something about having the vice president on the payroll after the president is dead, because the vice president's daughter is missing a leg, so Killian is probably promising to return her leg as payment for having the vice president in his pocket  (although, without a stable Extremis virus, he could just blow up the VP's daughter).  But why does he need him in his pocket?  He says something about controlling both sides of the equation, and if AIM actually seemed to have military products that they could sell, I get being able to set up terrorist attacks and then sell to the government to stop them.

But the only things we see AIM do is repaint Rhodey's armor and make an unstable virus, which I assume they won't be selling to the government, because if 25% of your people explode, someone may catch on that the product is faulty.  So I guess Killian was really banking on those contracts to repaint anti-terrorist units.

5.  Towards the end of the movie, Tony initiates the "House Party" protocol, which lets him do with all of his suits of armor what he does with the Mark 42 armor at the beginning of the movie, which is to control them remotely and to get them to fly to him and assemble around him based on his mental commands.

This happens after a crew excavates Tony's lab when the house has been blown up and collapses.  Tony hasn't been home to do anything to the armor, nor has the armor been accessible, because JARVIS makes a point of telling Tony the exact moment when they actually can get to the armor again.

In the beginning of the movie, we are to assume that Tony is using the glitchy and unreliable Mark 42 armor because it's the only armor he's outfitted with the "remote control" functions that he built.  However, that's not true, because now he can do it with all of his armor.

But wait . . . if he can do it with all of his armor, why did he call his glitchy and unreliable armor during the attack on his house.  He used the unreliable armor that hinders him and almost gets Pepper and Maya killed in the process, and it makes sense if that was the only armor he could use in this manner, but if he can do it with any of his armor, why keep using the POS Mark 42 armor?

6.  Apparently hitting Tony really hard pops him out of his armor.  It happens multiple times in this movie.  Any relatively solid blow pops a suit of armor right off of him.  It actually gets really annoying and frustrating to see it happen over and over again, seemingly just so that Tony is exposed to mortal danger or can't save someone in time.

If this is a the down side to his modular remote control modifications, fine, but then, why even get into any armor when he seems to be able to control them remotely just as well as if he were actually in the armor?

7.  Killian makes some big speech about "I am the Mandarin" just before he gets the final boot, which I guess was suppose to be some way of salvaging the fact that the movie dismissed and dismantled Tony's arch enemy and turned him into a joke, but that statement had no meaning.

Killian was a sleazy arms manufacturer that was apparently going to have the president buy weapons from him as he staged fake terrorist attacks.  That's not so much master villain as sleazy business guy.

8.  Pepper tells Tony earlier in the movie that his armor and his hobby of making more armor is getting between them.  Then at the end Pepper essentially tells Tony that she gets it, and now that everything is over, if he can cure her of the Extremis, they can be happy.  So Tony decides that, even after his girlfriend just said she gets him being Iron Man, decides, just for fun, to blow up all of his armor.

9.  The scene after the credits is funny, as Tony apparently has been narrating the whole movie because he's relating the story of what happened to Banner.  This is a nod to the fact that Banner drove off with Tony at the end of the Avengers to go do science with him.  Its a funny scene, until it sinks in . . . what the Hell was Banner doing during all of this?  Sure, we can assume that Cap and Thor aren't involved because their sequels are probably concurrent to this movie, but we just saw Banner, right there, still hanging out with Tony.

10.  This one kind of runs through the whole movie, but there is tons of slapstick going on in this movie.  Not the funny, contextual stuff, like Tony learning how to use the armor in the first movie, but constant, over the top silly moments, like popping out of the armor multiple times, unmanned armor running into walls and barricades, Tony getting hit with a high speed codpiece.  A little is good. A lot makes it look like the degree of control Tony had in Iron Man 2 and the Avengers was some amazing fluke.

Heck, maybe Scarlet Witch made her debut in this movie, just out of site, playing tons of practical jokes on Tony.

11.  At one point I had heard that the Mandarin was going to be behind everything that had happened to Tony up to this point.  The terrorists in Afghanistan, the thugs that helped Hammer break Vanko out of prison . . . all of it.  There is no mention of that in this movie.

Which would be fine, but for one small detail.  The terrorist organization that had Tony in the first movie was the Ten Rings.  The Mandarin uses their symbol in this movie.  It's clear that at some point in time, there was suppose to be a connection, but it doesn't happen in this movie.  Either Killian had something to do with Tony's kidnapping in the first movie, which seems unlikely, or Killian picked up on existing terrorists to glom onto, which might almost give you hope that there is a real Mandarin, except that they hammer it into your skull that Killian made the guy up completely.

I don't know where Iron Man goes from here, but I'll be happy if Thor doesn't learn that Loki is just a mental patient that his dad hired to play along with his schizophrenic delusions of godhood, and that the Avengers wasn't a dream sequence that Cap had as he was about to freeze to death when he wrecked the Red Skull's plane.