War of Kings is a blog dedicated to my favourite comic books, books, games and movies.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Salvo! - The War draws nearer...

Marvel's War of Kings hub went up a few days ago. I haven't been able to watch the DnA video cause my internet connection isn't fast enough...grrr....anyone feel like enlightening me on what they said?

Oh, and if you're wondering why the title of my comic reviews changed from From the Trenches to From the Front, its because Front will be reviews of individual books, while Trenches will be a reviews of entire story arcs. I've noticed my opinions of story arcs changing when I read them as a whole, so whenever an arc ends I'll review the whole arc and compare it to previous arcs of the book (if I have them). You can blame Brian Bendis for giving me this idea. I'll also slot any trades I buy into Trenches rather than Front. So you can expect the next Trenches to be on the X-Factor and GoG Secret Invasion tie-ins - if X-Factor #33 ever makes it to South Africa.

After singing the praises of the 5D's Exclusive Tins - I won't be getting one. I bought the Stardust Dragon Collectors Tin and was lucky enough to find Goyo Guardian inside, so I don't need to get the Goyo Guardian tin. Yay. I can spend my money on the Incredible Herc Love and War trade instead.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Togs of War - It is good to be the King

This week's hyped-up release is the quest log. Unlike the armour closet, this release is available to everyone. Its actually only half completed, but its still really good. When completed, it will give you the ability to go to any quest line in the game, from wherever you happen to be at the moment. This is useful for people with slower internet connections, like myself. I set my hometown to Dragesvard as that is the main quest line at the moment, however, if they release a quest in a place like Lymcrest, Warlic's Zone or Sunbreeze grove, as they have been doing, I have to first load up Falconreach if I want to go there. Now, I can go directly to those zones from Dragesvard, and don't have to go to Falconreach unless I want to.

The best release this week was the Killguin Arena, the next quest in the Dragesvard line. As mentioned before, we need to ally with some of the natives to stand any sort of chance against the elves and dragons, and our first task is to convince the killguins to join us. We've fought the armoured penguins before, so that part is nothing new. But they more than make up for it with the reveal of who the leader of the killguins is - King Linus. Or Emperor Linus. Whichever you prefer. Its is one of those hilarious DragonFable style plot twists that makes perfect sense and leave you kicking yourself for not seeing it coming. Unless you saw it coming. Then good for you. Chance of nine new weapon drops or an ice scale here - six of the weapons are nothing to write home about, but the three fillet weapons look awesome and are more powerful than the Gary ice weapons. I never mind more powerful weapons, but its kind of annoying to put in another hard to get random drop that replaces a hard to get random drop that was only released a couple of weeks ago. I'm not gonna try get the fillet dagger yet, I think I'll wait until the Dragesvard line ends in case they release an even better ice weapon near the end. Its not like we'll be fighting fire monsters up here anyway.

There's a cute little quest in the baby dragon line too. You have to pick up some plants (hmm, is it just me or have we been collecting a LOT of plants recently?) by sending your dragon after them. The catch is, you have to dodge around monsters (the same ones you always have dodge when getting plants) and unless you have really high charisma and luck, your baby dragon doesn't go exactly where you tell him to, so sometimes you have to rush in and bail him out of a fight. Some intersting cloaks here, but nothing worth keeping unless you like collecting cloaks.

Verdict: Major Victory! Excellent releases, and you meet a king too.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Spoils of War - It is Your Destiny

I mentioned in my review of Messiah Complex that I think the name was selected because of Mystique's connection to Destiny. Then we have her cryptic comment about Iceman's melting point, and Mike Carey's assurance that he will be doing something to Iceman's powers. We need to get a bit scientific here and decide what Iceman's ice powers actually are. Remember that there's no such thing as 'cold', cold is the absence of heat. In order to create ice, you need to suck the heat out of it and put it somewhere else. So does he have control over water, or over heat? I'm tending towards the former due to the images of Iceman merging with a river and emerging from it downstream. Giving Iceman control over water would be awesome. I'm thinking of Rictor's powers, which connected him to the earth so he could feel it as an extension of his own body and manipulate it. If Bobby could do that with water…well, he definitely would deserve his Omega-level status. On the other hand, they might go the route of giving him heat powers alongside his cold powers. While probably more scientific, we already have fire-manipulators like the Human Torch and Magma and it doesn't seem as exciting. So I hope they give him water powers.

How accurate have my Young X-Men predictions been?

Wolf Cub dies. Check.
Anole joins the team. Check.
Sunspot and Moonstar are to train them. Check.
Greymalkin is an ancestor of Charles Xaviar.

Wait, what? Ok, so I got that one wrong. I had thought he was a resurrection of Prodigy, brought back to life by something that happened during the Sentinel's attack on the mansion. I didn't see this coming. How long has the mansion been in Xavier's family anyway? Are his ancestors buried in the ground too?

As to which member is not a mutant, I'm still hoping its Ink cause I don't like how people seem to think being a mutant means you can give them any power you can think of, even if it doesn't makes sense. I think Guggenhiem's trying to make us think the non-mutant is Dust, who is keeping some sort of secret from the team. And now that Moonstar is a confirmed member, the hints we were given that the aftermath of X-Infernus will affect this book makes me even more certain she's going to get mystical powers.

Nezhno will play a significant role in Storm: Wolds Apart. Darn. I should have ordered it. Maybe I'll get the trade.

Jeff Parker has confirmed that the Agents of Atlas are directly involved with Dark Reign. Jeff Parker's name is also on Dark Reign: New Nation, so its possible that’s where they'll be popping up there. Maybe a story with Namor and Namorita? Hmm.

Paul Cornell answered questions on Captain Britain and the MI:13 whilst managing to give absolutely nothing away. Darn. He did say Union Jack would have more appearences in the series, but I think we knew that already. He also said he liked Psylocke and Meggan, but refused to reveal if they would appear.

I'm not quite sure how the Amazons are attacking Atlantis, but as Namor and Namorita will be in the arc, I'll probably get the trade of Love & War. All my other Namor stuff is in trades. I'm interested that Poseidon's name came up in an interview, where it was noted that he was the god of Atlantis. At least, he was its god before it was sunk, all the homo sapiens drowned, and homo mermanus moved in and claimed it as their capital city.

I haven't read any reviews today yet, but I'm interested in the New Avengers issue which deals with the Skrull's involvement in House of M. I do remember now that Spider-Woman was the only one who tried to convince the heroes not to attack Magneto and try to put the world back the way it was. Damn you Brian Bendis, it was so obvious. I'm kicking myself for not noticing before.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Duel! - The New Face of YuGiOh

I decided to buy a single pack of the Duelist Genesis - and I got Handcuffs Dragon, so I'm a happy camper. Big Piece Golem would be nice, but I'd rather spend money on comics than on something that might possibly have BPG in it. But I've already spoken about Duelist Genesis - today, we have Exclusive Tins to talk about. These are new - well, actually, they're not. They're exactly the same as Collectors Tins, except instead of having the artwork of the promotional card on them, they have the main character from 5D's on them. His name is Yusei Fudo, and he continues the trend of having wild multicolored hair started by Yugi and Jaden. From what little I know of translation, I think Yusei could be rendered as Jason, but apparently they're no longer Anglicising character names.

There are three tins, a choice of red, white or yellow, and a choice of Nitro Warrior, Goyo Guardian or Montage Dragon. I'm not sure which card matches which colour. The choices for promo cards are interesting - Nitro Warrior is the only one of the three used by Yusei. It would make more sense to me if they had swapped some cards with the Collector's Tins so that the Exclusive Tins had Yusei's best cards (Nitro Warrior, Turbo Warrior and Stardust Dragon) leaving the Collectors with those of his rivals. Then again, Stardust Dragon and Speed Warrior have such high profiles in the anime that they can sell themselves, whereas Goyo Guardian and Montage Dragon have a lower profile and might sell less without a boost from Yusei's face.

But do the cards deserve their promotional status? Definitely. Nitro Warrior can blast through an entire defensive field of monsters in one turn, its power being offset by stringent synchro requirements and the rarity of Nitro Synchron. Goyo Guardian has the same attack points, and its synchro requirements are a lot more relaxed. Plus it can summon defeated enemies to its side - the drawback being they're in defence position till your next turn. Of the three, Goyo is the one I want most. Montage Dragon is interesting - it is special summoned by discarding three monsters from your hand and its power is related to the levels of those monsters. Plus you can still normal summon. Seems easy, but how often do you have five monster cards in your hand?

Oh, right there's other stuff in these too. Six packs: one Phantom Darkness, two Light of Destruction, two Duelist Genesis and a Token Pack. I do not entirely believe that Phantom Darkness and Light of Destruction are the 'best selling packs of the GX era', but they have some really good cards. The token pack consists of cards called tokens, rather than small round things I would regard as tokens. They are also completely unnecessary as you can use anything from a dice to coins to represent tokens, but they can be fun.

Verdict: Major Victory! There are few really good cards in the Duelist Genesis, and these are some of them.

Monday, September 22, 2008

From the Front - September

Comic shop was closed on Friday, but I finally got my comics. At least some of them. There should have been four comics waiting for me but only two had arrived. X-Factor's continued absence must have something to do with it selling out, but I have no idea why Star Wars: The Clone Wars was missing. So, I have reviews of the first issue of two X-Men miniseries for you.

X-Men: Manifest Destiny #1 (of 4 (or, possibly, 5))

Despite the numerous negative reviews, I really enjoyed this. The cover is awesome too, except it was marred by a skrull playing baseball in the corner.

Yes, the Iceman story makes no sense. Bobby says as much. But things only need to make sense to rational people, and Mystique is not rational. Now maybe its just my conspiracy tendencies creeping in, but I sensed something here that wasn't mentioned in any reviews I read. I think Mystique really does have feelings for Bobby, and she actually thinks that she is helping him. Her 'melting point' comment made me thin that she is trying to help him, if I can put it this way, reach his destiny. Why would she think this? Because of a mutant named…Destiny. Mystique did some crazy things in Messiah Complex because of what Destiny told her, and it seems to me she isn't finished yet. So in some twisted way, this makes a lot of sense.

Yes, the Boom Boom story was ridiculous. But once I realised it was meant to be ridiculous, it was ridiculous in a good way. Do all comics need to be dark and serious? Besides, anything that pokes fun at Facebook is ok by me. I'm tired of my friends going on about how awesome it is. Players of the Achaea and Lusternia MUDs have been using coffee to counteract sleeping spells for years, so the coffee trick made perfect sense, but was still hilarious.

And then there was the Karma story. I thought this was meant to be an introduction to Karma for to new readers of Uncanny who don't know her (into which category I fall) - but if so, it fails dismally. I didn't understand any of it. And the art was awful too.

And finally, how long is this series? I thought it was four issues, until the December solicits said 'of 5' and didn't seem to indicate that Iceman's journey was ending. However, this issue said '1 of 4' after all. I is confused.

Verdict: Minor Victory. I have to give this Minor Victory cause I enjoyed it so much, but the price tag makes me say: For die-hard Iceman fans only.

House of M: Civil War #1 (of 5)

I promised I'd explain why I like House of M so much. And to do that I need to go all the way back to primary school where I used to read my friend's Spider-Man and X-Men comic books. I had never heard of the Avengers. I had never heard of Iron Man, or Hawkeye or the Scarlet Witch. I had heard of Captain America, but I didn't know he was an Avenger. In high school no one bought comic books, so I never saw one again, until I found a comic shop at the Stables Market in Durban and saw X-Factor #1. It was a happy coincidence - I wanted to collect a comic series, and one was just starting, so I could collect it from the beginning. I had no idea who any of the characters were, but they were X-Men, and the story was good, so that was ok. I had no idea what had caused the Decimation - but neither did the characters, so that was ok too. When I got the two Civil War tie-ins that were less about Civil War and more about the Decimation, I thought I should find out what exactly this House of M was. So I bought the House of M trade. I loved it. I did not care that the Scarlet Witch was the enemy. After all, she was the daughter of the X-Men's greatest foe. I had no idea Layla Miller had never appeared in a comic before. After all, she was a mainstay character in X-Factor, and the (Astonishing) X-Men knew her.

I now know better, but I can't suddenly un-love House of M. Also, most of the story arcs I have in my collection (from The Longest Night to Messiah Complex) spin directly out of House of M and the Decimation. Like Layla Miller, House of M is truly the beginning for me. And I want to know how the beginning began. Even if it has a silly title. I have reversed it, because it seems to be that way round on the cover, and it makes a lot more sense to me.

So, what is the comic like? At first glance it seemed a bit disjointed, but when I read it through a second time, it actually flowed quite well despite having to cover such a large amount of time. There's not much new in the first part - we see Magnus surviving Auswich, meeting Magda, the death of his first child, Anya, and the pregnant Magda fleeing when she sees him kill the people who kept him from rescuing his daughter. But then things begin to deviate deviate - only a year later Magnus appears to have put a brotherhood together, showing that in the House of M universe, mutant numbers began to increase a lot earlier. His brotherhood consists of what appear to be a neyaphem with spiked fists, a reptilian, a fire-manipulator, and a powerhouse. They have seemingly escaped from a prison facility in France, and though spiky fists is killed, the rest are smuggled out of the country by American exchange student Suzanna Dane. When she reveals to Magnus that she is pregnant with his child he tells her to get as far away from him as possible because of the danger. I'm not sure if he's referring to his life on the run, or if he just doesn't want the child to grow up with him as a rolemodel. Then Bolivar Trask unveils his sentinels, who battle the brotherhood in Egypt. The battle ends with Magneto as the only survivor, prompting Apocalypse to offer him a place at his side, but the two soon clash over Magneto's unwillingness to kill defeated foes. Defeating Apocalypse, Magneto declares war on humanity. His declaration is broadcast on TV - and is seen by Pietro and Wanda, a very happy-looking Lorna Dane, and a concerned Charles Xavier.

I'm not sure how many of the mutants we are supposed to recognise - Banshee and Peepers are in Apocalypse's group, but I do not recognise any others. The issue could have benefitted from introducing us to the member's of the brotherhood, some of whom I am curious about. This would have given their deaths and Apocalypse's casual survival of the fittest attitude more resonance, and garnered even more sympathy for Magneto. I felt myself rooting for him - this is not the same Magneto as seen in the early X-Men comics. Despite his earlier outburst, he shows compassion to defeated humans, and a reluctance to see the conflict escalate and pull more humans and mutants into it. Wanda gave everyone their greatest wish in House of M - is this how Magneto wished he had behaved? It would seem that the Professor has not formed the X-Men, as the Sentinel factory was not destroyed - does Charles wish that he had never formed the X-Men? At long last, we are shown proof that Polaris is in fact Magneto's daughter - but in an alternate reality in which the Scarlet Witch gave people their greatest desires. It still leaves us with the question of whether Polaris really is Magneto's daughter, or if this is a product of Magneto's wish to have a family that his beliefs did not destroy. Or has Polaris always wanted Magneto to be her father? This issue brings up some surprising questions about the desires of Magneto, Polaris and the Professor, which I was not expecting.

Verdict: Major Victory! This is the best start to a miniseries I have read in a long time.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Togs of War - Mirrors and Wardrobes

Forstly, I can't comment on the new weapons cause they're mixed in with the old ones, and I can't remember which are the old ones. Secondly, I can't comment on Greg the Interdimensional Cricket cause Lymcrest disagrees with my computer and I don't feel like tempting fate just to get a temporary hammer. In fact, even if I could get into Lymcrest easily, I wouldn't feel like seraching through every single quest just to get a tempoary hammer. And thirdly, I can't comment on the armour closet cause it costs dragon coins I don't have, so I can't buy it. Actually, I can comment on it. For a really, really useful feature that's been teased for so long to come out as a DragonCoin item is just annoying. I paid for my Guardian and Dragonlord armour, now I have to pay more so that I can equip them from my house? I am very disappointed.

The only thing I can comment on is the Magic Mirror you can buy for your house. Its supposedly a good farming quest - however it gives me 2000 xp and 240 gold - not up to the standards of the Something Fishy quest, which gives 3001 xp and 400 gold, plus 150 gold for weapon sellback.

And to top it off, they delayed releasing the next part of Dragesvard to give us this.

Verdict: Major Loss! Just...no.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Salvo! - Add one to the mutant count

So I looked up Major Victory to see who he actually was besides a futuristic version of Justice belonging to a group called the Guardians of the Galaxy, and found something I should have already known - Major Victory is a mutant. With the X-gene. Now this is important, so pay attention. The future that Major Victory is from has mutants in it. This kinda makes sense - the Guardians of the Galaxy universe diverged from the main universe when Major Victory convinced his younger self not to join NASA which happened before the Scarlet Witch said 'No More Mutants.' Although, according to Endangered Species, all alternate realities lost their mutants at the same time as ours.

But Forge picked up two possible futures with mutants in them. So, obviously, he either missed the GOG future, or it is one of the two he picked up. We know one of the two timelines is a Days of Future Past approximation, but we still don't know what the other is. Or what happened to the dupe of Madrox who was sent there. Or why Major Victory came back to the present from his future.

Of course, its likely that no one thought of any of this when they decided to bring Major Victory back, and I'm just weaving conspiracy theories again. Except that Peter David is writing She-Hulk: Cosmic Collision, in which Quasar's sword and some of the female Guardians appear. Peter David and DnA have been talking about something.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Spoils of War - Darkness between the Stars

Bendis on Dark Reign:
'…it's not an event. Dark Reign is not another event I'm writing. It's like the Initiative label that a lot of books had after Civil War, which announced it was about this part of the Marvel Universe. That's what Dark Reign is going to be. So I want to make that very clear.'

I have a theory about Dark Reign. I believe that it is the reign of Dr. Doom. In fact, I believe that the 'evil illuminati' picture we saw a while back, with the dark eclipse in the background, is the cover of Secret Invasion: Dark Reign. We've already seen Doom make alliances with Namor and Loki. I think Doom is in custody at the moment, but during the chaos of SI, one of Namor's sleeper cells could easily break him out. And while the superheroes struggle to cope with the aftermath of the invasion, especially if a prominent superhero dies, Doom can make moves to solidify his power even more with an alliance with the Hood and whoever else that is. These people could exert an incredible behind-the scenes hold over the world. Taking over the world publicly is so old-school villain - why not take over the world secretly? If the superheroes don't know you rule it, they can't come after you.

Dark Reign: New Nation looks like it will be one of these anthology books that the X-Men department seem to like. It has six writers and three artists. But what is the new nation? Well, each of the characters in Doom's alliance has control over a 'nation' - Doom has Latveria, Namor has the worldwide sleeper cells, Loki's been manipulating Asgard, whilst the Hood builds a kingpin-like empire in New York, and Frost co-leads the X-Men (or if its another White Queen, the Hellfire Club).

Secret Invasion: Requeim (not its actual title) sounds like a Fallen Son-esque mini-series in which people react to the death of a major superhero. Take your pick. Iron Man is the odds on favourite, one of his books was cancelled, and his other book is classified till after SI. The Wasp is a possibility. She's a founding Avenger, and Pym seems to think she's the Skrull's ace card. What exactly was in that formula he gave her? There's also Ms Marvel - leader of the Mighty Avengers and poster-girl of the Initiative. Her death would be a major blow - and her book is also classified till after Secret Invasion. Note the absence of Mighty Avengers, which wasn't being cancelled. Mr Fantastic is an option too - we have no idea what the FF will look like after Miller's run and FF: Cosmic Sized is classified. The only others who's death would warrant a miniseries are Cap and Thor - both of whom have already died in major events. And they've only just returned. Thor's book is missing - but it's been late before.

I'm confused about FF: Cosmic Sized. Its $5, so it looks like the usual oversized annual rather than a tie-in to Dark Reign or War of Kings, so unless it involves someone's death, I don't know why they're keeping it under wraps. Equally strange is She-Hulk: Cosmic Collision. Where did that come from? Are Marvel testing the waters for a Lady Liberators series?

I forgot to mention Nova's solicitation yesterday, which confirms the return of the Nova Corps. Interesting move with War of Kings around the corner. Seriously guys, policing earth = bad idea. Didn't we just repel an invasion by an alien race who was merely trying to help us? You think we're gonna let the Nova Corps tell us what to do? (You may notice I'm assuming we win SI)

We also know where the Kree stand now - down but not out. Joe Pokaski says:
"Ronan has been rebuilding the Kree Empire slowly but surely since the Annihilation, specifically in terms of military strength," the writer explains. "But the Kree serve the Inhumans' particular needs in this aspect by flexing a strength they have always had in spades: Their intelligence, and their technology. That capacity plus Karnak's ability to harness it could mean the answers they are looking for."

This also goes a long way to explaining Black Bolt's involvement in War of Kings. Now we need an image of Ronan and Black Bolt shaking hands. That would be awesome.

Is Warren Angel and Archangel? X-Force seemed to indicate he was both, with the unconscious ability to switch between forms. Uncanny #500 hinted he may be able to consciously switch forms, as he inexplicably took out a Sentinel off-panel. But people who have read SI: X-Men seem to think that they are separate individuals. Could he have changed off-panel? Curiouser and curiouser .

And lastly, I promised I'd talk about the MDCU exclusive comics. They won't all be movie tie-ins - it sounds like they're going to use this to experiment with a number of new concepts. New being relative - they mentioned westerns, which they've done before, but not for a while. Also mentioned sci-fi, I assume this means sci-fi without superheroes. They also mentioned spotlights of major characters which sounds Marvel Knight-y to me. So it seems like there won't be any important in-continuity books exclusive to MDCU yet.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Quartermaster - Marvel goes Dark and Cosmic

I felt like playing with colour today. Blue for titles, green for if I'm getting them, red if I'm not.

Civil War: House of M
Sometime this week I'll put up a post explaining why I like house of M so much. Till, then, in supply.

Not much to say here, as its all classified. Not even sure which of these are one shots and which are miniseries. Secret Invasion: Dark Reign was announced as a one-shot somewhere, I think. Dark Reign: New Nation seems to be an anthology of the type liked by X-Men writers, and could be a oversized one shot, or part of a mini-series. I'll chat more about the classified stuff tomorrow on Spoils of War. But as I don't know what any of this is, and won't be able to get Marvel Previews: Dark Reign edition until its too late to order anything…not in supply. Of course, Kickasskomix pride themselves on being able to get anything I want, so if I really really need any of this, I can get it in January.

Guardians of the Galaxy #8
Goodness gracious. Blastaar vs Star-Lord in the Negative Zone? Rocket Raccoon leads the Guardians of the Galaxy? (Well, they showed us that in last month's cover, but I didn't believe them.) It’s a War of Kings lead-in too! Which is a good thing, cause I thought they might throw in another mini-series that I can't afford to get cause there's just too much happening in December. In supply.

Fantastic Four: Cosmic Sized #1
The solicit title says Fantastic four Cosmic Special, the picture says Fantastic Four: Cosmic Sized, and the file was named 'ffinvcov.jpg' . I'm telling you all this cause the solicit itself gives no information, a suspicious move which leads me to think it has something to do with the end of Secret Invasion. Except that its nowhere near any of the Dark Reign stuff in the solicit list. Not in supply for now, but being cosmic, there's an outside chance it may link to War of Kings, so we'll wait and see…

Hulk Family #1
Now, I wanted to get this, cause of Scorpion, but there's just too much stuff going on this month, and its $5. I can almost get two other comics for that price! So, not in supply.

Marvel Studios: Iron Man: Fast Friends #1 and The Incredible Hulk: The Fury Files #1
Now this was unexpected. Sure, we've had Secret Invasion: The Home Invasion, but two movie tie-in series available exclusively on MDCU? It’s a very interesting move, I'll have more comments on this tomorrow. I don't subscribe to MDCU, so not in supply.

She Hulk: Cosmic Collision
She Hulk with Quasar's sword? With Storm, Susan Storm and Valkyrie in it too? Its written by Peter David? In supply.

What If?
A whole slew of these with an interesting gimmick that they each have part of a back up story involving the Runaway's becoming the Young Avengers. We've all seen the Doom/Guantlet cover to What If? Secret Wars and the Cap holding Iron Man cover to What IF? Fallen Son. Darn Marvel, teasing us like that. Oh, What If? House of M should really be named What If? Decimation, but it probably wouldn't sell as much then. Not in supply.

Uncanny X-Men #505
This cover threw me for a bit - but I think its supposed to be the hotel in Cyclops' head. Which makes me wonder whether Storm's audience with Emma is real or not. Evil from Russia run amok in SF? Didn't the Order fight Ursa Major in SF? Written by Matt Fraction? Plus Simon Trask's press conference and Angel and Beast putting a fringe science team together. It all sounds really good. I hope it is. In supply.

X-Infernus #1
At least we know what this series name is now. They went with the simplest option. Its better than X-Men - Inferno II: Infernus. I'm really looking forward to this - rumour has it Mercury and Pixie will be involved, and a depowered mutant will gain mystic powers unrelated to the X-gene. In supply.

X-Factor #38
I have no idea what the Karma project is, or what it has to do with an army of Darwins. And wasn't Longshot a skrull? But its X-Factor investigating a large corporation, which sounds a lot like the days when they were up against Singularity, so I'm pretty sure its gonna be good. Oh, and fending off the US government who want Siryn and her baby. In supply.

X-Men: Kingbreaker #1
I've spoken about this before, so I don't have anything else to say, other than it's in supply.

X-Men: Legacy #219
Talk about agonising decisions. I want to get this - but I'm getting too any comics, and I know Mike Carey's gonna be going into Rogue stuff soon which I don't care about. I want to see what Juggy and the Prof are up to, but only if its interesting. Gah. Not in supply…but I may change my mind.

X-Men: Manifest Destiny #4
I could have sworn this was a four issue series. But now it say 'of 5'. I'll be getting the first issue of this on Friday. Reviews have been mostly negative, but I'm an optimist - Mike Carey said the Iceman story is going somewhere, and I believe him. This issue has a story about Mercury, which will be welcome. I miss her. In supply.

Young X-Men #9
I promised I'd re-look at this, but I still don't have much interest in the characters. It’s the end of a 2 parter, so I'll take another look when January previews come out. Not in supply…for now.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Togs of War - Only penguins can save us now

Still sick. Short post.

The Good:
* You can now invite Galanoth to join your party as a guest. He has three ok skills.
* You get to play as Nythera, make mischief, and meet her father (a wizard) and mother (a dragon).

The Bad:
* Galanoth's new quest is exactly the same as his old one, except now you have to fight the elves two and three at a time without the aid of your baby dragon. It looks like they copied the visible pet code from the 'walking your dragon' and couldn't be bothered to adapt it to work for a guest, so they made Galanoth into a temporary pet. Oh, and only reward is ice scale.

The Revelations:
* The ice elves are ruled by an evil queen who is using the ice orb to control the ice dragons. And we must team up with our old enemies the ursine bears and killquins to stop her.
* Dragons can take human form. At least now we don't have to wonder about how half-dragons were invented, but if your friend starts acting strange…maybe he's been replaced by a dragon.
* Nythera created sneevils!

Verdict: Minor Victory The good is meh and the bad is sheer laziness. Only penguins can save us - but only sneevils can save this release.

Salvo! - More Namor

Best news in a long time:

'There are big plans afoot for Namor after Secret Invasion wraps up.'

(from My Cup o' Joe)

That is all I wanted to say.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Spoils of War - We Live in Dark Times

Biggest X-Men news this week is that Giuseppe Camuncoli will be drawing X Infernus. I don't know much about him, but his work on Ms Marvel looks really good. As do his character sketchesfor X Infernus (seen in this post). So I guess this confirms Pixie will be meeting Darkchylde again. Maybe she can get some payback. Mike Carey confirmed that Sunspot has in fact left the Hellfire Club, opening the way for a power struggle over control of the club. This is not good for the X-Men, no matter who ends up in control. Oh, X-Men Noir? Yeah, they've been hyping it up with the mysterious pictures for a while, but honestly I'm not that impressed. I already get X-Factor. The Daredevil and Spider-Man Noir books seem more interesting.
Speaking of Spidey, everyone seems to be enjoying his current storyarc, New Ways to Die. The name seems ironic to me, because its actually about the return of old Spidey villains, rather than the new ones. One can argue about whether Anti-Venom is a new or old villain, but his emergence has elevated Mr Negative to a new level of interesting. Mr Negative always struck me as the only one of the new crop who had much staying power. By the way, Dan Slott has confirmed that the phrase 'everything we did is still up and running' does not refer to Mephisto. I've never been much of a Spidey fan anyway - but I'm excited about the possibility of the Lizard being in the Spider-Man 4 movie.

I was pretty certain Mighty Avengers was going to be cancelled after Secret Invasion, and Newsarama confirmed my suspicions - only to quickly apologise and clarify that although Brian Bendis is leaving the book, its not being cancelled. There's still gonna be a new (fourth!) avengers book, Dark Avengers, which will tie into Dark Reign. Dark Reign itself appears to be one of these aftermath 'events' which are not really crossovers and not really events, but rather a label slapped on a whole lot of books that says 'in this book the Marvel Universe has changed, just like we said it would'. We've seen them before: Decimation, the Initiative Divided We Stand. I'm not saying they're a bad thing, just that you don't need to go out and buy every single one of them. I'm sure this Dark stuff has been in the works for a while, but its still interesting in light of DC's comments about making their movies darker. Seems everyone likes their heroes dark and their villains darker.

And why on earth does Doom have the Infinity Gauntlet? And what does it have to do with the Eternals? I have no idea, but it is interesting that he's granted asylum to Namor, who knows who has each gem, and that Namor and Doom are both in the 'evil illuminati' picture. Oh, also keep in mind that Magneto and the High Evolutionary have been messing around with the Dreaming Celestial, who is linked to the Eternals, and happens to be in San Francisco. Yeah, ok, maybe I'm paranoid. But I still think it would be cool if Doom, Magneto and Namor started a Dark Avengers team to protect the earth from god-like beings, however unlikely it is.

If any of you are getting fed up with the Marvel universe - now's your chance. Abandon ship and jump on board Mark Millar's Ultimate Avengers which will be the core of a five-book (no more, no less) Ultimate Universe. Plus, they'll have two Big Events every year, with the Ultimate Avengers series taking the place of an event mini-series. The Marvel U only has one Big Event every year. You only have to buy five books every month, and you're guaranteed to have all the tie ins. Plus, they're aiming for all of the Ultimate titles to do batter than every other Marvel title every month. It sounds too good to be true.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Salvo! - Change is Good

I didn't put up a MI post yesterday as I had a really bad throat and went to bed early. No, I wasn't trying to imitate Banshee. It did give me a chance to think about how the blog's going, and I've decided to make a few changes. I'm replacing MI with a post called Spoils of War that I'll put up every Wednesday, starting tomorrow. I'll pick out news or reviews that struck me as interesting. As most comic announcements have a certain amount of cryptic wait-and-see to them, I'll also speculate on what I think they actually mean. War Correspondence posts will go to monthly rather than weekly, so I can spend more time on each one. I'd like to do a monthly post on Yu-Gi-Oh too, but I'm not sure how to work it - you tend to get spasms in which a lot of stuff is released, followed by long periods of nothing.

I should have reviews for the first half of September up next week. Oh, here's the cover to X-Men Kingbreaker #1:

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Togs of War - Gary is a stupid name for an ice elf

First up is the end of the monkee war that was reached at the beginning of the week. The war was generally disappointing, the novelty of fighting as a pirate or ninja monkee quickly wore off and I found myself frustrated wishing for the high level skills of my necromancer, guardian or dragonlord armour. Fortunately you don't have to fight the boss, Mae Pi, as a monkee. The boss fight drops banana-themed weapons which look quite nice and do nature damage. The high-level versions are better than the pumpkin weapons from Halloween. Unfortunately there are seven of each, and they're random drops rather than purchasable from a war shop, and the boss fight has a long after-battle sequence, so its not easy to get the one you want. I tried a few times, and then gave up - its only nature damage after all. I'm just going to pretend the war never happened.

Onto this weeks release - we finally get to visit the ruined city of the long dead ice-elves. Galanoth comes along, setting up a magical talking cardboard cut-out of himself before he leaves so as to trick the dragons into thinking he is still guarding Dragesvard. The shimat you gave Galanoth does some magic, and the ice elf city turns out not to be as ruined as we thought, and the ice elves not as dead as we thought. You are ambushed by a large number of them, all armed with the deadly shimat weapons. Which really hurt. One of the ice elves, Gary, appears to admit that the elves attacked the village you found the shimat in two weeks ago. The shimat in question belongs to him. Galanoth comes up with a sneaky plan, telling you to fight your way out of the city, leaving him to get captured. In this way he can learn the truth behind the ice elve's attack on the village, and whether they are working with the ice dragons. The ice elves do look a bit like the half-dragon teacher of dracomancy in Adventure Quest. Hmmm. The plan is for you to return later and rescue Galanoth. Yeah, I see this plan working out perfectly with no hitches. Incidentally, this means that until further notice, the Galanoth in Dragesvard isn't actually Galanoth - its the magical talking cardboard cutout we saw earlier.

There are some weapon drops from this quest - Gary's sword, staff and dagger. Their designs are pretty cool-looking, and are obviously inspired by the shimat. They're slightly better than the icy weapons in BorkBork's shop, and though they don't look as cool, they are free, whilst BorkBork's are ridiculously expensive.

Verdict: Minor Victory The storyline is going somewhere after some stagnation, and I like where its going. Plus we saw elves and got some good ice weapons. But...Gary? C'mon, you can do better than that.

Friday, September 5, 2008

War Correspondence - The All Old, All Different X-Men

I glanced through IGN and Kirk's reviews of Manifest Destiny, and they made me sad. I hope the Iceman story gets a lot better. He really needs a good story. He seems to be the only one of the originals who hasn't evolved from who he was during the original run of X-Men. The other four male characters have - and are all in a really cool place right now.

Professor X first appeared as a strict no-nonsense schoolmaster, but we soon came to see that he cared very deeply for his students in particular, and mutants in general. But he had this mean streak in him - mind wiping people, including his own students, without as second thought; and on one occasion leaving them to mourn him for dead whilst he worked in a secret project in the basement. For someone trying to protect mutantkind, he made a lot of questionable decisions. It didn't quite add up. Until he lost his memory and started investigating why he founded the X-Men in the first place. We now know that he had been manipulated by Mr Sinister from a very young age. Sinister placed part of his own DNA into Xavier, which appears to account for Xavier's mean streak and his tendency to want to control others. The Professor's journey of self-discovery is not over, and it promises to be a fun ride.

Cyclops was chosen as the leader of the X-Men by the Professor, yet he was often undeceive and unsure of himself. He spent a lot of time hoping to be 'cured' - not a trait one especially wants in a leader of mutants. He had also been manipulated by Sinister when young, and, I hate to say this, but it is possible that his love for Jean was purely a product of Sinister's machinations. That would certainly explain him abandoning his son and wife when he heard Jean was alive. Professor X was right, though, as not a trace of Cyclops former self remains. He has broken free of Sinister, and even Xavier, and stepped up to be the new leader of the X-Men. He's with Emma, where he wants to be - in House of M he was married to her, not Jean. He is at peace with his dangerous power. He has the confidence to make tough decisions - abandoning the mansion, sending Cable and the baby into the future, organising a black ops team. Or so it seems. We've seen his nightmares, and him building a crib in the middle of the night. And while I may not agree with some of his decisions, at least he's making them (and sticking to them) for the right reasons.

Lets be honest, Angel was a spoiled brat with the worst power of the lot. But boy has has grown up. Yeah, he's still a bit of a playboy who likes fast cars, but it takes a lot of maturity, knowledge and intelligence to run something like Worthington Industries. And he's definitely not selfish, putting his entire company at the disposal of the X-Men. Plus he seems to be able to switch between his angel and archangel forms. He hasn't been this cool in years.

Its both easy and hard to demonstrate the Beast's change. He's changed the most physically, but because he was always so intelligent and confident, he doesn't seem to have changed much in that respect. But looking at the original stories, he was a showoff - very overconfident. He also used to use big words a lot more. These day's he is far more subtle - he's far less likely to leap before he looks, making him a better fighter, and his speech is more restrained, and yet he sounds just as intelligent. But now he's blue and furry. That's just awesome.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Duel! - 5D’s

Seeing as the first 5D’s booster pack the Duelist Genesis came out today, and I bought the 5D’s Starter Deck today, I thought I’d comment on all things 5D’s.

What on earth is 5D’s you may ask? It’s the newest Yugioh TV series, which is kicking the game into overdrive. Yes, I’m one of those people that play Yugioh. And what does 5D’s mean? It took me a while to figure this out, as I thought that it had something to do with the show’s new way of dueling on motorcycles. Yes, they play a card game whilst riding motorcycles. No, I have no idea why either. And I have no desire to watch the show to find out. 5D’s actually stands for five dragons, because there are five ultimate ‘synchro’ dragon cards that the show centers around. So far only three have been revealed – Stardust Dragon, Red Dragon Archfiend and Black Rose Dragon. I don’t know why they didn’t just call the show The Five Dragons – it sounds better and is a lot less confusing.

5D’s Starter Deck
This is obviously aimed at helping you be just like the show’s main character Yusei Fudo and is filled with ‘junk’monsters – level 1 to 3 monsters with hopeless attack and defense values, some of which are designated as tuners. The aim is to get a tuner monster and a couple of non-tuner monsters onto the field so you can add up their levels and synchro summon a synchro monster equal to the total levels. The deck contains three synchro monsters who are actually pretty good. The main problem is that you need to put a decent number of useless monster onto the field and keep them there long enough to synchro summon. And because they’re useless, well, they’re hard to keep on the field. And if you can’t synchro summon, or your opponent gets rid of your three synchro monsters, you’re screwed. So as a deck in itself its not very good and doesn’t have fun combos, so I don’t see it making lots of people fall in love with the game. And for people who already play the game, you can get a lot of the cards elsewhere. So why did I get it? For two cards. One is is Scrap-Iron Scarecrow, a trap that negates an opponents trap and then resets itself to be used again. It’ll be perfect for my rock deck, which is built around blocking attacks. The other is Gaia Knight, Force of Earth, an earth-warrior synchro card I wanted for my earth-warrior deck. Its level 6 and I have a fair amount of decent level 3 warriors I can use to summon it. It goes in with Tuner Warrior (lvl 3, earth-warrior, decent attack) so I can actually summon it, and Colossal Fighter cause if I have a tuner, I may as well have a second synchro just in case

Best Card Name: It’s a Tuner. It’s a Warrior. Its Tune Warrior!

Verdict: Minor Loss. Four useful out of 43, and only cause my decks are so specilised. Leave it alone unless you can fit one or more of the synchros into your deck without major adjustment.

The Duelist Genesis
Like the Starter Deck this set consists of a lot of Yusei’s cards (all the ones not in the starter deck) and introduces the new tuner and synchro monster sub-types and their support cards. But it also has a lot of cards used by Yusei’s rival, Jack Atlus and Tetso Ushio. It includes two of the synchro dragons – Stardust Dragon and Red Dragon Archfiend. It also introduces a third new type of monster card – psychic. These monsters look like they’re part-fiend part-machine (think Jinzo) and tend to have effects that use up life points to activate. I’m not sure why we need new type when old types like fish, sea serpent and thunder are still seriously lacking in support (in acknowledgement of this they have included a few half-hearted attempts at fish and thunder support cards). Fortunately, there’s some pretty good psychic support cards in this set, and they come with their very own shiny new psychic tuner and psychic synchro monsters. The Six Samurai, Gladiator Beasts, Lightsworn, and Ancient Gears all put in the required cameo - and there’s some surprising support for spirit monsters.

Best Card Name: A draw between the Lightsworn spell Charge of the Light Brigade, and the first card to have an actual Greek letter in its name, Fiendish Engine Ω.

Verdict: Minor Victory. This is a lot better, but it still has a lot of junky monsters.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Military Intelligence - Guessing Games

I'm playing the guessing game today. So if you think I might guess something right and spoil a storyline, don't read this. But I never was much good at guessing.

C. B. Cebulski said that he could circumvent the ban on depowered mutants regaining their powers during X-Infernus - over the years there's a few X-characters that have had mystical powers, and he hinted that one of these might get their mystical powers back during the magical event. But who? He's not saying, but I have some ideas. I doubt any depowered witches will be showing up for X-Infernus, but I might put money on a certain former valkyrie showing up…

My sister is studying ancient civilizations, and we've been talking about the Egyptian Gods. I told her a few days ago that I thought Sekhmet, the lioness goddess of vengeance would make a good Marvel character. And whadda you know, in October Thor visits Egypt and duels the Egyptian Gods in Thor: Truth of History. I'm not sure how I missed seeing this in previews. He also meets something familiar that doesn't belong, and sets in motion a chain of events that affects the present day. What could this be? My first thought would be Apocalypse, but if it is I'd think they'd have publicized it more. As in having an article on Marvel.com titled: THOR FIGHTS APOCALYPSE!!!!!!!!! The Dreaming Celestial maybe?

Newsarama has an interview with Marc Guggenheim on Young X-Men. He says that the team would move to San Francisco, as they have realised that if you were once an X-Man, you can't just lie low, people will come after you. Scott and Emma don't know what to do with them until two of the New Mutants offer to train the youngsters. I'm going for Sunspot and Moonstar due to a comment I read somewhere on Marvel.com mentioning the moon and the sun. Which in turn makes me think that this book will be involved in an X-Infernus crossover. Who is Greymalkin? I think that he's Cypher. Or an amalgam of Cypher with some other dead students. If so, it will make a lot of people really happy, or really angry. One of the mutants is gonna discover they aren't a mutant. I'm not entirely sure what a golem-controlling psychic entity actually is, but I'm sure Rockslide still counts as a mutant. I'm guessing Ink will find out he isn't a mutant. A fan-favorite member of the New X-Men will join the team. I'm pretty certain it'll be Anole. They are purposely putting all the characters I don't like (Dust, Blindfold, Rockslide, Anole) in Young X-Men, and leaving the ones I do (Surge, Hellion, Mercury, Gentle, Loa) wandering around who knows where. At least Pixie's in Uncanny, and Mercury might be in X Infernus. I won't be picking it up yet, but I'll keep an eye on it, and if good things happen to it during or after X-Infernus, I'll probably pick it up.

From the Front - August

I wasn't liking the black website, so I went in completely the opposite direction. Anyway, finally some comic reviews. X-Factor #33 was missing at the shop - I checked the online Marvel catalog to make sure it did actually come out the same week as the others, and it did, but it was sold out. And usually when something is sold out, I'm one of the people who doesn't get a copy. Fortunately there's a second printing, and the Layla Miller special was waiting for me, so I still get to read about an X-Factor character. I'm not worrying much about spoiler, cause I'm pretty sure most people have red these already.

X-Factor Special: Layla Miller
First off, that’s a wicked cover. Inside the book quickly goes the way of despair, death and destruction, with Layla Miller making the best lucky-I-know-what's-going-to-happen escape from imprisonment since newspapers started predicting eclipses. The creepiest part of her standing there for days on end was her muttering 'one of us' in her sleep. I thought her recent appearance in the main X-Factor book was just Jamie's imagination, but now I'm not so sure. Layla walking away from the destroyed detention camp saying 'by the way, it was 10' whilst the panel showed the large X she had drawn was also cool. Layla never misses a chance to be snarky, the winning number to the guard's pool was staring them in the face the whole time.

It seems that everyone has to rip off the phrase 'No more mutants' these days. If I never see it used again, it will be too soon. Even 80 years in the future. I must admit that the placard was still was the cleverest use of the phrase I've seen. The fact that history seems to be so easily forgotten by the general man in the street is disturbing. How will we learn from our mistakes if we can't remember them?

We meet an approximately 100-years-old Cyclops, who, in a twist, is revealed to be a cyborg. I'm sure I don't have to explain why this is cool and ironic at the same time. We also meet his daughter Ruby, the best new addition to the Summers family since… ever. I find myself really hoping to see her again.

Once again, David reminds us that a lot of what Layla knows is just because she's observant. This is what makes her such a good private investigator and justifies her being a member of X-Factor. He also reminds us that for all her bluster, Layla is still just a little girl, and knowing all the bad stuff that's going to happen has taken a toll on her.

But amidst the doom and gloom we have two rays of light. One is a simple time paradox which proves Layla will get home eventually; and the other is Ruby Summers starting the famous Summers Rebellion, promising freedom to all mutants. Although I can't help wondering: if Layla pre-empted the Summers Rebellion before it was supposed to happen - has she changed the future from Bishop's version to Damien Tryp's version?

Verdict: Major Victory! Once again Layla justifies being my favourite Marvel character.

Uncanny X-Men #501
More violence against women. Did it have to be Pixie who got beaten up? On the plus side, this issue has a version of Cyclops that I haven't seen. Unlike the one seen recently in Uncanny and X-Force, who no longer seems to have a heroic moral stance, this Scott seems to be at his wits end, and hints that the one we've seen recently is a façade. This is a Scott who builds a crib in the middile of the night in an attempt to convince himself that Cable and the baby are safe and are coming back to the present soon. They're coming back. And the baby will need a crib, cause they're coming back. I don't see how this Scott can carry on very long without suffering a nervous breakdown.

An interesting aside is that Emma hints she's considering having a baby. Think about this - the Layla Miller special takes place 10 years in the future, and Ruby hints she could be close to that age. Hmm.

The rest of the X-Men act just like they should. Beast talks like a nice guy with a high IQ actually does. Angel drives fast cars and hands them out like party favours. Wolverine drinks beer in the morning. Nightcrawler plays teleportation pranks.

The leaders of the anti-mutant Hellfire Cult are revealed to be mutants themselves - Empath and someone called the Red Queen. Now Red Queen, as far as I know, was a position that only existed in the British version of the Hellfire Club, so I'm not sure if the Hellfire Cult is actually linked to the American Hellfire Club or not. I tend to think that its linked to the 'Sisterhood of Evil Mutants' we've been told about.

And Nightcrawler's pranks -he can catch flying objects in midair and redirect them - are not just for amusement. In a modified version of the Fastball Special - which I like to call a Fastball Surprise - Colossus throws Wolverine, and Nightcrawler teleports him in front of a group of Cultist about to beat up Karma.

Verdict: Minor Victory. It should all be very entertaining, but it seems like the X-Men are slowing down and doing some reflection. Which would be ok, if they hadn't been already doing that for the last five issues.

Guardians of the Galaxy #4 (Secret Invasion)
So far Guardians of the Galaxy has been highly entertaining, but everything has been far too convenient. Star-Lord and Adam Warlock decide they need to protect the Galaxy, everyone they choose to be on the team conveniently agrees, they get an impregnable base of operations which conveniently allows them to teleport to anywhere in the Galaxy, and on their second mission they conveniently find a Captain America analogy frozen in space - the Avengers were cemented together by finding Captain America frozen in the Arctic. But now its all catching up with them. It is revealed, not in this order, that Mantis messed with the teams mind to make them agree to join them, that Cosmo didn't get proper permission for the Guardians to use Knowhere, and that Major Victory is becoming more trouble than he's worth. And if that wasn't bad enough, the teleportation cortex has been destroyed (so now, not only can no one get into Knowhere, no one can get out of it either) and is slowly killing everyone with radiation. Oh, and they've been infiltrated by skrull shapeshifters. You can tell by the banner on the cover, and the fact that there are three dead skrulls in the infirmary.

Only DnA could make the sheer ridiculousness of the Guardians into a serious story. The Guardians are at each other's throats, accusing each of being a skrull, mostly because of how ridiculous all the character's origins and powers are. The paranoia gets so high that Gamora accuses Star-Lord of being a skrull due to him hiding behind his mask all the time - even though skrulls don't need masks to look like someone, and he spends half of each issues with the mask off anyway.

Verdict: Major Victory! Maybe its just cause I haven’t got any Secret Invasion books, but I don't mind a detour into skrull territory that's written this well into the book's storyline.