Tag Archives: Vs. System

Dave Johnson + Liz Sherman = Bliss.


If I have said it once, I have said it a thousand times. One of my most cherished memories in all of Vs. System history is the unveiling of Liz Sherman’s Uncontrolled Power.

We learned recently that Mike Mignola and his wife personally gave the green light to the artwork on this myth-busting cardboard masterpiece, although the original Dave Johnson painting was a bit too blue. Here’s the before and after. I still can’t believe I was a part of it. Liz never, ever, ever looked like this in the comics or the movies. Only in our beloved trading card game. Forever.



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Aquaman Resurrected For A Reason.

Back in the day, I had the mind boggling honor of introducing brand new Vs. System cards to the world. I got to see the playing pieces early so I could gush. Three years later, my oceans are still foaming. Since we went underwater yesterday with Aquaman, it is time to ride the tide.

I wrote this for the DC Legends set, originally published on December 10th, 2007. It is still as fresh as the day it was caught. Enjoy…

Aquaman has become a rather funky icon in modern pop culture. When he first hit the television screen forty years ago, he made his initial mass media splash with The Superman/Aquaman Hour of Adventure. That sixties series couldn’t hold its breath for very long. Then the Super Friends made their extended run on the small screen starting in the seventies, and Aquaman was back, with his underwater telepathy beams rippling into homes across the country. That time, he was strong enough to stop a tidal wave.

Unfortunately for him, his visibility and name recognition were not enough to maintain his super-strength through a long string of spin-offs. The titles were ridiculous enough to tarnish an image on their own: Challenge of the Super Friends; The World’s Greatest Super Friends; Super Friends: The Legendary Super Powers Show; and The Super Powers Team: Galactic Guardians. Even though he was a key member of the “Super Powers Team,” Aquaman’s tricks were reduced to their briny essentials. Adding insult to injury, he was also forced to teach magic tricks to the kids in the audience. The power to hide a coin in the palm of your hand is not exactly the kind of threat that strikes fear in the hearts of the DC Comics super villain community.

He still had admirers, though. Despite his limited skills, Aquaman survived into the future as a cult favorite, overcoming the fashion obstacles of an orange-and-green outfit with pointy-finned boots and gloves. He didn’t have the same superstar popularity of Superman or Batman, but he had dedicated fans. Aquaman resurfaced in a big way near the turn of the millennium. For the past two decades, his scaly spandex and fishy talents have been celebrated, often through parody, in over twenty different programs.

From Seinfeld to The Simpsons to Smallville, Aquaman has gotten serious screen time. He is referenced in Family Guy and Robot Chicken. Button smashers worldwide have played video games featuring Aquaman since the days of Super Nintendo. There is a feature length film in the works for the fan-favorite orange shirt, and right now, Vs. System is allowing Aquaman to dig up some buried treasure.

That’s right—he’s three cards for the price of one. Any combo deck in the world can take to the seas and splash the Lord of Atlantis to make sure things are set up for the kill. His JLA team affiliation has a new good guy to act as a safety net when things go to turn 6. Cable is itching to spend an afternoon on the beach watching Aquaman try the Bodyslide to double the digging delights. Like the ocean he calls home, Aquaman, Lord of Atlantis represents the chance to fish out an uncountable bounty in our game.

That is not, in my personal opinion, the most exciting benthic announcement I am privileged to make today. As you probably know by now, I have been in love with tiny Army characters since the day Vs. System was released. DC Legends is rewarding my affections with the potential to create a spectacular seafood swarm.

One of the most touching mythological moments in comic book history occurred in Adventure Comics #476. Aquaman was facing a truly evil villain dressed as Poseidon. The bad guy seemed to be the real deal, and he could command the ocean’s residents with the same ease as our hero. When the pretender’s plot for world domination sent schools of fish to the surface to take over the world, Aquaman wrestled the mental control of a single dolphin away from the Poseidon impostor. The flippered friend was telepathically commanded to snatch the trident from the villain’s hand and save the day. It worked, but the tug-of-war inside the dolphin’s head caused it to have a heart attack. Aquaman got emotional and blamed himself. He settled silently to the bottom of the sea and worried about the great responsibility that comes with great power.

Then, something truly moving occurred. Tens of thousands of marine animals swam slowly, in formation, toward their sullen commander. They saluted him from the heart, telling him in their own special way that they follow him out of love, not because of force. It was the kind of story that can fill the reader with pure joy. It was almost as good as the Sea Creatures we will soon get to flip on our kitchen tables.

That, my friends, is fresh fish. We have been blessed with a rare Army character that becomes a salty, 1-cost beatstick when Aquaman is in play to continue his legend. Sea Creatures automatically align affiliations with their brave captain, and together they will be able to bring the pain to any defender who gets plopped into their watery domain. Team attack tricks will hit new heights when these little beaters cover the field. Aquaman, Arthur Curry can hit the board on turn 3 to call forth the tuna troops for the rest of the game. Sea Creatures are a natural source of protein for all the Ally recipes that the JLA has been cooking up since the Justice League of America set, and DC Legends promises to fill the cardboard pantry with even more legendary spices. It may never be safe to go back in the water.

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Wrecking Crews, Taking Names.


While talking about the upcoming Marvel Superstars game with the worldwide flock of friends on CBR, we received a strange request for a large image of the Wrecker masterpiece by Arthur Suydam. Don’t you just love it when a plan comes together? Mission accomplished.

I can’t wait to see the art for the new game.  Vs. System was one of the most glorious galleries that mankind has ever known.

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It Is Called “Marvel Superstars”.


It is the news we have all been waiting for, and it is official. Upper Deck will continue to produce the highest quality trading card games in the world using the most spectacular characters in the universe. The first new product will be called Marvel Superstars, and it will debut at GenCon Indianapolis on August 13th, 2009.

“We are extremely excited about the possibilities that this newest partnership opens up for us,” said Scott Gaeta, director of new business development at Upper Deck. “Gamers and trading card enthusiasts alike will benefit greatly as a result of the collaborative efforts by both companies.”

Paul Gitter, president of consumer products, North America at Marvel, added: “The Marvel Universe and Marvel Studios’ upcoming slate of feature films are ideally suited for trading cards and trading card games that will appeal to a wide audience.”

At this particular moment in time, on Sunday July 26th, 2009, at 2:12 pm Eastern, the googling of “Marvel Superstars” only turns up only one specific match. It is a gorgeous fan-based painting by Deputee on deviantart.com. Feast your eyes.


That is just a taste of what we have in store. Spider-Man, Captain America, and Nightcrawler against Magneto and Juggernaut, captured on cardboard. Here is another quote from Scott Gaeta to help us frame the future.

Vs. System was a great game but the general consensus in our discussions both internally and with Marvel is that we want to broaden the accessibility. Our target is still core gamers but the real growth potential is reaching the tens of millions of fans who have been exposed to all the great Marvel characters in recent years. Our goal is to bring new players in to our category and to do that we feel we need a new game. As we get closer to launch we’ll share more details but I can say that we are going to do something very fresh with our new Marvel TCG.

Very fresh indeed. Starting with the name. Marvel Superstars, here we go!

Stay tuned to this station for more, and bookmark our new blog which will be dedicated totally to the new game.

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Filed under Comic Books, Vs. System, Weekend in Heaven

Joe Quesada Wants Squirrel Girl To End Dark Reign.

DarkReign   squirrelgirl

Comic-Con 2009 has just gone transcendent. It happened during the Marvel Comics panel discussing their massive ongoing inter-title event known as Dark Reign.

Dark Reign is one of those messy affairs that threatens to destroy the very fabric of the Marvel Universe. Norman Osborn, that guy who throws little pumpkin bombs, is the main mastermind threatening world destruction. No one knows who, when, or how he will be stopped.

If Joe Quesada has his way, Dark Reign will end with a bushy red tail.

During the panel discussion, the conversation turned to Squirrel Girl:

Fan in the audience: “Does she kick Norman’s ass?

Joe Quesada: “You read my mind, I want her to be the end of this!”

Dear Joe, we want that too. We realize that you were probably joking, and that you don’t have the power to make it happen on your own. Please consider it anyway.

Thank you.


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Source Material: X-Babies Attack.


I was surfing around to see if anyone had leaked the zombie variant cover of X-Babies #1 this morning, and I found a treasure. That is the full Adam Kubert art from the variant cover of Uncanny X-Men #461. Why so special? Let me explain.


I had been working for Upper Deck nearly three years before I tiptoed the tikes into the arena. No one had ever mixed X-Babies and Vs. System before, and the new mutant power that had been given to the smaller characters with the X-Men team affiliation seemed fairly fertile. I named my deck “X-Babies Attack” and I wrote a full article about its strategy. The rest is history.


One year later, my efforts bore the ultimate in cardboard fruit. The progeny of my presence was rewarded by the highest honor possible in a trading card gaming community. Upper Deck named a card after my creation, and printed it in the Marvel Evolution set. It’s a beautiful thing.


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Mike Allred Returns.


Riffing on the old I… Vampire! Who could it be? None other than  Mike Allred.

Vertigo/DC Comics just announced a new series called I, Zombie written by Chris Roberson and drawn by our man. Could he actually revive the spirit of X-Statix, his masterpiece? Meet me back here on Halloween to find out.

MMK069 MMK054

MMK089 MMK219

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Sunday Mandala: Madrox Madness.



MXM188   MXM188

That is one of the cards that changed my life. The entire community came together to celebrate the most powerful Multiple Man in the game. Ryan Sook did the original painting, I made the mandala in Kaleider.

Enjoy the Madrox Madness. We sure did.

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Monday Masterpiece Memories: Madelyne Pryor and Master Mold.


madelynepryor      mastermoldcard


They are both 6-drops. They are both extremely powerful in the comic books and on cardboard. That is, however, where the similarities end.

Happy Monday!


Filed under Vs. System

The X-Babies Are Back.


HeroesCon in Charlotte, North Carolina was the scene for some pretty stunning revelations. None of them tops this.

The X-Babies are back. Marvel Comics announced a new four-issue mini-series starring the ultimate in Costumed Chibi. Check this out.


Gregg Schigiel and Jacob Chabot are in charge of the terrific tikes, and they are taking us back to Mojoworld. It seems the X-Babies have gotten too cute for their own tastes. In the course of fighting to regain their edge, they get to play with the obscure myths of Star Comics, including Wally Wizard and Royal Roy.

These books definitely have my toes tingling, due to the honor Upper Deck gave me when it comes to X-Babies. I need to break out my cards and start flipping. I can’t hardly wait for this “shiny, happy stuff”!


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Card Creator Contest: Creaky.

Ch’Reek’Iiliimeenii • Creaky

First of all, none of this is real. Creaky is a character invented by Christopher “chdb” Bird on his mightgodking.com website as an illustration of the brilliance he would bring to the Dr. Strange mythos if he were allowed to write the books.


Magic in the Marvel Universe tends to be Earth-centric. The Nexus of All Realities’ Waypoint Into This Universe is located on Earth. The Bridge To The World of Waking Dream is too.

When magical realms like K’un L’un connect themselves to Earth you get the sort of effect when people outside a bar see that it’s lively inside and then they want to go in.

Ch’Reek’Iiliimeenii (or “Creaky,” as he is known to his friends) is a Chr’Ylite, of the same race as Sikorsky of the Starjammers.

Chr’Ylite abilities aren’t just telepathic, but indeed an empathic connection to the very world around them – a sensory perception that skews much wider than average.

This perception, married to the keen analytical minds of the Chr’Ylites, gave the species an additional ace in the hole: a tendency to produce wizards.

Chr’Ylite mathemagic is the arcane calculus that affects the universe; Chr’Ylite patron-magic accesses a range of magical deities of which most Earth wizards are barely aware, such as:

D’nonni’Klaa, The Otherworldly Master of Unreal Algebra.

Fidostinaliae, The Great Seer Of Strange Probabilities.

32[(xe)2ab] + KLYZ, He Who Is Not Named But Only Calculated.

Creaky, a young and talented Chr’Ylite wizard, came to Earth both because he was sent by the Irrationality Council (a staple belief of the Chr’Ylites is that irrational numbers hold the magical secrets of the universe) and because he volunteered. When people ask him about this, he steadfastly maintains that both these instances occurred simultaneously. Do not ask him to explain how this is possible. He will try to do it, and you will inevitably get a headache when he begins discussing the magical digressions of quadrubic roots.

Creaky is, even for a magician who traveled billions of miles to explore, curious about everything to a degree that is almost terrifying. He wants to know everything, and given that he barely sleeps (Chr’Ylites only need to sleep nineteen minutes out of every 24-hour Earth day) he is the biggest information junkie you have ever met. He doesn’t confine himself to magical research either; Chr’Ylite magic has as a founding principle that magic can be found in everything, so one night he will watch a dozen episodes of The Wire and the next he is reading Joan Collins novels and the next he is replaying the same Dizzee Rascal song over and over again (muttering something about syncopation) and the next he’s studying the history of Constantinople.

And every so often? He finds something.

Ch’Reek’Iiliimeenii • Creaky

I made that first Creaky Vs. System card to start the ball rolling. Now you. Take the information in the quote box, translate it into Vs. System game mechanics, and slap it all together in Magic Set Editor. Send the resulting cards to fullbodytransplant@dadeschools.net.

The winner gets his or her choice of my remaining Pro Circuit Extended Art prize cards.

I adore the whole idea of Creaky. I can’t wait to see what you guys come up with for other versions and support cards.

Card Creating Party On!

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Squirrel Girl’s Rightful Place.



I had been saving this for a special occasion. The time is now.

Dave Simons did a redesign of Squirrel Girl. Dan Slott confirmed her legitimacy. What else does Marvel need to give her the exposure she deserves?


Let’s define her rightful place in the Marvel Universe. Let’s storm the interwebs with cries for more. Let’s campaign for Doreen Green as a vital and vibrant force in the myths.

We can do this.

Yes we can.

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