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Thursday, February 3, 2011

Rack Pick: Ivy

Acclaimed cartoonist Sarah Oleksyk makes her graphic-novel debut with Ivy, on shelves now from Oni Press!

The title character is a high school senior in small-town Maine, struggling to navigate her rocky relationships with friends, teachers, her single mother, and an alluring but flaky boy she meets at an out-of-town college fair.  This novel's strong suit is its unflinching portrayal of the ugly side of teenage nature; angst, selfishness, short tempers, and bad decisions drive the story, but the result is ultimately more humanizing than alienating.  We follow Ivy's highs and lows- deftly rendered in black, white, and gray- with the understanding that she'll emerge from adolescence as a wiser, more fully-realized adult.

Ivy was originally self-published as a series if mini-comics in Portland, Oregon.  Lucky for us it's found wider release, so give it a look today!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Mirrodin Besieged

It's almost time to rejoin the fray between the Phyrexians and the Mirrans in the current block of Magic the Gathering.  With all the cards spoiled at this point, here are my favorites in each color.  No matter what side of the conflict your allegiance falls, you should add these tools to your arsenal.

Phyrexian Rebirth -
Having always been a fan of good wrath spell, I have often had to consider how to ensure I have the upper hand after a good board wipe.  While I have traditionally found ways to have my creatures survive the process, the Phyrexians suggest I let them die.  In return, the player who casts this spell is going to be rewarded with a horror with power and toughness equal to the number of creatures that fell to this sorcery.  While I wouldn't cast my lot with one creature, this one can get big enough to warrant the attention of the spell your opponent has been holding on to exile your Mirrorworks.

 Turn the Tide -
Don't let the fact this is a common distract you, this two cost spell can be a major pivot point in this set.  As we look for ways to protect from infect and battle cry mechanics, turn the tide will dampen a lot of blows so they can either be ignored or block by creatures that have no business doing so.  The flavor text is pretty great, too.

 Massacre Wurm -
The name says it all.  This thing jumps out on the field and slaughters all of your opponents' weaker creatures while bleeding their life total as well.  This card can potentially end the game without ever attacking.  Even if someone were to counter it, when you are playing black, there are still a plethora of ways to make this guy enter the battlefield.  Whether it's Knights, Myr, Cats, Goblins, Eldrazi Spawn, Merfolk, or Elves, the Massacre Wurm is sure to punish your opponent for their massive army.

Rally the Forces -
I'm a big fan of surprises (so long as they're not blue counter-spells) and this card promises them in spades.  As another effective common, this card should see a fair amount of play.  Whether you are battling against infect or trying to propagate it, this three-off grants both an attack boost and first strike, the affects of which are sure to make your opponent want to alter their attack/declare blockers decisions.
Thrun, the Last Troll -
I must admit, a lot of my interest in this card lies in the story.  Everything about this character screams epic.  The artwork, the abilities, the flavor text; every bit of it makes Thrun's story seem vastly deeper.  He feels like a cursed witness to the war on Mirrodin and could easily serve as our narrator to the conflict.  In terms of utility, this card is fantastic as well.  At a converted mana cost of four, Thrun is an amazing bargain.  He is not big enough to make your opponents shake in their boots, but he is sure to make and impression when you start boosting him.
Brass Squire -
There are so many ways to abuse this card, I don't know where to begin.  Even just using cards as recently as Zendikar, players are able to search their libraries for powerful equipment and put it on the field with a minimal cost.  Equipping was made easier by the Kor outfitter, but Brass Squire gives you even more opportunities to equip AS A TAP ABILITY.  I mentioned before that I am a fan of surprises, well... This little guy takes the cake. His offensive and defensive capabilities are minimal on his own, but the depth he adds to your strategy is well worth the effort of protecting this 1/3.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Angela's Pick

Forgetless is the biggest party in New York, but now it's ending. On the final guest list: Sara and Sonia, struggling models turned professional killers; Derrick, a failed t-shirt maker and hypnotist's assistant turned YouTube porn impresario; and a sex-addicted koala (don't ask). Once their twisted paths cross, it'll be a miracle if any of them live to see last call!

I am quickly becoming a huge Nick Spencer fan. His writing on this book is bizarre and satisfying in a way I can’t really explain, and he has been putting out some of my favorite work of late: Morning Glories, Infinite Vacation, and a single glorious issue of Supergirl. The Forgetless girls are hilarious, brazen, and overall people you want to read about. Excellent characters, excellent art!