I last wrote one of these articles in February. I think I knew at the time that they planned to release a new “season” every month. Somehow, March, April, and May went by without me writing anything about the game that last year I called the mobile game of the year. Well, better late than never. And, honestly, what better time to rejoin the game than Marvel SNAP in the Spider-Verse?
Heck, my wife just texted us all in the group chat not to make any plans for Friday because she wants to go to the movies as a family. I felt bad reminding her that I got invited to one last Conant graduation for the seniors this year. Aiden also wrote that he made plans with friends for Friday. Oh well, she said, there’s always Saturday. The movie she wanted to watch? Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse.
I wrote a quick blurb about the four new locations in Quantumania. Since they only released two new locations this time, I have some more room to discuss each one. As we will see with the card release, movement is the theme of this season. This location fits right in with that. I have a move deck that I play for fun sometimes. Hitting this location with a Multiple Man gives me the warm and fuzzies all over.
Now, this thing just looks bananas. If you get this one as the first location, that’s five turns of things getting moved. I suppose you can play around it by focus firing on this location, but that leaves the other two wide open unless you have cards that make cards like Sinister. I get the feeling that before long, unless I’m playing my move deck, this will be one of those locations that I grumble about when I see it.
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On Reveal: Transform the highest-cost card in your opponent’s hand into a Pig, keeping its Power and Cost.
Okay, I admit to not understanding the functionality of the Spider-Ham card. Does it remove all effects from the card and just retain the power and cost? If so, then it acts like a polymorph of sorts and I can see that being a fun way to mess with your opponent. Silk plays like a reverse Juggernaut and can work to free up some space if you painted yourself into a corner by placing too many cards in one location. Ghost Spider is going right into my move deck for sure. And Spider-Man 2099 feels a bit too expensive, but with Ghost Spider can really put a crimp on your opponent’s late game.
Marvel SNAP in the Spider-Verse feels a bit less than previous updates. Four new cards matches up with what we’ve seen in the past. But, as I said to a friend, unless they start releasing different versions of cards, they have to be running out of characters to add to the game. Then again, I just Googled “How many Marvel heroes are there?” and it gave me the answer of over 80,000. So, there’s that.
The update only provides two new locations compared to the four from Quantumania and three from the Nimrod seasons. However, the last two updates only gave two as well, so maybe they run out of locations far before characters. One big update that I don’t care all that much about but other players do according to this article, is the Conquest mode. Who knows? Before long, I’m sure I will join you all there, SNAPers.
The first week of June closes with Marvel Comics 2023. Having already reviewed TMNT and Spawn and then DC Comics in the previous articles this week, I looked forward to finally getting a chance to sit down with my favorite publisher. You know me. I’m an unabashed Marvel zombie to the end. MCU included.
As the banner up above reads, school is out in a couple of weeks for all of us. Granted, Christine, Liam, and I are going to Germany for three weeks. But, I hope to keep content consistent until then and maybe run some classic articles while we are gone. When I went through the archives to remove the malicious code, I read through the articles. As I said to Chris, “We have a unique voice. Wish more people heard it.” Well, on with the reviews.
X-Men #22 Jerry Duggan – Writer, Joshua Cassara – Artist. Chris kept telling me how good the Hickman run of X-Men was. I should have listened at the time. A couple of weeks ago, I spent an ungodly amount to get all of the paperbacks to get caught up on the MCU level of homework needed to read these books. I still haven’t had a chance to do so. Until I do, I can’t properly rate X-Men in Marvel Comics May 2023.
WTF Did I Just Read (Or: Can You Don’t?)
Amazing Spider-Man 25: Zeb Wells – “Writer”, JRJR – Artist. I felt compelled to add a new category after reading this train wreck of an issue. I mean, what the hell is this story? It reads like the bastard child of a terrible Moon Knight issue with the worst of one more day. I saw several people online griping about this one, but you know me. I don’t trust randos on the internet. Also, I try to give all creative pursuits a chance. Well, I gave this one a chance. Bury it in the desert with E.T.
Thor #34: Torunn Gronbekk – Writer, Juan Gedeonwith Sergio Davila – Pencilers. In Avengers, Carol says, “Thor used to be more fun. He’s been through a lot.” I liked the beginning of Aaron’s run of Thor. Then, he got weird on the same level as Snyder and his Dark Metal nonsense. Now, Thor just reminds me of the fun character he used to be and that makes me sad.
Avengers #1: Jed Mackay – Writer, C.F. Villa – Artist. Another day, another Avengers #1. This one sees Captain Marvel as the new chairperson. She recruits Stark, Thor, Panther, Captain Samerica, Vision and Wanda. As introduction issues go, this one is fine. I like Aaron’s Avengers (for the most part), so we’ll see how Mackay puts his stamp on the team.
Venom #19 Al Ewing – Writer, Roge Antonio – Artist. After last month’s Marvel article, I texted Chris to tell him how much I enjoyed Venom. I compared it to Ewing’s Hulk run. This issue read more like a traditional beat em up, but the last page seems to be setting up for some more of Ewing’s classic horror story that he showed in Immortal. Come back next month to see if he delivers.
Fantastic Four #700: Ryan North – Writer, Iban Coello – Artist. In the DC article, I wrote about how underwhelming a couple of the landmark issues were. No such let down here with the Fantastic Four. Marvel’s first family is in good hands. This story comes with the fun and frenetic pace that the FF is good for. Plus, they commissioned a sweet wrap around cover again and got me to buy three copies of this book. Shrewd.
Guardians of the Galaxy #2: Colin Kelly and Jackson Lanzing – Writers, Kev Walker – Artist. I come into this knowing nothing about Grootfall other than Groot is now some sort of cosmic being on a similar level as Galactus. The Guardians, as they often are at the beginning of stories, scattered to the winds and need to come together to face this galaxy spanning threat. You all know I love my Guardians from their awkward beginnings (even before James Gunn became the “defining” voice) and they seem to be in good hands right now.
She-Hulk #13: Rainbow Rowell – Writer, Andres Genolet and Joe Quinones – Artist. People, predictably, backlashed online against the She-Hulk series. I watched just enough to know that it contained the fun and funny voice of the comics. I want to finish it to see how it ended, but who has the time to keep up with all of this. On the topic of this run of Shulkie, I absolutely adore it.
Overall, Marvel Comics May 2023 comes with some strong issues. Granted, ASM leaves such a bad taste in my mouth that I won’t soon forive Marvel for assassinating my boy so badly, but the rest of the issues read like the characters from my youth. For someone recently discovering how cool nostalgia is, that feels great.
We last covered Marvel SNAP as our mobile game of the year at the end of last year. I think they either just released the new “season” at that point, so we went a couple of months without any real news about the game. Marvel Studios obviously considers the new Ant-Man and Wasp movie to be the launching point for Phase 4?5?6? and worked a deal with the game to promote it. As a result, when I opened it today, the game greeted me with Marvel SNAP in Quantumania.
I struggle with a way to properly preview a game like Marvel SNAP. I see people online sometimes denigrate it for the simple game play as too easy. While I admit that sometimes it puts me off that they took any “difficulty” even from a game like Hearthstone, I appreciate the quick games. But, without an actual set “release” and no way to craft cards yet, the game gives no guarantee that you will play with any of the new cards. Nevertheless, I already bought the season pass plus (14.99, the additional 5 bucks gets you 10 levels on the track) so let’s just dive in.
Love them or hate them, Marvel SNAP remains committed to the concept of locations. Granted, they need something to add another level of strategery and I like most locations, but some are just gamebreaking and, as always, I feel like those ones always favor my opponent’s deck. Enough whining, what do we have?
Camp Lehigh: Gives each player a 3 drop in hand. As someone who already draws 3 drops at an alarmingly high rate, this one is a pass for me, dog.
Quantum Tunnel: Playing a card here swaps it out with one in your deck. This seems hella fun and prime for shenanigans.
Quantum Realm: When you play a card here, set it’s power to 2. Either they have a combo in mind that I haven’t considered, this is troll, or you can steal a win from big decks because they won’t want to play here.
The Sacred Timeline: First to fill this one gets a copy of their opening hand. When played with MODOK (more below), this opens the game for all sorts of ridiculous combos.
Featured Card (MODOK)
On Reveal: Discard your hand.
Oh great, more disco decks to deal with on the ladder. I now have a dumb trigger every time I see Apocalypse discarded from a hand. I don’t have a reliable way to play around that stupid card. Oh well, time to research control options. I already have Cosmo and Armor in my deck. Might as well go full lock down and find a card that prevents discards.
On Reveal: See your opponent's turn and replay the turn (without Kang)
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I doubt I will ever play Ghost, but who knows? At least in my most played deck, my Ongoing, I need to flip first especially with Cosmo and Armor. Armor made more than one destro deck retreat by himself. Kang seems like an autoinclude in almost every deck. Who doesn’t want a late game do over? Speaking of disco tech, I like Stature. 1 cost, 7 power? Quite versatile, for sure.
In addition, Marvel SNAP in Quantumania give us variants (no more pixels, please, most of those are just bad), bundles (I saw some one person saying the price points in this game are off and based on the first bundle, it seems way overcosted), and some ideas of how to utilize the “Battle Mode” against your friends with weird rules. I love this game and I love what I see from this update. See you out there, SNAPers.
We debuted Game of the Year articles two years ago. I only wrote Console/PC, Tabletop, and Mobile articles last year and the year before. This year, I plan to add two new categories; card and a separate articles for console and PC. To be honest, I played less on consoles and especially PC than any other format, but I know what to do when I get to those categories later in the week. Today, I celebrate our 2022 mobile GOTY: Marvel SNAP.
As often happens lately, Chris texted me about the game to say that he tried it. I saw advertisements for it, but heard little about the game. So, he got a chance to play it before me. He told me a little about the game and said he mostly enjoyed it. That’s when I downloaded and gave it a try.
Marvel SNAP Humble Beginnings
Chris explained the game as “War” with additional features. Okay, I thought, how does that work? Exactly as I should have known. You build a deck of 10 cards with Marvel heroes and there are three “locations” in the middle of the board that sometimes have special abilities like modifying your cards or moving them to other spots on the board.
I still only played part of the tutorial. The game seemed a bit too basic for me. What can this game offer in the face of other card games like Magic the Gathering and Hearthstone? As usual, I looked at it the wrong way. It wasn’t until a couple of students in my first block class at Conant mentioned the game again that I gave it another chance. I started playing it again shortly after that. I earned some new cards, tried some of them in new decks, and the game finally worked its way into my regular rotation.
Missions, Rewards Track, and All That
After playing through the introduction rewards, I opened the actual rewards track. I searched for the price a couple of times before realizing that I needed to unlock it and then pay. $9.99 seemed a bit high, but mostly worth it for daily play, so I paid the amount and regularly check the game to see if my missions refreshed (it happens about every 8 hours instead of daily, which is nice) in between other games.
The game still seems basic and almost too easy. I don’t have any actual statistical analysis, but it feels like I win 9 out of 10 matches. Until today, I couldn’t remember the last time I actually lost a match. I mean, as I play, I see strategy and misplays by my opponents, so maybe it is just in that weird space where everyone is learning the game and how to play. Maybe my opponents just don’t care all that much about winning. Honestly, the game offers little in the way of incentive to win. Most of the rewards simply come from playing the game.
In spite of that minor drawback, I enjoy the game and look forward to seeing the new upgrades to cards that I unlock periodically. Several of the cards made me say, “Oh wow!” But, we saw with the most recent Hearthstone set that isn’t always an indication that cards are memorable.
Is SNAP my favorite mobile game? No. Did I play it the most often during 2022? Not even close. I only started actually playing a month ago. Plus, seeing as how my play sessions are only about 5-10 minutes each, I don’t even anticipate playing it the most next year. Still, I like the game and have no problem naming it our 2022 Mobile GOTY. If you want to learn more about the game and give it a try, click the link.
I already reviewed the first 4 or 5 episodes of WandaVision on the page. Searching for the post to add the link confirms that it was 5 episodes of the show. The title is not a lie. This show took our family by storm and became must watch viewing from episode 1. We love WandaVision Part 1 implies that there might be more than one article in this series. While I can’t promise that’s the truth, I have a lot to say about this show.
While it may seem awkward, some of the sections in this post will come in the form of reactions to the responses I received on that post. Since the page doesn’t quite have the reach I always hope it will, I can’t respond to anyone here. Hopefully some of you reading out there will have some of the same reactions and it will feel like we are having a conversation about this really great show.
In this post, I plan to address the first couple of episodes, the overall theme of the show, the fan theories that almost all went kaput, and where do they go from here? Before we get too far into it, though, a word of warning. I neither care nor respect the culture of “No spoilers”. I won’t actively spoil anything, but I won’t be careful about what might be considered a spoiler. You’ve been warned. Let’s see why we love WandaVision Part 1.
Those First Episodes
I probably addressed this is the previous article. But, we are nothing if not thorough around here. I constantly repeat myself in case an article picks us up a new reader or two. Several people in my orbit (and by orbit, I mean one of them is a famous individual who I follow on social media) came away from the first two episodes disappointed.
Having possibly watched two of the most epic movies ever made (Infinity War and especially Endgame are in my top 10 movies of all time, MCU or not), they wondered why two of the most powerful heroes from those movies now played house in black and white complete with the messed up dinner and messed up magic act in the talent show trope. I implored the friends over who I believed I might actually have influence to stick with the show. It will pay off, I promised.
I’m not going to be disingenuous and say that I’m not here to gloat. I’m totally here to gloat. After all, it’s the sole reason for this post. Whereas other comic book “fans” went off about Mephisto this and X-Men that, knew. I knew about pain, suffering, loss, and grief. Let’s just leave it at that. I knew.
The Overall Theme of the Show
The show finally accomplished what Marvel has been trying to do since they rebooted their most popular heroes in the early and middle 2000s. It brought a new audience into the Marvel universe. My wife, Christine, who often sneered at us when we talked about how excited we were about the latest Marvel cinematic offering and went out of her way to avoid the movies like the plague, bought into this show from the first scene. The mother of one of Aiden’s friends also found herself watching the show with her son.
Here’s the thing. They both became curious about the backstory behind these characters. We ended up watching Infinity War and Endgame to give the most recent history. Then, Christine actually asked to go back to watch the chronological order of the movies. We are currently at an impasse because she wants to skip Iron Man 3 and the 2 GotG movies and our boys aren’t letting her. Hopefully, soon, we can resume because the GotG are my favorites, but I’m staying out of it.
The mother mentioned earlier said she had some of the same questions as Christine, so I summed it up for her thusly. Wanda is a witch. Vision is an extremely powerful AI given humanoid form. They are in love. Vision is killed by Thanos who looks to balance the scales on a cosmic level. Infinity War and Endgame, if you want the backstory, but not crucial. Her brother was killed by another villain named Ultron. That’s Age of Ultron, again not crucial. Driven a bit crazy by the death of her brother and lover, she created this alternate reality to have the life denied to her. And, guess what. Yep, gloating time again. I mean, honestly, people, it’s in the bloody title.
Fan Theories that Ultimately Fizzled
I admit that I paid little to no attention to these. Along with Star Wars, there is a sect of Marvel fans that became insufferable about the MCU and tolerates no deviation from the comic stories that they know and love. It started with organic web shooters during the Toby Maguire era. Like most of these underground internet communities, it grew into an unnatural den of anger and suffering.
Regarding WandaVision, the two most prominent theories I saw were a retelling of House of M, but instead of wishing mutants out of existence, Wanda wishes them into the MCU. With the acquisition of FOX, this made some sense. Then, FOX Quicksilver showed up and it looked like the old boys might have stumbled onto some inside intel. Alas, that rabbit hole proved too deep and Quicksilver is just our husband Ralph.
Apparently Mephisto fan boys (and girls?) exist because that’s the other one I heard bandied about from the beginning of the show. This one made the least sense to me. I suppose they derived inspiration from the Spider-Man story “One More Day” (I think that’s the one where Mephisto deals with Peter to give him back Aunt May, but takes everything else), so I give them credit for doing their homework. However, nothing else added up. My jaw dropped at the Agatha reveal like anyone else, but it made more sense that a rival witch showed up to throw a monkey wrench into the proceedings than Mephisto and his meddling ass.
Where Do They Go From Here?
The protagonists “won”, Agatha rests in a flesh prison of her own design (Admittedly, not the fate I wanted for her, but an appropriate end all things being equal), the Vision is whole again, and Scarlet Witch (yes, they finally gave her name!) went the Thanos route and retired to a mountain retreat. I mean, yeah, she’s astral projecting and reading from and old gods cursed magic book. But, baby steps!
I’ve been trying to figure out Scarlet Witch’s character arc since the beginning of the show. It feels like they have been setting her up as a big bad to be redeemed. That only left when the redemption might actually happen. At the end of episode 9, it appeared that Wanda was at peace with her decision and willing to move on to bigger and better things. As a colleague noted, in the end credit scene, she looked to still be a little bit bad. Back to square 1.
What I can say for sure is that she will most likely be in a post credit scene in Spider-Man to set up for her next big starring role in Doctor Strange. Also, no matter her role in that film, it always seems like even when she tries to do right or good, it ends up blowing up into unintended consequences. Thanks for reading my recap of WandaVision Part 1. Stay tuned for a possible part 2 and maybe even a part 3 and 4 after watching the series two more times between now and next year when Doctor Strange releases.
Not sure what’s going on in our WandaVision Part 1 review? Go watch the show on Disney Plus! Know exactly what we’re talking about? Come watch it again with us!
Marvel Comics in 2018 have been a bit of a mixed bag. Perhaps that is being too kind to them. I have made no secret of my status as a Marvel zombie for life. Marvel properties, namely the animated Spider-Man and Friends cartoon and the live action Incredible Hulk television show, introduced me to those heroes. When I then started to collect comics, Marvel books were the first ones that I bought. In fact, until Image started as a company, Marvel were the only books that I bought.
I have since branched out from that narrow focus. As my wife can attest, I collect a variety of comic books from all three of the bigger publishers. Perhaps it is this branching out. Maybe I am just getting older. Hey, it could even just be that DC has focused more on comics. For whatever reason, this is the first time in my life that my top 5 comics are not Marvel books.
DC Comics famously rebooted their universe from the mess that was New 52 a few years ago. Marvel has tried the same a few times over the years, including their own version of the New 52. As a collector, this has caused some confusion with the sequence and numbering of their titles. They responded with their Legacy “not quite a reboot” reboot which also offered consistent and official numbering for their more recognizable books. Even this was met with some internet side eye as their numbering schemes were brought into question.
The Good (Marvel Comics in 2018 is back to basics)
We are on to the good section of the article, so let’s keep it positive. There has been some good to come out of this mess. I mentioned in the previous section that Marvel books might not have cracked my Top 5 last year. That’s a bit harsh. There are at least two books from Marvel that are near the top of my read list every month. Before I talk about them, I’ll mention the other books that I’ve been enjoying.
Dr. Strange is one of my favorite Marvel characters and the latest story of him losing his magic has been a fun story. The Extermination story grabbed and kept my interest. X-23 is written by one of my favorite writers. Captain America post Secret Empire is a cool exploration of the soul of the character and, to an extent, our country. Iron Man and Avengers are both decent. On to my two favorite Marvel books.
I was skeptical when I heard the announcement about The Immortal Hulk. A horror book? Starring Hulk? Okay, I’ll give it a shot. I’m glad that it did. The tone of the book is completely different, but it is back to the Jekyll and Hyde roots of the character. Highly recommended.
I am not as much of a Venom fan as Hulk, so I wasn’t sure what to expect out of this title. I had enjoyed the pre-Legacy story line of the symbiote being sick and Eddie needing to cure it. They have continued with that thread while also adding some of the same horror as in the Hulk title. I also recommend this book if you are just getting into comics.
The Bad (Marvel Comics in 2018 is inconsistent)
Perhaps the epitome of this inconsistency is Black Panther. While many have only discovered the character because of the mega blockbuster movie that came out last year, I have been a fan of Black Panther since the beginning of my comic collecting. After starting with the big boys, I moved on to some of the secondary characters and enjoyed their stories more. I can’t quite put my finger on why I’m not enjoying this book more, but it just has not felt as fun or interesting as some of the others. Admittedly, I haven’t read it in a few months, so maybe it has fleshed out the concept better in the meantime.
If you know me at all, you know that I will give any creative outlet a chance. I’m a frustrated writer myself (imagine that, a failed novelist as blogger), so I understand all too well the crushing defeat of something you spent 10 years of your life on failing completely. Sorry, fell into therapy mode there.
With all of that being said, I didn’t like Infinity Wars. I really wanted to. I liked the first comic series and I loved the movie. I collected all of this title and even got the connecting covers. Then, I started to read it and it is a confusing mess. I don’t understand any of the motivation of the characters or reason for the plot. It was so bad, that I reconsidered my collection of the Infinity Warps offshoot books. I still have yet to buy any of them. Maybe Marvel needs to take a break from events.
The Ugly (Marvel Comics in 2018 is frustrating)
While I don’t want to sound like one of those internet guys who hates on everything, I’m going to do exactly that. This also probably is not entirely the fault of 2018. Marvel Comics has felt like a rudderless ship for several years now. They introduce new heroes, build them up for years, and then cave to the whims of those internet grumps and kill off those heroes. I get it. Sales drive industry. Perhaps I’m more frustrated with the grumps who won’t give something new a chance than with Marvel.
Comic books need to grow and change from their lonely nerd boy roots if they are going to continue. Perhaps the New 52 was the worst thing to happen to DC. Maybe Totally Awesome Hulk and Miles Morales Spider-Man were an anathema in the Marvel Universe. Spoiler Alert: I read both titles. They weren’t. Even so, comic sales have not kept up with the reality. Comic books are very popular except for the comics themselves. Maybe that is the reality. People that don’t buy comics never will. But, I commend the companies for continuing to try to find a new audience.
The Verdict (Marvel Comics in 2018 is in transition)
It’s been no secret that Marvel’s focus is more on its cinematic and television properties over the last decade. They have been building an integrated storyline over that time that they used to invest in their comics. Chris and I have had the conversation numerous times and I was under the impression that comics had become more or less a loss leader for the company under their Disney overlords. While that might be true to some extent, Marvel Comics still considers itself an integral part of the family.
It remains to be seen if that is actually true. When I go to comic shows, I do see people younger than me there. My kids are all into comics and read at least one title a month that I buy. Aiden likes Flash. Liam reads Batman. Quinn’s favorite is Teen Titans. I don’t know if they are going to continue to read comics past childhood. Maybe they’ll be like me and go into comics hibernation for a time until nostalgia brings them back.
Overall, I’m happy with what Marvel is doing with their comic books. If they can sustain this for a few years like DC has done with their Rebirth line, which has become the new DC universe, then I think they’ll be able to build their audience a little bit more. So far, so good. Quite an unsatisfying conclusion perhaps, but that’s the state of comics in 2018.
Promised for a week or so and finally recorded, Chris and I talked about 1990s comics. I already did three articles on Marvel, DC, and Image comics in the 1990s. But, I like to make sure that the articles match what is on the podcast for that week. Therefore, I have to keep writing about comic books this week. In keeping with my previous theme of reminiscing about my time in Magic the Gathering, I figured I can keep talking about my recent history with comic books.
The 1990s are when I discovered comics. The 2000s are when I rediscovered comics. I found a local comic store in the neighboring town of Athol. Due to rent concerns and low profit margins on comics, he moved the store to Orange. It was right down the street from my house. Instead of having to drive 5 minutes, I only had to walk 5 minutes. It didn’t hurt that the guy was friendly and would talk to me every time I was in the store. Also, it was just a great time to get back into comic books.
Marvel Comics Pop Culture in the 2000s
I went into great detail in my Marvel Comics in the 1990s article about how pop culture was instrumental in shaping my comic book interests. While my interests were mostly cemented by the time I rediscovered comics in the 2000s, it was the time that comic book movies started to grow up. We were still a couple of years away from the birth of the current golden age of the MCU, but something big happened in the early 2000s.
Marvel Comics took a bit of a risk. They released a new Spider-Man movie. Even though it doesn’t seem like it now, I say that they took a risk. Historically comic book movies were terrible. Even as they figured things out in those early days, there was still a clunker every now and then.
Spider-Man was the first comic movie experience that was positive. Somehow, I convinced my wife (who is not a comic book fan at all) to come see the movie with me. I also convinced her to see the re-released Star Wars movie. While it took her until Episode 7 and Rey to truly embrace Star Wars, she was on board with Spider-Man from the beginning. Granted, things got weird at the end when they tried to do Spider-Man No More and Venom in the same movie, but I think we can all agree that they’ve figured things out.
Marvel Comics (Not Civil War or Hulk) in the 2000s
You are probably wondering why I’m not including Civil War in my discussion. It is the defining event of the decade and it might be (since the movie) one of the most recognizable crossover events in comics. Sure, Infinity War has recently surpassed it. When Captain America Civil War released into the theaters, though, it got my formerly comics deficient friend to start talking about comics and he is willing to discuss the movies with me if not the books.
Because it was so influential, I’m going to give it a separate section for discussion. Why Planet Hulk? Even though it isn’t as influential outside of the comic book world, I prefer Planet Hulk to Civil War. Therefore, it gets its own section.
Other than those two events, Marvel had a pretty good run during the decade. Books that I continued to collect after the events were over include Cable and Deadpool and Thunderbolts. Warren Ellis wrote Thunderbolts. He gained a fan for life with his depiction of the dysfunctional super villain team. In fact, I started my Warren Ellis collection with his series New Universal.
Perhaps the most interesting thing Marvel comics did during the decade was the Ultimate line. It reinvented the Marvel comics universe to possibly new fans. Familiar faces acted in unfamiliar ways. It didn’t always work. Weirdly, Hulk was a cannibal. Often, it did. Ultimate Fantastic Four introduced the Marvel zombies. Sometimes it reminded me of the “good old days”. I experienced one of the most frustrating release delays since the days of Image.
I don’t know what the reaction to Planet Hulk was from most comic book fans. I do know that it hasn’t been turned into a movie. Oh, sure, there was the animated movie. Also, it was given a minor treatment in Thor: Ragnarok. We have yet to see Planet Hulk staring Mark Ruffalo. It’s too bad, too, because the Hulk in Ragnarok was so much fun and I’d love to see a movie starring him.
My only request is that Greg Pak is consulted if the movie is green lit. Initially, I didn’t pay attention to writers and artists. I knew names from my previous experience with comic books. But, the fallout from the creation of Image comics brought an influx of new talent. One of the new writers that I would come to enjoy (and ultimately admire due to his Twitter feed) is Greg Pak.
I’ve always been a fan of the Hulk. I enjoy the Jeckyll and Hyde nature of the character. It intrigues me that Marvel made their heroes more human with potential human issues. Hulk explores the psychological terror of multiple personalities with respect. Sure, as with all comics, they lose their way and go off the rails sometimes. Mostly, though, the Hulk struggle is one worth following.
This story dealt less with that because Hulk was the dominant personality. But, seeing Hulk finally get his wish of “wanting to be alone” initially. Then, he became the leader of the rag tag group of gladiators. Finally, he fulfilled his destiny as the Worldbreaker. It is probably one of the most fun Hulk stories ever.
Marvel Civil War
When I was in the comic book store looking for books, I noticed a banner in the corner of the Marvel comics. It said, “Whose side are you on?” There might have even been the Civil War logo. But, there was definitely a date when the event was scheduled to start. Instead of guessing, I just went searching through my books for an example, but I can’t find one.
In any case, I went home to research Marvel Civil War. I learned that it was going to be a huge crossover event that was going to sucker me into buying 25-30 books a month for the duration. Okay, maybe I’m exaggerating a bit. Some of them even became a part of my regular collection. Most of the titles, though, I just bought for the event. Even so, it was all worth it.
I wasn’t around for Inifinity War. I do understand that it was probably the most ambitious crossover event of the time and maybe in history at that time. So, I can understand the nostalgia that people have for the event and why all others are compared to it. I might go back and read it sometime to see if it lives up to the hype.
As Civil War was my first mega crossover event, I will compare all future events to that one. If you look back on my Secret Empire review articles, I mention Civil War more than once. It was a well crafted story that dealt with current events. Some people have recently decried the inclusion of politics into their comics, but that’s usually just a deflection because they don’t agree with the politics. While Secret Empire felt a bit too real for me and I had to take a break, I never had that problem with Civil War. Probably just too young and dumb.
I discovered comics during the 1990s. I fell in love with them during the 2000s. Marvel went a long way to making sure that love stayed true. I will talk about my experiences with DC and Image, of course, but what kept me going back to the comic book store (that was only a 5 minute walk away, I stress) were Civil War and Planet Hulk.
So, when I say that I’m a lifelong Marvel zombie, that’s not entirely true. Traditionally, I do like the Marvel characters better than the DC characters. Also, the last two times that I’ve gotten back into comics have been because of Marvel events. My sentiment is changing some recently because I prefer DC to Marvel right now. However, in the 1990s and 2000s, you could make mine Marvel.
Chris and I are going to record the second episode of Comic Hunters this week. We might even be in the same room for the first time since the relaunch of the podcasts. We are going to the local comics superstore, That’s Entertainment, a trip that has now been a month in planning. After, we will most likely record the show.
Update: As often happens, our plans have changed. We are not going to That’s Entertainment. We are still recording. However, we won’t be in the same room.
Our topic for this show is going to be our affinity for 90s comics. We touched upon this topic in the first show. I was so excited and inspired by the unexpected revelation that we may have met before we met (listen to the show and it will make sense) that I wanted to travel back in time to revisit that era of comics that means so much to the both of us.
Marvel Comics in the 1990s and Me
It’s been a while since I’ve had to take the nerd walk of shame. I believe in being open and honest, though, so it has to be said. First, some background. Anyone who knows me knows that I am an unabashed Marvel zombie. My favorite heroes are often from Marvel, I’ve been enjoying Marvel movies since the original Spider-Man franchise (yes, even number 3), and it is most often a Marvel event that gets me back into collecting comics.
You can probably guess where I’m going. In case you don’t, let me explain. Everything I said in the previous paragraph is true. I’m not lying about being a huge fan of Marvel properties. What isn’t 100% accurate is that comics sparked my interest. In fact, the reason that I liked Spider-Man was because of the Saturday morning cartoon and my original Hulk was Lou Ferrigno. That doesn’t make me unique, but it isn’t quite the lifelong fandom that I’ve portrayed in the past.
Once I got a taste of comics, I was hooked. That all happened when I was in high school and a store opened up a quick bike ride from my house. Kevin and I rode up there weekly to buy new books. In just a short period of time, I amassed quite the collection of comics. I’d be lying again if I said they were mostly Marvel books. You will see in the other two articles that I have planned for this week that I was much more into the DC and Image titles at the time. Still, there were some Marvel books that made it into my rotation.
Obscure Marvel Heroes and Me
Sure, I knew about Spider-Man and Hulk. I also quickly learned about Captain America, Iron Man and The Punisher. I collected none of those books. That’s not to say that I was a total comics hipster. After playing the X-Men arcade game, I started collecting most of the mutant books. I’m not sure how obscure it was at the time, but I was also a fan of Ghost Rider due to Mark Texeira’s art. That led to me collecting the Rise of the Midnight Sons mini series and the books that followed. I suppose that this isn’t doing much to bolster my non-hipster cred.
My true loyalty was to the unsung heroes of the Marvel Universe. The ones who show up every now and then to provide background color in epic two page spreads. They are the the heroes that are sometimes called the “B” or “C” or sometimes even the “Z” team. If you thought that Nightstalkers was a deep cut (and honestly, that might be the deepest cut of the ones I’m about to mention) then we aren’t going to get much shallower. Luke Cage, Black Panther, and Doctor Strange were my must collect books after the X-Men titles. Sure, those guys are all superstars now, but that’s mostly due to changing demographics and a conscious attempt by Marvel to play to those changes. Back then, they were fringe characters at best but certainly not the headliners that they are today.
Aside from that, the best part of Marvel in the 90s actually happened one hundred years in the future. Not to be outdone by the launch of Image comics, Marvel experimented with their 2099 lineup. By this time, I was very much a collector and understood the potential value of the number “1” on a cover of a comic book. Honestly, that’s the only reason that I started collecting the 2099 books.
As it turned out, I really enjoyed the books. Very much. It went from getting the first issues (which you’ll learn later in the week I also did with the Image books) to buying them on a weekly basis to really enjoying the writing and the art. I’m finding that, unlike many nerds, I’m not as married to tradition as they might be. I liked that the 2099 heroes all had their own world in which to play. It was enough like our own to lend it plausibility, but different enough to give it a different feel and history.
When I got back into collecting, one of the first things I did was attempt to replace as much of my 2099 collection as possible. I thought I did a good job, which I have since filled in more. That’s it. I’m done. I’ve got all of the 2099 books. Spider-Man, Ravage, Doom, X-Men, limited Hulk series, and the 2099 Unlimited. Nope, I quickly learned. There were at least Fantastic Four and Ghost Rider books, too. When I learned about Ghost Rider, I remembered it from the original collection. Oh well, a collection is never complete.
For my money, if only the 2099 books came from the 1990s, I’d be a happy person. The world was so well realized and spoke directly to my teenage self. Of course, there are other stories, characters, writer, and artists that have come from the period, too. As I wasn’t as much of a fan of Marvel comic books then, I have been a little late to the party and it always surprises me how much great talent came from that time.
Chris and I will talk more about the actual artists and writers that came from this often overlooked period in the history of comics. We will touch on the issues that may lend to its status as one of the more underrated eras in comic books. People laugh and sometimes cringe when you bring up the 90s as the period that killed the industry. That might be true. But, from those ashes, we stand on the cusp of a potentially new golden age.
We start the series by talking about what got us into comic book collecting. There is also a surprise reunion at one of our favorite comic book and gaming stores!
We love 90s Comic Books (15:50)
We continue to reminisce by taking about one of our favorite decades in comics, the 1990s. Spawn, 2099, and X-Cutioner’s song, oh my! Look for a deep dive on this topic in a future episode.
Comic Books as Therapy (22:50)
We talk about what comic books mean to us as a social hobby and an escape from reality.
Comic Books as Collectors (26:22)
A visit to a local comic book show inspires us to organize and inventory our collections, which then inspires us to go to Midtown and eBay to buy more comic books. We talk about which books we’re looking for and why.
Nerd Rage? (36:33)
A brief memorial to 2099 leads to both of us trying to figure out where all of the nerd rage and hate comes from. Why didn’t you like the new Marvel heroes? What is wrong with rebooting the numbering every few years? We have some theories.
More Comic Books as Collectors (46:45)
Another brief discussion of books that we’d like to collect. X-Men Volume 1 and Marvel Team Up are prominently featured.
Diversifying Nerddom (51:00)
A chance meeting during Free Comic Book Day leads us to consider why nerds aren’t as welcoming as they could be and a way to possibly remedy that situation. (Spoiler Alert: Just be nice!)
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?
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.
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.
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