Tag Archives: Marvel

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 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.

2 Generations Gaming 2017 in Review

Introduction

It’s the first day of 2018.A� This is the time every year that is traditionally set aside for reflection on the previous 365 (or 366) days.A� There are countdowns, marathons, and years in review.A� This article falls into the last category.A� While it has been difficult to maintain a consistent video or podcast schedule, I’ve done okay at updating the web page with at least one article a month.A� I’ve also kept busy with plenty of other geeky fun.A� Let’s reminisce on the best, the worst, and the ugliest.

The Good

APBA Baseball:A� I only recently rediscovered this game in one of my closets and I’m going to write an article this week about the couple of games I played last week.A� I know that others might prefer Strat-O-Matic or another simulator, but this is the only one I’ve played and it does what I want it to do.A� Overall, this has been a great addition to my gaming life again and I can’t wait to dive deeper into the baseball simulation greatness.

Mobile Gaming:A� Old school favorites like Candy Crush and Angry Birds.A� New favorites like Sim City Build It, Fallout Shelter, Magic the Gathering Puzzle Quest, and Pokemon Go.A� All of these games have been played with great regularity over the past year on my phone.A� In fact, most of my video game time has been spent on my phone.A� That’s saying something for a person who used to denigrate all mobile games as shovelware.

Eternal/Hearthstone:A� Yes, these are both games that could have technically been included in the mobile section.A� However, they’ve had more impact on me than the other games included in that list.A� I started playing Eternal during one of my rage quits from Hearthstone earlier in the year.A� I had seen Brian Kibler playing the game on stream and figured I’d give it a chance.A� I’m glad that I did.A� While I don’t play it as much as when I first started, it still has a place in my weekly rotation.A� I have had an up and down relationship with Hearthstone.A� However, as I said to Chris a couple of days ago, I seem to have found my comfort zone in the game.A� I have little to no interest in competitive play of any sort.A� I generally just log in every couple of days to do quests, earn gold, and every now and then win a pack that I won’t open.

Comics:A� 2017 was the year that saw me get back into comics.A� Marvel’s Secret Empire event led to a discovery of the well executed DC Rebirth titles.A� Following them for a few months led right into Metal and sticking with Secret Empire to the end let me experience the start of Legacy.A� Almost all of these events were well executed, but it wasn’t all good for comics this year.A� More on that later.

Magic the Gathering:A� You wouldn’t think that I’d rank this so highly in the good category.A� Given that Chris and I discussed a few times how little we had played the game this year.A� I wasn’t even watching streams.A� It just looked like the game had run its course for us.A� Then, a couple of things happened.A� Well, on my end, one major thing happened.A� During one of our summer trips, I played Magic with all three boys.A� First, we played a couple of two headed giant games with decks that I had built over the years.A� Then, I picked up the Nicol Bolas box set and finally the Explorers of Ixalan.A� We haven’t played the Explorers yet, but there is time.A� Any game that gets me closer to my kids is a great game.

The Best:A� I know that it came late in the year, but any time a Star Wars movie is released and it is half decent, that will be the best thing about my year.A� When it is one of the best of the franchise, it will be the best thing of the decade.A� When I get to experience it with my kids and father in law, it just might be one of the highlights of my life.A� I won’t say much more because I have an article planned to go into more detail, but I absolutely loved this movie and it was a perfect way to start my holiday break.

The Bad

No New Console:A� This is the first year in a few that we haven’t gotten a new console.A� I was going back and forth for a few weeks on whether or not to buy an XBox One Minecraft edition.A� I’ve had my eye on it for a while.A� Then, there seems to have been a mix up with my last December check and unless I sub in January, I won’t get paid at all, so economics won out.A� Liam did buy himself a Gamecube and we found the Dreamcast (but it needs to be repaired), so there are some “new” games being played right now, but no new hardware makes me feel a bit sad.A� We won’t be down for long, though.A� We are looking at a Switch and I’m almost positive that I’ll get an XBox in February.

The Worst:A� Only two for this one?A� Yep, and only two for the next one, too.A� By now, you should know my very positive outlook on things and this shouldn’t come as a surprise.A� Also, the fact that I just talked so much about how comics were a good thing this year might also make this choice for “the worst” seem weird at best and probably perplexing.A� But, I have a valid explanation.A� I loved the stories and art of the comics, but hated the cover prices.A� I was spending far too much money on them and I couldn’t justify doing so anymore.A� At least with games, I get massive replay value from them and they allow me to spend more time with my kids.A� Comics did neither of those.A� It was 3-7 dollars spent on 10-15 minutes of enjoyment.A� That’s just awful.

The Ugly

Our Podcast Lineup:A� I was just talking to a friend (and one of the first fans of the page) about the 2 Guys Gaming podcast.A� He said something about how he thought it was damn good and that it could have been something.A� Not one to take compliments very gracefully, I changed the subject quickly.A� However, the podcasts are fun for me to do and I really want to get back to doing them.A� There have been a few that I listen to that have taken long breaks and come back stronger.A� One, in particular, stopped and started a few times, but it is again one of my favorites.A� So, our planning is ugly, but hopefully by this time next year, it will be good.

Nerd on Nerd Violence:A� This is something that I’ve often spoken against.A� However, as nerd culture has become popular culture, the nerd on nerd violence has increased to an unacceptable level.A� It used to be that when you were picked on by somebody, you always had your nerd buddies to get your back.A� If there was an actual fight, you’d all get your butts kicked, but they were there to take your mind off of being the brunt of some sort of physical or psychological abuse.A� Now, some of the worst abuse of nerds is coming from other nerds.A� It isn’t just good-natured joke fights about whether Star Trek or Star Wars is better.A� It’s full on attacks of each other and the things we hold dear.A� I’m going to talk about this more in my Star Wars article and it might just be that all violence is increasing, but this makes me incredibly sad.

The Verdict

2017 wasn’t all fun and games.A� It wasn’t all poorly executed puns, either.A� It was a good bordering on great year that gives us an excellent foundation to make 2018 even better.A� Happy New Year, All!A� Make it the best one ever!

The State of Comics

Introduction

I guess you could say that I’m concerned about the future of comic books.A� Over the last few days, I’ve had two conversations with two different people (Chris and my cousin) about Marvel comics mostly.A� Neither conversation was completely out of context, but they were both initiated by me.A� I’m not usually one to fall into the trap of nostalgia, but there are a few things from my childhood that trigger it.A� As I have recently learned, comics are definitely in that category.

The Good

I mentioned that both conversations revolved around Marvel.A� I also wrote that I’m concerned about where comics are going.A� So, you can probably deduce that there might not be much in this section about Marvel.A� As you’re right, I will start there in an attempt to build some positive capital so that it doesn’t look like I’m piling on later.

First, other than the slightly (but understandable) disappointing ending, Secret Empire was a good story.A� Nick Spencer took what could have been a disaster and made it work.A� Then, while I didn’t like all of the titles that have come out of Legacy, I did like the idea of tying the past to the present and attempting to build a bridge to the future.

You can see from the cover that they had a slightly darker ending initially. However, apparently due to fan pressure, they succumbed to the obvious. More on that soon.

So, decent stories and characters, what’s the problem?A� Patience.A� I will get to the bad and ugly (in spite of my promise of possibly doing away with this format) in the net sections.A� For now, that is the good of Marvel.A� In contrast, DC not only has good stories (better than Marvel some would say), but their cover prices are so much less.A� I know that sounds odd when the difference is only one dollar, but a dollar per books adds up.A� At the standard prices of 2.99 v. 3.99, you get an extra DC book per $12 spent.A� If you were on a $50 a week habit like me, that’s four books a week.

As a result, even if the books are of equal quality, the DC books will have more value.A� That point, in fact, came up in my conversation with Chris.A� He said how he wasn’t buying Marvel anymore unless they were on clearance.A� He then went on to mention that he thought the DC books were of better quality.A� I initially agreed and probably still do.

However, the more that i thought about it, the more that I realized that might be a false narrative.A� At the least, it is an exaggeration.A� Sure, Batman is the best book currently and might be one of the best ever.A� Scott Snyder has blown it out of the stratosphere with Metal.A� After those and maybe Tom King’s other book, Mr. Miracle, there is a definite drop off in quality.A� I sense a turn for the negative here, so let’s trot out that by line.

The Bad

In contrast to the last section, I am going to start out with DC here to keep the thought going and then switch to Marvel, because as it stands, the only ugly is going to be Marvel, so that thread will continue from this section into that one.A� I’ve already said that most, if not all, of the DC books have good characters and stories.A� Their Rebirth has been a reboot that has worked on so many levels.A� However, it hasn’t all been completely positive.A� Other than the books mentioned in the last section, there isn’t much that is worth the cover price.A� Wonder Woman without Greg Rucka has been quite the drop off.A� No other book makes me want to shell out 2.99 for 32 pages worth of entertainment.

I get that creators need to do what they enjoy and I actually like Black Magick very much, but I selfishly want him back on WW.

Well, if there’s nothing in DC that I’m willing to pay 3 dollars for, then there’s certainly nothing that Marvel is putting out right now that I’d pay 4 dollars for.A� I liked Secret Empire and was willing to give Legacy a chance.A� I liked that, too, and especially liked that it wasn’t a reboot.A� However, all of this was secretly while hoping that they might come to their senses and drop their cover prices.A� They never did, so I’m officially out again from comic collecting.A� I just cannot justify the price for what I’m getting.

The Ugly

So, perhaps I’m part of the problem.A� The other major revelation came during the conversation with my cousin.A� It actually started while I was talking to Chris, but when combined with the subject matter of the conversation with my cousin, it crystallized into a more solid form.

My cousin and I were talking about the new Star Wars movie (impressions coming in a couple of days), and I said something about Star Wars fans being the worst, but Marvel comic fans giving them a run for their money.A� While talking to Chris, I made the point that comic fans have disproportionate power right now.A� Star Wars can tell each individual fan to go fly a kite because they’re still going to make a billion dollars on every movie.

The profit margin is so low for comics and the audience is so small that every fan they lose is a huge blow to the bottom line.A� I thought that Disney might allow the comics division to be a loss leader because the movies have proven to be a money printing machine.A� Perhaps that was true for a while, but there seems to be a turning tide and that they are putting pressure on the comic guys to deliver the goods.

This is how I imagine all the Broflakes who get mad about the changes to the Marvel universe.

The main driver for this train of thought is that they are killing the Guardians of the Galaxy (or that was the chatter a couple of weeks ago) book in January even though it is one of their better movies.A� Chris mentioned that Marvel just doesn’t have the talent that DC does and I reiterated my point that they could drop the price, try out some “new” talent, and take a chance.A� However, that doesn’t seem to be an option anymore and now they’re stuck with this mess of a situation and no good plan as how to proceed because their fans have dictated so much of their recent plans.

The Verdict

Things don’t look good for comics.A� Like I said to my cousin, because he’s not a comics fan, just a fan of the movies, “Who cares, right?”A� Well, I care.A� Comic books were an outlet for an awkward teenage me and they have been a steady force in my life ever since.A� Whenever things start to get a bit too chaotic in the real world, I can pull myself into the pretend world of Gotham or Wakanda and forget about it for an hour or so.A� Video games also became that for me, but it’s been harder and harder to sit down to play a video game now that I’m older.

I honestly like what comics are doing now.A� I don’t mind the new characters, enjoy most of the events that have happened in my time back in the books.A� What I don’t like is the cover price and it isn’t just because it’s prohibitive for me.A� I can find ways around that.A� It’s also prohibitive to new fans that they are courting with these new characters.A� Who is going to take a chance on something that is so obviously and grossly overpriced?A� I will be the first to admit that I don’t have answers, but I’m hoping that someone out there with the power to do something will figure it out.

Fail Hydra

(Editors Note: A�We’ve reached the end of Secret Empire and, with it, comes my review of the overall event. A�I’ve already done at least 2 (maybe 3) reviews of the beginning and middle (so, I guess 2) and promised that when all was said and A�done, I’d be back for the big send off. A�Away we go…)

The Good: A�This was a good story. A�I remember when the event started that I wasn’t completely on board with the idea. A�It seemed to go against everything that the Captain America character has ever stood for. A�How are you going to make Captain America into a facist? A� I understand that comics maybe aren’t selling as well in the face of movies and television shows that provide the same entertainment value at a possibly reduced cost for the consumer. A�But, come on, there are some things that you just don’t do. A�Turning Captain America into Hydra is something that you just don’t do. A�There are numerous instances of him fighting facists. A�One of the most recognizable images in comic book history is Cap punching Hitler straight in the face. A�I’ve shared that very image on this page probably to prove a similar point.

And, if punching Nazis is wrong, I don’t ever want to be right. Give ’em hell, Cap.

I won’t say that I ever came to terms with Captain Hydra. A�However, this story did a decent to good job of explaining a situation that, for many (myself included), had no good explanation. A�Granted, they jumped through hoops and the suspension of disbelief was almost too much at times. A�Still, it got me back into reading and enjoying comics and that is the name of the game. A�Well played, Marvel. A�Well played.

Aside from all of that, the story was compelling. A�It followed a good, logical arc with plenty of all the good kinds of conflict that make me want to invest my time in the story. A�In fact, I became so invested in the story that I did what I told myself I wasn’t going to do and I bought all of the crossover issues for the event, too. A�The last time I fell for that trick was the first Civil War and some of those books just felt like filler. A�That wasn’t the case with this event. A�Every book, even the crossover books, told a piece of the story. A�When you put them all together, you get a well executed event.

The art, for the most part, was very good, too. A�In a previous review, I mentioned that one of the reasons I enjoyed Civil War was Steve McNiven’s art. A�He didn’t do all of the books, but there was only one or two that I didn’t care for the art because another one of my favorite artists, Leinil Yu filled in for a couple of issues.

The Bad: A�I already mentioned that there were a couple of issues that I didn’t like the art. A�Granted, in the issues that I didn’t care for the art, there was a reason to use that particular style. A�I understand that, but I just didn’t care for it. A�It took me out of the story and, for me, had the exact opposite of the intended effect.

By my understanding, the art is supposed to convey an otherworldly or dream feel. It does make sense as this is an alternate reality, so every once in a while, it was interesting to have the art break down into the gauzy and ephemeral which was a stark contrast to the hyperrealism of Steve McNiven. A�However, for me, it was a reminder that this was only temporary. A�Steve Rogers was not going to remain a Hydra agent and Marvel insisted that things weren’t just “going to magically go back to normal at the end” during the whole event.

The art isn’t bad. It’s just different. Normally, I wouldn’t have a problem with that, but it just didn’t fit well in my opinion.

I’ve recently heard rumors that initially, they meant for the Captain Hydra event to lead to another “Dark Reign” type storyline, at least temporarily. A�But, response to the change in Cap’s character was met with such resistance (probably the most out of any of the recent changes) that they had to figure out another way to wrap it all up. I don’t know about all of that, but I will say that another bad thing about this arc is that it got pretty dark in the middle. A�Granted, there were things happening in real life that probably exacerbated my feelings about Hydra ruling the country. A�But, I strongly considered not reading anymore.

The Ugly: A�Other than that middle “despair” arc of the story, the ending was not all that great. A�I think that we all agree that if they were going to end the story in this fashion that this was the only logical ending. A�Still, I’m a guy who likes a good ending and this one was just okay. A�It was what was supposed to happen and it happened.

So, why put this one in the ugly column? A�Well, it’s disappointing for one major reason. A�They said all along that this wasn’t going to be one of those stories where everything just gets fixed and we pretend that nothing happened after a few months. A�Before reading that, I was convinced that the cube would realize her mistake and work to fix what she broke. A�Then, I read that’s not how it would end and I was intrigued as to how they would end it. A�Chris suggested the old Dallas “it was just a dream” ridiculousness. A�While I didn’t have to make good on my threat and return all of the books that I bought if they actually went through with that, the ending was sort of along the lines of what I initially suspected. A�Okay, fine, but given everything that they said about it not being that ending, this deserves an ugly.

The Verdict: A�Similar to Civil War, this event will go down in history as bringing me back to comics. A�I didn’t enjoy this one as much as that one, but I did like the cohesiveness of this story with the crossover titles. A�So, this one might end up being more enduring and keep me in comics for at least the next year, if not more. A�Soon after Civil War ended, I found other things to spend my money on and quickly dropped comics.

Even though I complained to Chris about not having enough comics as the event wound down, I still found a way to spend almost 40 dollars this week. A�I’m back into comics in a big way. A�I have branched out from my almost 40 (well, with a few decades of breaks in between) year status as a Marvel zombie to read far more DC books that I’ve ever read. A�I have even picked up several independent books that aren’t Image while sticking with Spawn long enough to start to appreciate that book again. A�I have no idea what the future of comics holds but, I’m along for the ride no matter what.

Quick Update: Looking Back and Going Forward

(Editor’s Note: A�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. A�Most notably, Magic the Gathering takes all of my money and time and we don’t get a chance to play much else. A�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. A�The other game is Heroclix, and it might be one of my favorite games. A�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. A�I’m positive that I’ve told the story before, so I will give the abridged version here. A�We were in one of our favorite local gaming stores to pick up something Pokemon card related for Liam. A�While in the store, Aiden noticed the Heroclix and asked about them. A�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. A�However, we are much closer to playing the actual game than we were back then. A�There are still minor rules that we have changed or outright ignore. A�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. A�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. A�The idea was to play both games in June and report on them as part of a huge DC blowout in that month. A�But, it’s summer and the best laid plans and all that. A�The Heroclix lie, unopened, in the playroom. A�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. A�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. A�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. A�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. A�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. A�Hope you all enjoyed the time off as much as we did and we’ll see you in full force next week!

 

 

 

Marvel’s Secret

(Editor’s Note: A�This secret is nothing like Victoria’s. A�Although, it wouldn’t surprise me at this point if Marvel did a series where it was revealed that a major male character wore ladies underwear.)

I’m not a huge presence on social media. A�Imagine my surprise then, when my feeds blew up a few months ago with the news that Captain America was a Nazi. A�First, if that seems incongruous, you are not alone. A�Along with many others, I took to Twitter (something I almost never do), to express my dismay at this development.

I also texted Chris about the news. A�We had our usual “old man” conversation about the state of comics. A�The stories aren’t as good! A�It’s a dying medium! A�They’ve run out of ideas and are just throwing things at the wall to see what sticks! A�This is a dumb idea to sell more comics and it will probably backfire!

And, yes, you damn kids better stay off my lawn!

Our old man sensibilities might have been right on for some of that, but we were dead wrong on the point that it might backfire. A�After reading the main comics, I went to the store to pick up some of the tie in issues. A�Well, during that trip, I discovered that a few of them were sold out. A�So, yeah, Marvel’s money making scheme has worked on more than just me. A�Know that I’m not the only sucker still out there made me feel a bit better.

Obligatory spoiler warning: A�Look, I don’t give 2 craps about spoilers, so this article will probably contain a buttload (an actual measurement by the way) of then. A�Let this be your lone warning.

I’m pretty sure that issue #0 is a reprint of a previous comic. A�Even if it is not, as a guy jumping in after almost 2 decades away, I was glad for the recap. A�Plus, it is well written and the art is by Steve McNiven, so it is top notch. A�It absolutely added to my enjoyment of the book. A�Some artists distract from the story by going over the top and others are just bad, but not him. A�I’ve always liked his work and I’m glad they put him on another major even book. A�I’m a bit bummed that they don’t have him working with Millar to recreate the Civil War magic, but Nick Spencer is doing well so far as writer.

No snarky comment. Just admiration of his talent.

So, what is this great story that made even you jump on board with the Captain America, Hydra Supreme angle? A�First, let’s all admit that we know that this isn’t going to last. A�There will be some conclusion to bring Cap back to his Nazi hating self. A�Sure, the even might finish with him in custody after Hydra surrenders or is otherwise defeated. A�However, it’s only a matter of time before ol’ Steve Rogers returns. A�In fact, it may have already happened.

Until they, they’ve given an outlandish, though not entirely implausible explanation for the transformation. A�Bear in mind that when I say “implausible”, we are talking about a universe in which Hulk ripped Wolverine into two pieces and the top half had to crawl to the top of a mountain to retrieve the bottom half. A�So, with that in mind, Red Skull apparently altered or recreated reality so that Captain America was raised from a young age as a Hydra agent. A�He was destined t become the Hydra Supreme and did so through a takeover of SHIELD and eventually the entire country.

His plan included isolating a group of heroes in space against a neverending attack from Chitauri drones. A�Another phase trapped a portion of Manhattan in a dark dimension. A�By the end of issue #1, he had moved into DC to capture the White House. A�I will say this about Hydra. A�They probably keep the trains running on time.

Okay, I admit. That was in poor taste. I’m sorry.

Issue #1 explored the resistance a bit by introducing a character that gets “saved” by them. A�There is also some development of the Cap character in that he is shown as little more than a figurehead as leader of Hydra. A�I will keep this part in suspense because it involves a death, but Steve isn’t able to “pull the trigger” so to speak.

While the resistance story is expected and predictable, I’m intrigued by the Captain America angle. A�In the past, Steve Rogers has been nothing if not committed to his values. A�Even during Civil War, he was willing to play the villain and split the super hero community over his opposition of the Registration Act. A�To see him conflicted to such a degree is both surprising and encouraging that some of the old Cap might be shining through the darkness.

This thread is tugged a bit harder in Issue #2. A�We see that, in fact, Captain America ultimately did not make the fateful decisions in issue #1. A�That fact weighs heavily on him and he feels a bit out of his element. A�Black Widow does what she does and attempts to set off on her own, but she is quickly joined by others and they set up a new team to fight against Hydra and take down Cap.

Surely, you know me well enough to know that was all just an excuse to show Scarlett Johansson.

The issue ends with a moment that literally had me say, “Oh ****” out loud and cement my interest in the story. A�I went from openly antagonistic to mildly interested in the main title to needing to buy all of the tie ins and read them, too. A�They aren’t crucal to your understanding, but they do fill in nicely. A�Plus, there aren’t a ton of them and the event is fairly short, so I don’t mind keeping up with them.

Look, I admit that I’m an easy mark. A�I can usually find some redeeming quality about most creative projects. A�But, this one is genuinely good. A�I can’t nor won’t necessarily recommend the tie ins unless you have the extra money. A�However, if you’re looking for a new series, getting back in after an extended break like me, or any other reason you might have, I say absolutely get the main series. A�You won’t be disappointed.

I am Groot!

(Editor’s Note: A�I won’t even bother to translate the title. A�It’s just another lame Dad joke that is becoming an unfortunate legacy of the page. )

I’ve been waiting for this movie since I saw the first one. A�Sure, Avengers, Dr. Strange, and Civil War are all cool, but my favorite book as a teenager was Guardians of the Galaxy. A�Unlike many of these endeavors, I also liked the reboot and introduction of new characters. A�Honestly, though, I was surprised that they made one movie for the Guardians. A�The book wasn’t exactly an A-list title. A�Moreover, not only have they made one film, but the sequel just released last week and before that one even came out, they announced a third. A�My obscure comic fan boy heart is bursting with joy.

This one became a family event. A�From the trailer, I knew it might be a bit dicey for the kids. A�Unlike Deadpool, though, they marketed this one right at their younger audience. Like I said to Chris, I don’t think our 6 year old is the intended demographic. A�But, you put a talking racoon and a baby tree creature in your movie and you get 6 year olds. A�So, I went the day before to scout and make sure that it wasn’t too inappropriate.

I am Groot? Yeah, I know little buddy. I can’t believe some of the language in the movie either!

Maybe I’m too lenient, but it passed my filter. A�Sure, there is some language that obviously scarred little Groot. A�The movie also has some “mature themes”, as Aiden calls them. A�He claims that he only knows what they are because he saw them on the video game label for Skyrim. A�However, I don’t know what “mature themes” there are in that game, so he might be trying to buffalo me. A�Either way, now that you know the potentially controversial topics, you can make your own decision. A�The movie is PG-13 after all. A�Now, on to the review!

The Good

At the risk of falling into too much of a pattern, I’m going to give this movie the same praise that I gave Power Rangers. A�The best thing I can say about it is that it is Guardians of the Galaxy. A�It takes what was great about the first one and improves almost all of it. A�I said to Chris that the first Avengers movie was still the gold standard of Marvel movies, but this one might be my new favorite. A�He remarked that Marvel movies often fall off from the original to the sequel. A�I replied that certainly was not the case with this movie.

This movie is funny. A�My cousin complained that they seemed to reach too hard for laughs. A�The first time that I watched it, I actually thought something similar. A�It was way over the top at times. A�Not necessarily that they reached, A�but that the movie was much funnier than the first. A�During my conversation with Chris, I said it felt like Marvel learned their lesson from handcuffing Joss Whedon in Avengers 2 and now let their directors just do their thing once they’ve proven themselves. A�So, while some might think he went overboard, I feel like it is in keeping with the absurdity of the characters.

I mean, honestly, look at this cast of characters. And, this doesn’t even include Howard the Duck.

Speaking of characters, in between the required humor and explosions there is an absurd amount of drama and character development. A�I remember when Ang Lee tried to bring the “feel of comics” to The Hulk movie–with decidedly mixed results and reviews–but this movie plays very much like the comics that I knew and loved back when comics weren’t so damn expensive. A�As an aside, though, I was attempting to sort my comics and it made me want to start collecting again. A�I might just have to troll eBay or Craigslist for cheap lots.

Now, back to the review. A�There is just so much good about this movie. A�If you are a fan, you will enjoy yourself. A�If you’re only watching because Marvel makes you watch movies like they make you buy comics during their mega crossover events, then it will be entertaining. A�I question if it is particularly informative in the context of Infinity War (which is strange since the Guardians are supposed to play a pivotal role), but at least you will know who these characters are if that rumor comes true. A�If you’ve already see the movie, go see it again. A�Trust me, it’s just as good the second time. A�Heck, I might even go see it one more time in the theaters because I enjoyed it so much.

Hey, I’m just as guilty of falling for the crossover. Secret Empire is part of the reason that I want to start collecting again.

TheA�Bad

This movie is not technically kid friendly. A�I already mentioned the swearing. A�Personally, I don’t much care about swearing because they’ve heard worse at home. A�Regarding the “mature themes”, the older boys are getting to the age when they will learn those things sooner rather than later. A�I mean, no questions resulted, so I get the feeling that one already knows and the other had them go right over his head. A�I know for a fact that the 6 year old missed them completely. A�He only cared about the parts with Baby Groot.

But, for real, that mother fricker is damn cute. But I don’t usually say fricker.

So, it’s a bit dicey. A�Especially if you are stricter about those topics than I am. A�It isn’t excessive, though, and you just have to make your own decision. A�I mean, you could always do what I did and watch it yourself to see if it is something that you can tolerate and handle. A�Don’t let that stopA�you from seeing the movie, though. A�Find a sitter and take the wife. A�Or, if your wife is lame like mine, leave the kids with her and see it yourself or with friends.

TheA�Ugly

Unlike Power Rangers, Marvel has had over a decade to find and walk that line between audiences for their movies. A�Plus, as I already mentioned, they have movies planned through at least 2019 and a third Guardians movie already announced. A�So, there’s no chance of one and done like I feared for Power Rangers.

But, I sort of painted myself into a corner with this new review format and now I’m stuck. A�I have to come up with an “ugly” section or risk exposing myself as a fraud. A�I guess the only ugly thing that I have to say about the movie is that I have to wait for the next one. A�Sure, we have Avengers, some great DC movies, and at least one Star Wars in the interim, but they’re not Guardians of the Galaxy. A�After this movie not only met, but vastly exceeded my expectations, I’m going to be through the roof for the third one.

The Verdict

This movie is awesome. A�Go see it. A�If you’ve already seen it. A�See it again. A�If you can’t wait for the third, watch the first one and then this one because 1+2=3. A�I’m out of words to express just how much I love this movie.

Dr. Strange Love

(Editor’s Note: A�This was supposed to be a review of Logan. A�However, as is becoming an all too familiar theme in my life, being an adult stinks. A�So, instead of using my break to do things I wanted to do, I spent it doing things I have to do.)

All things considered, I suppose that I should consider myself lucky that I had 99% of this vacation to do with as I please. A�I used it to rearrange my new Magic cards. A�I applied my time and energy to make 2 Generations gaming into a functioning entity again. A�My wife and I even got to have a date night.

Still, I’m a bit bummed to realize that today is already Sunday and I was not able to see Logan or join a Modern Masters draft. A�Truth be told (and why would I lie?), I’m actually more upset about the draft. A�I mean, I’ve had a week or so to hype myself about Logan. A�However, talking to Chris, taking out my cards, and remembering the fun times I had with previous drafts on xMage have me wanting to try the real thing. A�Then again, and this might just be me out of practice, I tried a draft on xMage for this set and it did not feel like a good draft set to me. A�Maybe it is better as sealed. A�Maybe it is just a “draft a bomb and profit” set. A�Who knows? A�All I know is that I was having a difficult time finding the synergies in the cards. A�Perhaps more testing is needed.

I felt like I was being pushed into 3 colors. Maybe, from the above card, that’s intended. Maybe it’s a trap!

But, this article isn’t about Magic. A�I know that it won’t be the latest and greatest, but perhaps I can revisit this in May when we do our show on Magic. A�Now, I want to talk about Dr. Strange. A�Naturally, this may lead to side conversations about other movies this year. A�However, as this seems to be the year of DC with regards to movies, I will most likely be able to stay on target. A�Also, I really liked this movie.

I get the feeling that was not a common assessment. A�I have not heard overwhelming hate against it like I did Batman vs. Superman, but it was a quirky movie. A�As a kid, I always liked the lesser celebrated heroes. A�Sure, I collected Spidey and Hulk, but I also had Guardians, Luke Cage, Iron Fist and Dr. Strange in my collection. A�This has followed me into adulthood in two ways. A�First, I’m infinitely more excited about those franchises coming out this year than Spidey. A�Some of that might be Spidey fatigue. A�The second aspect of my legacy of obscure super heroes lives on in Aiden. A�He loves Iron Fish and Flash is his absolute favorite book. A�But, there will be time to talk about that in November.

Now is the time for Dr. Strange and one of my main man crushes.

The movie hooked me with the casting of Sherlock heartthrob Benedict Cumberbatch. A�One of my favorite actors playing one of my favorite characters? A�Sign me up! A�I never got to see it in the theater for the same reason that I wasn’t able to see Logan. A�Okay, that’s not entirely true. A�I could have taken the boys to see this one. A�Maybe it was just a lack of time and money that kept me from this one.

Whatever the case, I wish that I had seen this one on the big screen. A�It’s rare that I say that about a movie these days. A�With HD wide screen TVs and surround sound, the theater experience is relicated quite easily with only 1.50 from RedBox. A�But, the special effects are the best that I’ve seen from a Marvel movie. A�I never saw inception. A�I know. A�accuse me of yet another geek crime and bring me before the tribunal already. A�However, from what I’ve seen of the Inception trailer, the visual style of Dr. Strange is very similar. A�Maybe I will finally see the movie and strike one of my crimes from the record.

There was only one part where the effects took me out of the fantasy of the movie. A�When the ancient one takes Strange on his tour of the multiverse, some of the efffects looked wonky. A�But, it was brief and the rest of the movie was so entertaining that I put the minor glitch behind me.

This is the part that looked most fake to me. Right after this when he went flying off into the distance. It wasn’t terrible, but it definitely looked like it was at the end of the production schedule and they rushed it.

That was the other thing that stood out to me about Dr. Strange. A�It was funny. A�I mentioned Batman vs. Superman earlier A�and the hate that it received. A�I didn’t agree with much of it, but DC is definitely missing the point by making their movies so dark. A�They got too much into the *Batman voice* “dark and gritty realism” that they forgot how much fun these stories can be. A�Like all of the Marvel movies, Dr. Strange made me chuckle several times and laugh out loud more than once. A�I have always been a Marvel zombie, but that added humor is why I prefer the Marvel movies to DC. A�They have gotten better. A�Aiden has been watching the Flash TV show. A�Between that and some of the trailers that I’ve seen, DC is slowly bringing more humor into their franchises. A�One big complaint about Batman vs. Superman was Batfleck, but perhaps his introduction into the universe will end up being a net positive. A�We shall see.

Before you think this is universal praise, there was one aspect of the movie that worried me and it wasn’t necessarily a fault of the movie. A�How’s that for some double speak? A�Comic book audiences have been trained for the big action and explosions. A�I know that Dr. Strange exists in that world, but he’s not so much about the punchy/kicky as he is about the hocus pocus. A�Would people think the movie is boring? A�Again, I can’t speak for anyone else, but I was very entertained by the action present. A�There was plenty of punchy/kicky in the form of martial arts and there was even some explosions during the finale.

Heck, the punchy/kicky even added hocus pocus to the mix.

Above all of this, though, my favorite part of the movie did not involve punchy/kicky. A�Instead, Dr. Strange used some major hocus/pocus to defeat Dormammu and save the world. A�For those of you even lamer than I am, I won’t give away any more than that, but it is definitely worth the wait and does the character justice. A�If you’re a fan of Dr. Strange, you won’t be disappointed.

This movie didn’t surpass the first Avengers as my favorite Marvel movie. A�I’m not even sure if it cracks the top 5. A�However, it is probably the most entertaining comic book movie I’ve watched in the past year. A�If you are in the mood for a good time with great effects and more or less faithful to the source material (if that’s your thing), then you definitely want to see this movie.

 

Earth’s Mightiest (and Miniest) Heroes!

(Editor’s Note: A�We actually made it through this article without infringing on Stan Lee’s Excelsior copyright. A�It hasn’t yet had the intended effect of getting sued by the Generalissimo, so maybe we’ll just drop that and try to get famous the old fashioned way. A�Then again, the well behaved rarely make history, so… A�Excelsior, fellow Marvelites, and tally ho into the world of Herocilx!)

Imagine, if you will, a future in which the entire Marvel Universe was put into Ant Man’s shrinkerator, or injected with shrinking serum, or however it is that he is making himself so tiny in this iteration of the character. A�Then, suppose that you could freeze those tiny heroes in a pose that best captures their character. A�Finally, what if you could then make those mini super powered beings team up, fight, or do whatever you wanted them to do. A�How cool would that be? A�Maybe not cool at all for them, but really cool for us. A�Well, wonder no longer, because we live in that future!

You can almost hear him screaming, "This monster has trapped me in this (admittedly cool) plastic model. Please, release me. Vengeance must be served!
You can almost hear him screaming, “This monster has trapped me in this (admittedly cool) plastic model. Please, release me. Vengeance must be served!

The Gamer Bros and I talked about Heroclix in the latest episode of Noob and Sons. A�Chris and I talked about it on the main show, too. A�We’ve both written articles about our experiences in the game. A�When introduced to it, I never thought that this game would become one of my most played and discussed. A�But, the gaming gods work in mysterious ways.

When Chris and I played, we were both overwhelmed by the sheer number of rules and interactions. A�Now that I’ve researched other miniature games, I understand that rules and interactions are par for the course in the genre. A�Moreover, those who are interested in such games actually prefer having all of those rule. A�I don’t mind having all the rules. A�It is a trade off for having such a dynamic game environment.

However, one of the times that Chris and I tried to play was later at night and I just could not focus well enough to finish the game. A�Also, that rule set can be intimidating and scare off new players. A�That is the reason that I’m focusing so heavily on the rules in this article. A�I tried playing the game with Aiden when he was younger because he was the first to buy the figures. A�He had to play with a greatly reduced rules set just so that he could enjoy himself. A�Lesson learned, I suppose. A�these games are not for the weak.

You hear that, you *bleep* *bleep*.  This game isn't for *bleep* *bleep* *bleep*.  You better get your *bleep* *bleep* *bleep* in *bleep* shape or you will get *bleep* in your *bleep* *bleep*.
You hear that, you *bleep* *bleep*. This game isn’t for *bleep* *bleep* *bleep*. You better get your *bleep* *bleep* *bleep* in *bleep* shape or you will get *bleep* in your *bleep* *bleep*.

Still, the games with Chris inspired me to play more. A�It was during Christmas break, so I only had the boys as partners. A�Even though they are both older, I don’t think that they have the patience for the actual rules. A�Heck, as we’ve seen, I barely have the patience sometimes.

I looked up ways to play more than two players. A�The version I found most intriguing was called “King of the Hill”. A�You mark off a 3 by 3 (or maybe 4 by 4) area in the middle of the map, designate 4 potential starting zones and the teas battle to be king of the hill. A�We awarded points based on the number of characters on the “hill” during our first game. A�That turned out to be neither fair nor representative because larger teams with more characters received a potential disproportionate number of points. A�In an attempt to fix that, we recorded the point values of the characters in the “hill”. A�The effect of this was actually two fold. A�First, it gave all teams access to the maximum number of points. A�Second, it added strategy to the games in that you wanted to target the higher value opponents and keep them off the “hill”.

The other consideration when playing with the boys is the actual rules of the game. A�I already discussed this aspect a little bit. A�From movement to special powers, line of sight to push damage, the rules set of any miniature game is overwhelming. A�Heroclix, because it is geared to a younger audience is less so. A�Still, there is a ton of information to process each turn. A�We eliminated all special powers in the first game. A�Chris and I spent most of our time looking up the powers on our phones and computers, so that one step eliminated most of the idle time and made the game faster.

[in an unexplained British accent]:  But, without my powers, I am just a pretty blonde muscular guy with a big hammer.  Then again, I suppose that isn't all bad.
[in an inexplicable British accent]: But, without my powers, I am just a pretty blonde muscular guy with a big hammer. Then again, I suppose that isn’t all bad.
We played with powers in the second and third games. A�By then, though, I had played enough that I knew most of the powers and the rest only required a quick reference check to remind myself. A�The only thing left was to tackle the somewhat convoluted movement rules of the game. A�I’m a bit ashamed to admit that I don’t fully understand how actual movement is supposed to work each turn, so we simplified that, too.

Each character got one move or attack per turn. A�You could take “push” damage to give the option of a second action on any character. A�This method improved the flow of the game and kept the action at appropriate comic book levels. A�As I said, I don’t fully know the actual rules, so I’m not sure how different our version is from the official. A�I do know that it worked for me and the boys and Chris is open to trying them, too, the next time we play.

Now that we’ve worked out the things about the game that we didn’t like, it is a fun game. A�We have been busy and not able to play at all since the games at Christmas, but summer is coming and we will have more time. A�Who knows, as we play more, maybe we’ll go back to the actual rules of the game. A�Probably not, though, because I like our version.

Also, I'm not usually one to respect the rules.
Also, I’m not usually one to respect the rules.