Marvel Comics Final Thoughts – Avengers: The Children’s Crusade

The Young Avengers go on a hunt to find the Scarlet Witch, who hadn’t been seen since the devastating events of Avengers: Disassembled and House of M.

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!

marvelWriter: Allan Heinberg 

Artist: Jim Cheung

Issues: Avengers: The Children’s Crusade #1-9

 

Avengers: Disassembled in 2004, followed by House of M in ’05, kicked off the modern Marvel era of story-telling. Big events, major character deaths (which were never permanent but hey), and years-long fallout and regime changes became the norm.

I dig it quite a bit, despite lots of missteps. But Avengers: The Children’s Crusade represents a lot of what annoys me with Marvel comics – time-travel, retcons, and do-overs that let them “fix” any formerly awesome scenes and situations that had years-long revelations. In this case, the sobering saga of the Scarlet Witch.

I’ll give credit to Marvel for at least not doing this story like a year or two after House of M. Instead we were treated to a whirlwind of cascading events, and the Scarlet Witch was mostly forgotten about, though her “No More Mutants” legacy forever altered the X-Men.

In this special nine-issue limited series that ran from 2010 to 2012, Allan Heinberg and Jim Cheung brought Scarlet Witch back to the forefront using the Young Avengers. Continue reading “Marvel Comics Final Thoughts – Avengers: The Children’s Crusade”

Running a Retro Gaming Convention [GuideLive]

I wrote about my experiences at the Let’s Play Gaming Expo, and interviewed one of the board members about running a retro gaming convention

Read the full interview at GuideLive

There’s an old joke about kids sticking a comic book between the pages of their text books at school. “I was always reading Nintendo Power,” says Christian Deitering, board member of the Let’s Play Gaming Expo. Together, he and a group of retro game enthusiasts have built a successful annual gaming convention located in the Plano Centre.

The Let’s Play Gaming Expo wrapped up its sophomore year in June with double attendance the attendance of its first outing — 2,400 eager gamers and families. That number doesn’t include the kids under the age of 12 that got in for free.

I attended on Saturday, June 18 with friends and family. My young daughter enjoyed grabbing controllers and playing pixelated games on old Cathode Ray Tube Televisions in the Console FreePlay area. There were systems from Atari, Nintendo, Sega … someone even built a fully-functioning table-sized NES controller.

We watched some ridiculously good players compete at the Super Smash Bros. Tournament, browsed rare ’90s Japanese video games at the vendor hall, and delighted in showing off my nostalgic love for the old X-Men arcade game among the nearly 100 arcades and pinball machines that were there.

READ THE FULL INTERVIEW AT GUIDELIVE

D&D 5E “Princes of the Apocalypse” Session 34 Recap

The heroes discover the bloody source of the swamp reeds, then travel to a forest and stumble into a trap at an ancient temple of Tyr.

Recorded every Sunday night, uploaded on Mondays. Subscribe for our weekly adventures!

Previously on “Princes of the Apocalypse”

I love writing, but I’m not an artist. I find building a map to be more of a chore than enjoyable. Using official campaigns and scenarios help immensely with my creative process – most of the maps are already created!

But as I mentioned in the last few weeks, I’m going a bit off-book with these current side treks.

In this session we finished up “The House of Reeds and Whispers” from Kobold Press’ Book of Lairs. Then we ventured to an old Temple of Tyr, which has recently become occupied. This mini-dungeon is from Nerzugal’s Dungeon Master Toolkit, and I had to build the map from scratch. Continue reading “D&D 5E “Princes of the Apocalypse” Session 34 Recap”

We Happy Few Early Access Preview [Pixelkin]

Survival-crafting games are a dime a dozen, but We Happy Few’s real joy is its immersive world and how it plays with conformity and hallucinatory drugs.

Read the full preview at Pixelkin

What if you had to survive in a BioShock-esque world without all those fancy plasmids and guns? Instead you’re armed with rotten food, pointy sticks, and one very special drug.

We Happy Few began life with a successful Kickstarter campaign before hitting Steam Early Access this Summer. The game combines survival-crafting into a unique setting rarely explored in gaming – the drug-fueled, post-war 1960s. This initial Early Access version features most of the gameplay sans story, and with only the one playable protagonist.

In this world’s alternate history, World War 2 went very, very badly for England. The Nazis successfully invaded and destroyed much of the country, leaving its population frightened and destitute. But that doesn’t mean you have to stop enjoying life right?

One little happy pill called Joy, and all your real world problems simply melt away. The people in the island city of Wellington Wells may harbor some deep secrets, but most of its drug-addled citizens don’t seem to care. Except for you.

READ THE FULL PREVIEW AT PIXELKIN

Dragon Quest VII Review [Pixelkin]

If you have the time to dig in this 3DS remake should easily become the definitive version of Dragon Quest VII.

Read the full review at Pixelkin

Back when the original Dragon Quest VII (called Dragon Warrior VII in the US) was released for the Sony PlayStation in 2000, it was already dated. The old-school 2D sprites were a big step backward compared to Final Fantasy VII’s fully 3D polygons. This new 3DS remake brings a much-needed graphical facelift, improved translations, and streamlined additions to entice turn-based JRPG fans to one of the genre’s forgotten gems.

Dragon Quest VII is all about time travel. Your hero and some childhood friends open an ancient shrine on your home island – the only island in the world. The shrine contains portals to other islands in the past. Each new island brings new characters, quests, monsters, and dungeons. The islands then appear in the present for even more monster-slaying content.

Time-travel requires assembling the tablet portals from fragments you find scattered throughout these islands. The main story focuses on exploring new islands, righting the wrongs of the past, and defeating Dragon Quest’s colorful array of enemies.

READ THE FULL REVIEW AT PIXELKIN

Marvel Comics Final Thoughts – Generation Hope

Hope Summers, the Mutant Messiah, leads a team of the first generation of new mutants since M-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!

marvelWriters: Kieron Gillen, James Asmus

Artists: Salvador Espin, Ibraim Roberson

Issues: Generation Hope #1-17

 

Hope Summers, AKA the Mutant Messiah, had been the focal point of the X-Men saga for years. The first new mutant born since M-Day was first shown in X-Men: Messiah Complex. She was then raised by Cable by jumping through time in Cable (2008), and finally returned to our world in X-Men: Second Coming.

You don’t necessarily need to read all that to understand Generation Hope, but it certainly helps. After Second Coming, Hope officially joins the X-Men. Well, sort of. She’s a badass future-soldier in her own right, and her fellow mutants both love and fear her. She’s also a young woman who had just lost her the only person she cared about.

So Cyclops lets her build her own team after they discover her purpose – saving and recruiting newly awakened mutants. These new teenage mutants, the first five of which are dubbed “the Five Lights,” manifest their mutations in violent, dangerous ways.

Hope’s touch works as a magical cure that calms them. She is both the spark for mutation and its salve.

Hope is sent to save and recruit them during Uncanny X-Men #526-529, which should definitely be required reading for Generation Hope (for that matter, the following story in Uncanny X-Men with Emma Frost and Sebastian Shaw is also referenced heavily in a later story in Generation Hope).

So Generation Hope is all about this new team of teenage mutants, which has really been done to death by now. While most superhero teams are delightfully dysfunctional, Hope’s is downright violent and unstable. Their actions sow the seeds for the X-Men’s eventual schism in 2011, and in 2012’s epic Marvel event Avengers vs X-Men. Continue reading “Marvel Comics Final Thoughts – Generation Hope”

D&D 5E “Princes of the Apocalypse” Session 33 Recap

We follow the trail of blood-draining reeds to a mysterious house in the swamp. Just outside we fight off an ambush of eel hounds.

Recorded every Sunday night, uploaded on Mondays. Subscribe for our weekly adventures!

Previously on “Princes of the Apocalypse”

We’ve finally reached the point in our lengthy campaign where I decided to add material from outside sources. “Princes of the Apoclaypse” certainly has plenty of content to keep us going for another six months – but I just couldn’t help myself.

Plus, I received the Tomb of Beasts and Book of Lairs from Kobold Press’ Kickstarter and just had to try at least one of their spiffy dungeons. With the extra side treks I can also tie them into what’s going on in the Dessarin Valley, the elemental cults, and my PC’s themselves.

In the case of the “House of Reeds and Whispers,” I knew Talus wouldn’t be able to pass up a mysterious, magical investigation growing from the Black Maw Bog. Continue reading “D&D 5E “Princes of the Apocalypse” Session 33 Recap”