Comic Book Awards for March 2015

Comic Book of the Month Awards For March

~Nandor Shaffer

Spring has set in and things in the comic book world are booming (or blooming, if you prefer…sorry, I knew that’d be too easy to catch). The fact still remains that after this April, changes will be coming. Both Jonathan Hickman’s Avengers and New Avengers will be sadly wrapping up with Secret Wars on the horizon, as well as Fantastic Four with #645, supposedly being the very last issue of the series for the foreseeable future (which I’m not too happy about). March was the penultimate month for these books and, as you can expect, they were quite the highlights of the month. March was also the last month for many comics in the DC corner as DC’s hotly-anticipated multiversal Convergence event invades the stands this month and the next. The Flash and Aquaman concluded their current storylines on high notes and will return after a brief hiatus in June. Uncanny X-Men took somewhat of a retrospective breather with #32, while Nick Spencer and Roman Rosanas continue their up-beat, humorous, and fresh take on Ant-Man to much applause from me and other critics alike. Last but not least, the start of the 9th Doctor miniseries from Titan Comics debuted.

But out of these and other nominees, which titles received the Comic Book Awards Awards of the month? Here we go.

Cover of the Month Award: Doctor Who: The Eleventh Doctor #9

Cover Artist: Brian Williamson 

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You might be wondering how Brian Williamson’s cover for Doctor Who: The Eleventh Doctor #9 managed to float its way up to being awarded Cover of the Month, especially compared to the many other excellent covers that graced a sizable majority of the comics in March. There’s not much to it, there’s barely any “real” artwork, and only huge red letters pervade the blank white background behind The 11th Doctor. This is all true, but here, and as a whole, less is more. Firstly, this is a wholly stylized cover. The black, white and red all compliment each other to give you a picture of impactful symmetry. The Doctor shown here on his knees only completes the creation to hit you emotionally. In the end, it’s memorably ominous.

Art of the Month Award: The Flash #40

Penciller: Brett Booth 

Inker: Norm Rapmund

Colorist: Andrew Dalhouse

Flash-40The art team of Brett Booth, Norm Rapmund and Andrew Dalhouse have been lending their exceptional talents to The Flash ever since #30, so what makes the artwork in The Flash #40 stand out from every previous issue? Just to clarify, it’s no secret this has been a strikingly beautiful book. Brett Booth carries with him a pure comic book style, almost a call-back to that sharp, bombastic form prominent in the 90’s. That’s not seen too much in mainstream comics these days, which is why I always look forward to seeing what he decides to cook up in The Flash. In #40, he lets it all out. The extra-sized issue makes the extra dollar worth it in every case, not just from the art, but here we’re given so much. Packed with action and energy, it’s just as blasting as a real life lightning bolt. This might sound like the perfect art style for a Flash comic book, and, in some ways, that’s absolutely true. Not everything about Brett Booth’s is pretty per say, but it’s no less sensational. Moreover, his panel work is skillfully orchestrated in The Flash #40. We also cannot forget about Norm Rapmund’s inks and Andrew Dalhouse’s essential colors. This issue, no less this book, would not look nearly as good it does without them. They are put through their paces and come out more than champions.

Story of the Month Award:  New Avengers #31 (“Rabum Alal”)

Writer: Jonathan Hickman

4388270-new_avengers_31_coverNothing will prepare you for what you will find in New Avengers #31. Or, put more accurately, whom you will find. Dr. Strange is seeking out the Great Destroyer, Rabum Alal, to destroy him, but sometimes you have to be careful what you wish for. This issue begins with him and the Black Priests looking for access into, they soon realize, where Rabum Alal is located. After intense battles with various Black Swans of many different universes, Dr. Strange meets Rabum Alal face to face and the ramifications of this reveal are tremendous. It wouldn’t be at all fair of me to spoil what many readers, including myself, have been curiously and anxiously waiting for ever since the first few issues of New Avengers released two years ago, so I wouldn’t dare to. I will say it is a complete shock; one I didn’t see coming whatsoever and one that will leave you with your mouth dropping. Jonathan Hickman, you’ve done it again.

Issue of the Month Award: New Avengers #32 (“The Fall of Gods”) 

Writer: Jonathan Hickman 

Artist: Mike Deodato

Color Artist: Frank Martin

Cover Art: Adam Kubert & Frank Martin

New_Avengers_Vol_3_32While New Avengers #31 is unquestionably the issue of the month that will turn your world upside down, #32 will destroy it. It’s tragic, invigorating, scary, and overall powerful. It’s been hinted at how immensely formidable and threatening The Beyonders are. Well, here, we see them in action…against members of the Avengers. The outcome of this battle is terrible for our heroes and I don’t know what to think in the aftermath. This is a last grand stand for these Avengers put on display divinely by penciller/inker Mike Deodato and colorist Frank Martin. It’s true that a lot of the time Mike Deodato doesn’t pull me in like other artists do, but he and Martin broke through any preconceptions of mine and, really, shamed me to why I ever thought this. The combination of detail and vibrancy in New Avengers #32 brings a teeming weight to the issue. Since it takes place in deep space, blackness, stars, and asteroids present an ethereal setting to the events taking place, offering a tranquil resting place for those who fail to make it out alive. What could possibly be next for Earth’s Mightiest Heroes?

Thank you again for checking out my awards and check back sometime next month for April’s Comic Book Awards! Until then, hopefully you and I will continue to be reading comics!

EVEn MMOre Issue 7

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Once again I am amazed at the learning experiences in Eve Online.  Last week I had my first PvP kill and it was exhilarating, but this week I also found out the hard way about gankers and the risk vs. reward that some players have figured out.  I discovered the misfortunes of having a wormhole close and finding yourself in space far, far away.

The week started out marvelous with all my pilots pooling their spoils for the week.  A grand total of 325 million isk!  I loaded this fortune into my trusty Bestower cargo ship and plotted my course to Jita.  All the systems were in high security space and that made me feel safe, secure, and comfortable — three of the worst feelings in Eve you could ever have. Eve makes you PARANOID.  Trust nothing, no one.  Always be on guard because the moment you take it easy, you will be in serious trouble.

My trouble came halfway to Jita.  A twenty warp run, I entered the Sivala system around my 11th jump.  I was doing great.  I was comfortable. I was at ease.  What could go wrong in a .6 security system?  That is where things fell apart and I learned my first lesson of the week.  A crew of gankers interdicted my hauler and within thirty seconds I was blown to a million pieces.  The attacker was immediately killed by Concord, but his friends were then free to loot hundreds of millions of isk.  His ship probably cost 20 million.  So you can see how this could be very profitable.  Rinse and repeat this little strategy and see how quickly the pirate can turn into a billionaire.  Woefully, I lost a weeks of loot and PI.  I was stunned how quickly this happened and how fast they came in a picked my ship clean.  All lost.

My first reaction was anger and pity (for myself). Then I was determined to build the toughest tank hauler I could. If you can build a ship with enough armor, shields, and hull to survive for 30 seconds you will survive and the attacker will be destroyed by the Concord starships.  Those thirty seconds are tough, mostly if there is more than 1 attacker.  It all comes down to the risk vs. reward — is the destruction of my ship and the booty of my cargo worth losing 1, 2, maybe even 3 ships?

One thing I learned: Keep cargo to less than 100,000,000 isk  It becomes slim odds that the pirates will profit from such attacks and they will often let you pass.  Second, make sure you tank the hell out of your industrial ship. Find its strength in either shields, armor, or hull and just pile everything into that.  Third, when plotting your course to a hub, use the highest security system run as possible.  Even if it doubles the number of jumps required, it will pay for itself.  There is a huge difference in response time between a .6 system and a .9 system.

I discovered that you can also use a transport system that has organically been created in the game. Using Contracts you can hire a player run cargo service to pick up your freight and deliver it to another system. Roughly a million isk per jump (a bit less) you can drop off your cargo in one system, create a contract for its stowage, and then wait for it to arrive in another system.  My 20 jump ordeal could have been negated if I had known about this — I would have paid 20,000,000 isk but my 325,000,000 cargo (plus the value of my starship) would have been safe.

Try Red Frog Transport: http://red-frog.org/jumps.php

Thus several lessons were learned this week concerning cargo.  Hopefully I will not get ganked over my shipments for a while.  Losing 325,000,000 isk really hurts!  A hard lesson, but a good one.

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I also learned to know the timing of wormholes.  If you get caught on the other side of a closed wormhole, you can be in a lot of trouble.  Last night I was out just knocking down .5 security anomalies  when, without warning (although I knew it was going to end), the wormhole collapsed. To my dismay I discovered that to get back to the new high security hole, required me to do a 45 jump journey — seven of the systems were -.4 or less.

I was sure I was going to die!  I simply dumped everything I had and sold it without care of cost (thinking if I am going to die, I might as well sell all my equipped modules). I was just certain I was going to die!

To my surprise I moved through the worst of the star systems, meeting only extreme hostiles at over 100 kilometers — too far away (i guess) for them to fire on me.  It was getting late so I cut the last 25 jumps and made my way to Amarr.  I was lucky, extremely lucky some would say.  Its not something I would want to do again.

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Lesson learned, know the duration of wormholes.  Two big lessons I learned this week.

Not all was bad, however, and I did learn some good things this week too.  I finally found a Relic site and moved into hacking the six floating debris stations.  On my first try I lost every single one.  I never got anything out of it.  A day later, I found another unguarded relic site and scored one victory.  The reward was about 60,000 isk of junk and one blueprint (I do not remember what it was but it didn’t look overly valuable). I watched several videos on hacking and I believe I will be getting much better at it.  Key is to have the best gear and skills, along with patience.  All the time I was hacking the site, I was hitting my D-Scan.  The last thing you want is to be ganked while trying to hack into a relic.

Learning to use the Red Frog transport system is going to save me a lot of pain.  Its essentially paying insurance on your shipments — I’ll gladly give these guys 20 million isk to guarantee my 350 million isk cargo gets safely to port.

This week also found me learning to how divvy up skills across my two accounts and six pilots. Alternating back and forth to gain as much as I can from a single learning queue.

So many challenges still await.

d0BU0Yu

A Special Eve Moment

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I know I shouldn’t get all excited over this.  Someone else had to lose 30,000,000 isk when I blew up their retriever this morning but that is the nature of the game.  That is why all the players really log on.  I have been blown up a half dozen times, losing far more than a mere 30 million isk. The really big thing is that its my first kill in the game.  I have been playing for about 3 months but up until today always got into matches that ended badly for me.

This morning I was cycling through my characters doing my standard morning PI.  I have only about 30 minutes before having to go to work so really can’t do much in the game.  Suddenly I noticed on D-Scan a retriever within 14 AU of my position.  There could be only two places that ship would be, both cleared of rats.  Some bloke was actually mining ore in our hole!  How galling is that? I thought it may be a trap, but I just had to take my chances.

I switched over to my shiny new Ferox.  I knew I would never get this guy since my guns are blasters and their reach was 5000 meters.  I thought I could scare him though.  I also put on a module for warp interdiction and a low end cloak just in case.

I warped out to the first ore site and to my surprise he was there mining kernite.  He just sat there?  I was at over 60 kilometers and needed to be within 20 to hit him with my cheesy ‘dictor.  I was positive he would warp out at any moment.

I poured on the afterburners but my sluggish boat still waddled closer at 332 meters per second.  I sat and watched.  At 35 Kilometers he still hadn’t moved but I could lock on him which did.  Surely alarm bells in his cabin would be going off and he would jump.  But he didn’t!  So I moved closer.

At 20 KM I was close enough to fire the dictor, but waited again until I was at 15 KM because what sense would it be if my guns were way out of range.  At 15 KM I fired my interdictor module and the wafting beams of light encapsulated his ship. I set my course to a 500 meter orbit, knowing it would be further out then that  — I probably should have set it at 2,500 meters because my guns optimal range was 5000.  But I was nervous and just wanted to be close enough.

At 9000 meters I opened up on him with 5 hobgoblin drones and 7 Heavy Ion Blasters!!  Surely this twit would move off, but maybe the guy had gone off to watch TV or something.  His shields were ripped away, then his armor, and finally at half hull I noticed on D-Scan a Ferox warped in.  I drove on, firing everything I had into him.  And with a woot of victory the ship exploded.

In my panic of seeing the oncoming Ferox, I turned my drones on him and started targeting the incoming ship. I then thought of the pod, but I had no clue on really finding it.  I looked on the screen but couldn’t find it there and my D was empty other than the new target.  Perhaps he warped out.

I should have stayed and fought the new Ferox, but I was nervous that he may have me out gunned.  I was thinking it was really a trap and that I was going to be ganked — I have had that happened to me twice before.

Being a newb my ship is still underpowered and my skills only two months old.  So I fired some parting shots then warped out to a safe spot.  At first I thought I may have been interdicted as the seconds waiting for the warp drive seemed to be minutes, but I shot out into deep space.

I turned around and waited.  I saw another ship warp in (via the D-Scan) and then I jumped to a safe spot behind big guns.  All around me flashed hobgoblins and I saw a few ships come and go but none must have ever gotten close enough for the station cannons to fire.

It was time for work but I lingered long enough to find my kill on the boards and screen captured it for posterity.  Man, I was feeling geeked.  It will be short lived, I know.  In a few days I will be ganked or blown up, but I will take each of my wins with a smile on my face!!

EVEn MMore Issue 6

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Easter is about rebirth and I certainly saw that yesterday in Eve.  Once again my ship was blown up.  Not just once, not twice, but three times.  Admittedly one of the times was a direct fault of myself.  Really all three are solely my fault, but two were from direct intervention of other players.

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My stupidest destruction was my second debacle when I was flying a Venture around the hole skimming gas.  I just finished clearing one gas field when I decided to try another.  I had already probed down and cleared the gas fields of rats with my Ferox.  Except for one that had these real nasty gun towers.  Even in my battlecruiser I was hammered hard coming out of warp.  I tried to destroy them, but it was obvious that I was going to lose and worse not even destroy one.  There was five of these platforms on this gas site.  I thought I was safe because I remembered which of the three remaining gas sites had those nasty towers.  I remembered wrong!!  I brought my Venture into the occupied site and before I could align to the star, I was blown to a million bits. Luckily they didn’t get my pod (or maybe rats don’t care about that?)!  Scratch one Venture.

Losing that Venture I thought I would head off to Hek and get a new one.  Really make it a shiny new ship with the latest modules.  Spent probably ten million isk and of course I didn’t insure it. I brought it back and decided to ore mine instead of gas.  The w-space had been quiet for a few hours and the ore site was within 4 AU of the Hi Sec  hole so I thought I would be safe if I tapped my D-Scan while I mined.  Well that was my mistake!!  The Helios must have slipped in through the C4 hole and knew the layout of the hole.  Never saw anything other than a few seconds before my ship exploded, the web and lasers seething through my haul.  BAM!!  Another Venture lost and another ten million isk down the drain.  Either he let me go or I was quick with the warp because at least he did not pod me.

That was the last ship I lost that day.

imagesThe real loss came when my corporation mate was running some PI.  Normally this is a pretty safe operation as things go in the hole.  Suddenly he was bubbled in his Epithal and asking for help.  Stupid me, at first I didn’t understand his plea and jumped to the POCO with my probing ship.  DOH!!   I Warped out and came back with my Ferox ready to do battle.  I saw space littered with bubbles.  I am still a complete newb to this kind of fighting, so I targeted the closest enemy and shot towards it with seven heavy ion blasters trained on the little ship.  Suddenly I was bubbled and I knew it was all over.  I did have the wits about me to eject and warp my pod to the star — so I never did lose my clone and some expensive cybernetic implants.  I lost most of those last week when my pilot was destroyed doing another stupid endeavor.

My friend came out worse on this debacle losing some 400,000,000 isk worth of stuff.  I probably lost 100,000,000 isk of ship and modules.

To be fair to myself, I am still a big newb to space battles.  I have been involved with maybe four or five fights and lost every one of them.  Another corp mate said I should just buy 100 inexpensive frigates and just expect to die 99 times with them.  Its paying your dues in the game, I guess.  Its disheartening to die in the game but its just a big part of the game.

Perhaps one day I can get revenge against some of these nasty pilots.  Or chastise newbies like me with their first 100 ships?  I am getting better, as at least I know how to warp away with my pod.

Greed on my part is why I lost two ventures this weekend.  I should have just ore mined in High Sec.  Or check out each gas site first with the battlecruiser before going into an “unknown” gas site.  Next time I will record my findings in the bookmarks about rats and other aspects of gas sites.

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Beyond my debacle over the holiday weekend, I have overall been doing quite well in Eve.  Late last week I made two forays into Amarr and Jita selling close to 500,000,000 isk worth of high end PI and modules gleamed from rats.  Money is always a good thing and I seemed to have found ways of making enough to keep ships around (for now).

I also learned how to probe.  I never thought I would figure this out. I’m a rather slow learner and I get very frustrated easily. I quit things I don’t understand, too.  A bit of prodding and help from a certain corporation mate got me into practicing this every day.  Now I am rather confident about my abilities.  I still take a while to probe down all the anomalies in our hole, but I know I can do it.  A good thing when no one else is on and I need to figure out what is out there.

I am also learning skills so I can do data and relic sites.  I think I have the skills down but have yet been in a situation when I can try these two types of anomalies.

Getting back to greed, I think for the most part that is the reason I die in the game.  Three things I need to remember:

1) Always be on a mic when corps mates are on.

2) Keep eyes on the holes coming into our space — C4 and Hi.

3) Use the high security space as much as possible.  Mining in the hole is just not really worth it.  The ores there are no different than ore is High Security.

My worst problem is that I am six hours different from 90% of the pilots in my alliance.  I may see them for an hour a day.  Being alone in a worm hole is a daunting ordeal — pilots coming into that sort of space are there for one reason and its not to be friendly.  For the most part, I can dance around inside the w-space and do what I need doing.

Last month I bought with my earnings in the game 2 extra training slots — that was very expensive and I won’t be able to do it again this month.  It is odd that Extra Training PLEX is more expensive than normal PLEX.  I would think it would be the other way around.  Why use the Training PLEX when you can use normal PLEX for the same thing and pay 15,000,000 less isk for it. Dumb.  Going rates in the game are about 770,000,000 to 810,000,000 isk for a PLEX,   I may try to undercut that but its a lot of money to tie up for a couple of weeks if no one takes the bid.

Return of the Dark Age of Camelot

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Last night I resubscribed to a game that I hadn’t played in more than twelve years.  In gaming terms, that is a millennium of time.  I did not even think Dark Ages of Camelot was still in operation.   I thought the sun had set on this game, like so many other classic fantasy MMOs.  To my surprise the game is still active and there is a respected number of players.

I looked around on the web and found some statistics, with a general figure of 2000 active accounts.  No doubt some of these are dual or even tri-boxed.  There is also essentially one server now, Ywain.  You can freely move between the twelve shards so it is no longer an issue to debate what server you are going to join.

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The last time I played was in the Summer of 2003.  I think I may have played a few weeks over the years when I would get a free month but it has been at least five years since I seriously even looked at the game.  As I said, I was flummoxed when I discovered the game was still in operation.

New players get 2 week to try it out but then it is $15 a month to play.  As far as I can tell there is no real money transactions or micro transactions in the game.  Hooray!  There is also no stupid list of themed cosmetic crap to spoil the world — no ugly pink unicorns, no over sized penguin mercenaries, no ridiculous pets, etc…  Games such as Everquest I & II, World of Warcraft, and other games have been destroyed in my opinion by all this glitzy trash.  Players today seem drawn to this candy-coated shit.  When confronted with their outlandish prizes (always paid for) they get hot under the collar, yelping that they should be able to play any way they want and have their fantasy as they choose.  Well then, go have it it all these other horrible fantasy melee games.

call_to_armsThe graphics still hold up well after all these years. It is no Guild Wars by any means, but its not unplayable. Some older games just have such horrible controls and graphics, they are not worth even trying again. Not so with Dark Ages of Camelot.  The game can be clunky at times, often I notice when turning my character that it stutters.  Some graphics appear to have been updated, but even so its still at least 6 years old in graphics.

I simple revel in the old school fantasy rpg fun of Dark Ages of Camelot.  I would rather pay $15 a month (really 50 cents a day to play) then constantly be wooed and cajoled into spending more.  I have never found a player that strictly played for free in those RMT worlds — they say they do, but on closer examination they always have the glitzy adds.  Its like the gambler who says he never spends more than 50 bucks or the guy who says he wins all the time — Vegas was not built on winners.  MMO companies with RMT don’t stay in business from free players.  Stop the lies and just admit it.

Upon my return I found most of my old characters.  I also started in a new realm with a few new guys just to play the game from a different perspective.  I don’t recall much about the game. I remember older places but not much about them.  I am really going to enjoy all the zones again.

I need to find a good source of tactics, strategy, and hints.  I am woefully forgetful of how to play all of my toons. I have several pure melee characters, along with a fine array of magic users.  I was never much into the PvP or PvR aspects of the game. Back in the day I spent most of the time with PvE.  I look forward to trying all aspects of the game.

New players can get 2 weeks so why not try it and find me in game.  http://www.darkageofcamelot.com

The Fearful Heart, By: Cherry Christensen

Emerald Tablet:

Not normally something I put on the Emerald Tablet, but its my wife’s book and I am so proud of her.

Originally posted on cherylbbookblog:

Book Blurb:

The heart must be protected at all costs… but will Cassidy be able to afford the price? Cassidy has distanced herself from childhood friend, Tristan. She’s moved on from their days of best friend-hood and is attending college. And dating one of the most eligible males on campus. Life couldn’t be better. Really. Tristan has devoted himself to Cassidy since they were children together. But no matter what he did, she’s never treated him like more than her best friend. He knows they can have something deeper. If only he can find the key to unlocking her fearful heart.

Excerpt:

She grinned, remembering the time Tristan had seen her wearing her green off-the-shoulder peasant blouse. Draped softly against her sun-kissed skin, it had literally made his jaw drop. And for a brief moment, she’d suspected — even hoped — he was going to fling the packed silver and…

View original 270 more words

Top 10 Things I learned About Eve

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It is my belief that many players are scared away from playing Eve Online because of the very nature of the game.  It is also very much unlike other MMOs in that you rarely see your alternative self; your avatar.  I have actually seen my frozen body floating in space more than I have seen him lounging in a chair in the game.  Unlike fantasy MMOs that personify an alter ego, Eve disembodies you from an individual and puts you in command of various starships — these are the respected bodies you often play the game inside.

Eve is also represented as a PvP game and many players are scared away by this.  In fact, you can play the game without ever fighting another player.  Many Eve players will scoff at this insinuation, but it is true.  There will be times when you will have to defend yourself against another player, but if you are smart and not greedy those occasions are very few.

Here is a list that I compiled on the 10 things I have learned about the game.  They are in no particular order.

1.  You are going to die in the game.  Most often your death will be by the hands of another player.  Relax, the game has softened the loss of a death to only isk (money).  A bit of danger always enhances game play and with this fact, you will have so much more fun in the game.  The worst that will happen is you lose your ship, modules, cargo, and perhaps cybernetic implants — again only money.

2. The universe is huge but aside from from gaseous cloud backgrounds, the universe is pretty much the same everywhere.  You don’t have to travel great distances to do things.  Most solar systems, or collections of systems, have agents and asteroids to keep players content.

3. The game is not based on a twitch.  Eve is not a first person shooter nor does it take any skill at those sorts of games to be good at. I have a friend who has bad carpal issues and he could easily play this game.

4. Very easy to make isk (money) in the game.  There are innumerable ways to make money from mining, missions, pvp, pve, and even out right thievery.  A distinct set of rules in the game, this is by far the most open sand box allowing the player to do what he wants and how he wants.

5. You are forever learning in the game.  The learning curve at start is steep, but as you figure out Eve Online you’ll soon discover the game is not that hard.  Yet, you are always learning.  Real time progression is the only way to gain levels in skills, and in this method you are never going to run out of skills to learn. Besides the sheer number of skills in the game, you as a player will always be learning new tactics and methods to achieve your goals.  I learn something every time I load the game up.  It is so refreshing to find a game that isn’t dumbed down to a 10 year old’s mental acuity.

6. Find yourself a good corporation.  Get out f the start up corp as soon as you can — that is a one way street that will lead you only to dislike the game.  Find your strengths in Eve, then match that to a good corporation.

7. Never stop learning.  Sort of goes with point #5 but viewed from a different perspective. Like in any MMO if you get in a rut, you tend to close doors to other areas of the game.  There is so much to do in the game, never let yourself get complacent.  I have learned so much in two months of playing.  Things I never dreamed of when I first started, I now do without thought.  Don’t get in a gaming rut, but keep looking at new ways to gain isk and reward.

8. If you get good enough at the game, you can pay for your subscription.  I guess many games have this these days, but Eve pioneered the PLEX — the idea you can take ingame money and buy an item that rewards you with a month of free game time.   Currently a PLEX cost around 700 to 800 million isk.  It is very easy to make 10 million isk a day, closer to 30 million if you are diligent.  Towards the more aggressive side of playing you can make a billion isk a month, paying 800 million for a free month of playing and still have 200 million to buy stuff with.

9. Complacency kills. I don’t die often, because I don’t fight that much.  When I do die it is because I have become complacent with the game.  Eve Online is like electricity or fire — the moment you think you have control over it, you’ll end up dead. Focus at all times and learn the secrets of how to escape, how to fight, and even how to beg.  You should always be looking for that one little trick that will buy you 1 more second to do what you want, rather than allowing someone else to control that second. Pretty much everything is up for grabs, so utilize every little tip, secret, and gimmick to keep yourself alive.

10. The game is a lot of fun.  It took me a bit to get my head into the game.  I don’t know if it was because I was trained and nurtured by Daybreak games like Everquest, but Eve Online is a tough but rewarding game.  You start out in a flimsy little ship, but within days you are mastering the skills to fly larger and deadlier ships.  Soon you will have to juggle time to keep up with all the activities you want to get done: Mining Asteroids, Industry, Planetary Interaction, Fighting Pirates, Missions, Wars, Player Skirmishes, Exploring Wormholes, Finding new sources of Isk.  So much to do in the game.

Comic Books Awards for February

Darth Vader Alex Ross

February is a time when I may have the most absolute fun as a comic book fan and collector. The second month of the year marks the annual anniversary sale put on by my local comic shop (shout out to The Antiquarium!) and everything store wide is discounted, respectively – and what deals there were. So while I spent all of my spare cash on numerous back issue comics I probably won’t get around to reading for a very long time, my regular monthly stack of new release issues have all been read and the awards for February’s comics are here. A total of fifteen books filled this month’s quota, the lot of them steadily maintaining their more or less consistent level of quality.

Marvel is continuing its privilege of distributing Star Wars comics with Star Wars #2 and the debut of the all-new ongoing Star Wars: Darth Vader series by the pen of Kieron Gillen (known for his work on Uncanny X-Men, Iron Man, and more) and pencil of Salvador Larroca (The Invincible Iron Man). Anyone who would like to follow the machinations of the iconic Dark Lord of the Sith after the events of Episode IV: A New Hope ought to pick this up. Bringing with it a somber, energetic tone authentic to the heart of Vader and the Empire, the first two issues show much promise. Salvador Larroca’s technical preciseness in drawing Darth Vader is so true to his look that no one could have been a better choice for the project. If there was an award for funnest comic book of the month, Ant-Man #2 would hold that award high and proudly. Scott Lang’s challenges of starting up his new business in Miami affords laughs and action in such finesse. At first thought dead, Aquaman finds his hardened mother in #39 of his title and in Hulk #11, Doc Green’s desire to rid the world of gamma powered weapons (including fellow Hulks) sees with it a mysterious and unforeseen spin.

But out of these and other nominees, which came first for the award ceremony? These are the ones I regarded as the most deserving.

Cover of the Month Award: Ant-Man #2
Cover Artist: Mark Brooks

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It’s the idea of the cover for Ant-Man #2 that makes it not only so clever, but stand out amongst the droves of cover art you see on the comic book stands. The idea takes advantage of the nature involving the astonishing Ant-Man’s core characteristic – his ability to shrink – and puts him into an instant classic, earnest scenario as he is helplessly trapped within a…water globe featuring the city of Miami? Yep, that’s right, and the finished image is perfect. Mark Brooks successfully captures a genuinely memorable piece here. In great distress, Ant-Man attempts to break his way out of his unlucky predicament as his ant friends look upon in curious bewilderment. While we don’t know how, or even if, Scott Lang survives to tell of this atypical, but intellectually praiseworthy situation, the cover for Ant-Man #2 looks too gorgeous not to care for the little guy.

Art of the Month Award: Bucky Barnes: The Winter Soldier #5
Artists: Marco Rudy (PGS 4-19), Langdon Foss (PGS 1-3, 20)

BBTWS5_Coverbucky-barnes-the-winter-soldier-5-page-11(1)You probably don’t need any more convincing from me about how much I adore artist Marco Rudy’s paints in Bucky Barnes: The Winter Soldier; especially after the three times his work has effortlessly landed the award for Art of the Month for this title in the last four months. It’s safe to say he’s been making my job in deciding a winner for this category a whole lot more easier than it should be. Finding the right words to describe his almost transcendent style is difficult. I’ve always found the word “psychedelic” to be appropriate, but that tacked description may be taken the wrong way if you don’t explain further. In issue five of this series, we’re prescribed with additional reasons to explore Rudy’s beautiful artwork and respect him as one of the best artists in the business’s history.

The vibrancy, which screams on each page of Rudy’s, is addictive to take in. After I finished reading this issue, I instantly went back over it to study every page to see what new illustrative gems I could find. Page 4 is drawn from a first-person perspective reflecting the face of the Bucky from the future off the Pao’ree soldiers’ helmets; pages 6 and 7 parade a lustrous two-page spread exploring the Pao’ree and telepathy on their planet of Mer-Z-Bow; the following two pages is another two-page spread of Bucky and Crossbones in brutal combat presented in edgy, bold panels…and there’s so much more I could say. I do want to briefly bring out pages 10 and 13, which exhibit the panel dividers as Crossbones’ skull logo with The Winter Soldier’s red star dripping down the skull. That, to me, is remarkably creative, and all of this is just the tip of the iceberg for Bucky Barnes: The Winter Soldier #5.

Story of the Month Award: New Avengers #30 (“Beyonders”)
Writer: Jonathan Hickman

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The story told in New Avengers #30 investigates the multiversal trek superhero Hank Pym had begun to take. Sent out by Reed Richards and Tony Stark to search out and locate the Great Destroyer, Rabum Alal, Pym suddenly returned out of nowhere at the climax of New Avengers #29 to heed an alarming report not about the Great Destroyer, but of the frightening white lords from wild space, the Ivory Kings, now known as “The Beyonders”. The pages of New Avengers #30 unfold to reveal Pym’s journey and just who these Beyonders are and the universal threat they pose. As you might surmise, this is a pretty heavy and meaty issue. In Hickman’s high prose, we survey cosmic themes and a momentous battle between the Beyonders and lofty beings of existence. It’s straightforward, but so perplexing and unsettling. How will our heroes rise above the end of everything? Hank Pym’s final words on the last page leave us with no shade of comfort.

Issue of the Month Award: New Avengers #30 (“Beyonders”)
Writer: Jonathan Hickman
Penciler: Dalibor Talajic
Inker: RIck Magyar
Color Artist: Frank Martin
Cover Art: Alan Davis, Mark Farmer, Matt Wilson

New_Avengers_Vol_3_30_TextlessNew Avengers #30 is an excellent comic book issue. It amps up the already grim, intense storyline of this series to another level, which is something I didn’t know could happen. The interior pencils by Dalibor Talajic won’t blow you away, and is in some measure slightly indistinguishable from other artists, yet Frank Martin’s explosive colors impart life to the pages (pages 17, 18, and 19 specifically). Also, if you’ve really been paying attention, a trait of Jonathan Hickman’s writing, there are two things in this issue that hark back to New Avengers #8 (no kidding). After keeping up with my favorite comic book series of all time, it’s not going to be any fun to say goodbye this April when the final issue of New Avengers ships.

Thank you again for checking out my awards and check back sometime next month for March’s Comic Book Awards! Until then, hopefully you and I will continue to be reading comics as Spring gradually sets in.

~Nandor Schaffer

EVEn MMOre: Issue 5

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I find it fascinating to look back over the course of several weeks and see my growth in the game.  Most of my long term goals, some of which is to pay for training with isk, is still out of reach.  I am getting closer to achieving this lofty goal, but need a bit more skill.  A number of short term goals have been reached and this is truly exciting.

My long term goal is still to generate 2 billion isk a month, with a more short term and realistic path to reach 1 billion isk; probable in the next 30 days. My hope is that with increased revenue I could take that and buy PLEX so as to allow my secondary and tertiary characters more training.  I am comfortable with the fact I will be paying a subscription for the foreseeable future. Most of my wealth at the present is coming from High Sec mining and Wormhole Planetary Interaction.

Generic_05_2500In mining, its really all about the acquisition of valdespar.  For someone new in the game, make that your goal.  Veldaspar is the easiest money.  Certainly other refined ores are rare and costly but everything either comes with risk or complication.  Get the biggest ship you can and hit High Security zones for the largest valdespar asteroids.  Rinse and repeat.   It is better to sit comfortably in High security mining valdespar than risking ship and life trying to mine higher prized ores.  Setup even on Ore Anomalies are often not worth it.  I can mine valdespar quicker, cycling thru the mineral, than roaming around trying to find Omber, Jaspet, or Krynite.

Planetary Interaction is pretty much awash in High and Low sec. The planets are just not that rich of materials to make it worth of the setup stations.  Secondly, the export tax on most of these worlds are at least 10%, which cuts deep into any profits.  I have seen some worlds 15% or more.  It would be different, or explainable, in Low sec space if they guaranteed a safe system but the owners of the orbital stations do nothing other than take your isk.  PI in wormhole space is a completely different matter — dangerous surely but your corporation owns the orbitals (and at least in my case) and charges very little to import or export materials.  This makes high end processed material very valuable.

Dust514My short term goal was to learn probing.  I had tried it the first time I played Eve two years ago and just could not get the hang of it.  Things have been simplified a bit over the years and with help from my corporation allies, I have learned how to do it now. This opens up another whole revenue stream for me.  The finds in these wormholes could catapult me further along in isk than anything I could mine or PI.  Time will tell on this, as I have yet to run more than a few of these sites.

I have brought more guys into the hole since the last time I posted.  For the most part I enjoy living in a wormhole and keep very busy doing my thing. Because of some issues, I still have two guys that live in High security space.  I cannot see them moving into the hole anytime soon, but we’ll see.

In the last week I also bought a number of cybernetic augmentations.  If you haven’t done this, I suggest you get the skill (Cybernetics) and then buy the +3, or at least the +2, bonus to all attributes.  Doing so for me took my learning from 19 days down to 14 days (roughly) or giving me a bonus of five entire days.  The only downside, aside from their cost, is if you die you’ll lose the augments too.

I am still trying to learn skills to perform Tech II industry.  I think that is at least 60 days away since I have so many other skills I want to get before the needed level 5s to make Tech II items.

Two of my characters did learn Cloaking level 5 so they can start to think about Covert Operation ships — I still need more skills in flying those ships however.

Very excited about learning how to probe. This is really huge!