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Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Employee Picks: Almost Silent by Jason

The comics of Norwegian creator Jason have won numerous awards and been published in several languages.  Lucky for you one of those languages is English, via Fantagraphics Books- his stories and strips are powerfully minimalist, by turns hilarious and poignant.  A good place for the budding Jason fan to start is the recent hardcover Almost Silent.

Almost Silent contains four previously printed works: short stories Tell Me Something, You Can't Get There From Here, and The Living and the Dead, and gag collection Meow, Baby!  We follow a diverse cast of movie monsters, aliens, cavemen, and anthropomorphic characters through their humdrum daily lives, as well as more thrilling situations (like a zombie apocalypse).  This weird world draws from old monster movies, slapstick cartoons, and art house noir; it's really solid joke-making and storytelling, with the added goofiness of all the deadpan animal-people.  Some of them even have pets of their own, it's crazy. 

I'm always making the customers jump by laughing out loud at the latest Jason book, and can't recommend them enough.  Be warned, though- despite the funny animal art, this humor tends to skew adultwards, with occasional nudity and drug use, so tell the kids they can have it when they're older.  Check it out!


Tuesday, July 6, 2010

M11 Core Set Arrives Next Week

Every time a new core set comes out, players have to make a decision as to whether or not it will be worthwhile to their own collection.  For those who have been collecting for years (or even amassed a large set of 2010), you may wonder if a set that is half reprints is deserving of your dollars.  The answer is yes! There are a lot of great cards in this set, new and old. Below, I will break down my favorite card for each of the five colors as well as an artifact.

White - Serra Ascendant

I don't think much of an argument needs to be made for this card.  Playing a white deck grants plenty of opportunity to raise your life total above 30, so the bonus granted to this creature is a very real threat to your opponents.  The potential to throw down a 6/6 Flyer with Lifelink for one mana makes this card well worth chasing.  Even on the off-chance your deck isn't working the way you want, you can still cast this guy as a 1/1 with Lifelink for one mana.  It's far better than waiting around and getting pummeled because your hand is full of creatures that cost more mana than you have.

Blue - Mana Leak

As much as I don't like having my spells countered, I am happy to see this card return to the game.  Mana Leak is a versatile counter spell with a reasonable casting cost.  Part of the fun of playing blue is the mind game between you and the other players.  Once they know you have mana leak in your deck, they may be hesitant to do anything when you keep leaving those two lands untapped.  For me, this card embodies the Jedi mind tricks that blue represents.  Best (and worst) of all, it's a common.  That means it's very likely that whoever is using this has four of them poised and ready to foil your plans.

Black - Phylactery Lich

A lot of the pre-release buzz has gravitated around a certain vampire, but I think this card is far better.  Three mana for an Indestructible 5/5 is not something I am willing to bat an eye at.  If you put this guy in a deck with a bunch of cheap artifacts, he can make things very difficult for your opponent.  Additionally, if you manage to bring out any of the Darksteel (i.e. Indestructible) artifacts, Lich isn't going anywhere unless your opponent has some bounce or removal spells.  Even if they manage to get rid of this guy, you shouldn't feel too bad because he was only three mana.  There is also the strong possibility your black deck is going to offer a number of ways to recover him from your graveyard.

Red - Reverberate

The potential for this card is endless.  Again, unlike the Rise of the Eldrazi cards, this core set has a number of powerful AND cheap spells.  This is a red control card.  The ability to duplicate a burn spell or make your opponents work for you; that's what this card offers.  Your opponent manages to pull off playing one of the Ultimatum cards from the Shards set?  No worries, you shove it back in their face, too... for two mana! Suckers.  Tsabo's Decree my Goblins will you?  Well, say good-bye to your zombies!  Mwa ha ha ha ha!  .... Sorry, this card does not bring out the best in me.

Green - Fauna Shaman

For one mana you get to put a creature in your graveyard AND pull one from your library for your hand.  This has a lot of great combo capability with mono-green decks as well as green/black or green/white decks.  If you like a challenge, you could even combo this girl with Vengevine and some red elementals.  The Shaman 2/2 strength and toughness makes her a more valuable ally as well.  You don't have to worry about this one dying with your Elvish Piper to your opponents Tremor.  Furthermore, with the Shaman being an Elf, she is sure to be a thorn in a lot of sides.

Artifact - Sword of Vengeance

The Sword of Vengeance is a quick step towards making your own Akroma, Angel of Wrath.  Seriously, if you equip this sword to ANY creature, let alone the ones on this list, your opponents are going to have a monster on their hands.  An added bonus lies in this being equipment rather than an enchantment.  That means that when your 1/1 soldier dies while using it, you can equip it to your 1/1 white Lifelink monk that's about to get +5/+5 and Flying.  It doesn't have to be that drastic, but it's something that will haunt your opponent.

Be sure to check at Laughing Ogre on July 16th to see if you can pick up this great set!


Monday, July 5, 2010

One Hundred Years After the Big Wet.

- Somewhere in America...

A century ago, the Big Wet destroyed civilisation.

What little of mankind that survived this unexplained disaster is trying to rebuild society in a hostile and barren landscape, where the ground is hard... and surviving is harder.

Now Michael, a desert scavenger, finds a strange machine on his travels.  It speaks in a forgotten language called the Tongue, and claims it can lead him to A-Ree-Yass-I... the fabled land where, according to legend, the Big Wet began.

But Michael is strange, too. He's been walking the wasteland for longer than he can remember.  He knows nothing of his past.  He possesses special, unexplained powers.  He doesn't even know how old he is.  Michael is unique.

Or so he thinks. -

This is one of the best series I've read in a while.  After checking out the first trade, I needed to buy them all (1-5 are available at this point).  I haven't felt the same way about a series since I started The Walking Dead.  Not unlike Kirkman's series, Wasteland utilizes stark black and white art to convey a violent and intricate world.  Johnston and Mitten set the world of Wasteland apart from any post-apocalyptic setting you've seen. The pacing and scripting is spot on.  There aren't enough good things I can say about this series.  Read it today and tell your friends tomorrow.  This thing is only going to gain momentum.


*Blurb taken from back of Vol 1