Friday, May 30, 2008

Shiloh Norman <> Mr. Miracle, Soldier of Victory

You might have guessed from my name here - I loved Grant Morrison's 'Seven Soldiers of Victory'. It's been a continual minor disappointment to me that they haven't had better representation in Vs. The game is great enough, there are enough characters and teams I like for this not to hurt the game, but man, I would love to see a full Seven Soldiers team, based on Morrison's book. It would be awesome.

Until my dream comes true, I've satisfied myself with what I have - Shiloh Norman <> Mr. Miracle, Soldier of Victory. Shiloh Norman is on the New Gods, a team rather notably absent from modern and silver age. That makes it difficult to

3 cost
ATK: 4
DEF: 5
Vengeance: Whenever Shiloh Norman becomes stunned while defending, you may remove target attacker from this attack if you control another New Gods character.

That's what Shiloh Norman reads. Now, here are some downsides to Shiloh Norman - there are almost no characters to use him with in Silver Age. On the upside, he's a three-cost character who exists in the era of 2-drop Quicksilver who can essentially negate an attack. Of course, in the era of Pathetic Attempt, he's got a significant potential downside, but let's ignore that. How can we build a good Silver Age deck around Shiloh Norman? In an extremely attack-heavy era, he's a good card.

Well, if we want to make the best use of him, we obviously need to team up. There are a lot of teams we could use, of course. The first thing I thought of when I saw him though, was stall. I mean, he's a great stall card. It's a 3-drop who stays around forever and absorbs one attack every turn. So, the first team I thought of for this stall deck was, of course...Marvel Knights.

I know a good blogger would probably be saying this having planned ahead. This is untrue with me. I want to use Shiloh Norman, and the Marvel Knights seemed like an interesting choice. As I work on a few other far less interesting decks for the blog, I'll also be working on this one. And I'll be widening the variety of things I talk about on my blog, as I have come, in the last two months, to realize that, with so much time between VS sets, I need to expand my repertoire for the coming months if I want to have any hope at all of providing you with interesting, regular content.

I'll post again in a couple days. Until then - enjoy yourself, and keep the countdown to Marvel Universe going strong!

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Movie Review: Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull

Endings. Endings are important. That's pretty undeniable. A good ending can make you forgive a lot about a mediocre everything else, while a bad ending ensures that you leave talking about the worst parts.

Endings are also quite difficult. Look at Iron Man - a great movie through and through, hurt by a terrible ending. If not for the Nick Fury scene after the credits, fan word of mouth likely would have been much worse than it was. Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull was another movie with a terrible ending, only they didn't have a massive fan-wank scene to follow it up, so when I left the theater, I heard a whole lot of apathy.

People enjoyed the movie. I know this because I was there. The first third of the movie was filled with laughs and thrills - insane action set-pieces falling pretty naturally into even crazier action set-pieces, punctuated by wit and impressive visuals. Things were going strong, and they moved onto the grave-robbing and insane archaeological mysteries, and things kept going strong. It got creepy, but the movie never lost its sense of fun, and once the KGB found them again, things got even crazier, and the action kicked it up another notch.

Things only really got bad once the 'mystery' was solved and the Skull returned. Then, it just became bad. The Ox became an exposition machine, spouting off unimportant things that the writer just seemed to think would be SOOOOOO super cool (Interdimensional, point in fact) that didn't effect the actual story, except to make it seem overly pretentious and kind of...silly. And while an Indiana Jones movie works fine with silly - thrives on it, in a way - pretentious is fatal to it.

The movie isn't a failure. It's pretty good, actually. There are greasers, jocks, the KGB, Cate Blanchett as a sexy Russian psychic warrior spy...thing. It's not exactly believable, but it's a movie, and it's fun as hell, but the ending kills the goodwill, and any momentum it had. It hits a brick wall of bad dialogue and unexciting visuals, of anti-climax and then ends with a wedding.

Is it worth seeing? Sure. If you like Indy movies, you'll like this one. Reviewing this movie is a little weird. If you want my advice, just leave as soon as they get down into the treasure room. But, you know what, you won't. And you'll be disappointed. And you'll remember what I said.

And you'll curse me.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Unlegendary Luke Cage

4x Luke Cage, Steel Hard Skin
4x Namorita, Atlantean Warrior Princess
2x Punisher, Suicide Run

4x Cloak, Shadowmaster
2x Thing, Idol O’ Millions

4x Human Torch, the Invisible Man
1x Daredevil, Hornhead

4x Iron Fist, Hired Hero

4x Luke Cage, Hired Hero

2x Hulk, The Fantastic Hulk

3x The New Baxter Building
3x Pier 4
3x Birthing Chamber

4x Fantasticar 2.0
3x Unstable Molecular Suit
3x Power Armor
3x Reality Gem
3x Ego Gem

Plot Twists
3x Heroes of the City, Team-Up
3x Neighborhood Watch, Team-Up

This should be 61 cards - but this, right now, is a very rough draft.

So, what's the point? Well, the point is to keep Fantastic Four and Marvel Knights working together. Draw cards with New Baxter Building and Ego Gem, keep one or two characters visible, keep your hidden area thriving, to get more cards with Birthing Chamber. Originally, Pier 4 had been taken out for Dark Alley, but Pier 4 seems like it will be better to keep things going strong. You want to use Human Torch on 4 to keep your smaller visible characters reinforced if you can, and then throwing him forward to help you gain endurance. Keep your hand big, and kill with Hulk on 7/8.

Things that I want to include

Signal Flare
Wild Ride
Attack pumps

Now, I'm going to try and build this this week for my local hobby league, and I'll let you know how that goes. Meanwhile, I'll be working on my other unLegends this week.

Oh - and Iron Fist should have more cards.

Just sayin'.

Saturday, May 17, 2008


Barbara Gordon
Emerald Eye
Deathstroke the Terminator
Luke Cage

Those are four characters that can, in a Silver Age legal deck, become Legends. Now, of the two of them, I think that Deathstroke and Barbara Gordon should be legends. Emerald Eye and Luke Cage...probably not. But anyway - this kicks off a series of four articles, trying desperately and failing horrifically to make semi-playable decks around each of these legends.

Let's see how it goes.

Monday, May 12, 2008


So, Marvel Universe previews are in full swing. While I've swung wildly from "Woo! That's frackin' awesome!" for things like the Avengers previews to the "'s that...thing" for the Illuminati. Generally, my gut reaction has been spawned from how much I care about the teams/characters. Thus, the Illuminati invokes a sense of Bendis Dread, while Squirrel Girl made me smile and yell at my roommates.

Now, there's something of a...cult. A cult of, let's call it, awesome. And that cult is dedicated to the use of the Crime Lords team in Vs. The art isn't great on many of the crime lords cards, and they are and always have been massively underpowered. The characters are far from big-name, and their theme, while interesting, wasn't the most useful one you could imagine. It was a lot of fun to play, though, and the effects were frequently hilarious. People were generally unsure what to think when they saw Marked for Death or Untouchable.

Today begins Crime Lords week. Now tied in with Hydra, the Crime Lords are back and better, perhaps, than ever. Over on, they gave us our first taste of the Crime Lords goodness to follow.

Yup. Bucky's gotten bigger and badder. After almost dying in the explosion that froze Cap, Bucky was found and captured by the Russians. During the Cold War, the brain-washed but highly trained Bucky was used as the Soviets premiere assassin, always put back to 'sleep' after each mission. Recently, however, he broke free and remembered himself, but before then, he was a killer for hire, working with Lords of Crime in order to destabilize Captain America and get revenge for slights during WW2 and the Cold War.

THIS is the kind of power level the Crime Lords needed. Instead of making them almost curve if they're reinforced, giving them a free-stun - now that's potent. If this is an indication as to what the Crime Lords will be like, expect me to pick up a playset of each of them.

The second card for today?

A finishing move that requires a little bit of planning, but it's great for playing the psychological games the Crime Lords love so much. With Death Warrant, opponents will never know exactly when it's safe to attack without automatically losing their characters.

There's a lot of potential here. I can't wait to see what UDE has in store for us this week!

Sunday, May 11, 2008


Okay, this is going to be weird. Not at all to do with Vs. Or comics. Though it does make me want to create a supervillain named Laugh Track. I don't know what he'd do yet. But he should exist.

Because laugh tracks are evil.

Now, my roommates and myself recently marathoned the West Wing. All seven seasons. Under 14 weeks. It was insane, but except for season 5, it was one of the best TV shows I've ever seen. It was just...crazy good. So, we went out and rented Charlie Wilson's War, which was pretty good. Then we realized that there were two TV shows Aaron Sorkin wrote that we'd never seen before. Studio 60, and Sports Night.

Our library didn't have Studio 60, so we checked out Sports Night, and pretty quickly fell back into the flow of Aaron Sorkin's excellent dialogue. The show was a little...campy, a little cheesy. It was obviously a late-90s comedy in some of the pacing (though, as the show goes on, it gets better), but what really killed it for us was the laugh track.

Okay, maybe it's just us, but...laugh tracks make us feel dirty. Maybe we've just outgrown them, maybe it's just the mood we're in, but I've noticed that I have trouble laughing at a joke if the laugh track laughs. If the laugh track laughs, whatever just happened becomes less funny. Because they TOLD me it was funny, I find it less funny. It's funny when I'm "in on it", but when I'm in on it and then they tell everyone else "Hey - c'mon in!", it feels less like it's a private joke between friends and more like it's a really obviously set-up public conversation

So, just to let you know between all of you and myself - if you ever make a TV show, I'll gladly watch it.

But it better not have a laugh track.

Or I'll find you.

Back to VS stuff soon enough. I'm in a little bit of a lull with so much time since DCL, but I'll come up with something clever. It's just what I do.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

House of Mystery

Bill Willingham and Matthew Sturges are good writers. They do their best work outside of the superhero sphere, so many of you may never have heard of them, but they're both quite good, most famous for their work on Fables and Jack of Fables.

Recently - as in, this past Wednesday - the two of them together revived the House of Mystery, an old DC horror comic. The two of them have infused the now-Vertigo title with some bizarre Vertigo sensibilities. They tied it in with Sandman, Vertigo's biggest triumph, and set it up as a Worlds' End style storytelling device.

Within the House, a number of people are trapped. Occasionally, one gets to leave, though the residents don't know why. The rest...are trapped. They are bored. They have nothing to do, nothing to pay with, except stories. And so the residents tell stories, some biographical, some fantastical, many both.

The main story of #1 is mostly set-up, and it's interesting set-up, but where the book really shines is the short story told by Hungry Sally. It's one of the most visually horrific comics I've ever seen, but the art is still definitely compelling. If you don't mind being creeped out, definitely check this book out.

Oh, and as a bonus? Check out this absolutely stunning cover.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

I Want To Write Comics: Supergirl

So, in case you haven't guessed - which would mean, I think, that you haven't been reading any of my posts - I love comics. I think comics is one of the best mediums we have today, and for all that I complain of the multitude of flaws I see in it, I nevertheless love comics. And while I am planning on getting a real-peoples job, going to graduate school to become a librarian, I still want to write comics. I really, really want to write comics.

Some people want to write their favorite characters. I'm a little weird. I would write anything, but given my preference, I'd want to write books I DIDN'T think were going very well. So, I'm occasionally going to put pitches up here. I suppose you could steal them, though I doubt you'll get very far with them as they'll all be rough & ugly first drafts,

Supergirl. The Maid of Might. She was a fan-favorite Pre-Crisis. She was revamped into a madcap cult favorite by Peter David in the 90s. Recently, Loeb brought her back, and while her series began well, selling over 100k per issue, it's dropped rapidly, and so two years later, it's down to about 30k and falling fast. I don't like the current book. I haven't read it faithfully, but occasionally, I'll read an issue in the store, and I'm horrified. Supergirl often acts like kind of a ditz. She NEVER seems to win fights - she's always saved by other heroes. And she whines. Constantly.

So. Here's an idea for a Supergirl story - a pretty long one, and it's only the intro, but feel free to critique it as you will, or just completely ignore this post.

Okay, my idea for a Supergirl arc. All the characters mentioned save Crucible are pre-existing.

Supergirl is trying to figure her life out when Devastation, a woman with all the abilities of Wonder Woman, shows up and brutally assaults her. Supergirl manages to fight her off, however, fighting to a draw and then forcing Devastation to retreat as the authorities arrive.

Supergirl doesn’t spend much time reflecting on what happened, though – she takes it as merely another supervillain fight. Meanwhile, she gets into a conflict with Kate Spencer over how to deal with a random supervillain – Supergirl manages to talk Kate out of killing the villain, saying she’ll take responsibility for his actions* and make sure that he stays in jail.

This is how she meets Director Bones, but on her introduction to him, things get…strange. Supergirl manages to get Kate’s mask out of her suitcase and on due to her super-speed, sparing herself the worst of the mind-affecting illusions, but she is forced to fight her way free of the hallucinating, but deadly, DEO officers. Using her super senses, she discovers that a series of enchanted items have been disguised and left near DEO HQ. She destroys them, freeing the DEO from the effects.

They think the attack was against them, and ask Supergirl to team up with Manhunter to discover what’s going on. Manhunter and Supergirl begin to investigate current renegade sorcerers, but in the course of their investigation, the two of them are attacked again – this time, by General Wade Eiling. A fight ensues, which Supergirl and Manhunter win together, even managing to capture and confine Eiling for arrest.

Manhunter returns to the DEO, to deal with the legal side of Eiling’s capture, leaving Supergirl with a message – something strange is approaching the Earth, fast. The Justice League is away, and the DEO believes that Supergirl can be trusted with this. Before she leaves, she’s challenged to spar with Lady Shiva under terms she can’t resist. She accepts, thinking she'll win quickly, but despite her massive speed and power, she finds that she can’t use it in the same way when fighting someone who would break so easily to a full-powered blow, and ends up losing the fight rather than losing control of herself.

Humiliated, she rushes into space, where she discovers a member of the Sinestro Corps chasing a young-looking girl flying extraordinarily fast. She defends the child, and together, the two of them take out the Sinestro Corp member.

Supergirl learns that the girl, named Ariella, is lost in time and space and lacks a family. She genuinely feels for the girl, and so takes her on as her own. She learns that Ariella was a terror of the spaceways in the 853rd century and that she was being pursued because she had destroyed a yellow power ring that had tried to give itself to her…and that she’s still a little bit of a terror. Supergirl has to try and teach Ariella how to control her powers, when to and when not to use them.

Meanwhile, Devastation returns to wreak havok on Supergirl’s town, this time with back-up. Supergirl nearly dies preventing Devastation from killing a group of high school students, and as she lies there, she sees Devastation flee, also severely wounded. Supergirl passes out.

When she wakes up, she is severely weakened and being held underground in a laboratory. As she attempts to escape, she must use stealth, as her powers are being somehow surpressed, so she uses the skills she learned from Batman and Wonder Woman to sneak her way through the facility and get the jump on the man running the show – Abra Kadabra, confronting and subduing him without her powers, but almost accidentally killing him in the process.

She gets free of the facility and calls Kate for a pick-up, Abra in tow. We learn that Abra was doing this at the behest of another, though they cannot get him to admit who. Kara retires to her house to recuperate, only to find Lady Shiva waiting there. The two fight again, but Kara has her powers better under control, and she manages to hold her own without going all-out and risking seriously harming Shiva.

As a reward, Shiva tells her where Devastation is hiding out, and then makes her promise that they will fight one more time. Supergirl goes to where Devastation is and tries to find out why Devastation has attacked her so often – however, Devastation seems unnaturally violent. At first, she almost doesn’t seem to recognize Supergirl, but then she suddenly strikes. This time, barely, Supergirl manages to defeat and capture her, and turns her over to the DEO.

Arriving at the DEO, she learns that the DEO’s prison has been broken into and assaulted in an effort to get some prisoners free, and Supergirl is confronted with Eiling, Abra, the villain she kept imprisoning, and someone she doesn’t recognize, a villain named Crucible, who she learned broke them out. He also releases Devastation from her restraints.

Supergirl tries to fight them all, but she ends up getting extremely hurt. However, she does manage to keep them contained to the area, throwing herself without concern at whoever tries to escape the area. As Supergirl is worn down and fighting sloppily, Ariella shows up, as does Lady Shiva.

Shiva berates Supergirl for fighting so sloppily, and then she and Ariella enter the fray. Supergirl stands, brushes herself off, and proceeds to kick ass. Together with those two, Manhunter, Director Bones, and the rest of the DEO, all of the villains that escaped are captured.

We see Crucible in his cell, speaking to nothing about how after all these trials, all this power, he was supposed to kill Supergirl and his group of villains were to take over the world. He begs an invisible figure, who he calls Lord Conquest, to explain himself. Lord Conquest manifests and explains that this was not to forge the villains, but instead to forge Supergirl into his perfect tool. Crucible swears revenge on Supergirl.

Meanwhile, Lady Shiva shows up for their final fight, and Supergirl cleanly and quickly defeats her without risking killing her. Shiva tells Supergirl that she’s ready, and that Shiva has been told to offer her a powerful magical weapon. She reveals a sword belonging to one of the sons of Ares, saying that she feels that Supergirl is not in danger of being overwhelmed by it.

Supergirl stares at the weapon. She picks it up – then hands it back to Shiva, saying that she doesn’t need help from anyone, not even a god. Shiva smiles, and as Supergirl flies away, Shiva leaves the sword on Supergirl’s table, saying that Supergirl may need to take it up for what is to come.

*Supergirl’s promise would come up a couple more times over the course of the series. Once when the villain (I don’t yet know who) escapes and hurts people, and Manhunter confronts her about her responsibilities to the people, and a few more times as we see Supergirl begin to take more and more responsibility – the villain escapes one or two more times, and each time Supergirl catches and beats him quicker and quicker.

The story would probably be about 12 issues - my 1-year plan to revamp Supergirl. It could use A LOT of work - this is merely a very rough first draft. It's a little too concerned with making Supergirl grow up a little, but it could be a lot of fun. But, ah well. i don't know why I posted this here, other than out of a kind of boredom.

Have a great day!