Magic the Gathering Retrospective: Theros to Dragons of Tarkir

Note: This is part 2 of a 5 part series.

Introduction

I’ve already explained the rationale behind this series of articles in the previous article, found here. Picking up that thread, Return to Ravnica got me back into the game and Scars of Mirrodin and ultimately Innistrad cemented my interest in the game. Theros and Tarkir made me fall in love with the game. Both of my recent prereleases were attended for these sets. Chris and I fed each other’s addictions. It’s always during those times that our interest in the game is the strongest and this was no different.

Theros Block

Core Set 2014 – 2011 was Titans. 2012 was Mages. 2014, well 2014 holds a special place in my heart. Sure, a big, dumb 6/6 that let’s you rez your little dummies is fun (Sun Titan) and a tiny dummy that can summon you an army of even tinier dummies (Jade Mage) are both fun, but what if all of your dummies could work together? 2014 introduced me to slivers and what has become a life long quest to make slivers work in a deck.

I never got it to work consistently, but I did bother Chris one game with this guy and a few of the plus one guys. And, we all know that bothering Chris is my favorite MtG mini game.

Theros: This is awesome. A couple of blocks ago, I got gothic horror for my MtG experience. This time, I’m getting ancient Greek and Roman lore. I studied math and philosophy in college. My wife studied classic as part of her education degree. We went to Greece for a vacation to celebrate her graduation. This set speaks to me on a primal level. As an added bonus, this is about the time that I actually started to think about Magic as a strategy game. With mechanics like heroic and monstrosity, I could no longer ignore the siren’s call of synergy.

Born of the Gods: Just like the previous two blocks, the middle set was the smallest of the three. Also, like my previous looks back in those blocks, I was smart and I saved some to talk about for the smallest set that might not have that much to discuss. In reality, I just forgot about them in the previous section, so I’ll talk about them here. First, I forgot to mention “Bestow”, a mechanic that allows you to cast a creature as an Aura, which then detaches and becomes a creature again when the creature it attached to dies. Makes perfect sense, right? Nope, I explained it poorly. See Nyxborn Eidolon for some cool art and an example. Finally, what is a Greek themed set without gods?

Mogis is probably my favorite from this set. Still trying to make a deck work around him.

Journey into Nyx: Cripes, I forgot another mechanic in the last set as I was trying to make up for missing the earlier two mechanics. Inspire triggers whenever the creature untaps. Satyr Nyx-Smith is a neat example and it leads me right into the mechanic of this set. Strive lets you cast multiple copies of a spell and choose different targets for each copy. Ajani’s Presence always teased me as a possibility for a heroic deck, but the Strive cost is a bit too steep for an aggro deck. Probably by design, I imagine. We are still a set off from creating game breaking cards. Spoiler Alert. This set also contains my favorite card from the block and scry engine for my empires deck that I talked about in the last article, Sigiled Starfish.

Tarkir Block

Core Set 2015: Through it all, trying to remember everything, and I still forgot Chris’s favorite mechanic from the set, Constellation. Well, I was trying to be true to my with the game and constellation never spoke to me. So, what cool stuff is in 2015? Not much, which is why I took up space mentioning constellation. I mean, it does have probably the best named card ever, Hot Soup, and Waste Not, which was designed by the MtG community. And sure, Sliver Hivelord is pretty cool, too. Other than that, it was a pretty standard set and right about when I started to tire of Core sets.

It seems like I wasn’t the only one who was tired of them, either, because Wizards announced that Origins would be the last core set and later reversed that decision. But that’s in the next part.

Khans of Tarkir: My other prerelease came during this set. I brought the boys along for this one because I always want to include them in the things that I enjoy. That proved to be a bit of a mistake because they were a bit too young for what ended up being a much longer day than expected. I also chose poorly for my prerelase kit and went against my nature with Mardu. Both the clan and the cards were telling me to go aggro and I tried control. It met with failure. I lost the first two games and then Aiden wanted to leave, so we dropped. It was so miserable that we haven’t been back. That’s not entirely true. The last part is true, but it’s not necessarily because of this experience. It’s just that life gets busy.

Fate Reforged: I don’t remember exactly what was happening during this set. It was right around the time that I had one of my breaks from the game. It wasn’t that I wasn’t interested in the set. I actually loved the story that was being told about time travel and bringing the Dragons back to the plane. I’m not usually a fan of time travel, but when dragons are involved, I will temper my skepticism with some healthy, “Awesome!”

And it paved the way for them to print one of my favorite cards ever.

Dragons of Tarkir: I was back in the game by the time this one rolled around. Maybe it was just the business of the new semester that kept me away for Fate Reforged? I know for a fact that I was back in for Dragons. I remember that I wrote an article about attending the prerelease with my kids and decided against it. The set, though, was so much fun.  When you put dragons in the name of a set, you had better come with the dragons. It is not a stretch to say, “Here there be dragons” in Tarkir anymore.

The Verdict

Theros was an undeniable flavor win. The ancient Greek lore spoke to the math, philosophy, and classics nerd in me. Besides that, we had fun playing the block. While looking through the set to write this article, I texted Chris, “Theros was just a solid block.” He agreed and we talked about how much fun it was. I then, as I often do, speculated how much fun it would have been to draft the set. Granted, I did a prerelease, but drafts are a completely different strategy. Who knows? Maybe one of these days I will put together a Theros block cube with all of my spare cards.

I had a different reaction to Tarkir. It focused on multicolor like Return to Ravnica. Unlike Ravnica, the clans were three color instead of two color. Having never played during Alara, the concept of three color decks intrigued me. I also learned a great bit about the MtG color wheel. The three colors of Alara were three allied colors while the three colors of Tarkir were two allied colors and one enemy color. That all changed when the dragons came back, but I enjoyed it while it lasted.

Up next is the end of core sets. Is it really, though? We also take a trip back to some recent planes before going to 3 new and exciting ones. The final part will talk about the set that took us all the way back to the beginning and set the stage for the Return to the Return to Ravnica. Be sure to keep reading and I hope these articles are bringing back as many great memories for you as they have for me.

Magic the Gathering Retrospective: Scars of Mirrodin to Avacyn Restored

Note: This is part 1 of a 5 part series.

Introduction

Why Scars of Mirrodin? Chris and I are going to talk about Magic’s return to return to Ravnica on the podcast this week. After their most recent revisit to their old home, it’s clear that the R&D guys at WotC are feeling nostalgic. This nostalgia has inspired me to take a look back at my history with the game. While I have been playing the game since the beginning, it is only since Scars of Mirrodin that I’ve been actively engaged in the game.

Plus, Mirrodin introduced poison to the game and that’s everyone’s favorite mechanic. Am I right? Guys? Guys?

Okay, that’s not entirely true. Return to Ravnica was my actual reintroduction into the game. I then worked backwards to fill in my collection with older sets. It wasn’t until the Zendikar block that boxes became prohibitively expensive, so I stopped at Mirrodin. This article started as a Top 10 list since Mirrodin. Then I was going to rank all of the sets.

Why isn’t this a ranking? I decided not to do either because; (a) that’s a lot of sets and (b) more importantly, rankings are stupid. There’s plenty from all sets that I both enjoy and don’t. Besides, I started this web page to be a different voice from everything else out there. Instead, I’m just going to tell my Magic the Gathering story and how it has evolved over the last 5 years or so. Hopefully it succeeds and that you enjoy.

Scars of Mirrodin Block

Core Set 2011: We know them. We love them. Okay, maybe that’s a bit of a stretch, but Wizards did try to kill them after Origins and now they’re back. Someone somewhere has a soft spot for the dependable and comfortable core sets. This one was neat because it had the Titan cycle (Primeval Titan is my favorite) in it and all of those cards are awesome.

Even this guy who doesn’t see much play is pretty awesome in cube drafts.

Scars of Mirrodin: These sets are a very different style that I’m used to in a Magic the Gathering set. In addition to being more colorless focused because of the artifacts, poison and phyrexian mana are included. Most mechanics tweak the rules a bit, but they work fully within the confines of the game. Occasionally, a mechanic might add a new twist to the game. Both poison and phyrexian mana break the game in fundamental ways.

Mirrodin Beseiged: Being the smallest and middle of the three sets, there isn’t much memorable, as least for me. One card did jump out at me as I was looking through the binder, though. I pulled more than one of Phyrexian Rebirth and got obsessed with trying to build a token deck around that card. It never happened, but maybe I have a new project for the coming weeks.

The lore nerd in me alone is excited to write a story for that artwork.

New Phyrexia: This is it. All hope is gone. The fight is over. Mirrodin has lost and the Phyrexians have remade it in their image as New Phyrexia. This is reflected in the cycle of Praetors (here I’m true to my blue roots and want to build around Jin-Gitaxias, Core Augur) in this set, incredibly powerful creatures that are the envy of all Commander players, yours truly included.

Innistrad Block

Core Set 2012: 2011 gave us Titans, appropriately named big dummies that could be used to make your opponent miserable. 2012 brought us Mages, 2/1 creatures with a mana activated abilities. I mean, I guess that’s just as cool as 6/6 creatures who can ramp 2 lands per turn. Not really, but they also gave us the Empires cards. I used them to make a deck that made Chris miserable for a game a few months ago.

Because I’m the happiest playing MtG when I can durdle my opponent into a stupor.

Innistrad: Okay, this is more like it. While Mirrodin was cool and it added some interesting things to the game, it was a bit too alien for me. As a fan of fantasy and horror who played several campaigns through the D&D setting Ravenloft, Innistrad speaks deeply to me. Vampires and Werewolves, and Ghosts, oh my!

Dark Ascension: I was so focused on sharing my excitement for the set that renewed my love for Gothic themes in fantasy settings that I forgot one of the best parts of the Innistrad block. Double sided cards! Sure, you have the Legacy meta defining Delver of Secrets. But, what about Loyal/Unhallowed Cathar that changes color identity when it flips?

Don’t forget about this thing, either! It’s a weapon that turns into a demon!

Avacyn Restored: Forget for a moment that I can’t pronounce Avacyn. Look, I’ve heard it pronounced Ah-va-sin many times by many different sources. My brain still wants to make it Ah-vah-kin for some reason. What’s that got to do with anything? Nothing, I just needed to get that off my chest. In addition to the titular angel, Avacyn, Angel of Hope, there are three others that play a pivotal role in the lore. Also, the Planeswalkers (Tibalt, the Fiend-Blooded and Tamiyo, the Moon Sage) are the first ones that I noticed that aren’t the usual five.

The Verdict

Mirrodin changed Magic the Gathering in several ways. I have heard the argument more than once that they were game breaking and not at all in the spirit of making the game more fun. While I won’t either agree nor disagree fully with that sentiment, I will leave you with this. We haven’t been back to Mirrodin in any way, shape, or form, so that might tell you something. Heck, they even took us back to Zendikar and people hated Eldrazi more than they hated the Phyrexians.

Innistrad restored some of the balance of the game, lore wise. Instead of weird and alien creatures trying to subjugate other weird and alien creatures, we had vampires, angels, werewolves, spirits, and demons. It was a much more familiar setting and one with which I was far more comfortable. I can’t say that I would have quit Magic if Innistrad hadn’t been more traditional, but I do know that my joy in the game would be greatly diminished.

Make sure that you don’t miss the next part when I will discuss the Theros and Tarkir blocks. You may have noticed that I skipped the Return to Ravnica block. That’s because I’m saving that one for last since it connects so well with the next sets coming out and they are the reason for this look back in order to move forward.

Tales from Marvel Civil War: I am Spider-Man

Disclaimer

The following is a work of fan fiction. As eluded to in the title, it happens during the events of Marvel Civil War. All properties are the trademarks or copyrights of their respective companies.

Introduction: Spider-Man is Not as Cool as Batman

He loved this city. Correction: He loved this city from up here. Perched on the edge of a gargoyle hundreds of stories above the ground, eh felt almost like that man who liked to dress as a bat. What was his name? Oh well, it doesn’t matter. That guy is way cooler.

He can drive and takes advantage of that by driving the coolest vehicles ever invented. J. Jonah barely pays me enough–for pictures that he then uses to demonize me–to keep a roof over my head. Not that Bat-Guy (Bat-Dude)? He has way better PR. I always see him in the papers shaking the hands of the commissioner even after letting that clown blow up a few city blocks. Sometimes life is so unfair.

Heck, he’s even cooler up here. He stands on the edge of these things, cape blowing in the wind, his scowl somehow penetrating that mask of his to remind all the bad guys who is in charge. Maybe I need a cape. I already have the mask, but it covers my whole face. How do you show off a scowl with a full mask?

He tried a few scowls underneath the mask and just felt ridiculous. Taking off the mask, he tried a few more scowls. He felt no less ridiculous. Holding the mask in front of his face, he imagined it as Doc Ock or maybe Gobby. After one or two more practiced scowls, he felt even more ridiculous.

It’s just hard to scowl as your Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man.

He looked closer at the mask. He did need it, right? Set aside the face that J. Jonah had this weird vendetta against it. He had to protect his family. From what, though?

He put the mask back on.

Act 1: Who is Spider-Man Really Protecting?

At first, I needed the mask to keep those around me safe. I might be imbued with the awesome powers of the spider, but not many others have been. If anyone found out my secret, those around me would have been put in danger and I couldn’t live with myself if any of them got hurt. Not even J. Jonah.

He thought back over the years that he had been Spider-Man. Several times over, the mask had proven to be necessary for just that purpose. He grimaced under the mask. Too many times. He hadn’t exactly been careful about protecting that trade secret. Sometimes it felt like J. Jonah was the only one in the world who didn’t know.

Maybe Tony Stark is right.

That voice that had taken up permanent residence in the back of his mind spoke up. He could always hear it muttering back there. It only became audible at times like these when everything else in his brain went completely silent. Once it took over, there was no stopping it. It picked up on his thought train from earlier.

We are super powered beings. Granted (or born with) powers that far beyond the comprehension of the average person, ee are dangerous. There is collateral damage. What happened in Connecticut must never happen again. Something had to be done.

Do I really have to be one of the faces of it, though?

Well, why not, Peter? Honestly, why not? You already had to admit that the mask doesn’t always serve the purpose of saving those around you. You bemoaned that sometimes you feel like the only one who doesn’t know that you are Spider-Man is J. Jonah. Who is the mask protecting?

Act Two: The Death of Spider-Man

He stood up–and jumped, executing a perfect swan dive. Windows flashed by and he dropped through the air. Most were dark, but a few had lights on and he saw men and women still working at their desks at this hour and one overly excited custodian waved gleefully as he passed. Tomorrow morning, he was going to have one hell of a story to tell his family. I was there when Spider-Man killed himself.

I’m only kidding, of course. Or, am I? It would be so easy to just let it happen. Make it look like my web slingers malfunctioned. Thinking about it now, it’s actually quite easy. Plus, it solves my problem of having to make the decision to reveal my identity.

His Spider-Sense tingled, interrupting his train of thought. That was strange. Granted, it often went off during times of pending harm and he was hurtling towards the ground to certain death. What he had learned during his occasional non-suicidal leaps from buildings is that it only generally worked when that pending harm wasn’t self-inflicted. Someone needed help and they were close. A faint burglar alarm confirmed this. He shot a web in the direction of the sound.

Act Three: Spider-Man Saves the Day

He quickly discovered the source of the alarm. It was one of those mom and pop deli shops that somehow survived in this city and made it unique. He smiled under the mask. He may not always love this city up close, but it had its moments. Busting petty crooks holding up a neighborhood deli was always a highlight of an evening. Landing amidst the chaos of the scene, he opened the door and entered the deli.

Compared with the street, the deli was quiet. The only sound was a burglar alarm blaring its tones, that he found that surprisingly easy to ignore. Quickly surveying the store, he saw that the register was in the back, so the crook stood with his back to the entrance. He’s a real amateur. He hadn’t even looked back to see if the police had arrived. Thank goodness for small miracles.

Grabbing a bag of Doritos and a Dr. Pepper, he stood behind the robber in an odd mockery of normalcy. The thief was so engrossed in his potential pay day that he didn’t even notice. Spider-Man tried to act as nonchalantly as possible. One wrong move and things could go very wrong very quickly. As he often did in these situations, he thought back to that first fateful encounter.

“Sir, could you please finish your business? Some of us have to get to work.” Spider-Man said.

The thug started and turned to face him, a look of pure surprise on his face. Spider-Man took advantage of the distraction, disarming the man and webbing him to the ceiling in his customary fashion. Walking to the register, he placed the items on the counter to pay. Looking no less shocked than the thief, the deli owner stammered before finally speaking.

“Please, take them. On the house. As thanks.”

Epilogue: I Am Spider-Man

Spider-Man shook his head. Grabbing a pen and a scrap of paper, he started jotting down an IOU.

“What’s your name?”

“My friends call me Bob. You can call me Bob.”

Spider-Man put his hands over his heart and tilted his head in a pantomime of the “Awwww” gesture. Expressions were tough in this mask.  After he finished the note and handed it to Bob, he turned to leave the deli. Pausing briefly at the door he turned his head.

“Keep that note, Bob. I will be back to pay it. This probably isn’t your first rodeo, but make sure that gun gets to the police. By the way, there’s no camera in here, right?

Bob pointed to the corner.

“Besides that fake one?”

Bob shook his head Spider-Man removed his mask. The look of surprise on Bob’s face became exaggerated. It mirrored the one he imagined J. Jonah would have before the old goat keeled over.

“My name is Peter Parker,” Peter said, “and I am Spider-Man.”

He put the mask back on and swung off into the night.

END.

Comics Hunter

Introduction (My Brief History in Comics)

Over the weekend, I realized that I never edited nor posted the comics themed podcast that Chris and I recorded a couple of weeks ago. The realization came as my computer was out of commission during our scheduled recording time for the main title podcast. It works out for this week. I can just release it this week and we can record for next week. The only issue is that I did both of my “state of” articles last week. I might be able to do them monthly, but it will more likely be every other month. I certainly wouldn’t do them weekly. As a result, I had to come up with two different comic themed articles for this week to stay current with the podcast.

I’m not sure, other than the articles last week, if I’ve mentioned Chris and my newly discovered love of comic books. Mine is more newly discovered than his as he generally has a smaller reading list than me and thus doesn’t have to spend as much. I did find a cheaper way to read the comics digitally, but I found myself missing the hunt, so to speak. I’m a collector at heart, so it just didn’t feel right not having those issues.

To set the scene for new readers, I have been collecting comic books since I was in high school. I’ve been collecting Magic the Gathering cards for almost as long. Sounds impressive, no? Imagine all of the profits from those books and cards that I sold. I should be retired on some tropical island surrounded by beautiful people and sipping on a never ending line of drinks with umbrellas in them, right?

Alas the closest I have come is I drank way too many free mai tais on a sunset cruise during our honeymoon in Hawai’i.

Granite State Comics Fest (April 22, 2018)

Why am I not? The short version of the story is that I haven’t been collecting comic books the whole time. I do take breaks every now and then, one time for almost a decade. Another tiny problem is that I threw away all of my comics from when I was a teenager. My wife (then my fiancee) and I moved a bunch before we found our house. During one of those moves, I decided I didn’t want to move the comics anymore. If I had anything worth anything it was either poached by a dumpster diver or recycled into printer paper.

During this most recent break, Chris has been in constant contact. He’s told me about all of the cool stuff in DC’s Metal event. He’s tried to convince me, more than once, that Midtown’s discount is worth it. As a quick aside, he finally got me on board with that one. I’m quite stubborn sometimes, but eventually make the right choice.  I wasn’t ever completely out this time.

The true turning point came during our visit to the Granite State Comic Fest. Both he and I went to the larger convention several years ago. I saw that they were doing a smaller show and suggested that we go. He agreed and both Liam and Aiden expressed interest in joining us. It is one of the most fun days I’ve had in the last few months. More than that, it gave me additional reasons to want to collect comics books.

What’s Next? (Comics on my List)

Our trip to the comic fest and a costly trip to a local store inspired to update my inventory.  I’m a bit jealous of the set up that Chris has for comics now and I want one, too. With renewed purpose and focus, I can do that.

My first idea was to fill out my Spawn run as much as I could. That’s not entirely true. I said to Chris, “I want a full run of Spawn. Shouldn’t be too hard.” Spawn is the first comic not named Spider-Man that made a strong connection. Unfortunately, it has been much harder than I anticipated to pick up the missing books. I guess I still have a 1990s over production mindset and one of the times that I took off collecting must have been lean for Spawn. As Chris tells me, we’ll find them eventually.

After I fill in all of my interested titles from the Rebirth relaunch, I want to start working backwards to the “Final Crisis”. I have some New 52 titles and I have most of the Countdown books. Filling in the New 52 will be an impressive accomplishment. Chris told me this one might be difficult, too. I can fill in with trades. Not as interesting, collector wise, but I’m not going to be an issue snob in the face of overwhelming prices.

I have a few ideas for my Marvel collection. I’m only a couple of issues short of completing Totally Awesome Hulk. I also have most of the (She-)Hulk series that was just cancelled. Other than that, I went crazy on eBay and bought a whole bunch of Marvel Team Up issues and am going to work on finishing that whole run as I’m less than a dozen missing.

Conclusion

I enjoy reading comics. Especially now, the stories and art are great in almost every book that you get. I should know, I had a 50 dollar a week habit for a while. Like Magic the Gathering, which I enjoy playing, I am more of a collector. I love opening packs and seeing what cards I have and need to finish a set. With comics, I enjoy the books. There’s also something to be said for scratching that itch that you get when you realize there’s a book missing from your collection. I’ve been scratching that itch quite a bit recently. Stay tuned to see if I can keep the momentum.

State of DC Comics

As mentioned in my previous article on the state of Marvel comics, Chris and I have recorded a pilot for a new podcast. I am close to finishing the edit on that, so it should be available soon. I had hoped to take the occasion of the new show and my new interest in comics to write down a few words about the state of the two larger comics publishers. If you’ve read that article already, you know the deal. If not, here’s the short, short version. This isn’t an in depth analysis of the financial and social impact of DC Comics. It is simply the thoughts of one fan and the likelihood of that fan remaining for the foreseeable future. If that sounds like something you’d like to read, let’s get started!

The State of DC Comics (as I see it)

First, a little history. This is partly inspired by comments made in my Marvel comics article. It is also a result of my attempts to organize my comics. During those efforts, I ran across my issues of the 52 and Countdown weekly series. That led to a Google search for DC “continuity” surrounding those series and, more importantly, the series following. Apparently I stopped collecting comics after Week 41 of the Countdown series. In a conversation with Chris, I think that is because the local comic book store in town closed.

I was for years under the impression that these guys were just falling. Maybe their impact is what caused the final crisis and New 52? I may never know.

Chris got back into Batman during New 52. He also enjoyed Swamp Thing. I knew nothing about the actual plots of any of the books during this time. In the Marvel article, I touched on New 52 and Rebirth because Marvel seems to be in the same rudderless ship that DC was back then. I ignorantly made the assumption that DC used New 52 as a way to clean up their timeline and further ignorantly assumed that maybe Marvel was doing the same by rebooting so soon after their Legacy announcement.

In my searches, I found that New 52 was actually, other than maybe a few issues, an absolutely disaster. I don’t know if any of this is true, but I learned that Batman was actually his dad because it was Bruce who was killed and Wonder Woman declared war on Aquaman (maybe?) that destroyed all of Western Europe. It all reached a head when (as it often does when DC wants to reset continuity), Flash royally screwed up the timeline by going back in time to save his mother.

Seriously, there are a few things we can rely on in comics. Flash will mess up the timeline and any time Marvel wants to be taken seriously, they “end” the Fantastic Four.

That has led to Rebirth, which almost everyone agrees is the most successful relaunch of a comics line, maybe ever. It has been successful in one way that is personal to me. It’s kept me collecting comics. I might have gotten back into comics because of Secret Empire, but DC is the reason I’m still here. I’m enjoying nearly every story that I read from them. They have some of my favorite writers and artist working for them. Things right now are just really good.

My Future with DC Comics

I think I’ve made the point that I think that Rebirth has be overwhelmingly successful. It’s given me reason to keep buying comics and unlike previous times that I’ve gotten back into collecting, I have reasons to stay. First, DC Comics are really good right now. Secondly, the Rebirth reboot has given me a focus to the collecting. I might never be able to collect all 1000 Action comics, but there’s nothing preventing me from collecting the ones from the start of Rebirth. Finally, my kids are showing an interest in comics. Similar to my other hobbies, they are much more enjoyable when I can share with them.

In case you haven’t read my previous article, I’m much more optimistic about the future of DC Comics than Marvel right now. Chris and I have talked and I realize that the market is cyclical. Any time you have competitors, they generally take turns at the top. Right now is DC’s turn to be at the top. Thing is, I don’t see Marvel making the moves necessary to even compete, let alone make a run for that number 1 spot.

Speaking of #1, I just realized that they’re killing the Incredible Hulk line to make room for this one. Hulk has been so mistreated recently.

The one thing that worries me is that DC has given into market pressure and they’re raising some cover prices. While that might have been inevitable and that’s just what they believe the market can bear, it’s not an encouraging sign. I know I’m an old man who refuses to come into the present when it comes to game and book prices, but this is one thing that I truly can’t understand. Maybe I’m looking at it the wrong way. In addition to just getting with the times, I need to realize that this isn’t just a “32 page” book as I’ve said in the past. This is, often, a great story with accompanying art that should be appreciated. Besides, thanks to Chris, I now realize that only chumps pay full cover price.

State of Marvel Comics

Chris and I recorded a pilot for a new show this weekend about comics. In the episode, we mostly talked about our history with comics. For future episodes, we hope to discuss titles, possibly eras of comics (we both stubbornly still like the 1990s in spite of all the flaws), and of course the big two, DC and Marvel. I hope to take the lead in that last topic this week by writing a couple of article about the states, as I understand them,  of our favorite (or maybe just favorite to hate since this is is the age of internet trolling) comic book companies.

As a consequence of that parenthetical, I will lay some ground rules. Do arguments about politics in comic books excite you? You’ve come to the wrong place. If you want analysis of current trends and what they might mean for future decisions, look elsewhere. What about deep financial insight into the industry? I can’t provide that. What I can do is give you one fan’s opinion of Marvel Comics and how likely it is that I’ll continue to collect them beyond the ones that I consider necessary. For those keeping score, that’s Spider-Man and Hulk.

And, if Marvel ever wants to take all of my money, Spider-Hulk!

The State of Marvel Comics (as I see it)

Chris and I touched on this a bit during the podcast episode, but we didn’t dig too deeply this time. I don’t want to step too much over that conversation here. However, I know that in text conversation, we’ve both discussed our concern about Marvel Comics and that one of the episodes of the comics podcast will revolve around our thoughts concerning the company. My main problem with comics generally, and Marvel comics specifically, is cover price. As that is something that I can’t do anything about and Marvel has repeatedly said they won’t do anything about, I will leave that point for the next section.

Another topic of conversation between Chris and I has been the “reboots”. I was on board with Secret Empire story line. In fact, it was that story that got me to start collecting again. I was even with the for their “Legacy” reboot. Heck, I though, it worked for DC Comics with “Rebirth”, so why not try it. I just saw earlier this year (and it is reflected by the books being posted on my pull list) that they have another reboot planned.

Again, this is not entirely without precedent. After their Infinite Crisis event, DC launched the New 52. I have no idea if this was the plan the entire time or not, but those titles only had 52 issues and then led right into Rebirth. Also, this article isn’t about DC. That article is coming either tomorrow or Friday.

New 52 also introduced me to the dream team of Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo, so I’m willing to give it a pass.

Back to Marvel, the rebooting titles soon after a reboot has happened before. Furthermore, it has been successful. However, and this is what bothers me slightly about it, now that I think about it, the new 52 into Rebirth makes sense as a planned event. This move by Marvel feels more like the panicky decision of people who have run out of ideas.

My future with Marvel Comics

First, let’s address the topic of cover prices. I already said that nothing is most likely going to be done about it. So, why bring it up? Well, they are the main reason that I took my most recent break from comics. I was fully ready to just let them be a part of my past with maybe the occasional visit to a flea market, convention, or dollar bin. Then, Chris convinced me to try Midtown because they offer cheap cover prices. He then found out about DCBS and their prices are even lower. Cover prices shall no more be a gate beyond which I can’t pass.

Because, DC might be drawing some cool things, but this line is no longer one of them.

It’s still too early in the process for me to know if the rebooting a reboot will work out for Marvel as it seems to have for DC. I will say that I’m keeping an open mind about it. If, in fact, it is a plan to remove some of the messiness of recent story lines and streamline their line up, then I’ll happily eat my words. I did say to Chris a few weeks ago that I was combing through archives of the page and found an article bashing DC for what Marvel is doing right now, so things can definitely change. I will finish with this. For the first time ever, as one of the most unabashed Marvel zombies out there, I have more DC titles on my pull list than Marvel.