Top of the Stack

Hey everyone! This post is delayed mostly because there really weren’t that many great books that came out this week. Normally I could go on and on about books like Action and Detective, but they both had sub par issues this week. I figure there is enough negativity in the world right now, so I won’t critique these books. Instead I will focus the few books this week that I liked. So with that done, I’ll get to it!

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Mister Miracle #5

This book is hands down the best book on the shelf. Period. Tom King is able to embrace the bombastic and wild style that Jack Kirby brought to his books. In doing so, he is able to nail down the New Gods in a way few have since their creation. Mitch Gerads art is also perfect for the book. Able to make a page feel warm, yet unsettling. Heart warming, yet creepy. By sticking close to a 9 panel per page layout, the book has a classic feel to it which helps to add to both the overall enjoyment. Additionally it helps him sow seeds of distress that remind the readers that there is something sinister we haven’t seen yet. This issue is the best of the series so far. I have longed to get an issue that is just Scott and Barda exploring their relationship, and we get it in this one. I have long loved their love for each other, and this issue has it all. It has Barda, who is as strong as Wonder Woman, be more vulnerable then we have ever seen her. She spends the book with a smile on her face, but a heavy heart. The execution of Scott weighing heavy on her mind. Scott is much more relaxed, and seemingly at peace with the decision. We see them spend the last two days together. They do everything from enjoy a carnival, to eating at a diner, and some creative love scenes. With the book far from issue 12, we knew Scott wasn’t headed for the chair this early. The issues conclusion left one of the most dangerous women in the universe on a quest to protect her husband from a neurotic Orion. Yet sadly, I have to wait another 30 days to read the next part of it.

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Port of Earth #2

I am a sucker for a good sci fi story, and this is one of them. The story follows an Earth that made contact with an alien consortium in the not so distant future. The aliens were not after peace, or war, or anything like that. They needed an intergalactic gas station. Their ships are powered by water, and Earth has an abundant supply of it. So an agreement was made. They give us some advanced tech while we let their ships fill up. Not enough to hurt the environment, just enough to get them to the next stop. The story is set several years after this bureaucratic first contact.  The story follows two agents of the Earth Security Agency. Tasked to guard the facility from unauthorized humans, or escaping alien entities. This issue picks up with them hot in pursuit of an escaped alien. A powerful being from a race the humans have not had the displeasure of meeting. Zack Kaplan is weaving threads of sci-fi, action, and alien horror. All excellently drawn by Andrea Mutti. If the story keeps up this way, Image will have another hit on its hands. I am hoping that this book finds an audience, as it truly is one of the best Science Fiction stories I have read in a long time.

Sadly, that’s about it for this week. I hope you will check these books out, if you haven’t  already. In the mean time, what are you reading?

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Tales From Civ 6: South Asia TSL Part 2

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I set out where I left off, trying to win a Culture victory and prevent China from securing the Culture and Science victory that they were hurtling towards. You can read part 1 here.

I picked up the game in 1585, less than a decade later my coalition with the Khmer, Scythia, and Japan fell apart. I was able to secure Hojo’s favor, and convince him to send his forces to attack China’s Eastern front. I mustered my newly minted Bombards and Musket Men and marched south. It would be known as the 70 years war, and neither Hojo nor I was able to accomplish much of anything during that time. My war angered Gandhi and decimated Japan’s forces. After peace was declared, I began covert operations in an attempt to steal Cultural artifacts away from China.

This was initially successful as I was able to get away with both Frankenstein and the Mona Lisa. This attracted the attention of the other world leaders, who were quick to offer me all sorts of treasures for these cultural works. I rejected the proposals as I attempted to change the Cultural tide in my favor, sadly I was unable to make a dent on China’s Culture output. I knew there was only one way I could win the game. I would have to eliminate China. In 1740 I marched my troops across the border and laid siege against China’s southern most city. My good friend Hojo had no army to muster, and I was in the conflict alone. My initial siege went well, and my Bombards were able to destroy the cities defenses as my Musket men hunkered down for the siege. I was initially hopeful that my siege could force Qin Shi Huang to come to a peace agreement.

Instead the opposite happened. Marching from the north were several units of Rocket Infantry. How Emperor Huang had this technology in the 1820’s while the rest of the world was so far behind, was a frightening sight. From the West came a unit of Gatling Gun’s. Within moments my army was torn asunder. I was able to capture the city I was laying siege too, and as it turns out, it was originally founded by the Khmer. I gladly gave it back to them. This was to appease Gandhi and create a buffer between myself and China. Despite this maneuver my army was scattered and easily destroyed by China’s awesome fire power. Peace finally came in 1845 and by then it was clear. China has rebuilt its military and with more tech and might than I could I muster. With a cultural victory imminent, it was clear. I had failed to lead Indonesia to victory. Within a few turns Qin Shi Huang would unite the world with his superior culture and my empire would only be a footnote in history.

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Curse you and your pretty buildings!

Notes about the Map:

South Asia TSL is a very challenging map. China, Khmer, and Japan all have clear advantages as they start real close to the middle of the map.

Indonesia is fantastic. Despite my loss, I experimented with the different ways I can build cities. I was able to build several cities to 8 or more population with just 1 or 2 pieces of land. The Kampung’s are awesome. They provide you with so much utility and allow you to build in normally unattainable places. I look forward to playing Indonesia again, and I hope that I can lead them to victory in a different setting. Maybe one where China doesn’t fire Bazooka’s at me in the 19th century.

Until the next time!

I also promise I have other content other than Civ stuff planned. Even if it doesn’t look like it.

Civilization 6 First Look: Korea

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This content was announced about a week ago. I planned on doing a write up for them much earlier, but I got busy with work and then my internet went down. So now, a week late, you get my look at Queen Seondeok of Korea. Before I get into it, here are a few things to note. We haven’t seen all the new mechanics coming in the Rise and Fall Expansion next February. Because of this it will be impossible to make an accurate review of most things relating to their new mechanics. So anything specifically featuring Governors, Ages, or Emergency Powers, I can only speculate on now.

You can see the full release video here.

I expect by the time is posted, we’ll see another expansion announced, as it appears these things will happen on Tuesday’s. It is my hope to be more thorough with getting these put up. That said, let’s get too it! I will be doing these reviews two fold. Analyzing the Civ on the whole, and analyzing them based on their projected True Start Location (as discussed in my previous post). As TSL maps often vary in strategy from the normal maps and depending on location can provide major advantages or disadvantages. Unfortunately it looks like Korea will be one of those Civ’s that are disadvantaged by their starting location.

Korea’s Unique Ability gives Mines and Farms additional Science and Food yields when built next to a Seowon District. The Seowon replaces the Campus District and provides a large, fixed amount of Science. However this yield is decreased by 1 for every adjacent district built next to it. If I recall the video correctly it looks like it starts at 6. Additionally the Seowon must be built on a hill tile. This makes it more likely to be adjacent to either other hills or plains tiles, further powering up the Civilizations Unique Ability. Korea’s unique Unit is the Hwacha. Which is described as a renaissance era ranged unit. That makes it a little unclear on which unit it replaces, as there is not currently a ranged unit for that era. However my guess would be that it replaces the Crossbowmen, which slot in at 40 ranged combat strength. I expect Korea to get the Hwacha a little later than the Machinery Tech, but at the exchange for a 10 point buff in strength. Additionally the Hwacha cannot move and shoot, in a similar manner to most Siege Units. Finally, Seondeok’s Unique leader ability provides a plus 5 bonus to Cities with an established Governor. Again, little is known about this mechanic so far, but it appears that most cities will want a Governor, so this looks like it gives an additional bonus for having one.

In Games with normally generated maps, Korea looks like a really strong Civ. They should be able to excellently place Seondok Districts and maximize their mine and farm outputs their Civ gives them. The Hwacha should be an excellent defensive unit, and with the correct army built around it, be an excellent offensive option. As stated earlier, Queen Seondok’s leader ability looks to be a great buff to a new mechanic. Governors look like a must have, and providing a further benefit on top of them should allow a greater flexibility in choosing them.

TSL maps get a little trickier. Penalties against the Seondok District should be more noticeable on the tiny Korean peninsula. It also makes it less likely for the capital city to benefit from Korea’s unique ability. I expect in most games, the Seondok will be built adjacent to the Capital, preventing any of the great Civ benefits from happening. Expansion should be another problem with Korea. They are on a peninsula surrounded by Japan to the East, Indonesia and Australia to the South, and China to the West. The current roster of Civilizations makes a northward expansion the easiest mode of expansion. That said, I expect the Genghis Khan to be represented, and that would add a dire threat to the North of Korea. The one advantage the Civ has is their Hwacha. If they can hold off until the Renaissance era, they can muster a few Hwacha’s they should be able to defend their borders from several would be invaders. Korea’s only option may be to muster an early military and attack a City State such as Hong Kong to give them some land to grow. Adjustments to the TSL map happen, changing the map and making Korea larger, but we won’t know until that actually happens.

Korea looks to be a very interesting nation to play. TSL should be about as challenging, if not more so, than Japan currently is. But I love a good challenge. I look forward to seeing what else is announced in the coming days. What do you look forward too about Korea? Are there any Civilizations that you would like to see added to the game? Let me know in the comments if you do.

Top of the Stack

It’s Wednesday! That means new comic books are out. Last week saw a minimal amount of books as is common with a 5th Wednesday in a month. Today kicked off the December month in grand fashion. I will detail what I enjoyed this week.

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Archie #26

Archie is the comic I look forward to most every month. In the turn of a page I can go from laughing to weeping. I cannot overstate my emotional attachment to this book enough. I am often left in tears. This issue was no different. Delivering a devastating punch at the end of the book, that no doubt will make me sob in a months time. Mark Waid is bolstered this arc by the wonderful art of Audrey Mok, whose interiors harken back to Veronica Fish’s excellent work in the second volume. I have long loved Mok’s work, and seeing her go from the equally outstanding Josie and the Pussycats book to Archie proper has been fantastic. I just regret that Archie Comics cancelled their Team Betty/Veronica shirts they solicited a year ago. I want my shirt! #TeamVeronica

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Batman #36

I strayed away from Batman for quite some time in the New 52, the repetitive use of the Joker by Scott Snyder made me weary of the book and I never concluded the run, I was to overwhelmed. As Tom King took over as apart of Rebirth, I was skeptical. The first few volumes failed to grab my attention. However once he got to the I Am Bane arc, I was sold. Afterwords it has become clear that King has been seeding things he can draw on for several arcs to come. With wedding bells ringing in the distance it is time for Batman to get his affairs together. He first “talked” with Talia as we saw the rest of the Bat-Family react to the news. The new “Superfriends arc” will allow Tom King to play with the Superman family (that has been excellently written by Peter Tomasi) and how Clark reacts to the news. What ensues is one of the funniest Batman stories I have read in years. As both men struggle to express their feelings. It is familiar from Batman, but new to experience from Superman. However it was Lois and Selena who stole the show. Egging their respective paramours along, until the fun conclusion to the book. I hope the rest of this arc is as fun as it started. It’s always nice for a bit of levity in a Batman book.

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Batman: White Knight #3

Sean Murphy has long been one of my favorite creators in the industry. When he announced this story, I was naturally very excited. To say this book has been exceptional so far would be an understatement. Outside of Tom Kings Mister Miracle series, I would say this is the greatest super hero book on the shelf. Batman is edgy and off kilter, while Dick and Babs struggle to understand his motives. I newly sane Joker (Jack) has set about ending the Batman’s destructive reign in Gotham. This issue continues with the twist from last months issue. Do not read on if you have not finished Batman: White Knight #2.

The two Harley Quinn reveal really blew my mind. Learning that the Original Harley Quinn had left Joker right around the time of the Jason Todd murder, and a newer, legitimately crazy woman slipped right in to play the roll. Murphy gets to make a jab at modern Harley in the process. Making the original costume Harley the real deal. She isn’t crazy, she is just crazy in love. The other woman is literally insane and in love with the idea of being crazy. Murphy effectively redeems the last 6 years of Harley Quinn. As a reader, I did not think that was possible. Seeing a bright, fun, intelligent, and not overly sexualized Harley has been a sight to see. I look forward to her involvement through the rest of the series. I had forgotten that Harley Quinn could be a redeemable character.

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Klaus: Crisis in Xmasville #1

Finally, let’s talk about Klaus. Grant Morrison is a genius. He always has been. In Klaus he satirizes hyper dark/violent style of the Dark Knight Returns. But with Santa. Since the series’ launch a year ago, it has had a one shot every December. This year is Crisis in Xmasville. Where a small town run by a corrupt soda company has kidnapped and brainwashed travelers into becoming an army of hypnotized evil santa’s. Enter Klaus, the real life Santa, who arrives to beat some sense into the villainous foes. The story is goofy, funny, and delightfully poignant. The art from Dan Mora is also a treat. If you haven’t seen his work before, it’s a must see. His panel design is top notch, and he perfectly blends the fun and grit that Morrison writes into the book.

Well these are my favorite books of the week, what did you enjoy?

Tales from Civ 6: South Asia TSL Part 1

What, you thought I was going to relaunch my blog with a simple introductory post, and then not talk give you actual content? Silly you. I recently downloaded the newest DLC for this fantastic game. It included a TSL map just for South Asia. For the uninitiated, TSL stands for True Start Location. In this map type you are spawned on an approximated map of the world, and your starting location is where your Civ started historically. Currently this map can only hold 6 of the many Civilizations in the game. I started with the one of the two newest Civ’s, Indonesia.

Gitarjah-Indonesia

Indonesia is led by Gitarja. She is a naval focused Civ, and those are my favorites. I love exploring the world with boats and deterring land invasion with a superior navy. Her unique improvement is the Kampung. It is a unique improvement you can put on water tiles adjacent to coasts. It gives you extra benefits if built around fishing boats. As Indonesia is all about the ocean, it makes sense for them to make use of otherwise desolate tiles. This is especially helpful as she starts on the fractured lands of polynesia. Most Civs would struggle in such circumstances, not Giraja. As an added benefit you get to listen to Sean Bean (of Game of Thrones and much more) accurately nail down the intricate pronunciation.

So I began my journey. I had an idea of who I might find on the map, but it took me several centuries to find another player. It was none other than the other newest Civ, the Khmer. Led by Jayavarman IV, the Khmer are a cultural and religious powerhouse. As expected they pushed for a religion and ended up with Islam, as I snagged Hinduism first. They wasted no time in converting their part of the world to Islam, and that appears to be their main victory condition now. That and making me want to listen to the King and I sound track.

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All that’s missing is Yul Brynner.

The next Civ is one of my favorites in the entire game, Hojo Tokimune of Japan. Japan is an excellent cultural Civ, and excels at making use of small spaces. The South Asia map gives them much more space than the normal TSL map, which allowed them to expand quite a bit. They grabbed Shintoism which is pretty natural for Japan. They expanded West to the main continent, which has put them in direct competition with China. As historically accurate, Hojo has been in many wars with China thus far. As of my last save the game just hit 1600 and the two nations have been to war 4 times. I guess they truly can’t get along.

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Poor Hojo can’t catch a break though. He is at the middle of the pack victory wise. Not able to edge out the other Civ’s.

That takes us to Qin Shi Huang, the leader of China. China loves building Great Wonders of the World and is a specialist in winning Culturally. They are doing so handily in the game thus far. Taking the lead in both culture, and pulling far ahead of the pack Scientifically. I came to blows with him early as he is the pre-eminent leader of the game, and I enjoy playing a slow cultural game. He has been able to handle his multiple wars with Hojo well, using his Hidden Dragon Cannon’s to great effect. He also recently started constructing the Great Wall, which will no doubt just anger Japan more. China grabbed Confucianism, but hasn’t been able to expand it. In part because of Yul Brynner’s excellent religious expansion.

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He’s pretty proud of all his pretty buildings. Also none to happy about me building the Great Lighthouse. China has no water borders, so has no chance to build it, but was still mad I had a pretty building.

Next I met the Nuclear Warmonger himself, Gandhi. Gandhi grabbed a religion unusually late for India. Forcing him to settle with Protestantism. He hasn’t done a ton to impact the game. The Indian subcontinent is sheltered off from most of the map, and hasn’t impacted the game as much as the other 4. He has spent most of his time fighting Barbarians and shaking his stick at anytime another Civ goes to war. He also just got engaged in a nasty war with Scythia. Fortunately this means that Gandhi should be pretty tame by the time the Atomic Age comes about. As a reference to a glitch from the first game, Gandhi will always go for nukes when they are unlocked. It’s a fun homage, that can be devastating.

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He may look peaceful, but in a few centuries he’ll bomb the shit out of you.

The final player in this game is Tomyris of Scythia. The nomadic warrior is in the far right corner of the map, and would have to get past India and China to get sea access. They have yet to do so. While normally a very aggressive early game Civ, she spent much of the early game contending with the same Barbarians that India was fighting. As soon as they were snuffed out, she turned her eyes to Gandhi. Saddly, this wasn’t until 1540, well past her prime for conquest. She grabbed Zorastrianism, but has struggled to convert her own cities, let alone other empires. She has had the poorest start in the game so far, which is a shame. Land based Civ’s appear to have a harder time on this map type. Unless they like to spam pretty buildings.

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Those are the players and some of the details of the game so far. But here is the best recap. I have played a peaceful game, but quickly built up the worlds strongest navy. After establishing an alliance with the Khmer, Scythia, and Japan, I set my trap. I initiated a massive coalition war against China, in hopes of setting them back. Tomyris was of little help, being sheltered away from the conflict. The Khmer never mobilized forces, but China did send troops that were quickly defeated. Japan, being immediate neighbors had the biggest impact. They were quickly invaded, in what was the fourth conflict between the two nations. Despite being technologically inferior, they were handling themselves well. Meanwhile I mobilized my massive navy and invaded the Independent state of Hong Kong. Despite being a City State, they were allied with China and providing them a large industrial boost. They fell quickly, and I was able to establish a foothold in Chinese territory. A little further away in the Korean peninsula, Seoul was hounding Japanese forces. Another independent state allied with China, they were helping China lead the Science race. They fell in an equal amount of time, giving me another striking point into China. Afterwords, I sent my boats to bombard the coast Japan, successfully killing off the Chinese troops. After this China gained peace from the coalition and wasn’t forced to capitulate any territory.

This is where I was forced to save and start my normal day as a mild mannered citizen. When I reload I will attempt to steal away a cultural victory from China and Japan. I have a foothold in China, and have just discovered gunpowder and ballistics. With my muskets and cannons I should be able to take advantage of China’s weakened military. Other than that, who knows what fun thing lie in store for me and Indonesia in the next installment.

I hope you enjoyed, and stay tuned for more content.

Ravingnerd Rebirth

Rebirth

“This is Garnet, Back together”

Probably not the best way to start things off, but hey, that song is always stuck in my head. Hello internet. It has been several years since my last post. Time and time again I tried to revive this blog, and failed every time. Part of this was due to my exhaustion at work. Spending 40 hours a week working at my local comic store made me a bit jaded and tired of escapism. Comics, Games, and all matter of nerdy things no longer provided me the same comfort that they used to. Thus, trying to come up with the thoughts to engage the fantastic audience I had, never came to me.

In the years I have been a way, quite a bit has changed. Namely, I have gotten older. I have a tougher skin and because of this have found enjoyment in many things I used to. 2017 has been a tumultuous year for me (hasn’t it been for everyone?) and one thing that I have found that really relieves the stress and calms me down is writing. In my free time I write for a fantastic site covering the Toronto Blue Jays. That has helped, but even then that feels like work. Word Counts, topic assignments, editing, re-editing, and word counts can all make it a bit stressful. So I thought I should find a space where I didn’t feel pressured by any of things and could talk about things I love. I toyed with doing something else, but at the end of the day I wanted to do that here.

So with that out of the way. Ravingnerd is back! At least in someway. I can’t guarantee scheduled times for posts, but I do plan on re-engaging with the blog and hopefully engaging with some of the brilliant followers and friends I made when I ran this in its prime. The blog will be similar to what it once was, plenty of conversations about nerdy things, but less focused on news and reviews. If this is a feature people particularly care about, I will consider adding it again. So lets talk about what I am thinking about writing about.

  1. Intellectual conversations about hot topics in comic books. This includes the rise and fall of Marvel (much to my dismay, which is a sentence that should surprise any long time reader). What Brian Michael Bendis could do for DC, and other similar topics.
  2. In my free time I love to play Civilization. With the new expansion coming out in February, I will be playing as much as I can before everything changes. For anyone who plays the franchise, you will know that remaking history is fun. Seeing some of the things that the AI does can be exciting, and often hilarious. I would love to share some of my experiences. If anything, it will allow me to keep track of some of my games, and look back on them.
  3. Star Trek Discovery. I have long Star Trek, and the new series is no different. I love the show, and highly recommend it for anyone curious. The show is on a hiatus right now, and CBS All Access is running a month free for December. Anyone who wants to dip their toes into the show now has nothing to lose.
    Tilly
    I love you Cadet Tilly.
  4. Star Trek Adventures. It is a fantastic RPG system from Modiphus Games. I run a campaign for the staff of the store. I love the game, and I love the world I created. With HarmonQuest and other D&D shows coming out, I thought covering this great game might not be a bad idea.
  5. Plus anything else I might come up with. Or perhaps something someone wants me to talk about.

I fully expect to rebuild this blog from the ground up. I know I have attempted this several times, but I am fully invested in rebuilding this from the ground up. If there are any old followers out there who read this, leave a comment, I’d love to hear back from you!

Until next time,

Ravingnerd out

Also here is my cat. His name is Phoenix.

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Ravingnerd Reviews: Secret Wars #1

Thanks to a set of circumstances I got my hands on an advance copy of Secret Wars #1. I felt it fitting to review that book so that I’ll be in the zone to review Age of Ultron, when I get the chance. Most of you know that I am not a fan of Marvel by any stretch of the imagination. That said, since I missed out on reviewing any of these Convergance books that have come out recently (most of them have been A + so far), I decided to take this opportunity to review this book.

Before I get into the meat of the article I’ll talk about the scenes I liked.

1. We see Ultimate Reed Richards (the evil one) as the Ultimate Universe’s only hope of survival. I am very pleased that Hickman could not only introduce the new evil Reed (a few years ago, at the same time Miles was introduced) but also make him tie into an event this massive. It’s awesome seeing these disparate parts fit together in this way.

2. While Ultimate Reed Richards could have easily stolen the show, good ole’ 616 Reed proved that he’s not all that different from his evil counterpart by callously stating that he was better than anyone else, and it didn’t matter if anyone else died.

  
Which one’s evil again?

3. Not only do we see Wilson Fisk do his thing, I even enjoyed Frank Castle doing his thing.

4. Scott Summers channels the Phoenix Force. Awesome as always.

Rating before reading: 4

Rating after reading: 8
This book was a great read and had moments all will enjoy. While I was probably the only one who gleefully reread the portions in which a few characters of a nameless team were killed, the book will enjoy most avid fans or even partially interested ones. Unlike DC’s Convergence, the learning curve is not super steap with this book. It was easy enough to pick up (it certainly helped that I have active knowledge of the Ultimate Universe) without passing knowledge of anything going on in the Marvel Universe. While Congergence is good, it is only truly rewarding if you have read some or all of their Earth 2 title. Secret Wars suffers no such problems in the first issue, employing a concept elegently easy to get behind. Part of this book’s charm is that it felt like a final issue. From page one we are thrust into an end of the world situation and the book pulls out all the stops as every hero does what they can to stop or mitigate the crisis. From Richards trying to make  an arc of scientists to Cyclops rediscovering the Phoenix force, the Marvel Universe’s heroes are on full display here.
Sold, simple, and incredibly easy to follow, Secret Wars #1 made even the most staunch opponent of Marvel smile for a little bit, and I hope it is a sign of things to come.

Once you all get your hands on the book, let me know what you think.

Until the next time,
Rn