Category Archives: Thursday Thirteen.

Thursday Thirteen: Expansion Favorites.

marvelorigins

That was the first ever expansion set of Vs. System. Marvel Origins, released on April 1st, 2004. We were eventually blessed with 18 full sets by Upper Deck, and today I will pick my favorite card from each of the most recent thirteen. Cardboard bliss.

xbabiesattack

1. Marvel Evolution: X-Babies Attack. This is the final production set, and that card is the pinnacle of my influence on the game. I created a weenie burn deck and named it “X-Babies Attack!” back in the day. Upper Deck honored me with a matching plot twist, and thanks to alphabetical order it turned out to be the last expansion card ever printed.

squirrelgirl

2. Marvel Universe: Squirrel Girl. Doreen Green finishes a close second in the homage race. I lobbied, I pleaded, I threatened and I begged. Finally she appeared in the packs. Sigh.

seacreatures

3. DC Legends: Sea Creatures. I made my name by playing one-cost army characters, then they shocked me with this. Rare. Two resources to play. Pony!

domino

4. Marvel Legends: Domino. I waited a long time for this lucky lass, and I used her in my original X-Babies deck for good luck.

kimhoshi

5. World’s Finest: Kim Hoshi. This expansion brought some serious bang to the table for DC, and none was brighter than Kimmy.

shumagorath

Marvel Team-up: Shuma-Gorath. The card did not see much play, but I can still hear the taunt from Capcom’s video game version… “Waste of FLESH!”

zazzala

Infinite Crisis: Zazzala, Mistress of the Hive. There may not have ever been a better legacy card. She made War Paint possible.

rogue

Heralds of Galactus: Rogue, Total Transformation. If you never got to see this trick pulled off in real life, you missed something really special.

supergirl

Legion of Superheroes: Supergirl, Lost in Time. Scariest. Painting. Ever.

multipleman

X-Men: Multiple Man <> Jamie Madrox. This card leaves me breathless. Such incredible possiblities.

infestation

Justice League of America: Infestation. My swarming weenies had nothing to compare. Such insane potential beats.

chaosmagic

Avengers: Chaos Magic. They may have named this card after my subtitle on Realms, but prolly not. Then again, they did get my buddy Dave Devries to paint it. Hmmm.

xallarap

Green Lantern Corps: Xallarap. You thought I would pick AGL, but no. This guy never existed in the comics. That’s right, he was created by a fan on a Green Lantern tribute site. It is one of the coolest trivia facts ever about Vs. System. And it ends our list.

Such great stuff.

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Thursday Thirteen: Ultimate Squirrel Girl Continued.

squirrel-girl-beach-party

Squirrel Girl will appear in a cameo role in the upcoming Deadpool movie. That’s the rumor. A little tree rodent whispered it in my ear, and I am announcing it first here.

As you can see by the GLI Summer Fun Spectacular, Deadpool and Squirrel Girl are fast friends. In fact, Deadpool has admitted to wearing Squirrel Girl underoos.

Today, however, we are looking back at Squirrel Girl’s first appearance.

Just in case you weren’t here two weeks ago for the first half, this is from the Ultimate Squirrel Girl Review by Rainer. The second part gets all quizzical. Wonderfully nutty stuff.

1. Is that Steve Ditko mocking Marvel comics?

2. He seems to take great delight in it.

3. Like Tobe Hooper makes fun of yuppies in Poltergeist.

4. Doom’s defeat is among the most bizarre.

5. Especially for one of the more regal characters in the Marvel Universe.

6. Who is Squirrel Girl representing?

7. Who is the audience for this character?

8. This was published in Marvel Super-Heroes #8, a publication where Marvel dumped Library stories, back-up material in case some other story was over the deadline.

9. This could have been commissioned at any time, even the seventies or eighties.

10. My guess would be the early latter, based on the inking style.

11. It was published in 1992.

12. 1992, a year in the decade of image, foil comics, nauseatingly “realistic”art and grungy heroes.

13. Can you imagine some kid who loves Spawn or Dark Knight picking this up? His mind would be blown away. It truly looks like a dinosaur come back to live, preserved youthfully in a tar pit. Another pillar of insanity for this bizarre comic.

And yet, despite all the shock inducing elements of the story, it remains undeniably sweet. It has two levels, two worlds, again like Hooper. It’s beautifully drawn, the interaction between them is lovingly done (and lovingly one-sided) and it really makes me laugh, and realize that life really is a carnival. It also feels meta, in a good way. Iron Man plays the sturdy, veteran thinking he’s seen it all (drolly comparing Squirrel Girl to all the other heroes) like the reader, but he is jerked under the rug as much as us. In any case it is certainly one of the few times where when a character says he doesn’t think anyone will believe it, and we agree with him.

It’s genuinely astounding (a sense of wonder fills me when I read this), the art is some of the best I have ever seen, and it takes you on a bad trip, something akin to Lifeforce or Funhouse. I’ve hope you enjoyed this comic book, it truly represent the weirdness that only this medium can bring. Most serious minded comic fans aiming for respectably will no doubt raise their nose at such a thing. Fine, let them. They have their grungy and dreadfully serious movies to console them, and I have merriment with this little gem.

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squirrelgirl22

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Thursday Thirteen: The Art of the Internet.

internet_love_by_tipsyfairy

(Internet Love by tipsyfairy.)

Hello friends. I have a favor to ask today. I have been given the opportunity to design a Continuing Education course for Broward College. If it gets approved, I will be teaching adults how to maximize their presence on the internet. Help me make sure I have all the bases covered. Is there anything you would add to this list? Do you know of any really good sources for general computer skill summaries? Thanks for any help you can provide, this is what I want to teach:

1. Web Design. Creating your own little corner of the internet is easier and more beautiful than ever, thanks to amazing free software such as WordPress.

2. Blogging. No matter what your particular life is full of, you can share it with the rest of the world quite easily.

3. Message Boards. Whatever hobby or subject you are interested in becoming a bigger part of, you can find an active group discussion revolving around it.

4. Email. Whenever you need to get in direct contact with a single individual or corporate entity, the access points are readily available.

5. Ebay. Or Amazon, or any other way to hook up with buyers.

6. YouTube. Making videos and slideshows, then broadcasting far and wide.

7. Facebook. And any other social networking site that allows massive connections.

8. MySpace Music. Is there a better place to get your own original stuff heard?

9. Wikipedia. Reading an encyclopedia has never been easier, and now you can write part of it yourself!

10. Being part of the political process. Whether Redstate or Daily Kos, your voice can be a force in the party of your choice.

11. Google ads. Making money just from being popular is a very intriguing idea.

12. DeviantArt. The glory of a worldwide gallery, complete with communal critique.

13. Simply surfing. The one thing that the internet truly excels at. Connecting the dots from interested individual straight to source.

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Thursday Thirteen: A Comprehensive Survey of Vs. System’s Structural Potential.

rian20fike20feature20match

rian20fike20vs20darwin20kastle 

(Forgive my alliteration, I get excited when talking about the game I love.)

1. Vs. System supports the fully fleshed cardboard celebration of modern mythology.

2. Character cards capture crystallized chronological incarnations portraying individual instances of powerful personality within comic-book continuity.

xbabiesattack

3. Plot Twists allow extended interpretations of the interaction between superheroes and storytelling.

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4. Locations transport players to power-packed places in the collective imagination that have been populated on pulp for years.

jetpack

5. Equipment cards create cardboard captures of the coolest action-accessories in comic-book history.

6. Versions validate various roles, relative to the revolving triumphs and tragedies that define each character during development.

7. Abilities arrange a translation from sequential pages and panels into repeatable gameplay and consistent strategy.

8. Flavor text sprinkles specific spices harvested directly from singular situations and speculative slang.

9. Team affiliations preserve previous cooperative conglomerates from actual mythological history.

10. Team-up cards give permission to create storylines and synthesis that would never be allowed in the comics.

11. Deckbuilding develops devious strategic synergies involving intensive specific information culled from the combination of spandex mythology and trading card game mechanics.

12. The basic blueprint provided by the game serves as a skeletal structure facilitating fresh entertaining expansion of far-ranging fan-favorites.

13. No matter what fictional characters or worlds you dig most, they can come to life when you create a fantasy set of Vs. System cards, providing endless entertainment – matching their might against other mythological masterpieces.

longshot

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Thursday Thirteen: An Art Teacher’s Manifesto.

watchmen_classroom_by_biigurutwin

(Watchmen in the classroom, by biigurutwin.)

I like to reflect. When I sat down to write a Thursday Thirteen this week, I decided to list the things I strive to instill in my students. This is my revolution.

1. Creative Success. Each student will feel the specific joy that only comes from inventive accomplishment.

2. Expansive Ideas. Each student will think about the world in new ways.

3. Wide-eyed Wonder. Each student will be exposed to a view of life as an unfolding gift of infinite potential.

4. Unknown Connections. Each student will see everyday things from extraordinary angles.

5. Controlled Freedom. Each student will have fun with their art and their friends while maintaining appropriate personal discipline.

6. Underlying Principles. Each student will understand why I enjoy each project enough to teach it to them.

7. Unwavering Positivity. Each student will have at least one teacher who is always in a good mood.

8. Modern Myth. Each student will relate some part of the lesson to comic book superheroes.

9. Relative History. Each student will be able to understand the origins of the things they know and love.

10. Convex Consumerism. Each student will flip the script from consumer to creator – from audience to artist.

11. Trading-card Tickle. Each student will get one of my extra Vs. System cards at random as a reward for good behavior and trade them joyously with classmates.

12. Punctual Responsibility. Each student will have an art teacher who is  a model of consistency and is always exactly on time.

13. Unconditional Love. Each student will be valued and loved equally as a creative human being.

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Thursday Thirteen: Tantalizing Tentacles.

small-green-chandelier

In the spirit of the Watchmen squid, we continue our quest for the ultimate aesthetic cephalopod – and it drags us back into the depths of Thursday Thirteen! Enjoy.

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squid21

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squid_park

thelastgiantoctopuscopy

window

wrap

ear

vnuors7fi9_octopus-light

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Thursday Thirteen: Wicked Visual Bliss.

marvel_sketch_cards_70to78_by_anjinanhut

Wow.  It has been six entire months since I did a Thursday Thirteen. We are back in the saddle again.  With a vengeance!

One of my favorite things to do on the interwebs is a secret I will share with you today. Go to www.deviantart.com and search for “marvel masterpieces sketch”. You will find hours of wicked visual bliss, I promise. Today my TT gives a little taste.

That first set of hand-drawn cards that were inserted randomly into the packs is from anjinanhut. Let’s count down the characters starting with that first set of nine and showcase their myths with a corresponding Vs. System card, shall we?

1. Shuma-Gorath. Everyone’s favorite pink tentacled Chaos Dimension special move busting giant alien from Marvel vs. Capcom!

shuma

2. Doop. My students said they heard him called The Big Green Potato on television. For shame. All the X-Statix DEMAND RESPECT. Especially when they are morphing into Wolverine. Thank you.

doop1

3. X-23. Sounds like a spray lubricant. Does she free up rusty bolts?

x-23

4. Doop again. No wonder I love this set of drawings so much. Who is he transforming into this time?

doop2

5. Whirlwind. Featured on the most beautiful Dave Devries painting in all of Vs. System. Sorry, Chaos Magic, but I love this one with all my heart.

windstorm

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6. Doop for a third time. Steve Rogers, eat your big green potatoed heart out.

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7. Constrictor? Sorry, no Vs. System card for you.

8. Fourth Doop, this time Squinty.

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9. Deadpool. The man (zombie) who wears Squirrel Girl underoos.  Really, he does.

deadpool

That completes the first round, here goes the final four.

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10. Sentinel Mark IV. You didn’t think I would get throught this list without at least one blast of shiny purple, did you? It is my blood type, after all. That one was painted by gravyboy.

primary

And then there were three.

marvel_sketch_cards_bw_ste_6_by_narcomics

11. Mysterio. Fresh from the twisted sick inkwell of Narcomics. Gotta love a dude with a fishbowl on his head, even if he doesn’t have any real superpowers. This is all an illusion anyway.

mysterio

12. Thanos. The glove, the purple face, the utter purity of devotion to death.

thanos

It doesn’t get any better than that. Unless I can find…

marvel_masterpieces_3__part03_by_celestial4ever lisa_r_marvel_masterpieces_ii_by_taeha

13. Squirrel Girl! You thought I would say Mulletman? Sorry, I am nuts for the bushy tailed tree rodents and Doreen Green is the most powerful superhero the world has ever seen.

First one from Celestial4Ever, second by LisaR. After I post this, I am scurrying straight up the nearest tree.

squirrelly

Thanks for visiting my return to the land of Thursday Thirteen, your eyes will recover from Wicked Visual Bliss Overload in a matter of minutes. Maybe.

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Thursday Thirteen: Looking toward the future in America.

That is Barack and Michelle Obama, with their two beautiful daughters.  I apologize in advance to anyone who has a different view of politics, but I need to gush today about the hope I have for our country at this transcendant moment in American history.

1. Barack Obama embodies the “American dream” in ways that usually only get exposed in fiction.

2. He had a black father from Africa and a white mother from Kansas.

3. His father left when he was two years old.

4. His mother raised him to participate in the world, changing his community for the better, and he was always an inspirational leader to the kids around him.

5. For a while, the family was on food stamps.

6. He struggled against the racism of the times, just like the rest of us.  He was born almost exactly one month after me, in 1961. 

7. His father died in 1982, in an automobile accident.

8. His mother died in 1995, of cancer.

9. He worked his way through college, graduating from Columbia University and Harvard Law School.

10. He became a United States Senator.

11. He decided to run for president, against all odds.

12. He inspired a huge movement in America, most of it arising on the interwebs and then spilling out into the actual cities of each and every state.  His background as a community organizer taught him that people are willing and able to build America back up from the ground floor.  He currently has over 1.5 million individual financial supporters, with an average donation of $96 each.  

13. He is on the verge of winning the nomination of the Democratic Party, and proving that nothing is impossible in America.  He has started a New Voter Registration Drive in all 50 States, which we will be attending this Saturday.  He gives me real hope for the future, and I thank you for allowing me to share my excitement for this historical moment with you today.  No matter what your political perspective, it is a glorious time to be an American. 

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Thursday Thirteen: The Meaning of Life.

That is a photograph of me getting my draft on, at the first Pro Circuit, choosing my Inmates.  Someone’s life was about to change.  Life?  What is life?

 

(I love the smell of metaphor in the morning.) 

 

1. Life is a fabulous art exhibition, and each of us creates a masterpiece for the big gallery in the sky.

 

2. Life is a dog show, and every human is a mutt.

 

3. Life is a question mark, with no correct answer.

 

4. Life is a never ending pouring, from one cup into another.

 

5. Life is an empty stomach, learning to stay hungry.

 

6. Life is a gaze into the mirror, and eventually we will see ourselves clearly.

 

7. Life is a hermit crab, looking for a new shell.

 

8. Life is one long sigh, knowing the void on the other side.

 

9. Life is an unexplainable sculpture method, crafting something from nothing.

 

10. Life is an opinion poll, with an infinite margin of error.

 

11.  Life is a game that you win by playing.

 

12.  Life is a huge string of adjectives, all describing this equation:

 

Infinity = 1 = 0

 

13.  Life is a list of metaphors, gone exponential.

 

Now you know the meaning of life, get out there and live it up!

 

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Thursday Thirteen: Meeting the Goals.

inspire

(Magneto gets inspirational, by Adam Kubert and Mark Irwin)

Hello friends, and welcome to the Spring Break edition of the Full Body Transplant Thursday Thirteen!  I have to get back to my week of cavorting, so this one is going to be a bit different. 

I got this email yesterday.  The subject line simply said ‘Thanks.’  I am going to chop it into 13 parts and share it with you.

1. “Although this is not the first of this kind of message I’ve typed up to send you, they remain important to me, regardless…”

2. “… because the revelations they signify are something that I need to express my gratitude for.”

3.  “Rian, you’ve been an immense source of inspiration…”

4.  “… both in this silly trading card game that binds and brings us all together…

5.  “… and as a person too.”

6.  “It’s that kind of unflinching dedication and experience that you have…”

7. “… and openly share…”

8. “… that made me realize that we are creatures of unlimited potential.” 

9.  “That as long as we try…”

10. “… there’s nothing stopping us from changing the world.”

11.  “Although not nearly enough, I’d like to thank you as sincerely and as I humanly can…”

12.  “… for talking to me on occasion…”

13.  “… and for being the extraordinary person you are. ”

I was touched by that letter, and it filled me with a sense of accomplishment.  It was from someone I have never met in person.  Someone nearly 30 years younger than I am, who will live on to enhance this world long after I am gone.  I don’t really set goals in my life, but if I did… a lot of them would have been confirmed by that letter.  The best part?  It inspired me to write a similar letter of my own and send it to someone who has inspired me. 

Happy Thursday, everyone.  Now back to my Spring Break!

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Thursday Thirteen: The Magick Returns.

tarot 

You’ve heard me ramble quite often about the Chaos Magician trip.  One of the main ways it pops up in our life?  Random delayed exposure.  In this case, I finally picked up a copy of a comic book called “The Marvel Tarot”.  It’s a beautiful thing.  Deep, chewy arcane knowledge combined with superhero mythological pop goodness?  I doesn’t get any better than that.  Topaz as Temperance?  Yes please.  Does anybody know if Storm’s latent High Priestess powers have manifested yet?

The book has been in circulation since Summer Solstice 2007, a full nine months ago.  The time was finally right last night.  As always, it was perfect timing.  The great work is entering a new phase for us, and this was a sign.

I wrote a Thursday Thirteen explaining the basics of Tarot back in December.  Today I am going to put forth a set of magick goalposts for the next step in our ritualistic lifestyle.

1. Embrace the dazzling vigor of electrical existence, and cast off the gremlins of comfortable numbness.

2. Feel each cell in the current body, as it throbs and thrives.

3. Share the glow with everyone on Earth, directly through the sky.

4. Stop settling for less just because it is routine.

5. Focus on the HIGHEST common denominator.

6. Feel everything fully, instead of thinking about it possessively.

7. More punk rock.

8. Balance all four corners.

9. Unfocus the eyes, and see with the heart.

10. Follow the little tickle that is only found inside a living human brain.

11.  Realize that the tickle is available every moment between birth and death.

12.  Get it down, and display it for others.

13.  Don’t stop for anything.

There you go.   A new set of flexible rules in our house.  Make a list of yours, and link them to: www.thursdaythirteen.com  The magick is always ready to return, you only need to ask.

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Thursday Thirteen: The Ultimate Reward.

RFwanda

(Wanda getting her Chaos on.  Artwork by Brian Stelfreeze from Upper Deck’s Vs. System.)

The ultimate culmination of any inspirational activity?  Seeing a group of other people engaged in the creative pursuit that you were trying to expose the world to.  In other words, the writer is most satisfied when the readers take the ball and run to places way beyond anything previously imagined.

In a similar way, our local Miami Hobby League got me glowing last night.  I had missed the week before, and I could only stop in to touch base, since this election year is cause for major partying with wife and friends.  When I got there, I discovered that they were playing a bizarre and beautiful format that took my dreams for the game and made them more real than I could have ever done by myself.

1. They put 50 character cards in a hat.

2. All the cards had different printed team affiliations.

3. Each person picked three cards at random.

4. They chose one affiliation from the three.

5. They spent the week building mono-team decks with the single affiliation.

6. They used Random Punks rules.

7. They invited me to play, even though I only had my traditional decks that did not fit the format, and would have therefore had a huge advantage.

8. They wished me well when I declined in order to attend our election party instead.

9. They helped me brainstorm for the upcoming BigSpooky challenge before I left.

10. They filled my heart with an unusual sense of satisfaction, seeing my ideals for the game actually being incarnated on real life tables in my very own city.

11. They gave me mad hope for the future of our game.

12. They made me realize that the sky is not falling.

13. They inspired me to keep toiling on, no matter what.

Now you.  Make a list of 13 inspirational somethings.  Anythings.  Then link your list here: www.thursdaythirteen.com It will start a small movement, and you never know what will come of it.  It might even bring you the ultimate reward.

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