Monday, July 28, 2008

Kate Bishop <> Hawkeye

I was excited when I heard that the Young Avengers just might be in Marvel Universe. I don't get excited about a lot of the standard teams, because I know that we'll see them again...and again...and again. Doesn't mean I don't like them, but it's nothing to get excited about. The Young Avengers, though? We'll see them once, with random support popping up rarely and without warning, I suspect.

Anyway, I was further excited, as I've said, to learn that the Young Avengers would carry the bulk of the Avengers team-attack theme. In the previews, we saw Vision, Young Avenger - and he blew my mind. He blew a lot of minds, I think. Then we saw Kang <> Iron Lad - and thank goodness we got that errata - and he's solid. Patriot, Hulkling, Wiccan, etc...overall, the Avengers have an extremely strong lower-curve that lends itself well to team attacks, though they have nothing even comparable to Quicksilver, Mutant Avenger + Legendary Battles, sadly.

Still, Kate Bishop <> Hawkeye was a card that caught my eye pretty quickly. I understood that free-stuns were powerful, but her ability is so extraordinarily costly, especially in the age of Pathetic Attempt, that I was curious as to why she was made rare. It didn't seem that there could be a draw engine worth her cost, and while there were some rare occasions where you'd want to stun someone with cost 3 or more, that would be extremely rare.

The more I thought about it, though, the more powerful I realized she was - when she worked with the rest of the Young Avengers to help Captain America during the Civil War.

Cost: 3 Patriot, Elijah Bradley * Young Avenger
Team: Avengers
ATK: 5
DEF: 4
Leader: Whenever an adjacent character stuns an opposing character, rally for a character card.

Cost: 3 Liberating Number 42
Whenever an [Avengers Icon] character you control stuns an opposing character this turn, rally for a character card.

Two common cards that make Kate Bishop go crazy - fitting given her on-and-off crush with Patriot and her ceaseless loyalty to fighting against the Registration Act. Think about that. Let's say you have 4 characters surrounding Patriot. Three of them team-attack. Kate stuns one with her ability, and the three team-attackers stun one - that's 4 rallies - and 3 more for each Liberating Number 42 you can play. The further Kate gets into the revolution, the more she's inspired to keep going.

The more I think about the modern Avengers Team-Attack deck, the more I think that mono-Avengers can't work. However, I've heard some fun things about Bring Your Own Team Golden, and I think Avengers will be my team. I'll try and get a deck up soon.

Friday, July 25, 2008

MUN: General Thoughts

I know, I know. Boring. You've seen everyone post their thoughts on MUN. You're sick to death of it, I'm sure. You've already seen that I enjoyed MUN draft quite a bit. You hate me. Well, I love you, so I'm going to talk in brief on my MUN impressions anyway.

First off, I have to say: Crime Lords. Hell yes, Crime Lords. I think that they did a really good job making a truly defensive team, and what few (read: one) deck I've been able to build from what MUN I could afford has been a severely bastardized Crime Lords/SHIELD army deck. UDE did a great job making army decks feel fresh in this set, by the way - I've never enjoyed playing them until now, but with cards like Maria Hill, Dum Dum Dugan, and Squirrel Girl feeding the fire, I think there are some cool things to be done.

Anyway. Crime Lords is now a fun, defensive team. They do curve and they do army - strangely, at least in my cheap-as-possible deck, army/stall - and they introduce some fun ideas. The sheer power of their reinforcement tricks now makes them formidable, and their army is fed by insane, cool cards like Underground Laboratory, potentially one of the most powerful draw effects in the entire game.

SHIELD seems to be, at least the core team, is almost entirely army based. Yeah, between the potent rush of DCL and the insane armies of MUN, things are getting fast. The cards I mention above are a few commons that feed their army theme beautifully, and cards like Nick Fury certainly don't hurt. They're fast, they're reliable, and they're brutal. Watch out for SHIELD.

Nextwave is like Shakespeare, but with lots more punching.

The Warbound are interesting. I enjoy a good 'I Stand Alone' team, but I haven't enjoyed the feel of the Warbound. Part of it stems from a long-held complete apathy towards the Hulk. Part of it stems from the sheer amount of rares necessary to play a decent build of it all. It takes a lot for me to swallow a such a rare intensive build, and they don't have it.

Negative Zone is fun. I know there were a lot of complaints about the lack of content, but the team does well with what they've got. The multiple non-unique Negative Zones were a great idea, and while some of the Legend content is lacking - Thanos' sole legend card seems to be something of a joke - they are still a fun, coherent team.

Illuminati: waaaaaaaaaaay too rare intensive. Not a chance. Awesome idea, not NEARLY enough content available for the average player to give it a shot.

Thunderbolts are great. First off, how awesome is Thunderbolts Mountain? Soooo awesome. And the preview article for it was a masterpiece of modern english literature. Otherwise, though, they're still an interesting team. Radioactive Man is brutal, and the team's resource acceleration trick, all preview-pride aside, is a great trick that I suspect we'll be seeing quite a lot of.

Avengers is amazing. They're one of the sets best success stories. The team is versatile and hard-hitting, with great legend support and a variety of tricks that can be used to beat-face, as well as the return of their team-attack theme. That has me really excited, as I loved Avengers Team-attack before - and while they've sadly been severely depowered, the theme has also been paired with the best Avengers in the last...well, ever: the Young Avengers.

Alpha Flight is actually Omega Flight, and they're strategy of playing a huge number of plot twists is straight-forward and fun. But it's nothing special, and like many mini-teams, feels like a little bit of a waste, since you can't really play a mono-team deck with them - you're forced to team-up. I love the fan-teams, but I hate that they're all mini-teams that are almost unplayable.

The set is fun, but is hampered by a miniscule print-run with far too many cards, the best of which are all but impossible to find for anything resembling a reasonable price. Still, it's a vast step up from Marvel Legends, and the Legends they picked here - Captain America, Iron Man, and Hulk - are far more worthy than those of MVL (though there were the occasional bizarre choice - Baron Strucker, anyone?).

More on MUN soon, as I try and build an Avengers team-attack deck - and fail miserably. Though, a BYOT golden age one would be a LOT of fun...

Friday, July 18, 2008

The Dark Knight: Review in Brief


(actual review to come later tonight)

This post paid for by the Committee of Cal is Experiencing a Stunning Lack of Sleep Foundation.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog

I don't know how many of you enjoy musicals. I love them, and I've never really understood people who dislike something just because it's a musical (like Sweeney Todd - seriously, it's about revenge, cannibalism, and serial murder, and people still make fun of it 'cuz there are songs), but I know that people out there like that do exist.

I don't know how many of you enjoy Joss Whedon. I like him alright, and I understand people who dislike him. I myself hated the first two seasons of Buffy the Vampire Slayer (seasons 3-6 are solid gold, though). If you are feeling particularly open-minded, there are a few episodes of Buffy I'll suggest in a later post that might turn you on to the show. Nonetheless, one of the most fun, clever episodes of the show, I thought, was "Once More, With Feeling", the musical episode. It was serious and sad, but also self-satirical and pretty damn funny. Overall, it was just a damn good watch.

Ever since then, I've kind of vaguely wished to see Whedon do another musical. He isn't a Sondheim or Schwartz, but the Buffy episode was fun, the songs were catchy, and the camp was glorious. And, recently, I've gotten my wish.

Whedon, long a fan of superheroes and longer, I think, a fan of cheesy fun, has created Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog, a 45-minute-long Internet musical about a supervillain trying to make it into the big time. Dr. Horrible is played by Neil Patrick Harris (Doogie Houser, MD & Harold and Kumar Go To White Castle), and he's trying to make it into the Evil League of Evil. To do so, he must first prove himself to them, overcoming his own self-confidence issues and the massive physical powers of his nemesis, Captain Hammer, played by Nathon Fillion (Firefly, Serenity).

The first act came out yesterday, the next tomorrow, and the final comes out on Saturday. Watch quickly, though - on Sunday, they'll be taken down and packaged for a DVD release.

Joss Whedon. Super-villains. Musicals. It's like Christmas for me, and I thought I should share for those few of you who share this particular interest of mine.

I apologize for the lack of recent VS content, but it's hard to find inspiration when I spend most of my time on a fan-set, and have no one in the area to play with. Still, I've been looking through the MUN cards, and liking what I see, so I'll likely touch on that soon enough.

Hope you're all having a fantastic summer.

Monday, July 14, 2008

The Best Books You Aren't Reading: Manhunter

A few years back, Marc Andreyko, a rookie writer for DC, launched a book called Manhunter. It isn't the first book to bear that name - it's the third, in fact. But, while Andreyko made nods to the previous series', and indeed used many of the previous casts in his supporting cast, he and artist Jesus Saiz worked together to create a new person to wear the Manhunter mantle: Kate Spencer.

Kate Spencer smokes. Kate Spencer is a divorced, single mother. Kate Spencer is violent. Kate Spencer is fully-clad. In other words, Kate Spencer is everything you never expect to see in comics today. Hell, Marvel recently jumped through hoops vast, flaming, and cheesy to avoid having Spider-Man get a divorce, and most comics don't tend to deal with divorced single mothers. She's a lawyer on the West Coast, a famous prosecutor who loves to shut down the sociopaths and sickos of the DC Universe. But when Copperhead, a vicious cannibalistic murderer, gets off on a technicality, Kate takes justice into her own hand. She steals some equipment, blackmails a tech guy into helping her - does whatever is needed to get the job done. And what the job is, that first time, is putting a hole bigger than a fist through Copperhead's skull.

Kate may not be like the average DC character, but the tone and style of the book are pure DC. There's a deep sense of interconnectedness that Kate has with the past - one slow-burning side-plot throughout the series has to deal with her unknown father, and his past in the DCU. She's got connections to a number of bigger heroes, but she doesn't really care, in the end. All she wants is to stop these madmen from running loose.

The book has a solid, well-rounded supporting cast, ranging from her young son Ramsey to her co-worker's boyfriend, JSA's Obsidian. Mark Shaw and Cameron Chase are two old-school names that some fans might recognize, and they're both given a second life in the book, as is Director Bones.

Manhunter is a good book. It's not great, but it'll never let you down. It's violent, but fun, with more than a touch of criticism on the society that lets these people run free. But it never has that sense of "I MUST BE BAD-ASS" that pervades and often destroys the similarly themed Punisher books.

Manhunter just restarted. The entire first 'season', in a way, is collected in a series of four trades, and there are two issues out now in the second season, a perfectly fine jumping-on point, from the looks of it. Manhunter had a very near run-in with death a year or two back, as the book was on the verge of cancellation. An inordinately strong fan-campaign saved it, but good will and great fans only takes you so far, and the book deserves at least a shot.

Remember the deal? You buy an issue of one of The Best Books You Aren't Reading (just click on the tag below for a full list of 'em) and you don't enjoy it, I'll send you an MVL/DCL/MUN/promo EA or rare and I'll ask you to find some sort of contest to give the copy you didn't like away.

Sorry I don't have a plethora of images for you to enjoy on this one - I'll add 'em as I find 'em. As is, take it on my word: the art is good, the writing is good, the book is good.

Edit: Also, as a note, this was apparently my 75th post. Go me!

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Public Service Announcement: Want to Write Comics?

Comics is a freakin' hard business to break into. One writer famously (to certain circles...of extreme geeks) compared breaking into the comics industry to breaking into a fortified medieval castle. As soon as one person finds a way to break in, the people at the castle say, "Well, shit, this is obviously waaaaay too easy" and they seal that entrance off. What the person was trying to say was, everyone has to find their own way in, because there is no surefire way to get in aside from, of course, being personal friends with Joe Quesada or Dan Didio.

Now, there are a lot of things you can do. There's the "Keep plugging away at it and hope you get it right some time" approach, and I suppose if it works for sex, it could work here, too. It's tough, but if you get published in a variety of places and occasionally drop your name in the right circles, you could get an invite to pitch a story, or you could just get a pitch accepted at certain publishers.

There's the contest route - that's more for artists, though. Writers rarely get contests (though the Shadowline segment of Image comics deserves a MASSIVE heaping of respect for their recent writing contest - "Who Wants to Create a Super-Heroine?" Look it up.) so that's unreliable.

There is always, of course, showing up to conventions and praying. Wouldn't recommend it, but it's worked before.

The point is, there are plenty of ways. That's not what this post, which shall be quite brief, is for. This post is for one thing: to begin to compile a list of comics companies that accept blind or relatively blind submissions. If you want to write comics but aren't confident in your networking skills, these guys are your best bets to get that foot in the door. This list is pretty small right now, but as I do more research, I'll update this occasionally.

Avatar Press
Avatar Press has recently begun to make a pretty sizable splash in the comics world, getting a number of projects from creators like Warren Ellis. Books like Anna Mercury, Gravel, and Doktor Sleepless are all published by Avatar, as well as a number of other projects. Avatar also accepts submissions from unknown writers AND writers pitching projects with no artist attached - a relative rarity, it seems.

There are problems, of course: one thing Avatar wants is an 8-12 page story featuring a character they own, but as you peruse the website, you may realize that it's rather difficult, or potentially impossible, to find a list of characters they own. That's just one small problem with the whole process, but they're still a good potential publisher for you. Violence, sex, and language all seem to be acceptable, and their content ranges from spandex to occult murder mysteries.

Dark Horse
Dark Horse seems to accept blind submissions as well. Their guidelines for submissions are clearly spelled out. They don't seem to accept e-mail submissions, which is honestly a little bit disappointing, but totally understandable. Dark Horse is probably a more recognizable name to you than Avatar Press, so you may want to give them a shot.

Finally (for tonight), a surprise...

Marvel Comics, as one of the big two - as, perhaps, the bigger of the big two - is something of a shocker. But they do accept 'blind' submissions. Their process, however, is notably more rigorous. Before you get to pitch your series "Gambit and the Sex Hounds of the Bayou", you first need to send an inquiry listing your writing experience. Then, that on file, they'll contact you if they want to hear from you. It's at that time it seems you can make your pitch. So, not quite blind acceptance, but it's pretty damn close to accepting unsolicited submissions.

Ultimately, with hard work, you can probably break in. I wish any of you trying luck, and I'll talk to you all later. Hopefully about VS. It's hard to talk VS when you don't have anyone to play with, but I'm trying to teach my girlfriend how to play. I don't think it's going well.

Ah, oh well. Enjoy your reading, your writing, and your gaming, in whatever order you most enjoy reading, writing, and gaming, and I'll be posting again semi-soon.

Saturday, July 5, 2008


As some of you may know, I spent the last few months working with a few people from VSrealms on a fantasy card set. I know that fantasy card sets aren't that popular, but I enjoy creating them - and more than that, I thought that this one was important because of the uncertain future between DC and UDE.

We decided to make a DC Universe set, to match UDE's Marvel Universe set. We took some votes, and then we slowly but surely began to build a 330 card set. It's not perfect, and I apologize. We don't have the resources that the actual R&D has, nor do we have the practice, nor, I suspect, the flat-out skill. But we still feel that we made a fairly good companion set to Marvel Universe, and we wanted to show it off.

However, on VSrealms, we quickly realized that we would be banished out of the General Discussion section - and as you all know, if you aren't in the General Discussion section, you don't get a whole lot of notice. We wanted out work to be seen, but more than that, we have set up a preview season in which any member of the VSrealms community could preview a card. People seemed to enjoy the idea, but it's a pain to write the preview article (or, you know, create a 330 card set) and have no one see it.

So, we created this blog
to get the previews out. Soon it will be updating via the Syndicate and getting votes on Kamiza's great site, hopefully garnering a little bit more notice. I urge all you people reading my blog - yes, all 3 of you, no exceptions now - to check out that site, and the Fantasy Cards section of at some point, and let everyone know what you think of the preview articles and of the cards.

Thanks, and have a great day!