Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Point Store Cards

I got a package today that featured four copies of The Infinites, Breeding Pens and Holocaust. It's funny, because I forgot I ordered them, and was lamenting my inability to build a SHIELD/Horsemen Team-Up that counters up Iron Man 4 like nobody's business using Nick Fury to bring out Infinites and KO them to Breeding Pens. That's mainly a hobby league deck, especially since both Breeding Pens and Stark's Armory are probably going to be replaced like nobody's business by Have a Blast/Batman 3/Death of a Dream/Silent War/etc. in a big time constructed tournament.

Still, it's fun to have the opportunity.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Good Week

You know, some days everything just seems to work out. Some background: My brother and I decided to combine our gift giving efforts for my father’s birthday by chipping in to pay for a year of Verizon DVR. We were going to get him the standard one room DVR, and in standard Dad fashion, he decided to go above and beyond and order the Hi Def Multi Room DVR and buy an HDTV (while still only expecting our original price in payment). We got the box Monday night, and I attempted to set it up Tuesday after he acquired the new TV. Lots of frustration and more than an hour spent on the phone with Verizon led to no working set top box. And this was after seeing my beloved Red Wings fall 34.3 seconds short of winning the Stanley Cup in Hockeytown, only to lose the game 47 minutes of overtime later at around 1 AM. So I was a bit frustrated. And Tuesday’s work sucked. And Rock Band DLC was pretty disappointing (as interested as I am in three tier seven drum songs, I’m not buying a Disturbed pack). Then Wednesday came around. And things took a turn.

Wednesdays of course mean new comics day. And this one was a doosy. Secret Invasion #3, Kick-Ass #3 and Trinity #1, all very good books (look for reviews on read/RANT soon). Got home from work to find a replacement Set Top Box waiting. Set it up and we were still having a few issues, but after 20 minutes on the phone (mostly while holding), we got it working. And I turned on the TV and set it to the NBC HD feed just in time to see Lord Stanley’s Cup in pristine HD staring back at me. Two and a half hours later as Nicklas Lidstrom was skating over to raise the Cup, all was as it should be. My Wings are on top of the hockey world, and the Sox are in the process of smacking down the upstart Rays and cementing their place on top of the AL East. Things were looking up. I’ve got the Random Punks tourney to look forward to this weekend, and while I still have to put together the cards, my Heralds/Inhumans bounce deck is put together and ready for good times.

And this morning was the icing on the cake. Temping for a company is always a dangerous game, and I had been informed last week that my contract would be expiring on the 13th and my department would be unable to extend my time. Well, turns out that’s not exactly the case. I got extended a month. So I’m still in business through mid-July, which puts me that much closer to the relocation in July. Good times.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Back Issue Order

Through the listening of the Comic Book Page family of podcasts, I discovered this awesome little back issue website called My Comic Shop. They have weekly specials that you can unlock after joining their mailing list that give 5-10% off their prices for various divisions of comics. This week they've got the entirety of their Marvel stock on sale, so I decided to place an order. Let's take a look, shall we?

Captain Marvel #'s 17 and 32. This is the first volume of the Peter David run, and it'll complete the series for me.

The Death of Captain Marvel OGN. I've only actually read the Death of Captain Marvel reprinted in the Life and Death of Captain Marvel trade, and I've heard it's not the most ideal reprinting, so I decided to get the original.

Inhumans #'s 1-4 (Volume 3 from 2000). Thanks to Billy for pointing this one out to me.

Marvel Team-Up #137. Yup. It's the Aunt May/Franklin Richards one.

Sidekick #'s 1-5. This is the Paul Jenkins/Chris Moreno humor book. I've heard a lot of good about it, and I picked up the two issue Summer Fun Special at Wizard World Philly, so I wanted to grab these as well. Seems like they'll be very much in the style of the backups from World War Hulk: Front Line

Silver Surfer Vol. 2 #'s 70-73 and 75. I already had issue 74, so this will let me read the Herald Ordeal storyline with lots of Morg goodness and the death of Frankie Raye.

Warlock and the Infinity Watch #'s 9 and 19. Galactus appearances.

Should be good stuff. Another 8 Galactus appearances to add to my slowly building shrine to the big purple one.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Wizard World Philly Wrap Up

Wizard World Philly came and went this past weekend. Let’s talk about it. So I didn’t go to the show on Friday due to not wanting to miss a day of work, and once I got out of work, I took the regional rail down to Market East station, met up with my friend from High School and went back to his apartment for the night. We played some Rock Band, hung out, watched some television, what have you. But that’s not really pertinent information, so let’s move on to the first day of the show.


One of my little foibles is my extreme desire to get to places early. This has always been the case. Thus, I took the walk down from my friend’s apartment about six to eight blocks away from the Convention Center with my bag full of various stuff, and was registered and in my place in line at about 8:30 for the 10 AM opening. I waited around and talked to a guy next to me in line wearing a Green Lantern VS shirt who didn’t play the game anymore. We talked HeroClix for a bit and so on. The doors eventually opened and I made my way to the hall. Pretty overwhelming for someone that’s never been to a big time con before. I walked the floor, checked out the retailers, thumbed through some cheap bins and walked the artist alley circuit. I bumped into Bryan and Pants from Comic Geek Speak next to the vacant table where Katie Cook was supposed to be (shame, I wanted to thank her in person for doing a Lockjaw sketch for me that I’ll be picking up in September), talked to them for a bit and grabbed my CGS convention shirt. I also made my way over to Stuart Sayger’s table and talked to him for quite a while. He’s probably the one artist I really picked up on through VS cards. I only had one of my rare binders with me as far as cards are concerned, so I didn’t have my World’s Finest cards on me, but I still got him to sign a Mr. Mxyzptlk, Troublesome Trickster and Judgment Day. He told me a cool story about how he finished off the Judgment Day art. We had a good time chatting and I picked up the three issues of Shiver in the Dark, as well as two prints (one of the art from Certifiable, and the second of a wicked looking Dr. Doom). I should talk to artists more often. Enthusiasm is a wonderful thing. It was around this time that I randomly bumped into Los as he was coming into the hall. We ended up traveling the retailers as he frantically looked for a copy of Ultimate Spider-Man #3 he had seen the day before. During these trips, I picked up a couple of back issues of Starlin’s Captain Marvel and also found the Absolute sized JLA/Avengers slip case hardcover super crazy edition for a very respectable $30. We made our way over to the gaming area and found a nice spot. Los clued me in on a vendor that was facing the gaming area who had boxes of VS for very good prices. I grabbed a box of Legion for $25, cracked it open and pulled a Mobilize, as well as some other goodies (Need for Speed, foil No Match for Darkseid, and so on). Shortly after this, I got a call from Cliff and he made his way over to our neck of the woods. Bryan came by a bit after that, and we got down to business.

I had brought four decks with me that day. My own version of Money.dec that isn’t fully complete (I’d say there are about eight or so proxies of cards like Superman 5, Hal Jordan 3, Mightiest Heroes, Indestructible, etc.) was the only deck I brought with me that had been built and unchanged for a while. The other three decks were either new or tweaked heavily from earlier designs. The first deck I played against Cliff was a Heralds deck that utilized Silver Surfer, Skyrider of the Spaceways, Silver Surfer’s Board and Moondragon, Protector of the Mind Gem to draw a ton of cards. The card draw combined with my deck stacking capabilities, Terrax, Harbinger of Ruin Shape Change, Omnipotence and Negative Zone, Shadow Dimension (It should be noted that Barbara Gordon <> Oracle, Hacker Elite HATES that card) causes a lot of problems and allows for a pretty effective stall against a curve deck. It was a fun game with some pretty glaring errors (Cliff had two Daredevils in play for two turns before either of us noticed), but it was a good time nonetheless. I ended up winning thanks to a big swing on seven with Silver Surfer, Last Zenn-Lavian and Terrax, which was enough to put him below zero.

The second game I played against Cliff used my brand new Gotham Knights/Marvel Knights team up that generally focuses on using Barbara Gordon and The Hook Up to improve my hand while running a mostly hidden attack deck with Punisher, Guns Blazing as my only visible character. Cliff ended up beating me with his Random Punks Birds of Prey by one endurance as we were both in the negatives, and the use of three Tied Downs from the row to stop my Punisher from stunning back and KO’ing his Vixen on four. It’s an interesting way to play the deck, and pretty darned powerful.

The final game we played (to what I can remember at least, without taking any notes and writing this two days later) was my Inhumans aggro deck that utilizes Quicksilver, Inhuman By Marriage pretty much only to draw cards via Ego Gem, Infinity Gem. The extra card draw fuels the super beats that come from Tonaja, The Responsible One, Karnak, The Shatterer, and Maximus the Mad, Mental Manipulator with the ability to draw into my Royal Guards and Savage Beatdowns and Slobberin’ Times. This deck went up against the infamous Arkham Inmates/Injustice Gang team up. I was doing well throughout this game, drawing a ton of cards with Quicksilver and getting a lot of damage from Tonaja, Thing and Karnak due to bypassing their surge effects with Extended Family. We got to turn six, and I realized I was going to have a problem. I was playing against IG and had about 10 cards in hand. I did a lot of damage that turn, but Quicksilver was my only visible character, and he stunned while attacking Abra Kadabra, Magical Rogue thanks to Karnak’s effect. A couple All Too Easys, and he caught up and ONCE AGAIN BEAT ME BY ONE. Damn you, Cliff! I shake the fist! Either way, it was a ton of fun playing with Cliff and Bryan and Los, and a good way to spend a good five hours. I headed back to the apartment for the night, and watched the Red Wings beat the Penguins, which was good times.


I wasn’t planning to go to the con on Sunday. I was tired as all hell and sore from walking and such, so I was planning to relax. But when I woke up the next day, I was energized, and decided to head over anyway. But this time, I took a cab. When I paid my fare outside of the entrance to the con, I fumbled through my pocket for some change. In so doing, I managed to knock my cell phone out of my pocket without realizing it, and didn’t notice this until after he drove away. So I didn’t get the number of the cab or the company. Suddenly, I’m sitting here without a phone, which was a bit of an issue considering I had to call my dad to tell him when to pick me up at the train station, since I didn’t want to leave my car in the parking lot for three days. Thus, I ran around the con like a madman trying to find Los to borrow his cell to call my dad to let him know, and I ended up having to use a pay phone so I could call my dad and get his cell phone so I could call him again later. This definitely threw me out of sorts, but once that was all set up, I got to calm down a bit and attack the cheap bins in earnest. I walked away from a giant section of 50 cent bins with 38 issues of Peter David’s Captain Marvel series (I missed two issues without realizing it) as well as a random one off of She-Hulk and the first issue of Silent War (And we all know my love for the Inhumans). I also ran into CGS trivia geek extraordinaire and generally really cool guy Adam Murdough and talked to him for a bit. He was running through the quarter bins across from my bins. It’s funny, because once I found my haul and moved on, I kept dropping by and he was still there, practically in the same spot for hours. I got some other assorted cheap stuff, including a couple issues of Warlock and The Infinity Watch, Paul Jenkins’ Sidekick and a few other odds and ends. I ran into Pants and Shane (another CGS’er), and saw Jamie (yet another CGS guy) from afar, but didn’t get a chance to get over and talk to him. I also hung around with Los for a bit, but we got separated pretty quick, and since I didn’t have a cell phone, it was pretty hard to get back to meet up with him. I was tired as all hell and carrying around both a shoulder bag, a valise and a con bag, so I decided to cut out at around 2:30. I was back home by 4:35 (I just missed a train heading back home as I got to Market East station), and had time to relax.

So overall thoughts on my first official con: how the hell do these people so multiple cons? It’s completely exhausting, and I didn’t even get to do 30% of the stuff I wanted to. Didn’t get to talk to Maleev or Fred Van Lente or Brian Reed or any of the other creators, nor did I get the chance to talk to any of the CGS forum crew. But I still had a great time, had a blast playing Cliff and got a bunch of awesome stuff. All this makes me do is wait with baited breath for the CGS Super Show in September. Now I have to get ready for Random Punks this weekend.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Wizard World Philly!

Two days until I descend upon the Philly Convention Center for some Wizard World comic conny goodness. Things I plan to look forward to:

!. Meeting some choice creators. The short list includes Dan Slott (Avengers: The Initiative, Spider-Man Brand New Day), Fred Van Lente (Action Philosophers!, The Incredible Hercules), Greg Pak (Incredible Hulk, Skaar: Son of Hulk), Brian Reed (Captain Marvel, Ms. Marvel), and Alex Maleev (Badass covers on Nova and Punisher War Journal, Daredevil with Bendis)

2. Checking in with the Comic Geek Speak folks. CGS Nation will be there in various strengths, and I never turn down an opportunity to chill with the geeks and forumites.

3. VS SYSTEM! Stuart Sayger's going to be there, so I'll be bringing my Mr. Mxyzptlk, Troublesome Tricksters to be signed. Plus myself, Bryan and Los will be meeting up with one Clifford Parmiter (you may have heard of him) for a little four man tournament some time on Saturday.

4. Bargain Bins! Dollar bins? Fifty cent bins? Quarter bins? BRING 'EM ON! I'll be taking the shot at filling in my Warlock and the Infinity Watch and Peter David Captain Marvel runs.

5. Wrestlers! Yeah, I'm a sucker for pro wrestling. Mick Foley's going to be in the house, and I'm looking forward to shaking the man's hand.

The Summer of Madness rolls on. Full reports to follow.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Firewater Live at the North Star Bar

t's been a while since I've been to a concert. Who better then to mark my return to the fold than that mad traveling band, Firewater. Hot off the heels of their excellent new album, Tod A decided to bring along a new bevy of musicians (he was the only member of the band I saw at the Paradise in Boston four years ago that was also there tonight. No Oren Kaplan or Tamir Muskat) to rock the house in North Philly. And rock the house they did. Nearly the entire set comprised of songs from The Golden Hour, and while that is technically a disappointment (no songs from Ponzi Scheme or Man on the Burning Tightrope), the band was on fire all night long. Tod played guitar the whole night and was backed by another guitarist, a bassist, a drummer, an ABSOLUTELY INSANE Trombone player (Seriously. She was out of this world. Solos in nearly every song. Crazy improvisations. Really impressive stuff), and the capper, an auxiliary percussionist that went back and forth from tablas to bongos to a double sided conga all night. This guy was a lunatic. One of the best pure percussionists I've ever seen. He had a spotlight during the instrumental "Bhanga Bros." that is one of those once in a lifetime experiences that I know I'll never forget. He was jumping around and playing the hell out of those drums all night long. And that's what I really love about Firewater. It was true in Boston and it was true tonight. These people genuinely love to play music. And it shows. Huge smiles on all their faces. Dancing around the stage. Tod being the consummate front man making sure everybody in the club is up out of their seats and having fun. I mean, the selist for the first show I saw was definitely better (no matter how good the new album is, it's not quite the same as "Man With the Blurry Face," "Knock 'Em Down" or "Another Perfect Catastrophe"), but the band for this show was incredible. I have no doubt in my mind that Firewater is the best band I've ever seen live. And I'm thrilled I got the opportunity to bask in their awesomeness one more time. Let's hope it's not the last.

Set List:
Hey Clown
Some Strange Reaction
Already Gone
Bhanga Bros.
6:45 (This is How it Feels)
Electric City
Some Kind of Kindness
Get Out of My Head
Weird to Be Back

Encore 1
Three Legged Dog

Encore 2
This is My Life

Sure, only 13 songs, but just like last time, everything was drawn out with solos and improvisational jams. That was a solid hour and a half of kick ass music. And what more can you ask for?

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Modern BYOS Tourney Report

This past Sunday’s Modern Age Bring Your Own Set was an example of mistakes completely sinking me on multiple occasions. I decided to build a solo Marvel Defenders deck, as I liked their defensive capabilities (through Hellcat, Defenders Defend and Against All Odds), as well as the inclusion of plot twists like Big Leagues. I built another deck for the day which I gave to Bryan, which was your standard IG Hidden aggro deck. We had two others show up, one with his own solo Defenders build, and the other packing Outsiders/Gotham Knights.

Round 1: Solo Defenders mirror (Los)

So this round my deck decided to be very uncooperative. I whiffed on one (no big deal), hit Tania on two and Hawkeye on three (Hawkeye wasn’t exactly what I was looking for), whiffed on four (underdropping into Hellcat), whiffed on five (underdropping into, you know, nothing), whiffed on six (dropping Wong and US Agent), hit Hulk on seven and 5 drop Dr. Strange on eight. Los was using Iceman to keep Tania locked down, as well as the combination of US Agent and Brunhilde to keep his endurance high due to constant reinforcement. He ended up getting the better of me in late game thanks to Quasar giving him better backups than my board.


Round 2: Outsiders/Gotham Knights (Los’ Mom)

Another example of a long game thanks to the Outsiders swarm leading to easy reinforcement. Multiple swings with characters allowed me to stop board presence which generally neutralized Dr. Light. I ended up winning on seven thanks to a triple swinging 23 ATK Hulk. The first two attacks were reinforced, but a full on brunt against Dr. Light was enough to take her down.


Round 3: IG Hidden (Bryan)

Here’s where the idiocy comes in. So when I built this version of the deck, I realized that losing Beatdown, Flying Kick, Big Leagues and Hunte Castle slowed down the deck way too much. That combined with the loss of Mobilize led to the inclusion of a playset of Criminal Mastermind. So turn five comes around, and he’s got two Masterminds flipped in his row. And I forgot to draw the cards. I didn’t realize this until late in the combat phase that turn. We couldn’t really rewind things due to Secret Files shuffling both of our decks. Now, it’s impossible to know if I would have drawn into Dr. Strange or a way to get him. But if I could have, I had game. I had a Tania in hand to sub over US Agent, as well as Rabbit Fire, Big Leagues and The Order in the row. Had I gotten Dr. Strange, I would have been able to deal 60 endurance direct through double swings by Dr. Strange and Hawkeye. But since I forgot, I lost the game a turn later. Thems the breaks.


Round 4: Solo Defenders mirror REMATCH (Los)

I hit my curve this time, but the combination of reinforcement and invulnerability from Brunhilde stalled me out. Same story as the first game, really.

So it wasn't a very successful day. But at the same time, oddly enough, it sorta was. A deck I built won the tournament, and without the mistake I made against that selfsame deck, I could have easily finished 3-1 instead of 1-3 and won the damned thing. I did realize that my deck relied a little too much on the turn 5 Dr. Strange combo face crushing for the win, with successive turns as an afterthought (sort of an "Ah, I guess I'll throw in a couple Sub Mariners and Hulks just in case it goes past 5. But I'll be good"). I had the defense down, but I probably should have taken the opportunity to use Ego Gem to draw through the deck a little faster, but these are all things you learn as you go. Not by best tournament, and the first time in a while I was sub .500 in a costructed tournament, but I'll get back in the saddle in time for Punks.

Heralds Bounce Punks deck for the win?