Comics Round Up: Make Mine Marvel! (8/27)

(Editor’s Note:  Initially, we were going to include issue 9 of Secret Empire in this review, but since the final issue is releasing this week, I decided to do one article dedicated completely to that.  Look for that one Friday or Saturday.)

Edge of Venomverse

The Good:  I already covered #2 and #4 in my last review.  Honestly, though, they remain the only good thing about this series with #1 as an uneven honorable mention depending on your opinion of X-23.

The Bad:  I was worried about this issue.  The uneven pacing of the series saw a pattern of meh, decent, ugh, good bordering on great, and then finished with meh again.  While not as bad as #3 (honestly the worst comic I’ve read in a long time), I just don’t like the traditional character of Deadpool.

The Ugly:  Maybe my mistake, but I read this book while eating breakfast.  The graphic depiction of parasitic monsters being surgically implanted into people and then cut to pieces, smashed to bits, and squished almost made me physically sick.  Even thinking about it now is making me a bit ill.  Perhaps only my overactive imagination and a recently developed weak stomach are to blame.  Still gross.

The verdict:  After a great issue #4, I was looking forward to the main Venomverse event.  After this let down of an issue, that excitement is tempered some.  I will still give it a chance, but it won’t be at the top of my list.  Hey, I’ve been proven wrong before.

Deadpool

The Good:  I’ve often said that “less is more” when it comes to Deadpool.  The character always has been parody, but it reached that rarefied air of being a parody of a parody.  The current book is none of that.  There are still the core principles that make the character Deadpool.  However, they are balanced to make him more human.  I know that’s not what Deadpool fans want, but I like the multi dimensional aspect of the character.

The Bad:  While this arc has been both entertaining and fun, it has been absolutely heartbreaking at times.  His decision to kill Coulson, the result of manipulation by Captain Hydra, has caused a domino effect that has led to the loss of almost everything that tethered him to this new Deadpool personality.  I can see the writing on the wall.  Speaking of…

The Ugly:  Rejoice, traditional Deadpool fans!  I’m only going by title, cover, and description, but it sounds like he is goint to be back in full force for Legacy.  Prepare your butts for off color jokes, ultraviolence, gratuitous nudity, and breaking that fourth wall.  Fun!  *sigh*

Doctor Strange

The Good:  It has been fun to watch Stephen Strange and Wilson Fisk essentially switch bodies freaky Friday style.  Dr. Strange got evicted from the Sanctum and lost his magic ability.  Forced to accept the help of Kingpin, who was taken over by a demon and imbued with magic, the two work together to try to lift the Darkforce dome from New York along with a rag tag group of B-listers.  It is a silly premise that paid off in a big way.  This was one of the consistently fun books during Secret Empire.

The Bad:  They still hadn’t lifted the dome by the end of this issue. While some of the other books, including the main title, have started to turn the corner from “despair” to “hope”, winning the battle, but seemingly no closer to winning the war.  Oh well, there’s always hope.  It looked for a while like the space heroes would never break the bubble and they finally did.

The Ugly:  Nothing.  Literally nothing.  As I said earlier, this has been one of the most consistently fun books from the whole of Secret Empire.  I hope they can keep up the momentum into Legacy.

The Verdict:  Dr. Strange has always been one of my favorite heroes and books.  While many considered his movie to be filler, I knew better.  If they are going to do a Thanos and Infinity Gauntlet/War event in the cinematic universe, they have to include Strange in that story.  However, I didn’t know how they’d include Strange in the events of Secret Empire, but I’m glad they did.  It reminded me what I liked about the title.  I know that I’ve talked some about dropping titles, but this is one that I’m going to be collecting for the long haul.

Weapons of Mutant Destruction

The Good:  I may have already mentioned in my previoius Marvel review that Greg Pak is one of my favorite Hulk writers.  I was not a huge fan of his Hulk:  Generations, but I understand the reasons behind the book.  Since this book has revolved around Totally Awesome Hulk, he has been able to explore the “softer” side of the Hulk.  It has been especially fun to watch that butt heads with the likes of Logan, Sabertooth, Domino, and Deathstrike.

The Bad:  While the characters were well fleshed out and their interactions fully realized, the story didn’t quite live up to the expectations.  I know it’s becoming a cliche that I follow criticism with the caveat, “It isn’t bad”, but it really wasn’t a bad story.  I just thought that a story revolving around a “Wolverhulk” created by a secret government organization would have more action.

The Ugly:  Aside from the slow pacing and massive set up for not much of a pay off in the event itself, some of the failed experiments in the Weapon X attempts to make the “Hulkarine” were the ugliest thing about this series.

The Verdict:  I usually don’t like the “Hulk Smash” version of Hulk and prefer the Hulks that are more introspective.  Also, I’ve been on board with most of the reimagined heroes that Marvel gave us.  However, I initially didn’t like the idea of Amadeus Cho becoming Hulk.  I think it was mainly the title that turned me off.  This book, series, and, to an extent, the Generations book has changed my mind.  The Cho Hulk has both the intelligence of Banner and the struggle of Hulk in a new and refreshing way.

Generations

The Good:  These books continue to get better and better.  After a slightly uninspired Hulk book and a very good Jean Grey book, the Wolverine book was amazing.  The Thor book was slightly less so, but it still had some good moments.  Marvel got a bit of a dig in on those who were screaming about a female Thor, the Odinson had some other great one liners as a meathead “teenager” Viking without much direction or worthiness, and I can’t wait to see how his story progresses.  The Wolverine book showed the relationship between the two characters evolve in a very real and touching way.  Seeing Wolverine show tenderness as he slowly worked through the mystery was fun to read.

The Bad:  I know that characters don’t stay dead in comic books or soap operas, but I’m just getting to know some of these characters and it has been strongly hinted, if not outright stated, that several of them won’t survive the Legacy switch.  Female Thor and X-23 are both characters that I’m just meeting and they’ve made a good first impression.  At least one of them is rumored not to make it.

The Ugly:  The silly grin on my face as I read these two books wasn’t ugly, but it wasn’t exactly flattering.  These books are bringing up fond memories of being a teenager and reading comic books simply for the joy of it.  Consequently, and not surprisingly, they are reminding me why I like comics, cementing my interest in the books again, and driving me to buy more.  None of this is ugly except, as I said last time, to my budget.

The Verdict:  Unlike some of the other events/series that Marvel has produced recently, this one has consistently gotten better with each book.  The Hulk book was not bad, but it wasn’t my favorite style of Hulk writing.  The Jean Grey book illustrated a flash point in that characters history.  The Wolverine book dealt with the sometimes complicated relationship between parents and children.  Thor dealt very nicely with some of the elephants in the room as a result of changing heroes and angry nerds not able to deal with the changes.  I can’t wait to see what the rest of the books do, how it all joins in with Legacy, and what fun awaits us on the other side.

Video Game Collecting Q&A and Tips!

As many of you who regularly peruse our website are aware, I’m known for being a retro video game collector above all else. With that in mind, I wanted to write an article that not only answers questions that I get frequently when I have friends/family stop over and see the ol’ game room, but also gives you, the noob collector, a few tips on building a collection on the cheap.

I guess the most common question I get is “How did you afford all this stuff?”

This is a pretty easy one to answer. I’m not rich. I have bills just like everyone else, so I built a gaming budget that I strictly abide by. I’ve also learned that building a collection is costly if you buy games individually. Always hunt for lots. Craigslist is an invaluable tool for this. For the most part, it will always be the cheapest route to go. eBay is useful for when you can’t find that one game you want in a lot anywhere. Lots are the quickest way to build a collection and if it contains games that you don’t want, then eBay them and put that money back into your gaming budget.

What’s your favorite system?

I don’t even have to think about this one. Playstation 2. It has such an immense library of great games, and I’m always discovering ones that I had never heard of before. Also, the price point is perfect right now, more on that later…Here’s a quick list of hidden gems:

The Red Star, Darkwatch, Castle Shikigami 2, Samurai Western, Klonoa 2, Arcana Heart 2, Blood Will Tell, Snoopy vs the Red Baron (Yes, really.)

Which one [system] do you play the most?

Well this isn’t a static answer so if I had to answer this question today, it would be the Neo Geo X Gold. I was lucky enough to receive it as a Christmas gift from my sister a couple of years ago, and I use it pretty consistently. As with most Neo Geo products the price for it has jumped significantly and it’s currently twice as much as my sister paid for it. Which, ya know, fortunate for her (and me), but unfortunate for anyone who didn’t get one in time. I’ve been on a shoot ‘em up kick lately and this system came with a few really great shoot ‘em up titles.

How did you get so many games?

I partially covered this in my first answer, Craigslist lots, but there is a slightly more to it than that. Game collecting is kind of like playing the stock market, you buy low, always buy low. What this means is that you wait until a console is fading away into the twilight and then collect for it. Right now is the absolute perfect time to collect for the Nintendo Wii, Xbox 360 and PS3. Even Gamestop is trying to bomb out their preowned inventory for a song, and usually has buy 2 get 1 free sales on last gen’s games. The games are super low because everyone is focused on the Nintendo Switch/Xbox One/PS4. Shawn and I have a running joke that we are always one generation behind everyone else. Well, there’s a good reason for that, it’s cheaper to build up a collection when you are buying games that the average gamer doesn’t want anymore. At this point in time, I’ve started collecting for the Wii, as the prices for the games are at an all-time low.

What’s your favorite game?

Of all time? I’ll have to go with Zelda: A Link to the Past. Currently? As I mentioned before, I’ve been spending a lot of time playing shoot em’ ups on my Neo Geo lately. My favorite kind are of the bullet hell variety, and no one does this better than CAVE games out of Japan. There are two amazing games on the Xbox 360 that I’ve been playing called Akai Katana and Deathsmiles (This game was featured in one of my articles a few years ago), and as of right now, Deathsmiles is my favorite game.

What’s your rarest game?

I’ll say Shining Wisdom for the Sega Saturn. I don’t even have a Saturn anymore, more on that later, but I held onto this game. While it’s not insanely rare, it does command a steep price ($80-$100). I found it at a indy video game store and got a really good deal thanks to a lazy employee and complete lack of price tags on all of their games. Long story short, I paid $15 for it. Don’t be afraid to haggle at your local game store.

How do you have time to play all of these [games]?

I don’t! If you remember I wrote an article a few years ago about the first time I was asked this question and my reaction to it. I’ll save you the time of trying to find that article, I sold most of my collection except for the stuff that I played on a regular basis. Something that I regret to this day. These days, I realize that it’s impossible to play every game from beginning to end. Sometimes it’s all about the hunt. I’m at peace with that fact, and I’m enjoying collecting.

Okay so here are my collecting bullet points for all my noob collectors out there:

-Set a realistic budget. Rome wasn’t built in a week and neither is a great game collection.
-Try not to buy individual games. Look for lots on Craigslist and sell off any games that you don’t want from those lots in order to stretch your budget.
-Obviously sometimes you will be forced to buy a title individually. If that’s the case, check your local goodwill first. You’ll be shocked at what you will find there. It’s hit or miss, but when you get lucky there is nothing better than paying a few dollars for a rare game.
-Narrow your focus. If you try to collect for a handful of systems at once, it’ll get costly very quickly.
When you do choose the system(s) you want to collect for, make sure they’re ones that have just faded out of the spotlight (Wii, PS3, 360) are all prime targets right now.
-Don’t be afraid to haggle at the game store. There is nothing wrong with trying to get the right price for your budget. Trust me, at your indy game store, the prices are not set in stone and if you run into an owner who is unwilling to budge, then turn to Amazon. It hurts the owner a lot more to watch that sale walk out of their store. 9 out of 10 times they will budge on the price.
-Visit your local Gamestop when they are having a preowned sale, that’s when you are getting the best deal that you can get there. Do not make them your first, uh, stop when it comes to finding that title you’ve been hunting for.

As always, thanks for reading, and if you have any questions or thoughts for us, just comment below!

Retro Rant Rampage

As the title suggests, this article will be focused on a couple of things that really grind my gears (crappy Family Guy reference).  Ok, first off all, let’s go for the low hanging fruit of Gamestop.  I’m fairly sure that I’ve complained about them before but hey, what the hell?  They do a few things that really leave a bad taste in my mouth and just irritate the crap outta me. First of all, the upselling at the register. Yes, I know I’ve mentioned this before, but in my experience, checkout time seems to be at an all-time high. I just want to buy the frickin’ game in my hand, not listen to a sales pitch. No, I don’t want to pre-order. Dammit! I’m cheap! I’ll never buy a brand new $60 game! I wouldn’t sleep at night knowing that the same game that I just bought, will be $40 cheaper in a few months. Yeah. That’s a hard pass on the pre-order.  I also don’t want to insure my disc for a $1.  How about you just check and clean the frickin’ disc when it’s traded in?! Speaking of trading in games, seriously people, you are getting robbed. Stop. Ebay your game. Put it on Amazon. Don’t trade it in for a few bucks in store credit, just so you can see your game marked up $10-$15. Holy hell, I know they’re running a business but the trade in program is so screwy and one-sided.  I stop in from time to time and always cringe when I see the next victim bringing their stack of games up to the counter hoping for a decent payday. Last weekend, I bought a preowned game and the employee, after going through the motions of unsuccessfully trying to sell me extra crap, stuck a coupon in the bag.  $5 trade in credit.  How generous. Listen, I know that it’s absolutely not the employees’ fault, they are doing what they are supposed to. I think we have all heard about the reformed quota policy that corporate Gamestop enforces.

Okay, final Gamestop complaint.  Did you all know that they “sell” retro games and systems online now? Notice how I used quotations around “sell”? Because if you go to actually order something, most of the time it’s out of stock. “Why is that?”, you maybe asking. Well let me just slap on this tin foil frickin’ hat and I’ll tell you why. They never had stock to begin with. So why would they offer the item online and for a reasonable price? Well friends, it’s used as a reference point for trade ins. Think about it, you walk in with an old Dreamcast looking to make some space in your nerd cave. Well they will offer you $15-$20 for it, which is about a third of what they are asking for it online.  You think the two thirds profit margin would be enough but no, they wait until they get a predetermined number of systems and then they will suddenly not be out of stock and suddenly the price of the Dreamcast increases on their site.  They run out, the price lowers, rinse and repeat.  It’s actually brilliant. It makes bartering impossible. They can claim that they are only asking $45-$50 for the system and it has to be tested, cleaned, etc so the piddly offer is actually a decent deal. Which if it was actually 50% of what they flip it for, would actually be fair. But it isn’t, it’s a third at best. It’s not just limited to consoles either, a majority of the retro games are out of stock but still have their low price listed. Strangely enough it’s all the best selling classics like Contra, Punch-Out, etc. It’s the same strategy. Again, brilliant. They realized that there is a growing demand for older games and not wanting to miss out on the cash grab, they hatched a solid plan to get product on the cheap.  As a guy who works as an analyst for a big ol’ company, I understand the strategy, but as a retro collector, I find it shady as hell.

Ok, whew, congratulations! You made it through that block of text! It’s almost over people! So a few months ago, I, like many others, saw the announcement for SNES classic system and immediately decided that I had to have it.  I signed up for email notifications from all of the major retailers,(Best Buy, Amazon, Target..), so the minute it would be available for preorder, I’d know and could quickly log in and get my order in. Solid plan right? I thought so too. Until for some frickin’ reason, Best Buy and Amazon decided to take preorders at 4 frickin’ A.M! Oh! And those bastards didn’t send out the notification email!! Are you kidding me?! Why the hell would you start to sell them at 4 in the godamn morning?!  Not sure why but dammit I blame Nintendo.  They know that it’s going to fly off the shelves so what do they do? Did they decide that they would produce more so everyone would get a shot at owning one and playing some great games? Oh no, grasshopper! They tell everyone that it’s going to be extremely limited and that they will not produce more. Nice. Needless to say, it’s sold out everywhere today and I will not be getting one. The only thing I hope is that they limited it to one per customer just to screw over those bastard scalpers out there that bought up the NES classics last year.

Comics Round Up: World’s Greatest

(Editor’s Note:  We postponed this edition of Comics Round Up to give me an opportuinity to actually read the latest Batman and first issue of Metal.  As I said to Chris, I ration my books so that I have something to read the entire week.  I could have moved the books up by a couple of days, but what are we if we aren’t true to ourselves?)

Aquaman

The Good:  This is a well written and engaging story.  I’ve never heard of the writer or the artist, but they work well together to bring this story to life.

The Bad:  While the story is good, the narrative style is a bit dense.  I’ve complained about Batman being a “talkie” recently and this book has action, but there are just so many words on some of the pages.  It’s distracting.

The Ugly:  Well, I’ve added another book to the monthly pull that I initially said that I was only going to experience in trades.  DC knew exactly what they were doing with this Rebirth event.  There are so many new jumping on points and all of the books are great.  My wallet is going to suffer badly.

The Verdict:  I had virtually no experience with Aquaman previous to his introduction in Batman vs. Superman.  I’m sure that I watched the old Justice League cartoon and he might have even had cameos in others like Scooby Doo (?), but I was one of those guys who always derided him as the dude who can swim fast and talk to fish.  This book has changed my tune completely.  I like the “King is Dead, Long Live the King” story and they’ve done it in a way that makes it feel not quite so much of a retread.  I might have to shelve it again after the conclusion of this story, but that’s only because my monthly comic budget is pushing 200 at this point.

Justice League

The Good:  Another perfect jumping on point to get started with another comic book that I haven’t read before.  This one even has an interesting premise.

The Bad:  That premise doesn’t quite live up to my initial ideal.  I know this next statement might seems strange as this is the “bad” section of this review.  However, the story isn’t bad.  It just seems very slow.  The whole book is the set up for a story that honestly isn’t as interesting as I had hoped.

The Ugly:  I don’t think that I want to keep reading this story.  However, I’m not a quitter, either.  I’ve started the arc and now I might just have to keep going, but I won’t be happy about it.  Hopefully, it gets better.  Otherwise, I’m going to be out about 20 bucks and it’s going to get ugly in here.

The Verdict:  I was very excited to meet the “future children” of the Justice League.  I also thought it was cool to see that future.  However, the overall arc of the story and narrative was just too uneven.  I will give it one more issue.  After all, the Venomverse intro event had a similar feel and I got some enjoyment from sticking with it.

Mr. Miracle

The Good:  Tom King is one of the best writers in comics today.  His Batman has been as good as (and, blasphemy!, maybe even better than) Scott Snyder’s, but I can’t say that with confidence.  I only know Snyder’s Batman from The New 52 and that was good, but it didn’t have me on the verge of applause as Tom King often does.  This book was no different.

The Bad:  As is rapidly becoming a theme, I arrived way too late at the Tom King party.  Chris was much more versed in his work than I am, meaning that when we were discussing this book, he said that he liked both King’s Batman and his work with Vision, a book that I haven’t read.  Still, art is supposed to be his thing and writing my thing, so it was a bit embarrassing.

The Ugly:  That opening scene.  My goodness!  I know that it’s often good to go for shock value, but I’m becoming much more aware of these types of things since there are kids in the house.  Aiden had a friend sleep over the other night and he grabbed a stack of comics.  I had to stop him and he asked, “Oh, they’re not appropriate.”  I had to admit that I hadn’t read them and I didn’t know if they were or not.

The Verdict:  Initially, I didn’t care all that much about this title.  It seemed interesting, but it wasn’t really something that ultimately grabbed my attention enough to buy it.  For some reason that changed when I saw an ad in one of the DC books that connected it to Jack Kirby’s 100th birthday.  I’m always a sucker for the origins of comics and the old guys.  I’m glad that I followed Jack Kirby on this one.  They steered me in the right direction.  I’m hooked after only one issue and can’t wait to see what happens next.  I might have to go back and read some Vision now.

Wonder Woman

The Good:  This story has been decent and has continued the theme of Diana trying to balance the expectations of Wonder Woman with the fact that she is living with humans who can’t possibly understand her burden.

The Bad:  The writing is not nearly as good as it was with Greg Rucka.  I’m still interested in the story, but I’m not as engaged by the characters or the story.  Maybe it will get better, but this might be one that gets cut for later reading as trades.

The Ugly:  I’m majorly upset that it has come to this.  I’m almost positive that my current comic budget is not sustainable, even if I am teaching 5 classes next semester, but this is one of the books that I was sure would survive the cut.

The Verdict:  When we last left DC, Wonder Woman was one of my favorite comic books.  Now that we’re back, things have changed a bit.  The book is still decent, but it isn’t the same.  Since I don’t have the same connection to the character, writer, or artist as some other books that I might give more of a chance, this might actually be the first book to go if I decide that my budget is getting out of control.

Batman

The Good:  I’ve already fawned over Tom King in the Mr. Miracle review, so I won’t repeat myself here.  However, this book is a prime example why he is such a great writer.  He wrote an entire comic book around the premise that Bruce Wayne invited the two sides of the war to dinner and created a story that I couldn’t put down.  Both the set up and the execution were perfect.  Great book.

The Bad:  I struggle to find anything wrong with this book.  In the past, I said if I had to find a flaw, it would be that it was too much of a “talkie” and not enough action.  I can’t even say that anymore.  This book was just so well executed, even though there was absolutely no action, that I just don’t care.

The Ugly:  I have no idea if this is the plan or not, but for a war between the Riddler and Joker, there has been surprisingly little action.  If they are going to blow it out with one huge blowout finale, that’s exactly what it’s going to be.  The streets of Gotham will run red with the blood of both armies.  It’s going to be brutal.

The Verdict:  Batman is still the best monthly book right now.  I might be enjoying some of the event books just as much and maybe more, but this book is the best thing to happen to me every month when it comes to comics.  The writing is fantastic.  The art is amazing.  The stories are engaging and entertaining.  If, as I suspect is possible, we are in fact going through another golden age of comics, people will point to this book as one of the primary reasons why.  Superman might get the headlines and Wonder Woman might grab the lady readers, but Batman is DC’s flagship title and they are absolutely doing right by it.  Superb.

Dark Nights:  Metal

The Good:  Snyder and Capullo.  Capullo and Snyder.  The introductory books contained art from Jim Lee and JR JR, too, but this one is back to basics.  While it was fun to see the influence of the other artists, less is definitely more here.  Just two guys who are amazing at working together to make great comics doing just that.  It’s still early to tell if the combination will continue to work, but previous experience and the pacing of this book suggest that it will.

The Bad:  Scott Snyder is one of these “talkie” guys that are so prevalent in comics these days.  I have no idea if he is one of the first, as I remember the push for the current state of comics coming in the 1990s with Brian Michael Bendis and his tendency to push narrative and dialogue over the usual super hero shenanigans of punching and kicking their way through a book.  However, he fits in very well with that crowd and his books can get a bit tedious at times.

The Ugly:  There are a ton of open threads in this story right now.  Scott Snyder said himself in an interview that some of the references and stories come from his earlier Batman books and that he’s been dropping hints for years.  This book does some to tie up a few of those threads, but it adds even more.  I’d like to think that he can bring everything all together in a coherent and satisfying fashion, but I worry when stories get this spread out.

The Verdict:  When I first saw the announcement of this series, I texted Chris with a picture of the talent and the simple message, “I’m going to end up going broke.”  That was before:  (a) I had even read an issue.  Now that I have, I realize the size and scope of this event and realize that it is possibly on par with Secret Empire, if not bigger and (b) I saw that it was a cross over event.  If Secret Empire has taught me anything, it’s that I buy every stupid book in the event.  Given that the first issue already has me looking forward to what comes next and wondering how many books this might hook me into eventually buying on a weekly basis.  Well played, DC.  Well played, indeed.

Mobile Mining

(Editor’s Note:  I’m pretty sure we’ve done an article on Minecraft for mobile before.  However, I’m sure that there have been many updates since that article.  Also, it’s been a while since I’ve fed this particular addiction.  What could go wrong?)

I loaded up Minecraft on the phone earlier today.  I’ve been keeping an eye on the updates that have been happening in recent weeks.  For a while there, it seemed like they were coming in rapid succession.  It might have just been because they were working so hard to get all of the versions compatible.

Ever since (and maybe even before) Microsoft acquired (invested in?) Mojang, there has been a push to make Minecraft cross platform.  They’ve already experimented with the idea.  The boys and I played on a “cross platform” version of the game.  They played on their Kindles and I played on my computer on the Windows 10 version.  I put “cross platform” in quotes because Windows 10 is Microsoft’s attempt at merging their mobile and PC markets with the same operating system.

Now, however, I’ve heard that they’re talking about allowing players to play simultaneously on PC, Mobile, and XBox One.  There were rumors that Playstation would be included, but those have been tempered.  Because Microsoft owns XBox and Sony is a direct competitor.  I still hold out hope that Minecraft can be the game that overcomes the console wars and gives us our first truly cross console game.

Imagine all the Steves…living life in peace.

One of the roadblocks to bringing the three other platforms together was that some platforms didn’t allow for infinite worlds.  Another was that the non PC versions were often several update cycles behind.  As I mentioned earlier, they seemed to be working hard to remedy both situations through an intense series of updates earlier in the year.  From what I was able to see on the mobile version, at least, they were successful.

The Good

The best thing that I can say about the mobile version is that it is much closer to Minecraft that I recognize.  The last time I played it, there was much missing from the game.  It didn’t impact playability, necessarily, but it did obviously limit the options in the game.  The first improvement I noticed was the opening menu.  It is much more user friendly.  Also, infinite worlds!

That might not seem like a huge improvement.  Even the old worlds are huge.  However, there were a few times, mostly during multiplayer games with the boys, that we mined up to the edge of the world.  It takes you out of the fantasy a bit when it happens.  Plus, one of our borders was on the ocean, which is doubly annoying because there could have been a water temple down there!  Alas, that’s not something that we have to worry about anymore.

This must be from an earlier edition before they added the ability to choose infinite worlds, but it’s there trust me. Or don’t. See if I care.

The other great thing about the game that I noticed was that opening your inventory automatically shows you the items that you can craft based on the items that you’ve collected.  Then, you can just click on that item and it will automatically add the items for the recipe.  Again, it is a small improvement, and some more traditional players might not even consider it an improvement, but I love it.  The first thing I do on the PC version is I download an addon that does something similar to this.  It just saves the time of not having to alt+tab to a browser and look up recipes.

There are other cool things.  Addons, as you can see in the screenshot above, have been added.  The nether is more than just a new dimension.  The last time I played, the nether was there, but the only mobs were Zombie Pigmen, so it wasn’t very interesting to explore.  Now, everything is there.  Ghasts, Blazes, those little hopping things, firebats, fortresses!  It’s going to be a ton of fun playing this game.

The Bad

The only bad thing that I could find about the game is that the controls are still super awkward.  I don’t have a bluetooth controller for my phone, so I have to use the touch controls.  While they lend themselves to an easier crafting experience, the mining and moving leaves much to be desired.  I can’t cont the number of times that I’ve accidentally started combat with a farm animal instead of cutting down a tree or mined the wrong block because of the controls.  It’s a minor annoyance, but I’d be lying if I didn’t say that it at times made me not want to play the game until I’m able to get a controller.

The Ugly

I know that the game is known for and defined by it’s blocky graphics.  And, I’m usually a sucker for old school games with terrible graphics.  But, the graphics in this game are really awful, even by the campy standards that should allow for bad graphics.  I mean, honestly.  The basis of the gameplay is simple.  The graphics are terrible.  Why is this game so popular?

Seriously, Grandpa. What am I doing with my life?  What madness is Minecraft?

I know that I mentioned earlier that having the nether in the game was a good thing.  That’s true in the context of making the games compatible for cross platform play.  However, having lost many a game and too much inventory to even count when I made a misstep and fell off of a cliff into a pool of lava that I twitched a little bit when I set up the nether portal and took the trip into that burning hellscape, even though it was on creative and there was no chance of me dying.

The Verdict

I said earlier that I might not play again until I am able to get some kind of controller for the phone.  I might even have to get a tablet for the bigger screen.  I doubt that I’ll ever go through with it.  First, that requires spending money, something that I’ve only done on beer and comics the last 3 months.  Second, having played the game again, I realize just how much I enjoy the game.

I can and often do already play the game on the computer.  There’s no reason to abandon that for a game with inferior controls.  Of course, in less than a month, I will be back at work and not in front of a computer most of the day.  Well, I might be in front of a computer most of the day, but my employers would frown upon me playing Minecraft instead of illuminating people on the wonders of math and physics.  If I could port my PC worlds to the phone…

I agree, Batman. It’s just crazy enough that it might work.

Comics Round Up: Make Mine Marvel

(Editor’s Note:  Our last comic round up suffered from, as I once heard Stephen King explain it, “diarrhea of the typewriter (insert your preferred method of typing here).”  Seeing as how I’m branching out, but still very much a Marvel zombie, I will try to keep this one brief by just giving “The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly”.)

Avengers

The Good:  Mark Waid is a good writer.  I really like his Champions book (more on that in a bit).  But, he doesn’t quite fit this version of the HydrAvengers, in my opinion.

The Bad:  This team of Earth’s Mightiest Heroes are actually some of the worst villains in the Marvel Universe.  While that in and of itself isn’t a bad thing, I feel like the execution isn’t so great.

The Ugly:  I simply can’t wrap my mind around these characters as Avengers.  I know that we are living in a Cosmic Cube altered reality and that nothing should be comforting necessarily.  However, while I’ve gone along with most books on this crazy ride, this is a bridge too far.

The Verdict:  Having been reintroduced to Warren Ellis via Injection and Trees, I couldn’t help but be reminded of his run on Thunderbolts.  He would be the perfect writer for this hodge podge of characters that make up the HydrAvengers.  Maybe that would make it easier to swallow.  I, for one, can’t wait until the Legacy reboot of this team.

Champions

The Good:  Mark Waid is a great writer.  The proof is in this book.  Each character is written with a different personality that shines through in the storytelling.  This is one of my favorite books right now.

The Bad:  Two here, but not really anything to do with the book.  1)  While I’m glad that they included this book in the Secret Empire arc and that gave me a chance to discover it, I’m not sure that these characters fit exactly the way that they’re trying to make them fit.  2)  I wish that I had been on from the beginning because I really enjoy this book.

The Ugly:  I’m pretty sure that this book is meant for teenagers.  I’m not sure what it says about me that it is one of my favorite books and I’m 41.  Actually, I know exactly what it says about me.  Society, and my wife sometimes, might not approve, but I’m comfortable with who I am.

The Verdict:  This is one heck of a book and one lone bright spot through the whole Secret Empire event.  While other books have changed their focus, flirted with disaster, or both, this one has stayed true to the characters and their mission to mirror “Earth’s Mightiest Heroes”.  Heck, some of these characters have lost their damn minds in other books, but remained true in this one.  Really, just a fun book and I can’t wait to see how things progress through Legacy.

Edge of Venomverse

The Good:  This book and book 2 were very good.  I liked the quirkiness of Gwenpool with the symbiote and the story of this one was fantastic.  I haven’t read Old Man Logan yet, so this might have just grown naturally from that, but after the rather pedestrian nature of the first three books, I was surprised by the depth of this one.

The Bad:  Book 1 and 3 were…not great.  Book 1 wasn’t bad.  It just felt very uneven.  Book 3 was just not good overall.  I didn’t enjoy the story.  I suppose that by that pattern, book 5 is going to be meh.  Given that it is Deadpool and I tire quickly of “old school” Deadpool, that’s a safe bet.

The Ugly:  I’m usually a sucker for different art.  Heck, I’ll buy anything drawn by Sam Kieth.  However, the art for #3 was just horrible.  Combined with the subpar story, I think that one just needs a do over.

The Verdict:  An uneven series that seems to have different judgments from different people.  The owner of my newly adopted (can’t say that in a few months) comic store, for instance, really liked book 1.  She’s a fan of X23, though, so maybe that’s the reason why.  I haven’t gotten into that book yet.  Even so, I have high hopes for the actual series.

Hulk

The Good:  Another excellent book, written by a writer who knows and has been able to define the character in this brave new world that Marvel has been trying to forge.  It has dealt with issues of loss and PTSD in a very real and poignant manner.

The Bad:  This isn’t your father’s Hulk.  “Hulk Smash” is almost non existent.  Instead, it’s become a “talkie”, similar to Batman.  I’m not saying that’s bad, but if you’re coming for that action, wait until Legacy.

The Ugly:  Wait, they’re bringing back Banner Hulk? (Spoiler Alert:  They’ve already brought him back.)  But, one of the major plot points of this series has been Jen’s reaction and attempts to deal with her cousin’s death.  I know they’re resetting with Legacy, but, still I’ll miss that storyline.

The Verdict:  I was not initially going to invest in this book.  However, one week I was short on books and decided to pick this one up because I am a huge Hulk fan.  I’m glad that I did because it has become one of my most anticipated books each month.  I’m a little worried how it will endure post Legacy, but hopefully they can figure it out.

Generations

The Good:  At this point, I’ve only read these two generations books, but they’ve both been decent to good.  I was a bit surprised that I actually enjoyed the Phoenix book more than Hulk.  Greg Pak is one of my favorite Hulk writers and the book was good, but I just felt like the Phoenix story was much more in depth and balanced.

The Bad:  There was a bit too much “Hulk Smash” in the Hulk book.  I know that’s what people want from our Jade Giant.  However, I’ve always been more of a fan of the introspective Hulks and less is more when it comes to “Hulk Smash”.  But, I’ll stick with the book until we get to the deeper stories.

The Ugly:  Another weekly book that I have to read, Marvel?  I mean, I don’t have to read it, but I will.  I just won’t necessarily be happy about it.  Except, I’m pretty sure I will.  *sigh*  Chris is right.  I may have a problem.

The Verdict:  Only two books in and I’m okay with the concept.  I’m intrigued to see how this shapes future books and tries to tie everything together with the past.  I like what DC has done with their Rebirth books and think that a true reboot can do good things for Marvel, too.  These books serve to set the tone and so far the tone is positive.

Secret Empire Tie In Books

The Good:  Both Captain America books have been great.  I hadn’t heard of Spencer before this event, but I like what he’s been doing with the event.  While I don’t agree with including Champions in the event, I’m glad they did because it’s a good book.  Ultimates2 wasn’t even on my radar, but that has been an amazing book.

The Bad:  I don’t like what Secret Empire has done to Amazing Spider-Man.  I’m usually okay with different, but the last few ASM arcs I’ve read have just been blah.  Bear in mind that I haven’t even been around for the latest clone wars, but I read the one where Uncle Ben came back and the one before that years ago.  The other books like Underground and United have been mostly forgettable, though the Widow “red room” story was interesting.  Avengers has suffered most from Secret Empire.  Again, I get the reason to include the team to show how different this world is, but it hasn’t been a great experiment.

The Ugly:  I went from mildly interested in the event, to promising myself that I’d only get the main books, to buying every stupid book with the Secret Empire/Captain Hydra banner on it.  Damn it, Marvel.  Congratulations.  You hooked me.

The Verdict:  As is to be expected, these books have been hit or miss.  Most have been very good.  Some have been disappointing, but I don’t regret buying the books that I did.  Overall, they’ve added to my enjoyment of the event and I’m back on the wagon…or is it off the wagon?

Secret Empire

The Good:  Nick Spencer has done a good job of telling this story and the art has mostly been just as good.  As an aside, I’m glad that we are in the “hope” portion of the story.  I couldn’t take much more “despair”.

The Bad:  I didn’t like the art in a couple of the books.  I just prefer the realistic art of Steve McNiven.  The art of these books made me take a step back and try to absorb it before continuing.  It just took me out of the story for a minute.

The Ugly:  I almost quit reading the story altogether.  One of those reason was that it was just getting too real.  Especially with the recent events in Virginia, I couldn’t sit by idly as my escape from reality started to mirror that reality a bit too much.  Ultimately, I kept going, but I was close to quitting there.

The Verdict:  Overall, this event has been entertaining.  I won’t say that it has been good, but it has kept me reading.  There are a few times that I wanted to walk away for one reason or another, but I’ve keep reading and I’m glad that I did.  Ultimately, at this point, I want to see how they write themselves out of this.

Mine! Mine! Mine!

(Editor’s Note:

If we could, we would have used this picture as our headline for the article.

“There’s a Minecraft card game?  What the heck?”  Aiden’s question when he saw the game mirrored my exact thoughts when I saw the game in Target a couple of years ago.  They must have anticipated that reaction from people because the official name of the game is “Minecraft Card Game?”

Because of our family’s enjoyment of the video game, I knew I was most likely going to buy it.  However, I wanted to do some research.  First, I wasn’t sure how they’d translate the video game of Minecraft into a card game.  Second, I didn’t want to get involved with another collectible card game.  It didn’t indicate anywhere on the package that it wasn’t a fully contained game, but I needed to verify.  My Google search in the aisle verified it and I bought it.

I shouldn’t have worried about how they’d convert the game from video to card.  Apparently there is a reason that people get jobs as game designers and I am not currently working in such a job.  It isn’t a perfect translation and I don’t think that it ever could be, but it doesn’t need to be.  They can capture the fun and creativity of Minecraft  without actually including all of the aspects of the video game.  They intelligently realized that the game is pretty much just collect materials, use those materials to craft items, and then use those items to advance by crafting more items.

Well, when you put it that way, of course it sounds silly.

The card game captures those parts of the game very well.  Your turn consists of two actions.  The two main actions are that you can “mine” resources by choosing them from the piles or you can “craft” items as long as you have the proper resources.  The items that you can craft are the basic tools of the game; shovel, pickaxe, axe, and sword.  Each of them serves a specific purpose in the game and are worth points you need to win the game.

If this sounds less than thrilling, trust me it isn’t.  Just like the video game namesake, the thrill of the card game comes from unexpected sources.  Although, instead of the one player conflicts of finding shelter and keeping yourself fed, in the game, you are playing against 1 to 3 other players.  This leads to a scarcity of resources which means you need to think very carefully about how and when you mine or craft.  A wrong move isn’t as punishing as in a more traditional collectible card game, but an opponent that is paying attention can really ruin your plans.

Sometimes it feels a bit like this. So far, no games have ended with a shootout at high noon, but it might just be because we play it in the late afternoon/early evening.

Aside from the other players, there are a couple of environmental hazards built into the game.  The first, and decidedly less hazardous is TNT.  In fact, due to the nature of the card, TNT can be both helpful and harmful to a player.  When you reveal a TNT card, it destroys the top card from two of the piles.  But, and this is where the helpfulness of the card shows up, you get to take the top card from the two of the piles, so it acts almost like a take an extra turn card.

The second card that can cause you harm is the creeper.  Unlike the TNT, this one does not have a positive side effect.  Instead, just like the video game, the creeper becomes one of the things you most dread to see.  It strips you of one of your resource cards.  Sure, you can mitigate it with a sword if you’ve crafted one, but that’s a pretty big if.  Most of the time you just cry a little inside as you discard one of those valuable resources that you’ve been saving for just the right time.

You can’t have a Minecraft game without these guys. In this game, though, you don’t even get the “SSSsssss” warning before they blow you up.

We have played the Minecraft card game several dozen times at this point and it hasn’t gotten stale.  While it is a stagnant set of cards and not collectible (something I actually didn’t want), there is enough variety in each play that you won’t quickly bore of it.  You have to play your strategy against the other players and also against the deck itself.  Both of those elements enhance enjoyment playing the game.

With all of that said, I think there might be room for an expansion to the game.  I’m not sure how they’d do it and not make it just more of the same, but maybe they could set it in one of the other planes like the Nether or the End.  Once again, I’m not a game designer.  I don’t even play one on TV or YouTube.  I just play games.  And, this is a game that I absolutely enjoy playing.

Comic Round Up: The Little Guys

(Editor’s Note:  We said something about plans in our previous article and how they easily go awry.  We planned to do a Comic Round Up on Marvel next, so enjoy this article about few independent titles that I’ve (re)discovered since coming back to comic books again.)

It feels weird calling this article the “little guys” when I’m reviewing 2 Image books.  I mean, they have some comics that have a definite “little engine that might” quality, but they also have the old gray mare in Spawn and the 900 lb. gorilla that is The Walking Dead.  Still, they are considered independent, and with the rate I’m picking up titles, “the little guys” might soon outweigh even that 900 lb. gorilla, so I’m sticking with the title.

Chris and I were talking a few weeks (maybe a month) ago about our newly found interest in comics.  I was still in my Wonder Woman trades only, Batman, and only books that had the Secret Empire flag on them phase.  One of us mentioned that there were so many good books to read right now.  If it was me who said that, I followed up with the following.  If it was Chris, then it was my reply.  In either case, I said, “I know, and I have barely even touched DC comics and haven’t even considered any of the independent books.”

Side note:  I was still reading Spawn, a book that will be included in this independent book review.  What can I say?  I didn’t consider Spawn an independent book then and I’m changing my mind now to suit the theme.  As if there’s no precedent for that around here.

Well, I’ve now ventured into the world of independent comics outside of Spawn and my poor budget is about to take even more of a hit.  Similar to my adventures into both Marvel and DC, I have really enjoyed both of the new books that I’ve read and that will most likely lead to me spending more time with the independent rack.  It’s either the best of times or the worst of times, too, as August promises to be light on volume each week due to the “extra” Wednesday.  Oh well, more fodder for the next article!

When I picked up the latest issue of Spawn, the woman who owns the store that I’ve adopted as my LCS remarked something about a new Spawn in my pull.

Side Note:  I’ve only started the pull, am not sure that I set it up the way that I wanted to get all of the issues I want, and am a little embarrassed by my “mainstream” tastes.  The comic book store is in a very eclectic city and I always get the sense that the town itself is judging me for my comic book tastes.

Nonchalantly and trying not to let my embarrassment over my comic choices show, I replied, “Yeah, Spawn is a relic from my reckless youth.”  It must have worked on some level because she chuckled and said, “Yeah, we all have those, don’t we.”  Whew, crisis averted.  She also continued the conversation by saying, “It’s about the art,” to which I nodded and then she continued, “and this cover is so cool.”  That’s the cover up there and yes, it is cool.

As far as the story goes, it’s been a bit hit and miss.  The first issue that I read felt very familiar as if it’s all been done before.  I know that the book has been around for over 20 years, is about 2 years short of #300, and hasn’t experienced a full reboot or crisis in that time.  So, it’s gotta be tough to keep coming up with new stories.  Still, it was slightly disconcerting to come back to such a ho hum issue.  I even considered just jettisoning Spawn to the trash bin of history.  I did so with The Walking Dead and while I’ve recently considered a return, Chris talked me off of that ledge.

But, Spawn and I have history, Man.  I was there from the beginning.  I bought issue #1 off of the rack when it was released.  I replaced the first 150 issues (because I threw them out during one of my moves) 20 years ago when I got back into comics again for the Civil War event.  The Walking Dead was part of a phase.  It was a college thing.  I was curious, okay?!  Spawn will have to get a lot worse for me to abandon the book completely.  So far, that hasn’t happened.  It’s actually steadily increased in quality as far as the writing goes.  The latest arc, that’s starting with 276, isn’t great, but it’s good enough to keep me interested at least in the short run.

The Good – The art quality for this book has always been great and some amazing artists have worked on the book.  That hasn’t changed.  Todd McFarlane has an eye for what works visually on this book.

The Bad – The writing is uneven and was almost enough to turn me off from the book, but it has shown signs of improving.

The Ugly – I called Spawn the old grey mare.  While she isn’t as long in the tooth as some of the Marvel or DC books (and they’ve even tried changing some of those books to loud and angry nerd shouts), but it is one of the longest running books not published by one of those two.  It is showing it’s age.

The verdict:  If you’re a fan, you know what you’re getting.  If you’re not, there’s not really much here to recommend over some of the other books out there.  I will say that if this current arc doesn’t pan out and I’m crunched for money, this will be the first book to go.

I was in line at the comic book store, waiting to pay for my latest haul of Secret Empire tie in books, when I overheard the guy in front of me talking to the owner of the store about Sam Kieth.  I’ve already mentioned that I feel weird about not having as many “offbeat” comics in my reading list and Sam Kieth is as “offbeat” as they come.  I’ve been a fan of his since discovering him during my first discovery of comic books as a teenager.  Like Todd McFarlane, I wasn’t aware of Sam Kieth’s work with Marvel and DC.  I found him through his Image book, The Maxx.

Side note:  See, I used to be much more hip and with it.  Image probably never was the “fringe” of comics, but it was alternative in a time when that word had a much more positive meaning.  I suppose that I’m just getting safe in my old age, falling into patterns from my youth.

The Maxx was, and probably still is, my favorite comic book of all time.  Like most Image books, it suffered from delays, but I always looked forward to every new issue.  Also, like Spawn, I trashed my Maxx books, but bought the entire run again.  Unlike Spawn, or any other book for that matter, all of the books are in a binder for safe keeping.  I loved the weirdness of The Maxx and how it wasn’t typical comic book stuff.  Now I might need to go back and read it again.

And, back to the present.  After a casual conversation about the books in my hand, that ended with an awkward admission (as an attempt to gain some cred) by me that I thought Ultimates has been a really good book lately, I quickly changed the subject.  “What’s Sam Kieth been up to?”The owner’s eye’s lit up, she mentioned the title, and took me over to the rack.  Only issues 2 and 3 were available, but she said that she would try to get issue 1 for me.  She was great about getting me issue #5 of Secret Empire, so I have no doubt that she will make good on it.

It might just be the bias of having read The Maxx, but similar themes run through Eleanor and the Egret.  It is nowhere near a carbon copy of it, but I’d be lying if I said that I didn’t notice the similarities.  Strong female protagonist accompanied by a non human ally.  Weird creepy man in black.  Flash backs (though in The Maxx, it was not always clear if they were flashbacks, flash forwards, or alternate realities) that serve to drive the story.  Okay, so maybe there aren’t as many similarities as I thought and I’m just reaching here.

In any case, the book is very good.  I don’t know the writer, but apparently he’s very well known for something that he did while I was away from comics.  I will say that I’ve enjoyed this book so much that I might have to go back to read that series one of these days.  Eleanor is not your typical comic book stuff, even more so than The Maxx wasn’t.  It revolves around an artist turned art thief and her pet bird, who seem to have a bit of a bone to pick with another artist for some reason.  They steal this other artist’s paintings and the bird eats them.  I know.  It sounds weird.  And it is weird.  In my opinion, it’s very good, too.

The Good:  Sam Kieth’s art takes me back to the beginning and reminds me again why I love comic books.  It isn’t always just about the beautiful photorealistic art.  Sometimes, the fuzzy lines and muted colors work just as well, if not better.

The Bad:  It’s not a book for everyone.  If you are super hero only, avoid this book.  There isn’t anything for you here.

The Ugly:  As with any of these indy companies, I wonder how long they will last.  I know that it isn’t the wild 1990s anymore, but I’d hate to get invested in a book only to see it killed due to low sales or delays.

This past week was light on the main books.  There was no Secret Empire, only one or two tie ins, the Hulk generations book, and a new Batman.  Instead of putting away the rest of my budget for next week, I started to wander through the independent titles.  At first, I thought I might get suckered back into The Walking Dead, but the book just doesn’t mean anything to me anymore.  I also found myself looking at Kirkman’s other book, Outcast.  That looked really good, but I had already committed to my new obsession.  Maybe next time.

While looking at the racks, I noticed the name “WARREN ELLIS” on one of the books.  I know him best from his insane super hero book Nextwave:  Agents of HATE followed shortly after by my discovery of his work on Thunderbolts at the same time.  He was somewhat restricted by the characters in Thunderbolts.  However, at that time, it was a book with completely bonkers Green Goblin, off his rocker Venom, nutso Penance and Bullseye, and slightly less crazy, but still perfect for Ellis’ off the wall writing style, Moonstone, Radioactive Man, Songbird, and Swordsman.  He faced less resistance from the roster in Nextwave, as it was mostly 3rd and 4th tier characters that nobody ever heard of and he could be much crazier with them.  I read his Thunderbolts, but I loved Nextwave and it put Warren Ellis on my must buy list.

While checking out, I remarked what a slow week it was for books and the owner replied, “Going to be that way all month because of the 5 Wednesdays.  Need to spread it out.”  I talked about picking up Injection to fill the void because of  my undying love for Warren Ellis.  She said that she loved the book, but it could get a little hard to follow because it is vintage Ellis.  And, boy is it ever.  If you thought I had a tough time explaining the plot of Eleanor, this one is beyond words.

The Good:  Nextwave was Warren Ellis with minor restrictions.  This is Warren Ellis with the gloves completely off.  She said that it might be difficult to follow.  I didn’t find that to be true, but the story is absolutely insane in the best way possible.

The Bad:  I blew through the first two TPB volumes in no time at all.  That leaves only 4 issues and then I think I have to wait until October for Issue #15.  Bummer.

The Ugly:  It took me until the end of Volume 2 to realize that he’s writing the series to focus each 5 issue story arc on one of the 5 main characters.  I’m not sure how he will handle it if it goes beyond 25 issues, but that was a bit embarrassing.

Okay, I’ve branched out and bought a few other DC books.  I’m now entrenched into two independent books.  I’ve admitted to Chris that I may go hunting for the Dale Keown variant cover for the Hulk Generations book even though I already bought the main cover.  I’m deep into comic books again and there isn’t much hope for me now.

Quick Update: Looking Back and Going Forward

(Editor’s Note:  We are back from our many adventures on Cape Cod and ready to get back into the business of bringing fun and interesting content.)

There are two games around here that we really enjoy, but often get pushed to the back burner due to my interest in other games.  Most notably, Magic the Gathering takes all of my money and time and we don’t get a chance to play much else.  One of those games, Dicemasters, has been given much more coverage recently due to my purchase of a gravity feed of the World’s Finest set and our rainbow draft of the set.  The other game is Heroclix, and it might be one of my favorite games.  Shame, then, that I don’t get to play it often.

Unlike Dicemasters, where my history is murky and forgotten, I remember exactly when and how I was introduced to Heroclix.  I’m positive that I’ve told the story before, so I will give the abridged version here.  We were in one of our favorite local gaming stores to pick up something Pokemon card related for Liam.  While in the store, Aiden noticed the Heroclix and asked about them.  I had wanted to get into miniature games for a while, so we picked up an Avengers starter set and played a few rounds with very limited rules.

Am I the only one who imagines that the miniatures have squeaky little mouse voices when they talk?

To be fair, we are still playing with limited rules.  However, we are much closer to playing the actual game than we were back then.  There are still minor rules that we have changed or outright ignore.  But, hey, we’re just playing around the kitchen table (sometimes literally), there’s no stakes to our games, and if we screw something up really badly, there’s always the option to take it back.  So, what’s a little rules manipulation between friends and family?

At the same time that I purchased the World’s Finest Dicemasters gravity feed, I also bought a gravity feed of Wonder Woman Heroclix boosters.  The idea was to play both games in June and report on them as part of a huge DC blowout in that month.  But, it’s summer and the best laid plans and all that.  The Heroclix lie, unopened, in the playroom.  I know that it’s been promised before and there have been many false starts and I can’t say that this time won’t be different, but we have honestly gotten better about keeping a schedule and only really fell off the wagon for the month of July.

I wonder why podcasts and blogs haven’t been our top priority in July.

As mentioned in the editor’s note, we are back from our many adventures on Cape Cod and I’m ready to commit to the web page again.  I already recorded the test pilot for my new one man show, “Snap, *censored*, Pop Culture” and I’ve put together a schedule for the month of August that we should be able to follow without issue and that will let us keep updating on a regular basis.  Again, I promise nothing, but it has to happen eventually, right?

If nothing else, I’m ready to crack into that box and see what goodies we got.  I don’t know if we will do a draft or any such thing or just throw the new characters into the box and build some teams, but I have been wanting to play some miniatures.  So, we will definitely play Heroclix this weekend and I’ll be back with a report of some of my favorite minis from the Wonder Woman set.  Hope you all enjoyed the time off as much as we did and we’ll see you in full force next week!