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DCBS Shipment III

1. Angel: After the Fall #4 – The mind bending crazy ass ending to issue three shot this series directly to the stop of my stack, and there it will stay until the quality declines or they fail to live up to the giant story potential they have set up.

 

2. Mighty Avengers #9 – The Mighty Avengers vs. Doctor Doom. I mean, what else do you need? Probably some Skrully stuff somewhere in there too.

 

3. Umbrella Academy: Apocalypse Suite #6 – The finale to the first arc of the most surprisingly completely awesome book of the past year. I mean, this stuff is great. I really didn’t have a reason to think that the lead singer of My Chemical Romance could put out a quality book, but I’ve been proven wrong.

 

4. The Immortal Iron Fist: Orson Randall and the Green Fist of Death – A one shot based on a past story of the Golden Age Iron Fist. Everything about the work on Iron Fist has been outstanding, and this should be no different.

 

5. The Order #8 – Only three left. This seems to draw the Black Dahlias back into the equation, so hopefully there’s a nice conclusion to that arc before/in issue 10.

 

6. Captain America #35 – I love the way that this book just seems so much more real than the rest of the Marvel U books. If I want crazy ass superheroes, I can read the Avengers. But economic unrest? Political intrigue? Give me a huge dose of Cap, please.

 

7. Thor #6 – Nothing has been upsetting about this run so far. Plus, we’ve got female Loki! And more Asgardians to be discovered! I believe this is Coipel’s last issue, which is a shame, but I’ve enjoyed the hell out of this.

 

8. Cable & Deadpool #50 – The final issue! Deadpool! Dinosaurs with Venom Symbiotes! The Mighty Avengers! Breaking the fourth wall! More exclamation points!

 

9. Hulk #2 – The first issue was pretty good, but not blow away amazing. I still dig the whole idea of it, so I’m hoping we continue with a bit more of the awesomeness.

 

10. Incredible Hercules #114 – It’s a bit amazing how good this book still is despite the complete change to the main character. Hopefully people realize this, as I know a lot of folks dropped this after the changeover.

 

11.World War Hulk Aftersmash: Warbound #3 – The better of the two Aftersmash minis, this has been a lot of fun so far. I dig the Warbound as characters, so more of them is no bad thing.

 

12. World War Hulk Aftersmash: Damage Control #2 – I still don’t know what this mini is really designed to accomplish, but the first issue was fun enough.

 

13. Justice Society of America #13 – I don’t understand how I could have loved the first eight issues of this series so much and at the same time have it lose me so fast. I actively don’t care. Hell, I haven’t even read issue 12 yet. Thankfully, this is my last issue. Maybe I’ll actually read it at some point.

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VS System Tournament Report

This past Sunday was our Build a Legend Tournament for VS System at my local card show. It’s a standard Silver Age (i.e. last four sets for both Marvel and DC) constructed format, with the extra wrinkle of requiring at least twelve cards that name a specific character, whether in the name of the card or the text box. We ended up having our standard extremely small turnout for a non City Championships, originally with three people showing up. We had to draft one of the players’ mother as the fourth player. She didn’t have a deck on her, which led to me giving her the deck I was planning to play, a pretty straightforward Punisher deck that’s predicated on combat. I went to a backup deck, a Darkseid legend based around tons of substituting and Unravel Reality abuse. Beyond those two decks were Brian’s Joker legend using The Joke’s On You to bounce lower drop characters that also has some of the standard Injustice Gang handfill/burn and Los’ Outsiders/Teen Titans deck with a Tim Drake legend treatment. The four players meant three rounds with the best record taking the tournament.

 

 

Round 1: Los’ Tim Drake

I had no idea what to expect from Los’ deck. I knew he was playing Tim Drake, so I knew Titans would figure in to the build pretty heavily. When he dropped Katana on two and Kimiyo Hoshi <> Dr. Light on three, I discovered how much the deck was predicated on Outsiders, arguably more than Titans. However, He couldn’t get his Team-Up online, which pretty much completely gimped his strategy and made Dr. Light pretty much useless. He still was able to KO my five drop with Katana’s effect and a Follow the Leader. This annoyed me, so I used a substitute combination of Dark Martian, Dark Lantern, Dark Thanagarian and Samantha Parrington to get a little extra burn with Unravel Reality before Dark Kryptonian smacked him around for close to 30 with two swings. Win for me

1-0

  

Round 2: Brian’s Joker

This wasn’t really a match. The only character Brian managed to play was San on 2 to search out Injustice Gang Satellite. He missed on one and three and scooped after missing Joker on four.

2-0

  

Round 3: Los’ Mom’s Punisher (AKA My Punisher)

She kept a hand she wasn’t necessarily thrilled with, and ended up not playing anything until she dropped a Punisher, Guns Blazing on turn four with two Desert Eagles. A Lord of Apokolips and power up allowed me to one way Punisher on four with my Apokoliptian Oppressor. She ended up doing quite a bit to me on five with an Uni Power on Punisher rushing him into the hidden area and smacking around my Dark Firestorm. I lost nearly half my endurance on five thanks to Punisher and Vengeance, but came back with a big attack on Punisher turn six with Dark Kryptonian and a team attack on 6 drop Ghost Rider to put her in the negatives.

3-0

  

So I swept the tournament and walked out with four packs of DC Legends, the Flash T-Shirt, four Ring of the Sinestro Corps, four Parallax, as well as a couple of other promo cards as door prizes in the form of Reign of Apocolypse, Teen Supremes and Hush. Good day for me overall, and this should definitely help my Constructed rating, which will hopefully be another way to get an invite to Worlds.

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Marvel’s Status Quo (Spider-Man Related)

The big hot button issue in the comics world over the past couple months has been the One More Day/Brand New Day saga in the Amazing Spider-Man book, mainly based around a potentially serious and far reaching retcon that hit Spidey’s past with the final issue of One More Day. It was a high profile book, and it was very, very late. It was also drawn by the Editor in Chief of Marvel, Joe Quesada. It was also practically written by Quesada, if you believe what the credited writer (J. Michael Straczynski) says. The entire thing revolved around Marvel editorial trying to find a way to break up Peter Parker and Mary Jane without having them get divorced, which would potentially lead to bad press from the media. The story of One More Day goes as follows. Back during Civil War, Spider-Man, as a member of the pro-registration band of heroes, was one of the first major superheroes to unmask. He did so publicly at a press conference. Shortly after this, an assassin with a sniper rifle attempts to kill Peter Parker, by tracking him while he visits Mary Jane and Aunt May at the motel they’re staying. He takes the shot and end up hitting Aunt May instead. He dons the black suit for a bit while attempting to live his life despite the fact that Aunt May is in a coma. He is later told that Aunt May (basically) has one day to live, and frantically searches for a cure. Tony Stark’s money, Mr. Fantastic’s science, Dr. Strange’s magic, and The High Evolutionary’s genetics are unable to garner a cure.  

It is at this point of the story, wherein Mephisto arrives on the scene to give Peter a chance to save Aunt May at the expense of losing his marriage, that a good portion of comic fans lost their shit. “Spider-Man wouldn’t make a deal with the devil!” they’d say. “Why would Spider-Man sacrifice his marriage to save an octogenarian woman who probably didn’t have a lot of time left on this world regardless of getting shot or not?” they’d question. But at the end of the day (bad pun), it happened. Peter Parker and Mary Jane Watson were never married. Peter unmasked, but no one remembers. Oh, and just for kicks, Harry Osborne is back from the dead with no memory of becoming the Green Goblin, though he still has hatred for Spider-Man. Peter’s back living with his perfectly healthy Aunt May in Brooklyn, and lost his organic web shooters. Thus, we have a new status quo for Spider-Man. There’s been a lot of back and forth on this issue. Most of the comic fans are quite upset, assuming that the changes have basically invalidated a good twenty years of comic stories. That’s one of those odd things about comic continuity. The issues are still there. It’s not like the powers that be went into your longboxes and burned all the pertinent Spider-Man issues. It’s perfectly possible to view these issues in a vacuum. You can still experience a story like Kraven’s Last Hunt with the knowledge that at the time it was written and published, Peter was married to Mary Jane.

Continuity is a funny thing, and the idea that this retcon completely invalidates everything that came before it is a little silly.  But here’s the part where Marvel and Quesada are geniuses. Now that Amazing Spider-Man is shipping three times a month, it’s an imperative that the sales stay strong. Marvel is basically trying to take two underselling Spidey titles (Friendly Neighborhood and Spectacular) and goose their sales up to (or at least close to) Amazing level by basically telling mini arcs over the three issues per month with a rotating crew of creative teams. But it’s not like Marvel pulled a Countdown and put a bunch of second string creators on their book to cash in on the good feelings of 52. They’re throwing the big guns at us. Dan Slott and Steve McNiven. Marc Guggenheim and Salvador Larroca. Bob Gale and Phil Jimenez. Zeb Wells and Chris Bachalo. Even if the writer isn’t the best, the artist is incredible. Plus, since you’re dealing with the freedom of a brand new pseudo universe for Spider-Man, the writers have a great chance to really bust things wide open.

Many, many writers have gone on record about their frustration of dealing with a married Spider-Man. The core of his personality from day one was the loser mentality. He was a guy that was having trouble at school, couldn’t get a girl to save his life and really needed to work hard to make ends meet. That’s not really something you can pull off considering that Peter Parker is married to a supermodel, has a successful job as a high school teacher, and is living in opulence at Stark Tower.  So why wouldn’t these stories be good? For good or ill, there is now more freedom and more toys to play with in the Spidey-verse than there has been for a very long time. And they have great writers and artists to back that up. Why should we have any doubt that these are just going to be some great stories? Why should we care that at the expense of these great stories, the great nebulous factor of “continuity” has been mussed up a bit? It all comes down to subjectivism. I don’t have the time or budget to truly afford a thrice monthly $3 book, so I’m not reading it. But I have a feeling that if I were, I’d probably be enjoying it mightily, mostly because I’m not going to let the worries of continuity get in the way of a good story.

There have been a lot of examples over the last year or so of things working out of sync without a precise timeline. The Post Civil War timeline with the events of Back in Black, World War Hulk, One More Day, and Secret Invasion aren’t exactly hammered out yet as pertains to which events comes before and after which other one. The most glaring example of this came out of DC, with Kyle Rayner showing up in Countdown looking absolutely normal, while issues of the Sinestro Corps War crossover coming out even after that with Kyle Rayner still affected by the Parallax entity. But at the end of the day, it’s all a bit pointless if the story is good. You can’t completely put them in a vacuum, but you can damn sure try.

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DCBS Shipment II

I’m going to be throwing in overall thoughts about the series’ this time, as well as the reasoning why each book fits into its place in the stack.

1. Captain Marvel #3 (Brian Reed/Lee Weeks) – This is apparently a super important issue for the beginnings of Secret Invasion, and is apparently touted as being as important as New Avengers #31 and New Avengers: Illuminati #5. Skrull reveals, here we come! I’m digging this series so far. Mar-Vell is my second favorite character in the Marvel universe, and I really like how Reed is playing his character in (sort of) knowing that he is fated to die in the past, thus creating the issue of temporal paradox if he is injured/killed/etc in the present before he returns to his own timeline. Good, good stuff.

2. Annihilation: Conquest #4 (Dan Abnett & Andy Lanning/Tom Raney) – To say I love cosmic comic stories is an understatement. Just about anything involving Galactus or Thanos or Ronan the Accuser is awesome. The cosmic aspect of the Dark Phoenix Saga was my favorite part of that story. So it’s safe to say I loved Annihilation, and thus love its sequel as well. The cast of characters is great. The Phalanx is super cool. Ultron being behind everything makes perfect sense. Plus we’ve got the return of Warlock to his proper form and new characters like Wraith and Moondragon’s current appearance. It’s all good stuff, and would easily be at the top if not for the Mar-Velly goodness.

3. New Avengers #38 (Brian Michael Bendis/Michael Gaydos) – I looooooved the end of the second New Avengers Annual. It was very well executed in showing the other side of how people have to deal with the pressures of fighting outside of registration. This will mostly deal with the fallout between Luke Cage and Jessica Jones that grows out of that last page of the annual. There’s always a chance for some Secret Invasion love as well. New Avengers as a series is just solid gold, and one of those essential titles that you need to read for a true appreciation of the Marvel Universe. It’s Marvel’s version of the JLA, and just as important.

4. The Twelve #2 (J. Michael Straczynski/Chris Weston) – Golden Age Marvel characters no one cared about being brought into the present and having to deal with things like registration and prevailing paranoia about the government that they never even would have thought about questioning. The last page of issue one was so good and so crazy that it makes you really want to keep going immediately. This type of purely episodic storytelling (or so I assume it’ll work out to be) is the perfect book to read month to month. I wouldn’t be surprised if it loses something in the trade by taking away those weeks to reflect and reread and think up crazy theories and such. Sure, it’s only been one issue, but it was a damned good one.

5. Nova Annual #1 (Dan Abnett/Wellington Alves Klebs Jr & Mahmud Asrar) – More cosmicy goodness from the guys who are writing Annihilation: Conquest. I like the way that Nova both is and isn’t tied in with Conquest, as he’s out on his own but still dealing with trying to find a way to save Kree space. It’s a very good series so far, and hopefully will be around for a long time as a backbone ongoing for the Marvel cosmic universe.

6. Punisher War Journal #16 (Matt Fraction/Howard Chaykin) – Chaykin starts on the book, which is awesome. Matt Fraction’s still writing it, which is awesomer. This is a new arc, and I’m assuming it might have something to do with GW Bridge’s creation of a female fighting force to take down Frank Castle. Everything about this has been good so far, and I don’t see why it would stop now.

7. Buffy the Vampire Slayer #11 (Joss Whedon/Georges Jeanty) – A quick one shot before the Drew Goddard arc begins next month. This one looks to focus on Buffy, which we haven’t gotten much of during the Faith arc (which was awesome, thanks to Brian K Vaughn). Should be a nice change of pace. Both Buffy and Angel have been excellent so far (aside from the craptacular first issue of Angel, which has gotten SO much better), and it’s so nice to see these stories continuing.

8. Booster Gold #0 (Geoff Johns & Jeff Katz/Dan Jurgens) – The silliness of the numbering of this issue comes from it being an official Zero Hour crossover, of all things. Booster goes back in time attempting to get home and runs right into Hal Jordan during his Parallax phase. I’m still ambivalent about this series. I really don’t like some of the choices they’ve made, but at the same time, the writing is fun and good. If the writing tails off, this thing’s getting dropped. It’s on the cusp.

9. Fantastic Four #554 (Mark Millar/Brian Hitch) – I’m jumping on because of the new team. I have no idea what to expect, and have never really read the FF in any full capacity. This should be interesting.

10. Green Lantern Corps #21 (Sterling Gates/Nelson) – I’m behind on the Lantern books post Sinestro Corps War, and part of me wants to drop them, but another part of me wants to keep up with them in anticipation for the big Color War crossover in 2009. I’ll catch up on them soon enough.

11. Justice Society of America #12 (Geoff Johns & Alex Ross/Dale Eaglesham & Ruy Jose) – I’ve already dropped JSA for the rest of this arc, but the wonder of preordering comics means I’ve still got two coming. I don’t care about Kingdom Come Superman. I didn’t see the big deal about Kingdom Come at all. It was good, but I didn’t even come close to enjoying it as much as everyone else seems to. Thus, an entire (very long) arc about Kingdom Come isn’t going to interest me. I’ll keep my eye on the solicits to see what the next arc is going to be, and maybe pick it up again. But maybe not.

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Random Goings on

I bought an X-Box 360 specifically for Rock Band. Hell, I had Rock Band reserved at my local GameStop prior to actually owning a 360. I’ve been very happy with the console overall, having had (I love crazy grammar tenses) the chance to enjoy such awesome gaming experiences as BioShock, Gears of War, Portal via The Orange Box, and Call of Duty 4. It’s all been wonderful, even with my undeniable Rock Band frustrations. Sure, my guitar broke within four days of cracking open the thing, and sure, it took close to three months to get my replacement, which promptly started to stop registering down strums after about an hour of play. And sure, I had one bass pedal snap. But there have been a lot of good things. For one, once I finally called EA to complain about my guitar, I got the replacement within three business days. I also got my replacement bass pedal very quickly. That doesn’t change the fact that there is something fundamentally wrong with the design of the guitar, and it would seem from most of the message boards online (and this could very easily be a case of the vocal minority reigning supreme), that a working guitar is a rarity. It is not, of course, an impossibility. My brother’s guitar’s been working fine since he got it out of the box. Of course, he got the inferior drum set model, so I guess one can’t be perfect.

So would I recommend others buy Rock Band now that it seems to be easy to find in various stores? Probably. It depends on what you’re looking to get out of it. If you have a Guitar Hero 3 guitar, you won’t be completely out of luck if (when) your guitar breaks. If you’re mainly looking to enjoy the drums, you’d better hope you have the QM model and a couple crew socks and rubber bands handy. If you’re looking for the whole package, it could cause some headaches, but if you can get everything working, it’s an undeniably singular experience. We had a good day of four people rocking out for a good six hours, and it was heavenly. And I’ve had a hell of a lot of fun playing solo drums and regaining my chops from High School. And I’m pretty sure that I’m now better at set drumming than I’ve ever been in my life. I’ve beaten every song I can get my hands on save one (fuck you, Blackened), and have managed to Gold Star at least one song in every tier on career mode, thanks to recently adding Flirting With Disaster to my mantle to check tier 9 off my list. It feels good. That’s a bit silly, of course, but it’s still apt. I won’t deny that they’ve got me hooked, as I wait for every Tuesday with baited breath for Downloadable Content that’ll give me a nice challenge. But not the challenge of Blackened, of course. Fuck Blackened.

Quick audio/video update. I’m probably going to get an upconverting DVD player soon, as the noticeable drop of quality when flipping between my 360 pumping out 1080p and a DVD at 480p. I’ve been really looking forward to watching The Fountain in super high quality, but I refuse to do so until everything’s set up nice and purty. This should happen soon.

I’ve had multiple friends approach me about starting a podcast. This is something I would really consider doing if I didn’t have to worry about doing any of the editing or posting to sites/RSS feeds. I’m interested enough to get together with some people and talk about the things I love, but not enough to actually do any work and make it presentable. What a shame.

I’ll be writing an update about my thoughts concerning the VS System mega weekend from Southern California this past weekend soon enough. Some surprises. Some not surprises. All in all, with over 100 people showing up for the first major event since last August, it shows some progress for our little game that could.

Quick comics update. I’m halfway done the Spider-Man edition of Marvel’s status quo, and that’ll be done as soon as I get back my sign on at work after being accidentally “fired” from the system despite still being gainfully employed. Ah, the life of a temp. DCBS box will be arriving on Friday, and it looks to be a very good shipment, so expect a breakdown later in the week.

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