ORIGIN STORIES: Marvel Evolution – Not Exactly The ‘Weapon X’ You Know And Love… But Close!

November 7, 2008

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Don’t ‘Game’ With TBS, OR You’ll End Up Paying For Lots Of Dinners!

Billy: “Hey. Sorry we couldn’t make it.”
TBS: “What?”
Billy: “Happy Birthday.”
TBS: “Oh. Thanks. I figured you guys were ‘busy’. Scumbags.”
Billy: “31? 35? Older?”
TBS: “…”
Billy: “So, question, at what exact age does one stop throwing birthday parties?”

captain-america01

More Random Thoughts You Could Care Less About

• Deadpool, Party Pooper – “I’m the party pooper!” Ha-ha. Yeah. Wait ‘til ya’ see the alt art on this card. Too awesome.
• Merc With A Mouth – The flavor text on this one was locked in the moment I found the art. Thankfully, TBS came through like a champ.
• Wolverine, Unleashed – More Wolverine close-ups!
• Sabretooth, Earth-295, Team Leader – Confession? I hate the art on this card.
• Extended Monologue – Not much more to say about this one, I should think…
• Hyperion, Earth-4023 – Does anyone else still visit ytmnd.com?
• Iron Man, Earth-2020 – The art on this card does not depict the actual Iron Man from the Exiles comic. Sorry, the actual art was either Unusable or too ugly. This piece was pulled from an old Iron Man comic from right before the Heroes Reborn relaunch.
• Trouble With Clones – Trouble With Dinosaurs? It’s intentional. I only wish I’d thought of it sooner. It would have been nice to put one of these “Trouble With X” cards in every set.
• Sublime, The Beast Almighty – Who cares about what the card actually does… the concept, the mythology behind it, the art? It’s just so damn pretty.
• The World – Very, very happy this one made it into Marvel Evolution.
• Weapon Plus Satellite – But not as happy as I am with this card! Super-Sentinels! Someone on the Realms mentioned that maybe all the Super-Sentinels in MEV were dual-affiliated with the old Sentinels team. I thought about it, but in the end it just didn’t feel right.
• Captain America, Weapon 1 – I mean, obviously I’m going to get a Captain America into every set I work on. Good always triumphs over evil, dudes. Oh, and hey! More Invaders!
• Deadpool, Earth-5021 – Remember what I said about the Iron Man art? Same holds true here, I’m afraid.
• Spider-Man, The Spider, Earth 15 – Okay, this guy is awesome for one reason and one reason only: Spidey Clone decks finally get their 1-drop Spider-Man!

ultimaton_mev-201

(…what the heck is that!?! Keep reading!!!)

Weapon X/Ten/Plus… and The Exiles?!? What IS the deal?

So far, you’ve seen a bunch of Deadpool cards and some Exiles Weapon X dudes. Cool, those we can handle. But then you’re asking yourself, what’s the story on The World, Weapon Plus Satellite, Sublime and Captain America?

“Billy, will this be the traditional iteration of Weapon X (with Exiles splash) or some garbage version of Grant Morrison’s abysmal New X-Men run?”

Well, obviously the guy asking that question has horrible taste in comics, since the Grant Morrison era has yet to be surpassed in terms of quality and innovation. Yeah. I just said that.

wolverine02

Okay, obviously, I’m a lot biased, so biased that I felt it necessary for players to be able to construct Weapon Plus curve decks. How exciting!

• Weapon 1: 2-drop Captain America from MEV
• Weapon 7: 3-drop XXX from MEV
• Weapon 10: 4-drop Wolverine from MUN
• Weapon 14: 5-drop XXX from MEV
• Weapon 13: 6-drop XXX from MEV
• Weapon 15: 7-drop Ultimaton from MEV*

QUESTION #2: Will we still see the other, older members of the team?

Yes. Expect a healthy dose of Maverick, Mesmero, Sauron, Garrison Kane and much more, including a sweet location titled “Department K”. See, there’s something for everyone… even those Alpha Flight “weirdos”.

Alpha Flight Deck-Builders Rejoice!

aurora_mev-174

TBS: “So good.”
Billy: “Rama-Tut redesign?”
TBS: “Oh… yeah, I guess. Man, why do you always have to rain on my parade, Billy Zonos?”
Billy: “Keeps you honest.”

Recommended Reading:
• Exiles Vol. 2: A World Apart
• Exiles Vol. 3: Out of Time
• Exiles Vol. 4: Legacy
• Exiles Vol. 5: Unnatural Instinct
• Exiles Vol. 6: Fantastic Voyage
• Exiles Vol. 7: A Blink in Time
• New X-Men by Grant Morrison: Ultimate Collection, Vol. 1
• New X-Men by Grant Morrison: Ultimate Collection, Vol. 2
• New X-Men by Grant Morrison: Ultimate Collection, Vol. 3
• Weapon X, Vol. 1, #1-28
• Wolverine: Weapon X HC
• X-23: Target X, #1-6

…and of course, there’s always Wikipedia for the epically lazy.

Next Week: …the end?

*No, his text box isn’t blank. Patience, my minions.


ORIGIN STORIES: Marvel Evolution – Mr. Sinister and His Marauding Marauders! Special Guest Stars, The X-Force!

October 31, 2008

*****START GENERIC, YET HEARTFELT APOLOGY*****

Well, so, um, uh… I was moving last week! Does that excuse me? Probably not, but I’m hoping the content of this article will make up for any sad bear feelings I may have unintentionally caused last week. DI apologies!

*****END GENERIC, YET HEARTFELT APOLOGY *****

TBS Wants To Date Me!

TBS: “Nice job with last week’s article, bra’.”
Billy: “I didn’t do one—oh, I see what you did there.”
TBS: “BWAHAHA! I am king!”
Billy: “Yeah? Nice Facebook, Douchey Mcdoucherson.”
TBS: “I do what I can.”
Billy: “Dude, I never see you anymore. Very sad.”
TBS: “Let’s have a date! I’ll drive up and you can make me dinner, and then we can see a movie at the local cinema, and then maybe, if you’re lucky, we can retire to the boudoir for a nightcap?”
Andrew: “Ah my gawd, SHUT UP!”

More Than You Ever Needed To Know About The Way I Think!

Let’s talk about the Marauders AND X-Force, shall we?

• Cable, Temporal Traveler – Yes, he’s got flight and range because he’s from some future alternate dimension, so no, he’s not the “616” Cable. Also, we loves the Highfather style beard.
• Domino, Probability Manipulator – Finding art for this card was super-duper hard, hence the Deadpool fist in the lower left corner of the frame. Ugly!
• Born To Run – I have a whole spiel about those stupid “Baby on Board” signs people put on their car windows, but I won’t bore you with it here.
• Techno-Organic Virus – Thank God for Patrick Zircher. What a master.
• X-23, Genetic Miracle – She’s slicing bullets—in half!
• In The Crossfire – This is a cover from like 15 years ago that I picked up in a dollar bin earlier this year. No-Prize to the first person to properly identify it.
• Rapid Strike – The art for this card changed a bunch, not because the previous art was bad, we just had too many good pieces to choose from.
• Endangered Species – Despite its back-up story nature, I rather liked this story.
• Psimitar – Rob Liefeld art for those Rob Liefeld lovers. Don’t be ashamed, you know who you are.
• Providence – Very happy with every aspect of this card. Good show.
• RL-9000 – Not sure if anyone got this, but the “RL” stands for Rob Liefeld and the “9000” is an allusion to the BFG-9000 from the Doom series. Also, if you don’t know what “defenestrate” means, for the love of God, look it up!
• Moonstar, Danielle Moonstar – Squeezing in that S.H.I.E.L.D. legacy, baby.
• Doop, Extra-Dimensional Void – I love me some Doop. Does this mean you’ll see more X-Statix characters in MEV?
• Cable, Mutant Messiah – Yeah, hindsight correctly perceives the art on this card as rather lame. Sorry.
• Bosom Buddies – Not much to say here, this card’s awesomeness is readily apparent.

Random, Alex – The flavor explains everything you need to know about this guy. He’s so ridiculous! This is definitely one of those cards that I feel was an epic design FAIL. I mean, is that ability random in any sense of the word?
• Gambit, Le Diable Blanc – Hey! It’s another alternate art card!
• Identity Theft – A late addition, suggested by the great Dave Humpherys, and we couldn’t be happier. That’s why Da’ Hump gets paid the big bucks. DING.
• Mr. Sinister, Robert Windsor – That flavor is pretty ribald, but I guess the editors thought it was cool, so…
• Gambit, Traitor – For the record, I hate Gambit, but I love you guys… dilemma!
Sabretooth, Wounded Animal – An X-Men affiliated Sabretooth… finally.
• Mr. Sinister, Molecular Manipulator – I love the look on his face, he’s like, “Huh? Yeah? I’m awesome, right?”
• Cajun Charm – Again, HATE Gambit, but man he’s got some good looking cards.
• Mystique, Raven – Now, Mystique? Love ‘er!
• Master Thief – Another great Gambit card. You’re welcome.
• X-Gene Decoded – Seriously, the art on this card is disturbing. Out of context, anyway. But still. What’s he been doing to baby Cable?
• Sinister Disciples – “Look at all our faces… we are so evil.”
• Mystique, Foxx – The Captain into Mystique? Janky-janks.
Three-Card Monte – Is this card any good? I don’t know, you decide… but either way, it looks damn cool. DAMN YOU, GAMBIT! Damn you for looking so good!

Who The Heck Are The Marauders?

If you’re clever and found the “hidden” spoiler, you know all about what’s going on with X-Force, so let’s not dwell on that. Let’s move straight to the Marauders.

So who are they? The Marauders are a team of mutant mercenaries hired by Mr. Sinister to do his dirty work when he’s just too busy torturing babies, like Cable. They can also be described as a bunch of clones of aforementioned mutant mercenaries… and also clones of those clones… and so on, and on… OH! And recently, during the Messiah Complex event, the Marauders teamed up with the Acolytes (you know, those dudes that used to follow Magneto, but now follow Exodus? SEE: Brotherhood from the Marvel X-Men set), so you can surely expect to see both teams appear in Marvel Evolution. Together. On the same team. Expect to see the following characters and non-character cards:

• Acolyte Protection!
• Malleable DNA!
• Neverland!
• 4xMystique!
• 4xMr. Sinister!
• All the Marauders!
• All the Acolytes!

Heh, it kind of just designs itself at some point, don’t it?

All Killer, No Filler

You want another actual spoiler? Check out this baby:

…so, wait, this affects ALL of your attackers? For real? Hey, TBS…

TBS: “Sup, dawg?”
Billy: “Dude, didn’t that card used to say something like ‘target attacker’, as in it only worked on one guy at a time?”
TBS: “Oh, I went in and changed a bunch of cards after Hump soft-locked. Beefed ‘em up. You like?”
Billy: “And no one notioced?”
TBS: “I’m a computer whiz, dude, of course they didn’t notice!”*

Recommended Reading:
• Cable Volume 1: Messiah War
• X-Force Volume 1: Angels and Demons
• X-Force Volume 1: New Beginning
• X-Force Volume 2: Final Chapter
• X-Men: Blinded by the Light
• X-Men: Endangered Species
• X-Men: Messiah Complex
• X-Men: Supernovas
• X-Statix, Vol. 1: Good Omens

Again, Wiki, Wiki, Wiki!

Whew, we got there. Happy? Did I make up for missing last week? Are we friends again? If yes, tune in next week for more random happenings as I take a hard look at Weapon X, or as I like to think of them, my favorite team.

Call your mom!

*This is a lie. TBS gets derf’d on a weekly basis. For the definition of “derf’d”, please direct your e-mails to TBS. Thanks.


Marvel Evolution Preview: X-23, Genetic Miracle and In the Crossfire

October 21, 2008

Do you like to play plot twists?  I mean, do you really like to play plot twists?  If so, have I got a team for you!  From what we have seen so far, X-Force is a team that will reward you just for playing plot twists – something you were going to do anyway!

Yesterday’s preview of Domino, Probability Manipulator, set the tone.  For the simple act of playing a plot twist during combat, Domino will negate an effect from a non-ongoing plot twist!  Negation is one of the most powerful effects in the game and X-Force can do it practically for free.

Today’s first preview card is similar in that it offers you a powerful effect at a neglibile cost.  Check out X-23, Genetic Miracle:

Genetic Miracle indeed!  If I had to make a list of my favorite things in Vs, free KO’s would rank right up near the top.

We’ve seen characters in Vs. who KO the characters they stun before.  But there’s usually some kind of restriction.  Darkseid, Destroyer of Life, for example, can be negated by paying endurance equal to the stunned character’s cost.  Rogue, Powerhouse will only KO defenders.  And Elektra, Pawn of the Gorgon will only KO characters with a cost less than or equal to the number of team affiliations she has.

We’ve also seen characters that can KO any character they stun.  But I don’t think we’ve seen one with such an easily met cost.  Charaxes, Killer Moth required you to put three character cards who share an affiliation with Charaxes from your KO’d pile on the bottom of your deck.  That’s all well and good until your KO’d pile starts running low on character cards.

Executioner, Sourge of Jotunheim required a discard of a Masters of Evil character card.  Plus, his stats were garbage.  Heck, Executioner was garbage.  Forget I brought him up, okay?

Divinity, Vampire General required you to KO a resource or a Doom character at the start of every build phase.  Playing a plot twist during combat is starting to look like a real bargain, isn’t it?

The character X-23 most reminds me of is Punisher, Guns Blazing.  Both cards are 4-drops.  Both will KO anyone they stun on attack or defense as long as you can meet their cost.  Both are really good cards.  But in a vacuum, I’ll take X-23 over Punisher.

For one, X-23 is concealed.  Off initiative, it was all too easy to monkey pile Punisher out there in the visible area.  If your opponent wants to keep X-23 from attacking, they are going to have to work for it.  Next, X-23 has a higher attack.  She’ll attack up curve more easily than Punisher.  Sure, she has a lower defense to offset her stats, but that’s a trade-off I’m willing to make on a concealed character.

The big difference between the two characters is the cost to trigger their effect.  The Punisher needs to be equipped with more than one equipment.  In the right build, that’s easily done.  But you have to build for it.  And your opponent will know whether or not you can meet the requirement before combat even begins (unless you’re playing tricks to equip Punisher during the combat phase).

With X-23, your opponent won’t see the KO coming.  Unless your hand is empty and your resource row is face up, there’s always the possibility you’ll play a plot twist in the middle of an attack.  Psychological advantage goes to X-23.

Also, there are ways to unequip Punisher and transform him from a crazed killing machine into a vanilla 4-drop.  X-23 doesn’t care if you negate her plot twist.  She still played it, so she still KOs your character.  Sure, there are ways to restrict which plot twists you play.  But it’s hard to stop you from playing them at all.

Well, I’ve spent way too much time trying to convince you that free KOs are good.  Come back tomorrow when I write a doctorate on the benefits of a free lunch.  Let’s move on to our second preview of the day, shall we?

In the Crossfire ain’t exactly a free lunch.  In fact, it’s kind of costly.  This card definitely won’t be an auto-include in any X-Force curve decks.

But if you were to build an off-curve X-Force deck, that cost seems a lot more reasonable.  I don’t know what kind of off-curve game X-Force is going to have at this point.  But that’s what team-ups are for.  I know I can’t be the only one who saw this card and thought about running it in a Secret War deck with lots of S.H.I.E.L.D Agents who would burn for two and then exhaust to In the Crossfire.

The card has one other subtle cost.  You’ve got to have plot twists in your KO’d pile that you want to play again.  If you think that will be a problem, check out today’s other preview here: http://thederangedbear.wordpress.com/2008/10/21/techno-organic-virus/.

So, now that you’ve found a way to pay the cost, let’s talk about the rewards you will reap.  At the start of each combat phase, you get a plot twist back from your KO’d pile.  That’s a free card.  Not just a card, but the card of your choice.  On-going plot twist recursion, kids.  It’s crazy good.

This is one of those cards you’re going to have to build your deck around.  It reminds me of another card that had a heavy cost for a heavy reward.  That card would be Lust for Power.  If Doom brings all his little minions, there could be some big advantages to a Doom/X-Force team-up!

That’s it for me, gang!  Thanks to Billy for letting me write my first official preview article!  I hope you enjoyed it.  And I hope you enjoy the rest of the MEV preview season.  I know I will!


ORIGIN STORIES: Marvel Evolution – Exiles and Shift’ing Yo’ Pants!

October 17, 2008

What the heck is “Shift”? Go HERE for an explanation.

Andrew & Billy Talk About The Many Virtues Of TBS:

Billy: “He keeps his car really clean.”
Andrew: “He likes good Chinese.”
Billy: “He’s nice to the Vs. peoples…”
Andrew: “Um, he has nice hair?”
Billy: “No. He’s a good rock climber?”
Andrew: “Pfft!”
Billy: “This is really hard.”
Andrew: “Tell me about it.”

Catching You Up!

Exiles cards previewed so far:

Blink, Earth-295, Clarice Ferguson – That’s a cover we swiped. She’s standing in front of a downed Sentinel. Wait, did somebody say “Sentinels”?
Illyana Rasputin, Magik, Earth 4210 – I love how much this feels like an Underworld card.
Five In One – I like Mimic, I do, but as far as power limitations go, this has got to be one of the lamer ones. “You can only copy five at a time… why?”
Miguel O’Hara, Spider-Man, Earth-6375 – because you can never have too many Spider-Mans in Modern Age.
• Mimic, Earth-12, Infected – Ew, take care of that acne, dude.
• Panoptichron – Nice card, yes, but too bad about it depicting a crappy part of the run. What’s that? Claremont is still writing it? Nevermind.
• Blink, Earth-295, Dimension Jumper – This card has alternate art. OH, exciting!
• Mimic, Earth-12, Team Leader – Yes, this guy really is THAT bad-ass.
• Proteus, Earth-58163 – Ah, Proteus. I’m glad nobody cares that I couldn’t find a picture of the “actual” Proteus. Then again, Proteus doesn’t actually have a body of his own anyway.
• Shadowcat, Cat, Earth-Unknown – …pervs.
• Warp Shards – Artist correction! This is actually James Calafiore. Oops. .

It’s A Super-Dimensional Romp For The Entire Family!

Okay, I’m going to have to cheat you guys and only give you a short article this week. Sorry. Can’t be helped!*

Interested in spoilers? Try these:

• There are THREE Mimic character cards in the set.
• There are FOUR Blinks.
• Wolverine gets a couple of legacy cards in the Exiles section…
• …one of those cards is a character!
• 100% of the roster if filled with 98% of the Exiles from the comic.
• Weapon X characters from the Exiles comic do not appear in the Exiles section.
• Then what about Sabretooth, you ask?

What Will It Be This Time?

Because pretty much EVERYONE demanded it:

“Earth-Mojoverse”

“Third time’s the charm!”

TBS: “Seriously, guys? Why is it always like this?”
Billy: “Oh! He makes really good Vs. sets!”
Andrew: “Dude, he’s standing right there.”
TBS: “No, that’s fair… Legion was pretty stains.”

Recommended Reading:
1. Exiles Vol. 1: Down the Rabbit Hole
2. Exiles Vol. 2: A World Apart
3. Exiles Vol. 3: Out of Time
4. Exiles Vol. 4: Legacy
5. Exiles Vol. 5: Unnatural Instinct
6. Exiles Vol. 6: Fantastic Voyage
7. Exiles Vol. 7: A Blink in Time
8. Exiles Vol. 8: Earn Your Wings
9. Exiles Vol. 9: Bump in the Night
10. Exiles Vol. 10: Age of Apocalypse
11. Exiles Vol. 11: Timebreakers
12. Exiles Vol. 12: World Tour, Book 1
13. Exiles Vol. 13: World Tour, Book 2
14. Exiles Vol. 14: The New Exiles
15. Exiles Vol. 15: Enemy of the Stars
16. Exiles Volume 16: Starting Over
17. New Exiles Volume 1: New Life, New Gambit
18. New Exiles Volume 2: Soul Awakening

Again, a Wiki page exists! Go read it, if you haven’t already. Or like, I don’t know, read some comics?

Go away now! But stop by next week for a pair of previews (90’s style!) here on read/RANT! And then, of course, come back on Friday for another edition of Origin Stories to cap off the week. Later, dooders!

*I mean, who doesn’t know about patch 3.0.2?


ORIGIN STORIES: Marvel Evolution – X-Factor to the Power of Awesome!

October 10, 2008

…oh, hey. I didn’t see you there. How’s it going? Enjoying your Marvel Evolution previews?

In a little over a month the latest Vs. System expansion, Marvel Evolution, will be hitting stores. YAY! It’s been kind of a long wait, hasn’t it? Sorry about that. But! The unbearable wait is over, and like last time (and the time before that, and that, and…) a new set brings new preview articles. This time, almost all exclusively written by you, the fans!

TBS Is The Master Of Good Ideas!

Billy: “Hey, great idea extending the blog preview action from MUN.”
TBS: “I mean, evil genius?”
Billy: “If you say so.”
Andrew: “Why are you talking to TBS and not logged into the World?”
Billy: “Crap, let’s go pwn some noobs!”
TBS: “WoW has stolen your soul, Billy Zonos.”*

As If I Needed To Tell You!**

Here’s a quick list of the X-Factor cards previewed so far:

Cyclops, Mutant Messiah – Look for this version name to repeat four more times throughout Marvel Evolution. It was kind of a theme.
Concussive Force – The image for this card changed more than four times. Also, it’s a very powerful card… as many of you have pointed out.
Jamie Madrox, Multiple Man, Jamie Prime – This image, to me, cuts down to the core of Jamie Madrox’s personality. Love it. Also, TBS did a fine job figuring out all that messy identity crap. Kudos.
Re-Absorption – UGH, we hated the art for this for the longest time and always meant to find something better, but then I never did and at the time of the deadline we’d kind of gotten used to it.
• Cyclops, Man of Action – I wrote that version months before Fraction and Brubaker started referring to Cyclops as a “Man of Action” in their X-Men interviews. I mean, great minds think alike. :)
• Polaris, Back in the Fold – This card makes me so happy… for obvious reasons.
Multiple Man, Hydra, Army – Admittedly, his connection to Hydra is pretty suspect, but hey, it was an opportunity for subtle Crime Lords legacy and TBS loved it.
• Multiplicity – That movie was so lame. Sorry for referencing it.
• Strong Guy, Guido Carosella – I misspelled this guy’s name the most. I always wrote “Casserole” first.
• Iceman, Jack Frost – “Catch a cold.” Get it! Wait ‘til you see his other flavor text.
• First Class – the art for this became “available” at the last minute, and by that I mean, the latest Marvel Previews supplement came out days before the art deadline.
• Fearless Leader – the flavor here is extra cheese, but he actually says stuff like this!
• One Man Army – I regret not naming this card “One Man Gang” or “O.M.G.”
• Jean Grey, Jean Grey-Summers – You know, I KNOW this is Ethan and not Phil and yet somehow that fact slipped by me.
Cyclops, Astonishing X-Man – for the longest time, this was not the art for this card. Thankfully, I pulled my head out of my butt and fixed it. One of my favorite cards.

What To Expect From The “X”

In my mind, there are three unique versions of the X-Factor team, and as I was the one in charge of sorting out the team lists, you can expect to see all three versions of X-Factor represented in Marvel Evolutions. Do you require more detail? Sure.

You’ll see at least two of each of the members of the original group: Cyclops, Jean Grey, Iceman, Beast and Angel. However, the character art on the cards may not match exactly the look and feel of this incarnation.

Unfortunately, that is just one of the many harsh realities of using recycled art. Marvel allows us access to thousands of high quality images in their online database, but since said database is relatively new most of these images were uploaded from recently published comics. I mean, X-Factor was first published in the 80’s, folks, and the archivers just haven’t gotten around to scanning them in yet. Of course, we also have access to my rather large collection to pull images from, and we surely did, but scanning these comics myself came with its own set of unique problems. For one, no matter how killer my scanner is, using printed comic pages from the 80’s (or older) as source material is rough. Basically, when scanned, the pages look like crap… and retouching images is NOT my forte. But enough already, I’m sure I’ll find time to speak on this more at a later date when I get all my excuses in order.

The second incarnation, the government sponsored team, will also be present: Valerie Cooper, Forge, Multiple Man, Havok, Polaris, Quicksilver, Strong Guy, Mystique, Sabretooth, etc… this is probably the least represented version of the team since finding art for them proved the most difficult. Believe me when I say I tried really, really hard. Obsessively hard.

The third, and most current incarnation, that being “X-Factor Investigations”, will OF COURSE be featured prominently. I mean, we know who butters out bread, if you know what I mean: Multiple Man, Strong Guy, Siryn, Wolfsbane, Rictor, Layla Miller, and M.

…and then a couple of odds and ends characters to satisfy those continuity minded fanatics.

As far as the X-Men dual affiliation goes, we used it pretty liberally, but only because most of the above character were in fact, at one time or another, card carrying members of the X-Men. But, that doesn’t mean we gave it to every single member of X-Factor. That would be lame. So, all the original members of X-Factor are dual-affiliated with the X-Men, but characters like Layla Miller and Valerie Cooper are not. And then there are some characters (Polaris, Caliban) who some of you will undoubtedly point out did not receive said most deserved dual-affiliating (that was an attempt to confuse with odd sentence structure). Well, that’s because for variety’s sake we decided to dual them with another team, and Hump was adamant about not breaking the “only two printed affiliations per character” rule. Sorry!

Okay, beside roster infos, what else can I spoil? Card names (and one piece of flavor) that I love and hope you love too!

• Fall’s Edge
• Cracking The Case
• Optic Blast
• The “X” Factor
• Vocal Minority
• “Please. This demeans us both.”***

Speculate away!

Spoiling Art, It’s What I Do!

And now, I give you the art for one of the cards that will undoubtedly become very annoying in drafts (if you can get him):

“Devolving Brute”

“He lost a finger on each hand. I’m sure that’d make anyone crazy.”

TBS: “I liked these better when they were on the main site.”
Billy: “Why? I’m my own editor here!”
TBS: “Exactly.”
Yip: “ARENA!!!”

Recommended Reading:
1. Astonishing X-Men Vol. 1: Gifted
2. Astonishing X-Men Vol. 2: Dangerous
3. Astonishing X-Men Vol. 3: Torn
4. Astonishing X-Men Vol. 4: Unstoppable
5. X-Factor Vol. 1: The Longest Night
6. X-Factor Vol. 2: Life and Death Matters
7. X-Factor Vol. 3: Many Lives of Madrox
8. X-Factor Vol. 4: Heart of Ice
9. X-Factor: Madrox – Multiple Choice
10. X-Men: Endangered Species
11. X-Men: Messiah Complex

Also, feel free to hit up the Wiki page, a great place to start.

That’s it for this week’s installment. If you have anyone questions, feel free to post them here in the comments section. The way my e-mail is setup nowadays it’s much easier for me to find (and reply to) your questions and comments about Vs. here. So yes, Ken Williams, if you wish to bitch at me, you’re gonna have to read and (OMG!) comment on a (THE HUMANITY!!!) blog.

*Yes, TBS often refers to me as “Billy Zonos”. Weirdo.

**I guess it’s tradition at this point to use these articles to redirect to previews, so why stop now? Also, special thanks to Captain Spud for maintaining this thread. It makes writing these up much easier.

***A phrase that has, after writing it, entered my everyday bag of tricks. Heh. It’s perfect for any occasion!


COMIC-CON ’08: Vs. R&D and Other Crazies!

July 31, 2008

Enough time has passed that I think I’ve finally recovered from the experience that was Comic-Con. I’m going to keep this post light. This means, I’m only going to show you the “good times” and speak not of the “bad times”. And yeah, there were tons of “bad times”.

First, Pictures With Vs. R&D New And Old:

Patrick Sullivan stares deer-eyed into the camera.
The Hump is soooo bored with life.
• Rules Guru, Paul Ross demo’ing some WOW.
Me and Cate Gary, editor supreme.
• Former VS. Designer, Matt Hyra can not be bothered to smile.
• “No one wants to demo MUB, Billy. Does that make you sad?” –Ben Seck
John Fiorillo and Billy Zonos… man crush!

…And Now For Something Completely Different, Ballsy Fans In Costumes!

Ms. Marvel wants me bad.
• OMG! I met Isaiah Bradley!!
• Marvel’s Spider-Man and Black Cat.
• A couple of Teen Titans… is that a sock in his pants? I hope so.
COBRAAAAA!!!
Han Solo never looked better.
The American Dream and Me.

That guy, right there: Costume of the Year! Notice me trying hard as hell not to laugh?

For a complete picture account from Comic-Con, follow this link to my Flickr page.

p.s. my birthday is in five months, someone buy me this.


ORIGIN STORIES: The Origin of Barnacle, Chair Decks and Other Tales of Silly, Part 2 – I Got Another Confession To Make!

July 18, 2008

In Part 1, I talked about the “Chair Deck” conspiracy and gave a confession of sorts. Well, I’m not done clearing my conscience since this week I’ll be setting the record straight once again. What did I do this time? It’s more like what didn’t I do.

The “New” Defenders Can Kiss My Ass

About a million years ago, I wrote a section of a design article about Marvel Team-Up titled “Marvel Team-Up Design: Defending the Defenseless – An Underdog Story” on the old Metagame.com. Within said article, I relayed the following:

We decided very early on to use the art to reflect and drive home the disparity between the A and B teams. Of course, silliness ensued. If you take a close look at the B team character art and compare it to the A team art, you will notice that in almost every single B piece, the character depicted is either:

Surrounded by enemies . . .

 

Running away from battle . . .

Or getting humorously overpowered by monsters or demons . . .

(That last one is my favorite.)

Now look at the big four. What do you see? No embarrassing fruit cellar shenanigans, let me tell you (except for 4-drop Surfer; we just couldn’t help ourselves). I know what you’re thinking: “These guys totally hate my favorite characters!” That couldn’t be further from the truth. Everything we attempted here was done with extra love and infinite respect for the fans of the comics and the game. We would never purposely defame any character (Clumsy Foulup) or any team (The Skrulls).

What utter and total bullshit! Excuse me a second, I need to take this call…

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA
HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA
HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA
HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA
HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

…sorry. Mom says, “Hello.”

Yeah, you get the picture, right? Do I need to draw you a diagram? IT WAS ALL ON PURPOSE!!! THE NEW DEFENDERS SUCK!!! I did my best to make them look as silly as possible in the art and mock them in the flavor.

Alas, I failed. The artists we hired were too good and barely anyone notices. Sure, a couple of you complained about them, but the general consensus was that we did them all justice. BAH! Anyway, here’s the proof, some art descriptions from 2006.

Gargoyle.

Setting: A random fruit cellar

Action: Gargoyle is surrounded by giant demonic tendrils that have erupted out of the ground. They’ve wrapped around the Gargoyle and are pulling him down into the depths of Hell. More tendrils whip around the cellar, knocking jars from the shelves. Gargoyle resists valiantly, but he is definitely screwed.

Keywords: Surprise, Desperation, Embarrassing Death

 

Angel

Setting: Tar Pits

Action: Angel is trapped in the tar pits. His wings are covered in the black goo, which keeps him from escaping. Tar Monsters are closing in fast. Angel is going to die. For sure.

Keywords: Nightmare, Worst Case Scenario, OMG Why Do You Suck So Hard?

 

Iceman

Setting: Hell

Action: Iceman surfs on his ice slide right toward the viewer. Hot on his heels, fiery hell beasts claw along the melting ice slide. His body is dripping gallons amounts of water and the beasties are closing fast. He’s got no chance in hell! (HAH)

Focus: Iceman

Keywords: Melting Snowman, Snowball’s Chance

Oh, here’s something else you didn’t know: at one point, we even considered cutting them all completely from the set since the “ass-factor” was so high. A Defenders team featuring just Namor, Hulk, Dr. Strange and Silver Surfer would have been just as great, if not infinitely more awesome. Consider this, my stunned friends: What if The Big Four had received “Legend” treatment way back in Marvel Team-Up, similar to the Fantastic Four in Marvel Legends? WOW, I can feel the blown minds through the interwebs. So, if you’re a New Defenders fan, thank the gods… or Andrew Yip, but not me. I hate you and your irrational love for: Angel, Iceman, Brunnhilde, Devil Slayer, Gargoyle, Hellcat, Sam Parrington, Nighthawk, Beast, and Iceman.

So, in conclusion: I am a lying liar. Nothing I say or write is ever true. Fair warning.

I feel so MUCH better now. Short and sweet, baby! I’m off to see The Dark Knight, so if you have any questions or constructive comments leave those below and I’ll answer every single one personally. If you want to bitch about your love for the New Defenders, you can shoot me an e-mail at: idontgiveashit@HAHAHAHA.net.

DEFENDERS DEFEND!!!

    

Oh, and that stupid Howard the Duck art? That was me. HAH.

Howard the Duck

Setting: Sidewalk, New York – Day

Action: Howard the Duck in the center of the image, facing the viewer. He’s found himself lost in a sea of New Yorkers. All these tall, funny looking humans: pushing him, smacking him, crushing him. He’s crushing his hat over his head.  His trademark cigar springs from his mouth as he gives out a frustrated cry, “WAAAAUGH!”

Keywords: Lost in the Crowd, Dark Comedy, Howard the Duck Sucks

 

(EDITOR’S NOTE: The treatment of the Defenders in Marvel Team-Up is in no way related to treatment that Alpha Flight received in Marvel Universe. I swear.)


Meanwhile… read/RANT! Welcomes Lebeau To The Team!

July 14, 2008

Hey guys, we have a new regular reviewer over here at read/RANT! and his name is… Lebeau! Welcome to the team, dude! This guy is so fast; he’s already reviewing stuff before I even got the chance to introduce him. Check out his excellent Action Comics review here. Great start, Lebeau, and I expect plenty more where that came from.

Some of you may be asking, “How did this come about?” Well, allow me to explain. The other day, Lebeau sent me a PM on VsRealms asking if we were still accepting new reviewers and if yes, then he would like to be considered. First of all, we are always looking to expand our reviewership. Second, the criteria to be added is thus:

1) You must have a WordPress account.
2) You must love comics.
3) You must love talking about comics.
4) You must ask.

That’s it. Just ask. Wanna join up? Just ask. All are welcome!

“Hey, can I join your group?”Lebeau

“Um… sure. What’s your e-mail?”Me

And literally three hours later, Lebeau was posting his first review. It’s really that simple. If you have passion, we want you. If you’re all talk, well… to quote the esteemed Al Pacino, “Don’t waste my mother####ing time!” In other words, don’t be a “Deranged Bear”.

“OMG SQUEE!!! CAN I JOIN!!!”Deranged Bear

“YAUS!” – Me

…crickets…

Bear was one of the first members, besides me, to join and he has yet to write a thing in five months. What a bastard. Yeah, I know he’s busy with his weekly column over at the Vs. Blog (pretentious title much? Huh? HUH! HUH? HUH! How’s that taste, Rod-ree-go?) and his bi-annual podcast with his hatemate Ludin “RocketJerk” Romero, but c’mon man! Where’s the follow through?

(I realize this post has collapsed into flames of passion, those secret feelings that have long festered in my belly are bubbling to the surface… I apologize for this unprofessional behavior. The above statements are in no way meant to incite a “Blog War” (although, that does sound kind of cool, yes?) Let’s get back to praising our newest member.)

On second thought, I’ve praised enough. Don’t want to swell his head. So, in conclusion (which is what you say when you’re ready to wrap things up), read/RANT! currently boats six semi-regular reviewers, with 2-3 regular features a week, such as Desiato’s Trade Secrets, Bruce Castle The Archives, Series Review, Origin Stories, etc… as well as daily comic reviews by pretty much everyone on the list. We got tons of content. This isn’t self-indulgent back-patting, as much as it’s just me being super excited that the dream of creating a safe haven for comic book discussion among peers has reached the next stage.

Before I close it out, I’d like to take this opportunity to thank everyone involved with giving this blog that friendly, community feeling and for being so darned dedicated. You are the guys that make this experiment in fun worth it. Readership outside of the Vs. community has also increased, so I’m looking forward to hearing from those guys in the coming months, but… I’m even more excited about the possibility of adding more reviewers to the staff. So, if you want in, now is the perfect time.

It’s a ‘Call To Arms’, bitches!


DC Universe Preview: Kyle Rayner, Parallax

July 14, 2008

Vs. System has some of the greatest fans in all of fandom. True story. When faced with the possibility that one of the “Big Two” might be disappearing from our beloved game, they banded together to create what has so far been a truly worthy unofficial counterpart to Marvel Universe. And no, they didn’t pay me to say that or bribe me with the gift of submissive internet wives. It’s the damn truth. Have you guys been watching the previews? As excited as I was about the idea of this fan-created set, I’m even more excited to be a part of it… if only in a very small way. Not only do I get to preview a card, I get to preview a bad guy. I love the bad guys, they always gets to do the coolest shit, and what a monster of a bad guy this one is!

The inspiration for Kyle Rayner, Parallax comes from a little story we like to call “The Sinestro Corps War,” which ran through the Green Lantern books last summer. The event centered on Sinestro (ah, the title is not ironic, although still hard to say) and the formation of the Sinestro Corps, the fear-based opposite of the Green Lantern Corps. Very early in the story, Kyle Rayner (still Ion at the time) was captured by Sinestro and his brutal (I’ve been marathoning Metalocalypse) minions. They, of course, tortured his candy ass and as the coup de grâce, they ripped the Ion entity out of him and replaced it with the now freed Parallax creature. SICK! And then he goes insane. Eventually, his sanity is restored when Parallax gets evicted. However, and this is the suckiest part, after the exorcism, Kyle does not resume his role as Ion. The Guardians (hate those guys) “demote” his ass to Honor Guard, forcing him to work with that over-sized child, Guy Gardener. Okay, enough paraphrased history. Let’s talk about the broken-stally-ness that is this card.

First of all, this effect isn’t anything new to Vs. System. You may recall it first appearing on the 7-drop Punisher, Angel of Death from Marvel Legends. That card was good, but this card is bonkers. What makes Kyle a million times better than Punisher? Well, tons of stuff, actually! For one, you don’t need to deal with a clunky additional cost to recruit. Unless you were running Rogue/Mimic, missing a Punisher recruit on the way to turn 7 completely hosed your strategy. This is probably why we haven’t seen much in the way of tier one decks that involve the abuse of the 7-drop Punisher, Wolverine, Juggernaught or Invisible Woman. Wolverine.dec doesn’t count and neither does Family of Four. Those decks don’t live or die on their 7-drop plays. But, I digress as we can argue this at a later date…

So, why is it so much easier to fulfill the additional cost to recruit clause on this card? Oh, because of cards like Carrying The Torch and The Captain. The Captain is the most obvious way to cheat this card’s cost, but it’s also a simple matter to ditch a Sinestro into your pile and have your 5-drop of choice Carry The Torch. Or, I guess you could just play the already previewed 4-drop Sinestro with the Reign of Terror effect. Whatever.

Another reason this card is so much better than Punisher? He’s a 6-drop. This means, obviously, you’ll get more use out of him in the course of a game, and for stall decks this means that your “lock turn” could come as early as turn 6. This is key in today’s turn 3/4 metagame. This guy’s also got flight on Punisher, although I don’t think you’ll be using him to attack much. His effect is just too good. In fact, the only time I can see you attacking with Kyle is if you can’t afford to lose any endurance to his effect… which brings me to…

The real cost of this card: Your endurance. Your life. Your essence. Which, in my opinion, isn’t much of a cost at all. On most turn 6’s, your opponent will send their 4- or 5-drop into your 6 to try and bait out the activation, allowing the lower and less useful drop to “take one for the team.” So, Kyle’s effect will usually cost you 4-5 endurance. No biggie. But, if you’ve been doing your job correctly, you may leave him no choice but to send in his 6-drop or pass. Imagine playing this guy in a Doom or Spider-Man deck? Exhausting everyone but their highest drop and forcing the pass? Smells oh so sweet, baby! From a play pattern perspective, this card reminds me of another metagame defining 6-drop of days past. The 6-drop Sinestro, Green Lantern of Korugar (IRONY, at last!) played in a similar way. Sometimes, for fear of losing their whole board to his auto-stunning ability, opponents would just pass their attacks. Whether or not the designers had this in mind is anyone’s guess, but I like to think they did. It’s just too sweet to have happened by accident. Or, I could just be losing my mind.

What’s also interesting to me is that the loss of endurance to pay effects is a theme reminiscent of the Marvel Knights. I wonder about the synergy of a deck with the curve 4-drop Sinestro/6-drop Kyle/7-drop Punisher? Or, how about tossing Deadpool, Merc With A Mouth into the 5-drop slot (the how is up to you!)? And Rogue at the 4? Some torch carrying for good measure and we got ourselves a pile of jank! The possibilities seem endless, but this card definitely screams “stall deck” to me. Maybe that’s personal bias, but I just don’t see this guy fitting as nicely anywhere else. That’s not to say you can’t play him as your primary 6-drop in a beatdown or curve deck. He’s got very respectable stats and his effect is good in any build. But, I’m a min/maxer. I want the biggest bang for my buck, dudes.

There you have it. A quick glimpse at one of the strongest cards previewed so far. I’ve given you some obvious food for thought, but I have by no means been exhaustive. I’m already thinking about other ways to abuse this guy, but I think it’s more fun for you guys to discover the possibilities for yourselves.

I have to admit though, these DCU designers have made me jealous. I kind of wish I’d designed this card. Kudos!


ORIGIN STORIES: The Origin of Barnacle, Chair Decks and Other Tales of Silly, Part 1 – Taking it to the “D” Street!

July 11, 2008

Last time  I gave you a pretty comprehensive breakdown of the Easter eggs in Marvel Universe. I thought about going further back in time and doing the same for Marvel Legends, Marvel Team-Up and Heralds of Galactus… but, it felt like too much of a “phone in”. So, I decided that this week, I’d still make that apathetic phone call, but in a less obvious way. I hope. Crap, telling you kind of defeats the purpose…

Inside jokes, or “skill testers” as some of you like to call them, are about the most fun thing to design when thinking up set skeletons. There are plenty of skill testers in MUN that are all very obvioys, so I want to rewind back and point out some of my favorites from my time in Vs. design. Let’s start with one of the most infamous:

The Chair Deck

The “what” deck? Some of you may remember a little 10K in LA where yours truly made his feature match coverage debut. If not, click the links. Since that was a lifetime ago, I guess it’s finally time to come clean on one of our lamest inside jokes ever. “The Chair Deck” was an idea that kind of blew up into nothing if you were a casual player, or something if you were a Pro Circuit player around that time. The joke began well before that 10K, but it was at that 10K where the joke spread throughout the community. I remember multiple threads about the deck popping up on VsSystem.com the weekend of that 10K. Why all the hysteria? How did it happen? How did we do it? I’ll tell you! Patrick, Antonio and I began seeding the 10K coverage with references to the mysterious and powerful “Chair Deck” on Day 1. What was in the chair deck? None of the players could figure it out, and we sure as hell weren’t telling. The only thing they did know was that it was very powerful and if anyone managed to figure out its intricacies, that person would be well on their way to winning the next PC!

The Chair Deck was promoted as the best, most broken deck to ever come out of R&D… unfortunately, as some would soon discover, it was the exact opposite. It was total BS. The chair deck was actually the derisive name given to one of the worst decks ever created in R&D, or so I’ve been told by the paragon of honesty, Patrick Sullivan. The deck’s creator? None other than “The” Ben Seck! Hey guys, this was back when TBS was first hired by UDE, when he still sucked and long before he was good enough to dominate players in Super Crossover Sealed at Vs. Worlds. So we know who created the deck, but who was originally responsible for spreading the hoax? As I said, the chair deck as a concept first broke through to the mainstream player community when the unlikely combination of myself, Ant and Sully were tossed together for some 10K coverage. I was still relatively new to this UDE scene, so that weekend was definitely a “get to know you” event for me. Sully, Ant and I hit it off right away. We hated the same things and laughed at the same kind of inappropriate “Nazi” jokes that we snuck into the coverage which were later removed by our crafty editors. Anyway, it was during this meeting of minds that Sully and Ant told me about TBS’s ridiculous creation.

We had so many laughs at his expense that we just couldn’t help ourselves, and despite calls from editing for us to “cut it out”, the chair deck jokes made it into the coverage. Now, to be clear, we never intended these jokes to develop into the hoax that some of you accused us of. We were just being immature and cliquey, taking advantage of our responsibilities as writers to poke fun at a colleague. We never thought it would be such a big deal… it it even was. The mind loses track. Anyway–

Now that I think I’ve pretty much covered all the explanations, maybe it’s time I told you what was in the chair deck and how it got its name. The deck is designed around the much-maligned Mobius Chair.

Yes, that POS New Gods legacy card from the Justice League expansion. For some reason, TBS thought this was a good card to build a deck around. I remember how earnestly he tried to explain the deck’s endgame to me after the 10K. Unfortunately, I don’t recall exactly what that endgame was. If you’re interested, be sure to ask TBS about it at Gen-Con next month.

Wait, that’s not all! The chair deck wasn’t just about the Mobius Chair, the joke was also all about cards with art that depicted characters sitting… in chairs! Cards like: Thanos, Protector of the Reality Gem and Cosmic Order and later, Darkseid, Apokoliptian Oppressor, Ancient Throne and Curse of Darkness (TBS loves him some chairs!). There are literally hundreds of cards in Vs. that fit this description. I dare you to research it and name them all!

Okay, to explain even further, chair in this case doesn’t actually mean “chair”. The use of the word chair is a synonym for another word or words, depending on the scope of your vulgar vocabulary. Look at the art on Cosmic Order:

What does it really look like The Living Tribunal is doing? Now read the flavor text. Who or what do you think he is really addressing with the statement, “Final judgment is upon thee.” You remember that scene from the first Austin Powers, the scene with Mike Meyers and Tom Arnold?

“Who does number two work for!”Mike Meyers

…exactly! That, in truth, is the heart of the “chair deck” joke… or, at least what it ultimately transformed into. I kick myself everyday for not including D-Man in the Marvel Universe release.

*sigh*

I had planned on writing about three other topics like my disdain for the New Defenders, cards based on TCG personalities and other nonsense, but we’re sitting at about a thousand words, plus pictures, and my lunch is getting cold. I’ll be back next Friday (the new home of ORIGIN STORIES!) with Part 2 (I SWEAR!!!). Until then, crack open those dusty DJL boxes and build a deck around everyone’s favorite latrine.

BEN SECKS!!!

As a special treat, a piece of unused art starring Rick Jones taking a #### in the Negative Zone.


ORIGIN STORIES: Marvel Universe – The Eggs of Easter

June 25, 2008

I wasn’t sure about writing this article. Easter Eggs are only Easter Eggs if everyone doesn’t know about them, right? But the more I thought about it, the more elitists and exclusionary that felt. And, everyone keeps asking me about it. Like, whether or not certain things were intentional. And since TBS included some of these in his article last week, I figured it’d be okay to share the rest with you here… which features a bunch that I’m sure TBS wasn’t even aware of. So sneaky! Oh, and for those of you who plan to take part in our Trivia contest at World’s, you may want to take some notes.

Without any further hubbub, I’ll just get right to it. A list of all the Eggs I can remember from Marvel Universe. Oh, and just as a working definition, “Easter Egg” will mean any flavor text, powers, versions or names that reference anything from outside Marvel Universe or the comics that directly inspired the characters and themes chosen. Everything else, like where the art came from or the more obvious versions, you can figure out for yourself. Or, if you’re stumped you can ask and I might answer. Deal?

The Marvel Universe Easter Eggs

  • MUN004, Captain America, The Patriot, Secret Avengers: “The Patriot” is a reference to the movie of the same name staring Mel Gibson. Hah! Mel Gibson reference!

  • MUN004, Captain America, Living Legend: The flavor text “Is this what we’ve been fighting for?” is something I thought Cap might say in the (at the time unpublished) Avengers/Invaders maxi-series upon traveling to the future and discovering that, well, the future stinks. Was I right? Too early to tell. Also, the version plays to the fact that Steve is still alive in the A/I maxi.
  • MUN035, Above The Law: Yes, one of the many references to an 80’s/90’s action movie. At some point in naming these cards, right before editing took over I think, it occurred to me that there existed a great wealth of potential card names in the Segal and Van Damme sections of the Internet Movie Database. Genius? I think so too.

  • MUN036, Atlantis Attacks!: A reference to the classic “Atlantis Attacks” event that ran through all the Marvel annuals some 20 years ago.
  • MUN037, Avengers Forever: One of my favorite Avengers stories is the 12-issue Avengers Forever maxi by Kurt Busiek and Carlos Pacheco from about 10 years ago.
  • MUN039, The Big Three: The JLA has The Big Seven. Well, the Avengers only need three.
  • MUN040, Charging Star: As previously stated, the name of one of Captain America’s moves from the Marvel vs. Capcom arcade game.

  • MUN041, Final Justice: As previously stated, the name of one of Captain America’s moves from the Marvel vs. Capcom arcade game. The “I never lose.” flavor is from a really funny Youtube video that Steve “Kamiza” Garrett posted on his LJ once. Ask him about it.
  • MUN042, Hard To Kill: Another Steven Segal movie reference. Classic stuff, man.
  • MUN046, Shield Slash: As previously stated, the name of one of Captain America’s moves from the Marvel vs. Capcom arcade game.
  • MUN047, Stars And Stripes: As previously stated, the name of one of Captain America’s moves from the Marvel vs. Capcom arcade game.
  • MUN048, Switching Sides: “Consider this a divorce” is a line from Total Recall. Arnold says it just after busting a cap in Sharon Stone’s head when he discovers she has once again betrayed him. Heh.

  • MUN054, Bullseye, Closer to God: The version is a reference to the Nine Inch Nails song “Closer”, which I guess is the music I hear when I think of him killing people. Plus, he’s got a God-complex.
  • MUN067, Speedball, Penance, Painmonger: “I am pain” is a line Pinhead says in one of the Hellraiser movies. Seemed appropriate, given the S&M tendencies of both characters.
  • MUN077, Dangerous Liaison: I mean, I’m not the only that’s seen this movie, am I? No, I’m not talking about “Cruel Intentions.” 
  • MUN079, Ruthless Aggression: Originally titled “No Mercy”, we changed it because TBS wanted to use the name for Ultimate Battles. We didn’t end up using it, by the way. Ruthless Aggression and No Mercy were both inspired by the names of WWE pay-per-view events. What, I used to watch wrestling.
  • MUN080, Sanctioned Killers: Not really an Easter egg, both I thought I’d offer a clarification. The art cropped wrong. You can’t really tell, but Bullseye is actually stabbing two US soldiers in the brains. Cool, right?
  • MUN083, The Wrong Stuff: You’d think it’s a reference to the epic space movie “The Right Stuff”, but you’d only be half right. Actually, it’s from the homage scene in Micheal Bay’s “Armageddon” where one of the Air Force trainers says, about Bruce Willis’ ragtag crew, “Talk about the wrong stuff.” 

  • MUN099, Life Model Decoy, More Human Than Human: The version is a line from the classic Sci-Fi movie “Blade Runner.” If you remember, Blade Runner was about replicants, or androids, trying to become human.
  • MUN106, Sentinel Squad O*N*E: This was some leftover art from… not really sure which set.
  • MUN128, Company Of Heroes: The name of a video game based on WWII. Good game and it sounded cool.
  • MUN129, I’m A Futurist: I’m sure the flavor “The best is yet to come” is taken from somewhere, I just don’t know where exactly. Or, it’s just one of those phrases that entered the American lexicon years ago. Like, “bread and butter.”
  • MUN131, License To Kill: An obvious reference to James Bond and his movies.
  • MUN132, Out For Justice: Another Steven Segal reference. Man, I love that guy!
  • MUN136, Security Clearance: Leftover art from Marvel Teamup. Yip and I had the idea to introduce the S.H.I.E.L.D. affiliation through a team-up card.
  • MUN142, Doctor Faustus, Johann Fennhoff, RAID: “Look into my eye” is a line from James Cameron’s Aliens. Look it up!
  • MUN147, The Hood, Prince of Pistols: The version is yet another reference to a Steven Segal movie.
  • MUN148, Hydra Recruit, Army, HYDRA: Leftover art from Marvel Origins.
  • MUN161, The Sleeper, Doomsday Device, RAID: The version is from the movie “Dr. Strangelove”, one of my all-time favorites.

  • MUN163, Cosmic Cube: Leftover art from Heralds of Galactus.
  • MUN164, Death Warrant: Yay! A Jane-Claude Van Damme reference!
  • MUN170, Assault on Helicarrier 13: The name is a reference to the John Carpenter film, “Assault on Precinct 13.”
  • MUN177, Ninjas! Ninjas! Ninjas!: The name of the card is the definitive answer to the question, “Who’s cooler, ninjas or pirates?”
  • MUN197, Bloodsport: Another reference to a Van Damme film.

  • MUN201, Hulk Smash!: The alternate foil art for this card is indeed the “face on a card” Jason Hager piece. The flavor text is a nod to Hager’s most famous creation, Evil Medical School and all its subsequent iterations.
  • MUN206, Annihilus, Anti-Matter Master: Our little nod to the fans. We all know the Negative Zone and the Anti-Matter universe are the same place, if only we could put all the characters on the same team. Le sigh.
  • MUN215, Cosmic Control Rod: Leftover art from Heralds of Galactus. Originally, this was intended as the long-awaited Annihilus character card, but he was cut in development.
  • MUN219, Gift For Death: From one of my favorite Thanos stories, this was leftover art from Heralds of Galactus or Marvel Teamup, I can’t remember at the moment.
  • MUN239, Clandestine Operations: This one is so obscure that only two people in the world would ever get it… me and my best friend from High School, Chris. The name of the card was wholly inspired by that man. I think it was sophomore year, and one of the words of the day in English class was clandestine. The teacher asked Chris to use it in a sentence. And he did. I don’t remember the sentence, only that he paired clandestine with operations and he said it in the most awkward, plodding way possible, just to annoy our teacher. “Claaaannn-dessss-tin-opppp-arrr-aye-shunnssss.” I guess you had to be there.
  • MUN240, The Elektra Situation: The name is taken from one of the chapter titles of the film “Pulp Fiction”.

  • MUN243, Realm Of The Mind: We in R&D have a certain affection for Professor X and his massive bald dome. This card idea offered the perfect opportunity to showcase it for everyone’s enjoyment.
  • MUN246, Loki, Laufeyson: Leftover art from Marvel Teamup. He was going to appear as 7- or 8-drop legacy for the Masters of Evil.
  • MUN251, Magneto, House of M: The flavor “Go in peace before I send you I pieces” is not just a play on his text box, it’s also a paraphrased line from the classic 80’s Sci-Fi thriller “I Come In Peace” starring the Punisher. Okay, maybe “classic” is too strong a word.

  • MUN255, Torture Chamber: This was a piece of art I wrote for Heralds of Galactus. Yip deemed it as “too graphic”, so it was placed in the art bank for safekeeping.
  • MUN256, I Am Doom: Anther piece of art that was leftover from the Heralds set, originally a location and titled “Liddleville.”
  • MUN270, Cammi, Annoying Sidekick: In the flavor, Cammi is referring to the movie “E.T.”

  • MUN285, Death, The Second Force of the Universe: Her original version was “The High Cost of Living” but was quickly changed in editing. Damn, almost got that one through. Heh.
  • MUN286, Fin Fang Foom, He Whose Limbs Shatter Mountains: Leftover art from I don’t know where, just glad we had it.
  • MUN294, Alias Investigations: Leftover character art from Marvel Teamup.
  • MUN301, Code White: Leftover art from the Avengers set.
  • MUN302, Collateral Damage: Hey, it’s a reference to an Arnold movie that no one saw! Brilliant!
  • MUN305, Flattened: Hey, did you know we already made a card with this name? Check your X-Men starters! Oops.
  • MUN306, Frog Of Thunder: “All glory to the Thor-Toad” is indeed another reference to Futurama. Also, we forgot that we already used this art. Oops again.
  • MUN311, I Got ‘Em All!: As stated in TBS’ article, this was taken from a comic that referenced Vs. System which as you know references comics but is now referencing itself as seen in a comic… whoa, the post-modernity of it all is blowing my FRICKING MIND!!!

  • MUN312, Invasion Plans: “So begins the dawn of our invincibility” is a line from the G.I. Joe movie. Destro says it so it must be cool.
  • MUN314, Losing The Argument: I thought it’d be cool to include art that showed that Superman is not the only tough guy in comics that can cry.
  • MUN317, No Retreat, No Surrender: Oh, another reference to a Van Damme movie.
  • MUN321, Rogue Squadron: There’s so much going on here that I’m afraid to talk about it. Those that know, get it. Those that don’t should ask the ones who do.
  • MUN323, Sleeper Cells: Sleep Cell was a really good show on Showtime a couple of years ago.

  • MUN324, Slobberknocker: Another WWE/WCW/WWF reference. 
  • MUN327, Trouble With Dinosaurs: I really like that Hitchcock movie “The Trouble With Harry” and this was just a nod to that. The card was originally titled “The Trouble With Dinosaurs.”

That’s a pretty exhaustive list right there, but I’m sure I probably missed some. I had planned to post the original art description for the official Easter Egg of the set, the alternate art Hulk Smash!, but I can’t seem to find it. These days, I believe it may only exist on some UDE mail server or lost inside Andrew Yip’s inbox.

I hope this was an enlightening read and that it taught you something about the silliness of set design. Or, maybe you didn’t learn a thing. Depending on what kind of feedback I get on this, which is usually verbal since no one that reads these can use a keyboard apparently, I might do the same for one of the other sets I worked on, like Marvel Legends or Marvel Team Up. That could be fun.

SEE YA’ AT WORLDS!!!


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