• September 2021
    S M T W T F S
     1234
    567891011
    12131415161718
    19202122232425
    2627282930  
  • On Facebook

  • Archives

  • Categories

  • Comic Blog Elite

    Comic Blogs - BlogCatalog Blog Directory

The ’90s Revisited – Magic: The Gathering – The Shadow Mage #3

[I’d ‘revisited’ this series as a whole back in August/September 2012 for a group blog that doesn’t exist anymore. And due to a personal issue with Boom Studios’ comics I refuse to buy their new Magic series. So, instead of buying THOSE new comics, and to have my content covering this series fully on my own blog (so as to not disappear when an external blog shuts down), I’m revisiting–as single issues–the ORIGINAL Magic: The Gathering comics published by Acclaim through their Armada imprint back in 1995!]


The ’90s Revisited – Magic: The Gathering

The Shadow Mage #1  |  The Shadow Mage #2  |  The Shadow Mage #3  |  The Shadow Mage #4


magicthegathering_theshadowmage_003War Child

Writer: Jeff Gomez
Penciller: Val Mayerik
Inker: Rick Bryant
Printed Color: Mark Csaszar
Letterer: Bethanne Niedz
Editor-in-Chief: Bob Layton
Cover Painting: Val Mayerik
Cover Date: September 1995
Cover Price: $2.50

After an unplanned three-month hiatus (hey, just like real comics!), I’m back to cover the THIRD issue of this mini-series. And rather than having covered the entire mini while the new Boom series was still on #1…I’m now "in line" with their series, covering the third issue of this classic Armada series while Boom‘s is around #3 or #4..

Perhaps it’s because I’ve had this issue sitting around for a few weeks waiting for me to write up this post, but the cover feels fairly "iconic" to me at this point…though I believe I’d mentioned in my post about #2 that I didn’t even remember the cover and figured it was forgettable. We see Jared in a strange pose somewhat holding up Ezer–or catching him as he falls (but in that case, Jared’s arm should be under his mentor at the man’s back, not around his chest!). Jared looks rather wild and desperate…which is appropriate if he’s facing an enemy more menacing than the Juggernaut carting up behind him!

Getting into the issue itself…we begin with an attack on Arathoxia. Juggernauts break down the city’s gates, before we shift to the Lady Verdenth speaking at Ravidel as the citizenry react to the attack…including Yorgo and his gang, who take up arms to defend "his" city. We shift to the watchtower of Tobias Kavrel, Lord of Stonehaven’s eastern plains, where the lord and his minions come under attack from a Demonic Horde…though they wish to leave the lowly paupers to their fate, Ravidel’s forces aren’t discriminating. Ravidel bids his minions have fun (think Shredder sending Tokka and Rahzar out in TMNT II)…and the scene shifts again. We find Yorgo and crew dealing with Drudge Skeletons before Jared arrives and aids them with a Disintegrate spell. (Amazing in a way that I remember/recognize these). Back in the Sultan’s palace, we learn that he wishes to have the "shadow mage" found, which will give Ravidel what he seeks. Chaos and death continue throughout the city. In House Carthalion, the man who almost caught Jared in the previous issue is found dying. He mistakes Jared for Liana; and while Yorgo and his crew cannot locate "the old woman" Jared bids them find, the man confesses to having part in the murder of the Lady Carthalion (Gwendolyn)…and "releases" Liana. From what, it isn’t immediately apparent. Jared, Yorgo, and crew continue to (try to) help others flee the carnage, while the Lady Verdenth unleashes powerful magic at Ravidel. As that battle (or "duel") continues, Liana retrieves Jared and Ezer, and Ravidel emerges victorious against Verdenth. As Jared prepares to challenge Ravidel himself, Liana intervenes…it’s not yet time. And Jared vows that he will have vengeance against Ravidel.

I’m a bit mixed on the art this time through. On the one hand, it’s not bad in itself, and some of the spells are certainly recognizable if one’s familiar with pre-Weatherlight Magic: the Gathering card art. Other than that it’s mostly "generic fantasy-ish" art…not horrible, but not wonderful. I appreciate the recognizability of characters and spells…but if I didn’t recall the cards and art from way back when, it’d be that much more generic overall. The "planar barge"–that is, the corpse of the Elder Dragon Chromium/Rhuell–is impressive and fairly striking throughout. That Ravidel addresses the corpse as if alive–and it blasts stuff with bolts from its mouth–is interesting, considering it IS, at this point, a corpse, though not obviously a zombie creature or such!

Story-wise, this is also fairly generic in its own way…and yet, we have some progression of stuff. We learn that it was the Lady Verdenth who used her Green magic to save baby Jared while he and Ezer slept in the woods before getting to ‘Thoxia. We also see more "political intrigue" and bickering with the various Houses of the city. And we see Jared’s helplessness and fury at Ravidel amidst allies helping guide him.

As "next issues" go, this one is ok, though not what I’d call "great" or anything. I’m willing to hold it in higher esteem primarily for nostalgia, as this came out in a similar time to the HarperPrism novels, and the whole of Magic: The Gathering lore was still in flux without the directed timeline it enjoys today in 2021. This continues to be a story built around card references…rather than being the story of the cards, or the story on which cards seem based themselves. Re-reading this and poring through to write this post, I re-realize how dense this is…and if my summary above seems to have gaps, I’m trying not to re-write the issue itself as I’d almost need to, with how much is crammed in. Between taking time to "cross-reference" and pick out character names and locations as well as looking at the art based on cards and the sheer density, there’s a lot more time to spend in the issue itself than most modern comics that weigh it at twice or more this issue’s $2.50 cover price…so there’s present-day "value" there, if one already owns and simply reads the issue, or acquires it for the price or less of a modern comic.

To be 3 issues in on this series with a mere single issue remaining…even by pre-2000s standards, it would seem hard to see how this could wrap up with a satisfying ending. While I don’t recall the ending…I do recall that this series was followed up by a 5-issue mini-series…which leaves me assuming that this series did not actually wrap things up in a satisfying way.

Finally…this issue originally came with a sheet of tiny punch-out creature tokens. At one point back in 1995, I had a small container that I kept them in, and actually used them playing some games of Magic. It’s possible I still have that around somewhere, though actually finding them anytime soon/specifically likely would not happen. I’m pretty sure I’d snagged a couple copies of this issue from a bargain bin in the last several years specifically for the tokens, as a novelty-bonus. (Same as I sometimes snag other ’90s comics from bargain bins solely for the polybagged-in bonus item/ephemera).

I’m eager to get to the next issue…as well as to get to more "canon lore"–or at least mid-’90s versions of such–in the Ice Age and other Magic: The Gathering issues.

magicthegathering_theshadowmage_003_blogtrailer

The ’90s Revisited – Magic: The Gathering – The Shadow Mage #2

[I’d ‘revisited’ this series as a whole back in August/September 2012 for a group blog that doesn’t exist anymore. And due to a personal issue with Boom Studios’ comics I refuse to buy their new Magic series. So, instead of buying THOSE new comics, and to have my content covering this series fully on my own blog (so as to not disappear when an external blog shuts down), I’m revisiting–as single issues–the ORIGINAL Magic: The Gathering comics published by Acclaim through their Armada imprint back in 1995!]

magicthegathering_theshadowmage_002Desolate Angel

Writer: Jeff Gomez
Pencils: Val Mayerik
Ink: James Pascoe
Painted Color: Mark Csaszar
Letters: Adam Niedzwiecki
Editor-In-Chief: Bob Layton
Cover Painting: Val Mayerik
Cover Date: August 1995
Cover Price: $2.50

Well, one thing to notice straight away is that you really need to pay clooooose attention to years to know what sort of time has passed! The first issue opened on "Autumn of 1265, by the reckoning of the Sages of Minorad." That issue referenced time in relation to that–a week later, a month later, seven years later. This issue opens in "late Summer, 1280 by the reckoning of the Sages of Minorad." So it’s been nearly 15 years since the events that opened the first issue…and doing the math, we’re opening some 7-8 years after the previous issue ended! So quiiiiite a gap, there.

The young Jared Carthalion is now 14ish, having spent the last 3/4ths of a decade training to take on Ravidel. However, while Ravidel knows where and how to find Jared, knows that Jared’s got access to magic, and even declared that their final duel had begun…he apparently decided to kick back and leave Jared alone for awhile, rather than finishing his would-be opponent while he could.

So we get some verbal exposition–as Jared is pained using his magic, Ezer has had him attempt to train physically so he can put up SOME sort of fight, if not magically. A giant spider is summoned to them and attacks–Ezer immediately recognizes it as "a minion of Ravidel" because of course. This is the last straw, and NOW Jared determines to fight back, and summons a Hurloon Minotaur. In the midst of the giant spider attack, the Minotaur and Jared discuss what’s happening, share introductions (the minotaur’s name is Sings Two Ways, and he and his people were granted a boon by the elder Carthalion that they cannot repay, and thus Sings Two Ways gladly fights in defense of Jared and Ezer). Jared sees the spider apparently winning and steps in and the two slay the creature.

The spider defeated, Sings Two Ways laments he must leave…he’s been poisoned and will die unless Jared returns him to his people. Their home destroyed, Jared and Ezer are now homeless in the rain in the streets of Arathoxia. Jared spots a beautiful young woman and laments his raggedness by comparison. Before long, he and Ezer are in a hospice, the older man dying, and Jared determined to seek out some way to save him. Leaving the hospice, he’s set upon by Yorgo and his gang, and Jared summons some goblins, but is then horrified when they nearly kill the boys and laments, wondering if butchering others is what his power can do. We get a page of Arathoxian politics re: Ravidel, and then find Jared speaking with the Vizier’s wife in House Carthalion, where he has ventured for help. She references "the battle of Aster Fall" (which contextualizes the previous issue a bit) and shows him a Black Lotus, but they’re interrupted by the vizier’s return so she gives him an Alabaster Potion and sends him off. Jared steals the Black Lotus, recognizing its power, but while he tries to figure out how to use it, is greeted by that beautiful young woman–who invites Jared to Beggartown that evening.

After giving some of the potion to Ezer, Jared meets her there, where we find a whole community of thieves/beggars, including Yorgo’s group…and they’re none to happy that Liana has brought Jared into their space. But Jared offers some of the remaining potion to one of the boys hurt by the goblins earlier, though it earns him no thanks. The city’s guards descend on the group from nowhere, and Liana stops Jared from using his magic as that would bring the wrong sort of attention. As the crowd flees…Jared and Liana are suddenly confronted by none other than Ravidel himself! Jared lashes out immediately, but the more experienced planeswalker casts a spell and defeats Jared. Liana steps in–apparently she and Ravidel have some history–and drives the planeswalker off after revealing she has multiple moxes and referencing "The Treaty of the Shard." Ravidel claims a proper duel now would run counter to his plans, so leaves. Hours later, Jared and Liana pose for the page, as we see she’s second-guessed what she was going to tell Jared, as the boy realizes he’ll have to go it alone.

Well…that’s a loooong summary, and I’m sure I really glossed over some key details! There’s enough going on here to fill 3-4 issues in terms of modern comics’ pacing and such. This is a really dense story…and one that relies on the reader to have picked up on and remembered a number of subtle details! The reader also gets to fill in a lot of blanks, between the 7-year-gap between issues to imagining the details of Sings Two Ways’ relationship to Jared’s father, to the nature of House Carthalion. There’s also the curiosity of Ravidel allowing so much time to pass without expending much effort to personally confront Jared until he’s begun finding apparently-powerful allies, such as Liana! While I have some meta-textual knowledge of "The Shard," I’ll leave that to discuss more as it comes up in other Armada Magic issues, since I’m going issue-by-issue through one series at a time here.

The story continues to hold more potential than what it executes…it’s not bad, but feels too dense, too "compressed" for me after 20 years of "decompressed" storytelling in comics, and more years removed from the depths of Magic: the Gathering knowledge. Back in 1996, I was fresh into the game and fairly steeped in knowledge of the various cards and bits of lore. Taking stuff month by month, where the game had only even existed for a little under two years, it was a whole different thing back then than now, some 25 years later reading this from a muuuuch different vantage point!

The art is good, and I feel like I liked it better in this issue than the previous, though it’s the same art team! Perhaps because–while dense story-wise–this issue didn’t have to cover 7+ years, so there was more of a sense of consistency…and I’m beginning to get a better sense of characters, now that things have settled a bit, and been able to build a bit on what’s come before, which I suppose allows me to appreciate the art more, not being as overwhelmed with "everything."

This definitely looks like a fantasy comic, and continues to remind me a bit of Barry Windsor-Smith‘s art for some reason.

I was also interested to note ads in the issue…particularly for the Chronicles set. This was the set, after all, that released in August or so 1995, offering white-border "unlimited" editions of previously-limited black-border cards from the Arabian Nights, Antiquities, Legends, and The Dark expansion sets…and which led to Wizards of the Coast establishing their "Restricted List" that persists to this day.

We have the addition of Liana–apparently a planeswalker herself–to the story, and it seems obvious something bigger is afoot. There’s the general knowledge displayed by House Carthalion of the battle of Aster Fall; their possession of a Black Lotus; and Liana having history with Ravidel. At the second issue here, that suggests "the world" of Magic is about to get a whole lot bigger than Jared’s little corner of things.

As mentioned in covering the previous issue…this story is one built around the cards…rather than the cards being built around the story. The issue–as with the first (though I didn’t get into it)–has a bit of "backmatter" with words from the editor to the reader, as well as a mini-column "Seer Analysis" by Shawn F. Carnes where Carnes looks at the issue from the point of view of Magic: The Gathering the game, pointing out details such as a Hurloon Minotaur being a 2/3 creature, while a Giant Spider is 2/4, and so while the two creatures would indeed damage each other, neither would one-shot-kill the other.

Also like the first issue, this issue’s cover announces the inclusion of a genuine Magic: The Gathering card. UNlike the previous issue, though…this one has the card in a clear plastic insert/wrapper stapled into the issue itself, rather than being loose in a polybag. This certainly allows a better situation wherein one can READ the issue itself and choose whether or not to remove the card! It may be a crapshoot if you find this issue "in the wild" on whether it includes the card or not, but it’s more likely, perhaps, than if you find #1 in the wild. [Edit to add: the card this issue comes with is a 4th Edition Blue Elemental Blast]

I also have a certain amount of personal sentimentality to this issue, as I recall a visit to my grandmother and having this comic with me, as I associate this cover with that visit; it also puts me in mind of an aunt, who had tried to show interest in my comics for my sake. I know I had consciously recalled bits of the first issue, as well as this issue from its cover (and it’s great that the cover shows something from the issue itself–a Hurloon Minotaur vs. Giant Spider!). I don’t have the same conscious recollection of the covers, even, of the 3rd and 4th issue of this series, nor even the story or how things turn out…even consciously recalling having re-read this series a few years ago!

Two issues down, and we’re halfway through this entire mini-series…

magicthegathering_theshadowmage_002_blogtrailer

The ’90s Revisited – Magic: The Gathering – The Shadow Mage #1

[I’d ‘revisited’ this series as a whole back in August/September 2012 for a group blog that doesn’t exist anymore. And due to a personal issue with Boom Studios‘ comics I refuse to buy the new MAGIC #1. So, instead of buying new comics, and to have the content fully on my own blog to not disappear, I’m going to re-revisit–as single issues–the ORIGINAL Magic: The Gathering comics published by Acclaim through their Armada imprint back in 1995!]

magicthegathering_theshadowmage_001The Aster Fall

Writer: Jeff Gomez
Pencils: Val Mayerik
Ink: James Pascoe
Painted Color: Mark Csaszar
Letters: Bethanne Niedz
Editor-In-Chief: Bob Layton
Cover Painting: Val Mayerik
Cover Date: July 1995
Cover Price: $2.50

To the best of my understanding, this is THE first Magic: The Gathering comic. Though its story may not chronologically be the first, it was the first-published, kicking off the Armada imprint from Acclaim, and introducing the (comics) world to MTG in the spring of 1995. The game itself had premiered in October 1993, some 18 months earlier…and with its setting as a “multiverse,” it was certainly a ripe thing to bring to comics!

The issue opens on an active battlefield. We meet Lord Carthalion, Ezer, and a Lieutenant as they witness a falling star–a bad omen. A magic-powered ship bursts onto the scene, carrying Battlemage Ravidel…the enemy of this Lord Carthalion. The two engage into a “duel” and exchange spells to weaken and harm the other…culminating in Carthalion sacrificing himself to buy time for Ezer to flee with baby Jared…last heir to the Carthalion name. In the aftermath of the battle, Ezer has been artificially aged to a wasted old man, though the baby is relatively unaffected. As Ezer laments their situation–drinking himself into a stupor–we see the baby apparently work some protective magic to save his own life against the intrusion of a (dire?) wolf. Later, city guards at Arathoxia do not believe that this frail old man is in any way who he claims to be, nor the child with him…functionally banishing them from what should have been a life of relative luxury (despite their losses) to that of lowly street-rats, scrounging for food and living off the scraps of the city.

7 years pass, and the young Jared Carthalion is an able thief, stealing food for himself and father-figure Ezer to survive (barely) on. He is bullied by others his age and in no way “included,” existing all but alone. Even after the years that have passed, Ezer tries to keep alive the flame of who Jared really is, where he’s come from, though the boy can’t even envision anything ever getting better…which enrages the old man, who strikes the boy. Meanwhile, using a scrying device, Ravidel spies on the boy and his guardian, and opts to arbitrarily send a summoned minion to kill the boy. When the berzerker bursts in on the pair, Ezer works some magic…as does Jared! The boy has “tapped!” This excites Ezer–the boy WILL be able to avenge his house! However, Ravidel revels in this as well, declaring that their FINAL duel begins.

The last time I read this series, I blew through all four issues pretty quickly, glossing over details and simply taking it in as a totally generic fantasy story with too-fast pacing, lack of characterization, and largely being Magic in little more than name-only. This time through, sticking to this single issue and looking back over stuff and taking it in as a singular thing, I enjoyed it a bit more.

Story-wise, this IS a fairly generic thing. There’s hardly room in ~21 pages to worldbuild when the entire issue encompasses a massive battle, travel, and spans more than seven years.

We’re introduced to Lord Carthalion–the patriarch/leader of the Carthalions. He seems to have some magical ability…but is a mere mortal, compared to the power of a PLANESWALKER in Ravidel. We never get a rason for this battle, for Ravidel’s assault. He’s a two-dimensional villain for the sake of being a villain, apparently. An opponent because their MUST BE “an opponent.” We also get no real sense of what a “planeswalker” is, or WHY a “planeswalker” is and so on. Meta-textually, the reader probbbbbbably knows what one is–the allure of a Magic: The Gathering comic is almost certainly to expand on the cards and game one already knows.

Now in 2021, I’m looking back on this comic from 25 years later, as a person 25 years older, and with 25 years and a number of additional comics as well as dozens of novels and quite a few short stories, and “newer resources” such as Wikipedia and a Magic: The Gathering -specific fan-wiki, and podcast resources/interviews with creators, and generally a heckuva larger understanding than 14/15-year-old Walt had. And I can “appreciate” this issue as the first bit of a much larger thing, rather than something to be taken in total isolation.

The art doesn’t overly impress me–though it’s not bad, really. It’s absolutely better than anything I could produce, but none of these characters are REALLY all that singularly-recognizable and are far from “iconic” visages. The overall visuals certainly evoke a certain mid-90s feel…perhaps due to thinking of the artist recently as I read this issue, I see hints of Barry Windsor-Smith, and overall early Valiant here…though it’s obviously other creators.

While the visuals try to evoke very specific cards and their in-game use; and a column in the back of the issue elaborates on very specific Magic: The Gathering cards represented in the action–I’m far enough removed from early MTG and these cards and any such knowledge I was steeped in as a kid reading this, so it reduces the cards’ representations to generic fantasy-ish magic effects and some random-ish action that meant little to me in the reading.

The cover gives us Lord Carthalion in full strength wielding a sword in one hand, casting a fireball (presumably) from the other; while we also get a representation of the baby facing a looming wolf in a wooded space. This is relevant to the issue–Carthalion’s duel, and Jared’s fate…so it’s not just some arbitrary, random, unfocused magic-user. This is a singular cover; to this day, I am only aware of–get this: ONE SINGLE COVER for this issue. My copy has “Direct Sales” in the barcode…hence this came from the “direct market” or “comic shops.” There may be “newsstand sales” for the issue–copies that sold through newsstands or non-comic shop locations (Bookstores like Waldenbooks or B. Dalton, or found at a grocery store or such). But the difference would be the barcode itself…NOT a different cover image!

The issue originally came polybagged with a 4th edition Fireball card–an actual, playable card from Magic: The Gathering . This was from right as Revised Edition was fading away and 4th Edition was ramping up…I don’t recall for certain but I believe this FIreball may have been the first 4th edition (or 4th edition-STYLE) card I owned for the game. Unlike many such comics at the time, despite the polybag, there’s a banner across the top of the cover itself proclaiming the inclusion of the “free” card. So minus the bag and card itself…the banner remains.

The card was not a unique card “exclusive” to the comic or anything; it wasn’t some limited edition or variant or whatnot. It was just…a card. For the game. Playable. A little piece of the game included with a comic based on the game. What a far cry from more recent Magic comics with alternate-art cards shrink-wrapped with an issue and prompting an extra-sized cover price for the inclusion of a sheet of cardboard, the card itself, and shrink-wrapping in addition to the other regular costs of producing a comic (referencing the IDW-published Magic comics from 2012 or so).

This first issue of The Shadow Mage kicks off a story set in the “world” of Magic…but it’s a case of the story referencing the cards, rather than the cards referencing a story. I’d put it as well that this is from when the entirety of Magic: The Gathering was a more vague “idea” than concrete story, and what would eventually develop was still BEING developed.

There’s not really much of anything to this issue to make it a destination-read or something to seek out…unless one specifically wants to go back to the beginning of Magic’s appearance in comics. Or snag the first appearance of Jared Carthalion, Battlemage Ravidel, the first Elder Dragon represented in a comic (Chromium Rhuell’s corpse being part of the planar barge), and so on.

That said…it’s actually not a bad read–and I certainly enjoyed it much more than I did Gerrard’s Quest #1 that I read last year!

After an apparently-failed launch of “modern” Magic comics a couple years ago by IDW, Boom Studios got the license and has just launched a new series, titled simply Magic (dropping the “: The Gathering” part) and I haven’t a clue where they’re gonna take the story. After a brief 2-book return to the world of printed novels, Wizards of the Coast went right back to digital-only to tell the story of card sets, so this new Boom series is a different return to print…and some “hype” I’ve seen suggests they’re hoping for a Mighty Morphin Power Rangers level resurgence of the property in comics. However…it’s that comparison that seems to have sparked hype on THIS original series with some crazy activity on The Shadow Mage #1 in graded condition and such with speculators apparently flocking to it in hopes that something from that issue pops up and becomes The Next Big Thing in modern Magic comics.

Me?

I’m gonna sit back and enjoy re-reading original 1990s’ Magic: The Gathering comics, and appreciate the lack of overhype, lack of variants, and (relative) lack of pure, greedy speculation.

magicthegathering_theshadowmage_001_blogtrailer

The ‘90s Revisited: Magic the Gathering: Gerrard’s Quest #1

90s_revisited

magic_the_gathering_gerrards_quest_001Gerrard’s Quest Part 1: Initiation

Written by: Mike Grell
Pencils by: Pop Mhan
Inks by: Norman Lee
Letters by: Michael Taylor
Colors by: Dave Stewart
Separations by: Lisa Stamp, Stu Hiner, Brian Gregory, Harold MacKinnon
Cover by: Mark Harrison
Editors: Peet Janes and Ian Stude
Cover Date: March 1998
Cover Price: $2.95
Published by: Dark Horse Comics

I’ve been “aware of” this series for over 20 years. The original MTG comics were published by Acclaim, under their Armada imprint. Those lasted a couple years with a number of mini-series and specials. This, too, is a mini-series…but by late-1997/early-1998, the license had moved to Dark Horse. Also by this point there was a move toward a unified “whole” in the MTG continuity/story, rather than everything being a mash up of fantasy tropes and generic fantasy-style stories.

Here we begin “Gerrard’s Quest.” Despite that being the story title (even in the indicia!) it is NOWHERE on the cover of the issue. While the “issue’s chapter” IS “Initiation” that is what’s on the cover…where usually it would be interior-only, or in addition to the series’ subtitle. This is solely billed (cover-wise) as Magic the Gathering #1 of 4. Nothing to indicate anything came before…nothing to indicate (now long after the fact) that this is the first chapter of Gerrard’s Quest (as the long-outta-print collected volume is titled and the story referred to in general).

Without even looking back, I’m quite sure that even the Armada books had subtitles on the covers and/or the subtitle logos of whatever set the issue(s) contained stories for. So that’s a huge dislike of this to me from the start. Having only the MTG logo and the title “Initiation” at the bottom of the cover, it suggests to me that the issue is ABOUT some initiation. Into what, though? Is it the reader being initiated into the “I-read-Magic-the-Gathering-comics” portion of the comics audience? Is it about someone joining some group of planeswalkers banding together to save the multiverse? By the cover alone, the ONLY thing really of interest to me would be the MTG logo. The rest of the cover just looks like some generic fantasy-ish thing and even knowing the broad strokes (having read loads of the novels and re-read a bunch of the novels in the last 17 months or so) I’m not immediately sure who any of the characters/entities on the cover are supposed to be, outside of Gerrard.

The story in the issue is choppy and all over the place. It’s rather loose, and really seems little more than hitting bullet points. I’d have to practically re-write the issue to give it a proper summary here. Suffice it to say that it picks up with Gerrard lamenting others dying for him, and the burden of the artifacts that are his birthright, the “Legacy.” The ship he’s on gets to Rath, a lotta fighting happens, someone he apparently knew dies, other stuff happens and…yeah. Having read the anthology/novel Rath and Storm at least twice now (once back in 1999 or 2000, once back in late 2018 or early 2019) I have a vague idea from memories of THAT as to who THESE characters are and what’s going on.

Early in the issue I get the sense that the crew is on their way to Rath and the Stronghold to save Sisay. And then there’s some scene with people related to Crovax and then suddenly the Weatherlight and its crew are there…and after Rofellos dies, Sisay is with them.

What the heck did I miss?!?

This feels like little more than a generic visual review/overview of a prose story. And sure, it ends on a cliffhanger-like note with a to-be-continued promise…but strictly in terms of this issue, I’m not invested in any of these characters. I don’t KNOW who any of these characters ARE from this issue. (I only know the characters because I’ve read the prose novels!) Other than the clear sense that Gerrard’s upset about involvement with his “Legacy,” it’s just…pictures and dialogue.

I like the art well enough despite my clumsy attempt to describe it ahead: the layouts get sorta interesting and creative. The inks and colors work well. The overall visual experience seems a bit rough and angular and almost “gritty,” if that’s the word I’m looking for. It’s not awful, but it doesn’t have the smoother, sleeker sense of shiny wonder and just SOMETHING I can’t find the words for.

I finally tracked this mini-series down recently via a site I didn’t realize I COULD order comics from. Pulling this issue to read, I had visions of covering this whole mini-series…but assuming the subsequent 3 issues are on par with this one…I’m gonna be floundering for words and repeating myself and it’ll generally be a mess! The only REAL reason I would even suggest anyone track this issue/series down is if you’re a COMPLETIST on MTG comics.

Seriously.

In place of this, I would recommend tracking down the book or ebook of Rath and Storm, edited by Peter Archer, and read that instead. And that’s disappointing enough to say, given this is written by Mike Grell. But if you like his writing in general…find something else he’s written and read or re-read that and you’ll probably appreciate it more. I may yet read the rest of this mini, and maybe I’ll change my mind. But as of just this issue alone…it’s a disappointment and far more in the vein of “early MTG” than the far more epic, storied stuff that would come not long after in the novels and such.

magic_the_gathering_gerrards_quest_001_blogtrailer

The Weekly Haul: Week of April 03, 2019

April 3rd was a decent-sized week of new comics. Not too huge, not tiny. Several #1s, a couple second (for me, at least) issues, and so on.

weeklyhaul_20190403a

I decided to give Major X a try, after some well-timed "hype" on it and such. Liefeld prompts a certain sort of nostalgia for me, and I was truly curious about the time-travel/meeting with 1991 characters aspect. Can’t say I’m overly impressed with the first issue, though, so it’s a crapshoot on whether I’ll "bother" with #2…probably depends on it being a slow week or not.

Sorta hard to believe we’re "already" at Young Justice #4. Ditto at already being to #9 for Adventures of the Super Sons. This is a series I’ll probably kick myself for…I wasn’t going to want to hunt it down later, but I am ridiculously/embarassingly far behind on reading anything with the title…AND with the Bendis stuff in "present" continuity…this seems something better left for the collected edition for me. …Except I think there’s either already or about to be a "vol. 1" for this series. But it’s a FINITE 12-issue series, so to me, there’s NO REASON only HALF the finite-series should be collected. It should be collected into a single full-story volume at its end. It’s that "collect everything regardless of length of run or PLANNED length of run" that (to me) can really turn folks off to getting single issues, even for something like this.

I’m giving Immortal Hulk another issue due to my curiosity…and wondering about a certain character. Figured I’d try Section Zero #1…I can’t quite put my finger on it, but something with it seems rather familiar to me, and I might be crossing it over mentally with something else from years ago, but I opted to pick it up "in case" so I can check it for myself.

Seems that IDW is again a "major factor" of my week with 3 of the week’s comics coming from them! I’m trying to give these Marvel Action: ______ titles a chance, and support them…especially as it seems like they do NOT have a TON of VARIANTS. And they’re likely far more self-contained than most of Marvel‘s own books, so strike me as being more "fun" and accessible without being involved in this week/month/quarter’s latest umpteen crossover event invasion secret whatevers.

GI Joe: A Real American Hero is–at #260 (or #105/106 from IDW itself) THE core GI Joe book to me at this point. Written by Larry Hama and having continued from the original Marvel series, it is at this point THE absolute longest-running Joe book I’m aware of, period, 2nd longest run for any publisher, where I think IDW itself may be on its 3rd-boot of stuff.

Finally, despite it being rather late, or perhaps because of it, I opted to snag Chandra #2. I’m not overly keen on this depiction of the character and such. But I’m VERY MUCH a fan of Magic: The Gathering in terms of its "lore" and with just a handful of books left to acquire to have the entirety of the in-print editions of the lore, I might as well get this as well.

weeklyhaul_20190403b

It’s cool to see Usagi Yojimbo get the cover of Comic Shop News for this week. AT LEAST with a "new publisher" in the title going to IDW, a "renumbering" is actually WARRANTED. It’s also likely a good jumping-on point for the character. I was highly put-off last year when I tried to jump onto the title and within a couple issues it switched to a new #1 with "legacy-style numbering" included to be a "mini-series" or such. I do NOT look forward to the umpteen variants on every single issue that IDW is surely going to pump out…but I’ll likely be giving it a chance anyway, being at the same publisher now as TMNT, and maybe I’ll "fold it in" with TMNT given the titles’ association through the years.

And there’s an Avengers Endgame previews to presumably push various collected volumes and such related or expected to be related to the film. I for one certainly appreciate these comic-sized ones for being comic-sized…as well as being a stand-alone thing instead of choking or bloating individual Marvel issues. And since I snagged the Captain Marvel one recently, figued I’d snag this as well.


mortal_kombat_x_figures_packaged

I also finally "pulled the trigger" on getting these Mortal Kombat figures from Funko. I’d seen them awhile back, and been "curious" about them more recently. I had NOT actually consciously realized they were Mortal Kombat X rather than "just" Mortal Kombat, but there you go. That three of my (if not my three, period) favorite characters are here made ’em a no-brainer.

I’d gotten Raiden, which OF COURSE then triggered my OCD and led to me hunting down the other two. I was able to get Scorpion and Sub-Zero at a Gamestop far off my usual area…but NOT far from where I was meeting a friend for Shazam which made things work out quite well!


shazam_ticket_stubAnd speaking OF Shazam, saw it on Friday the 5th.

I rather enjoyed it, though I’ve pretty much decided that I personally hold Wonder Woman (as #1) and Aquaman (as #2) above it in terms of my favorites of the "modern" crop of DC films (definitely over Suicide Squad, Batman v Superman, and Justice League…though I’ve yet to decide exactly where I hold Man of Steel in there, as I’d originally thought that and taken that one as a standalone property…as well as someone I’d seen it with sparking certain feelings).

I did not care for how New 52-heavy Shazam felt, but overall it was a fun film with plenty of light, humor, and so on; and even though toys had more than spoiled one thing (to say nothing of assumption and expectation from the comics doing so), I actually had had no idea what to expect of the film’s villain, and really dug the portrayal here. While I hope we’ll get Black Adam in a sequel, I’d prefer that before the "return" of this film’s villain. There was even a cameo I rather enjoyed that paid off through the film.

weeklyhaul_20190403_blogtrailer

The Weekly Haul: More From the Weeks of December 5 & 12, 2018

I thought I was missing something! But I second-guessed myself and thought I was off by a week or so, and didn’t actually "research" myself so…there you go!

Several things that escaped notice/mention from the other day as well as last week:

weeklyhaul_12122018_and_1205_misseda

From the week of the 5th, I’d wound up picking up Prodigy. #1, though I’ve yet to read it, unfortunately.

And from the week of the 12th, Superman #6 and Magic the GDathering: Chandra #1.

I ended up binge-reading Superman #s 2-6, which probably made it a lot more enjoyable than chunk by chunk as an issue came out; though I’m "curious" about where things go from here, feeling a distinct ’90s vibe…but not in a good way, despite my usual love of ’90s stuff.

And Chandra #1 I was curious about, and though this thing wasn’t horrible, it mostly felt like it was just simply "Look! Look! Chandra does stuff!" without much of a driving plot or setup…and no real context for where this story is supposed to take place within Magic lore.

weeklyhaul_12122018_and_1205_missedb

Going back also to the weekend between the 5th and 12th…a visit with friends prompted some purchasing. Firstly, we stumbled across Marvel Rising (the animated pieces) that we ended up watching in full. That prompted me to be interested in actually (finally?) checking out this Ms. Marvel character based on actual exposure rather than "hype."

Some survey/binging of anime and discussion of same (as well as curiosity thanks to some reviews of figures over at FigureFan Zero) led to these other purchases.

First volumes for four manga series…My Hero Academia, as well as its anime series. We watched and discussed some rather disturbing stuff from Goblin Slayer, and one friend also specifically pointed out Kill la Kill, so since I saw the first volume for half price, grabbed that. And thanks to those figure reviews mentioned above, and this first volume being available for half-off, One Piece.


I have no idea when I’ll get around to actually reading these manga volumes or even Ms. Marvel; though the latter might happen sooner. I’ve also discovered that my nook app can now handle graphic novels and such bought through Barnes & Noble, and on a strong recommendation purchased the 3-issue War Bears series from Dark Horse that I’m reading amidst other reading.

So we’ll see.

But as these posts are part sharing with everyone else what I’m getting and part "documenting" for myself…this post is largely for me to have record of approximately when I actually got these.

I’ll likely cover some of this later in some form.

Until then…

weeklyhaul_12122018_and_1205_missed_blogtrailer

My Magic: The Gathering Novels Collection and a Checklist

I believe I own 61 of 67 or so published Magic: The Gathering novels.

magic_the_gathering_novels_august_28_2018

I got my first MTG novel–Whispering Woods–in the spring of 1995–very early in my having been introduced to the game. I got the next two novels as well as the first around that same time. I read several additional ones through the local library. In 1998 or so I discovered The Brothers’ War via the same library and loved the book. I rediscovered it the next year, in 1999, at a bookstore at a mall near the University, along with at least one later novel. Fall of 1999, all of 2000 and 2001, and I believe into 2002, I followed most of the novels as they came out. I dipped a toe back in for the Time Spiral books and only ever finished reading the first novel before losing track of the series again. I added a couple more books over the years, and then made a concerted effort earlier this year in 2018 to acquire books I was missing.

With the help of online Wiki stuff, I assembled a checklist a few months ago. With a couple of new additions over the weekend, I believe I’m "only" missing 7 or so of the books; 1 of which I’m not even sure is actually a novel. And of those that are, Alara Unbound is apparently selling for over $250.00, and I’m not even sure I’m willing to pay $15-$19 (including shipping) on the "cheaper" books I’m yet missing.

I have to truly wonder if people that put such outrageous prices on "out of print" mass-market paperbacks actually ever get their asking price! And if they’re not actively actually trying to sell the books, I wish they wouldn’t list them. But that gets into other stuff I don’t feel like laying into with this post.

The following list has served me well, and I present it here simply for informational purposes. I’m confident of the bulk of it, but would counsel doing your own research before considering it complete, authoritative, or remotely official!


Year Cycle Title Author ISBN
1994 Arena William R. Forstchen 0-06-105424-0
1995 Whispering Woods Clayton Emery 0-06-105418-6
1995 Shattered Chains Clayton Emery 0-06-105419-4
1995 Final Sacrifice Clayton Emery 0-7522-0217-0
1995 The Cursed Land Teri McLaren 0-06-105016-4
1995 The Prodigal Sorcerer Mark C. Sumner 0-06-105476-3
1996 Ashes of the Sun Hanovi Braddock 0-06-105649-9
1996 Song of Time Teri McLaren 0-06-105622-7
1996 And Peace Shall Sleep Sonia Orin Lyris 0-06-105619-7
1996 Dark Legacy Robert E. Vardeman 0-06-105697-9
1999 The Thran J. Robert King 0-7869-1600-1
1998 Artifacts The Brothers’ War Jeff Grubb 0-7869-1170-0
1998 Artifacts Planeswalker Lynn Abbey 0-7869-1182-4
1999 Artifacts Time Streams J. Robert King 0-7869-1344-4
1999 Artifacts Bloodlines: The Story of Urza’s Destiny Loren L. Coleman 0-7869-1380-0
1999 Ice Age The Gathering Dark Jeff Grubb 0-7869-1357-6
2000 Ice Age The Eternal Ice Jeff Grubb 0-7869-1562-5
2000 Ice Age The Shattered Alliance Jeff Grubb 0-7869-1403-3
1999 Masquerade Mercadian Masques Francis Lebaron 0-7869-1188-3
2000 Masquerade Nemesis Paul B. Thompson 0-7869-1559-5
2000 Masquerade Prophecy Vance Moore 0-7869-1570-6
2000 Invasion Invasion J. Robert King 0-7869-1438-6
2001 Invasion Planeshift J. Robert King 0-7869-1802-0
2001 Invasion Apocalypse J. Robert King 0-7869-1880-2
2000 Odyssey Odyssey Vance Moore 0-7869-1900-0
2001 Odyssey Chainer’s Torment Scott McGough 0-7869-2696-1
2001 Odyssey Judgment Will McDermott 0-7869-2743-7
2001 Legends Johan Clayton Emery 0-7869-1803-9
2001 Legends Jedit Clayton Emery 0-7869-1907-8
2002 Legends Hazezon Clayton Emery 0-7869-2792-5
2002 Legends II Assassin’s Blade Scott McGough 0-7869-2830-1
2003 Legends II Emperor’s Fist Scott McGough 0-7869-2935-9
2003 Legends II Champion’s Trial Scott McGough 0-7869-3015-2
2002 Onslaught Onslaught J. Robert King 0-7869-2801-8
2003 Onslaught Legions J. Robert King 0-7869-2914-6
2003 Onslaught Scourge J. Robert King 0-7869-2956-1
2003 Mirrodin The Moons of Mirrodin Will McDermott 0-7869-2995-2
2004 Mirrodin The Darksteel Eye Jess Lebow 0-7869-3140-X
2004 Mirrodin The Fifth Dawn Cory Herndon 0-7869-3205-8
2004 Kamigawa Outlaw: Champions of Kamigawa Scott McGough 0-7869-3357-7
2005 Kamigawa Heretic: Betrayers of Kamigawa Scott McGough 0-7869-3575-8
2005 Kamigawa Guardian: Saviors of Kamigawa Scott McGough 0-7869-3786-6
2005 Ravnica Ravnica: City of Guilds Cory J. Herndon 0-7869-3792-0
2006 Ravnica Guildpact Cory J. Herndon 0-7869-3989-3
2006 Ravnica Dissension Cory J. Herndon 0-7869-4001-8
2006 Time Spiral Time Spiral Scott McGough 0-7869-3988-5
2007 Time Spiral Planar Chaos Scott McGough, Timothy Sanders 0-7869-4249-5
2007 Time Spiral Future Sight Scott McGough, John Delaney 0-7869-4269-X
2007 Lorwyn Lorwyn Cory J. Herndon, Scott McGough 0-7869-4292-4
2008 Lorwyn Morningtide Cory J. Herndon, Scott McGough 0-7869-4790-X
2008 Lorwyn II: Shadowmoor Shadowmoor Philip Athans, Susan J. Morris 0-7869-4840-X
2008 Lorwyn II: Shadowmoor Eventide Scott McGough, Cory J. Herndon 0-7869-4868-X
2009 BLOCK NOVEL Alara Unbroken Doug Beyer 0-7869-5201-6
2010 BLOCK NOVEL Zendikar: In the Teeth of Akoum Robert B. Wintermute 0-7869-5476-0
2011 BLOCK NOVEL Scars of Mirrodin: The Quest for Karn Robert B. Wintermute 0-7869-5774-3
2009 PLANESWLKER NOVEL Agents of Artifice Ari Marmell 0-7869-5134-6
2009 PLANESWLKER NOVEL The Purifying Fire Laura Resnick 0-7869-5298-9
2010 PLANESWLKER NOVEL Test of Metal Matthew Stover 0-7869-5532-5
1995 ANTHOLOGY Tapestries Kathy Ice 0-06-105308-2
1995 ANTHOLOGY Distant Planes Kathy Ice 0-06-105765-7
1998 ANTHOLOGY Rath and Storm Peter Archer 0-7869-1175-1
1999 ANTHOLOGY The Colors of Magic Jess Lebow 0-7869-1323-1
2000 ANTHOLOGY Myths of Magic Jess Lebow 0-7869-1529-3
2001 ANTHOLOGY Dragons of Magic J. Robert King 0-7869-1872-1
2002 ANTHOLOGY The Secrets of Magic J. Robert King 0-7869-2710-0
2003 ANTHOLOGY Monsters of Magic J. Robert King 0-7869-2983-9
2008 A Planeswalker’s Guide to Alara Doug Beyer, Jenna Helland 0-7869-5124-9

 

magic_the_gathering_novels_august_28_2018_blogtrailer

Jace’s Spellbook and Why to NOT #ShopLocal

I’ve been pulled back to Magic The Gathering recently, at least in terms of story, the art, the cards, the books–if not yet getting to actually PLAY the game itself. There’s been so much to it–from my history with the game 23 years ago, through the years, and the general nostalgia–that it’s been a real "thing" in my life, in my own way, the last few weeks.

While I have mixed feelings on pricing with stuff, the Signature Spellbook: Jace is quite a thing with Magic, and Wizards of the Coast (the publisher of the game).

signature_spellbook_jace

It’s this small boxed set with several cards reprinted with new artwork focused on the Planeswalker character Jace Beleren.

jace_spellbook_from_wotc_site

This set is not even actually out yet–I believe it’s scheduled to become available June 15. That’s…nearly 3 1/2 weeks away. Almost a month.

The publisher’s website shows off the set–the box and its contents. It also shows off–PROMINENTLY–their MSRP of $19.99 (which applies to the US only, but seeing as I am in the US and not seeking it outside the US, that’s a moot note).

jace_spellbook_screenshot_from_wotc_price

Thing is…to pre-order this online (because it’s not out yet, any transaction regarding this would BE a pre-order) it’s pretty much UNAVAILABLE for anything under $45 or so.

That’s online stores, that’s eBay, that’s Amazon, that’s the various MTG community selling sites.

I asked the local comic shop about ordering this, and their distributors apparently don’t have this.

On further research, seems this is only available to certain retailers that are somehow associated with the publisher, in a way that apparently the local comic shop is not. (Ditto another shop I asked).

After attempting to support my local comic shop (which also does Magic) I tried the local game shop. They were happy to put my name down for it…but when I asked the price, to confirm that it was indeed this $20, they had to call someone to check.

I was told it’s $40. The reason being–and I quote–"It’s already going for $45 on eBay."

I opted to "pass on it," then.


There’s the notion of "supporting the local game store" or #ShopLocal. Shouldn’t this then be something to entice someone exactly like me to come INTO the FLGS?

Seeing the ridiculous prices online, that prompted me to actually take action "live" and "in person." So if it was some sort of "force people to #ShopLocal" thing, one could say it worked: it spurred me into action, ready to put out my $20 on the spot today. Yes, I first approached the comic shops–I’m a comics guy first, gamer second.

But then I visited the "actual games store" and…well, $40 MAY be slightly less than eBay or Amazon, but that’s STILL double-MSRP.

While they were checking on the pre-order price, I was looking at the wall, and was getting ready to "splurge" and buy $20 of boosters on the spot, in addition to committing to the $20 later for the product.

I was also strongly considering asking if they were taking pre-orders on booster boxes for M19, the next main set.

And of course, a positive experience would be a good prompt toward going back in randomly for other stuff, as well as maybe spurring me into taking the plunge into Friday Night Magic.


Instead, given the $40 price, I simply thanked them for their time, and walked out.

For that extra $20 on the price of one item that successfully drew me into a local game store:

  • I did NOT buy $20 in boosters (a $20 sale)
  • I am NOT buying the Jace set from them (ought to have been a $20 sale)
  • I am NOT buying a booster box from them
  • It’s put me off from their Friday Night Magic and any subsequent impulse buys and "support the FLGS" sales that would result simply from being in the store for FNM.

And it basically means that rather than transitioning to purchasing through this local game store, I’ll be purchasing stuff (that I can) online or through "the Big Box stores" assuming further purchasing.

jace_spellbook_blogtrailer

ForgedBy4: Memories on the World of Magic the Gathering

forged_by_4_logo

Memories on the World of Magic: The Gathering

I was introduced to Magic: The Gathering in Spring of 1995…and as I remember it, that was within just a few weeks of the end of the Revised ("3rd") Edition. I’d missed Arabian Nights, Antiquities, Legends, and The Dark…and the then-current expansion was Fallen Empires.

I was there for the arrival of 4th Edition, and the first new expansion I was there for was Ice Age. Shortly after, we got Chronicles, and I remember that the card I most wanted from that set was Chromium–the Elder Dragon. (Which I got in my first purchase of several boosters!) Those gave way to Homelands, which was the first/only set I ever got to get an entire booster box–I remember getting that as a Christmas present that year.

I remember the release of Alliances, and Mirage…and remember being aware of Visions and then even Weatherlight…though as I recall it, I only got a few boosters of Alliances, and I think only a "starter deck" and a couple boosters of Mirage. (After that, my next cards were obtained through purchasing 10-cent common cards after the fact, to go with a couple of pre-constructed decks I’d bought (one for Tempest, one for Urza’s Saga). These likely included Weatherlight, Visions, and whatever other sets had come out, but I’ll get to that later). […]

Full article posted over at Forgedby4! My "history" with Magic: The Gathering.

magic_shelf

Unboxing a Dominaria Bundle Pack

dominaria_bundle_unboxing_20180429a

2018 is Magic the Gathering‘s 25th anniversary year. And with the anniversary comes a new set going back to the world of Dominaria–the plane (or world) that most of the game’s story was set on for its first several years and card sets.

Though this post is looking at cards, if you want comics content, here are some links to posts I did a few years ago (and stuff I may revisit again in the near future–but time will tell!)

The Shadow Mage | Ice Age | Fallen EmpiresArabian Nights | Nightmare | Antiquities War | Urza-Mishra War | Elder Dragons | Homelands | Dakkon Blackblade


dominaria_bundle_unboxing_20180429ab

Chloe insisted on visiting with me as I began opening packs, and even made quite a fuss when I wouldn’t let her onto the table. The photo above shows her on her "pedestal" looking around, having come running at the sound of me opening the first booster pack…which admittedly probably sounded very similar to me opening a packet of kitty-treats.

When I opened the first booster, I was just curious to really look at the spread of cards, where I first really noticed that there seemed to be a great mix, with each booster having at least one of each color and an artifact! I knew already that there’s specifically at least one "Legendary" character in each pack, but I hadn’t fully paid attention to the mix in individual boosters. I was impressed, and decided to "document" the entire bundle…mostly for myself, enjoying going through such a huge stack of boosters, and curious about being able to look back and see what I’d gotten with what else in which pack(s).

Then I realized that even though I am NOT a video blogger, I could show off an "unboxing" in this way. So…as said above, if you don’t care about Magic: The Gathering as a card game and such, there are some links to my 2012 coverage of a bunch of the original comic books, published by Armada (Acclaim Comics).

I’ll show the cards from each pack, note the Rare, and whatever other thoughts occur to me from going through.


Pack #1:

dominaria_bundle_unboxing_20180429b

This pack was where I first noticed the "balance" in the packs specifically. Artifact, Black, Blue, Green, Red, White–even a multi-color Legend as the Rare!

I wasn’t overly thrilled with this one, as I already had a Grand Warlord Radha and would have preferred some others I didn’t already have…but that’s a theme that’ll run through opening most booster packs!

Rare: Grand Warlord Radha


Pack #2:

dominaria_bundle_unboxing_20180429c

The second pack yielded a foil as well as a rare. This is my second foil Island of Dominaria; not bad, though, as I tend to like Blue. Not much else of huge note to the pack. The rare is the Legendary. While not as cool as some other stuff, it’s got some potential to me, especially in a White deck.

Rare: Evra, Halcyon Witness

Foil: Island


Pack #3:

dominaria_bundle_unboxing_20180429d

I think this pack was the first I got Tetsuko Umezawa in a booster. Also got another Serra Angel, which I believe gives me a full 4-copy "playset" of the card in this edition. I like the art on the Urza’s Ruinous Blast; and it certainly represents a key moment in MTG history!

Rare: Urza’s Ruinous Blast


Pack #4:

dominaria_bundle_unboxing_20180429e

This was definitely the best pack of the bundle! An Artifact, at least one card for each color, a multicolor, two of the Memorial to ____ lands… AND a foil!

And the foil, at that, is a rare. FURTHER…it’s a Mythic Rare!

This is the first time I’ve gotten a foil-anything that wasn’t common; for it to be a foil of a Mythic Rare is fantastic! It’d probably be asking way too much for it to have been a foil of Karn, Scion of Urza, but as Jhoira was a card I’d started out wanting, I’m quite happy with it. (though I have two non-foils of her previously).

Added bonus to this pack is it also came with a non-foil Rare, the Helm of the Host, which creates a token copy of whatever creature has it equipped…which has some fun potential to it!

Rare: Helm of the Host

Foil Rare (Mythic): Johira, Weatherlight Captain


Pack #5:

dominaria_bundle_unboxing_20180429f

Very little could "hold up" to the previous pack! Some fun for this one, though, includes the Rat Colony, which I definitely want to build a deck around. I built my first "Rat Deck" back in July 1995, when the only rats in the entire game were Plague Rats, Pestilence Rats, and Bog Rats. I even had to use Vampire Bats to flesh the deck out a bit, reasoning that bats were "rats with wings." Since this new Rat Colony allows one to have any number of it in a deck…for purely casual play, I don’t even need any other rats. Just load up with this, have some support spells, and basic lands, and voila!

This pack gives me a new token as well, with the Cleric. I’ve got plenty-ish of the Saproling and Knight tokens (verrrry glad I had not ordered any Saprolings online.

I’m not overly keen on lands as the rare card I a pack…but at least the Cabal Stronghold is new-to-me!

Rare: Cabal Stronghold


Pack #6:

dominaria_bundle_unboxing_20180429g

This pack has a couple of cards for my inevitable "Fungus Deck" from the set. Fungal Infection essentially deals a damage while also generating a Saproling; while Sporecrown Thallid gives +1/+1 to Saproling and other Fungus creatures.

Aryel, Knight of Windgrace will be a nice addition for a "Knights deck."

And look–another foil! Shiny…

I’m a bit amused at the art for Arcane Flight…perhaps simply the ridiculousness of a cat sprouting wings and taking flight. Talk about a nightmare for birds!

Rare: Aryel, Knight of Windgrace


Pack #7:

dominaria_bundle_unboxing_20180429h

Not much to stand out for this pack. Jaya’s Immolating Inferno definitely has a lotta potential in a Red deck, and definitely makes me want to get Jaya herself all the more!

Rare: Jaya’s Immolating Inferno


Pack #8:

dominaria_bundle_unboxing_20180429i

The timing for getting the Dread Shade here was good…I’d just been reading part of the serialized fiction on WotC‘s website that had characters pondering facing one of these. So that makes for a "fun" pull. Also cool to get Llanowar anything for the nostalgia (though I’d prefer the "classic" Llanowar Elves by name–another card in this set, but not this booster).

This pack also yields my first Knight of Grace, which is a counterpart to the Knight of Malice, and I look forward to using them in a "Knights deck."

Rare: Dread Shade


Pack #9:

dominaria_bundle_unboxing_20180429j

Here’s another fun pack! For one, Traxos, Scourge of Kroog is a card I liked the look of and was definitely interested in! I believe it’s basically a dragon engine…regardless, it puts me in mind of them, which is a great bit of nostalgia.

After just marveling at my first Knight of Grace, this pack had another one. Better yet, this time in the same pack I also got the Knight of Malice. Nice little pairing, there!

And this pack has another Token I hadn’t realized existing: Jaya‘s Emblem, I believe from her "main" Planeswalker ability. Now that I have this…definitely want the actual card all the more!

(Note for this photo: I had Traxos on the Black pile rather than the Artifacts pile. Oops!)

Rare: Traxos, Scourge of Kroog


Pack #10:

dominaria_bundle_unboxing_20180429k

Final pack of the box, last one to get anything "good!"

And…not much of interest for me in terms of opening-the-pack excitement. I believe the saga card The Mending of Dominaria is new to me; but it didn’t really live up to the "potential" that a "final pack" COULD have had.

I don’t think I’d particularly noted if I got any of the other ones, but I’ve realized/am guessing that the handful of cards with the "planeswalker" symbol watermark (like seen above on Final Parting) denote key "story moments" for the set.

Based on an "ad card" (backside of a token) there’d been something about "following the story" that referenced several cards including Final Parting; one of which is either a holdover or a "spoiler" for the set’s serialized story!

Rare: The Mending of Dominaria


The Rares:

dominaria_bundle_unboxing_20180429l

Ten boosters, 11 rares…the "extra" being a Mythic Rare…not bad!

And of course, beyond simply being 10 boosters…the bundle came with a "spindown counter" (20-sided die/D20 with the Dominaria set symbol as the "20"), a pack of 80 or so basic lands (which’ll be quite handy for building decks!) as well as a "fancy" storage box that I really like the art for.

Given the price of the bundle’s basically the same as buying 10 individual boosters…I’m liking the bundle better for the "extras" it comes with…and that it seems like each bundle has a Mythic Rare in it, plus several foils.


Favorite Pull of the Bunch:

dominaria_bundle_unboxing_20180429M

And of course, for "rarity" as well as just being a really pretty Blue/Red card combined with the foil effect, and being a character I was interested in getting from the start, Jhoira, Weatherlight Captain is my favorite pull of the bundle!

While I "suspect" there’s a fair bit of "value" to the card as a foil of a Mythic Rare…I figure the "sentimental value" is enough for me to hang onto the card. I pulled her from a booster, and how many Mythic Rare foils are there really out there like this? (other than specially-packaged Planeswalker Deck cards)

For me…this card is extra-unique in/for my collection.


That’s that for now… ten boosters in a bundle; the bundle now "unboxed!"

It’s cool that the Dominaria set came out RIGHT as I was getting pulled back into the game/story/etc. Even if just feeding the OCD and money I shouldn’t really spend…this was a worthwhile purchase for the time, and likely future time actually going through the cards, deckbuilding, and hopefully actually playing the game.

dominaria_bundle_unboxing_20180429_blogtrailer

%d bloggers like this: