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

Thursday, April 23, 2009

War Correspondence: Retracing the Steps

Today's post is about me, and what I have been up to recently. Because, if I am starved of my comics, I must turn elsewhere for entertainment, right? And I couldn’t go to Yu-Gi-Oh, as I have stopped playing it since the contract for Europe and the USA (and cause we get our stuff from one of those two places, South Africa) was ripped away from Upper Deck Entertainment. That is not the only reason I stopped playing, but it is a big part of it. Sure, if one of my friends pops over with a deck, I'll play against them, but I'm not buying any more cards. But despite all my good intentions, the universe wasn't going to let me escape from card games. Oh no.

About halfway through last year I bought (on impulse) the Duel Decks:Elves vs Goblins set from Magic: the Gathering. Unfortunately, I discovered that it was not beginner-friendly. And I couldn't pop around to the nearest Friday Night Magic event, because we don't have that in South Africa. And besides, I help out with Junior Youth at the church on Fridays (that is relavent, as you will see later). So the elves and goblins sat in my cupboard for a couple of months.

On my last visit to the Stable's Market, former home of Kick Ass Komix, I found an old tattered copy of a book calle Saviours of Kamigawa. It had fox-people in it. At one stage, the main character in the book I am writing, was a were-fox. So I bought the book for R10, mainly for research purposes, as I knew little about Japanese mythical fox-people, or how they are portrayed in modern fantasy novels. I then discovered that it was a novel set in the world (or rather, multiverse) of Magic: the Gathering. Imagine my surprise. They wrote books set in the worlds the cards came from? The books were good?

I had looked at the cards that I had bought, of course, and couldn't help noticing that many of the elves had horns (pretty deer or antler horns, that is, rather than the other kind). I eventually discovered that many of the elf cards came from a world called Lorwyn, based on Welsh Mythology. I also discovered that there were books about Lorwyn. So I ordered them from the nearest bookshop. After all, if I was stealing so extensively from Welsh mythology for my book, surely I would find these books useful. After all, I'm already stealing ideas from many other books I've read. (Though, hopefully, I'm doing it in a way that won't have people suing me.)

And then one of the other guys who helps at Junior Youth rocked up wearing a Lorwyn T-Shirt. I discovered he was a judge, and suddenly I've found myself meeting at Westville Library every Saturday to play Magic with a group of other guys (including guys I knew from the comic shop). And I'm actually enjoying it, so much so that I'm waiting eagerly for the novel Alara Unbroken (by Doug Beyer) to be published.

Apparently, some people play Magic to win. Others play it for many different reasons. Me, I like the stories. I've always been addicted to stories with a sci-fi or fantasy bent. I now read and enjoy Doug Beyer's weekly column about the stories of Magic (and how fantasy stories are written in general) . I even wrote him an e-mail in which I disagreed with him on how one of the lesser game mechanics (called retrace) should be seen. I knew it was presumptuous of me, having only played the game for a short time, and expected either no reply, or one explaining how I was wrong. So, imagine may surprise again, when he published the entire (rather lengthy) email in its entirety at the end of his column this week, and said he enjoyed it. So I'm gonna do a shameless self-plug and provide the link to it here.

So where to from here? I'll try to do a Quartermaster with the rest of Marvel's solicits soon. If I have time, I'd like to post some reviews of a number of novels I've read recently (I haven't only been playing and reading Magic). And I shall reveal a bit of stuff about my book. In fact, I shall go write something about why elven knights ride cats. I do not know if anyone cares, but I shall do it anyway.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

From the Front - Uncanny #506 - 507

I shall now attempt to review comics which appear to contain payoffs to storylines I have not read. Because of this, I won't put a 'victory or loss' line at the end, like I normally do.

Some scenes of Colossus and Emma Frost kicking the Russian mob around. I expect that if I had read Lovelorn, in which Colossus moped around feeling sorry for himself (I'm guessing this), seeing him cracks some skulls would have been rather more awesome. The theme here seems to be 'big guy with steel skin that can feel no physical pain who has a big heart and therefore feels intense emotional pain'. He doesn't know how to deal with physical pain, cause he usually just goes steel (hence the tattoo subplot) and so he has a really hard time dealing with his pain over the loss of Kitty. I think this is a continuation of a general theme surrounding Colossus, dealing with the feelings of a guy who can't feel anything. I think it is a good bit of character work.

I am liking Emma's story too. Issue #506 begins with a nightmare about her costume transforming from white into black. This is obviously linked to her deal with Osborne, and also the recent mini in Divided we Stand where she questions whether she has truly become good, or if there will always be a part of herself that is evil. Some people have complained about the recent trend showing her self-doubt, as she has always been full of self-confidence, to a fault, and they think this detracts from her character. I disagree - it has made me more sympathetic towards her. After all, some people seem to have hard exteriors but have lots of hidden feeling on the inside. Hmm, this sounds strangely familiar. Maybe she should go diamond, and join Colossus in cracking some skulls. Oh, wait, she does. I just hope that Emma and Scott don't split over the secrets they've been keeping from each other. Here's hoping to what doesn't break them makes them stronger…

As for Beast and Angel's team…um…why didn't Beast contact these people in Endangered Species? I thought that storyline was to show he had done everything he possibly could and there was absolutely no way to undo M-Day. I'm not so keen on this storyline.

I am more happy about getting this series now, last year I found myself constantly having to justify getting it.

As for Guardians #12, I'm still a bit lost. I'll try to work it out and put up a review soon.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Quartermaster - The X-Men in July

I have written reviews of the comics i recived, but they are sitting at home. Oh well. Elections tomorrow. The ANC will, of course, win, and Jacob Zuma will, of course, become our next president. The only question is: will COPE and the DA have managed to pull enough voters away from the ANC to prevent them from retaining their two-thirds majority in parliment (and thus, be able to block the ANC from making changes to the constitution)? We shall see.

For now, I shall talk about July's X-Men solicitations. Spoilers. Unless they're misdirections.

Uncanny #513 and Dark: X-Men: the Beginning #1 & 2 (of 3)
Ah, the famous Dark X-Men cover, featuring the black-costume Emma Frost from her recent nightmare. The guy who looks like Angel has a reason for it. He is Mimic, and the first person to join the original five X-Men as a new member, though it was shortlived. He's not really a shapeshifter, he just gains the same mutations as nearby mutants. The guy in black with an X on his collar I initally thought was Moebius, but apprently he is Cloak, meaning the girl in white is Dagger. Namor on an X-Men team? Not as strange as you would think - both Prof X and Magneto tried to recruit him in the early days. Emma Frost betraying the X-Men? I think there's a lot more than meets the eye here, especially if Professor X is here too. With Cyclop's dodgy dealings of late, I think we shall discover that Emma and the Prof have very, very good reasons for their presence here, and that not all is what it seems. Then there's Dark Beast -not seen on either cover, but mentioned in the solicits. We last saw him in Endangered Species. Dark Wolverine, as we know, is Daken. Which leaves us with the question - who is Weapon X? The only other person on the cover is Michael Pointer, known varously as the Collective, Guardian, and Weapon Omega. But the Weapon X program was always Canadian, so maybe he's going by Weapon X these days. Just to confuse things. Will I get Dark X-Men: the Beginning? Well, while I usually get the X-Men 'event anthologies', and have found some of them entertaining, I don't think I'll get this one. I will, however, be getting the Utopia crossover.

X-Men: Legacy #226
Mike Carey is a good writer. I enjoyed the issues of Legacy that I've read. but I have some sort of mental block when it comes to Rogue. Fors some reason I don't like her, or understand why people thinks she is cool. So part of me wants to get this, and the other part doesn't.

New Mutants #3
Yeah, I never got why people think the New Mutants are cool either. And do we really need to bring back Legion? This doesn't interest me much.

Dark Wolverine #76
Marvel's latest policy seems to be 'when in doubt, make them fight the Fantastic Four'. I may be a FF fan, but this sort of thing does not impress me.

Cable #16 and X-Force #17
Very little about the concusion of Messiah War can be worked out from these, except that Wolfsbane come out of it alive. Nothing of real importance seems to have happened - if it did, wouldn't we would be able to work it out from the solicits, and they'd have to classify them?

X-Factor #46
Two words: Ruby Summers.

Friday, April 17, 2009

The Return

I know i haven't poseted anything for over a month. I thought of posting something a few times, but I coudn't think of anything to say besides 'still no comics', and i was getting tired of that. And commenting on comic news was just too depressing as it only reminded me how out of it I was becoming.

But at last, the drought is over. I have three comics - Uncanny #506 and #507 and Guardians of the Galaxy #12. I don't have any reviews for you yet, because I do not quite understand them. I think this is because I have missed the last six issues of each, rather than because they are incomprehesible. I may have to head over to UXM.com and see if they have any transcripts of the ones I missed. Or....perhaps if I go read them again they will make more sense...

Kirk mentioned on his blog Weekly Crisis that X-Factor is good again. Yay. I'm also happy that Psylocke is returning to Uncanny, in her orginal body. I've always been a fan of her. Never been a fan of Northstar though. If the X-Men needs speed, why not bring in Surge? She's not nearly as inexperienced as Fraction says she is. He's going to have to write Northstar really well to get me to like him.