Tuesday, 24 February 2015

Big Game Hunting Live - three tournaments, one weekend!

by Ben Fardon

This weekend sees Proud Lion play host to not one, not two, but three different organised play/tournament events, and we have tickets still available for all of them!

On Saturday 28th February from 1:30-5pm we're hosting our second Marvel Dice Masters tournament! This one's a Rainbow Draft where your ticket price includes 12 Uncanny X-Men Dice Masters boosters packs (RRP £12.00), and you and your fellow players will open, select, pass and assemble your team from the cards and dice you open on the day. A great level playing field for both new and experienced Dice Masters players.

Each player will receive a Magneto card as a Participation Prize, with further prizes for the winners. Tickets cost £12.50 each.

Thirty minutes and one quick rearrange of the store later and we'll be rolling up our sleeves for our latest Star Trek Attack Wing OP and our first Open Format STAW event. This OP runs on Saturday 28th February from 5:30-11:30pm.

The Open Format means ANYTHING GOES (provided it fits within the scenario build cost). We're even expecting to see a few of these monstrosities make it to the table!

This is a constructed tournament and each player will receive a blind booster (RRP £12.00), along with the Advanced Targeting Systems Resource Card, plus further prizes for the winners. Tickets cost £15.00 each.

Then on Sunday we round out our big weekend of gaming with our first Netrunner LCG Draft Touurnament, Cyber War! Running on Sunday 1st March from 11am-8pm, this sees players drawing cards from three special Cyber War products produced by Fantasy Flight Games to allow players a break from the usual constructed LCG play, again creating a level playing field for new and experienced players alike.

Each player will receive one Draft Starter Pack (11 cards and 2 IDs provides a fixed core of essential cards for both Corp and Runner), one Corp Draft Pack (a selection of 40 randomized Corp cards) and one Runner Draft Pack (a selection of 40 randomized Runner cards). The cost of these items are included in the ticket price.

The overall winning player will receive £25 worth of Proud Lion vouchers, enough to cover the cost of the next two Netrunner Data Packs (and still have change for a comic book!). There will be additional prizes of £10 worth of Proud Lion vouchers for runners up, TBC. Tickets cost £20.00 each.

We do our best to make these events fun and lighthearted; we want to enjoy running them and support the local gaming community in lots of different ways, with Organised Play being a key part of that.

I hope to see some of you this weekend and good luck to all of our players!

Ben Fardon is itching to throw down with a D&D Attack Wing 3BG build, but there just isn't enough hours in the day right now!

Sunday, 22 February 2015

New Beginnings - Silk #1

by Matt Puddy

Fresh from the finale of the Spider-Verse tales, we have a new beginning that takes the Spider Totems storyline in a different direction. Whilst readers of the recent Spider-Man event will have seen a lot of Silk within that storyline, her actual origin had appeared in earlier issues of the new Amazing Spidey characters.

For those who missed it, Cindy Moon was just another High School student who attended a science demonstration, much like Peter Parker. In fact it was the same one and the coincidences don’t stop there. The same spider that bit Peter went on to bite Cindy as well, giving her similar spider-like powers. The big difference comes when, after a few years of trying to understand her powers, Cindy is hidden away in a bunker by Ezekiel for her safety to protect her from Morlun.

The aftermath of Original Sin set Spidey on a quest to find and free Cindy, which set a great many things in motion, including an animal pheromone attraction between the two of them.

Being brought into the fray also put her firmly in the sights of the Inheritors during Spider-Verse, but in the wake of all of the various tie ins, Cindy now has her own title.

Written by Robbie Thompson, Silk opens with Cindy taking on what would easily be a D or even E-list villain called Dragonclaw. Neither seem completely comfortable in their own skins and Silk is often seen reaching for the heroes handbook for quips, comebacks and general direction. After being saved by Peter in the nick of timem real life takes over and in true spider fashion she has to get away to her job under J Jonah Jameson. Being tucked away in a bunker has its drawbacks as the world moved on - even in just 10 years - and the lack of social interaction means that sometimes she’s not prepared to talk to people in the “normal” ways, but then again it also means she’s behind the times as well – something the JJJ can equate to as well. It’s very quickly realised that once she played the Silk card she has only one priority in his business. To report on Silk.

In amongst it all she keeps having flashbacks to her family whom she was at odds with before being put into hiding, which provides the readers with one driving force behind her.

Back out on the streets she runs into Dragonclaw again which certainly goes her way. Unwittingly though the situation turns to something more when he escapes as we learn who his boss is and how far he is willing to go to please her. Silk on the other hand is having a small crisis of confidence, not knowing where to go or what to do, so she heads for the familiar surroundings of the bunker. Unbeknownst to her she’s being watched and her decision was expected.

The plot is quite an easy one to follow, even without the backstory, so any new reader can jump on to it. My reservation about it though is that there is no really new ideas outside of her powers being a slight variation on the usual spider power set. She’s suffered loss of family; is ostracized because of her non-conformance to current ideas; and has a suffering personal life in contrast to her hero life - so very similar to Peter’s beginnings as well. At least she has a mentor she can turn to - but not physically see due to their urges - and the associated awkwardness of it all.

The artwork on the cover and the title page inside are a little sneaky, as they gave me the impression that the issue was going to be similar, however the interior artwork is a lot less defined. It also makes Silk look a lot younger in the comic than the cover suggests as well. Spidey himself also looks a little skewed when we see him towards the end.

The overall look of the comic is quite young and with a strong but believably flawed female character - which made it feel like it was being aimed a quite a specific demographic. If that was the case they hit the mark well.

A divisive character in her new comic. One to try if you enjoyed Spider-Verse or fancy something a little different, although it's worth remembering there's Spider-Gwen out next week and a new costume and new direction for Spider-Woman the week after!

Matt Puddy is hoping Spider-Gwen is as much fun as it looks!

Saturday, 21 February 2015

PREVIEWS FEB15 - selected highlights

by Ben Fardon

We only have time for a quick run through the rest of February's Previews this month, the real push now is to get every Reservation Service customer to complete the Convergence order form - if you haven't looked at this yet, please do so now!

All done? Brilliant! Welcome back. So without further ado, let's press on with the rest of the highlights for the latest Previews. As before please email any orders to shop@proudlion.co.uk. Please note that all release dates below are subject to change.

The hottest stuff these days seems to come from Image Comics, so let's have a look at their latest offerings:

Savior #1 comes from Todd McFarlane with beautiful digital art from the incredibly talented Clayton Crain: What if the MOST DANGEROUS man on Earth was also the one trying to do the MOST GOOD? The world is real. The people are normal. And then he appears! A man appears with no background, no memory, and no place to call home. But he has powers. Powers that seem resemble those we learned about in Sunday School. Could it be?! Is it possible that this man is much, much more than that? Is it possible that he is our 'SAVIOR' in the flesh? And if he is, then why doesn't he know who he is or how he got his powers? Strip away the spandex and trappings of the traditional comic superhero and ask yourself a simple question: 'How would I react if GOD suddenly appeared in front of me, but everything we had been taught about him seems out of whack?' What you would have left, beyond your own doubts, is the presence of a man who has to deal with the fact that his appearance in the world is seen as both a blessing and a curse. Some will see him as a hero, a messiah. Other will see him as an enemy because there isn't room for a person with god-like powers to disrupt the status quo of what we already believe. Some will rally behind him. Others will denounce him. But none of us will be able to ignore him.

Savior #1 comes out on Wednesday 1st April.

Image Comic produce superb science fiction and this month is now exception, kicking off with Pisces #1. If you love Rat Queens, you'll be delighted to hear this is writer Kurtis J. Wiebe's next project: Former fighter pilot Dillon Carpenter found everything he wanted when he returned from the Vietnam War. A loving partner; a dream career training with NASA to travel through space; and soon, he will learn, a prime candidacy for a secret mission, one that will forever change the world: First Contact. But as Dillon prepares, his war trauma returns and he's haunted by dark visions of his future. There is but one constant; the voice whispering from the stars. A sci-fi psychological body horror series from the writer of RAT QUEENS and the artist of SHELTERED. 

Pisces #1 comes out on Wednesday 29th April.

The other science fiction offering of note from Image this month is Kaptara #1. Written by Chip Zdarsky  fresh from his successes with Sex Criminals and the relaunch of Howard The Duck, with art from Kagan McLeod, here's the bizarre little pitch: A space expedition goes horribly wrong because if it didn't there would be no story! Reluctant explorer Keith Kanga and his crew crash land on KAPTARA, a world filled with danger and weird danger and dangerous weirdos! And if he can't survive then earth, the place where YOU live, is doomed! Join CHIP ZDARSKY (Sex Criminals the Duck) and KAGAN McLEOD (Infinite Kung Fu) as they put the 'fi' back into 'sci-fi' and pretty much disregard the 'sci' part in this epic story of punching and love!

Kaptara #1 also comes out on Wednesday 29th April.

All this and Millar and Quitely return with the next chapter of the story they started with Jupiter's Legacy, albeit a prequel in the form of Jupiter's Circle #1: The most celebrated superheroes in mid-century America seem to have it all-fame, riches, adoration-but tensions simmer beneath the glossy surface, threatening to crack open the secrets behind their public AND private exploits. Before the family dynasty in JUPITER'S LEGACY began, there was JUPITER'S CIRCLE  - a story about a team whose personal dramas collide with super-powered spectacle!

Jupiter's Circle #1 also comes out on Wednesday 8th April.

There's naturally a lot of buzz surrounding Marvel's summer event Secret Wars. The end of the Marvel and Ultimate Universes, many fear this will be a reboot akin to the New 52. We suspect it'll be more of a merger, with Marvel editors stressing they aren't ashamed of 75 years of continuity, but time will tell.

The first proper salvo of this game changing event is Secret Wars #1, though don't forget we'll get a special preview issue as part of Free Comic Book Day!

Secret Wars #1 comes out on Wednesday 6th May.

And that's your lot for this month. Please send any orders back by 11:59pm on Tuesday 24th February to shop@proudlion.co.uk. Many thanks!

Ben Fardon welcomes any feedback on these new Previews highlights articles.

Friday, 20 February 2015

New Beginnings - Darth Vader #1

by Matt Puddy

As part of the new Star Wars revival under the Marvel, we have a new beginning for none other than the galaxy’s best known bad dad, Darth Vader.

Kieron Gillen helms this new title in exploring a slightly different side of the Emperor’s apprentice. Opening after the events of Star Wars, the galaxy is akin to the Wild West. There is no threat from the Death Star after its destruction. so order is in short supply. The Empire’s grip has slipped and something has to be done to rectify this.

Dispatched to Jabba’s palace, Vader makes a strong entrance by "only" killing two guards as he so graciously puts it, whilst on his way to meet the infamous Hutt. The biggest shock is that Vader is speaking to Jabba a day early and regarding on a personal issue to boot. When simply asking fails, and the assembled entourage comes back into the room, he dispatches the threats quickly and enforces his will upon Jabba in true Sith fashion. With “negotiations” over, he returns the following day in the proper formal capacity, but as a reader you won’t find out why until later.

The story reverts back a day to when he was receiving the scorn of the Emperor. The loss of the Death Star was a huge blow and seen ultimately as Vader’s failure. He is warned not to disappoint again, but is this something he can live up to. 

Back on Tatooine we learn what Vader was trying to get Jabba to provide - bounty hunters of the highest order - but there is a twist. Whilst one, the fan-favourite Boba Fett, is aimed directly at finding Luke Skywalker, the other has a slightly darker task. Not wanting to be kept in the dark on certain secrets Vader dents him to find another agent of the Emperor, so that the former Anakin Skywalker can have a discussion with him...

It’s hard for me to not like the artwork in the issue as it’s provided by one of my favourite artists, Salvador Larocca. What I have also liked is that on this occasion the pairing of him with Edgar Delgado on colours has made for some very bold and vibrant images within the issue, which is quite impressive when the lead character is glad head-to-toe in black garb! 

As always the linework is fine and precise meaning that the detail is in huge supply. The new Wookie bounty hunter is an interesting character to meet as a result. Overall it makes for a really good visual presentation to the reader.

Whilst the artwork was strong my overall feeling for the comic was not as much. Although I understand the course of the story and how the plot develops, the titular character feels somewhat clipped or cowed, aside from a few shows of force. There is a certain level of malice that precedes Lord Vader and I just didn’t feel it.

As a first issue it certainly showed a different side that many will not seen of Vader. The subservience came through more than had seen before (aside from the infamous Robot Chicken sketch), but there was also a faint glimmer of the rebellious nature that leads ultimately to the Emperor’s downfall. 

Will it be a strong comic? Well it certainly won’t be weak given the creative team, but I’m hoping future issues hit with a bit more of the dark side of the force.

Matt Puddy is keen to see what Neill Blomkamp does with an Alien movie!

Tuesday, 17 February 2015

New Beginnings - Return of the Living Deadpool #1

by Matt Puddy

Some time ago you may remember that last year I reviewed Night of the Living Deadpool by Cullen Bunn. Now in true Romero-esque fashion we have the follow up - Return of the Living Deadpool.

For those who didn’t read NotLD, the very quick and basic premise was that over the course of four issues Wade Wilson found out that everywhere had been infected and people were turning into brain hungry zombies. Fighting his way through them all and trying to help people could only go so far, until he found there was a cure. The way to administer the cure though was to infect himself and then allow the surrounding zombies to rip him to shreds and eat him thus saving the world in his own bizarre way.

So where can Bunn and Virella go with this then? Considering how things were left I have to admit that even I wondered, so reading this first issue was with some trepidation.

Carrying on the artistic theme of having a greyscale story with the only colour being Deadpool, the story opens with a young woman called Liz scavenging. A few years have passed since the original outbreak so lore and stories have spread, both good and bad. So when Liz comes across a ‘pool her reaction is not the expected. She tries to decapitate him and is equally shocked when the amnesiac ‘pool doesn’t try to kill her and surrenders. Dressed in nothing more than his trademark red along with his inane and random commentary on the world the pair head off to safety from the night's visitors.

All is still not what it seems though. Along the way elements of Deadpool’s memory are slowly coming back along with his deadly skill and penchant for quips and violence towards zombies amongst other things. This is cut short when they run across a new band of people. A very familiar group as well. They’re all Deadpool variants! The main difference being they don’t seem to have the humour but very definitely have the blood lust. For the problem isn’t really the zombies any more. The real problem is far worse. The “cure” did stem the zombie problem but at the same time created, introduced and wreaked havoc in the form of the Deadpool plague and the newer deadlier living hell.

As I said before the artwork follows the same path as NotLD and the same colour palette, which makes the Merc with a Mouth really stand out at centre stage. The now typical colouring of his speech bubbles adds further familiarity to it all. The characterisation is also a return to the more split-personality that readers previously knew, so all in all this version of Deadpool is well outside the current Marvel Universe.

Aside from that there isn’t really much more I can say without going over how I reviewed NotLD, as it’s very much just more of the same. If you liked that arc you’ll probably like this one too!

Bunn has created an interesting new problem tale out of what was initially a fun four part tale to begin with. Seeing how he wrapped up the first arc, it’ll be fun to see how he’s going to solve this situation especially as the previous cure only made things worse...

Deadpool fans will love this; even zombie fans will get a kick out of it too. All in all a fun little comic, but nothing revolutionary after last year's offering. Very much more of the same. Which is no bad thing in this instance.

Matt Puddy is waiting for the inevitable Fifty Shades Of Deadpool miniseries...

Shipping Delays - A Message from IDW

by Ben Fardon

We received the following at the end of last week from IDW Publishing and are passing the information onto yourselves.

This will unfortunately affect several Transformers titles, as well as Dungeons & Dragons: Legends of Baldur's Gate and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles among other titles. 
Due to the ongoing problems at West coast ports, our normal shipping procedures have been completely interrupted, causing unpredictable delays. Regrettably, this has resulted in all our books planned for release on 2/18 to be delayed.
We've looked at every possible scenario to prevent this, but the situation is completely beyond our control. We are taking steps to improve this for the immediate future, but the books and products that are currently on the water cannot be re-directed. 
We will be updating our weekly releases and keeping you informed as the situation works toward a resolution.
We understand this is not an ideal situation, and apologize for any inconvenience this causes, and look forward to things getting back to normal in ensuing weeks. Thank you for your continued patience and support.
We at Proud Lion appreciate that IDW are doing everything they can to resolve these problems and wish them the very best of luck with their attempts to find a resolution.

Ben Fardon has a shiny new barcode scanner.

Thursday, 5 February 2015

This Saturday - True Believers Comic Festival @ Cheltenham Race Course - we'll be at Tables A4-5

by Ben Fardon

This Saturday 7th February the Cheltenham Race Course plays host to the True Believers Comic Festival, and Proud Lion will be there with a selection of comics, graphic novels, Pop! Vinyl, Mystery Minis and more, plus a new collection of back issue comics including Deadpool, Wolverine, X-Men and Batman to mention but a few.

We'll also have a selection of superhero themed cookies from Silly Kitten Bakery; I've seen the work in progress and they look fabulous! Designs include Flash, Arrow, Avengers, Baby Groot and more.

Pick up this flyer at the Festival
and save in store on the same day!
There will be some special offer prices, only available at the Festival, plus a flyer that will give you 20% off anything in our normal shop down in the town centre on the same day (we'll also be open as usual there from 10am-5pm, with Saturday Morning Netrunner on as usual continuing their successful Winter 14/15 League, plus D&D Attack Wing open play available in the afternoon from 2pm).

You'll be able to find us at tables A4-5, near our lovely neighbours at Big Punch Studios and Space Robot Comics.

Please direct any questions about the show to the Organisers at oktruebelievers@gmail.com.

We look forward to seeing you there and getting our hands on some of the shiny new releases like For Hire and the Hereafter, seeing what Wolfskulljack and Dead All Over have on offer and checking out the new short horror film from Burnt Papyrus Productions. That's just for starters! With over 160 exhibitors and guests there should be something for everyone.

Ben Fardon is definitely looking forward to the various Marvel Netflix series!

Wednesday, 4 February 2015

Big Game Hunting Live - XCOM: The Board Game

by Rae

It's time for Big Game Hunting Live! This is a monthly gaming event that takes place on the second Saturday of every month. Players will get a chance to learn and play featured games all day long. This month we're featuring XCOM: The Board Game!

XCOM: The Board Game is inspired by the video game franchise, XCOM. The developers have done everything they can to bring the best elements of the video games to their tabletop counterpart. The result is a fast-paced strategy game that sees players working together to stop an alien invasion. Unlike other board games, however, this one features a digital app, required to play the game. While this initially sounds a bit strange, playing the game with an iOS or Android device (and soon through the website as well) actually makes the game feel that much more intense, challenging, and fun. It also adds functionality to the game that you could not imitate with tokens or cards, making the app a core element of the gameplay rather than just a gimmick.

What makes this cooperative game so immersive is that every player has a particular role to play, with unique responsibilities that will be impacted by everyone else. For example, one player's role leaves them in charge of funding, but everyone else has the ability to spend those funds for their own actions! The first phase of every round is timed – each player has a certain amount of time to complete a particular task. The app keeps track of the time you've used – and if you run out. The second phase resolves all the actions that took place in the first, and determines the effects on the next round. Like most cooperative games, there are multiple ways to lose, so staying alive to see the final round is crucial.

During the day, we will be running open demos from 11am to 5pm. The app will be managed by the demo runner, so there's no need to bring any devices with you. Feel free to drop in at any time, we're happy to teach you how to play! See you Saturday 14th February! (Nothing says love like saving the world from aliens together, right?)

All participants will receive a voucher that entitles them to 10% off XCOM: The Board Game. You can find the Facebook event here!

Rae tried to solo this one without knowing all the rules first. It ended quickly.