Monday, January 4, 2021

Top 10 Graphic Novels of 2020

 

Hey all,

Going to start out 2021 right by doing what I didn't do right in 2020 (and prior years if I am being completely honest with myself) by writing a blog post I said I would. Over on YouTube, I had written a comment stating I was inspired to compose my own blog post detailing my top ten graphic novels of works published during 2020. As 2020 ended, I chickened out. Then, the Uncanny Omar of Near Mint Condition replied back he would like the link. Shucks, might as well compose my list then! 

For context, here's the video the Uncanny Omar of Near Mint Condition released:



An important caveat: these are graphic novels released during 2020. Not released AND read. These are ten graphic novels that owning them hold a special place in my heart. So, in no particular order, let's get started:



Asterix Omnibus Vol 3 Hardcover

More of an omnibus in the sense it collects three albums (volumes) of Asterix. I would call it a graphic novel myself. I've always wanted to read the European produced Asterix as he's such a long running character. Timing and budget was my obstacle. Recently, Papercutz acquired the license to produce English-language translations intended for an American audience. Think the Funimation adaptation of Dragonball Z. Cultural incompatibilities have been edited; however I am not a purist so it didn't bother me. The reason I selected volume three is because it represents my continual purchase of the series. Sometimes I will buy the beginning to a series and then stop earlier on. I am also switching more toward the Marvel/DC omnibus format. As such, this will be among the few graphic novels not in such an Omnibus format I will be purchasing in 2021.



Hard Time Complete Series TP

During 2020, DC went to three distributors. Then, it went down to two. As a consequence, my local comics shop never received my pre-order. Fortunately, my local comics shop was able to acquire a copy for me. DC's allocation process has been notoriously bad.

What made Hard Time Complete Series a must buy is two factors. One, I was on a Howard the Duck (another of Steve Gerber's creations) yahoo group around the time this title came out. Hard Time was among his final creations; and Gerber would comment on both Hard Time and his other projects before he passsed. Second, I never expected a trade paperback a decade - decade and a half after the second volume finished. Hard Time was a niche comic and was cancelled twice. A victim of a tight comics market. Now, I can read the entire story without tracking down all the issues. 

 



Tales of the Batman: Steve Englehart HC

If there's a book epitomizing DC's attitude toward the direct market (comic shops), it's this Tales of the Batman Steve Englehart HC. DC released it during the lockdown. When Diamond was closed. While many comics shops were closed. During the six months after lockdowns began, fear of missing out ran rampant. Online vendors sold out. I had two options, order from Amazon or try my local comics shop. My local comics shop was able to order a copy. 

There's another reason Tales of the Batman Steve Englehart HC is on my list. Years ago, I discovered one of THE top artists for Batman, Marshall Rogers. Marshall Rogers's Batman work is short but sweet. The hardcover Legends of the Dark Knight Marshall Rogers collect all of his Caped Crusader output. By the time my budget allowed, it was both out of stock and out of print. I was able to pick up a book collecting his work with Archie Goodwin; but his short, acclaimed work with Steve Englehart eluded me. Until now.



Power of Shazam: Book One: In the Beginning HC

In hindsight, the fact I pre-ordered this after DC's split from Diamond and picked it up from my local comics shop without incident is noteworthy in itself. 

I touched upon why Power of Shazam was a must buy during my 2020 Comics Hauls. Jerry Ordway's Shazam run was case of learning about a series too late during its run before 'everything is collected in graphic novel format' was a thing. Pretty much waited twenty plus years.


 

CONAN The Original Marvel Year Vol 3 Omnibus

My first omnibus during 2020. It's also the omnibus on this list I purchased as part of IST's Deal of the Week. Alas, DC's departure has pretty much put an end toward IST offering newly released omnibuses from Marvel and DC at half off.

Beyond that. It's Conan. The omnibus includes the feature that led me to love the Marvel Omnibus format, i.e. letter page reproduction. Not only are letter pages reproduced; but it's the closest reproduction of the early Marvel Conan's. Heck, it has colored REH stories in tbe Mighty Marvel Manner too!




JLA by Grant Morrison Omnibus

My last published during 2020 omnibus that arrived into my possesion. It was among the Black Friday/loyalty discount purchases from IST. Otherwise, the price is too much for my budget.

'Grant Morrison's JLA is over-hyped!'

A weird statement considering the JLA was DC's flagship title during the late 90's. Looking back, I didn't read his JLA run until mid-way and much of that was by fill-in writers. If you call Mark Millar, Mark Waid, and J.M. DeMatteis fill-in writers, but much of his run that I read wasn't written by him. It's like judging Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock stories by pastiche writers. 

Furthermore, I never read much of Morrison's earlier work on JLA. Nor did I read Classfied, Earth 2, or some of DC 1 Million tie-ins. Thus, I never read the full Grant Morrison JLA. Would I have liked some of the stories included as well? Yes, but then not all of Grant Morrison's complete JLA work would have been collected withkn a single volume. A Compleat Morrison, if you would.


Timely's Greatest - The Golden Age: Sub-Mariner by Bill Everett The Post-War Years Omnibus

I hadn't grasped the impact lockdowns had on the omnibus market until I watched the Direct Market cover (depicted within the photo) of Timely's Greatest GA Submariner by BE Post War Years sell out within a day. Shock. Absolute shock gripped me. I'm a huge fan of Golden Age Marvel especially for Golden Age Marvel never before restored. I owned the three previous volumes in the Timely series. All three sported the flag color-themed cover. The need for the covers to match was strong. Plus, it was heading into Fourth of July weekend. All was not lost though. Cheap Graphic Novels had a copy. So on the evening of Fourth of July (give or take a day), I placed my very first order from Cheap Graphic Novels.




Wolverine Omnibus Volume One New Printing

Years ago, I didn't buy Wolverine Omnibus Volume One because I owned the much smaller Best of Wolverine Volume One. Flash forward, while watching a video on Near Mint Condition with the Uncanny Omar, I decided to upgrade to the larger volume. Plus, Omar had mentioned if sales did well, Marvel might publish a volume 2. Another reason to buy.

Then the lockdowns hit. 

I watched as Amazon received copies. Decided to wait.

A good thing cause once lockdowns eased and the Direct Market finally received copies months later, the books had curved spines. Amazon's didn't.

Oh, by the way, a Wolverine Omnibus Volume Two is on the way.



Infinity Gauntlet Omnibus

The day IST made Infinity Gauntlet Omnibus available, I decided to wait a little before placing my purchase. An hour later it was sold out. Cheap Graphic Novels was sold out. Heard it was sold out everywhere. I noticed Half Price Books online would have copies available a couple weeks later. As if I was standing in line Black Friday shopping I waited until after midnight the very day it became available at HPB and ordered a copy. Thus, I ordered my first omnibus from HPB.

Huge Jim Starlin fan; and Infinity Gauntlet was a story I passed on years ago because as a kid I couldn't afford it, let alone all the tie-ins too. Once I acquire Infinity Crusade Omnibus, I will own all the Cosmic Starlin Omni's released so far.



Uncanny X-Men Omnibus Volume 2

Uncanny X-Men Omnibus Volume 1 is one of the reasons I buy omni's. Chris Claremont is among my favorite comic book writers. I love, love, love omni's that include letter pages. Volume 2 was among my wants list after perusing volume 1 years ago. Needless to say, I had to have Uncanny X-Men Volume 2.

Well, I hover on IST waiting for it to become available. One cover does. Fine. I add it to my cart. Then while checking and becoming confused as why another omnibus I wanted wasn't available, the standard cover for Uncanny X-Men Omnibus Volume 2 was taken OUT OF MY CART. Neither cover was available. Twenty minutes later, I log in again and discover the Direct Market cover was available. I add it to my cart. The screen loads the purchase screen at agonizing pace. I complete transaction. Then, a couple hours later (it's normally a matter of minutes) and as I read horror stories of emails from IST about orders actually being out, I receive the confirmation email. A week later I relax once the order is picked and scanned.

 No other omnibus purchase has matched that experience. Uh, I hope it never is.

There you have it, my Top 10 Graphic Novel published and in my hands during 2020.

Happy Collecting!

Next time.





Wednesday, October 7, 2020

Review: Sword of Glass Book One: Yama

 


 
Took about a month; but I finished another graphic novel (after last month's The Black Incal) utilizing the benefits of Prime Reading on the Kindle app. Graphic novel in question is another work from Europe published by Humanoids The Swords of Glass Book 1: Yama by Sylviane Corgiat and Laura Zuccheri.


Art

 The designs of Laura Zuccheri are what distinguishes The Swords of Glass Book 1 Yama from typical fantasy setting patterned after the Medieval Period of Western Europe. The peoples, arms, armor, and locales evoke multiple human cultures albeit with their own exotic touch. Creatures are Earth animals rendered fantastic. Many of the creatures are amalgamations. Art is incredibly detailed and sequential story-telling top-notch.

Story

The Swords of Glass Book 1 Yama introduces the main protagonist, antagonists, and setting in what looks to be a coming of age revenge epic fantasy story. Yama seeks vengeance against Orland for the death of her father along with taking her mother away from her. All amongst a world whose sun is about to go nova. However, there is a sword that transforms all who touch it to glass except her. She is taken in by a disillusioned swordsman who instructs her in the way of the sword. He tells Yama the sword is one among others that hold a key to world where their doomed world's inhabitants may escape. Book One ends with all the main protagonists and antagonists all within the same vicinity.

I'd go into more detail; but I don't want to spoil more than the basic plot points. While Orland and Yama are name-dropped regularly as is Yama's mother Rainbow, I can't really remember her mentor's name. His two miniature sidekicks aren't even named. 

Pretty much all the setting world-building is done through the art. For instance, there's giant humanoids used mounts during flashbacks but they are never referenced nor are they seen when raiders ride toward Yama's village. None of the creatures really seem to have names either.


Overall

A solid beginning to a revenge epic fantasy story or at least the set up for one. There's some world-building primarily through the visuals. I like these type of stories so I will definitely read the next installment. However, there's nothing earth-shattering with the first installment of The Swords of Glass so I give it 3 out of 5 stars. Recommended.

Happy Reading!

Next time.

 

Wednesday, September 9, 2020

Review: The Black Incal Via Phone

 




Not only is this an unusual blog post in that it's not only the first review, of The Black Incal by Jodorowsky and Moebius, I've blogged in a long, long time; but a review of my experiencing reading a comic on a reading app on my phone. 

Phone app review

The Incal storyline has been on my 'to read list' for a decade. However, the price point per page count is too steep for my wallet. Considering I buy Marvel and DC omnibuses, albeit at InStockTrades and CheapGraphicNovels discounts, that's saying something! When I discovered Prime Reading via Prime membership with Amazon, I leapt at the chance to borrow magazines to read on a Kindle app on my phone. Lo and behold, Moebius's and Jodorowsky's The Black Incal were available to read for free via Prime Reading. Couldn't pass the opportunity up.

The Ugly:

Surprise, surprise, heavily detailed art such as by Moebius does not suit standard phone layout very well. Panel-to-panel scroll wasn't easy to select. When I stumble upon panel-to-panel mode, I couldn't deduce how to toggle it on and off.

The Bad:

When you're reading sequential art, the ability to gaze at the entire page and choose the portion of the art to focus upon is part of the 'hold the book in your hands feel'. Panel-to-panel decides the reading experience for you. While some graphic storytelling order of events can be difficult to ascertain, I felt the panel-to-panel was jerky at times.

The Good:

Once I realized landscape format was the best format, reading became a snap. Panel-to-panel handled simple panels quite well. Reading a comic such as The Black Incal on my phone was an interesting experience and one I have learned from.

Reading on phone rating: 3 out of 5. A learning experience alright. There were times I felt reading on my tablet or PC was the better medium with such a detailed art style. However, like riding a bike, I think I have begun riding without training wheels. There is a future for reading comics on my phone for me.


The Black Incal Review

Jodorowsky, Moebius, and The Incal are icons in graphic literature of which I have read neither the creators nor the series before. If The Black Incal is anything to judge by, the hype is legit!

Moebius's artwork is super detailed with densely packed panels. His layouts are such that I now I understand why many comic artists consider him an influence.

Jodorowsky weaves a tale rich with world building and a complex plot intended for mature audiences. Many concepts are surreal and out of this world.

As for the story itself, it starts out with the hapless private detective John Difool haplessly stumbling, as the fool in his name would suggest, into a situation above his head ala neo-noir stories such as Blade Runner. Then the story shifts into science fiction (or is it science fantasy) epic territory along the likes of Dune and Star Wars once the White Incal, the Black Incal, and the Metabaron enter the story. By The Black Incal's end, I was thoroughly engaged and enthralled. 

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars. The Black Incal hooked me like few comics have. By the story's end, I was fully invested with each panel and each page. Upon the conclusion, I was fully hooked. Wow! What an amazing start to an epic! This is how good comic book stories should begin. Before beginning The Black Incal my attitude toward reading the Incal series was more about checking off a supposedly iconic story off my checklist. Now I eagerly want to read the rest of the story. If Humanoids were to collect the series as they did The Metabaron, I would most likely buy it. Highly, highly recommended.

Next time.

Wednesday, August 26, 2020

Comics Haul 8/26/20

 

Another Wednesday has come and soon to be gone. Thus, a New Comics Day has also come and gone. Here's my haul for this week:

Fantastic Four Anithesis #1 and Batman: Three Jokers #1

Sometimes I sour on mini-series and give them a hard pass. Then, I swear the only titles I collect are mini-series. I really couldn't say not to Neal Adams drawing the Fantastic Four. Plus, I love the FF; and after dropping the FF title had to satisfy my Fantastic Four itch. Regarding Batman Three Jokers, like Dreaming Waking Hours, I changed my mind after the hiatus ended. I just HAD to read the story about why there's three Jokers. Although I should have waited for the trade.




X-Men God Loves, Man Kills Extended Cut #2 and Usagi Yojimbo Color Classics #5

Usagi came out last month. I am just happy that despite going to backorder with Diamond a copy arrived for me. I own a copy of God Loves, Man Kills. However, I buy "new" Claremont comics in the hope Marvel will actually do more than pay him to write the occasional eight page story.





The Question #4


Last God #8 (?) and John Constantine Hellblazer #9



This'll be my last Comics Haul for at least a couple weeks since I won't be buying any comics on Wednesday in the near future.


Next time.



Wednesday, August 19, 2020

Comics Haul 8/19/2020


Six months! It's been six months, or about six months give or take, since my last published blog entry. Half a year is long blogging drought; but I went more than a couple years without blogging so it wasn't too long of a hiatus. How do I typically try to break a blogging hiatus? By posting my latest comics haul from my favorite local comics shop, of course!

Due to COVID-19 messing things up, my comics haul has shrunk substantially:



Conan: Battle For the Serpent Crown #4

Way back when Marvel re-acquired the license to Conan the Barbarian, I stated the only thing of significance Marvel could do with character was having the Cimmerian rub shoulders with Marvel Universe. Battle for the Serpent Crown is basically Conan interacting with the heroes of the Marvel Universe and fighting them over a misunderstanding in the Mighty Marvel Manner!



Power of Shazam Book One HC. 

Back in the late 90's, when I returned to comics after a hiatus, I recall reading good things about Jerry Ordway's take on Captain Marvel. It was too late for me to pick up the series at that point so Power of Shazam became a maybe one day I will stumble over some back issues or a trade. Here's my chance with the In the Beginning hardcover.



Free Comic Book Day: Donald Duck

One side effect of Covid-19 is Free Comic Book Day transforming from a one day event to a steady trickle each week of free comics. I am huge fan of Disney comics; and with Fantagraphics's Disney Masters line falling outside my budget regularly, I appreciate the chance to read a sample of the line.



Aquaman 62. Two part fill-in story. Part one.



Captain America #22. 

My understanding is the most recent volume of Captain America written by Ta-Nehisi Coates is nearing its end. If issue 25 is the final issue of the volume, then the end is near. Maybe Marvel will surprise us and NOT restart a title with the same writer.

Knock on wood, I don't go another six months without blogging.

Next time.






Friday, February 28, 2020

Why Losing to Goldberg May Be A Good Thing For The Fiend


Before I begin, just want to say I wasn't planning on two of my blog posts occurring on Fridays focusing on wrestling. Yet here we are.

Like many, I viewed The Fiend Bray Wyatt as the next Undertaker. Both have a larger than life, macabre gimmick. Both are super-resilient. Both are dominating forces within the ring. Both have captured the imaginations of wrestling fans.

Both captured the top belt early during their careers.

It is here our analogy ends.

While Undertaker captured the belt early during his WWE tenure, he was an unstoppable juggernaut when he defeated Hulk Hogan. Undertaker was still an unstoppable juggernaut when Hogan defeated him. It's just the Hulkster used a questionable tactic involving the Undertaker's urn. The questionable tactic ultimately led to the unfathomable event of Hogan being stripped of the title.

Yeah, not happening in the Wyatt case...

For starters, not only is Goldberg not being stripped of the title; but he his defending it against Roman Reigns at WrestleMania. Furthermore, Goldberg pinned The Fiend cleanly in a dominating fashion. How'd the Wyatt's Fiend character receive the title? After backlash toward a referee stopping a match because Seth Rollins swung a hammer making The Fiend look weak.

The Fiend HAD to become Universal Champion to salvage the character. During the interim, the Firefly Fun House and the Fiend character demonstrated they could carry both the title and Smackdown. Not only that but as a heel both characters were just as popular with crowd as if they were the faces they were squaring off against. One problem though...

It was rumored the Fiend would lose to Roman Reigns at WrestleMania.

If you really think about it, the Fiend losing to Reigns at WrestleMania implies Vince McMahon didn't really perceive The Fiend as the brand carrier. WWE needed someone to carry the belt while they revitalized Reigns in the eyes of the fans. Hey look here! A character who NEEDS the belt to remain vital. The Fiend could carry the belt in a dominating fashion until WrestleMania and then elevate... Roman Reigns?

The same Roman Reigns who retired the Undertaker?

Same Roman Reigns who defeated Brock Lesnar for the WWE Heavyweight Belt?

Who exactly is The Fiend elevating here? The fan backlash would have been insane.

Oh okay. The backlash is insane now because Goldberg defeated him; however it shouldn't have such a negative long-term impact.

Why?

1) Passing of the torch. A victory over Goldberg could help Reigns in the eyes of wrestling fans whom haven't watched since the Monday Night Wars ended.

2) John Cena MIGHT pass the torch to The Fiend Bray Wyatt. John Cena is part time wrestler who as he stated on the 2/28/2020 Friday Night Smackdown whose WrestleMania role is unlikely to be what it was. Cena's future is bit appearances and marque matches. He's not the WWE's future. He's its past. The match between Cena and The Fiend should be a match worthy of WrestleMania. Furthermore, as The Fiend is tremendously popular, a victory over Cena at WrestleMania would be THE passing of the torch match at WrestleMania. Unlike Goldberg though, Cena may very well wrestle a couple more matches this year. So WWE may deem a Cena win is okay if he eventually loses. A mistake...

3) No I-lost-the-belt-at-Mania curse. WrestleMania is the biggest stage to lose the belt at. As such, it's the biggest loss to overcome. The Fiend has already lost the belt.

4) The Fiend could establish a streak. Like Goldberg before him, The Fiend/Firehouse Funhouse Bray can embark on a dominating win streak to capture the imagination of the fans. The downside of championships during this day and age is dominating champions aren't revered. The Fiend can now beat anyone on the Smackdown roster regardless of their main event worth status.

5) Goldberg isn't a regular. No wrestler who's working Post-Mania has beaten the Fiend. Suppose depending on whether or not Cena wins, the same could apply to that match as well... but, I digress. Wrestling is part image and the only one to beat The Fiend is a guy who embarked on a triple digit win streak, which ended after losing the title he beat Hulk Hogan for. Pretty easy to be the menacing force when the guy who beat you is not only 'unbeatable' himself but isn't around.

6) Didn't lose the title to Reigns. Thus, the inevitable feud will be fresh and WILL NOT begin with a loss in the Fiend's column.

and finally...

7) They can turn the Fiend face or Stone Cold face/heel who feuds with anyone and everyone all while receiving cheers because he is SUPPOSED to. Fans want someone to cheer in the role of the WWE's boogeyman the Undertaker once held. It really is an awkward fit for a heel and very difficult to do with the Fiend as the champion.

There you have it.

The Fiend can finally embark on path to becoming the next Undertaker now that the shackles of being the Universal Champion has been removed from him. If he's lucky, the Undertaker himself may even pass the torch to him!

Next time.

Friday, February 21, 2020

WWE Friday Night Smackdown Has a King Corbin Problem


I've delayed writing this for about a month now. However, the 2/21/20 Friday Night Smackdown encapsulates my point.

King Corbin was on Smackdown for only a backstage promo. That's it. A mere two-minute, TOPS, backstage promo. He didn't come to the ring. King Corbin didn't wrestle a match. None of that. If you hadn't been watching Friday Night Smackdown on Fox since its debut, you wouldn't know King Corbin was the Number 2 heel (bad guy).

The promo was dull, lackluster, and didn't do anything to make one watch the climax of a six month feud inside a steel cage taking place in Saudi Arabia. Rest of Friday Night Smackdown on the other hand was easily among the better Smackdowns since its inception on Fox.

You could argue then King Corbin isn't the number two heel on the blue brand. I'd agree with you; but WWE's booking argues otherwise. There simply isn't a heel on the roster who take his place. Maybe Sheamus Post-Wrestlemania. However, the Celtic Warrior is feuding with... short people. Miz and Morrison are competing in the tag division. As is Roode and Ziggler.

Nakamura-Zayne-Cesaro are a great heel trio. They get heat. They are great heels. They lose far more than they win. I really don't see WWE improving their win record anytime soon.

Like or not, King Corbin is the number 2 heel. A number two heel whom as announcer Michael Cole has state has had a bad six months. Why? Cause for the past six months, he has been feuding with Roman Reigns and has been outclassed the entire time.

Sure, Corbin has come out a couple times. He's won a match or two (with help). Corbin has dumped and smeared dog food all over Reigns (with help). However, Reigns would get his comeuppance the following week. Reigns pinned Corbin during a Street Fight at the Royal Rumble despite Corbin getting help. The entire storyline has been Corbin is not the equal of Roman Reigns.

Not only is the Steel Cage Match in Super Showdown in Saudi Arabia next Thursday the end to a six month feud, it's a mercy killing for fans. Reigns-Corbin feud will cease. King Corbin will feud with someone else.

Problem is The Fiend Bray Wyatt won't remain Universal Champion forever. Someone will wrestle the new face champion. The only logical choice is King Corbin who really hasn't been convincing as credible heel threat. What if the face is Roman Reigns? Renew the six month feud? Hard pass.

Don't get me wrong. King Corbin isn't a bad heel. He does a great job getting fans to boo him and despise him. Corbin won't become a face because the fans decides he should be. However, he's not a credible number one heel. He can barely win WITH help. Honestly, the best choice is push him back to the mid-card.

Maybe Zayn can become his manager and four wrestlers can actually overpower Elias and Braun Strowman? Maybe Drew Gulak can mentor him with his Power Point slides to enable him to defeat Daniel Bryan? No potential feud feels compelling as they seem to be a waste for the wrestler paired with him.

By favoring Roman Reigns at the expense of King Corbin, creative has unwittingly buried King Corbin. A shame, really.

Next time.

Tuesday, January 21, 2020

Armchair GM Thoughts on Green Bay Packers 2020 Free Agents


Never did provide a weekly update on first Fantasy Football experience. Oh well, maybe next cause... I won the League Championships in both leagues! Beginner's luck, I guess. Relying on the computer wasn't the straight-jacket I dreaded. Active management helped tremendously though.

But, I digress. I am not blogging about my Fantasy Football experience except how it may or may not lend itself to doing what many team sports do. Be an armchair general manager on what a given sports franchise should do with their roster. March, or is it April?, marks the beginning of the 2020 season and the start of free agency. Every football team has a number of players whom are free agents. In the NFL there are three categories: Unrestricted, Restricted, Exclusive-Rights.

I am going provide my thoughts on the 2020 free agents of my favorite NFL team, the Green Bay Packers.

Exclusive Rights

While technically free agents, an NFL team only needs to exercise their right to retain and the player is locked up for another season. Generally, only players undrafted players and those whom were cut (although this is murky to my understanding) are Exclusive Rights Free Agents. My understanding is a team only has this option for roughly two seasons - extendable by total accrued season time. They eventually become restricted free agents.

The Packers have the following players locked under Exclusive Rights:

Allen Lazard WR
Tyler Lancaster DL
Chandon Sullivan CB
Jake Kumerow WR
Robert Tonyan TE

As a Packer fan, what excited me the most about this season was how many reps Rodgers was getting with wide receivers whom would be on the bottom of the depth chart. Sure, the season proved the Packers need better quality at receiver; but should injuries strike next season the team knows the bottom of the depth chart can play on an NFL level. Heck, Lazard will likely be vying for the WR3 spot in camp. Kumerow is also a lock.

Tyler Lancaster for some reason or another became a starter. While the run defense was lacking, Lancaster remains a good depth option. Keep.

Chandon Sullivan was the swiss army cornerback leapfrogging over former 2018 2nd round draft pick Josh Jackson for snaps. Could he become the next Sam Shields? Keeper.

Robert Tonyan has been slated as the heir apparent at Tight End for two seasons. Considering Lewis is a free agent and Graham may be cut/traded to clear cap space, Tonyan is a lock.

Restricted Free Agents

Restricted Free Agents are one season removed from becoming Unrestricted Free Agents whom can sign with whomever once free agency begins. A team places a tender on a restricted free agent.

Malcolm Johnson Fullback

Camp body, practice squad body, on the team because Vitale was often unavailable. I'd let him walk. Green Bay can always draft a new fullback or sign an undrafted player.

Unrestricted free agents

NFL teams receive compensatory picks based on the balance of the average salary of free agent they sign versus the average salary of player they lose. Since the Green Bay Packers played in the NFC Championship game, some of their players may receive significant salaries. Furthermore, Green Bay doesn't have much cap space with which to sign other teams' free agents or extend their own. Consistency plays a huge role so I wouldn't let everyone walk.

Bryan Bulaga  RT

The Packers don't really have a replacement lined up at right tackle. Free agency occurs before the draft and they pick at number 30. I doubt a starter falls to them during the first round. I would keep Bulaga; but how long and how much plays a role. A one year, $9 million contract? Keeper.

Blake Martinez ILB

I greatly respect Blake Martinez; however the team does require more speed on the inside than Martinez would be able to provide at the high price tag he'll command on the market. He's gone.

Geronimo Allison WR

Performed poorly. Gone.

Tramon Williams CB

He's 36 and the primary reason Josh Jackson isn't playing. Either give up on Jackson or let Williams walk.

Mason Crosby K

A kicker who kicks well inside Lambeau is hard to find. I'd keep him for as long as Rodgers has on his extension but structure such that it's only a one or two year deal.

Marcedis Lewis TE

Guy can block, which is important to the Packers scheme, as the 49ers demonstrated... Keep so he can help the new tight ends develop their blocking skills. Another incentive contract.

Kyler Fackrell OLB

Gone. Maybe he can acquire a better contract on the market. Maybe street free agent i.e. sign after the draft.

Will Redmond DB

Street free agent.

BJ Goodson ILB

Street free agent.

Ibraheim Campbell DB

THE dime linebacker. I don't think the team can be confident on ILB Burks's development. Keep.

Danny Vitale Fullback

Keep.

Jared Veldheer OT

Provided depth at OT. If he wants to stay for the cheap, keep him.

Tyler Ervin RB

Revitalized the return game and opens of the jet sweep motion. Keep.

Ryan Grant WR

Never saw the field. Gone.

Jason Spriggs OT

Bust. Gone.

Those are my thoughts on the 2020 GB Packers free agents.

Next time.







Wednesday, January 1, 2020

New Year's Comics Haul 2020


First, Happy New Year! 2020 is upon us!

Second, unlike prior years, there will be no in-depth year-in-review nor in-depth New Year's Resolution. Overall, I felt I did a decent job fulfilling my 2019 goals. However, I realized they caused more consternation in the long run than good. My approach toward my blog in 2020 is to be more fluid. Blogging whenever and on whatever inspiration strikes me.

Comics shops were open today with brand new comics. A comics haul on New Year's Day doesn't come very often so here it is:


Incoming #1 - The One-Shot that supposedly sets the stage for all the big things that await the Marvel Universe during 2020.

Superman Giant 100 Page Volume 2 #1 - I do love the 100 page format.

Comics Revue Presents December 2019 - only one day late?



Dreaming #17 and Doctor Doom #4 - A long time ago it dawned on me that I really should only buy ten to twelve comics a month. Furthermore, I begrudgingly admit after a certain issue number there's just no catching up. Come my January 2020 Previews Order one of these titles will be cut from my pull.

Marauders #5 - Talk about light coloring! Can barely make out the art on that cover from this angle! As I alluded to in prior blog entries, this is my final month for collecting Marauders.



X-Men #4 - This would be my final month for collecting X-Men  as well but Yu being Yu the book fell behind on shipping. Go figure.

Books of Magic #15 - I consider the Sandman Universe titles to be 'buy one, buy them all'. If I drop the Dreaming, I am dropping Books of Magic.

Hope everyone's 2020 began on the right note.

Next time.

Saturday, December 21, 2019

MET Werewolf: Silver and Gold


Disclaimer: MET Werewolf is a role-playing game whose setting is fictional. Any references to any real people, places, and things serves to heighten immersion and does NOT reflect reality. None of this actually happened.

Tom stands before the Sept trying to hold back his nervous energy. His expression becomes a smile. Fake it until you make it. After all, his first tale went alright, didn't it.

'Greetings. Tonight, I understand I have not told the tale of November's mission. However, since the insert your denominational holiday is nigh, some around these parts call Christmas, this tale is a little more seasonal. It's also warning. It's also the tale of a new face. as Jimmy worked hospital duty to address a medical emergency in Stevens Point.

 A new Glasswalker joined the motley pack.

Two galliards, an ahroun, a ragabash, and two philodixes gathered at the bawn. While discussing Jimmy's absence,we learned of body parts replacing belongings at a children's play, Elf, in Stevens Point. Example finger for a watch, toe for a wallet. People swear there belongings were fine when they left but changed upon arriving home.

Beta of Sept acquired help to replace Jimmy. Rocko the Glass Walker Galliard. We introduce ourselves. Molly, Sean, Gracie, Jenny, and Tom.

We arrive at Ben Franklin. Rocko activates his gift Wolf Senses, while Jenny uses her gift Sight of Hidden Places within the school. 200 humans packed into the auditorium to watch the play. Molly uses Wolf Senses smelling human scents. Puberty, Perfume, etc. Males produce pheromones with urge to mate with everything. Women the need. Nothing has occurred today. Too much cologne and perfume. Many are sick with illness. Or so she relays to us anyway...

Play begins. We sit scattered amongst the crowd. Molly sat near me I am not a pack member. Obviously neither is Rocko...

Gracie notices a fast shadowy figure darting amongst the humans then departs. Informs her packmates Sean, Jenny, and Molly. Jenny uses Sight of Hidden Places. She notices a small child - a bogart is the shadow - had already gone downstairs! Informs packmates. Molly tells Tom (I will refer to myself in the third person from now on...). Rocko learns courtesy of the Mindlink gift that Rocko enacted with Jenny. Sean asks 'only one?' Jenny 'yes, do you doubt my gift?'

Tom, Molly, and Sean head downstairs following signs posted. Jenny and Rocko joins us as well. Gracie remains with crowd. Molly upset cause she is in homid form.

Upon reaching downstairs, Jenny activates Sight of Hidden Places. A cave exists underneath near the boiler room. Boiler room has a hole in the wall leading to cave. We discover it is locked. Jenny attempts to pick the chain and deadbolt. Sees no cameras. Fails to pick it. Sean shifts to Crinos yanks on chain. Chain won't yield. Rocko tries and fails. Molly yanks and fails. Tom weakly pulls. Jenny fails too. Molly angrily claws the chain shattering it. Jenny scoops chain links into her bag. All of them. Door is still deadbolted.

Jenny asks us to look away and uses her Bastet gift to release the deadbolt and opens the door. Smells musty of black mold. Those of us with Awareness wonder how the boggart entered and exited thru the locked door. Smells of death and decay.

 Tom 'So Jenny what should we do?'

 Jenny 'there is something in there that needs to be stopped.'

Drain is clogged with water covering floor. Dark but faint illumination from red light on machinery pierces the darkness. Those with wolf senses smell from far side a pungent, earthy smell. On far side of boiler is an opening large enough for child to pass through. We all shift into lupus forms.

 Tunnel leads to a cavern. Tom's fox form can walk normally while Jenny's lynx form can walk duckingly. The wolves crawl.

After an hour traversing back and forth we reach a wider cavern after 3rd 'link'.

Don't smell death and decay here!

The chamber is high enough that the Wolves can move normally. Homid formwould bump heads on stalactites. Lupus form it is!

Underground river about thirty feet wide with rapid current bisects the path, splitting it into a ten foot path upon each side. Tom uses a point of spiritual energy, i.e. Gnosis, and activates Blur of the Milky Eye as does Rocko. The floor under our paws is slick from moisture. Those of us without wolf senses can see visually because the cavern glows from a green fluorescence. Tom impatiently chooses to remain on the right side. Jenny decides everyone stays on right side to stick with Tom. My choice allowed us to avoid crossing the river. We gaze up to the 20' high ceiling 20' and move around stalactites and stalagmites scattered about. Tom followed by Rocko by Jenny by Sean then Molly bringing up rear single file. Tom cautiously moves forward failing to notice  what Rocko does. Tom springs a trap unbeknownst to him. Tom stops once...

 Rocko goes 'shh'. 

Too late. Tom is hit by a bag covering him and Rocko in silver and gold glitter. Our Blur of the Milky Eye is foiled! Henceforth, this tale is call 'Silver and Gold'. *Tom winks and his smile curls mischievously.*

Meanwhile, Gracie spots the same creature dart about a different crowd. Sends her packmates the message.

Tom's Awareness notices a set of glowing eyes toward end of cavern.

Tom 'there is a pair of glowing eyes looking at me toward the end of cavern.'

 Jenny 'Rocko cannot hear you'.

Tom 'okay.... uh there are five more pairs of eyes... ' as Tom stops and sound booms in chamber.

Jemny shifts to bipedal form pulling out maglite out of bag switching it on. When the light shines on the eyes, we see nothing. When the light moves past, the eyes re-open. Eyes narrow with anger. Jenny angles her light downward. One set of eyes moves slowly until hiding behind stalagmites. We hear raspy breaths and Tom bumps back  into Rocko

Rocko 'hey, don't do that until you know me more'.

 We see the creature is armed with a sword slung on its back. Jenny and Molly activate Luna's Blessing spending a point of Gnosis. They notice the sword is silver.

Via pack speak Molly 'can I kill it now'

 Jenny 'if it wields, it is on'.

 They notice the others are armed with silver swords too. The creature in front mumbles words. Molly and Sean use Sense Balance spending a a gnosis. Sean and Molly redouble their efforts sensing the balance to notice the target is more Wyld and can use magic.

Sean in Spanish and English 'who are you?'.

Jenny and Molly decipher that the creatures are fae, e.g. changelings. Jenny recognizes one of this race from inside a container over in Just Like Spotted Cow.

In broken English 'know... little'.

Sean 'you know ours better than we yours'

him 'why here?'

 Sean 'they noticed things above'

fae 'we give gift'

 Sean 'not exactly the kind of gift humans appreciate'

 Fae 'no gift...we give token'

Rocko 'what are tokens for'

fae 'provide protection'

jenny 'from what'

fae 'future problem'

Rocko 'what kind of problem'

fae 'dead not dead'

 Sean 'winter is coming'

 fae 'no winter ended'

jenny with fae lore realizes slumber, e.g. winter ended and going back to old ways i.e. tokens, informing us of her knowledge.

 Rocko 'tokens are scaring humans and don't understand value'.

 Fae 'change tokens?'

Tom 'that would be a good idea'

Sean 'they have forgotten old ways'.

 Fae 'token disguises humans'

Jenny 'they smell the tokens and think the humans are like them'.

Tom 'so tokens make the humans smells like the dead. What else can smell like the dead?'

 Fae 'dead liquid? You die they put inside you'

 Rocko 'embalming fluid'

 jenny 'formaldehyde?'

 Fae 'not strong enough. They are not here yet but they are coming soon.'

Sean 'where are they coming from?'

Fae 'where you keep the dead. Powerful necromancer  is coming he bring dead with him. Maybe rotting food items. Compost. Save  home.'

Rocko 'good idea. Composting can save people. Hipsters be safe. Don't worry about what they are'.

 Tom 'city of Stevens Point has a composting program so that's a start.

 Discussing amongst ourselves we realize Elite and Underworld influences would aid us in spreading the message and enforcing the changes to ward off the Winter Dead. Hey, can't infringe on anyone's intellectual property by calling them the Winter Dead. *Another sly smile and a wink spreads across Tom's face. He resumes speaking*

Tom 'we will talk with the humans about them composting more without mentioning that it is for their projection.'

 Sean 'how will we achieve this?'

Tom 'city mandates composting'

jenny 'homes will smell of death due to compost'

When we start to leave we hear growling coming from passage from which we came. Torchlights flicker and shadows loom from the tunnel into the cavern.

Sean 'they might be more of these guys'

Tom 'no, they seemed to bothered by light'.

 Jenny 'friend or foe'

 fae 'enemy. To arms!' The others emerge and charge over stalactites toward an army of skeletons and quadriped skeletons armed with torches and weapons.

Jenny 'we should help them!'

Everyone shifts to their respective Hispo forms.

Jenny to Rocko 'be careful with your boomstick or else ceiling may fall on us'

Our rage heightens to the third stage once we join the fray against 7 humanoid skeletons and 5 animal skeletons.

Jenny using a Burst of Speed maneuver closes with a humanoid skeleton  biting. Sean bounds at the same skeleton using the same burst of speed maneuver and bites. Molly steps toward a different humanoid skeleton and bites. Tom with burst of speed runs up to that skeleton and his bite misses. Rocko activate Razor Claws spending gnosis, choosing to be more Accurate. Moves halfway.

Animal and human skeletons close with Rocko. Human swings baseball bat hitting as does the Animal's bite. Jenny's skeleton swings and misses her. As does another. Two humanoid skeletons attack Sean with baseball bats. They batter into his flesh. Molly is hit by a bat and a bite misses. Tom is beset by human skeleton and an animal skeleton whose attacks miss.

 Gracie watches play.

The remaining animal skeletons engage the fae.

Rage actions.

Jenny willfully bites a humanoid skeleton as her rage increases due to frustrations over her friends being beaten and bit. The skeleton is crushed by her jaws. Sean experiences the exact same thing. Molly bites the baseball bat wielding skeleton. Tom bites human skeleton on him. Rocko willfully bites animal skeleton to dust. His rage grows as well.

Jenny engages baseball bat skeleton on Rocko. Acquires a Seethe trait. Willfully dispatches it. Sean willfully misses a human skeleton on him acquiring two Seethe traits. Molly bites one of her skeleton's head off. Tom willfully misses the humanoid skeleton engaged with him. Rocko attacks animal skeleton on Tom and wills its destruction! Human skeleton swings its bat at Sean and misses. Jenny is missed by a baseball bat. Tom is bashed by a bat . Animal skeleton misses Molly.

Rage actions

Jenny runs toward Tom's skeleton, while the skeleton engaged with her pursues her. Acquires a second Seethe trait but wills herself to strike a fatal blow to the skeleton on Tom. Sean bites skeleton to pieces. Molly acquires a Seethe trait while willing the fatal blow to an animal skeleton.

 Only Jenny's skeleton remains. Its heels brought it to Tom. Tom despite his willpower misses it, acquiring to Seethe traits himself. Rocko slays it!

The boggarts kills the two remaining.

Rocko identifies three wolves and two dogs as the animal skeletons. Molly acquired 2nd Seethe trait upon learning. Every one else acquires a Seethe trait pushing Tom and Sean to 3.

Revert to breed form to lose Rage. Molly stuck in Crinos until she finally calms down. Rocko searches thru bones for floppy disks. Molly growls 'you are weird'.

As we return to top after Sean uses Circle of Cleansing on bones and Rocko seeks out floppies inside school. The play had finished and people began clearing out. Rocko greets Gracie and discovers the computer lab locked. Thru windows sees nothing. Goes to nearby storage closet. Unlocks door and finds a box of dusty floppy disks.

Gracie loved the play and boggart doing his thing. Return to Caern.

Thus ends the Saga of Silver and Gold.

Next time.







Wednesday, December 18, 2019

Final Comics Haul of 2019


After a month or two, I ended my New Comics Wednesday drought I purchased my weekly comics haul at my favorite local comics shop. When I left, I was struck by the realization I would not set foot in there again until the New Year. Short of any orders arriving from prior online purchases, I won't be buying anymore physical comic books or trades until the New Year. These are my final purchases and Comics Haul of 2019.

Rather sublime in a way...

Here they are:



Conan Serpent War #2 (Robert E Howard characters team up with Moon Knight!), Doctor Who 13th Doctor Holiday Special #2 (I had given up on Doctor Who comics and trades for the most part but am making an exception for this two-part Holiday Special. Closest I will get to a Doctor Who Christmas Special I will get this year, I suppose), Watchmen Companion HC (Normally, I would pass on this book; but it collects the Watchmen material for the old Mayfair DC Heroes RPG! If only DC Heroes or Blood of Heroes were easily acquired. Perhaps DC should release more of the RPG material sitting stagnant in a vault somewhere?)



Guardians of the Galaxy #12 (The final issue of Donny Cates run on GotG and my final GotG issue for awhile. I will NOT be collecting the next volume.), Shazam! #9 (Out finally!), New Mutants #4 (Only two more issues left on my pull. Dropping with issue #7.)


John Constantine Hellblazer #2 (Ultimately, I decided to keep collecting Sandman Universe titles because of Constantine's return to the imprint/universe.), Doomsday Clock #12 (The End has arrived! In hindsight, I should have waited for the super duper trade.), Excalibur #4 (Same situation as with New Mutants.)


He-Man and the Masters of the Multiverse #2, Invaders #12 (Final Issue), Marauders #4 (Only collecting two more.)


Aquaman #55, Lucifer #15 (Still collecting for the time being. Constantine's guest appearance helped the title's cause.), Wonder Woman Giant vol 2 #2 (I collect the Giant 100 pagers from my FLCS and not at Wal-Mart now. Thus, reducing the chances of my purchasing any more comics and trades during the remainder of 2019 substantially.)


X-Force #4 (Only two more to go., The Last God #3, Justice League #38 (I decided I would buy until the conclusion of Snyder's run. It's also a twice-a-month title, which as I stated during my first December 2019 blog entry I was abstaining from.)

My final Comics Haul of 2019./

Three blog posts during December done. Will see how close to twelve total (as in the Twelve Days of Christmas) I get this month.

Next time.



Sunday, December 15, 2019

Was WWE TLC 2019 Any Good?


Yesterday when I posted my first blog entry of December I stated I may follow up with another blog entry today about the WWE PPV TLC 2019. I do have a subscription with WWE Network; and I just learned buying the PPV separately costs a whopping $40! The Network comes out to being a roughly a quarter that. Another incentive to watch the thing. Plus, my blog resolution was to blog my thoughts on WWE programming available on the Network after all...

So...

Was WWE TLC 2019 any good? Would I have paid the (compared to the WWE Network price) exorbitant $40?

My thoughts on TLC matches are complicated. I was a latecomer to ECW back in the day. ECW had pretty much reached its twilight years when I began following the weekly television programming. Still the little brand that could held a special place in my heart. The TLC PPV is among the heritage PPV that are rare showcases of hardcore styles. On the flip side, I haven't been much of a fan of WWE's Tables, Ladder, Chairs, or combination of all three matches. Perhaps it was the PG era. Perhaps it was the performances. Perhaps it was the booking. As a special match isolated on a card, sure. As an entire card, WWE struck me as clueless.

When I finished watching WWE TLC 2019, I had to take some time to ponder my thoughts. So you disliked it?

Nope. Far from it. In fact, I liked it tremendously.

WWE TLC 2019 was the kind of wrestling card that left me breathless, with a cathartic release. One of those satisfying done-in-ones despite not really changing anything.

The New Day vs the Revival Ladder Match? Another Kofi Kingston highlight reel. Not that Big E nor the Revival were slouches either as they added innovations of their own.

Aleister Black vs Buddy Murphy? While not a TLC match and the closest to hardcore it got was Aleister Black getting bloody, Black and Murphy put on chain strike clinic.

Viking Raiders vs the OC got over just how agile the Viking Raiders are without hurting the OC. In fact, it likely launched a feud between them. Also not a hardcore match.

Roman Reigns vs King Baron Corbin TLC match was phenomenal. I am NOT a fan of Reigns and it felt it was among his better matches. Corbin also brought his A game and raised my estimation of him. Some may decry the finish; however I felt it necessary to maintain the feud.

Miz vs Smackdown Champion Bray Wyatt: Not a hardcore match; however the point of the match was to get over how resilient Bray Wyatt is. Amazing how popular Firefly Funhouse Bray is with the crowd! The mallet afterwards had a nice Harley Quinn touch. For those wondering when Daniel Bryan would return, he did so tonight. With a new but old look. Despite his 'spending time with the Fiend', it would appear to Bryan and Wyatt will be clashing a Royal Rumble. Guess Bryan isn't joining his new family after all.

Lasley vs Rusev Table Match: An awesome match. I am getting shades of Beaulah-Raven-Tommy Dreamer with this feud as I was not expecting the winner. What will be next for Lashley and Rusev?

A brawl broke out backstage.

The Kubaki Warriors vs Becky Lynch and Charlotte Flair Ladder Match: ECW! ECW! ECW! I am not what's crazier, how much they forgot the ladder or all batshit crazy antics that were pulled out during this match. If there was a match that truly reflected the spirit of ECW, it was this match.

Afterward the brawl spilled out into the arena ending with Reigns spearing Corbin onto the crowd of wrestlers underneath.

If I forgot a match, no slight is intended. It was truly a terrific card. For WWE TLC 2019 being thrown together at practically the last minute, it was a rare gem. I wouldn't have felt jilted if I paid $40.

Next time.

Saturday, December 14, 2019

No More Twice-A-Month Comics For Me!


Around last New Year's, I had resolved to reduce the number of comics I purchase during a month based on reading habits. Earlier this year, I had hoped blogging my Comics Haul would give clarity by encourage reading. Alas, I bought too many comic book issues during 2019.

I blame twice-a-month shipping titles.

Yes, I was vaguely aware twice-a-month titles weren't ideal for my reading habits. However, like an addict, I was like 'I just need to make it a priority'.

Coincidentally, my pull list was giving me problems at my Favorite Local Comics Shop. Their software would become confused whenever I mixed and matched normal covers with variant covers. Missed out on the Scott Snyder Justice League #3 because of it. Justice League was going to become an early casualty until I found a copy of #3 for dirt cheap last spring.

Still *ahem* haven't read any of the issues.

But, I digress as Peter David would say.

Anyway, since I like the prospect of ordering variants *when I can see the variant and can order a copy*, the solution was that I include *every single issue* of my pull list within my Previews Order. Want to know what gets old really fast? Marking down multiple issues of a single title. Want to know what gets old faster? Writing it all out via email because you want to able to submit your order on time.

My Comics Haul installments weren't without any clarity. I *did* decide to drop titles and noted such. I quickly realized which monthly titles I could easily do without. Probably wouldn't have gotten back into the X-Books again without it. Ironically, if I had kept up the Comics Haul (I simply haven't been buying my comics on New Comics Day Wednesday and when I do it's multiple weeks), I probably would have dropped the X-Books in January.

Instead, I am dropping them in February.

I am also riding out my collection of Captain America and Fantastic Four until the conclusion of their current arcs. Well, current volume of Captain America as I noted in prior Comics Haul. Maybe I will get the new volume of Coates's run, I don't know.

My souring of following continuity has also played a role in my abandoning twice-a-month comics. Once the illusion of change is blatantly revealed as such why amortize the cost? Trades have been iffy with me. However, 2019 has been the year of the DC/Marvel Omnibus for me. I have bought more Omnibuses this year than all the years prior. Could probably multiply it in fact...

The Hickman X-Men will probably be collected as an Omnibus too...

Hopefully, this means I will eliminate any intimidation whenever I bring my comics home and read them as opposed to merely flipping through them. Plus, instead of merely collecting the 'major titles', I can read them in big chunks.

Or read them digitally via Marvel Unlimited and DC Universe. Which is money already spent saving future money.

However, what I will enjoy the most when compiling my order is not having to record every single issue. If it leads to less Marvel and DC, so be it.

Until Next Time (which may be Sunday Night with my thoughts on WWE TLC PPV).

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Halloween '19: A Winged Necromancer in Avernus





Thought of this idea on Monday; but life got in the way. Details of which are beyond the scope of this blog. This is a sequel blog entry to my blog post on whether to play an aasimar or tiefling during Season 9 of Adventurers League.

I've come to loggerheads over the aasimar PC largely because I can't quite figure out, which Xanathar's sub-class to select for the PC. Right now, there's about five. The diversity of abilities intrigues me especially because I think I can emulate some feat abilities without needing feats. However, we're talking no ability score increases or feats until after 13th level at the earliest. Not much in power level above third level in any single class too. More of a novelty character.

But I digress...

The winged necromancer whose the subject for today is...

A tiefling.

Not just any tiefling though.

A tiefling based on my very first tiefling PC.

My tiefling PC who ran around Sigil fighting Paladins from the Prime when he wasn't attending to the Mortuary as a member of the Dust Men. He also was Specialist Wizard focusing on the study of Necromancy.

Yes, a tiefling Necromancer from the days of AD&D 2E Planescape!

Since Season 9 of Adventurers League is a tie-in to the Descent into Avernus Hardcover Module during which the PCs travel to the first layer of the Nine Hells, I decided it would be a hoot to recreate the old Planescape PC for a story arc that occurs on another plane and utter obscure, to the other players, Planescape references!

Not to mention playing a winged character to boot.

The aasimar concept was winning out though. I really hadn't brushed up on Planescape Cant though. Playing a mere tiefling character felt too generic; and I wasn't sure I wanted to create a single classed necromancer. We're talking five to six levels before the concept can come to life (ha! life!) here. The novelty aasimar concept depends on playing the character during Season 9 too in order to use Xanathar's. Playing a necromancer - even a winged one - isn't too unusual to win the novelty war.

Planescape tieflings didn't have wings./

However, on Monday, the proximity of Halloween must've served as a stroke of inspiration.

He'd be a descendant of my Planescape Tiefling who grew up on the Prime, i.e. Faerun. He'd hold many of the Dust Men beliefs; yet wouldn't be a Dust Men. Like his ancestor, he'd be an evil Necromancer; but a lawful one. Not saying he wouldn't be a member of a faction. Adventurers League mandates faction membership for evil characters. The Zhentarim is the obvious for such a macabre character.

His name or what he's called is: The Mortician.

Like his Dust Men ancestor, The Mortician takes care of the dead. He also holds many of the same Dust Men beliefs such as the True Death. He's a necromancer because necromancy aids his task since animating dead bodies eliminates the need to hire help to move them. The Mortician is much too weak to move them otherwise. The Faction Agent background will be modified to include to the Medicine skill, as he's familiar with anatomy, and alchemical supplies due to knowledge of embalming and the like.

Once The Mortician is high enough in level, he'll employ an army of the animated dead against the fiends from Avernus. Just imagine a group of skeletons or zombies dogpiling one! So what if it's a local's deceased loved one? The Mortician is taking care of the corpse albeit not how they envisioned. He is Lawful Evil after all - and one step closer to True Death.

A mortician of fiendish heritage flying with leathery wings commanding a squad of undead when is about as much a Halloween concept as it gets! Commanding them against fiends from and on Avernus itself is the D&D equivalent of Creature Commandos!

Halloween is tomorrow.

Happy Gaming!


Sunday, October 27, 2019

Halloween '19: The Haunting of Little Rose Orphanage


The following is a work of fiction. A product of a live-action role-playing group playing a game Minds Eye Theater: Werewolf the Apocalypse. Any references to real world people or places is coincidental.

Tom approaches the Sept Leadership: 

*cough* *cough* Here is my accounting of the most recent venture. I will do my best to tell the story to the best of my abilities. (Tom has a zero rating in Performance)

The intrepid and experienced pack returned to the caern just after my meeting with all of you. I had arrived at this place of utmost import because a ghost and my jaggling fox spirit companion told me I should seek it out. First member of the pack I greeted was a lynx by shaking her paw. We gave informal introductions. One of them says 'Are you related to Huckelberry' 

'nope'.

 Everyone gives formal introductions Joe (sept leader, Japanese kitsune) and master of rite mention Little Rose. We were to investigate and deduce how to cleanse.

Jimmy drives avoiding Stratford toward Little Rose going through Marshfield stopping at Thad Chicken in Arpin. The lynx offers a treat to me. It's cat food. 'Uh, no.' Jimmy reaches over while driving grabbing a handful.  While driving through Marshfield the pack doesn't detect anything out of place...  The day has become night by the time we leave Marshfield. Between during Marshfield and Little Rose, we see  a sole house which has a white picket fence on both sides of the house. In fact, the white picket fence is perpendicular to the street and exists on both sides of the road too. No lights. No one outside. The lynx asks Tom, yes I am speaking of myself in the third person and will continue to do so henceforth,  what he thinks.

'Not as experienced as you all so I leave it you?'

 Jimmy continues driving.

We reach a crossroads in Little Rose.
Abandoned Building lit up with sign ' misspelled Academy Orphanage'. Across street field and forest. Across other street is a gas station. 'Just like Spotted Cow' neon purple inside widow of 2 story building. Across is abandoned lot. *Tom's faces scrunches up in recollection* I had seen three separate groups of ghosts by the abandoned orphanage.

'there is a lot of dead people there'

jimmy ' you see dead people?'

 'Maybe... there's 4 or 5 kids, 4 or 5 teenagers, and an old hag'.

Around this time I recollected who the members of the pack are:
 Brad the  black fury cliath galliard is a loremaster
 Jimmy fostern theurge.
Jenny the lynx is adren.
 Then there is Sean Moore.

Upon learning none of them can see the ghosts themselves, Tom mentions a tincture with which group can see ghosts.

Jimmy and Tom go speak with the ghosts. Kids front yard. Teenagers  2nd floor thru windows. Old hag atop roof glowers at me. Speak to the kids in English. No response until they speak to Tom. He doesn't understand. The appearance of the kids little boy slacks, dress shoes, combed over slick black hair. Formal dress code.

 Jimmy '60s or sooner'.

 2 girls wear long dresses with long straight hair. Black and brown hair.
 Jimmy 'hmm 40s to 60s'.

Old hag chiselled nun face. All their clothes are in tatters. 5 kids are happy. Jimmy recalls there was a fire based on research and dilapidated look. Tom sees flashes how it used to look
 Mouths moving. Can't hear words but laughing. We do charades eventually learning can't enter because of the kids. Can't hear the hag due to kids.

I mention at this point that the Tincture requires consecrated grave dirt. Brad mentions cemetary with abandoned catholic cemetary on hwy 153 between Little Rose and Stratford. We ride there. We maintain there graves. Jimmy the horticulturalist identifies weeds which we rip up and toss onto road. Clean plants off graves. Acquire consecrated grave dirt after hour and a half. Need rosemary and ashen bark (which we get from charring bark from an ash tree).

 Tom performs the special Kitsune rite. Create 6 vials of drinkable tincture.

 Everyone else drinks.

 Jimmy doesn't take 1 point of damage from the toxic properties due to his tendency to drink moonshine, i.e. bone gnawer. Everyone heals the damage. Got extra vial. Jenny hacking as we arrive.

 They see dead people.

 Jenny 'she is as mean looking as you claim'.

 Jimmy, Jenny, and Sean with Airt Perception see a haunted castle on path. Don't see kids nor teenagers. Resemble Wicked Witch of West. Skin rotting away. She is holding a book with a cross on it. All 3 of them notices a cross switches direction. Skin darkens grows purple when spin downward. A lightning storm causes flips. Jimmy relays what they saw within the Umbra.

Sean the Get 'I want to take on the guy with the big knife!' Upon hearing Silent Hill references.

 Jenny 'we need to stop her'. But then realizes the ghost children are the problem.

 Tom guesses words phonetically and enters into Google translate. Italian. Eureka we deduce they are Italian immigrants.

The translation  is 'What a bunch of idiots maybe we should kill them,

Tom 'uh oh,'

Translation 'and consume their souls'

 Tom's face grows pale.

  Jimmy Google 'fire kills ghosts'

We realize we must destroy their  bones!

 Jimmy 'should we scout around and see if any graves around?'

Tom digs where lone boy whose acting less than others are. With jenny's aid, dig a foot. The boy retaliates by draining a willpower from Tom. A white energy goes to him and become more solid. Jenny shifts into crinos to defend tom. Jimmy succeeds in using his gift activate major owl spirit. Gracie uses cane to hurl sorcerous fire at the ghost boy, burning the ghost. Sean and brad stand there. Brad tug of wyld to speak with owl spirit. Tom back away from hole while google translate a phrase in Italian. Boy moved toward Tom. The ghost boy repeats his attack on and Tom fails.

Our rage increases.

Jenny 'hey!' Withering Gaze boy. Jimmy commands the owl spirit 'go find the bones for the kid'. Pecks at spot Tom was digging. Moves by boy and owl spirit next to hole. Gracie blasts to the ghost almost to the point of nothingness!

 Sean heads to gas station to get gas... no pumps. Shifts to Crinos. Tears it off. 6' down pool of gas.  Investigates for a siphon and finds a 10' hose and bucket.

 Brad shifts to crinos moves by hole and digs. 3' deep. Tom hops in and haplessly moves dirt.

Our rage increase...

Crinos Brad burn rage to dig faster hits rock. Digs a foot. Jimmy rage digs 6". Jenny hops in digging. Down a foot. Gracie fire blasts and dissipates the ghost. White orb returns to Tom regaining willpower. Jimmy digs and tells owl spirit to keep watch. Removes final 6". Covered in dust. Brad huffs puffs and blows dust away.  Blows dust away but slips and breaks one the bones in his left leg bone! Spurting blood all over. Sean brings gas bucket over to whole. Sighs. Tom sort dust and can't find the bones because of Brad's blood.

Our rage increases...

Jimmy asks Gracie to eat Brad's rage. Jenny searches for bones. Jimmy searches for, finds, and digs out the bone! Gracie eats Brad's rage with Calm the Heart. Consume 2 rage from Brad. Sean grabs bone from Jimmy, sets the bone inside bucket, and sets  ghost's bone ablaze.

Ghost boy doesn't return and those with Airt Perception notices the castle and storm gone. Kids smile and depart. Witch becomes normal. Book becomes bible.

Jimmy offers gnosis chiminage to the owl spirit.

The experienced pack discovers the Orphanage land is for sale. Jenny buys property intent to set up a pet therapy for troubled kids nonprofit.

I hope you find my tale to your liking and serve as a record of the deeds of this esteemed pack. Much thanks for I have much to learn from them.

*End tale and in-character.

I felt my first LARP session in a couple years was perfect Halloween tale even for Werewolf: The Apocalypse as it had all the trappings of an excellent ghost story. This time I decided to strip out the game mechanics although I might include them next time.

Halloween  is four days away!

Happy Gaming and next time!






Friday, October 18, 2019

Halloween 2019: OneBookShelf Jack O'Lanterns Freebies


As I alluded to on Wednesday, it's October.  Halloween blogging season. Unlike years past, no lofty promises this year. If I write a Halloween-themed post, cool. If not, oh well. We'll see how many I churn out. What better way to begin my Halloween blogging than listing my haul from OneBookShelf's (DriveThru RPG, DriveThru Comics, DriveThru Fiction, DM's Guild, Storyteller's Vault) Jack O'Lantern Scavenger Hunt where one on browses thru the site clicking on Halloween themed icons in order to score a freebie?

Note for first time blog visitors: I have taken advantage of OBS's Jack O'Lantern freebies for years now. I've racked up quite the haul, which I rarely if ever read or use. As such, no deep dives. I didn't search through every nook and cranny. Four or five items was my stopping point.  Also, only the icon and the order in which I discovered the freebie will be listed.

On with the listing.

DriveThru RPG -

Witch hat:  Castles & Crusades: Night of Spirits. I got to hand it to Troll Lord Games. When they go in on a promotion, they go all in. This Halloween themed module using the Castles & Crusades rules retails for around $8. Reading the boilerplate makes me want to read and possibly run it.

Jack o'lantern: 5E Halloween Mini Dungeon: Horror of Ochre Grove. A D&D 5E module that's apparently Halloween-themed...

2nd jack o lantern: SEERS & Roebuck Dust Buster of Holding - the fantasy equivalent of the old Sears & Roebuck catalogs, which in this instance features one particular item.

3rd jack o'lantern:  Doomtown Reloaded: Print & Play Demo - The description reads like a card game. I hate when they mix categories...

4th jack o'lantern:  Mothership Players Survival Guide - Did you like the Aliens movies with Xenomorphs and Sigourney Weaver? Well, this rpg emulates it!


DriveThru Comics

Witch hat: Kids on Bikes House On Polar Court

Ghost: Unstoppable Origins #1

Jack o'lantern:  God the Dyslexic Dog v1 (apparently I already own a copy...)

Candy: Death Vigil #1

2nd jack o lantern: vs Stranger Stuff Send in the Clowns Special Edition


DriveThru Fiction

Witch hat: Weird Fiction Megapack 25 Stories From Weird Tales. Can't go wrong with a collection of stories from the old Weird Tales magazine/pulp. The mag that brought us Conan!

Jack o' lantern: Outbreak Undead 2nd edition  Intro Manual. Another cross category offering...

2nd Jack o Lantern: Cabaret of the Grotesque

Ghost: Book of Apex vol 1 of Apex Magazine  (already have). I swear this given away every year...

3rd Jack o Lantern Achtung! Cthulhu Fiction The Trellborg Monstrosities. Like H.P. Lovecraft and the Cthulhu Mythos? Well, here's Cthulhu Mythos stories set across the pond in the UK!


DMs Guild

Ghost: Songs of Aedragad

Jack o'lantern: Curse of the Gumdrop Ooze Revised and Expanded

2nd Ghost: Circle of the Feydark 5e

2nd Jack o Lantern: Dread Domain A Cleric Archetype

Since much of my D&D 5E gaming is Adventurers League, I am unlikely to use any of this. Sigh...


Storyteller's Vault

Bat - Death Vigil #1 (repeat of the DriveThru Comics freebie)

Jack o'lantern -  God Dyslexic Dog volume 1 repeat of the DriveThru Comics Freebie

I really dislike how neither of these pertain to White Wolf Intellectual Property. The DM's Guild freebies seemed to be all D&D-related at least.

Ghost: Bygone Bestiary. Want to use fantastic creatures such as dragons in your World of Darkness game? Well, now you can! I've owned a deadtree version since White Wolf's $6.66 sale. I've been meaning to acquire an ebook copy for years so I could part with my physical copy. Mission accomplished!

Bat - Legacy of Lies a  V20 Dark Ages Jumpstart. Vampire Dark Ages is one of my favorite WOD Vampire settings.

Overall, I'd say I was pleased with this year's offerings.

Next time.

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Comics Haul 10/16/19



Well, about a month has past and if I want to get to back in the swing of blogging, especially my annual Halloween blog entries, it is now or never. What better way than ceasing my almost two month hiatus from my weekly Comics Haul? Here's what I purchased from my favorite local comics shop of titles released on 10/16/2019.






X-Men #1 Every Mutant Ever Variant cover. I felt getting a cover depicting every mutant once it's combined with the other variants was very cool. While I am buying most the new Hickman-verse X-titles, Fallen Angels is the only title I am not getting. So when I combine the covers, they won't display the entire panorama. Sigh, not like it would be visible in the long or short box anyway...

Wonder Woman Giant 100 Page #1 direct market edition. I prefer the reliability of my comics shop versus hunting down a copy at a big box retailer. Ongoing continuity sagas mean less and less to me; and I love the anthology format. Can't beat 100 pages either.

Savage Sword of Conan #10. Roy Thomas returning to Conan. Alan Davis on art chores. 'Nuff said.





Justice League #34. The Justice League vs the Legion of Doom. The return of the original Justice Society. Plus, Kamandi? Some exciting stuff. One of two in-continuity regular DC on-goings I currently buy and will continue until the end of the year.

Captain America #15. Scourge is back! I am pretty much on the title until Ta-Nehesi Coates's run ends.

Lucifer #13. I decided to give the Sandman Universe titles a stay from being dropped from my pull list until January in part because of John Constantine joining the 'universe'. November or December solicits will be when I finally decide whether to drop Lucifer (the title) or not.






Guardians of the Galaxy #10. Two months until Cates's run ends. I haven't decided if I will get Ewing's run or not. The cover is clickbait. Suppose, did anyone think Rocket was going to die?

Aquaman #53. I am pretty much buying Aquaman at this point because I always retroactively regret when I drop an Aquaman title. The DC Universe service alleviates my reticence somewhat. This is the other DC super hero title I am collecting until the end of the year.

Superman Year One #3. I love John Romita Jr's art. While I don't love it enough to buy his work on Action Comics, a three issue magazine that depicts Frank Miller's interpretation of the Man of Steel's origin fits my pocket book just fine. It would appear this story takes place in Miller's Dark Knight-verse as Wonder Woman hits on Superman and Batman's characterization matches that of Miller's All Star Batman and Robin title. Maybe DC will collect a Miller Omnibus collecting Superman Year One, All Star Batman and Robin, and the Dark Knight Returns/Dark Knight Strikes Again/Dark Knight Master Race trilogy (plus one-shots)? I would buy it.

A light week for me.

Next time.