Tim Reviews a Comic Book: James Bond 007 Vargr

007: Vargr an Exercise in Futility.  By Tim Mattes

 

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Warren Ellis has long been a favorite writer of mine.  From the first time I read through Transmetropolitan to the confusing reads of Bad Worlds and the like I have been enthralled with his writing style and the way that he can take real world scenarios and inject insane science fact into it.  When you read Warren Ellis’ works you find yourself looking up the principles that he presents to see if they are true or could even be possible only to discover that they are in fact completely plausible or real things.

I have followed Warren Ellis to the darkest depths of Publisher whoring (Red2) and have witnessed surprise nuggets of Genius in his works (Iron Man:Extremis).  I have read his novels and I follow him on the social media outlets that he subscribes to.  I love everything the man writes.  I feel like he could wipe his ass on a broadsheet and send it to Marvel and I will buy the special edition hardcover release of it.  So imagine my delight when I found out that Warren Ellis was doing a 007 run.  I felt like it was the perfect fit with the current film run being a grittier more violent Bond and Warren Ellis injecting his own bizarre form of writing into the series would make for the greatest Bond story ever told.

How could I have been so fucking wrong?

The first issue has a multitude of flaws that I could rant on about until my fingers fall off in a neck-bearded super rage.  That isn’t going to happen though.  I have taken my Xanax and ingested the necessary amounts of tobacco to make it through slamming my favorite comic book writers work in the hopes that it isn’t his fault.  I know that wishful thinking in comics is futile but I can dream right? (Before Watchmen I’m looking at your scarred version of what could have been.)

007:Vargr Issue One is one of the most pointless issues of a series that I have ever read.  Completely anticlimactic and devoid of any kind of energy or tempo.  Not only do you have to get to the eighth page to read a single word, The only interesting part of the issue are the last two pages.  James Bond starts the issue off as a silent badass and ends it looking like one of Archer’s still born abortions.  At no point once Bond starts talking do I feel like he is a super spy.  He seems like someone that got confused and walked into the wrong building and just went with it.  The set up of Bond not having his lady gun on british soil is so beyond transparent it actually made me cringe.  I haven’t cringed reading comics since I ventured into Steve Niles’ earlier works.  The final two pages finally offer the Warren Ellis science bullshit that I look for in his work and it barely scratches the itch.  I know that we will never get a Fell Volume two or a Before Transmet, but unless this series takes a violent spin down the Ellis rabbit hole it will go down as the worst run I have read from Ellis (Congrats Thor you are off the hook).  This doesn’t mean that I won’t be buying it and reading it, but considering that it is one of only ten issues I have bought this year it will make me question buying Warren Ellis’ single issues in the future.  This was a huge factor in me going to trades only for the last six years.  The bad single issue makes me sad, I don’t want to spend upwards of twenty dollars on monthly issues and then buy the trade only to have buyers remorse from the overall story.

Dynamite tricked me into another series from them and like always I was crushed.  The worst part about this first issue has nothing to do with the story.  No, It has to do with Dynamite’s marketing of the book.  Ten dollars for an artless variant?  24 fucking covers?  Why the Fuck do I need a short box to store an issue one?  I am relieved that I hated this issue so I don’t have to hunt down all of the variant covers.

All begrudgery aside, Jason Masters has done a skillful job polishing up a turd.  His artwork invokes a feeling of nostalgia and have at least salvaged enough respect in me to buy issue two.

Fuck this shit.

 

Tim Mattes knows nothing about comics and probably shouldn’t be writing reviews for them, but the internet gives him an outlet and he knows that at least three people will read this.  And in the end, three is all you need.  

Episode One Hundred and Forty-Nine: Welcome to the Jungle

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Oh crap, the fireworks competition starts in thirty minutes and we haven’t even unpacked the van. Even worse the show runners have refused to let us use lights to see what we are working with. We have to bumble around and organize our show in the light of everyone elses flashbangs. Will our inept American team be able to put on an honorable show or will we fail and bring shame to our families?

Episode One Hundred and Forty-Eight: No! Tim Don’t!

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Tim forces Jeff to tear up his beloved Magic Cards when they sit down to play Pack Wars Iron Man. In this format of the game you take a sealed pack, open it, you don’t look at the cards and you play a game of Magic. The only difference is that when playing Iron Man you must rip up any card that would go to your Graveyard.

Episode One Hundred and Forty-Six: Ain’t No Gambling In School

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We sit down and play Northstar Games’ Wits and Wagers. A family style party game of knowing when to bet high and bluffing your opponents. Mostly we discover that none of us truly know anything.

Episode One Hundred and Forty-Three: Unlimited Bacon

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Tim and Matt sit down to play Z-man Games’ two player Agricola All Creatures Big and Small. Matt immedietly assumes the game is work and doesn’t want to play and Tim does his best to win him over.

 

Episode One Hundred and Forty: Kiddos

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In today’s episode we take a look at Timeline Inventions. Tim Rocked the Movies and Cinema version in Season one. Will he defend his title? Also we stumble on a variant of play that is truly amazing, when you play your card you must fully justify why it happened when you think it did.

Star Realms: Taking Spamplay to a Whole New Level

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Take the Basic Principal of a deck builder, throw in the wild swings of Magic: the Gathering, Set the whole thing in space.  Star Realms from White Wizard games is an exercise in restraint when developing a game.  Everything you need to lose a weekend with your friends comes in a conveniently priced tuck box.   Like most deck builders you start with a ten card deck that allows you to hit your opponent or buy one of the six cards available in the trade row.  As your deck gets bigger you can start to take wild swings at your opponent.  The first player whose life reaches or surpasses zero loses.

Star Realms

The game is, for all purposes, too simple.  The theme is lost after the first round and while you can dig for it, it’s usually not worth it.  Other than that, it is the most incredible game I have ever played.  The only reason it doesn’t break the top five is due to the fact that the theme is completely lost.  That is not necessarily a detriment to the game itself.  A simple to learn and even easier to teach deck builder, Star Realms takes concepts from all of the major Deck builders available and streamlines them for ease of access and over all play.  The app for Iphones and Android devices makes the book keeping easy to understand and execute.  The balance is what I think I love the most about this game.  No card seems out of place.

The Gambit expansions offers abilities to each player to be used either as a one shot or throughout the game.  It also provides the unaligned Merc Cruiser and Bosses for solo or Co-op Play.  Gambit was part of the Kickstarter campaign and was made available due to fan outcry.  If you pay more than ten dollars for it you Might be disappointed.

The Crisis expansion offers four packs of cards that include more ships and bases as well as two new mechanics to the game Events and heroes.  Heroes go into play in front of you and can be trashed during your turn to gain the ally ability of their faction.  Events get shuffled into the main deck and resolve when they are drawn up to the trade row.  All in all the crisis expansion offers an interesting change of pace for players that have been playing Star Realms since release and are starting to get tired of it.

With two expansions available that both offer an intense new style of play Star Realms has a very bright future on my table.  If you need any more reason to go out and own this game, Katie loves it. That should tell you all that you need to know.

Final Score: 9.2/10

Infiltration or Why Can’t We Be Friends?

By: Tim Mattes

The Android universe consists of three games so far. A massive mystery game called Android, a re-theme of Richard Garfield’s Netrunner in the Living Card Game format called Android: Netrunner, and Infiltration.   All three games are very different in style, gameplay, and overall mechanics. They are unified by a cyberpunk world and the people that live in it.

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In Infiltration you take on a criminal that has been hired by Mr. White to steal a prototype of a helper robot.  As you go through the building you encounter various obstacles and are given the opportunity to steal other data for your many, many criminal contacts.  As you continue to run through the threat level goes higher and higher.  If it reaches ninety-nine before you exit the building you are toast.  The survivors count up their haul and whoever stole the most goods wins.

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My first issue with this game is that every description I heard of it before I bought it or saw the box lead me to believe that it was a board game.  It is not.  It is a card game that plays like a Board game.  The plus side to that is that it is easily portable.  My second issue with the game and this one gets a bit heavy, is that the game itself is only fun once or twice.  Running though stealing and stabbing your friends is a fun mechanic but there are so many games out there today that I cannot say that this one is superior to a munchkin (Steve Jackson) or Student Bodies (Smirk and Daggar).   The only thing that keeps me playing Infiltration over and over and over again is the fact that it is set in the Android Universe.  It’s loaded with little easter eggs that any Android or Netrunner fan will love and although it is older than Android: Netrunner it is still relevant to the current story being told.  Infiltration fits in as a nice quick game that continues the mythos of the Android Universe.  Our first playthrough had me geeking out at all of the references and card art that I knew from Netrunner and the fact that Gabe is a playable character was a nice touch.  All in all if you are looking for a game that has less book keeping than Munchkin and won’t make your whole play group salty go for Infiltration.  If you are a Netrunner player or have players in your group then go for it.  But if backstabbing and stealing don’t speak to you as a player then you can skip this one.

Final Score 7.8/10