Thanos: “Infinity”

1360074569 Jonathan Hickman & Jim Cheung are prepping a new Thanos story for Free Comic Book Day this year which, according to Marvel’s Editor-in-chief, Axel Alonso, will play a massive role later this year.

“We’ve said how ‘Nova,’ ‘Thanos Rising,’ ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’ and Jonathan Hickman’s ‘Avengers’ are all shaping the future of the Marvel Universe — this image will very specifically answer the question of ‘How?'” Alonso continued. “Our FCBD issue features an all-new story that leads into a huge epic later in the year, along with a heavily demanded reprint of a character’s first solo story and a beautiful new cover by one of our top cover artists. This same cover will be on FCBD t-shirts this year, so that gives you an idea of the scale and importance of what we’re bringing you this year.”

via CBR.

Related: Here’s a knitted Infinity Gauntlet. I could pretend I don’t want this, but I REALLY want this.
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This Week’s Comics Haul – Ignore Everyone at Thanksgiving, Read Comics Instead

What I’m most likely picking up this week:

Uncanny X-Force #34 (didn’t #33 just come out?) – Iron Man #2 – Indestructible Hulk #1- Hawkeye #4 – Deadpool #2 – Daredevil #20 –Captain America #1 – Amazing Spider-Man #698 – Harbinger #6 (best cover of the week) – X-o Manowar #7 – Wolverine and the X-Men #21 (I know that #20 came out last week! What’s with the ramped up publishing schedule, Marvel?!)

Literature (?) alert! So there’s a terrifying circus (Frankenstein’s Murder Circus, to be exact) coming to Salem Center, NY to molest (ed.note: word choice?) the X-Men. Is this just a super old trope or did Jason Aaron just rip-off Something Wicked This Way Comes?

The Assassination of My Free Time By The Coward Avengers Alliance

You see this? This is the ENEMY.

Never has there been a game so see-through, so transparent, so worthy of hate that I am completely unable to stop playing. Avengers Alliance somehow has the addictive properties of a Fallout 3 yet is completely insipid, like a Star Wars: The Force Unleashed. I don’t even want to tell you how much IRL money I’ve dropped on this game.  (Here’s a hint: Less than a house, more than a meal at WD-50.)

At its heart, Avengers Alliance is a game about time & rewards; the rewards are directly proportional to the amount of time that you dump into it (every facet of the game is a complete time suck). At first glance, it seems simple enough. You are a new agent of S.H.I.E.L.D who gets to team up with all the good guys of the Marvel Universe to help sweep out every flavor of Marvel U. villain right out of New York City. Along the way, you get to recruit newer (and “better”) super heroes and research cool new S.H.I.E.L.D tech to aid you in your quest.  Easy and fun enough, right?  Quickly, however, you come face to face with an entire wad of Facebook gaming canards, such as:

– begging your friends for stuff items? Check.

– flooding your (and others, if you haven’t toggled the settings) feed with meaningless game milestones? Check.

– constantly checking back in to see if a particular timer is done, so you can start a new timer? Check.

– using real money to buy in-game equipment or perks that ultimately mean nothing? CHECKCHECKCHECK.

– unending stream of NEW and LIMITED TIME OFFER products that will greatly improve your game but only available for IRL cash? Check.

There is also the added wrinkle of a PvP option that’s just about as unbalanced, broken and completely maddening as you could want.  People like to talk about fighting games having balance issues and I know that many of them do, but eventually they get patched, maybe a certain character gets nerfed, and we all move on.  But imagine if, any time you played Street Fighter IV  and no matter which character you chose or how you played, if  your opponent was using Ryu you’d lose.  Pretty soon, everyone would be using Ryu and the game would get boring & stale.  That’s what the PvP in Avengers Alliance is like.  Except instead of Ryu, it’s the detestable Scarlet Witch. Her “Hex Spheres” may be the the worst thing to happen to video games since the invention of the water level.

So not only is there a fundamentally unbalanced character that completely dominates any PvP match she participates in, there’s also the added “bonus” of playing against people who juice their stats via, again, real cash.  This means the ONLY way to compete with these people is by paying, turning this free game into a cash arms race.  And if you don’t want to go that route, PvP is unplayable.  You get one-shotted to death and if by some miracle you do get a turn to attack?  You do either negligible damage or miss entirely. Like I said FUN.

So what’s the appeal, if the game is just a hole you throw money in to?  Well…it’s FarmVille or MafiaWars for comic book fans. That’s the simplest yet most complete explanation I can come up with.  It’s got the leveling/grinding aspect, it’s got the random chance for l33t gear, it’s got customization of iconic super heroes, it’s even got the materia socketing from Final Fantasy VII!!  All very powerful motivators that, despite my deep reservations, keep me coming back.

Look what else is going on: four “payment” materials to collect (command points, S.H.I.E.L.D. points, gold & silver) all of which are necessary to advance, experience to gain, research to complete (to improve oot drops and buyable gear), heroes to train (more powers & more chance to socket materia Iso-8), flight missions to complete (earn cash).  It’s a busy, busy game. One “turn”  which consist of battling villains and their henchman, can take anywhere from 15 minutes to an hour. There is a governor on the number of turns you can have in a day and that is the limited amount of energy the game gives you. You have 60 points of energy at any one time; every encounter win or lose takes 10 points away. So barring using external energy or leveling up which will replenish your energy, you can fight 6 times before you have to wait for your energy to refill.  Through some creativity, you can complete maybe 3 full “turns” a day.  That’s 3 hours a day just click-fighting endless hordes of Hydra, A.I.M. and Hand goons on your way to the occasional super villain. Tack some more time on there for character management &  long-range planning and you can easily see how this game can quickly absorb your time.

RAGE CORNER: I really enjoy when you click on an enemy to attack them and whoops, it just skips your turn.  Or after a grueling boss battle where you use up rare items you’ve obtained with all your grinding, the game schtizes out, says there’s a “combat synchronization error” and you have to redo the entire boss battle, MINUS the energy and items you spent. Great. All of your character attacks have been doing 400+ points of damage a turn? And you really need to kill a particular enemy with >400 HP this turn? Then it makes sense that your attack would do just enough to leave the enemy with 1 HP, allowing them to kill you.  Playdom (more like Play, DUMB aimirite), the company that pooped out this addiction perversion, doesn’t even have customer support!  Rather, when you ask them a question and they answer “Sorry we do everything through a third-party vendor you should try and contact them HAHA LATERZ B!TCH!!1!”.

In conclusion, Avengers Alliance is an addictive, fun super scam that I can’t stop playing and is making me completely ignore my job & everything else. This is a cry for help.  Please someone delete my account. Just let me train Thor.  And wait til the Black Panther gets back from New Zealand.  And I’m done investigating this new piece of StarkTech. And I think a new chapter is starting up next week…

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On Restraint, with Bonus! Time Travel Gallery

I have disposable income and am quick on the draw with my credit card.  That, combined with Amazon Prime, leads to hasty purchasing decisions, especially when they fall into the “Nerd Spectrum” (ed. note: Ugh.).

Perfect examples: I woke up today convinced that I needed to by a PS Vita.  Keep in mind, I have ZERO time to play one. I’ve barely played my PS3 over the past two months! My time is now split between work, this site, catching up on reading, comics, and  time-, soul-, and money-sucking Facebook games. So throwing a PS Vita into that equation is foolish at best and a complete waste of money at worst.  And yet…I still want it. I have the means to acquire it. Right now if I want.  I know I’ll eventually lose this battle, especially when this hits:

Maybe it’ll be a moot point, when WordPress reveals that their adrates are $100/hit/day. Then I can can repurpose the 10 hours I spend at work towards something far more useful, like playing video games in my Forever Lazy while becoming a hermit.  Dreams! We got ’em.

– Then there’s this: Welcome to rip off town, population: YOU

While struggling (ed. note: overstatement) with whether or not to buy a PS Vita today, I started playing Avengers Alliance on Facebook.  It’s basically Outernaughts but in the Marvel Universe.  Or I guess since this came first, Outernaughts is Avengers Alliance set in space and with stupid knock-off Pokemon.  As I had thought, my ravenous need to play Outernauts  has already greatly subsided and my dalliance with AA is fading even quicker.  Mostly because THIS GAME IS STUPID BULLSHIT THAT IS WHOLLY ARBITRARY, MAKES NO SENSE, NAKEDLY WANTS YOUR MONEY AND IS DUMB. Everything costs either gold OR Avenger points OR S.H.I.E.L.D. points which you somehow deplete doing game mandated activities, yet it’s mysteriously hard to suss out exactly how you earn them back. Well, I guess not THAT mysterious (see pic above). Can you not earn them in-game? If not, then this is just a ridiculously gussied-up money pit designed to trap comic fans & children. I’ll give it a day, after that it’s heading for the Big Deletion bin in the sky.

– The other rash purchase I was considering this morning (Pro-tip: get out of bed, spend less money) was an iPad subscription to Game Informer.  The preview issue that they’re currently offering is a solid visually, though not as tricked out as Wired.  What initially gave me pause was, “Don’t I already get all of my game journalism online for free; why should I start paying for it now?”. The impetuous side of my brain, of course, was all “It’s only $20! It’s cool, you should totally buy it!”. First, shut up brain. Second, I managed to put the iPad down and wander off to make breakfast.  While doing so I thought, “Wait, Game Informer. Isn’t…isn’t that the magazine that Gamestop tries to pawn off on everyone along with their BS Player’s Edge cards? Didn’t they TRICK me into paying for a subscription to this nonsense once?” and after a quick trip to the knowledge box, I had my answer. No thank you, game Informer, NO THANK YOU.

-A quick note on game journalism: when I was growing up,the best days of the month were the days that GamePro and Electronic Gaming Monthly showed up.  Do you remember those massive year end issues of EGM? One year I think the holiday issue of EGM clocked in at over 400 pages.  Pure bliss. After the jump, TRAVEL BACK IN TIME TO A SIMPLER TIME IN VIDEO GAMES.

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Haul Thoughts : Ultimate Drop, Valiant Pick Up

**SPOILERS BELOW BE WARNED***

The Walking Dead 100 -Oh you’re in some shit now!  Wow.  Barn burner of an issue.Very much a change in the status quo of this series.  For too long (the past year at least) the story has been in a bit of a holding pattern.  There’s been forward momentum, yes, but nothing like this episodes (with apologies to Mao) great leap forward.  Began is a BAD DUDE, on par with if not actually surpassing The Governor. SPOILERS: Lucille, on the other hand…oof.  Negan’s threats regarding Carl are equally chilling: “Anyone moves at all..cut the boy’s other eye out and feed it to the girl.” Brrrrrr.  Then when Rick acts up, Negan threatens to have his men run a train on Carl.  END SPOILERS. A bad, bad dude. This is what a landmark issue should feel like.

Batman 11 – Finally the conclusion to Court of Owls.  This arc really petered out, didn’t it?  ‘Cause it was SUPER bad ass to start with, but with the ridiculous turn it took last month with the SPOILERS reveal of Bruce Wayne’s (ugh) long lost brother END SPOILERS I’m really on the cusp of not caring.  Luckily the return of the Joker arc is right around the corner, which promises to be stupendous.  Some things (ed. note: Only SOME  things?) really stood out for their sheer ridiculousness this issue, including the flying Owl & Batman sequence where a) Bruce gets thrown into/through a giant skyscraper window.  DUDE THAT WOULD KILL YOU. But then b) the Owl can fly up into an oncoming jet’s flight path?  Isn’t that like, 20,0000 feet in the air?  Then c) when Bruce gets chucked into a jet engine and somehow he’s able to hold onto the lip of the engine and not go all Fargo on us?  Trained to the peak of human skills is one thing, defeating physics is quite another. You know who I felt bad for after this issue? The almost completely built but now completely destroyed Wayne Tower.  Oh, and me, for having to read Bruce & Dick’s ridiculous heart-to-heart to end the issue. Bring on the Joker!

Batman and Robin 11 – The more I read this series the more I really, really like Damian as a character.  His curent quest to best all of the past Robins in single combat is just perfect: funny, dynamic, interesting, they draw on past history & continuity as well as really showcasing Damian as a character.  An aside: since we’re speaking about continuity (and I think I brought this up before when The Killing Joke was mentioned) how & where does A Death in the Family come in to play in the New 52 universe?  I honestly thought it was a clean slate, yet they keep referring to pre-52 landmark events. Is this ever going to be explained?  What’s still considered canon & what got jettisoned? Aggravating.  Anyway, Damian is a bratty little know-it-all 10 year old who will kill you in the blink of an eye; that’s a character that could’ve gotten so cliche so fast and yet Peter Tomasi is doing an awesome job with him. The rest of the book was ok; the most intersting aspect is the cut-rate rogues gallery that’s assembled to attack Gotham who’ve all in someway been seriously f’d up by Batman, including the guy with a permanent boot tread on his face (named Bootface, natch) and the other guy with a batarang stuck in his skull.  Interesting to see the after effects of a Batman thrashing.  The hands down cheesiest part of this (or really, any recent issue of anything) was Bruce yelling “LEAVE MY CITY ALONE!”.  Keep this was just being yelled out on the street and not to anyone in particular.  It just struck a very odd chord.

Bloodshot 1 – I still have the Valiant-era Bloodshot #5 (the issue where Ninjak shows up for the first time (non-costume); I bought it at a sports memorabilia store that dabbled in comics and hadn’t yet discovered that particular issue was the hottest book going in comics, so I was able to get it for cover price.) somewhere.  Anyway.  Great cover, incredibly smart opening page explaining exactly what nanobots do and how they affect teh human body as well as some nightmare “Grey Goo” scenarios (read your Kurzweil, folks).  What I liked: the concept of hackable people.  Bloodshot’s ingenious infiltration method.  The overall feel and look of the book.  Hints of Bloodshot’s past and who/what he was/is.  What I didn’t like: where’s the explanation for the dead white skin?  Probably coming later.  Also, why is KRESSSSHHH  the sound effect every comic ever uses for when someone breaks through a plate of glass? PROMISING.

Chew Secret Agent Poyo 1 – Don’t f with this chicken!  Funniest moment may have been the look on Hitler’s face as he was directed towards the room labelled “Butt Torture” and followed by a demon with a pineapple in his hand (this was happening in Hell, btw). Grossest was probably the bonus gallery in the back, especialy the pinup featuring an eyeball with a pencil jammed into it & another eyeball with pushpins and needles poked into it.  EYE SHIT IS GROSS QUIT IT YOU GUYS. If you like Chew (you do) , if you like clever jokes (duh that’s why you’re reading this) and most importantly you like good comics that don’t take themselves too seriously this is a PICKUP.

Dancer 3 – Cat & mouse sniper espionage games with Europe with your Irish girlfriend as bait.  I could see this as a movie.  C’mon, they made Red (the movie was shit, also). I bet at least one person picked this up thinking it was a spin off from Omaha, The Cat Dancer.

Defenders 8 – This book has just been…is this one of the best books that Marvel is putting out right now and probably no one is buying? Most definitely yes to the first part and probably for the second part. This has the same vibe that Nextwave had and that is one of my favorite series ever.  High points of this issue: flaying car in the shape of a cat face? Absurd, but they are in Wakanda.  Silver Surfer with the funniest line about the origin of bones in the entire history of the Silver Surfer.  Then some deeply weird stuff to close out the issue, including the revelation there are things out in the Marvel U. called DEATH CELESTIALS and they are coming to break the Universe. How cool is that?

Harbinger 2 – Peter Stancheck Comes Alive! Woe to everyone else on the planet. If I had to list a Top Ten of favorite on going series, all three Valiant titles (this, Bloodshot and X-O Manowar) would all be on it. Can’t they crank these out faster?

Ultimate Comics X-Men 14 – I’m done. For reals this time.  I just can’t take these half-assed cliffhangers that I just know will not pay off in any sort of meaningful manner.  If I’m going to start cutting back, I think it’s going to be with Marvel’s Ultimate line.

Wolverine & The X-Men 13 – Less whimsy, more punching.  As previously stated, not exactly what I want out of this title.  But I’m really digging Nick Bradshaws art, as I think it does tremendous justice to not only the characters but fits the story very well.  The intro page was a very clever Watchmen dig.  Reading this book made me realize that all of these characters are just terrible at problem solving. ARGUE ARGUE ARGUE….now what? oh right, PUNCH PUNCH PUNCH.  You have magic powers, alien technology and super-powers, yet you still resort to fisticuffs like this is some 1880’s public house and your honor was just impugned? I realize that you have to keep cranking these books out but just like the realization that everyone’s costumes, for the most part, are simply awful, I know realize that 20 pages of punching is not as appealing as it once was. I am sad? Oh right, SPOILER Gladiator died? END SPOILER.   Warbirds backstory was pretty cool, I’ll give the that.