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Thursday, September 30, 2010

Rack Pick: Koko Be Good

  It's a question that weighs on young adults everywhere: am I a good person?  And how do I know?

Jen Wang's beautifully illustrated debut graphic novel follows two young adults with wildly different personalities as they struggle towards the same goals.  Jon is quiet and thoughtful, fresh out of college, and making preparations to follow his long-distance girlfriend to her new job at a Peruvian orphanage amidst growing doubt.  Koko is a brash, aimless artist-type who, inspired by Jon's selfless ambitions, resolves to become "the hero I was meant to be".  But does forced altruism still have the same value?  What Jon and Koko really want is to find themselves, to give their lives some kind of meaning before they grow old and complacent.  This struggle to "be good", and why, is the crux of this budding unlikely friendship.

Koko Be Good is out now via First Second Books.  Wang's fantastic artwork melds animated figures and expressions with subdued sepia-toned ink washes, a lyrical visual backdrop to the realization that sometimes you can only save the world in small ways- one person at a time, by doing the best you can.  Check it out!

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

This Week's Picks

Daredevil Echo Premium HC: Vision Quest
 David Mack is amazing.  If you aren't familiar with his work, this is the best place for you to start.  The comics Mack creates go beyond story-telling, beyond art, and become something more. David Mack is the Jimmy Hendrix of comics.  If you take my word on anything ever, buy this book.

Last Unicorn #3
Peter S. Beagle's tale of a sullen unicorn in a strange and dangerous world made a huge impact on me in my early years. The graphic iteration proves to hold the same impact and beauty as both the book and the film.  Pick up this week's issue to see the intense chase scene with the Red Bull driving the Unicorn toward Haggard.  Luckily, Schmendrick is on hand to... Schmendrick, what have you done? What have you done?

Bear Nuts
This may look like it's for your kids, but it is not.  Let's just take a look at some of the characters' names; Prozac, Nerd, Evil, Crack, Tanked, Death, Gay, Lech, and Gimp.  That's right, it's the most twisted version of Care Bears you could imagine.   If you're in the mood for something dark and perverse, starring Disney level cute animals, look no further.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Scars of Mirrodin Combos

With the release of a new set imminent, the web has been abuzz with spoilers and the wheels are churning in the heads of all Magic the Gathering players.  While I have seen a lot of interesting combos (and ridiculous one-offs), there are some pairings in the set that seem to have been thrown to the wayside, ignored while collecters and players marvel at Mox pretenders and the return of Elspeth.  The following are a few pairings I plan to exploit.

Venser, the Sojourner and Contagion Engine

Of course, pairing almost any card with a PW is going to look impressive, but this one stands out.  Once Venser is on the field, you can use his +2 ability to trigger the Contagion Engine's "enter the battlefield" ability, debilitating all of an enemies creatures.  After throwing a -1/-1 counter on their creatures, proliferate twice further devastating their forces.  Chances are throwing three -1/-1 counters on everything is going to result in some casualties.  As an added bonus, you can also beef up your PW, increase poison counters, +1/+1 counters, the possibilities are endless.  The only downside is the Contagion Engine can't target more than one player at a time.  Oh well, you might have to wait an extra turn if you're playing multi player.

Etched Champion and Grand Architect

Metalcraft looks to be a pretty powerful mechanic.  Once you get things rolling, the power and effectiveness of you creatures increasing substantially so long as you have the minimum of three artifacts on the field.  The Etched Champion gains the fantastic bonus of having protection from all colors, making him unblockable by everything with the exception of colorless creatures.  While the Eldrazi are fresh in every one's minds (and binders) my guess is the Mirrodin block will lead a lot of you opponents to play artifacts in their decks.  You can work around their colorless artifact defenders by having the Grand Architect turn their artifacts into blue creatures, making them ineligible to block your Etched Champion. 

Auriok Sunchaser and Accorder's Shield

Time for a cheap and easy combo.  This involves two commons, so it should be readily available to most players in addition to having an incredibly low casting cost for the finished product.  Metalcraft makes the Auriok Sunchaser a 3/3 flyer while the Accorder's Shield adds +0/+3 and vigilance.  The end result is a 3/6 flyer with vigilance for a measley four colorless mana and one white.  This is an easy combo to splash other colors with and grants you bargain bin angel.  You shouldn't ignore the idea of testing out a play set of both of these.  Your opponents certainly won't ignore them when they hit the field ready to attack AND block for you.
- Ryan