Marvel made a big splash this past weekend with panels at Disney’s D23, but they’re also coming to Comic-Con this coming week. While they don’t have specific panels devoted to all their movies and television shows, they do have a few.
Saturday at 5:30 in Hall H is their big movie panel and there will most likely be some mention of, if not new footage for, Thor and Black Panther. Here are the trailers from a bit ago if you haven’t seen them yet, and I’m looking forward to both.
Television is another big part of the Marvel Universe. They’ve got a big presence on Netflix and that will continue with the Defenders as you can see below. Their panel will be on Friday at 5:15 in Hall H as well.
Marvel also heads back to network television as well, with the Inhumans. Their panel is Thursday in Ballroom 20 at 6:15. Here’s their trailer and I think this one looks pretty cool.
I’m not sure if I’ll be attending any of these panels but I am looking forward to new info coming from Marvel during the con.
Morning Ramble 391: An Abundance of Comics
Today I didn’t get a chance to put in any game time but I read a bunch of comics…here’s a few rambles about them…
Marvel 1963: Journey Into Mystery #88: The Vengeance of Loki
This issue seems to follow a standard pattern for Thor dealing with Loki, though it appears Loki now knows Thor’s secret identity. I understand the 60 second timing for geting his hand back on the hammer is important to the character right now, but it seems to be the turning point of each issue right now. It’s time to move away from this crutch. I rate this issue a C and hope to see some other story mechanisms in the next issue.
Marvel 1963: Strange Tales #104: The Human Torch meets Paste-Pot Pete
With the introduction of Paste-Pot Pete, I can see why this issue displays the ‘Essential’ moniker on the Complete Marvel Reading Order site, but it’s still not that great of an issue. Pete is basically a small time criminal who, using his special paste gun, tries to punch way over his ability, including trying to steal the most powerful rocket invented. Even though he encounters some small setbacks, the Human Torch handles Pete pretty easily and actually exhibits some new abilities but it doesn’t raise my rating of this issue above a C+.
DC Darkseid War: Justice League #41, #42, and #43
In my reading of DC comics, I’ve made it to the Darkseid War and keep forging ahead to get to the actual Rebirth issues. These 3 Justice League issues I read are a bit confusing for someone just starting out in the DC Universe since I’m not familiar with all the players. On the super team itself, I’m not very knowledgeable about Shazam and I only really know Cyborg from the Teen Titans cartoons. Then they throw an army of bad guys that I may have heard their names before, but I’m pretty ignorant of their abilities, loyalties, and nature. But putting all the confusion aside, I enjoyed the story.
The basic idea seems to be that Darkseid is determined to destroy the Earth because the Justice League previously thwarted his plans. But while he’s sent agents to begin the process, other forces are at work trying to stop him, and they’re not of the Earth. Apparently Darkseid’s daughter, Grail, doesn’t like him very much and she’s working with a being called the Anti-Monitor to stop her father. But they’ve got a timing problem, Darkseid is not on Earth yet, so Grail and the Anti-Monitor start kicking the crap outta the Justice League. When things look really bad, a guy named Metron shows up and teleports the team away with his device called a Mother Box. Apparently a bunch of these alien types have Mother Boxes and they allow people to bounce from place to place and provide all kinds of information. In any case, the team was saved by this guy and to repay him, they knock Metron off his super knowledgeable chair and Batman jumps on it, gaining access to all kinds of neat info – except the origin of the Anti-Monitor.
Meanwhile, Superman and his ‘best friend’ Lex Luthor find themselves transported to Apokolips, Darkseid’s world, by Lex’s sister who also shot him. The idea was to destroy Superman who, away from the sun’s radiation, would slowly lose his powers. While the minions of Darkseid begin their assault and actually bloody Superman in his weakened state, Lux grabs him and throws him into the fire pits…and Superman regains his powers but comes out a bit less of a boyscout. Now he’s looking to hurt Luthor (I knew the friendship wouldn’t last).
The whole set of issues end up with the Anti-Monitor and his buddies facing off against Darkseid and his minions in what looks like Seattle. The Justice League are there but who knows what side they’re gonna end up on and then there’s this guy Mister Miracle, a.k.a. Scot Free, who’s also trying to help out but… like I said, it’s a bit confusing but the story is enjoyable.
My rating for the 3 issues are as follow:
- #41: B+ – This one’s got a bit of mystery to it and a touch of the Terminator hunting for Sarah Connor but it really shines when showing Grail beating up on the Justice League.
- #42: B – Things start to solidify as to what’s going on since we now know all the players and see that there are at least 3 different sides to the battle.
- #43: B+ – The big battle finally gets started and Superman second guesses why he hasn’t killed Luthor before now.
Tackling Avengers Disassembled
I decided that since I’m reading through the Avengers Disassembled storyline as a personal project, I thought I’d put together a post that covers which issue and titles that covers. While I’ve read the issues from Marvel’s 1962 and a couple of other shorter events, this one is definitely the longest I’m gonna try to read so far.
From my understanding, Avengers Disassembled from 2004 is the template that Marvel has used since then for large cross-over events and it certainly seems to involve quite a few of Marvel’s characters. From what I can tell at this point, it’s got Thor, Iron Man, Captain America, Spider-Man, Ant Man, Wasp, Black Panther, Vision, Captain America, Falcon, Nick Fury, Human Torch, Mr. Fantastic, Thing, Storm, Cyclops, Invisible Girl, and I’m sure other main characters from the universe not to mention various other, non-main, heroes (for instance, it has almost everyone from Asgard).
And while heroes are only one side of the equation, there are plenty of bad guys too: the Queen, Loki, and Arsenal are the just main ones I’ve seen so far, but I’m sure there are more out there since I’m only about a quarter of the way through the story.
Wow! Ok, once I got started, I have to read to the end of Thor: Ragnarok. Issues 81 through 85 went pretty fast even with so much exposition and philosophizing. In any case, it was a wild ride and it covered so many things that make comics great.
- Huge battles – check!
- Superheroes verses supervillains – check!
- Gods fighting gods – check!
- Demons and elves, dwarves and dragons – check!
- Strange universe changing children and crazy magic – check!
- Death of beloved heroes and resurrection – check!
- Avengers and Beta Ray Bill – check!
- Self mutilation and beheading? – check!
There’s so much going on in this storyline but Michael Avon Oeming manages to keep things together and builds a coherent story that tells the end of the Asgardian world. It’ll be interesting to see how much of this story becomes part of the next Thor movie, but I am glad to have read the story beforehand.
One thing that will sadly not be part of the movie is the wonderful art. There are some truly epic scenes in this story. From the fight with Thor, Cap, and Iron Man against Ulik, Loki, and Fenris to the major battle of Surtur as he invades Asgard for the last time.
I read through so fast I’ll need to go back to see what I’d rate things as, but I enjoyed the whole story. And with this as the start of the Avengers Disassembled story line, I’m hoping the rest of the event is as good as this.
I’d definitely recommend this story heading into the next Thor movie and if you’re interested in anyway in mythology or Norse gods, this’ll be fun too. For me, not only is this enjoyable because I love reading comics, but it’s also given me some perspective on SMITE and other games that base characters after these mythical beings.
You can find Thor: Ragnarok – Issues #80-#85 on Comixology, Marvel Unlimited, or at your local comic book shop.
Today’s Morning Ramble ties together a bunch of different wolves and features the Wolf Slayer deed in Lord of the Rings Online, the god Fenrir from SMITE, and Fenris from Thor.
Fenrir kicks my ass
I suppose I don’t have a bunch to say about this guy, but Fenrir is a tough god to compete against in SMITE. He’s an assassin of course and his leaping ability – Unchained – is a real pain. He jumps quite far and can stun you when he’s fully activated his passive. He’s also got Brutalize which is another gap closer that allows him to pounce and immediately score a bunch of hits which do some significant damage. With both movement abilities, it’s hard to stay far enough away from him to avoid getting slaughtered. Some day, I’m gonna have to try him out for myself, but I usually stay clear of trying to play assassins. Needless to say, I hate to see him selected by the opposing team.
Wolves play a large role in Lord of the Rings Online just as they do in many MMOs. This morning I actually accomplished a deed after fulfilling a few quests for Dora Brownlock in Waymeet that went along with my wolf theme for today. After saving her farm and rescuing her chickens, she asked me to vanquish the wolf leader that had been sending out minions to attack he livestock. Somewhere along the way to the Wolf Den next to her farm, I killed my 30th wolf and attained the Wolf Slayer deed. Sure, it didn’t offer a bunch, but I did get some LOTRO points and a new title – Fur-cutter. But more to the point, it reminded me that there are tons of little achievements to be had in LOTRO and it’s about time I dedicate some time to moving forward with my Minstrel.
Ragnarok has Started
In this issue. we again see the monstrosity that is Fenris (or Fenrir) the Wolf. In this case, though, he’s fulfilling his destiny by taking part in Ragnarok and fighting the gods of Norse Mythology. He, Loki, Ulik, and Hyrm have Surtur forge hammers using the mold of Mjolnir and they take on Thor and his god friends.
This is a pretty epic issue starting all the way back at the beginning of the world where Odin asks the Dwarves to fashion Mjolnir and he and his brothers slay Ymir to create the universe. Apparently, the Dwarves never got rid of the hammer’s mold and as they were transporting it to the Great Void, it fell into the river Vuluspa where Loki retrieves it and sets it to his dastardly will.
I’d be lying if I said I didn’t like mythology, but recently I’ve been feeling a bit overwhelmed by Norse Mythology.
In SMITE, in Marvel Heroes Omega, on American Gods, in Marvel comics…all kinds of references to Thor or Odin or Ymir. It’s interesting to think about the old days when everything was attributable to Superbeings. Creation, fertility, thunder, pestilence, famine, rain, all were considered the realm of the gods. And you better be on their good side.
In SMITE, I’ve not played much Thor or Ymir, but I did pick up Odin and gave him a whirl. He’s got some good CC with his abilities and AOE, but his Ultimate is a challenge that demands enemies trapped to stay and fight – it definitely means a team fight is gonna happen – no running away.
In Marvel Heroes, I just tried Thor for a few levels and he’s the first hero I’ve encountered where I actually feel the cooldown delay in some of his abilities. His first AOE attack – Son of Odin calls down a lightning strike that hits everyone nearby, but it’s got a 12 second cooldown. It really feels like it’s longer. Perhaps it’s because his Hammer Strike ability is a melee skill and I don’t enjoy melee as much as ranged combat. I’ll have to give him some more levels to see how I like him.
In the Marvel Comics, I’m continuing to read through the Avengers Disassembled event and have gone through a few issues of Michael Oeming’s Thor. I’m enjoying it but there are certainly a lot of characters mentioned. It seems like they opened up the old Dieties & Demigods handbook from D&D and listed off everyone from Norse Mythology. Balfour, Loki, Vidal, Odin, Ymir, Sif, Volstagg – so many, and so many I don’t know anything about. I’m hoping this helps me understand Thor better afterwards, but I almost feel like I’m back in school having all these mythological names thrown at me.
The most interesting version of the Norse gods may be on American Gods where the whole idea is that if people keep the idea and thoughts of the old gods alive in the present day, then they continue to exist. Thinking of that, perhaps all these references to mythology are a means to do just that – keep these gods alive even in a world ruled by science and technology.
Three Takes on Human History
What does a book about giant robots, a archaeological dig in Morocco, and an issue of Marvel’s Thor all have in common? They’re all part of my Morning Ramble today. Actually, they all touch on human origins – from the scientific, to the mythological, to extraterrestrial intelligence. Regardless of of your beliefs in gods, science, or aliens, looking for the origin of man is always a hot topic and one I happened to stumble upon this morning through my reading.
After finishing with the Superman story arc yesterday, I decided it was time to take another look at Marvel so I went on over to Comic Book Herald’s My Marvelous Year to see where they were at. They’re currently running through 2005 this month, but there is a huge message saying that 2004 is a really good jumping on point for current Marvel. Well, I’m sure for some 2004 is current, but I figured it’ll good to read some stuff closer to this time frame (I’m already reading through 1963 Marvel), kinda like I’m doing with DC. This lead me to Avengers Disassembled and the first issue in that story is Thor #80 (actually more on that in another post).
Thor #80 begins with a prologue featuring the birth of the universe. Odin and his brothers put the beat down on Ymir (the big oaf who always freezes people in SMITE) and they created heaven and Earth from his body. Needing a great weapon to destroy their enemies, Odin charged the Dwarf Gitri with forging the hammer Mjolnir. In making the hammer, the mold was created in the forge of the cosmos and in doing so, worlds were shattered, the dinosaurs were destroyed and conditions were set for the rise of man.
While there is not date indicated for this prologue, it happens a long time before the current day, with the main highlight (at least for this post) being that the forging of Mjolnir made the human race possible.
Flash forward to the present (and the real world) and I read an issue of New Scientist, a magazine I love since it gives little snippets of interesting science on a weekly basis so I can feel like I know what’s going on (not like the news covers anything other than political crap these days). This issue contains an article about fossils found in Morocco. This is, of course, nothing new, but the jaw bones they found appear to date back to 350,000 years ago. And they’re Homo sapiens – yeah us!
Apparently prior to this discovery, the oldest bones were found in East Africa dating back to 200,000 years ago but some think South Africa may have some 260,000 year old fossils that fit the bill. In any case, these 350k year old bones appear to be the earliest now known humans.
With Mythology and Science outta the way, I take a look at Science Fiction and Sleeping Giants by Sylvain Neuvel. In this book, a bunch of parts for a giant robot are found around the world and it is deduced that some alien race planted them thousands of years ago. The idea is that a superior race put these robot parts deep underground to be discovered when human technology reached a certain point in its evolution. Well, with the advent of nuclear reactions, humanity has reached the point where these robot parts start rising outta the ground and the race is on to piece them together to form Voltron. The story is really good and I’ll dive into it another time, but I just thought it was so interesting that an alien type origin or at least alien interference in human development was hinted at when I ran into the other 2 stories.
Such a coincidence that within the past couple of days (I actually finished reading Sleeping Giants 2 days ago) I’m exposed to 3 different takes on human origin. Gods, Science, and Aliens – 3 tales about the rise of mankind. I’m sure there may be more, and someday we might actually know the real story, but I find all the ways people try to understand their origin interesting.
I was saddened to hear this morning that James Bond passed away. Well, not James Bond per se, but the one I basically grew up with, Roger Moore. Sure, I’ve seen all the various incarnations of Ian Fleming’s superspy, Connery, Moore, Dalton, Brosnan, and Craig, but Roger Moore was around when I first recall going to the theater to see him. The Spy Who Loved Me, The Man with the Golden Gun, and Moonraker were some of my favorite action movies growing up. I would always imagine myself as the great spy beating up Jaws, portrayed by Richard Kiel who also died a few years back, and then getting the super sexy girl. Ok, so James Bond is not the most PC movie series around, but it was based on novels where the bad guys could never shoot our hero and the women always wanted to be with him. There was a different zeitgeist back then and regardless, they are some fun action films. In any case, I am saddened to hear that Roger Moore has passed – he made some decent film and TV that many enjoyed for years.
Journey into Mystery
Jumping back to about the time when Bond first reached the big screen, I’m almost up to the end of 1962 in my Marvel reading. Journey into Mystery #87 is another Thor story where he faces off against the Reds. Yes, Commies are back to kidnap American scientists to help those behind the Iron Curtain in their world domination plans. To stop them, Dr. Blake sets himself up to be taken so he can turn into Thor once behind the enemy lines.
Call it wishful thinking, but the Commies think Thor might be on their side because he uses a hammer…think again as he uses it to cause havoc and free the Western scientists.
The story is short and to the point…Commies=bad, scientists=good, Don’t mess with Thor. I rate this one a C+. The art is pretty good but the story seems like another rehash of the common anti-Red theme in these early Marvel issues.
I kinda hung out around the Solomon County Sheriff’s Department today as I started working on the various story quests in the area. This is basically the one main safe zone in Kingsmouth that I’ve encountered so far. And it’s a fairly central location to come back to in the early game. With this character, I’ve decided to focus on a Blade and Blood build with lots of attention to sustainability. I really want to make sure I can survive as I dig through the creepy world and hunt down the Filth. So far, it’s been working, but I haven’t really faced too much yet. One thing I’ve heard about Secret World Legends is that they are looking to redo the combat system that I am working on getting used to. From what I’ve heard, they’re looking to make things less tab targeted and more reticule targeted. I’m not sure how this will work since it seems so many of the fights I’ve been in during the early game are swarming type attacks – I’m basically fighting off 3–5 zombies. If I have to focus on turning around and getting each one I want to hit in my reticule, I could see that as being a bit more difficult than just tabbing among them. We’ll see how they implement things, and in actuality, I’ve enjoyed both combat styles in other games so I can see it working in SWL once I get used to the change.
Argh! I am frustrated! I played 3 different game modes and won a game in each mode – Arena, Conquest, Clash – and I expected to get an Enigma Chest.
Hunters, Scientists, and Angels…oh my! Today I spend my ramble looking at expanding my roster of gods I know a little about in SMITE, I realize that Journey into Mystery seems to basically be a Thor vehicle so far, and I watch the Angels drop their first game after winning 4 in a row.
Expanding my God Roster
I’ve started to “branch out” in my god selection. Actually, someone instalocked both Neith and Ra in a recent game and I didn’t see Jing Wei as available. I suppose Jing Wei was part of last week’s free rotation and she fell off this week. Instead, I gave Xbalanque a try. His tag line is the “Hidden Jungle Sun” and he’s in the Mayan pantheon. According to his description, he’s good at high single target damage and medium area damage so I thought that might be good to try out. It also said he was of “Average” difficulty. Since Neith was “Easy” difficulty and Ra was “Average”, I figured I had a shot to figure out what I needed to do to play Xbalanque after a few games.
Here is the overview of his abilities:
Looking at things outside the game, I didn’t realize his passive grants him a permanent physical power increase for each enemy god he kills. That can add up to 30 power points which is pretty good as a free bonus. Thus far, I haven’t been attending to that but going forward, I’m gonna put more focus on trying to ensure I get a kill of each of the opposing gods, and while he’s considered a Hunter, I get the sense that he should be played a bit more as an Assassin based on this power scaling with each kill.
His Branching Bola skill gives him a decent damage boost, but in use, I found that just leaving it toggled on doesn’t work too well – it eats up mana too quickly and left me unable to utilize my other abilities when they came off cooldown. I think this’ll be good for wave clear or for clearing jungle camps, but for normal engagements, I might start turning this off.
The Poison Darts are pretty cool and are really useful when chasing down an enemy god. The slow they provide is over quick, but it allows you to fire off a few extra bolas and stay within range for a lot longer. The poison also scored me a kill after I was dead.
The Rising Jaguar ability is, in my view, his best ability. This dash and dart throw does some good damage, can be used as an escape, and can really hurt people that were poisoned with previous darts. I only wish the cooldown was reduced with each level. The 16 second CD seems to take forever and certainly this is only useful once in an engagement.
His Ultimate, Darkest of Nights is interesting. It reduces enemy vision for 3 seconds and after the darkness expires, anyone who is moving gets stunned. That last part was the death of me many times when playing against Xbalanque as I didn’t realize I should stop moving at the end of the darkness. In any case, along with the darkness, his speed and range are increased so it’s easier to keep people in range when chasing them once this is activated. There’s no damage that I can tell, but it sets up his other abilities.
From what I can tell, Xbalanque seems to work well as a jungler as well as a laner. Sure, I really need to learn more about the meta and how each role is typically filled, but as a noob, I’ve played him in a solo and a duo lane – I haven’t tried a jungle role yet – actually, I haven’t called any role so far and need to learn more about what I’m doing to get better. And when I say he’d work well, that’s my opinion since I don’t use him well at all yet.
I can also see that he’s good for the surprise “from behind” attack that seems to be pretty popular in SMITE. I’ve noticed that since there are many more jungle entry points in this game compared to League, there’s a lot of ganks that seem to come from behind. This can be very frustrating for a noob like myself, but I did figure out which item acts as a ward…now I just need to figure out where to place them optimally.
In the Arena game mode, I found Xbalanque works pretty good with hit and run tactics. He’s way too squishy for any long term engagement and if there are 2 or more enemy gods nearby, it’s usually good to Ult or just run away. For the most part, I’ve been running in, using my Rising Jaguar and Poison Darts and trying to run away. It works pretty well and once I figure out who to target I’m able to grab a few kills to help my team.
On the whole, I’m enjoying his gameplay and may look into picking him up when he goes off rotation, but then there are other gods to try out.
Can’t Stage a Comeback Every Night
A 425 foot home run by Mike Trout was not enough to carry the Angels to their 5th win in a row as they fell to the Rangers 8–3. Too bad, but you can’t win ’em all but with how the team’s been playing, I’ve been making sure to watch the entire game just in case.
One thing that’d be nice would be some pitching from the team’s starters. I’m not sure, but it sure seems that the bullpen has been working real hard in these first 2 weeks and the starters aren’t getting even close to complete games. I’d settle for a quality start (6+ IP and 3 ER) or two right now, but they’re struggling. Hopefully their “Ace” Nolasco will put in a good game today against Yu Darvish, it should be fun to watch none-the-less.
Journey into Mystery #86
Having read a few of these Journey into Mystery issues, it seems this is the place where Thor stories are told – I wonder how long until the title is actually updated to reflect that fact. In any case, this issue deals with time travel and an evil scientist…
Why is it always the scientists who turn evil and want to destroy/take over/subjugate mankind? You never hear about the janitor or chef who wants to be dictator over the human race…always the scientist. Anyway, a scientist, Zarrko, from the 23rd century decides he wants to rule the world so he heads back to 1962 to steal a cobalt bomb – there are no weapons in the 23rd century so whoever has a bomb should be able to be dictator. Unfortunate for him, Thor is standing next to the bomb he steals – apparently the military wants to see how Thor will react to a nuke, like they don’t already have a Hulk to deal with.
As Zarrko grabs the bomb and heads back to 2262, Thor follows and a fight ensues. Defeating magnetic mirrors, delta electron guns and robots, Thor uses his hammer, mighty breath, and a decoy he befriended in the future to chase down the evil scientist and grab the bomb before Zarrko can detonate it. Thor then returns the bomb to 1962 and all is well.
I’m enjoying the Thor stories much more than what I’ve seen of the Hulk so far and I’d say this issue is the best I’ve read since the last Journey into Mystery issue. While Zarrko isn’t as well developed as Loki was in the last issue, he is fleshed out and seems to be a bit more prepared to deal with a superhero than many of the other villains I’ve encountered in the early Marvel issues. The only problem is that Thor is not just any superhero, he’s a god.
Definitely a fun issue and I’m happy to be reading these Journey into Mystery titles so far – hopefully they’ll continue to be good. I rate this issue a B since there is room for improvement but it’s a good issue, well draw and a decent story.