Saturday, September 26, 2009

Pull List Reviews - September 24

Superman/Batman #64
This issue is a one-off story that really goes nowhere. It begins with a couple of Kryptonian ships in a firefight. Before long, it's revealed that this is sometime waaaaay into Krypton's past and that one of the ships has been hijacked by an as-of-yet un-named alien race. Once the ship with the aliens has been damaged nearly to the point of destruction, it uses a timewarp engine to escape. Cut to modern times with Batman and Superman discovering the ship. It's desolate except for one jettisoned escape pod. The end. There's a big splash text on the last page that this is the "Prelude to The Big Noise: Three Months Away". No idea what that means so this may end up being a key issue but on it's own it's rather bland. However, the next issue is just listed as "Halloween"... and since I'm a Hallowe'en nut, that peaked my interest more than the message about Big Noise.
Score: 2.5 of 5

Justice League of America #37
The League continues to try and hold itself together internally as the battle with Amos Fortune's new Royal Flush Gangs continues across America. The JLA is forced to split up into groups of two to battle the RFGs on three fronts. It's revealed that Fortune's given the RFGs some kind of "bad luck" technology that changes the odds to make things happen in favor of the wearer. Things like Wonder Woman missing a shot with her lasso and Dr. Light accidentally blinding Plastic Man. But despite the league fighting against the odds as well as the RFG, they still come out on top only to have the masterminds escape. After the main tale, there's two brief epilogues. First, Roulette meets with The Key to discuss some mysterious "boss". Second, Amos Fortune meets the wife of one the Two of Clubs in an underground casino and the odds don't fall in his favor. While best of tales, I still enjoy seeing the backup crew in action.
Score: 3.5 of 5

Detective Comics #857
I made a comment over on the DC Noise forums that the artwork was the best things about Detective Comics these past months and this issue does nothing to change my mind. This issue features the end to the first Batwoman story arc and her showdown with new villain Alice. There's hint right at the end of a deeper relationship between Alice and Batwoman but, for whatever reason, I just don't care. I would like to see J.H. Williams III stick around for a little while but we need a change in the writing. I don't know that I'd go so far as to drop Greg Rucka since he also writes the backup tale featuring The Question and I'm enjoying watching Montoya digging into the child slave trade in search of a missing girl. It's very well written and fun. It feels like this first Batwoman arc was Rucka's attempt at writing like Morrison and he falls flat.
Score: 3 of 5

Monday, September 21, 2009

Geek Fight CCG Review

As an avid CCG (Editor's note for non-geeks out there: That stands for "collectible card game") player, I've played a lot of card games over my lifetime. I have boxes upon boxes of Magic: The Gathering, Jyhad, Star Wars, Star Trek, Pokemon, Harry Potter, Monty Python, Netrunner (my personal favorite of all time), Overpower, VS System (both DC and Marvel), Spellfire, X-Files... Yowzers! I never realized how many card games I've played over the years! But I digress...

These days, I don't play as many CCGs as I used to. Now it's mostly Magic: The Gathering, Munchkin and Chez Geek. Since I'm such a sucker for geek humor, when given the chance to play Geek Fight from Diving Dragon Games, I jumped at the chance.

Geek Fight is in the same vein as the aforementioned Munchkin and Chez Geek in that the premise of the game is geeks fighting. Er...duh! Sounds funny. But the question is... is it fun?

Upon opening the packs, the first thing I noticed is how great the cards looked. They are business card sized and printed on glossy thick paper. They looked much more durable than a lot of cards that I'm used to. The design of the cards themselves looks good and the artwork is all over the board with everything from a poop covered cartoon pickle to paintings more in line with other fantasy CCGs. I think this seeming lack of unifying art theme would've hurt any other game but the idea behind Geek Fight is unique so the diversity in art helps to convey all the different types of geeks being portrayed (there are card players, comic geeks, movie geeks, video game geeks, cosplayers and more).

But looking good isn't the key component of a game so I called a few friends over and we played a few hands. The initial release of Geek Fight is made up of 6 preset 7-card packs (Do the math folks. That adds up to 42 cards. Yet another geek joke.) The idea of preset cards allows for less of the "who's got the better card" scenarios and that is a good thing. I always hated playing CCGs with the kid who had more money to spend on games than I did (Because I was spending my cash on comic books, movies and video games too. Hey! A geek's gotta be well rounded!) and always had the best cards.

We began by playing with just the first set. Our initial view was that the rules were overly complicated but, upon a few more re-reads (and an eventual e-mail to the game's designer), I came to the conclusion that the rules aren't really that complicated. They're just badly written. (My advice to the game's designers: Stop trying to be funny and hip in the rulebook. Just layout the rules in a simple format and provide at least one gameplay example for each rule.) Once we got the rules confusion out of the way, the game itself was pretty fun. The basic idea is that each player has a combatant card on the table that battles a combatant card from the opposing player. When a combatant is defeated, the player tosses down a new one. If he has no more combatant cards in his hand, it's game over. These combatant cards are supported by different types of geek gear and tactics cards (think enchantments and spells if you're a Magic player). To it's credit, we laughed a lot while playing and had a good bit of fun. However, once we'd seen most of the cards and got our chuckles out of the way on the first few hands, we noticed that the game always seemed to devolve into a "I attack you. Okay. It's your turn now." sort of play that grew boring very fast.

Then we pulled out the 2nd series box titled "The Final Battle". This box was made up of 2 20-card preset decks. What will be cool to internet geeks here is that the titular "final battle" is a showdown between the Angry Video Game Nerd and the Nostalgia Critic. As you'd expect, the geek combatants on these cards are characters that fans of these sites and shows will instantly recognize. The AVGN has demonic video game cartridges and Super Mecha Death Christ 2000 B.C. 4.0 Beta, while the Nostalgic Critic has Chester A. Bum and That Guy with the Glasses.

Being a AVGN fan, I immediately chose my side and we began play. It seems that that the game's designers took some of the feedback (I noticed quite a few people on their site's forums giving similar thoughts on the "I attack. Your turn." gameplay.) on their first set as constructive criticism and the 2nd series is much better balanced and well rounded. You're able to strategize more and the game is more enjoyable as a result. It's still not as in-depth as some of the other CCGs on the market but, with the added strategy of Series 2, it's no longer the most simple either. And for only $1 a pack for the first series or $7 for the complete set of Series 2 cards, it's a game that any collector and any fan of other geek CCGs will want to get.

One last thing of note is that this is the first CCG I've seen that is ad supported (which is how they can give you a full set for so cheap). Each card has a small ad on it, usually relating to something geeky like other games, gaming supplies like dice and bags, fantasy/sci-fi novels and other stuff geeks may find interesting. This is rather cool idea. Both from the standpoint of a player who can get games with less money and because they also advertise things that I might not have heard of otherwise. I'm wondering why no one else has thought of this before and I honestly wouldn't be surprised if we see more ad-supported CCGs coming down the pike.

Bottom line: Geek Fight is a decent game with great art, fun geek-related humor, very durable cards and a confusingly written set of rules.

You can find out more about Geek Fight and get your very own copy the Diving Dragon Games website.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Pull List Reviews - September 17

Action Comics #881
After the events of Superman #691, the world is none to keen on Kryptonians at this point. The issue begins with Nightwing and Flamebird still on the run from the authorities when they run into Supergirl. It doesn't help Nightwing and Flamebird that, in addition to most of the world, Supergirl thinks they killed Mon-El. A battle ensues between the three Kryptonians that only goes from bad to worse as The Guardian and his crew arrive on the scene and end up nearly overpowering our heroes, forcing them to flee. Elsewhere, Metallo and Reactron are planning a news conference to further fuel the anti-Kryptonian sentiment of Earth. After escaping The Guardian's troops, Nightwing and Supergirl share a brief interlude while Flamebird listens in leading to more in-fighting amongst the Kryptonians that ends up with Squad K on the scene. Looks like the world's a grim place for anyone from Superman's homeworld. I can't wait to see how he pulls this mess out of the fire. Also, the backup tale of Captain Atom continues here and my consensus stays the same as it has been on this story... it's pretty but I still have no idea what's going on.
Score: 3.5 out of 5

Batman and Robin #4
Grant Morrison's second story arc begins here with the arrival of Red Hood and Scarlet (the reject from Pyg's outfit). This diabolical duo begin ripping through Gotham's criminal underworld in a way that would make The Punisher proud and sets Dick and Damien on on their trail. The violence and gun-play leads me to believe that it is indeed Jason Todd beneath the red hood and Dick agrees with me near the end of this issue but it isn't confirmed. If this issue is any indication, this is new arc is going to be one Hell of a read! ...and beautiful art from Philip Tan doesn't hurt either.
Score: 4.5 out of 5

Blackest Night #3
Hal Jordan and Barry Allen continue their fight against the fallen heroes of the Black Lantern Corps. We discover the fate of the Atom (last hinted at during the opening scenes of Blackest Night #2). The Indigo Tribe finally arrive on the scene and give us details on the origins of the different colored rings. These origins only cement my belief that there will be a White Lantern (Hal Jordan, anyone?) before this whole event is over. Meanwhile, Firestorm goes toe to toe with... Firestorm which leaves him in a very unusual predicament and leaves the Black Lantern with a seemingly unlimited power battery. The issue ends with the return of some villains from the JLA's morgue. All in all, a good issue but I can't give it a perfect 5 this go 'round because it's getting kind of old that every issue of Blackest Night (or the tie-ins) ends with a cliff-hanger ending and the rising of yet more lanterns. But now that the Black Lanterns have their power to full capacity and the rest of the lanterns know about the white power, I think things are going to go all out from here on in. Let's go!
Score: 4.5 out of 5

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Pull List Reviews - September 11

The DC Universe becomes an even darker and deadlier place this week with 2 new Blackest Night tie-in issues! It seems like every time I think this Blackest Night even can't get worse for the does.

Blackest Night: Batman #2
The undead battle from the first issue continues here with a slew of villains (including Scarface, Blockbuster, KGBeast and others) as well the risen parents of Tim Drake. Dick and Damien, with the help of Deadman, prepare for an assault on Gotham City PD where Commissioner Gordon and crew are attempting to hold off a full onslaught of Black Lanterns. It should go without saying (but it won't) that lots of people die. At the last minute, Tim/Red Robin arrives on the scene as does another set of dead parents. I'm stoked for the final showdown next issue!
Score: 5 out of 5

Green Lantern Corps #40
The battle for Oa continues against the newly risen fallen Green Lanterns. Kyle has a romantic-turned-horrible aside with Jade. Salaak pulls rank on the Alpha Lanterns. Bzzd has a showdown with Guy Gardner. It's discovered that the more powerful your emotions when you are killed by a Black Lantern, the more energy their rings recharge and even more people die on Oa than in Gotham. Honestly, I used to want to be a Green Lantern. Now I'm not so certain.
Score: 4.5 out of 5

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Pull List Reviews - September 2

This week's pull list was a little light with only one lonely comic coming out but it was still a good one! Read on...

Batman #690
Dick Grayson struggles to find his way as the new caped crusader as he continues the battle with Clayface and Lyle Blanco begun last issue. The fight is actually written quite well. Judd Winick (writer) understands the mind of Dick Grayson and seems to be enjoying playing with Dick's differences with Bruce. Meanwhile, the Penguin makes a deal with another shadowy crime boss (Black Skull?) that leaves him in a bad spot. And Two-Face auditions teleporters to track down the origin of a particular object that he has in his possession which leads him to a showdown that I've been waiting for since Dick donned the cowl.
Score: 4 out of 5