Black Panther Review (Spoiler-Free)

Jason O’Toole

Credit: Marvel Studios

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It’s impossible to deny, Black Panther has arrived and blown audiences away. The film continues to break records every week. It has already shattered the February single weekend record previously held by Deadpool. It has also taken down Avengers, which up until now held the record for biggest opening week. Black Panther, in just its first week, has taken the worldwide gross for the MCU to 14 billion, tracking all the way back to 2008 when Iron Man first came to the screen. Among the many standout moments from the film, a few things really speak to why this movie is one of the best MCU outings to date. Wakanda is presented in glorious fashion, as if ripped right from the pages of the comic. Also, while Chadwick Boseman is fantastic as T’Challa, it is the supporting cast that really shines. Finally, the films villain, Erik Killmonger, is a definite contender for best MCU villain to date.

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In the world of Black Panther comics, Wakanda is left to the imagination of the artists. The technological marvels and beautiful vistas are a sight to behold and it was hard to believe these things could be accurately represented on the big screen. Ryan Coogler and Marvel Studios had their work cut out for them to bring this location to life, and they delivered in a big way. From the first moment we see Wakanda’s capital city, it is clear that the filmmakers have done something very special. The blend of the technological and traditional becomes a character in and of itself within the film’s narrative. This is only heightened by the soundtrack which makes every scene come to life. The five tribes of Wakanda are clearly distinguished, even when they are all part of the same crowd. Their manner of dress make it very easy to distinguish between the panther tribe, the border tribe, the mining tribe, the river tribe and the merchant tribe. Wakanda is definitely one of the best locales the MCU has showed us so far. We don’t have long to wait before we get to take another trip there, as Avengers Infinity War will take us back in May for a battle against the legions of Thanos.

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Making his debut in Captain America Civil War, T’Challa takes center stage in this film. However, his fellow cast-mates steal the show right out from under him. Lupita Nyong’o as Nakia, Danai Gurira as General Okoye and Letitia Wright as T’Challa’s little sister Shuri are at the top of their game here. Nakia as a love interest to T’Challa never feels forced, it feels natural. She cares very deeply for Wakanda and, as an extension of that, her King. The Dora Milaje have in Okoye a competent skilled leader, whose loyalty to Wakanda never falters. Danai Gurira has shown off her fighting chops in the Walking Dead, and while she gets plenty of time to fight, she also provides some welcome levity to her scenes with the serious King T’Challa. The character who shines far and above the rest is Letitia Wright’s version of Shuri, princess of Wakanda. She is a breath of fresh air in the Marvel Cinematic Universe and one of my new favorite characters. This film has an all star cast that delivers dynamite performances from start to finish.

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At last, we come to what is arguably the best aspect of this movie, Michael B. Jordan’s villain, Erik Killmonger. An argument can be made that he is one of the best villains the MCU has ever put on screen. What makes him so fantastic is how grounded and relatable he is. In most MCU films the villain is someone you love to hate. Black Panther flips the script and makes you sympathize with the antagonist and his views. Michael B. Jordan delivers an all star performance, which he has become known for, and becomes the perfect foil to Chadwick Boseman’s Black Panther. If the hero is defined by the villain, then Killmonger is the villain that defines Wakanda and Black Panther. These are just a few of the reasons Black Panther is a must see MCU film and may very well be the best movie they have made to date. Leave us a comment about what you thought of the film.

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Joss Whedon Says Goodbye To Batgirl

Jason O’Toole

Credit: DC Entertainment / Warner Bros. / The Hollywood Reporter

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It looks as though Batgirl, the upcoming DC movie, will have to find a new director. Joss Whedon has resigned from his role as writer and director of the movie. Apparently, he couldn’t figure out the best way to bring the hero to the screen in the wake of the phenomenal Wonder Woman. It is also impossible to deny that a male director might not be the best voice for a female led superhero film in today’s world. With that said, Whedon may be the only male director who could have pulled this off. He has written several great strong female characters over the years. Whedon told The Hollywood Reporter in an interview, “Batgirl is such an exciting project, and Warner/DC such collaborative and supportive partners, that it took me months to realize I really didn’t have a story. I’m grateful to Geoff (Johns) and Toby (Emmerich) and everyone who was so welcoming when I arrived, and so understanding when I...uh, is there a sexier word for failed?”

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The failure of Justice League might have made Whedon a little gun-shy about taking on another DC project. He was brought on to direct that film after Zach Snyder suffered a family tragedy. We later got word that Snyder was on his way out sooner or later as DC had become disappointed with the direction he was taking the story. Whedon had the hard job of lightening the tone of Justice League. Unfortunately, even his influence wasn’t enough to please the fans. Whedon is definitely forthcoming with his fans about the reasons for his decisions. After parting ways with Marvel, he commented about how he really felt months later. Truth be told, the quote he gave The Hollywood Reporter could be what really transpired. We here at Entertain The Geeky will keep our ears to the ground for further statements from the filmmaker. Leave us a comment with your thoughts on this latest development.

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Superhuman: Vessel (Upgrading)

By Chris Parsons

What many would consider the most important attribute of a superhuman is physical prowess. The best way to get stronger and upgrade the frail vessel that we were granted by nature is to train. The human body is an astounding machine that is capable of things that shouldn't be possible. Take a moment and think about the fact that it can repair itself. Yeah... What is even more insane is that in order to make it stronger we must cause damage to it and put it under stress.

 

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One thing that an individual may do to put their body under stress is start the day with a cold shower. This is actually supposed to have health benefits ranging everywhere from improving circulation to increasing testosterone levels. This simple act also increases alertness. Indulge in a frigid shower in the morning, it may be the motivation you need.

 

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When it comes to training, we need to make an attempt too get stronger, (putting the body under more stress to force an adaptation) and more effective. I recommend circuit workouts and if you have access to a kettle bell that's a point in your favor. I won't go into a whole lot of detail on what workout to do or anything like that, but I will give a one recommendation. Failure. You want to end your workouts by doing each exercise to the point of failure. This will make you strong very quickly and will ensure that you get the most from every training session. After you finish your workout, stretch. Fatigued muscles tend to stretch the best.

I would encourage you to experiment with different workouts and to change it up with relative regularity. If you would like a few different workout ideas, feel free to reach out to me on the contact us page and put superhuman in the subject line. As always, stay geeky!

X-Men Red #1 Review

Jason O’Toole

Credit: Marvel Comics

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Professor Charles Xavier, the fearless and pacifistic leader of the X-Men, was last seen in the pages of Avengers Vs. X-Men #11, where he was murdered by Cyclops, who had become the Dark Phoenix. Since that tragic moment something big has been missing from the pages of the various X-books, the dream that humans and mutants could live together in peace. While the books still have hope, Charles Xavier’s vision for the world seems to have taken a backseat. That was true until the release of X-Men Red #1, the new team book led by a recently resurrected Jean Grey. For the first time since Xavier’s tragic death, an X-men book has come along that once again embraces the belief in his dream. Jean has a plan to make the world a better place for humans and mutants alike. Very quickly, Jean and her team set to work gathering people to their side, ultimately addressing the United Nations. While the pages of this first issue don’t make the full details of this plan clear, it does lay the groundwork for a series that is sure to excite new and old fans alike.

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In the early pages of this first issue, Jean’s new team, comprised of Nightcrawler, Namor, Wolverine, Honey Badger, Trinary and Gentle, save a little mutant girl from of mob of angry racists, led by the girl’s own mother, who want to see her dead. This also hearkens back to more classic X-Men comics, where the ideas of racism and violence were front and center within the pages. As Jean’s plan begins to take shape and make her a target, the team is assembled to keep her safe while she tries to change the world. Jean is glad to have Nightcrawler by her side, whom she calls the soul of the X-Men. In order to gain support in the United Nations, she begins sharing the details of her plan with those that have a seat. She turns to Black Panther and Namor to get their powerful nations to support her. The stage is set for Jean to make her move and hope that the support of Wakanda and Atlantis is enough to sway others.

In classic X-Men fashion, Jean is met with resistance when she speaks to the human delegation of representatives. An ambassador from the United Kingdom points out that while mutants are a species, they are not a nation. Jean is quick to point out the fact that every time the mutants have tried to declare themselves a nation and live as one species they make themselves a target. The argument that was always made about Xavier tampering with the humans minds comes up again from the UK ambassador. This is where the book definitely resurrects Xavier’s dream. Jean makes a powerful argument:

“Charles Xavier had a dream. A simple dream. Humans and mutants at peace. Charles believed we could win you over by being heroes when needed, and being invisible when not. But mutants shouldn’t need to be heroes for acceptance. Some see us as an evolution. I am inviting you, all of you, to evolve with us.”

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All good heroes are defined by the villains that defy them, and X-Men Red #1 doesn’t disappoint. Jean’s plan hits an immediate snag when she is speaking with the ambassador who was just opposing her. Something seems off about their conversation, and just when Jean realizes this the woman’s head explodes. Obviously, Jean is blamed for this, but it is clear that the ambassador was being mind controlled by someone. The final pages of the book reveal the return of a villain we have not seen for some time, Cassandra Nova Xavier, the twin sister of Charles. It is amazing to see her return and I’m sure this marks the beginning of what will surely be a great read. Leave us a comment about what you thought of this new book from Marvel Comics.

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Top 10 Board Games you need to play before you die.


                 By Rodger Moss

    Last week we went over ten Role playing games you need to play before you die this week we turn to another side of gaming Board Games! As with last week this is not a top ten list but more of a guide to great games that cover the wide spectrum of the board gaming hobby. If I missed a game you love please comment it's possible I have never played it. 

    
    Descent
    Publisher Fantasy Flight
    Players 2-5
    Playing time 2-4 hrs

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    Who has time for all that pesky role playing when there is treasure to be looted? Descent: Journeys in the dark brings all the fun of RPG's to the table without that boring role-playing. In this game it's all about the dungeon crawl. Players take the role of mighty heroes who set out on adventure to gain honor,glory, and yes gold. One player takes control of the many monsters while the others stand and fight against the darkness. With numerous adventurers, expansion sets, and a leveling system ensures you won't get tired of this classic Fantasy Flight Game for a little while. 


    
    Formula D
    Publisher Asmodee
    Players 2-10
    Playing time 1-2 hrs 

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    Ladies and Gentlemen start you engines! In this amazing racing game  players drive in famous tracks from across the globe. Speed is the name of the game but watch out for the hairpin turns and hope those clouds hold the rain until you cross the checkered flag.  A gear dice system and resource management this is game shows the fun and danger that come from the need for speed. Track packs highlight some of the best tracks from around the world each offering different driving challenges.  Grab a few friends and start you own cup series with this amazing game. 


    Castle Panic
     Publisher Fireside Games
    Players 1-6
    Playing time 1hr

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    The first cooperative game on this list Panic is a tower defense game where the players protect the castle from monsters. Panic starts off slow but two turns in the feeling of dread hits hard as the monsters start to flood from the forest. Team work is the only way to defeat this threat as you will trade cards and plan moved out hoping that you plans are enough.  Three expansions add more monsters and challenges to the base game and if monsters and castles aren't your thing try the other two Panic games.  Dead Panic where players defend a cabin against a hoard of zombies, and Star Trek Panic where players are faced with Klingon's and Romulans while trying to accomplish missions for the Federation. 


    
    
    Samurai    
    Publisher Rio Grande Games
    Players 2-4
    Playing time 1hr 

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     Fight for Honor in this resource management strategy game. Players take turns placing tokens around cities and villages.  A little more planning goes into this game as player tokens are hidden behind a screen, with no way to know what your opponent can play. Quick and easy to learn this is a great entry into more classic strategy games. While this game is getting hard to find its worth the pick up. 

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    Zombicide

    Publisher  Guillotine Games
    Players 1-6
    Playing time 30min-3hrs
    
    80's action heroes check.  A ton of plastic you bet. Zombies more than you can shake a stick at. This cooperative zombie survival game takes less of a horror approach and more of a Dawn of the Dead look at Zombie outbreaks. Players must accomplish missions to win  just watch out for that danger meter the higher it gets the more undead come looking for brains. Several sequels and expansions for this game along with a mid-evil fantasy version ensure you can bash the dead for a long while. 


    Axis and Allies
    Publisher Hasbro
    Players 2-5
    Playing time 2-10 hrs

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    While not the most accurate representation of WW II this game will give you a taste of what it was like to be a General in this war. Balancing each power to give both sides a chance to win A&A shows how history might have turned out, Each player takes control of a country and must manage troops, territory, and economics to win. This classic game has been around since 1981 and with 11 different games you can fight almost any historical battle. This is a step up from Risk and a great way to get into WW II board gaming. 

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    Pandemic
    Publisher  Z-Man Games
    Players 1-4 (5 with On the brink expansion 1-6 with In The Lab)
    Playing time 45min-2hrs
    
    Four diseases have broken out across the globe its up to you and your team to stop the spread of each of them. Team work and taking risk is the only way to save humanity.  This easy to pick up but hard to win game is one of the most successful cooperative games ever made. Pandemic: Legacy a spin off version of the main game     
added an ongoing story line to the game. The game board and rules change permanently after each game representing one month in the campaign. There are two seasons for Legacy the second one taking place 71 years after the first game. 


         
      
    Star Trek Ascendancy
    Publisher Gale Force Nine
    Players 2-3 best with 3
    Playing time 90min-3hrs 

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    One of the more complex games on this list STA puts you in charge of one of three empires. Explore, expand, exploit, and exterminate as you rise to be the single power in the Alpha quadrant. What makes this game so much fun is no two games will play the same as you make different treks into space and discover the other empires as you play. With more than one way to win this game and more factions coming STA is a great game if your looking for a little more depth in a game. Personally this is one of my favorite games on the market right now, even if you took away the Star Trek skin this game would be amazing. 


    Ticket To Ride
    Publisher Days of Wonder
    Players 2-5
    Playing time 1-2hrs 

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    A quick and easy to learn train building game. Players play cards and build train routs across North America. One of the best “gateway” games Players can learn this game in about 15 minuets. Don't let the simplicity of this game fool you Ticket to Ride has enough action and tension to keep even the most grizzled board gamer engaged from start to finish. Will greed take over you or can you win that route away form you competitor.  With seven different board expansions you can build your rail empire across the world. 

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    The Settlers of Catan
    Publisher Catan Studio
    Players 3-4 (standard 2,5,or 6 with expansions)
    Playing time 1-4 hrs

    Some Call it Catan others Settlers this power house hit the shelves in 1995 and has sold 22 million copies by 2015. Another simple game to learn but extremely hard to master game this is the best game to get into the hobby. Players build settlements, cities, and roads to connect them as they settle the island of Catan. Be careful not to make other settlements angry at you as you will need them to trade valuable resources. The goal of the game is to reach ten victory points before any other player but watch out for the robber he might grab that one rock you've been holding. One joke has defined this game for the past 23 years and yes I do have Sheep for your Wood.    

    Well there it is ten board games that you need to play. Did I miss any? Please let me know and as always Stay Geeky

 

Black Panther: The Change That Movies Need

Jason O’Toole

Credit: Marvel Studios

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Marvel and Disney’s upcoming film, Black Panther, looks like it will not only be the biggest opening for an MCU movie to date, but shatter a record previously held by Deadpool. The hype generated by Black Panther has led to early projections saying the film could make more than $160 million in it’s four day opening weekend. This would make it the biggest February opening weekend in history. That record was previously held by Deadpool, which raked in $152 million in its four day opening weekend.

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This undoubtedly stems from the buzz generated by Black Panther, the first superhero film since Blade back in 1998 that will have an African American lead. Early reviews are saying that while the representation of black culture is stellar, it is the films women who get even greater representation. The personal guard to the Black Panther, the Dora Milaje, are a cadre of the finest warriors in the land, and they are all women. In the comics they were recruited from every tribe in Wakanda, assembled as potential queens for an unmarried king. This maintained peace in Wakanda, ensuring that every tribe had the opportunity to put forward one of their daughters for the crown. It is said that they play a major role in the film. It’s sad that it took the success of Wonder Woman to show Marvel Studios that it was well past time for women to get the spotlight.

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The representation of different cultures and genders is a huge step forward in film. As a white man I often take for granted the fact that the heroes I see on screen look like me, but what about the rest of the cultures in this world. The comic world caught on to this notion long ago. Comics showed me that not every hero has to look the same. It taught me that it didn’t matter what color you were, Dr. Doom was going to destroy the world, so the world had to come together to stop him. Every one of us has the capacity to be a hero, it’s high time the movies reflected this notion. If we are going to watch movies about the heroes of the world, we need to include everyone. If the hype surrounding Black Panther has taught us anything, it’s that the movie going public wants to see movies that better represent the world stage. Here’s hoping that Hollywood takes this lesson and continues to expand on this idea. Leave a comment and let us know what you think.

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Deadpool 2 Trailer Breakdown

Jason O’Toole

Credit: Twentieth Century Fox

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The Deadpool 2 trailer has dropped and given our first good look at the Merc with a Mouths second outing. The footage also gives us our first look at Cable, played by Josh Brolin, who looks fantastic as the time traveling mutant from the future. Right away, Deadpool cannot help but comment on the Disney / Fox merger as he recreates a scene of Andy playing with Woody early on in the first Toy Story film. It is made even more obvious by the fact that Wade has his name written on the feet of the Deadpool and Cable action figures. This illustrates what has always been great about Deadpool, he doesn’t pull punches with the big stories from the pop culture world. This scene is made even more interesting because of the fact that someday we may see the Merc with the Mouth rub elbows with the MCU characters.

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The big highlight of this trailer is obviously Cable. Every box on the Cable list is checked off. He has the big guns, the tactile telekinesis, the glowing eye and the techno-organic virus, which is turning his skin metal. It definitely seems that Twentieth Century Fox has taken great care in getting Cable right. The trailer offer up plenty of footage of the grumpy hero kicking ass and taking names. This movie is presumably drawing heavily on the Cable / Deadpool series from Marvel Comics that ran for many years. If even a small part of their dynamic in those books ends up on screen, fans are in for a real treat. The dichotomy between the two characters makes for great comedy with Wade always trying to bring levity to moments when Cable is seriously trying to save the future.

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Finally, we get to some characters who will be returning from the first film. Vanessa, Negasonic Teenage Warhead, Weasel and even cab driver Dopinder are reuniting with Wade for his second outing. As important as those characters will likely be to the story, it is yet to be seen how newcomers Cable and Domino will fit in. Even more intriguing than those two, however, seems to be the first attempt by the Deadpool film franchise to create a spin-off as we are introduced to X-Force. It has been announced that this is where Fox intended to take the franchise. However, with the recent purchase of Fox by Disney, it is yet to be seen if they share these plans. It would be a shame if the new direction ultimately led nowhere. While some of the X-Force characters are still unknown, we can see Shatterstar quite clearly. This confirms the team will make its debut in the film. We definitely have something amazing to look forward to this May.

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Leave a comment and let us know what you think.

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Infinity War Teaser Breakdown

Jason O’Toole

Credit: Marvel Studios

Super Bowl LII gave us a new look at Avengers Infinity War in a short 30 second teaser. After combing through the new footage, a few moments stood out. While this teaser didn’t offer us much in the way of new footage, their were definitely a few moments that could lead to some interesting speculation about what awaits us when the movie hits theaters this May. If some of these things turn out to be true a SPOILER ALERT might be necessary. You have been warned.

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Early on in the trailer we see Tony removing his sunglasses. If you pay close attention the armor appears to be building itself around him. This may be in reference to the Iron Man story Extremis, in which Tony integrates his armor into his body. The armor, now in liquid metal form, is stored within the hollows of his bones. With a mental command, Tony summons it, and it emerges from his pores and becomes the armor. It is easy to see how this could translate to the Marvel cinematic universe. The natural evolution of Tony’s technology could allow nano-machines that are integrated with Tony on a biological level to be stored within him. Similar technology already appeared in Captain America Civil War, where we saw Tony construct a gauntlet from a small bracelet in a fight with Bucky. If true, this would be amazing to see on screen, and a logical technological upgrade for Tony.

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While not technically new footage, we got an expanded look at the moment between Wanda (Scarlet Witch) and a very human looking Vision. The picture appears to show us Wanda using her power, which is displayed in red, to interact with the Soul Stone contained within Vision’s head. This moment appears to also have some form of romantic implication for the two characters. If you are familiar with the comic world, this comes as exciting news. Scarlet Witch and Vision began a relationship way back in Avengers #109. Eventually, in Giant Size Avengers #4, the two would marry and later through magical means have two children, twins Thomas and William. It seems likely that the cinematic universe is laying the seeds for this romance. Vision is in possession of an Infinity Stone, so it seems unlikely that he will survive the events of the next two films, but the Russo brothers might surprise us.

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Finally, we come to a possible spoiler that many people have been claiming to notice in the footage. Many sites are claiming that behind Captain America in this photo is none other than Captain Marvel. I wish that I were here to tell you I agree with this assessment, but sadly I do not. Freezing and enhancing the image shows that there is definitely someone else in this scene. However, the figure in the background appears to be wearing some kind of duster or long coat. Taking this into consideration, it is far more likely to be either Star Lord or Gamora, who have been known to wear long coats. It does seem like Marvel and the Russo brothers are trying to keep the full scope of the Guardians involvement a secret. They obviously start the film in space where they meet up with Thor, but how soon will they make it to earth? Will the Guardians merely show up for the final battle, or will their role in the film be larger? The thought of Captain Marvel appearing in Infinity War is great, but if we see Brie Larson in the film, it will most likely be in an after credit scene to set up her film.

Leave a comment with what you spotted in the new teaser.

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Retro Movie Reviews: X-Men

Jason O’Toole

Images & Trailer Credit: 20th Century Fox

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From the start of the marketing campaign for Bryan Singer’s X-Men film, it was clear the source material was going to be taken seriously. We saw images of the team and the villains looking very close to their comic book counterparts. The only thing missing was the colorful costumes, which admittedly would have looked quite silly on screen. As we got a look at the first trailer for the film, we got to see our favorite mutants, good and evil, using their powers. This also showed us a very grounded reality where humans reacted to mutants with fear and hatred, evoking a very real world reaction to mutation. The X-Men in comic form have always been an allegory for racism and segregation. It was clear in the months leading up to the film that we were in for a fun and serious film about the beloved comic property.

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From the opening of the film, which flashed back to a World War II concentration camp to introduce us to a young Magneto, we understood that  the director was not going shy away from the darker aspects of the story. The adolescent Magneto watches as his parents are lead to their deaths by Nazi soldiers. In this moment the latent mutant powers within him are born and he rips apart a metal gate, ultimately having to be knocked out by a soldier. We then flash forward to see a teenage girl (Rogue) about to make out with her boyfriend. In this moment her power also bursts forth and nearly kills her boyfriend. It is clear from these opening scenes that mutation manifests during periods of heightened emotional stress. Jean states as much while addressing a senate sub-committee in the following scene. This scene serves as the introduction to the human antagonist as well, Senator Robert Kelly, whose fear of mutants drives his desire to see them segregated or even imprisoned for their differences. We immediately see the line between Xavier and Magneto drawn as Charles believes humans can be better and Magneto sees only hatred and fear, something he witnessed firsthand as a child. This shows us a conflict that we as fans can understand. It is unclear if Magneto is actually a villain given the tragedy that he has been through. This is exactly what has made him such an amazing and complex antagonist to read about in the comics.

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With the conflict made clear, we now get to meet the teams. Logan is introduced first in what many fans, me included, consider to be one of the finest movie introductions for a comic character. Enter the Wolverine, a cage fighter who smokes a cigar and kicks the crap out of any and all challengers stupid enough to enter the ring. One such challenger feels he has been cheated, as Logan has no bruising and is clearly one of those mutants he has heard about. Confronting Logan proves to be a bad idea as the animal within is unleashed and we get our first look at the claws, a special effect that holds up very well, even by today's standards. While Logan and Marie (Rogue) bond over their shared genetics, they are confronted by Sabretooth, a villain whose ferocity matches that of the Wolverine. Their rescue introduces us to the X-Men, in the form of Cyclops and Storm, who quickly take them back to Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters, an academy where mutants can learn about their powers in a safe environment. Sabretooth is then shown returning to Magneto’s lair, where we are introduced to another classic villain in Toad, whose power literally mimics toads. Magneto is disappointed as his henchman has failed to return with the mutant they need, presumably Wolverine. The introduction of both the X-Men and the Brotherhood of Mutants sets the stage for a conflict of epic proportions.

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Senator Kelly is kidnapped by Mystique, another of Magneto’s acolytes, and Toad and whisked away as part of the master plan. This ultimately leads to the first conflict between the two teams at a train station where Magneto’s real target is revealed, Rogue. Humans get involved as the police surround the station as Magneto makes his exit. We get our first glimpse of the terrifying power of the master of magnetism as he takes control of every gun and turns them on the officers. This scene also serves as an explanation of Magneto’s helmet, which can block Xavier’s telepathy. This standoff ends with the villains escaping with their captive in a helicopter flown by Mystique. Xavier and his team still know nothing of what Magneto plans for either of his captives. That plan starts to unfold as we see Magneto use a massive machine that saps him of his energy to turn Kelly into a mutant. Kelly dies after escaping Magneto’s clutches and seeking out the X-Men. The machine has destroyed Kelly at the genetic level, which is what it will do to any human exposed to it. The X-Men put the pieces together, Magneto plans to transfer his power to Rogue and use her to turn all the worlds leaders into mutants, not knowing it will kill them. The stage is set for an epic showdown at the Statue of Liberty.

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Even though this film had a relatively small budget, Singer still manages to bring us an epic third act that perfectly recreates key parts of Lady Liberty, inside and out. All the players are here for a battle ripped right from the pages of the comics. The dreams of the fanboys are made real as we see Wolverine take on Sabretooth atop the head of Lady Liberty. The heroes must unite all of their powers to defeat Magneto and save the world leaders. While some of the subsequent films struggled, this one perfectly encapsulates the concepts that have made the comic so endearing to so many fans for years. It changed how studios and directors brought these stories to life for years to come. The effect this had on super heroes in cinema is still being felt today. The sequel is foreshadowed in a great scene between Xavier and Magneto in a plastic prison cell. The exchange between them spells out how they each feel about the conflict they now find themselves engaged in.

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Magneto: Doesn’t it wake you in the middle of the night, the feeling that someday they’ll pass that foolish law, or one just like it, and come for you, and your children?

Xavier: It does indeed.

Magneto: What do you do when you wake up to that?

Xavier: I feel a great swell of pity for the poor soul who comes to that school, looking for trouble.

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Ten Table Top RPG's you need to play before you die.


         By Rodger Moss

    We all have a small amount of time on this earth. Here is a list not of the best Role Playing games published but games you need to play before you fail that last saving throw. 

Deadlands
created by: Shane Lacy Hensley
Publisher: Pinnacle Entertainment Group
    
    Deadlands is a Spaghetti Western, Horror survival, and Steam punk game rolled all into one. This eight time Origins award winning game has been scaring the boots off of cowpokes since 1996. The game features a unique Character Generation system which requires cards and a point buy system. The main stay setting starts in the year 1876 but has moved to 1879 in recent years. The Civil war is still being fought and a new mineral called ghost rock has advanced science beyond it years. But nothing is ever as it seems and something wicked this way comes. Can you stand up and take the fight to the darkness and save this Weird West? Players can play a wide range of characters with amazing powers and a steady hand. With over twenty supplemental books that advance the meta plot along with new areas to explore the game can take a Green horn to a grizzled veteran. This is a game not to be missed.

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     Legends Of the Five Rings
    Designers: Rob Vaux (Brand Lead)
                       Bryan Reese (Lead Designer)
                       Adrian Burton (Art Director)
                       Shawn Carman (Lead Writer)
     Publisher: Alderac Entertainment Group
 
         Legends of the five rings (L5R) is a Samurai game set in the fictional world of Rokugan. Based on the L5R ccg this game storylines come from tournaments played out over the years in the CCG community. The system uses ten sided dice and a clever Roll and Keep mechanic. But the game shines in the cultural aspects forcing players to role play under the rules of Bushido. Combat is also extremely lethal one hit can and does kill. It is better to strike first and hard than wait. For those looking for a deep beautiful world and expanding role play skills this game comes second to none. 


    BattleTech
    Designers: Fasa Corp
    Publisher:  Fasa Corp

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    Big Robots? Check. Easy to Learn system? Check. Amazing story with different eras to play? Oh yeah. Battletech or Mechwarrior is a genre defining game where players take control of Mechs. Most games revolve around a group of mercenaries just trying to make ends meet taking what ever jobs come there way. Managing funds, repairs on Mechs, and just trying to feed yourself this is not a happy future but maybe you can rise to stardom. Hundreds of years and thousands of Mechs make sure you won't get tired of this game anytime soon. 

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    Brave New World
    Designers: Matt Forbeck
    Publisher : Pinnacle/ Alderac entertainment Group
    
    Taking inspiration from classics works like Kingdom Come, Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, X-Men, and Watchmen this is not your fathers super hero game. Set in an alternate reality where the government has declared that all super heroes work for the government. Some have decided to run go underground and fight a resistance. Coming out seven years before Marvel's Civil War story line. This game puts you in the place of what if Tony Stark won. Choosing sides when the game starts you can either fight with the resistance or hunt down fugitives. Six sided dice are used with a modification on the Deadlands System  this game handles powers with ease and there is an overarching story line to keep everyone on Edge. Long Live Patriot!


    Star Wars
    Designer: Greg Costikyan
    Publisher: West End Games

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    A long time ago...released in 1987 Star Wars: the role playing game took players to the fight against an evil empire. This game established much of the ground work that would later become the expanded universe. So much so that when Zahn was hired to write his Thrawn trilogy, he was sent a box of West End product. This game the D6 system created for the Ghostbuster Rpg and nothing is more fun than rolling twenty dice to swing a lightsaber. Three editions and over 140 source and adventure books were released for this game. Ensuring that you will have plenty of adventures in a galaxy far away.    

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    7th Sea
   Designers: Jennifer Wick
                      John Wick
                      Kevin Wilson
     Publisher:  Alderac Entertainment Group

    Swashbuckling and sorcery themes sail high in this game. This game also runs on the L5R “Roll and keep” system with a few changes. Unlike most game where a combat encounter is planned out to the T. This game encourages players to be more cinematic with there actions. If your looking for a fun easy and free spirited game  look no further than 7th sea.  Much like with L5R a deep and rich world awaits for you to plunder, just make sure that X truly marks the spot. 

    
    Paranoia
    Designers: Greg Costikyan
               Dan Gelber
               Eric Goldberg
               Allen Varney 

    Publisher: West End games
              Mongoose Publishing

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    Whats better than having one character die? How about having six characters die. In Paranoia death is not an option you will die. That is exactly why the computer sees fit to give you six clones in order to achieve your missions. Set in a dystopian future city controlled by an artififcial intelligence known as the computer controls everything including the rules to the game. Players are initially enforcers of The Computer's authority (known as 'Troubleshooters', mainly for the fact that they shoot trouble), and will be given missions to seek out and eliminate threats to The Computer's control. The players are also part of prohibited underground movements (which means that the players' characters are usually among the aforementioned 'security threats'), and will have secret objectives including theft from and murder of other players. This game is the king of the beer and pretzel role playing game and should be played by everyone.


    Call Of Cthulhu
    Designer: Sandy Petersen
    Publisher: Chaosium
    
    Seven editions of this classic Gumshoe game. Mythos, Cults and the Old Ones make this horror game a must play for any true Role Players.  The Game runs the Basic Role-Playing system It is skill-based, with player characters getting better with their skills by succeeding at using them for as long as they stay functionally healthy and sane. They do not, however, gain hit points and do not become significantly harder to kill. This is the game that truly teaches you to Hear, See, or Speak no evil. The question is not if you will survive this game but can you keep your sanity. Don't say we didn't warn you. 

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    Vampire: The Masquerade
    Designer: Mark Rein-Hagen
                    Graeme Davis
                   Tom Dowd
                   Lisa Stevens
                   Stewart Wieck
    Publisher: White Wolf Publishing

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    This game was the first in the World of Darkness line and made more Goth kids happier than a new issue of Sandman. Set in the fictionalized gothic punk version of of the modern world or at least the 90's. Players are vampires trying to hold on to their humanity while wading into the pool of ancient politics.  Vampire uses the Storyteller System rules set, a rule system used in all of World of Darkness games. Dice pools of ten sided dice and a target number was the measure of success or failure. This system might be one of the most balanced, easy to learn systems ever produce. If you looking for game that is more on character development and role playing it's hard to find a better game than this. Just try and remember the Masquerade is watching. 

    
        Dungeons and Dragons
        Designer: Gary Gygax
                         Dave Arneson
         Publisher: Wizards of the Coast

      So yeah we all saw this one coming. The Grandfather of the hobby first published in 1974 and bringing with it a new way to game. This game has many fantasy setting for you to stomp around and eight different editions for you to kill goblins with. High fantasy, horror, and even sci-fi have all had a turn under this monster of a game. For those who have always wanted to be a table top warrior this is the game to start with a classic battle of good against evil. The only thing that holds this game back is a lack of imagination from the players or DM seriously play this game. We recommend 5th edition to start with but you can't go wrong here. 

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    So that's it Ten RPG'S you need to play before you die. Did I miss your favorite? Let me know if you have a different game I should have put on this list. This is not a list of the best games that would be way to hard. 

 

         'Till Next time...Stay Geeky!     
 

Dark Nights: Metal Review Part 2

Jason O’Toole

Images Courtesy Of DC Comics

For the second part of my Metal review, I have decided to spotlight the tie-in series that showed us how the rest of the DC characters dealt with the dark Batmen. The first of these crossovers took place in the pages of Teen Titans, Nightwing, Suicide Squad and Green Arrow. The crossover was titled Gotham Resistance, and dealt with the villains of Gotham City gaining god-like powers from playing cards given to them by the Batman who laughs. The second crossover was Bats out of Hell, and took place in the pages of Flash, Justice League and Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps. It dealt with the dark Batmen and the Batcaves they had built to deal with the rest of the Justice League after Batman and Superman were taken prisoner by Barbatos.

Gotham Resistance

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This story was my least favorite of the two tie-in series. It’s not a bad story, it just feels very isolated from what is going on around it. When the dark multiverse breaks through, a giant mountain springs up in the middle of Gotham City. Robin assembles a team to deal with this crisis at home. Nightwing, the Suicide Squad and Green Arrow, who promised Batman that he would look after Robin, join in the fight against the villains. Their first challenge comes from the Riddler and his labyrinth. It ends up devolving into a battle against robots designed by the villain. DC really missed the mark with this issue. Instead of focusing on the psychological aspects of the Riddler’s character, they chose to make it a physical altercation. The story then moves into Nightwing where our heroes have to deal with Mr. Freeze and his army of frost giants. The slow start gives way to a solid second issue that proves it has a good understanding of the physicality of a villain like Freeze. This issue further spotlights the flaws in the first one. Freeze is the villain that fights, not Riddler. The crossover stays strong with an excellent third issue that puts Harley Quinn and the Suicide Squad up against Poison Ivy and a mutated jungle. Harley and Ivy already have a well established love-hate relationship, and deciding to put that at the center of the books narrative is the only choice. Also, Killer Croc has a great self sacrificing moment that ultimately saves the team, which is amazing to see from a villain like Croc. The story finishes strong with our first real look into the madness that is the Batman who laughs. Damian also comes face to face with the Robin of the Batman who laughs, a dark reflection of himself with a twisted grin and pale white skin. The Batman who laughs makes a grand entrance onto the field of battle. We start to understand that the will of Bruce Wayne will be hard to take down when it’s also fueled by the madness of the Joker. Overall, this tie-in series works on a lot of levels but ultimately doesn’t add much to the overall narrative.

Bats Out Of Hell

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In search of artifacts that can fight back against the dark multiverse, the Flash, Wonder Woman and Green Lantern are taken to Batcaves specifically designed to kill them. This story is fantastic because it expands on why these twisted versions of Bruce are superior. They are not only physically capable of defeating their foes, they have a psychological advantage because they are all Bruce Wayne without a moral compass. The crossover starts strong with Flash taking on the Red Death. They are evenly matched but ultimately Barry cannot keep fighting Bruce. He pulls his punches which is exactly what Barry, the heart of the Justice League, would do. We then see Wonder Woman deal with the Merciless, a version of Bruce that once loved Diana and had to watch her die. This issue shows us exactly how Diana should be written. Her physical prowess makes for an intense fight between her and Bruce. However, like Barry before her, Diana cannot break the Merciless and is taken captive. Barry and Diana fail to take down Bruce, but if any hero can do it would be Hal Jordan, the Green Lantern. His willpower is what drives his power ring. The weakness that Bruce takes advantage of in his foes is not shared by Hal. He comes closer than any to defeating his foe, the Dawnbreaker. Ultimately, like all the others, he is defeated and taken captive. The finale proves to be the best issue of this crossover. It puts the spotlight on a character that doesn’t get that often enough, Cyborg. Bryan Hitch, the writer of Justice League, proves that he has a firm grasp of the characters he writes. Cyborg takes a mind bending journey into his mother box and expands his mind beyond comprehension. The hopelessness that has characterized the other issues of this crossover takes a brief back seat to a small sliver of hope. It is not much but it sets the stage for what will surely be a spectacular ending to the main series.

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Doctor Who Profile: Peter Capaldi

Jason O’Toole

Photos Courtesy of BBC

Way back in December of 2013, the eleventh incarnation of the Doctor regenerated and Peter Capaldi made his first full appearance as the titular Time Lord. New ground was broken as Capaldi became the first doctor beyond original regeneration cycle, long thought by fans to be impossible. We were immediately reminded of the classic story as the new doctor was an older man than fans were used to at that point in the shows history. His companion, Clara Oswald, was hesitant about the whole regeneration process. She was unsure if the man she now traveled with was the same man she once cared for. This leads to a beautiful moment between the Doctor and Clara in the first episode of series 8. Clara receives a phone call from the eleventh doctor explaining that she needs to help him. That he is afraid and needs Clara’s help. The Doctor responds with a touching monologue,

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“You can’t see me, can you? You look at me and you can’t see me. Do you have any idea what that’s like? I’m not on the phone, I’m right here standing in front of you. Please, just….just see me.”

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Clara realizes what fans have always known, the Doctor may change his face, but the heroic nature of his being will always remain. The ironic nature of Capaldi’s doctor was even though he appeared older he was, as the first new regeneration in the cycle, still very much a child. We got to watch this new Doctor mature and try to deal with his legacy reborn into a universe that sees him as a threat. Allies old and new came along to help our hero on his journey. His adventures led him to places he had never been before like the most secure bank in the universe to the inside of a malfunctioning Dalek. Ultimately, he once again came face to face with the newest regeneration of the Master, a female Time Lord named Missy. She would also test him in ways he had never imagined.

Eventually, the Doctor parted ways with Clara Oswalt and met Bill Potts, a young woman the Doctor took to tutoring. During this final stage of his journey, the Doctor started to question if he should get to live forever. Together with Bill and a cyborg named Nardole, the Doctor embarked on a season that made him reassess his impact on the universe. This led to some of the greatest episodes of Steven Moffat’s 8 year stint as the showrunner. He brought the Doctor full circle and introduced him to his original incarnation, revived by David Bradley. Bradley’s striking resemblance to the original actor William Hartnell allowed him to bring a near perfect performance as the first Doctor to the screen. They help each other to understand the importance of their lives. The peoples of the universe would have long ago destroyed themselves if not for the Doctor. All of this led to the inevitable end for the Doctor, the regeneration. He leaves his future self with a few parting words,

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“Never be cruel, never be cowardly, and never ever eat pears. Remember, hate is always foolish, and love is always wise. Always try to be nice, but never fail to be kind. Oh, and you mustn’t tell anyone your name. No one would understand it anyway...except children. Children can hear it, sometimes, if their hearts are in the right place, and the stars are too, children can hear your name. But nobody else. Laugh hard. Run fast. Be kind. Doctor...I let you go.”

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This is as much a message to himself as it to his future self. The new Doctor, now played by Jodie Whittaker, makes her first appearance on screen as the titular hero. Her first line as the Doctor echos how we all feel when we realize the Doctor is now a woman, “Brilliant.” Even though this episode marks the end of Steven Moffat’s excellent run as showrunner, we have a bright future to look forward to as new ground is one again broken in this series. Fortunately, we don’t have long to wait as Jodie Whittaker will grace our screens later this year.

 

 

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Superhuman: Ownership

 

By Chris Parsons

One of the easiest things to do as we are moving through life is accepting circumstances or allowing them to dictate what happens in our world. We don't always own our existence we fall victim to excuses. We do this for a number of reasons, but the one thing that we aren't doing is assuming responsibility for our own shortcomings and our personal lack of discipline. Let's be real you can't look like wolverine without putting in the work.

                                                                                        Image courtesy of 20th Century Fox

After beginning to write this series, I have been attempting to implement the concepts that I have been writing about into my everyday life. My first shortcoming came with waking up early. I would hear the chime of my alarm and sell myself the excuse that I didn't really need to be up before the sun came up. I would be too tired and unable to conduct myself in a productive matter if I were still tired. This was bull shit. I didn't feel like doing something, so I simply wasn't doing it. It wasn't until I started thinking about hypocrisy and accountability that I was able to pull myself out of the mindset that I was in. 

I have also been  attempting to find things and people that inspire me; it was in this process that I discovered the book Extreme Ownership , By Jocko Willink and Leif Babin. (It's a good read and should help to get your mind into the right place.) I listen to psychology lectures and interviews with successful individuals and this has also been instrumental in trying to figure out what it is that separates the elite from the average Joe. The people that achieve the most are the most diligent and relentless in their pursuits. They don't leave anything up to chance because they accept that failure is ultimately the acceptance of circumstance.

 

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This week we are going to start to hone our minds and (for lack of a better way to put it) our spirits. We must have an unshakable resolve and persevere when things don't go our way. In the wise words of Master Yoda " Do or do not, there is no try." Accept that things won't happen unless you make them happen and begin to build off of that.

Image courtesy of wallpaper clicker

Stay Geeky!   

MCU Phase Two: A Retrospective

Jason O’Toole

Images Courtesy Of Marvel

As we approach the release of Avengers Infinity War and its as of yet untitled sequel it is a good time to look back on the movies that have led us to here. Each piece of the cinematic universe has helped build the ongoing narrative that has followed. It is interesting to look back and try to understand how each film has helped shape the story thus far.

Iron Man 3 (May 3rd, 2013)

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The film that kicked off phase two reunites Robert Downey Jr. with Gwyneth Paltrow as Pepper Potts and Don Cheadle as Colonel James Rhodes. This movie also introduces new villains Guy Pearce as Aldritch Killian and Sir Ben Kingsley as the Mandarin. This is a great character study of Tony Stark, as he is suffering from p.t.s.d. after the events of the first Avengers film. The aliens raining down from the sky shatter Tony’s reality. He gets into his head that he has to find a way to protect the world should the aliens ever return to earth. This movie doesn’t add much to the galactic narrative but does put Tony in the place he needs to be for the forthcoming Infinity War. This movie adapts the famous Iron Man story Extremis. Killian is testing a new drug that will repair human bodies from any ailment or physical injury. Many fans weren’t happy with the treatment of the Mandarin, who is reduced to a decoy to keep the world in fear so Killian can continue his research in secret. The post credits scene didn’t tease the next movie at all. Instead, for the first time, it was a joke about Bruce and Tony’s friendship.

Thor The Dark World (November 8th, 2013)

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Thor’s second film is considered by many to be the weakest of the MCU movies thus far. Chris Hemsworth is once again joined by Natalie Portman as Jane Foster, Tom Hiddleston as Loki, Anthony Hopkins as Odin and Stellan Skarsgard as Erik Selvig. While this film is far from perfect, it did introduce fans to several concepts that would be important to the overall MCU narrative. It introduces us to the Dark Elves, an ancient species who want to return the universe to one of darkness. They would achieve this goal with the Aether, an ancient powerful force that can destroy the universe. It was our first introduction to the Infinity Stones, the ultimate power Thanos wants to use to rule the galaxy. While this second outing for Thor might not have been the best, it cemented itself as an important part of the ongoing narrative. The post credit scene introduces us to the Collector, a strange man who collects powerful objects from around the universe. This scene also tells us that the Tessaract was an Infinity Stone as well.

Captain America The Winter Soldier (April 4th, 2014)

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At last we come to what is easily one the best MCU outings to date. Chris Evans returns as Captain America. This movie also marked the first solo outing in the present day for Cap. He is joined by Scarlett Johansson, reprising her role as Black Widow, Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury, Robert Redford as Alexander Pierce and newcomer Anthony Mackie as the Falcon. Adapting the famous Winter Soldier storyline to the screen, this story brings back Sebastian Stan as Bucky. Once Captain America’s best friend, he was thought dead after the first film. Now returned to present day in the same way Cap was, Bucky is now the Winter Soldier. This movie brings the political thriller to the MCU in grand fashion. Captain America becomes caught in a fight with his old enemy Hydra, who have secretly infiltrated SHIELD. With the aid of SHIELD lost to him, Cap has to turn to Black Widow and a new ally, the Falcon, to take down Hydra. This changes the status quo of the MCU forever by eliminating SHIELD and Hydra in one fell swoop. The post credit scene give our first look at a key Hydra leader named Baron Von Strucker. We also get to see the return of the staff Loki used to control peoples minds in Avengers. Experimenting with it, Hydra is able to create two enhanced people, Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch, who would go on to play an important role in the second Avengers film.

Guardians of the Galaxy (August 1st, 2014)

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Taking a break from stories on earth, Guardians of the Galaxy takes us into the cosmos to tell the story of Star Lord, played by Chris Pratt, and his ragtag group of teammates. Pratt is joined by Zoe Saldana as Gamora, Dave Bautista as Drax, Bradley Cooper as the voice of Rocket Raccoon and Vin Diesel as the voice of Groot. For the first time since the first Avengers film, we get to see Thanos return to the screen. The character gets an official casting in Josh Brolin, who will continue to bring the villain to life through Avengers Infinity War and its sequel. He is joined by the main villain of the story, Ronan the Accuser, played by Lee Pace. Another Infinity Stone makes its debut in this movie, the Power Stone. This film does more to build toward Infinity War than any other MCU movie has to date. The Collector, played by Benicio Del Toro, makes his return once again trying to get his hands on an Infinity Stone. It was thought by many fans that this would be where the MCU films would falter, trying to introduce us to characters that most of the mainstream audience was unfamiliar with. We couldn’t have been more wrong. Guardians of the Galaxy was one of Marvel’s highest grossing films to date. Its post credit scene didn’t set up a sequel, instead it introduced us to the MCU version of Howard the Duck in great joke played on us by the films director, James Gunn.

Avengers Age of Ultron (May 1st, 2015)

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At last we get to the second team up film, Avengers Age of Ultron. Once again, all of our heroes come together to deal with a threat too big for any one of them to face alone. Tony has taken his plan to protect the earth to a whole new level, artificial intelligence. He and Bruce come up with an idea for a global peacekeeping program that they have dubbed Ultron. After dealing with Baron Von Strucker and the enhanced twins Wanda (Scarlet Witch) and Pietro (Quicksilver), the Avengers reclaim Loki’s Scepter and Tony and Bruce realize that the stone within can help them complete their program. What they don’t realize until it’s too late is that the stone within is actually the Mind Stone, another of the six Infinity Stones. This leads to Ultron becoming a sentient machine bent on destroying the human race. This, once again, shows us how dangerous these stones will be when assembled by Thanos. All of this winds to an explosive final battle that introduces us to the Vision, another sentient machine that is made up of the Mind Stone and the matrix of Jarvis, Tony’s AI assistant. This film lays the groundwork for many films in phase three, including giving us our first look at Thanos with his Infinity Gauntlet in the post credit scene. In the final moments of the film Captain America’s new Avengers roster is unveiled. His new roster includes Black Widow, Falcon, War Machine, the Vision, still in possession of the Mind Stone, and Scarlet Witch without her brother, who nobly sacrificed himself in the final battle with Ultron.

Ant Man (July 17th, 2015)

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While phases one and three did and will end with an Avengers film, phase two decide to squeeze Ant Man in right at the end. Regardless of where it ended up, Ant Man was a fun heist film that surprised fans in much the same way Guardians of the Galaxy did when it released. Paul Rudd shines as the titular hero in a role he seemed born to play. Scott Lang (Rudd) is joined on his journey into the microscopic world of ants by Hope Van Dyne, played by Evangeline Lilly, Dr. Hank Pym, played by Michael Douglas, and his best friend Luis, played by Michael Pena. Corey Stoll joins in as the villain Darren Cross, the Yellowjacket. What follows is one the most enjoyable and heartfelt journeys we have seen in a Marvel film so far. Along the way, Lang crosses paths with the Falcon, thus setting up a post credit scene that was an actual shot from the next film, Captain America Civil War, in which Falcon talks about a guy who can help them, Lang.

Keep tuned to entertainthegeeky.com for the third part of this review. It will be uploaded once Black Panther hits theaters on February 16th, 2018.

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Dark Nights: Metal Review Part 1

Jason O’Toole

Images Courtesy of DC Entertainment

Back in late 2017, DC Comics set out to shake up the world of Batman and the entire DC universe with Dark Nights: Metal. For almost the entire run of New 52 Batman, Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo were building a long form narrative that was too big for 52 issues. Dark Nights: Metal finally brings that epic run to its explosive conclusion.

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It all started with the dark multiverse, a dark reflection of the DC universe where nightmare versions of the characters we know and love. In this dark universe worlds are born into existence only to wither and die. In these worlds Batman is pushed to extremes by circumstances beyond his control. What if Batman had the powers of the Flash, joined with a cybernetic AI, was given a Green Lantern ring, stole the helmet of Ares, had surgically implanted gills, became a Doomsday monster or even worse, the Joker? The dark universe was a place where the impossible came true, a universe where Batman turned on his allies. Many stories over the years have shown us that if Batman ever became evil no one would be able to stop him. Enter the dark Batmen, the Red Death, the Murder Machine, the Dawnbreaker, the Merciless, the Drowned, the Devastator and the Batman Who Laughs.

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A series of one-shots, starting with the Red Death, showed us how these twisted evil Batmen came into being. Driven to madness by his inability to be everywhere at once, Batman decides to take the speed force from the Flash by force. After this union of Bruce and Barry, the Red Death’s world begins to come apart. He is snatched from oblivion by a mysterious Joker Batman hybrid who tells him of a universe of light and weak people they can rule. All the Red Death must do is submit to the will of Barbatos, a dark bat god.

 

 

 

 

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On a world where the villains of batman’s rogues gallery captured and murdered Alfred Pennyworth, Batman is driven mad with grief and asks Cyborg for help crafting an AI with Alfred’s mind. The directive to serve and protect Bruce causes the AI to malfunction and take a physical form. It then proceeds to murder all of Batman’s villains and merge with Bruce’s consciousness in an effort to keep him safe. The Murder machine is born. The hybrid form then turns its attention to the Justice League and kills them all. With his world crumbling around him, the Murder Machine is also pulled from oblivion by the Batman who laughs.

 

 

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Even in the dark multiverse some moments of Batman’s life will always happen. On the night of his parents murder, a version of Bruce loses all emotion. Abin Sur’s ring mistakes this emotionless shell as a man who can overcome great fear. The willpower that young Bruce possesses overrides the rings power and allows him to murder Joe Chill and reanimate the corpse of his parents. Dealing with the scum of Gotham by murdering them attracts the attention of the Green Lantern Corps. Constructs created by the black hole in Bruce’s heart destroy the entire corps and thus the Dawnbreaker is born. The recruitment continues as the Batman who laughs brings the Dawnbreaker into Barbatos’ army.

 

 

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The series of one-shots go on to introduce us to The Drowned, a woman named Bryce Wayne whose love is tragically taken from her by the invading Atlanteans. Bryce, like other versions of the character, decides to resort to drastic measures and surgically implant gills to fight the enemy on their own turf. She kills Aquawoman and claims her trident, subsequently destroying all of Atlantis in the process. Like the others, her victory is short lived, as her world crumbles around her.

 

 

 

 

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Like the Atlanteans, the Greek gods of the Amazons pose a great threat to the world of man. Wonder Woman and Batman manage to defeat Ares god of war however Diana is fatally wounded in the battle. This drives Bruce mad, as he loved her, and he claims the helmet of Ares. The madness of the god of war and the determination of Bruce leads to a world where mankind is extinguished and Batman the Merciless rules. The world is left in ruin as it starts to fall like all worlds in the dark multiverse.

 

 

 

 

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The next one-shot answered a question that is always on the minds of DC fans. What would Batman do if Superman turned on mankind and his fellow heroes. This version of Batman makes a terrible choice, he injects himself with a mutated strain of the doomsday virus and becomes the Devastator. He surmises that the only way to protect humanity is to turn them as well so they can defend themselves. He brings this same madness to the people of the DC universe. One of his first victims is Lois Lane, wife of Superman. All roads lead back to Barbatos.

 

 

 

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Finally, one of the biggest mysteries of the dark multiverse was answered with the final one-shot. Who is the Batman who laughs, and how did he come to be in the service of Barbatos? A world where the Joker destroyed Gotham and subjected many children to the same fate as young Bruce Wayne is a dark place indeed. The rage that builds inside Bruce as he witnesses this finally drives him to kill the Joker. This turned out to be part of the plan as a rare strain of the joker toxin is released upon his death. Bruce starts to show signs that he is infected and kills his entire family. He then proceeds to destroy the Justice League. Superman gets the worst of this as Batman exposes him to black kryptonite which drives Clark to murder his wife and son before taking his own life. Flanked by an army of joker infected Robins, the Batman who laughs rules his world. He is approached, like all the others, by Barbatos and told of another set of heroes to subjugate. The union of the two sets in motion a plan to rise and rule. Others are recruited and the plan is set in motion.

This series of one-shots turned out to be some of the best Batman stories ever written. When unchained from continuity the writers were able to do what had never been done, push Batman over the edge. Each dark Batman is put into a position where the limits of their heroism are put to the test. Any one of these situations could have possessed the DC universe Batman to make the same choices. These different versions of Bruce are sympathetic because the choices they make are for the greater good. They become enraged as they are told by Barbatos of a universe that gets to exist free of the suffering and the darkness they know. This set the stage for the dark Batmen to reveal themselves to the universe above. This led into several tie in books that showed us how the heroes of the DC universe dealt with these nightmare Batmen. We will cover these tie ins in part 2 of this review. Stay tuned to Entertain the Geeky for more.

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MCU Phase One: A Retrospective

Jason O’Toole

Images Courtesy of Marvel

As we approach the release of Avengers Infinity War and its as of yet untitled sequel it is a good time to look back on the movies that have led us to here. Each piece of the cinematic universe has helped build the ongoing narrative that has followed. It is interesting to look back and try to understand how each film has helped shape the story thus far.

Iron Man (May 2nd, 2008)

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The movie that started it all. Robert Downey Jr. leads a great cast including Gwyneth Paltrow as Pepper Potts, Jeff Bridges as Obadiah Stane and Terrence Howard as Colonel Rhodes. Marvel was faced with an insurmountable goal, to build a universe without their biggest properties the X-Men and the Fantastic Four. This film does an amazing job of laying the groundwork for what was to come. The origin is presented with the modern setting of Afghanistan instead of Vietnam, which the original comic used. The Iron Man Mk 1 armor is a perfect recreation of its original comic counterpart. The story builds to a climactic battle between Iron Man and Iron Monger. The implications on the larger narrative are presented in the MCU’s first post credit scene. Tony returns home to find Nick Fury who tells him about the Avengers initiative, which is the first step into a larger world.

Incredible Hulk (June 13th, 2008)

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Marvel and Universal had a big job with their second film, making the Hulk a viable character again after Ang Lee’s horrible film left a sour taste in fans mouths. This time around the role was given to Edward Norton, who admittedly does a much better job than Eric Bana before him. Norton is joined by William Hurt as General Ross, Liv Tyler as Betty Ross and Tim Roth as Emil Blonsky. This film definitely drops hints at the larger narrative by making the program that Banner was working on an attempt by the government to recreate the super soldier serum that created Captain America. To even the playing field Blonsky agrees to undergo treatment that will ultimately turn him into the Abomination. A monster battle in the streets of Harlem ensues, ultimately showing the government that the Hulk is not the enemy. The post credit scene furthers the continuity between films by having a cameo from Tony Stark telling General Ross of the team that Fury is building.

Iron Man 2 (May 7th, 2010)

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Robert Downey Jr. returns as Tony Stark in a sequel that does more to add to continuity than the previous films. Downey Jr. is joined by Gwyneth Paltrow returning as Pepper Potts, Mickey Rourke as Ivan Vanko, Don Cheadle replacing Terrence Howard as Colonel Rhodes and Scarlet Johansson as Natalia Romanov. This sequel shows us a world where the Iron Man armor is trying to be recreated by foreign nations and arms dealers the world over. Furthermore, the arc reactor in Tony’s chest is killing him. The palladium it’s made from is slowly poisoning Tony. It is only through the intervention of Nick Fury and Black Widow, undercover within Stark Enterprises, that Tony is able to discover a new element to power the arc reactor. The world building gets pushed into overdrive in this sequel. Howard Stark, Tony’s father, is introduced as one of the founders of S.H.I.E.L.D. We get to see a prototype of Captain America’s shield. Recently, we have also found that a child Tony saves during the films climax was actually a young Peter Parker aka Spider-Man. Finally, the post credit scene directly sets up the next phase 1 film showing S.H.I.E.L.D. Agent Coulson arriving in New Mexico at a crater containing a hammer.

Thor (May 2nd, 2011)

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The opening of this movie takes us back to the past to show us a great battle between Asgard and Jotunheim, home of the frost giants. Ancient earthlings thought of the Asgardians as gods and they ultimately became legends of Norse mythology. Chris Hemsworth leads a great cast including Tom Hiddleston as Loki, Anthony Hopkins as Odin, Natalie Portman as Jane Foster and Stellan Skarsgard as Erik Selvig. Thor’s arrogance and thirst for war leads Odin to have no choice but to banish him to Midgard, earth. There he meets Jane Foster, an astrophysicist studying astral phenomenon. Odin sends the hammer to earth as well with an enchantment that will allow Thor to reclaim it once he learns humility. S.H.I.E.L.D. arrives on the scene, joined by Jeremy Renner as Hawkeye, to study the hammer. The whole movie winds to a conclusion that reveals that Loki has betrayed his adopted family to claim power for himself. Thor challenges Loki and it is believed that Loki perishes in the end. This film doesn’t do much to build the ongoing narrative until its post credit scene, which introduces us to a still living Loki and the Tesseract. It was later revealed to be an infinity stone.

Captain America The First Avenger (July 22nd, 2011)

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The fifth film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe takes us back to World War II to show us not only the origin of Captain America but S.H.I.E.L.D. as well. Chris Evans is cast in the titular role joined by Hayley Atwell as Peggy Carter, Sebastian Stan as Bucky Barnes, Tommy Lee Jones as Colonel Phillips and Hugo Weaving as Red Skull. This film also introduces us to a young Howard Stark, who we know by now was a founding member of S.H.I.E.L.D. Captain America is the first super hero chronologically in this universe. Red Skull leads a Nazi deep science program called Hydra, who have got their hands on the Tesseract and are using it to research weapons and new technology to take over the world. In the ensuing battles Cap’s best friend Bucky is killed, which leads to a final showdown with the Red Skull at a Hydra research base. Captain America makes the ultimate sacrifice to save the world and is presumed dead. The epilogue to this film shows us Cap found in a glacier alive. He is thawed out in the present day and is confronted by Nick Fury who talks to him about the Avenger initiative. The post credit scene is literally a teaser trailer for Avengers, the film that would bring phase 1 to a close and set up the future.

Avengers (May 4th, 2012)

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All of this brings us to Avengers, considered by many fans to be the best super hero movie ever made. This film brings all the heroes we have met thus far into a single team up. At the time this kind of shared universe was unheard of in the film industry. The villain of this film is revealed to be Loki, brother of Thor, on a mission to bring the Tesseract to a mysterious overlord. The story of this movie becomes the event that all other films reference as the moment that everything changed. Loki’s actions ultimately bring together the very heroes that can stop him. The climactic battle at the films conclusion show the world that heroes exist. The alien invasion reveals that we are not alone and the enemy is much bigger than we ever could have imagined. The implications on the larger narrative are felt throughout. However, it is revealed in a post credit scene that the actual villain of the story is Thanos, an intergalactic dictator who is bent on universal domination. To do this he begins collecting the infinity stones, ancient sources of power that can make him a god. The stage was set to build phase 2 and ultimately Infinity War, which comes to theaters this May.

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Star Wars CCG : A Retrospective

By Rodger Moss


    It's funny to me how much the collectable card game or customizable card game (CCG)/trading card game (TCG} hobby has changed over the last twenty or so years (that was 1997). At this point, it's time to check my gray hair count. Magic the Gathering (MTG) was four years old. The gaming community just began dealing with the CCG/TCG boom that MTG had created. There was Star Wars, Vampire the Eternal Struggle, even Alien vs. Predator CCG.  Hundreds of card games flooded the market.  It was an odd time to be a gamer. Every property you could imagine got the cardboard treatment. Thinking back on this period in time, I thought we as geeks could take a trip down 90's memory lane by revisiting some of the forgotten card games of the past, most of which I played. Let's discuss the good, the bad, and the 'Just...No.” games of the past in the CCG/TCG hobby. A 'Just...No.' example that immediately comes to mind is Decipher's game Boy Crazy. That's right, they made a card game where the object was to find the perfect boy to date.

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    For me, the cardboard crack started not with Magic the Gathering as most players. My addiction began with one of the most successful games of all times. A game that outsold MTG at it's height...Star Wars CCG. It was Christmas 1996 and I was fully dependent on Star Wars CCG. The prequels were still a few years away. More than anything, I wanted a way to play out the battles I saw in the movies. I owned West Ends Star Wars RPG third edition but I could not get my friends to take the plunge into my realm of nerdom. On Christmas my whole family gathered at my grandmother's house. We exchanged presents which took time as I have a large family. I remembering this particular Christmas being knee deep in socks and jeans when this small, rectangular box was thrusted at me. 
    It was too small to be a shirt, another pair of pants, yet too big to be socks or underwear. I shook it for a second, listing to the strange sounds that came from this mysteriously shaped block. It was definitely not candy or a puzzle. I checked the tag, it was from my cousin, Mike. This made me excited, I knew it had to be good. At this point, I was all in. Was it dice? Mike knew how badly I need a set. Maybe it was a new six button controller for my Sega. Finally I would rule the street fighter matches. I ripped the gift open with no regard for the wrapping paper or the funny little bow on top. I saw 'Star Wars' from the first rip and I knew something good was coming. After another 10 seconds I had my present fully unwrapped. I ran my eyes over the box. There was Luke and Vader. The Star Wars Customizable Card Game introductory two player box. At first I was confused. What the hell was a customizable card game?  After lunch, Mike and I headed to the spare room and slowly learned how to play a game that would forever change my life. I'll touch base more on that later, lets dig into the Star Wars CCG for a little while.

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     The Star Wars Customizable Card Game  was published by Decipher games from 1995-2001. It was desgined by Tom Branlich, Rollie Tesh, and Jerry Darcy. The game had 12 expansions, covering the original trilogy of A New Hope, Empire Strikes Back, Return of the Jedi, and the prequileThe Phantom Menece. Unlike every other card game, 2 sixty card decks were required to play in a tournement of Light Side and Dark Side. This made it impossible to play against your deck, which was something unseen in the CCG/TCG hobby at this time. 
 

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     “The action of the game occurs at various "Location" cards (both interstellar and planet-bound) familiar from the Star Wars Universe. Locations can be deployed as the game progresses; furthermore, most locations come in both Dark and Light-side flavors, and an on-the-table location can be "converted" (changed to the other side) at any time. Most locations affect game play in some way; all also provide "Force icons," which represent the amount of "Force" a player can activate per turn.
    Force is the game's resource, similar to "mana" from Magic however, it is executed quite differently and is the game's defining trait. Each unit of "Force" is simply a card from the top of a player's deck, placed off to one side in the "Force Pile." When used to deploy something, each unit of Force is placed on another pile, the "Used Pile," which then cycles back to the bottom of the deck. Unused Force remains in the Force Pile, and can be conserved for the next turn or drawn into hand. The objective of the game is to force the opponent to discard all of their Life Force (consisting of Reserve Deck, Force pile and Used pile). This is accomplished via "Force Drains" (forcing the opponent to discard cards by controlling, unopposed, a location with their Force Icons on it), battling opposing characters, and resolving certain climactic situations (for instance, freezing a character in carbonite, winning a pod race, dueling a Jedi).
    The game system also features "Destiny draws," which represents the elements of chance, uncertainty, luck, random chance and the Force. Each card has a destiny number, from 0 to 7, at the top-right corner (except locations, which count as destiny 0), and rather than using dice for generating random numbers, players "draw destiny" from the top of their deck, revealing the top card and using its destiny number as the result. This is used for a variety of purposes, from determining weapon hits to mandatory losses your opponent incurred to resolving whether a character passes a Jedi Test. The drawn Destiny card goes to the Used Pile and is recycled into the deck. Through this system, a skillful player can legally count cards, remembering where the high-destiny cards are in the deck. Finally, the stronger (or rarer) cards generally had lower Destiny values (though there were exceptions); as a result, less-experienced (or economically challenged) players are more likely to find that "The Force is with them."
    While Decipher oversaw the game, no card was ever banned from tournament play. Instead, when a card or strategy was deemed abusive or too powerful, Decipher chose to release "magic bullets," new cards which were specifically designed to counter the offending strategy. In some cases, Decipher also used errata, modifications to game text of a card that supersede the actual printed version. The use of errata also contributes to a steep learning curve, since players need to be aware of the current meta-game at all times.” “https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Star_Wars_Customizable_Card_Game”

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     As a strong tournament scene from local game stores all the way to a national championship held yearly, the Star Wars Customizable Card Game  was a force to be reckoned with. Having hundreds of deck stratagies and new mechanics it seemed that this game would never go away. For many years this was the case. Then something happened, Star Wars got a new trilogy. Decipher held the rights for the first movie of the prequel trilogy and then it was over. Not because the game sales had dipped or the product was lacking in quality, but because there was one thing that even Decipher could not compete with. Wizards of the Coast, now owned by Hasbro (who had the rights to toys - the big money maker for Lucas), wanted the rights. It's reported that Decipher offered more money than it cost to make Episode I. 
    With that, the game came to an end. For many it was the end of a hobby, for some just an era. For me, I had long stepped away from the Star Wars Customizable Card Game and card games in general. The game can still be played online and new product is released by the SWCCG Player committee. They even host a national championship tournament every year. 
    For my friends and I, the Star Wars CCG was our first (but not the last CCG). We would spend countless afternoons and summer nights stopping sith lords or squashing a rebellion. We lived the movies, fought with our heros and villians, as well as created new chapters in a saga that touched all of our lives. 
    In 2004, Decipher tried to have lighting strike twice when they released Wars TCG. This was a game that used the same rules but reskinned for a sci-fi futuristic earth. The game had quite a bit of buzz when it was announced, however in April of 2005, the game was put on hold. Not long after, Decipher closed it's doors. Thus leaving a lasting legacy of games Star Wars, Star Trek, and Lord of the Rings just to name a few. 

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    In November of 1997, I went to my first Star Wars Customizable Card Game tournament. Keep in mind I had never changed my deck from the two player set. I mean, why would I? Both decks came with Luke and Vader. I had also kicked the crap out of all my freinds, so I was certain there was no way I could lose. When I first walked into Games Craft Hobbies and Stuff, I was in awe of all the CCG/TCG which lay crammed into a retooled book shelf. I was further stunned by the four different sets of Star Wars expansions. I finally understood what cutomizable stood for in CCG upon viewing the black, blue, white, and red packs. The universe was indeed at my finger tips. Upon picking up a pack, which featured a bounty hunter, I read Cloud City at the bottom. I then knew the game had changed. I had just enough money in my pocket to cover entry into the tournament as well as buy lunch that day. This was the first pack of  any card game I ever bought and inside was Bobba Fett. 

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     I got creamed, losing every round I played. I even got the dreaded last round bye. The TO Chuck Kallenbach played with me that last round. He taught me more about this deep and complex game. At the end of the tournament prizes were handed out, and as you can imagine, I didn't win a damn thing. 

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    Something happend after the prizes were handed out which forever set the way I personally treat new players. There was one card every player wanted in the Star Wars Customizable Card Game. That card was Premire Vader, an over powered card that was going for fifty dollars at the time. Every player at the tournament opened their winnings, hoping to find that one card. Not taking any other rares or “good” cards out of the prize pool, just the Vader, they handed me the entire pool. I went from 129 cards to over 500 faster than Han made the Kessle run. When I refused to take the cards, the only thing asked of me was to come back next month and win a round. The next month came and that is exactly what                                                                                    I did. 
 
    Thank you Decipher, for the Star Wars Customizable Card Game  along with all of the wonderful memories that came with it. This game had an everlasting impact on not only my childchood, but also how I see myself as a gamer today. 
 


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Next Week: We will take a look at the Overpower CCG