Marvel Comics Final Thoughts – Thor (2007), Vol. 3 + Latverian Prometheus

Loki teams up with Dr. Doom when the Asgardians move to Latveria, requiring Thor to save the day.

With Marvel’s popular and successful foray into films with the Marvel Cinematic Universe, I’ve finally decided to get back into comics. I grew up a big fan of X-Men and other superheroes but haven’t really kept up since the 90s. Thus begins my grand catching-up of the last ten years of Marvel comics, events and stories.

Thanks in large part to trade paperbacks and the digital convenience of Marvel Unlimited I can make relatively quick progress, and I’ll write down my Final Thoughts for each collection here on my blog. Like my gaming Final Thoughts, this will be full of spoilers. You’ve been warned!

Thor Volume 3Writers: J. Michael Straczynski (Vol. 3), Kieron Gillen (Latverian Prometheus)

Artists: Marko Djurdjevic (Vol. 3), Billy Tan (Latverian Prometheus)

Issues: Thor (2007) #601-606, Giant-Size Finale

 

I’ve realized a common theme in my enjoyment of Marvel comics – if Dr. Doom shows up, everything gets better. Every Marvel writer has a great concept of Dr. Doom as a megalomaniac narcissist, and he makes every damn series or story he’s involved in that much more enjoyable and fun.

Thor is no different. We left off last volume with Balder becoming king of Asgard while Thor has been banished for having to put down his grandfather Bor (whom was monstrously resurrected by Loki, naturally).

Loki brokers a deal with Dr. Doom to allow sanctuary for the restless Asgardians, currently still housed in a floating, remade Asgard in Oklahoma. Things go predictably bad and Thor has to return to save the day, but the action at the end is a lot of fun, and Doom’s unyielding confidence is just the best. Continue reading “Marvel Comics Final Thoughts – Thor (2007), Vol. 3 + Latverian Prometheus”

D&D 5E – “Lost Mine of Phandelver” Session 13 Recap

After capturing renegade wizard Glasstaff from a Hobgoblin camp, the party infiltrates the goblin tribe hideout at Cragmaw Castle.

d&d

Watch our sessions live on my YouTube channel every Sunday night beginning at 9:30pm Central. Subscribe and catch up on previous episodes!

 

Damn that Sleep spell!

For the 2nd week in a row a single spell renders a combat encounter completely moot. The fact that my poor NPCs get no Saving Throw is very irksome. Especially since the wizard can scale up its power by expending a higher spell slot. Sleeping a group of foes has become my players’ de facto strategy, and it’s annoyingly effective.

Anyway, this week the party finally traveled to Cragmaw Castle. First, however, I wanted to insert a dangling thread from earlier in the adventure. The Redbrand leader, Glasstaff, AKA Iarno Albrek, had escaped their clutches, and had been on the run ever since.

The published adventure “The Lost Mine of Phandelver” doesn’t explain what happens if Glasstaff escapes the Redbrand Hideout, so I came up with a fun scenario. He found himself in the clutches of Targor Bloodsword, Hobgoblin war band leader, and was trying to seek an audience with King Grol of the Cragmaws. The PCs saw the camp outside of Cragmaw Castle, and formulated a plan of attack. Continue reading “D&D 5E – “Lost Mine of Phandelver” Session 13 Recap”

My Top Ten Games of 2015: #9

The final installment in the Starcraft II trilogy comes in at #9 on my Game of the Year list.

My Top Ten Games of 2015

 

#10 MASSIVE CHALICE

#9 Starcraft II: Legacy of the Void

SC2 Legacy of the Void

There’s a poem titled “Ode to the RTS” rattling around in my brain somewhere. If you grew up playing PC games in the 90s it was pretty tough not to become a fan of the real time strategy genre. Blizzard and Westwood competed for our love with their growing mega-franchises, while numerous knock-offs flooded the market. It was a magical time.

These days you have Starcraft II, and that’s about damn it. When Blizzard announced the sequel I was ecstatic; Starcraft was (and still is I guess) one of my all time favorite games.

Then they announced that SC2 would be split up between three games, with the three races’ campaigns as their own standalone games. Because it’s Blizzard, these games took years to come out. Five years after Starcraft II: Wings of Liberty, we finally get the third and final Starcraft II experience in Legacy of the Void.

That’s a lot of exposition to explain what is very nearly a Lifetime Achievement award that I’m bestowing on Starcraft II by including it on my Game of the Year list. Continue reading “My Top Ten Games of 2015: #9”

Marvel Comics Final Thoughts – X-Factor (2005), Vol. 8-9

X-Factor’s major time-traveling tale comes to a satisfying conclusion in Vol 8, while 9 brings in a fun new artist and direction.

With Marvel’s popular and successful foray into films with the Marvel Cinematic Universe, I’ve finally decided to get back into comics. I grew up a big fan of X-Men and other superheroes but haven’t really kept up since the 90s. Thus begins my grand catching-up of the last ten years of Marvel comics, events and stories.

Thanks in large part to trade paperbacks and the digital convenience of Marvel Unlimited I can make relatively quick progress, and I’ll write down my Final Thoughts for each collection here on my blog. Like my gaming Final Thoughts, this will be full of spoilers. You’ve been warned!

X-Factor Vol 8Writer: Peter David

Artists: Valentine De Landro (Vo. 8), Bing Cansino (Vol. 9)

Issues: X-Factor (2005) #46-50, 200-203

 

I really wish I had read Volume 8 when I last read X-Factor, as it’s the climax and finale to a very long story arc. It involves time travel and had everyone in specific situations that made it a tricky point to jump back into.

Still, this is one of my favorite comics we’re talking about, and it didn’t take long to get re-acclimated to my favorite super-powered team.

Volume 8 leads to a satisfying conclusion with a fun villain reveal and even more drama for our time-displaced lovers Jamie and Layla, while Volume 9 kicks off a new art style and story direction for X-Factor that breathes in some refreshing changes while thankfully keeping the same great writer and themes. Continue reading “Marvel Comics Final Thoughts – X-Factor (2005), Vol. 8-9”

My Top Ten Games of 2015: #10

My tenth favorite game of the year is Double Fine’s generationl-spanning tactical-strategy game MASSIVE CHALICE.

My Top Ten Games of 2015

I’m doing my annual Game of the Year list a bit differently this year. For starters I’m posting it a few weeks earlier than usual. In years past I rely on a small influx from the Holidays to help round out the list, but it delays my ranking until about mid-January. While I may be missing a few key games, I’d barely be able to play them enough to give a measured opinion.

Secondly, I’m breaking up my Top Ten list. To create a fun bit of excitement I’ll be posting the next entry on my Top Ten Games of the Year each day, starting today. My full Top Ten list and category awards will then be posted on Christmas Eve. Like all my lists, I’ll be starting with #10!

 

#10 MASSIVE CHALICE

massive chalice wallpaper

Despite some controversy that surrounded the campaign of Double Fine’s first Kickstarter project, I was proud to be a backer. I loved the documentary that 2PP produced, and Broken Age was a fun throwback adventure game. Thus when Double Fine announced a second Kickstarter project for a genre that was even more in my wheelhouse (tactical-strategy) I was all over it.

I’m pleased to report that I made another great decision. MASSIVE CHALICE (which must always be capitalized) is an interesting combination of XCOM‘s tactical combat with a trait-breeding generational meta game. Continue reading “My Top Ten Games of 2015: #10”

One Year with Marvel Unlimited: My Top Ten Comics (2004-2009)

After my first year with Marvel Unlimited, I list my top ten favorite comics between 2004-09.

marvelunlimited

In December of 2014 I tried out a month-long trial version of digital comic subscription service Marvel Unlimited. I immediately fell in love with the speed and voracity with which I could devour decade-old comics at a fraction of the price. I quickly signed up for the full year-long subscription.

For my birthday in July I received an iPad, which further solidified my love of the digital format. I still prefer physical media for just about everything else (and have since still purchased many collected volumes and trade paperbacks), but comics work beautifully on a tablet.

If you’ve been reading my blog for any length of time, you know that I read quite a bit of comics and write my thoughts about them here. I started at the beginning of the modern age of Marvel, defined by the era of major events beginning with “Avengers Disassembled” in 2004. In the last year I’ve made it through approximately four years of comics, through the Dark Reign period of 2009 – though I’ve clearly had to pick and choose which series and characters to cover.

For a full list of all the comics I’ve written about, see the Comics section at the top of the page. As a fun anniversary post I listed my favorite comics I’ve read in the last year below, covering that 2004-09 era. Continue reading “One Year with Marvel Unlimited: My Top Ten Comics (2004-2009)”

Marvel Comics Final Thoughts – Captain America: Reborn

Steve Roger returns after some confusing but fun time-travel through his storied past, while our supporting cast battles Red Skull’s ultimate plan.

With Marvel’s popular and successful foray into films with the Marvel Cinematic Universe, I’ve finally decided to get back into comics. I grew up a big fan of X-Men and other superheroes but haven’t really kept up since the 90s. Thus begins my grand catching-up of the last ten years of Marvel comics, events and stories.

Thanks in large part to trade paperbacks and the digital convenience of Marvel Unlimited I can make relatively quick progress, and I’ll write down my Final Thoughts for each collection here on my blog. Like my gaming Final Thoughts, this will be full of spoilers. You’ve been warned!

Captain America RebornWriter: Ed Brubaker

Artists: Bryan Hitch, Butch Guice

Issues: Captain America: Reborn #1-6

 

You just can’t keep a good superhero down. Other than Jean Grey pretty much every notable hero that has died returns in some fashion (and even Jean sort of returned with Brian Michael Bendis’ First Class time-forwarding run on All-New X-Men). Sometimes it’s embarrassingly bad, like when Magneto waltzes up to Charles Xavier in the ruins of Genosha a mere month or two after they buried him following an epic confrontation.

Captain America: Reborn is an exercise in how to do the hero resurrection story right. That’s not to say that Steve Rogers’ return isn’t fraught with dumb pseudo-science and nonsense hand-waving. You know when Mr. Fantastic and Hank Pym are involved, the plot is about to derail into Super Dumb Comic territory (no, I don’t like the Fantastic Four).

And yet by focusing on the excellent drama he’s been unfolding for years, Ed Brubaker crafts a worthy tale that explores Captain America’s storied history. Continue reading “Marvel Comics Final Thoughts – Captain America: Reborn”

Gaming Backlog Final Thoughts – Hand of Fate

Despite some frustrations, Hand of Fate successfully layers in 3rd person combat into a highly randomized card-based tabletop adventure.

I have finished another backlogged game via Rogue’s Adventures. You can read my latest Final Thoughts below and also on my gaming blog on Game Informer.

Developer: Defiant Development

Publisher: Defiant Development

Release Date: February 17, 2015

Rogues Adventure

The indie gaming scene is full of brilliant, innovative ideas and genre mashups. Many of them bury a cool concept deep within convoluted gameplay or “retro-homage” graphics. Final execution is just as critical as having a cool idea, and so many games fail – or are quietly forgotten because of it.

Thankfully Hand of Fate is not one of those games. By layering a 3rd person arena-fighting game on top of a card-based tabletop adventure, Hand of Fate creates a truly unique and infinitely replayable experience. Continue reading “Gaming Backlog Final Thoughts – Hand of Fate”

D&D 5E – “Lost Mine of Phandelver” Session 12 Recap

The party takes on a band of orcs and their giant ogre ally in the mountainous crag of Wyvern Tor.

d&d

Watch our sessions live on my YouTube channel every Sunday night beginning at 9:30pm Central. Subscribe and catch up on previous episodes!

Important Programming Note: Due to a player on vacation, our session next week will be on Monday, December 14. Thus, look for the video and recap on Tuesday the 15th!

 

We come to the last leg of our side quest sojourn in the mountainous crag of Wyvern Tor. A band of orcs have taken up residence inside a roomy cave, harassing travelers along the Triboar Trail. The townmaster of Phandalin had put up a 100gp reward for their elimination, and my players were eager to kill some orcs.

Given the sheer overwhelming number of foes in their last battle, they opted for a much more cautious approach.  Continue reading “D&D 5E – “Lost Mine of Phandelver” Session 12 Recap”

Marvel Comics Final Thoughts – X-Force: The Complete Collection Vol. 2 (X-Necrosha)

The dead return in the somewhat disappointing X-Necrosha event, though the rest of the Volume is solid.

With Marvel’s popular and successful foray into films with the Marvel Cinematic Universe, I’ve finally decided to get back into comics. I grew up a big fan of X-Men and other superheroes but haven’t really kept up since the 90s. Thus begins my grand catching-up of the last ten years of Marvel comics, events and stories.

Thanks in large part to trade paperbacks and the digital convenience of Marvel Unlimited I can make relatively quick progress, and I’ll write down my Final Thoughts for each collection here on my blog. Like my gaming Final Thoughts, this will be full of spoilers. You’ve been warned!

X-Force complete collectiong vol 2Writers: Craig Kyle, Christopher Yost

Artists: Clayton Crain, Mike Choi, Sonia Oback, Gabriele Dell’Otto

Issues: X-Force (2008) #17-25, X-Necrosha, X-Necrosha: The Gathering, X-Force: Sex & Violence #1-3*

*I also included X-Necrosha tie-ins New Mutants #6-8 and X-Men: Legacy #231-234

 

Remember when I was just discussing Uncanny X-Men and bemoaning the emphasis on big crossover events? Well pretty much right after the events of Utopia we swing right into X-Necrosha, an X-Force event involving the vampire Selene and an army of resurrected mutants.

Thankfully the story-telling is much more structured, taking place entirely within X-Force while X-Men: Legacy and New Mutants take over some tangentially related story arcs with different teams. X-Necrosha is an interesting idea but ultimately the weakest arc out of an otherwise continued great run of X-Force. Continue reading “Marvel Comics Final Thoughts – X-Force: The Complete Collection Vol. 2 (X-Necrosha)”