Monday, 31 August 2015

The Duelist #5-#6 (Ice Age)

Yes, we are starting our look at The Duelist with issue 5. It's the earliest one I've been able to get my hands on so far. But don't fret, I have had an offer of scans from the earlier issues, so reviews those should be coming soon! So between this and the reviews of the unpublished Armada stories we're doing a bit of jumping around in the coming weeks, but I thought that was preferable over a few weeks of little to no updates.

Before I begin I want to thank my friend Sven for lending me his issues of the Duelist. As I've only got about 15 issues myself the magazine would be very sparsely covered without his generosity!

Alright, on to the review! Issue 5 contains a small blurb of info on the Ice Age lore and, more importantly, a short story called Feast of Kjeld. Issue 6 doesn't have anything for us story lovers, but it has some other funny stuff I'd like to share. Plus, by at least mentioning the issues without Vorthos stuff, you'll know I'm not skipping anything!

Between the cold weather and the attacks by Lim-Dûl's undead, the people of the village of Mikkel can't go to Krov to celebrate the yearly Feast of Kjeld. Heck, only the priest and the ward of the church, Kaysa, are at the local church celebrating. The other villagers don't even dare leave their houses! Suddenly some more people turn up. First Lucilde Fiskdotter, Klazina Jansdotter and Disa the Restless. Disa has been on an expedition to the west, hoping to find allies against Lim-Dûl. She found nothing though, and her team was slaughtered by undead. Kaysa freaks out upon hearing this. While trying to comfort her Disa notices something: Kaysa has the crescent moon mark of the Elder Druid! Just then Kolbjörn, Elder Druid and Disa's husband, turns up. He's divined Kaysa will be his successor and has come to collect her. When the priest protests that she is his ward, Kolbjörn reacts... let's say less than tactfully...
"This place is hallowed ground, and I do not mean to offend you, nor he whom you adore. If you do not wish Kaysa to leave you, I respect your request. All of you will die soon; I shall protect Kaysa until then. Afterward, she and I shall return to Fyndhorn, without dishonoring your wish."
On his approach the druid saw that the village is surrounded by the undead. Everyone who didn't dare leave their house to come to the church? They're actually all dead already!

Wednesday, 26 August 2015

Convocations #1

In response to my Armada continuity overview regular poster Leonardo asked about an Armada publication I skipped called Convocations. The reason I skipped it is because it is not a story. As you can see, it bills itself as "A Magic: the Gathering gallery" and that's just what you get: a collection of 23 art pieces. Some by Magic artists, others by comic book artists. Since there isn't a story, nor much else to review I was going to skip it. But I guess I should've at least mentioned what this product actually is, since it has a tendency to pop up on lists of Magic comics. So... I now have! But if I'm doing an actual post on it, I might as well show you some of the art.

Most of the arts are actually card combo's. This is Braingeyser + Underworld Dreams, by Mike Dringenberg.
This is Pete Venters' Lhurgoyf + Rocket Launcher + Nevinyrral's Disk + Spoils of Evil + Songs of the Damned combo. More of a general deck synergy really. 

Some more arts behind the cut.

Monday, 24 August 2015

Armada continuity overview

I'd like to start this blog entry with an apology: I'm sorry that the continuity discussions of the Armada comics got pretty much impenetrable about halfway through.

In hindsight it is clear that trying to discuss the canonicity of each story individually wasn't the right approach. I did realized going in that the continuity of certain comics was tricky. That's why I started with Arabian Nights, thinking I could get the discussion about "The Story of the Battlemage Ravidel" out of the way first. However, over the course of writing these reviews and talking about them with Jeff Gomez, writer and line overseer of the Aramada comics, it's become clear to me that the rabbit hole goes much deeper than I had originally thought. We are actually dealing with several layers of ret-cons. Even worse, to see the full picture we need elements from each layer. I think the true madness of what was going on here really hit me when I realized that the novel "The Shattered Alliance" on the one hand invalidated parts of the latter two Ice Age comics, yet also put the Alliances comic back into continuity, even though Alliances was never actually published.

This article is my attempt to make sense of it all. I'll first show how the comics fit together when they were originally published, and then go over the three waves of ret-cons to show what was altered each time.

Tuesday, 18 August 2015

Magic the Gathering: Battlemage

For the past months we've been looking at the Armada comics, a look I've been enjoying tremendously. Like the Harper Prism books the quality of the individual stories has been variable, but the greater continuity here has made even the lesser lights in the series interesting to me. (Gee, the guy who writes endless streams of articles about how Magic's various stories hang together likes continuity? Who would've guessed!) Over the course of 15 series the Armada crew has revealed much of the extensive history of Dominaria and its planeswalkers and from the very first series released (Shadow Mage and Ice Age) they have been building toward a big climax in the form of the Planeswalkers War. Today we will finally see the culmination of all this effort with Magic the Gathering: Battlemage, the second computer game based on Magic to be released.

Let me get this out of the way first though: this resolution is a huge let down. It is not the story that was planned for the comics. It doesn't resolve the majority of the lingering questions. Heck, it doesn't even feature most of the characters that were set to appear in the War! Worst of all: there isn't an actual story to play through. There is a campaign mode, but the course of the story is essentially random. Who fights who and who wins is determined by your choice of character, how you play and whatever random lands the computer opponents decide to attack. So after all this build up the only thing about the war we can say for certain is "A bunch of planeswalkers fight".

Well, there is a little more that can be deduced, which I will explain below, but those who wished to see a true ending to the Armada saga will be sorely disappointed. If you are one of those people though, I would still advice you to keep reading, as I have a rather exciting announcement for you at the end of this article!

Tuesday, 11 August 2015

Wayfarer #1-5

Issue four has Gonzalo Mayo on "Ink Assist". On issue five he and Rick Bryant are both credited for "Inks". Each issue contains a painted section. Dennis Calero does these for the first four issues. Val Mayerik paints the final one.

It’s a few months on from Shadowmage and things aren't going well for Jared. He's alone, tired and keeps getting into fights. To make matters worse, the people of Hamath aren't up on their recent events and think he’s a herald of Ravidel. They sick a D’Avenant Archer called Elan on him. They've underestimated Jared though. He defeats his hunter and is about to beat seven shades of doodoo out of the archer when Kristina of the Woods shows up. She takes Jared to her woods and after a little lecture on the color wheel he decides to become her apprentice, letting go of his anger.

Sunday, 2 August 2015

Nightmare #1

A Nighmare called Caliphear returns to her home after being summoned by a planeswalker. I guess. He's called a wizard, but explicitly summons her from another plane, so... Whatever the guy is, Caliphear discovers that her human slaves (yes, the horse has human slaves. Don’t ask. the horse can also talk by the way.) are almost all dead. She is told that the river feeding her swamp was cut of by an evil wizard called Coldraith. She teams up with a dude called Altair of Coloni, who promises to be her slave for 10 years if she kills Coldraith. It's not entirely clear to me why she wouldn't just destroy the person responsible for ruining her land anyway, but hey. They face the wizard, who casts Tranquility during the battle. This removes all spells from Altair, who as it turns out was actually a planeswalker that was somehow robbed of his powers by an enchantment. Altai and Caliphear make short work of Coldraith. Even though he is now much more powerful than the Nightmare, Altair says a promise is a promise, so he will still be her slave for the next decade.