Breaking Coverage: Bagley’s Binder of Mutants

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“Every Mutant Ever” drawn across six comics might not fly on Krakoa.

WARNING
Post contains mild spoilers for House of X and Powers of X.
Post also contains gluten.

Early last month, Marvel officially relaunched their line of X-Men books with X-Men #1. These books are spinning out of the super exciting and critically-acclaimed (and sometimes kind of culty) House of X and Powers of X combo mini series. Under the banner of “Dawn of X,” Marvel is kicking off the new generation of X-Men books with six titles released over a month and a half: X-Men, Marauders, Exclaibur, New Mutants, X-Force and Fallen Angels. If you happen to be curious about how I feel about each of these, you can find out on my podcast, Cover B, where I talk about each of these. Today, however, I’m not going to be discussing the titles themselves. Instead, I want to talk about the connecting covers by Mark Bagley.
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Spooky Tunes

Halloween doesn’t have nearly the amount of music it deserves.

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I had a realization the other day that Halloween really got the short end of the stick when it comes to music. I think it’s safe to say that Halloween is easily the #3 Holiday here in the US right behind Christmas and 4th of July in terms of a) people who give a crap that its coming, b) celebrations held and c) decorations put out. Don’t get me wrong, the other holidays are great. Personally, Halloween should be #2, but it is really tough to get around how much Red, White and Blue gets scattered all over right when June rolls around and Halloween doesn’t feature thousands (millions?) of people literally launching explosives into the sky to celebrate. And thus, Independence Day probably earns that #2 spot.

“What about Thanksgiving,” you might be asking. Oh, you mean pre-Christmas? The truth about Thanksgiving is that for quite some time (much longer than the twitter armies think) it has really just been this launching point for the “Holiday Season,” that wintery zone of various Holidays that actually mean something beyond “people with buckles on their shoes ate turkey and we don’t talk about the rest of the colonization stuff.” It’s the starting gun for a season of caring and sharing; a season of love and peace. Granted, that season for most people is more selfish and Capitalism-hungry than any other month of the year, but that’s not the season’s fault. Anyway, I LOVE Thanksgiving, don’t get me wrong, but as a Holiday it’s always felt more like a turning point than a big day to eagerly anticipate. People don’t go to football games specifically for the initial kick-off and then say “oh man, that was the best one yet.” Just saying. Don’t @ me, Thanksgiving people (or do, I need more interaction for my Google metrics).
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Jaded Unafraid

Have I reached my maximum spoop capacity with horror movies?

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Come with me now on a journey back to 2009. Barack Obama had been inaugurated as president, shit was going down in Sudan and Darfur, and the airy love-ballad “Tik Tok” by Ke$ha (₭€$₴؋ on the international market) was all over the airwaves. As autumn loomed in the distance, TV audiences were graced with a trailer for an upcoming horror flick. However, instead of laying out every detail of the plot and spoiling every twist like trailers today, this trailer mainly focused on movie audiences. It showed them jumping and screaming. It showed their moments of vulnerable terror as the reeled in fright at the events happening on the screen. It was an exciting trailer and one that made horror fans, like myself, absolutely salivate.

That movie, of course, was Paranormal Activity.
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READ THIS: Coffin Bound

Coffin Bound from Image Comics deserves a place at the absolute top of everyone’s reading list.

Let’s chat about my new favorite book. I’ll just go ahead and say it outright: if you have any interest in comics, Coffin Bound needs to be on your radar. This book is INCREDIBLE, and while only two issues in at this point, it has absolutely blown me away. I absolutely cannot express enough how much love I have for this book. Stop reading this. THIS IS TIME YOU COULD BE USING TO GO BUY COFFIN BOUND AND READ THAT INSTEAD. WHAT ARE YOU DOING? GO GO GO!

~C

*Record Scratch*

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…..Okay maybe I should elaborate a bit more.

On the surface, Coffin Bound doesn’t seem like anything that hasn’t been done in the scope of neo-noir before. Our protagonist, Izzy Tyburn, is targeted by a notorious killer and hits the road as the killer pursues. Along the way we meet various criminal groups, crime bosses, down-on-their-luck people just trying to get by, and various forms of sex, drugs and violence we’d expect from the derelict landscapes surrounding the story, populated by dilapidated buildings and absolutely covered in litter and graffiti. However, the surface is where familiarity stops, and as we dig deeper the true surreal nature of Coffin Bound blasts its way into our brains.
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IT’S LIKE READING FOR YOUR EARS

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Audiobooks, man.

I recently signed on for Audible at the suggestion of a friend. Now, I should start by saying this is not an add for Audible. I like it fine and the library is good, but you could legitimately use whatever audiobook service you prefer for all I care. Who am I to tell you what to do? Live your life. Jerk.

Anyway, to return to my original statement: Audiobooks, man. They’re great. I was always hung up on the idea of like listening to a book. In my mind it always felt like more of an achievement if I actually read the book instead. Also, I never really saw an opportunity to just pop on a book and press play. It’s definitely not something I can do for background noise, since that really defeats the purpose. However, I never really traveled long distances by myself nor have I had much of a commute, both of which are when a lot of people engage audiobooks. When I do go out of town, it’s typically with someone else, often my wife, and I’m a talker. I never really felt motivated to listen to audiobooks while cleaning as I typically need a peppy upbeat soundtrack to get me going. All in all, I just didn’t see when I’d have the time to let someone read a book for me aside from time that I could use to just read a book myself.
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GM Pitfalls: Master of Puppets

As a Gamemaster, sometimes it’s more important to just pull the strings.

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In the right hands, an NPC can be a brilliant addition to a campaign’s narrative. Interactive, fully fleshed out and generally dynamic – NPCs represent the world the PCs are murdering their way through adventuring in and are their best method of interacting with this world in ways not provided by the set pieces and enemies they commonly experience. A good NPC can give the party a trusted ally, a daunting nemesis or even just an adorable Goblin they can claim as a mascot. Whatever the purpose or goal of the NPC, it’s important to remember that important NPCs need to feel alive. The GM needs to play the role of the NPC, not just control it. Good NPCs have no strings and are as alive and organic as the players themselves. It should feel as though a new player dropped their way into the campaign, complete with their own unique goals, talents and flaws.

However, it’s also important to remember that some NPCs are allowed to be fairly inconsequential.

Too often a GM will try to fully flesh out every. single. NPC. This is incredibly dangerous, especially in Urban campaigns where PCs may encounter a LOT of NPCs. I find this especially taxing when the party needs to interact with merchants. One member of the party needs weapons, so here comes a blacksmith. Another member needs potions, so I better come up with a potion seller. Oh hey, this guy needs some provisions, better whip up a different general merchant. Oh look, the Paladin is off to the temple…. time to slap together some monks. Oh hey, the person at the blacksmith is now asking about anyone who might know the value of stolen jewelry, better concoct myself a fence. And so on.

And so on.

AnD sO oN.
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A Bat Problem

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We get it DC, Batman is popular.

So, here I am reading through a new comic I was super excited about: Superman’s Pal Jimmy Olsen #1. Written by Matt Fraction, this book is a fun and very self-aware romp of cheesy dialogue and wacky scenarios. Overall it was a fun read. Then the book closes with Jimmy moving/being kicked out of Metropolis. Where does he end up? Well, Gotham City of course. Yes that’s right, Gotham: The home to such well-known superheroes like Flamebird, the Creeper and Freight Train. Also, there’s a dude dressed like a bat who has a severely hard time dealing with grief.

Anywho, as I read the end of this book, I thought back to something I recently heard at a symposium (twitter rant) by the enlightened sage of the comics industry and hobby podiatrist, Rob Liefeld,

DC Comics gonna drive off a cliff here real soon…..gotta get my popcorn…

I ain’t never seen a company in as much disarray as DC Comics. Thank God they have Batman to act as their Tylenol, Asprin, laughing gas… ‘more Batman will fix it!

~ Rob “Notice Me” Liefeld

Now, I don’t agree with Rob’s general message: That DC is somehow in the shitter and desperately grabbing any Batman themed rope they can to keep from tipping over the edge.

But there has been an AWFUL lot of Batman lately…
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Unanticipated Improvement

Sometimes unexpected changes to plans can be the source of lasting memories.

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A few weekends ago, Tee and I traveled out to New Mexico to visit my brother’s family. My parents were also gonna be out that way, so we figured it would be a good chance to get the whole family together in one place, a feat that is incredibly rare these days. So months before the trip, Tee and I made plans, booked flights, and got excited.

About a month before the trip, the airline we had booked with changed our flight in to New Mexico. Instead of a short layover in Denver and an arrival time of mid afternoon on Friday, we instead had a 6 HOUR layover in Denver and wouldn’t be arriving until late that night, effectively killing an entire day’s worth of time I could spend with my family. I decided to cancel the flight and find something new, which ultimately resulted in us having to pay almost double for tickets. During that struggle, I had an idea: What if we JUST flew to Denver, rented a small car and drove the 6 hours down to Albuquerque? I found a super cheap flight to Denver on Thursday night and an equally cheap hotel in the area. It felt like a crazy idea and a somewhat illogical work around. Why not just pony up the larger ticket price and fly in? Why add a six hour drive to an already long day of travel (we have to fly out of Orlando since the Gainesville airport is literally the most expensive airport in the state).

I can tell you right now, it was the best choice ever.
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The Favorites: Lazarus

Lemme tell ya a little bit about one of my favorite comics.

Lazarus, written by Greg Rucka with art by Michael Lark, is a phenomenal book. It’s set in a dystopian future where the world has been divided up amongst various pharmaceutical “families.” These groups control their portion of the world, running things how they see fit in caste-based societies that range from generally utilitarian to full on tyrannical. The series focuses on Forever Carlyle, who is the Lazarus for the Carlyle family.
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Roll Call: Gettin’ Dicey

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Yo, so let’s talk dice.

In just about any RP system you choose, you are gonna need a select few dice to perform. Whether it be the incredibly common d20, the also fairly common horde of d6’s or the less than common d30, dice are the main bridge between your imagination and the effectiveness of your choices. They dictate if you can do the things you want and which way the game goes. They are the deciding factor on questions like “Can I do a cartwheel while simultaneously shooting two dudes behind cover on that high ledge” or “Can I successfully seduce this lowly secretary to put herself literally in danger and give me access to every area of the freaky crime lair she works for?” The answer to both these questions is apparently yes, as my friend Matt has shown dice absolute love when he makes crazy choices. Way to go, Matt, you beautiful bastard.

Dice are important for any system, so how does one go about choosing dice? How many dice is TOO many dice? Is impaling your dice on stakes to send a message to other dice not to fail you TOO extreme? Honestly, the answer to all these questions is simple: it needs to be about what YOU are comfortable with. The additional answer to that last question is DO NOT ALLOW INSOLENCE WITHIN THE RANKS.

At the end of the day, the dice are your main vehicle for the game and you want to make sure you are happy with the dice you have. For some people, that means having new dice for every new character. For others, one set of dice is good enough for any character and any game as they build a bond with that particular set. For others still, having a plethora of dice to switch at depending on their mood and the mood of the dice at the current time. Find out which person you are and roll with it. You want to be comfortable with your dice set up so that you can comfortably play and you don’t feel like something is lacking. Just like you wouldn’t show up for yard work in a tuxedo, it’s important to have the appropriate dice loadout before hitting the table.

“But wait a minute” you’re probably asking, “are you suggesting that the dice themselves have personalities?”

Now, that’s an odd takeaway from this whole thing. I mean, here I am just trying to talk about how it’s important to select dice that make you happy and you’re reading between the lines. Well, I guess it’s the elephant in the room now, huh.

Yes. Dice have personalities. Contrary to popular belief, dice are not manufactured but instead birthed into tiny dice villages in various locales around the world like the city of Chessex or the great MDG mountains. Sometimes dice are grown in dice-farms like trout, such as those produced at Q-Workshop. They’re kind of like Oompa Loompas, except without faces and considerably more cruel. That’s why it’s important to BOND with your dice. And if bonding becomes impossible, then toss a d20 in the freezer overnight so the others can see what happens to those who disobey. Sometimes the best way to build a bond is through suffering, or at least that’s what my Tamagotchi taught me.

Anyway, when selecting dice it’s important to remember this old adage that I just came up with: There is no such thing as too many, nor is there such a thing as not enough. Pick dice that stand out to you because of their look. Pick dice that test roll better. Use a dice rolling app. Hand-carve dice from the wood of the great Uma-Tuk Tree. Bathe your dice in the waters of Lake Minnetonka. Whatever you gotta do, as long as it means you’ll be comfortable with the dice you have.

Happy rolling!

~C