Blog Archives

Adventures In Magic the Gathering: The Modern Metagame

More than any other year in the last several years, the Modern format was put under an especially harsh scrutiny, owing to the January Banned & Restricted Announcement from Wizards of the Coast. Coming out just before Pro Tour Oath of the Gatewatch, this announcement decreed that two key format staples Splinter Twin and Summer Bloom were banned. Such is the price to pay for having a Modern PT. Unfortunately, during the PT, Eldrazi decks of various builds dominated the tournament, and in the months following, they were everywhere. It was a display of performance almost unmatched in the format’s history, necessitating a ban of the archetype staple Eye of Ugin in the next B&R update, as well as the announcement that Modern would no longer be a PT format.

Now, we are about five months from that day, and the modern meta has shifted considerably since then. There was the brief rise of Abzan CoCo as a powerful deck, but that phase too has passed. Now, the utter dominance of a single deck has given rise to a more diffuse dominance, where no one or two or even three decks are clearly at the top. Various new strategies have come up, challenging the top tier decks for their crown. And this diversity was highlighted this previous weekend in the Grand Prix tournaments held in Guangzho (China), Lille (France) and Indianapolis (USA). Here’s how the meta broke down.

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Comics Picks For 17.12.2014

I was hoping for a second Magic 40 week in a row, but turns out that it was just wishful thinking. Still, I managed to get up to 30 comics this week, though no graphic novels sadly.

There was only one surprise hit this week, Eternal #1 from Boom Studios, as pretty much all the other comics I read this past week were ongoing series I’ve been following for a while. The disappointments of the week were Spider-Woman #2 from Marvel and Future’s End #33 from DC. And the ones that continued a great trend were the likes of Black Widow #13, Justice League #37, Catwoman #37, Supergirl #37, Wayward #5 and others.

Anyway, here’s another edition of “Comics Picks For…”. Full reading list, as always, is available here and all my comics reviews are available here.

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Comics Picks For 19.11.2014

No “Magic 40” this week since I wasn’t able to get around to a lot of the comics I wanted to get through this week, largely because I am traveling and in India for a cousin’s marriage. These things always take up a lot of time. I haven’t even had a chance to work on my NaNo novel these past two days!

Anyway, My top picks for the surprise hits of the week would be Batman ’66: The Lost Episode #1 and He-Man and the Masters of the Universe Volume 2 from DC Comics. The most disappointing comics of this week were  Amazing Spider-Man #10 and Spider-Woman #1 from Marvel Comics. Other than that, the regularly great titles like Black Widow, Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 10 , Future’s End, Predator: Fire and Stone and Witchblade all proved to be immensely fun.

The graphic novels for this week were Aphrodite IX v2 Volume 2 by Matt Hawkins, Stjepan Sejic and Troy Peteri, and He-Man and the Masters of the Universe Volume 2 by Dan Abnett, Rafael Kayanan, Kathryn Layno, Deron Bennett, Yildiray Cinar, Randy Mayor, Michael S. O’Hare, Frazer Irving, Pop Mhan, Tom Derenick, Tony Avina, Ken Lashley and Ryan Sook.

Anyway, here’s another edition of “Comics Picks For…”. Full reading list, as always, is available here and all my comics reviews are available here.

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Fast-Shot Comics Reviews 19.11.2014

Last week I started off a new feature on the blog, Fast-Shot Comics Reviews, in which I will be reviewing some of my comics read from that week that I wasn’t able to get to in terms of reviews. And these can be comics I liked or comics I hated or anywhere in between really. Last week I did six comics, all of them among my top picks for the week, and it was a pretty fun experience, trying to reduce my usual 700+ words reviews into something like half that number. Quite challenging too since I usually write so much more.

The picks for this week are: Grimm Fairy Tales #104, Grimm Fairy Tales 2014 Holiday EditionDeath of Wolverine: The Weapon X Program #2, Inhuman #8, Storm #5, and Wonder Woman #36. The picks are a bit heavy on the Big Two this week, owing to how much I read from them, and also since most of my reading was confined to them only this week. An interesting bunch certainly and there are quite a few really good books in here, though not all are what I’d call “Pick of the Week” material, even though they skirt the line.

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Storm #4 (Comics Review)

Over the last several weeks, and even months, Marvel Comics has been setting the stage for Death of Wolverine. One of the most popular X-Men to have existed to date, Logan aka Wolverine died this same week in Death of Wolverine #4, in what was a heroic finale to the character. And where Ororo Munroe aka Storm is concerned, I as a reader know that she’s been worried about him for quite some time, as we saw in Storm #2 back in August, which was a really heartfelt moment between the two characters, who have often been lovers over the years.

And now Logan is dead, and that leaves a void in Storm’s heart. This is what writer Greg Pak deals with in Storm #4, also released this week. As far as I can tell what from what little Marvel I’ve read this week, Storm is the only character to mourn Logan’s death, and she does this in quite a spectacular way that is also typical Ororo. You really feel the emotional bond that existed between them, and you want to cry your heart out as well. It was a great issue for the most part, though there were indeed some things that bothered me about some of the ancillary characters.

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Comics Picks For 24.09.2014

Lightning strikes in the same place for a third time. I mentioned last week that I read 38 singles and 2 graphic novels for that release week, and that holds true for this week as well. I had a chance to read a bit more, but I chose to use that time to get done with some of my novel reading and also catch up with some of my reviews. 15 titles out of 40 read were reviewed by me this week. I feel good!

The surprise hits of this week were Aliens: Fire and Stone #1 and Prometheus: Fire and Stone #1, both from Dark Horse Comics, Pathfinder: City of Secrets #5 from Dynamite Entertainment, Catwoman: Future’s End #1 from DC Comics, Hack-Slash: Son of Samhain #2 and Chew Volume 1  both from Image Comics. Comics which disappointed me this week were Edge of Spider-Verse #3 from Marvel Comics, Sensation Comics #7 from DC Comics, and… that’s it thankfully! The graphic novels of this week were Chew Volume 1 and Thor: God of Thunder Volume 3.

Anyway, here’s another edition of “Comics Picks For…”. Full reading list, as always, is available here and all my comics reviews are available here.

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Storm #2-3 (Comics Review)

Joining Marvel’s line-up of female-led titles this year was July’s Storm #1, which featured one of the most iconic members of the X-Men, Ororo Munroe aka Storm. The first issue was something quite wonderful since Greg Pak got the character down perfectly, almost, and the same can be said of Victor Ibanez’s art as well. The title is also very different to every other female-led title from Marvel this year and it also plays into a larger team dynamic with the X-Men themselves, so that’s another reason to get along with this title and see where things go from there.

In Storm #2, Greg takes the readers down into New York’s abandoned subway tunnels and has Storm go up against an old enemy, Callisto, for a rematch that shocks Storm and really makes her reassess her priorities and her heroics. Over in Storm #3 however, Greg Pak has the Goddess flit over to Kenya where she has been invited to help with the water shortages in the country and is just another example of Greg developing the character through her past experiences, grounding her, so to speak. There are two separate art teams in both issues, and despite some minor negatives, they make both issues two of the best comics you can read this year.

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Original Sin #8 (Comics Review)

The grand finale is here. The moment that we’ve all been waiting for, it is here, finally. At this point, there really isn’t much that I can say about this title. Almost four months of mysteries, backstabbings, betrayals, revelations, and now it all comes to an end. All the seeds that Jason Aaron has sown in the past issues, they’ve created one hell of an impending finale, and that’s what I wanted to see in the finale. Because though the start was a bit of a not-so-good, the later issues were really good, and I got to see lots of different things that I hadn’t before. That’s the best case I suppose..

To mark this finale, Jason Aaron and Mike Deodato deliver a whopping extra-sized issue. There are lots of loose ends to tie up here, and Jason Aaron addresses a ton of them. And even calls back to some of the earlier moments of this event title, showing that there was always a grand plan in motion, and I gotta say that Aaron thinks in a very devious kind of way. He highlights Dr. Midas, Nick Fury and Uatu in this issue, but doesn’t forget about the other characters at all. And the art as usual is pretty good, though is often flawed by the same recurring problems with Deodato’s art.

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Comics Picks For 20.08.2014

Thankfully, I’m finally settling back into the groove with comics reading and, most importantly, comics reviewing, as I managed to review a fair bit of titles this week and even caught up with reviewing some previous titles that I’ve unfortunately had to neglect for one reason or another.

The surprise hits of this week were Cartoon Network: Super Secret Crisis War: Billy and Mandy #1 from IDW Publishing, Wolverine Annual #1 from Marvel Comics and Vampirella #3 from Marvel Comics. The surprise flop of the week would be Batman: Eternal #20 from DC where the title seems headed downwards just when it was getting once again, and The Wicked + The Divine #3 from Image where the title took a nosedive this week after a second issue that was really good. No graphic novels again sadly, though I hope to correct that that this week. I hope..

Anyway, here’s another edition of “Comics Picks For…”. Full reading list, as always, is available here and all my comics reviews are available here.

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Original Sin #7 (Comics Review)

This is it. We are in the final phase of Original Sin and the event is now wrapping itself up. Lots of secrets have been revealed in the pages of Hulk vs Iron Man, Thor & Loki: The Tenth Realm, The Amazing Spider-Man and Daredevil among others. Marvel’s superheroes have all faced up to some incredible revelations till now and there is no stopping the flood, especially not when the man they trusted above all others has turned against them it seems. Jason Aaron and Mike Deodato have had a great run till now, but still, I think they are kind of tapping out on the steam.

The previous issue of the event series was packed with a hell of a lot of action and the heroes finally faced up to the big manipulator of Nick Fury himself, a Nick Fury who has been around for far longer than any of them thought or could have imagined. And things are moving into gear as Dr. Midas, Exterminatrix and The Orb lay down their own final plan and begin to face up to the heroes once more. Story-wise this issue was somewhat weak and uninteresting but the art still looks good thankfully, despite the fact that sometimes Deodato goes too small-scale in his panels.

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Comics Picks For 23.07.2014

As per my plans, I didn’t do one of these posts in the past 2 weeks since I was on a holiday. And a great holiday it was indeed. I didn’t get to do more than a very small handful of reviews, more like just two or three in all, but I managed to read a fair bit and kept myself on target for my comics reading.

The surprise hits of this week were Storm #1 from Marvel and Star Spangled War Stories #1 from DC Comics. The surprise flop of the week would be Batman #33 from DC Comics. Not exactly a bad comic but just a disappointing one. All the other comics were pretty much good, excepting Flash #33, where I still can’t really connect with what the new creative team is doing there. I wanted to read a trade paperback comic as well during this week, but the first few days of the vacation were very busy and all these comics were pretty much read in the last 2-3 days of the week so that didn’t happen.

Anyway, here’s another edition of “Comics Picks For…”. Full reading list, as always, is available here and all my comics reviews are available here.

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Storm #1 (Comics Review)

Over the years, Ororo Munroe aka Storm has become one of the most prominent of the X-Men, particularly since starring in the X-Men movie franchise and played by Halle Berry (questionable performances, but more to do with the writing). With the launch of Brian Wood’s X-Men comic last year that saw her take a more prominent role in the comics-verse, a lot of people in the fandoms seemingly expected to see a Storm comics series soon. And lo behold, their prayers were answered earlier this year when Marvel confirmed a Storm ongoing, which came out yesterday.

Written by Greg Pak and drawn by Victor Ibanez, Storm #1 falls in the realm of one of the better new titles that Marvel has launched this year. Greg Pak captures the awesomeness of Storm very well in this debut issue though sometimes the monologue got a bit too weird for me. Victor Ibanez on the other hand draws a really good Storm in this issue, and you can really feel her personality coming through the pages. Far better than I expected, Storm #1 has got me really excited for the series now, and I’m hoping that the second issue arrives very soon!

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