Marvel vs. Capcom 3 Showdown Spotlights on Marvel.com

The New Age of Heroes!

As some of you guys may or may not know, I’m a freelance writer for Marvel.com, and a while back I pitched a fun little series based on  what we did when MvC2 hit X-Box Live and the PSN two summers ago.  Simple formula: A Marvel vs. a Capcom and the fans decide who wins.

What’s great is you get different communities battling it out over who’s better: fighting game fanatics, comic book geeks who haven’t ever touched a fighter, people well versed in the two (like moi), and people who realize that theory fighting is probably an enormous waste of time…

Would M.O.D.O.K. beat Tron Bonne?  I have no freaking clue, my guess is that the freakishly large evil floating head would mop the floor with the little cutie but there you go, that’s my opinion.  It’s interesting to see which side fans will take on the matter: will they refer to actual gameplay or base their opinions on power levels and skill sets?  And because things like this build people’s agro so quickly, the comment sections can get awesomely heated and hilarious.

Haggar vs. Hulk MvC3 Showdown Spotlight: Hulk vs. Haggar

And frankly, that’s exactly what I had in mind when I pitched this.  Initially I had hoped to have teams of hero characters against one major villain but the one vs. one format works so much better (and we already had a template) so that’s how we rocked it.  But truly and honestly, my main desire was to get the official move list with notation from Capcom.  That way I could give the community something first, as well as boost Marvel’s site traffic.  In this business you gotta make sure that what you’re doing isn’t just for a limited audience and that it’ll be an asset to the site you’re writing for.

Iron Man vs. RyuMvC3 Showdown Spotlight: Iron Man vs. Ryu

I think after the Hulk vs. Haggar post hit the web I got the O.K. from Capcom and my bosses at Marvel for inclusion of a move list and they sent me a digital copy of the X-Box 360 instruction booklet which contains a partial move list.  What you see now, on the MvC3 official site and MvC3 Facebook page, and subsequently in these Showdown articles is cut and pasted from the booklet.  I thought Marvel, but more specifically me, would be the place to premiere the official move list but I think a day later, before I got the chance to implement it in the stories, Capcom had already put them up on their sites.  Understandable obviously, but I wanted to be first!

Super-Skrull vs. Viewtiful Joe
MvC3 Showdown: Super-Skrull vs. Viewtiful Joe

I just wanted to aggregate the fruit of my labors, thus far, in one spot and put the links to the different pages here.  All of these banners were created by the amazingly talented Harry Go and editing props go to Ryan Penagos.  Unfortunately he’s not as versed in Capcom fighting lore as I am and didn’t catch my misspelled “Ansatsuken” in the Iron Man vs. Ryu post or the misspelled “Shun Goku Satsu” in the Wolverine vs. Akuma matchup, but the guy has so much on his plate how could I expect him to?  I gotta spell check my crazy fighting game moves/styles better.  C’est la vie.  Let me know what you think of everything guys and gals!

M.O.D.O.K. vs. Tron Bonne MvC3 Showdown: M.O.D.O.K. vs. Tron Bonne

Wolverine vs. Akuma
MvC3 Showdown Spotlight: Wolverine vs. Akuma

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MVC3 Character Analysis: Taskmaster

The Master of Tasks!!!

Man or mutant?  Hero or villain?  Well he’s definitely a man, but Tasky has worked on the side of both angels and demons, as long as the pay was good.  Armed with “photographic reflexes” and the weapons of an assortment of Marvel heroes, the Taskmaster fights for himself and his employer, and that’s that.

First impession: While Taskmaster looks like he has a fairly linear playstyle, that may not be such a bad thing, especially for beginners.  With sick normal range, a projectile counter, physical counter, a meaty launcher and a hard hitting hyper, I think we can expect some mean play from this masked marauder.  To the training room!

Video 1

Video 2

Video 3

Normals
This is where Taskmaster shines, or rather his sword does.  The range on his normal sword-based attacks is simply staggering.  If you watch Video 2 and pause at just the right frame around 2:20, just as Taskmaster tags in, you’ll notice his aerial sword slash reaches the middle of the screen!  Not only that but it hits twice (Video 2 – 1:27)!  Also, his low medium has sick range too and can lead into some disgusting launcher, and probable aerial Mighty Swing shenanigans (Video 1 – :23).

However, the range on his attacks might also cause some slight problems for the uninitiated.  On at least one occasion his magic series, in this case, cr. lite > cr. med > st. hard, has pushed the enemy out of range of his launcher, even though his launcher moves him forward (Video 3 – :50).  It looks as though you need to cancel the st. hard into the Charging Star to make the launcher work (Video 1 – :23).  Now this might be character specific, but it’s something to keep in mind.

He also has what looks like a command normal that could be an overhead (Video 2 – 1:12).  It covers a huge portion of the screen but takes forever to come out, unless that delay is controlled.  I think one of Taskmaster’s strengths will be utilizing his jumping hard attack to snuff jumpins and cash in on combos that would be lost to other characters.  Like I said above, jumping hard gives you two hits, unbelievable horizontal and vertical range, and remarkable combo opportunities.

This is the money maker right here!

No one on the roster can hit someone nearly a character height above their head in an air combo but Tasky (Video 2 – 1:39).  His light and medium aerial normals aren’t anything to write home about, but out of Mighty Swing his light attack pushes his opponent a little higher vertically to make comboing easier (Video 1 – :27).  You’re going to be using Taskmaster’s jumping hard attack a lot.  Mark my words!

Specials
Aim of Hawkeye
Taskmaster brandishes a bow that fires anywhere between one (Video 1 – :53) and three arrows (Video 1 – :21).  Whether this means it’s a mash attack remains to be seen, but because Taskmaster can fire the arrows in three directions in the air as well as on the ground this probably rules out a correlation between number of arrows fired and strength of button pushed.

On the ground he fires them horizontally (Video 1 – :54), at an upward 45 degree angle (Video 3 – :36), and straight up (Video 1 – :23).  In the air he can fire the arrows at a downward 45 degree angle (Video 1 – :21) and straight down (Video 2 – 1:41) and I’m guessing horizontally because he uses his arrow hyper horizontally (Video 3 – 2:32).  They negate other character’s projectiles, such as Zero’s (Video 1 – :39), and Chun-Li’s Kikoken (Video 2 – 1:12) and can be cancelled into his Hawkeye’s Arrows hyper (Video 2 – 1:21).  However, unlike Deadpool’s bullets into hyper, it doesn’t look as though you’ll get all the hits from Taskmaster’s arrow cancel.

Bombs er... arrows away!

Finally, the grounded arrow shots have different trajectories, with the upward 45 degree angle shots sloping down after they hit their peak(Video 3- :36) and straight up shots coming straight down at the far side of the screen (Video 1 – :38).  This just adds another dimension to Tasky’s projectile game because his arrows aren’t perfectly horizontal attacks and even once they’ve left the screen they can come back to do damage.  Very useful.

Shield Charge
I’m unsure if this is a command normal or a special move but Taskmaster rushes forward with his shield in front of him once he hits the enemy he can cancel into his launcher (Video 1 – :22).  Now that I’m looking at it more closely I think it’s a command normal because of how easily it flows into his chain combos and I haven’t seen much of it outside of combos.

What’s important is that it gets him in range to launch off of his standing chain combo.  His launcher whiffs otherwise (Video 3 – :50).   If it is a special I wonder if it cancels out projectiles like Cap’s Charging Star?

Physical Counter
Taskmaster lifts his shield in a blocking motion and if he’s attacked he can do a whole host of counters, which I’m not allowed to mention quite yet, to punish the enemy.  The counter works on both high attacks (Video 3 – :51 and low attacks (Video 1 – :40).  I’m not quite sure how long the window is from the start of the animation ’til Taskmaster’s counter will fail so that’s something that needs to be tested.  It’s a counter, maybe we can OTG after some of the follow ups?

 

Look at the range on these normals! Sickening.

Projectile Counter
Taskmaster swings his sword in an arc in front of him that reflects projectiles back at their sender (Video 1 – :38).  It looks like if you are able to reflect quick enough and catch your enemy in their recovery frames from said projectile you can cancel into his Hawkeye’s Arrows hyper for great damage.  What’s interesting is that it might even be able to reflect “bullet” type projectiles (Video 3 – :43)!

Now in that instance does Wesker get hit by his own reflected bullet or was he just slashed by Taskmaster’s reflect animation?  I can’t say but if you pause it at just the right frame there’s a little yellow hit confirmation explosion on Wesker and it doesn’t quite look like he was hit by the sword.  Does this mean anything for Deadpool’s Trigger Happy bullet-fest?  Probably not.  I’d be willing to bet that it reflects a single bullet projectile (if at all!) though if it did indeed punish Trigger Happy I could see Taskmaster being a VERY popular counter-pick to Deadpool and Dante teams.  At the very least it’ll make fireballers think twice before spamming, which is always a good thing.

Mighty Swing
This is probably the most interesting addition to Taskmaster’s repertoire.  Ripped straight from the Amazing Spider-Man, Tasky uses a grappling hook to swing forward, kick his enemies into the air and from there continue his combo (Video 1 – :26).  It looks like you can set up some pretty juicy, very solid combos with it and you can use it to set up an aerial Hawkeye’s Arrows hyper (Video 2 – 1:05).  The fact that you can combo into it as well as out of it into launchers and hypers makes it an amazing addition to his move set.

Feet meet face.

Not only that but since Taskmaster is slower than Spider-Man this move looks that much easier to utilize than the wall crawler’s version.  Instead of missing combos because you didn’t hit the buttons fast enough or you were mashing I think the inputs are going to be a lot more deliberate here.  Granted you won’t be catching people by surprise with this one, but you won’t be dropping combos either.

Hypers
Hawkeye’s Arrows
Hand’s down Taskmaster’s most versatile hyper, though that’s not saying much since he only has two.  He fires a rapid burst of arrows across the screen that travel horizontally if you’re on the ground (Video 1 – :33).  If you’re in the air you have a choice of either horizontally (Video 2 – 1:04) or at a downward angle (Video 1 – :58).  The grounded version looks like it’ll be used to punish and you can combo it after his Shield Charge special (Video 3 – 1:34).

What’s really important is the aerial version because I feel like Taskmaster will do the majority of damage in the air off of Mighty Swing set ups.  You can pull it off after a Mighty Swing in the air and if you check out Video 2 starting at 1:02 Taskmaster takes nearly 75% of Chun-Li’s life from a Mighty Swing combo into Hawkeye’s Arrow.  Also the fact that you can use this to OTG (Video 1 – 58, Video 2 – 1:26) makes it so much more useful.

Granted this move is linear as all get out it does great damage, compliments Taskmaster’s move set and game plan remarkably well, and is relatively safe regardless of how you use it.  Great move.

Putting his replica Ebony Blade to good use.

Counter Hyper
This move is capable of countering hyper combos (Video 1 – :44) as well as normal attacks (Video 3 – 2:39) but will probably get stuffed by projectiles.  If the counter works Taskmaster goes slash-happy on his enemy (the effect looks a lot like the Crawler Assault) and finishes with a bullet to the head.  It looks amazing, but I don’t know how useful it will be.

I’d like to say that counter hypers have a place in MvC3 simply because of rushdown characters like Wolverine.  When your opponent is going balls to the wall non-stop attacking intuitively it seems like it’ll be so easy to just quarter-circle forward plus two attacks, or whatever the notation might be, and counter for big damage with either Wesker or Taskmaster.  I wonder if that will be the case?

Miscellaneous
It would have been cool if Taskmaster copied one move from every member of the cast ala Rogue in MvC2.  That is sort of his thing.  Otherwise I really like his intro music.  Foreboding.

Which one is uglier?

Final Thoughts
What many people think of as a gimmicky character due to his stolen specials really looks like a very solid character.  I said before that he does look relatively simple, or rather “linear,” but that just means that he’s going to be a great learners’ character and I have no doubt he has a ton of tricks we don’t even know about yet.  Mighty Swing looks like a great way to rack up the hits and confirm into the Arrows hyper, you can launch out of Shield Charge, he can counter just about anything his enemy throws at him.

He has amazing reach on his aerial hard attacks, his Arrows hyper is incredibly versatile and compliments every aspect of his gameplay.  While his Counter hyper is probably less of an asset it looks freaking sick and does a bunch of damage to those unfortunate enough to get hit with it.  Honestly I’m liking the way Taskmaster plays right now and I hope he doesn’t fade into obscurity.  I can’t wait to see some great Taskmaster players!  Heck, I can’t wait to play him myself!

Freelancing Gig and MVC3 Analyses

Hey guys, I’m a little busy right now with some freelance writing for Marvel.com and with my other job I can’t really rock out my analyses as fast as I’d like.  Not only that but I’m writing up a bit on the MSU Comics Forum which was an absolute BLAST!  Got to see some awesome people from the biz including David Peterson (Mouse Guard), Guy Davis (B.P.R.D.), and Ryan Stegman (She-Hulks).

Now I’ve gotta jet because I have 4 of the MVC3 Showdown series to write but rest assured that tomorrow there will be one more character analysis up… eventually.  Alright, time to get to work.  See you all later.

Sumo

MVC3 Character Analysis: Mike Haggar

Fear my mustache!

The man, the myth, the legend, the mayor of Metro City, the mustachioed Mike Haggar joins the ranks of MVC3 to chew bubble gum and kick ass, and he’s all out of bubble gum.  Taking a little time off from owning Mad Gear punks he’s agreed to step up and show the rest of the roster what it takes to be a man.  Even the ladies.

First impressions: Great range on his standing normals, huge damage from BnB combos, and a variety of grappling attacks makes Haggar my top pick in MVC3.  I just can’t get enough of the Piledrivers and Backdrops and Heabutt grabs.  I want more!  Granted, I don’t know how competitive he’ll be, but I aim to break him down and see what I can see.  TURN THE BEAT BACK!

Video 1

Video 2

Video 3

Normals
Haggar’s standing magic series has been pulled straight from Final Fight: two super manly gut punches (Video 1 – :24) into the double arm overhead swing (Video 3 – 1:46).  Though I’ve yet to see them all connect in a combo, I’m assuming they do.   The first two punches do decent damage, combo into his launcher and nearly all of his non-grappling special moves, and have great horizontal range.  I’m not quite sure of the qualities of his standing hard attack though so if anybody can fill me in, does it cause adownward wall bounce, connects to launcher etc. feel free to let me know and I’ll give you credit.

Next, enter the pipe slam.  It has great range, can be used on the ground (Video 1 – :42) and in the air (Video 1 – :47), and causes a downward wall bounce if used in the air (Video 1 – :47).  I’m assuming it causes a downward wall bounce when it connects on the ground too.  Only problem?  I don’t know if it’s a normal, command normal, or a special!  It could very well be a special but because it lacks a certain… penache I’m going to leave it in the normals section.

His aerial drop kick (Video 3 – 2:11) stays active until Haggar hits the ground, much like Thor’s hammer ride aerial normal.  You can super jump and then just drop kick all the way to the ground if you feel like it.  I wonder if it works as a crossup?  Hmm…  While we’ve seen a bunch of Haggar’s standing and aerial normals, we’ve seen very little of his low magic series.  We have seen a crappy looking downward open palm strike (Video 2 – 2:07).  He also has a low drop kick (Video 3 – 1:46).  I’m not quite sure what purpose it serves because it seems to blast the opponent away while putting Haggar into a knocked down state that he actually needs to get up from.  Hmm…

You look like a poopy excuse for a low attack

Overall I think that Haggar has some amazing standing and aerial normal moves but a very subpar low game.

Specials & Grabs
Air Toss
The big man simply puts an aerial opponent in their place, throwing them back to the ground (Video 2 – :16).  It looks like there might be just enough bounce to get in an OTG assist but I’m not quite sure.

Backdrop
Say hello to pain and herniated discs bitches.  Haggar backdrops his foe from the air (Video 1 – :35).  I’m wondering if this is just a normal throw or possibly the Piledriver command used in the air?  I’m guessing the latter because it does about 25% damage to Magneto there!  Regardless, it does some great damage and who knows, you might get at OTG assist out of it for extra damage.  But that’s a big MAYBE!

Piledriver
Haggar grabs his opponent and shows us you don’t need to activate the spin cycle to lay down a mayoral slamfest (Video 1 – :32).  It does pretty decent damage vs. Thor but that’s nothing compared to the 25% damage it does to a full health Chun Li (Video 2 – :47).  Disgusting!  However, this damage comes at a possible price: the Piledriver might have very little range as suggested by the video below.

Video 4

Over at the SRK boards I saw a lot of people tearing into Haggar because of the puny range here, but really all I have to say is “Why are you surprised?”  It’s an unblockable grab that does a crap ton of damage and if you’re not on top of your opponent you’re going to whiff.  How is this new or different than any grapple-based character ever?

BUT THERE IS HOPE!  Take a look at :48 in Video 2.  Chun is pretty dang far away and the Piledriver still connects.  Maybe that was just from an early build?  Who knows, but I don’t imagine you’ll be pulling it off very often except through assist coverage or shenanigans.  While a lot of characters look as though they can spam their specials this is going to be more situational.  Anyway, if the range happens to be ass on February 15th just think about how satisfying it’ll feel when you do finally pull it off.  So good!

Headbutt Beatdown
The Mayor grabs his unfortunate opponent and delivers an as yet undetermined number of headbutts to their noggin (Video 2 – :53).  This attack does significantly less damage than his Piledriver so I’m wondering if it’s just a normal grab instead of a special grab.  Also, it appears that it hits a different number of times in different situations.  This could mean that it’s a mashable grab like some early Street Fighter throws or the number of hits depends on the button pushed.  It does 5 hits to Chun Li in Video 2 at :53 but only 3 to Ryu in Video 3 at :59.  Anyone have any ideas?  Also, I want to say that it’s possible to OTG afterwards with an assist but we’ll just have to wait and see for that.

You know what they say: Hugs before headbutts!

Tackle Grapple
Haggar charges up and then hurtles across the screen and if he slams into his enemy he tosses them into the air for some big aerial damage (Video 1 – :22).  This is going to be Haggar’s go to move simply because it does great damage, can be used in combos (Video 1 – :49), and might even be a way for The Mayor to close the distance between him and keep away players.  There is also an anti-air version of this attack though it has yet to be seen connecting (Video 2 – 2:00).  I’m curious to see what it does.  Does Haggar throw his enemy higher into the air?  Bash them off the ground?  I want to know!  I can say it has horrible recovery though.

Since this doesn’t look like an actual grab per se, I have a feeling it’s going to be blockable so you probably won’t want to just throw it out willy nilly.  You’ll probably get away with it every once in a while outside of combos but be careful!  Also, it’s instrumental in Haggar’s most damaging combos, setting up chances for 50% damage strings on the Hulk, who likely has the highest stamina in the game (Video 2 – :25).

Also, the fact that it appears chargeable/delayable adds another fun aspect to the attack, setting up some nice mind game situations.  What would be even better is if you could cancel it, baiting punishes to dish out some punishment of your own.  I really like the way this attack is looking!

Destroying the Universe? Not in my city!

Aerial Giant Swing
Not to be outdone in the spinning department, Haggar can actually combo into this grab while in the air, swinging his enemy around and around before tossing them bodily to the ground (Video 1 – :52).  Can be comboed into from his aerial headbutt (hard attack?).  Useful as an aerial combo ender if you’ve already used up  your one ground bounce.  It does great damage, even after a big combo, and looks stylish.  Spin cycle please!

Violent Axe (Smash?)
Haggar rushes forward hitting the enemy with his shoulder, then following up with two double arm bashes that yield a downward wall bounce (Video 1 – :25).  As you can see in that previous vid, it combos off of his standing medium.  If we were placing bets and I was a betting man I would say this is one of his assists, but we aren’t and I’m not so I won’t.  But I did…  Anyway, this move will give Haggar some more options to extend his combos on the ground.  It connects into his launcher (Video 1 – :26) so you’ll be able to perform some aerial shenanigans afterwards.

There’s not too much to say here besides it looks pretty solid and is a welcome addition to Haggar’s arsenal.  I’m wondering how the different buttons will affect its properties, if at all.  Maybe the light attack only hits with the shoulder while hard hits with all three strikes?  If you look here (Video 2 – 2:02) I’m pretty sure that could be the medium variation, attacking with only two hits.

Lariat
Haggar’s crowd-clearing attack from Final Fight.  He spins around with both of his arms outstretched, hitting the enemy multiple times, lifting them slightly off the ground, and doing damage to himself (Video 1 – :45).  Yes, you heard right, Haggar hurts himself doing it.  Unless there is some sort of invincibility during the move (if you pause exactly at :46 during Video 1 you’ll see Wolverine’s claw strikes clearly violating Haggar’s body yet he doesn’t take damage), which appears somewhat likely, you probably won’t be using this very often.

However if this move does indeed have invincibility, in certain situations it may be worth the lost life (snuffing hypers close to you, avoiding unblockable set-ups, etc.).  This is also one of his assists (Video 3 – 1:06) and he takes damage during it as well.  I think you’ll have to determine the risk/reward factor for yourself on this one.

BODY SLAM!

Hypers
Body Slam
Haggar leaps forward slightly and into the air, then comes down with crushing force creating a blast radius around himself that reaches 3/4 way across the screen in front of him (Video 1 – :28).  It can be used out of aerial combos that end in a downward wall bounce and possibly has some OTG capabilities/ DHC possibilities.  As of right now I can’t really see this being used outside of combos because it’s so obvious and has such epic start-up before it actually does damage.

However, if it hit on the way up, like Colossus’ MVC2 hyper, that would be another story.  Unfortunately I don’t think that’s the case because if you check out Video 3 at 1:19 you can see Wolverine DHCs into Body Slam from his Berserker Barrage hyper while X-23 is clearly over his head.  When Haggar goes up he goes through X-23, hitting her on the way down.  Oh well.

Oooohhhh, just noticed something else!  If you look at the Deadpool example (Video 1 – :28) it only hits once but when The Mayor Body Slams X-23 (Video 3 – 1:19) the combo counter jumps from 28 to 30.  This probably means that the hyper does more damage if Haggar actually lands on top of them as opposed to getting them with the radial explosion.  SO EXCITED TO TEST THIS STUFF OUT!

Haggar doesn't like the Jolly Green Giant's veggies

Haggar Hundred Crack Fist
Haggar obviously watched Fist of the North Star as a child growing up in Metro City and in MVC3 he puts Kenshiro’s teachings to good use, blasting his enemy over and over with pulverising punches into an abridged version of the Violent Axe yielding a downward wall bounce for more punishment (Video 1 – :37).  The hitbox on the move is a little strange though, and Haggar looks like he doesn’t even need to physically connect to land the hyper.

While the range will need some testing, this looks like a great hyper.  Another strange thing is that possibly like the Heabutt grab, it may be mashable for more hits.  If you check out this screen shot here –

Mashable Damage?

you’ll notice that the hyper ends at 18 or so hits, not the 32 he serves up to She-Hulk at :37 in Video 1.  Curiouser and curiouser…  Regardless, this hyper is no muss no fuss, just big damage into relaunch for some even bigger damage.  Not only that but this will be a great option in DHCs.  BELIEVE IT!

Level 3 Spinning Piledriver
The Mayor owns his enemy with a suplex into a giant swing into an epic spinning piledriver and shows everyone who’s the boss.  Honestly, there isn’t too much to say here besides it’s an unblockable command grab that most likely does heaps of damage, more than 25% to Doctor Doom whom I imagine is a pretty hearty character (Video 1 – 56).  However, Haggar is X-Factored and the last member of his team alive so keep that in mind.

You never, ever, want to see this

Use your assists to get in, condition your enemy to block, wake-up reversal, see if The Mayor can rushdown.  Do what you can to pull this sucker off because if and when you do you’ll not only have beaten your opponent digitally, but mentally as well.  Spinning Piledrivers shatter psyches.  Period.

Miscellaneous
I’m not a huge fan of The Mayor’s voice I suppose it’ll have to do.  Love the character specific dialogue between him and the Hulk.

Final Thoughts
I cannot wait to play as Haggar.  I think he has the tools to be a terrifying presence on the screen.  He has great horizontal range on the majority of his normals, his medium attack combos into two very dangerous specials, the Tackle Grapple for aerial punishment and the Violent Axe for relaunch powah, and both of his Level 1 hypers look very useful.

Disadvantages?  He has virtually no useful looking low attacks, his Tackle Grapple has obvious start-up, a lot of his intimidation factor comes from his ability to grab his enemies, and he’s relatively slow.  If you can see or play through those shortcomings I think Haggar is going to be tons of fun to use and horrible to behold.  Three cheers for Mike Haggar!

Weekly Want List – January 19th, 2011

The return of Odin!

It’s not often that I can say I’m glad there are only a few comics that I want coming out this week, but this Wednesday happens to be one of those days.  I’ve been dropping $40 a week on funny books lately and honestly, that’s a bunch of dough that I probably don’t need to be spending.  IT’S AN ADDICTION I TELL YOU!  This week I think I might be safe though, as long as the local shop doesn’t have any more awesome trades on clearance…

DC Comics
Green Lantern Corps #56

IDW
Amazing 3D Comics Hardcover – I love learning about the history of comics, but unfortunately these big juicy hardcovers are usually more expensive than I’d like.  $40?  I’ll wait til it’s donated to MSU’s Special Collections.  Or until I make tons of money.

Image Comics
Firebreather vs. Dragon Prince – I love Firebreather and any chance I get to snag new material I’m doing it.  Awesome series.  Can’t wait to see what’s in store for the kid.

Marvel
Thor #619 – The only reason I might want to get this book is because it seems likely Marvel’s getting the Thor universe back to how it was, especially with the return of Odin.  I’m curious to see where they take it.

And there you have it, my short and sweet list for comics this week.  I’m writing this between work shifts so it’s bare bone, but bare with it!

Editorial Edits – Jeff Smith’s Bone

Welcome back for another session of editorial edits.  If you haven’t already gleaned from the title, this time we’ll be looking at pages from Jeff Smith’s magnificent magnus opum, Bone.

Jeff Smith's Bone

Jeff Smith should be a household name to any respectable comic book fan, but for those of you funny book neophytes out there, I’ll give you a quick synopsis of his work.  As of right now he’s writing and drawing an amazing little black and white book called RASL that’s released quarterly.

It’s far more adult-oriented than the often-times whimsical Bone, and it has a very gritty feel to it.  The book focuses on a dimension jumping art thief, fictional physics, the work of Nickola Tesla, and alternate universes.

It’s a great read and I suggest you pick it up if you’re interested.  Before that he wrote and drew SHAZAM! And the Monster Society of Evil for DC Comics, a revamp of my favorite DC hero, Captain Marvel.

But then comes Bone, and everything else pales in comparison.  It’s a touching tale of three wayward cousins lost in a magical land of dragons and magic, knights, queens, and everything in between.  Each page in the tale is built off of a six-panel grid, 2 panels across and 3 down, all of relatively equal sizes.  Here’s an example

The 6-panel archetype in Jeff Smith's Bone

Because the book is built off of such a consistent format, Bone is strikingly clear.  Mr. Smith doesn’t throw any confusing or convoluted layouts at you, just combinations and different iterations of the 6-panel page.  So now you’re probably thinking, “Well if all you can do is praise the guy, what could you possibly have to edit?”

I will admit, my edit is a very very small one, barely noticeable even.  However, I do think that it would enhance the strength of one particular page ever so slightly and thusly contribute to the book as a whole.  This is the page that I would change.

I would edit this page. I'll explain, don't worry.

Can you spot what I would change?  I’ll give you a tip: It’s in the top row.  The page above is a riff on the six-panel grid layout.  The bottom two rows are mirror images of each other in terms of panel size and possess a sort of symmetry.  The top row has three panels, the 2nd and 3rd are connected loosely through the gutter by the imagined extension of Gran’ma Ben’s arms and the onomatopoeia at the top of the panels.  If I were Jeff Smith’s editor I would have proposed that he combine the 2nd and 3rd panels to make it a 6-panel page and physically connect panels that are as yet only connected in the reader’s mind.  This would enhance the clarity, symmetry, and visual consistency of the sequence.

Readers can see the Gran’ma Rose punching through the wall, but because the wall is flush against the panel border, it looks as though she’s punching through the gutter to grab the rat creatures.  Because of that her arms seem outlandishly long for such a stout woman.  Also, it looks like the panels are meant to be connected through the CRASH and SPLINTER sound effects stretching between them, but then why separate the panels in the first place?  What purpose does that white gutter space serve?  This is how I would have changed the page.

My very slight change adds consistency and symmetry.

And there you go, the page is symmetrical and the panels are connected (just go with it).  I wonder if that gutter was something Jeff really wanted in the page?  I would be really curious as to whether or not he thought it enhanced the page.

Ben Chabala, editor-in-training, OUT!

Guile + Emily Osment = Win

I was listening to the radio the other evening while driving home from my girlfriend’s place when this incredibly catchy song came on.  I didn’t really pay attention to the lyrics until I heard “Sonic Boom” repeated over and over and then I couldn’t stop thinking about Guile and Street Fighter.  Now I’m no artist but dammit, sometimes I’m just inspired.  This drawing is the bastard child of my Street Fighter obsession and Emily Osment’s pop sensation “Lovesick.”  Enjoy.  Or not.

Guile and Emily rock the house!

Street Fighter aficionados will immediately know who the other two characters are in the pic.  I’m kinda clever.

PEACE!