Unlimited Highlights: The Four Horsemen

51cc717556846I know you guys remember watching the X-Men animated series, thus I also know that you’ve seen the Apocalypse episodes, where Angel transforms into Archangel and goes crazy? He buys up all of those ancient Egyptian artifacts trying to find Apocalypse’s weak spot and it turns out it’s a weird little thingy behind his neck? Good times, good times…

Anyway! What I’m trying to say is remember how awesome Apocalypse and his Horsemen were? Famine, Pestilence, War, and Death were just so freaking cool, and in the latest run of Uncanny Avengers the Apocalypse Twins have raised a whole new retinue of Horsemen: Banshee, Grim Reaper, Daken, and the Sentry. That’s right, the little blighters have resurrected some seriously powerful beings to do their bidding. Not good. Kinda dickish too, turning Sean into a bad guy…

This week my favorite issue was Uncanny X-Force #34. I had been reading the book on Marvel Unlimited and it was awesome to see everything come to a head. Get out there, read my Unlimited Highlights, and let me know which of the Horsemen is your favorite!

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Symbolia, APM, and the Public Insight Network Tackle PTSD and Moral Injury

Hey everyone, I have some totally awesome news. Symbolia has teamed up with American Public Media and the Public Insight Network to bring Invisible Injury: Beyond PTSD, a comic focusing on “moral injury” to life. It’s a stunning piece of comics journalism, and if you have any interest in war, the military, or psychological trauma you absolutely need to check it out.

The reporting is top notch and the narrative is both clear and readable. It’s not always easy to work in talking heads, but Andy Warner straight up blew me away with his artwork. Not only is page layout phenomenal, but the entire tale is both dark and foreboding, but approachable and humanizing at the same time.

MI_1-web-9301Symbolia is incredibly proud to have collaborated on this project with so many incredible individuals and organizations to publish such a exceptional piece of comics work. Give it a read!

TMNT Micro-Series: Old Hob Review!

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TMNT: Old Hob

I’ve got another review up over at DestroyTheCyborg! This time I’m talking about the monstrous and mangy cat man, Old Hob! We get a taste of his origins and his motivations and a little bit more on the side. Jason Ciaramella and David Wachter knock this one out of the park, adding a much needed something to the turtles’ previously uninspiring feline foe.

What are you waiting for? Go check it out!

Unlimited Highlights: Carnage

51c36d530e769I think Carnage looks good in the red, white, and blue. Don’t you? This week is all about Cletus Kasady in Unlimited Highlights, and if you don’t know much about the fiend, this is a great place to get stated. I personally haven’t read a ton of Spider-Man/Symbiote stuff in a long while but all of these books brought a little something different to the table, expanding on the tragic and horrifying legacy of the crimson killer.

My personal favorite was Carnage’s first appearance in Amazing Spider-Man #361. The way that Peter slowly uncovers more and more of Kasady’s atrocities, starting with his childhood? Man that was creepy. Well what are you waiting for? GET READING!

 

The Power of Shazam – An Injustice Tutorial – Harnessing the Lightning

Billy Batson and Shazam
SHAZAM!

Shazam, Captain Marvel that was, is by far and away my favorite DC hero and when I heard that he was going to be a playable character in Injustice, well I was more than a little excited. I’ve played over a thousand matches using Earth’s Mightiest Mortal and I think I’ve got enough experience under my belt to help anyone out who wants to give the character a try.

I’m going to break this up into a series of posts, starting with an overview of the character, what I think makes him fun to play, and a breakdown of his strengths and weakness. Let’s get this party started, time to level up your game! SHAZAM!

Quick Overview
Billy Batson’s alter ego is all about the vortex. His skills are best put to use from two character lengths away and closer, that way he’s always in range for his unblockable, and unforunately crouchable, Herculian Rush. He’s a medium/high risk, medium reward character that relies on rushdown and great guesses to do the majority of his damage. If you can read your opponent and have a couple of meters stocked, he can do well over 70% damage in a flash. He’s got relatively easy combos and options to mixup opponents once he’s in close, but he’s at a serious disadvantage a screen away.

In short: Shazam is a mobile grappler/vortex character that requires quick reflexes and good reads to play effectively. Online it can be difficult to crank out victories because there’s no time to adjust to your opponents playstyle. But the wins are absolutely worth it.

Why Play Shazam?
First ask yourself a few questions. Do you like Shazam? Do you like putting people in a blender of pain? Hate zoning? Like unblockable command grabs? Like easy combos? Do you like resets? Do you despise the top tier? If you answered yes to any of the above then I think it’s pretty safe to say that you’ll enjoy playing as Earth’s Mightiest Mortal.

He is not an easy mode character by any stretch of the imagination, so if you’re looking for Superman’s F2,3 you should try someone else. Like I said above, he’s one of the more challenging characters to use, but oh so satisfying.

shazam_____colors___by_andre_vaz-d4wh7xeStrengths
Let’s talk about what makes Shazam a formidable fighting force that inspires fear when used to his full potential.

Impressive Mobility:
Shazam has a pretty decent forward and back dash that cover space quickly. He also has access to Advancing/Retreating Mercury, teleports that turn him completely intangible for a brief moment, allowing him to bypass projectiles and cross up opponents on the ground. His teleports are incredible on wakeup, capable of escaping most enemy’s jump-ins.

The Vortex: Shazam’s game revolves around getting up close and assaulting the opponent with his unblockable command grabs. Herculian Rush grabs standing opponents from surprising range, while Achilles Clutch grabs crouchers. He has all the tools he needs to start the pain, with an above average sweep, nice J1, ambiguous J2, and some exceptional overheads that lead into grabs. After a knockdown he has a host of options with which to plague his enemies, but keep in mind that the majority of them lose to wakeup attacks.

Useful Specials: All of Shazam’s special moves have a place in his game plan. None of them are useless. We’ll talk about them more in subsequent posts.

Great Ways to Punish Turtlers: Down back really isn’t an option against a good Shazam. He has his low-hitting Achilles Clutch grab, but also F1,2 – B2 – F3 and 2,2 which can be used to hide command grabs. Your opponents will soon realize that standing is a much better option, though that opens the door to Herculian Rushes and electrocution.

Decent Character Trait: Under the right circumstances, his trait can ratchet up his combo damage enormously, sometimes upwards of 10% even on longer combos. It powers up his punch attacks, adding more chip damage as well, and as long as you can turn it on and manage to land a hit, you’re in the money. It’s just that landing a hit part…

InfiniteCrisis4

Weaknesses
Unfortunately Shazam does have quite a few more weaknesses than he does strengths, but don’t let that deter you from picking him up. They are all more than manageable if you’re smart.

No Wakeup Game: One of the most glaring weaknesses pre-patch, Shazam now can use his teleports to get out of sticky wakeup situations. However, that’s really all he’s got. I suppose in a pinch you can do a wakeup Herculian Rush to kind of move you out of harms way, but stick to Advancing Mercury.

Loses at Range: Shazam stands no chance at range. His lightning bolt trades in the enemy’s favor at best. His dash is good enough that you can close the distance quickly, but you still have to be very, very patient. Also, while the teleport seems like a great way to get in fast, timing it so that Shazam dodges completely through projectiles is tricky in most cases and impossible in others.

No Low Threats: Honest to goodness, I think this is Shazam’s biggest weakness, there is virtually no reason why your opponent should be blocking low unless you’ve been beasting them with your command grab. He has a grand total of two, yes 2, low attacks: B 1,2,3 where the final hit is low, and his sweep. The first can be rolled out of and the second causes an untechable knockdown, but sweet Christmas, he has virtually no real high-low game. You need to make people FEAR the grab.

Normals Lack Range: Aside from 2,2 the Big Red Cheese needs to be right up in their face to hit people. He can’t poke in any real sense of the word, and aside from B2,3 which is duckable on the second hit, he has no attack that threatens more than a character length away. Unlike a majority of the cast whose B3 covers serious distance to wallop foes (Batman, Wonder Woman, Aquaman anyone?) Shazam sways back and punches right in front of his face, going nowhere.

No Easy Confirms: Unlike Superman and Batman, Shazam doesn’t have any easy confirms or strings that lead to big damage.

This fight is hard!
This fight is hard!

Meter Hungry: To do any real damage, you need meter. Badly. Even then, off of a raw meter burned Herculian Rush you’re only doing 37% with no trait. He needs to meter burn on all of his specials for damage and positioning, so in the second round meter management becomes much trickier depending on whether or not you want to save up for a wager.

In Conclusion
Hopefully you guys have some sort of idea about what Shazam is capable of, his playstyle, and his strengths and weaknesses. If you’re interested in picking up the character or you have any questions or comments, feel free to type them up below. Next time we’re going to be talking about strategy, his normals, and his specials, and what an ideal match looks like. Stay tuned!

TMNT: Out of the Shadows – Michelangelo Spotlight

1371396451_michelangelo_669339Today we’re shining the strobe lights on the Turtles’ premier party dude, the magnificent Michelangelo.  He’s the youngest of the four, and undoubtedly the most spry. He flips, spins, and dodges Foot Ninjas with the greatest of ease, as his nunchuks e thwack and clunk off the unfortunate skulls of his enemies. He’s got speed sure, but what else does the orange-banded terapin have to offer the TMNT faithful? Let’s check it out!

Despite the heavy editing in the trailer, and the slowdown to show off Mikey’s awesome animations, you can still see how quick he moves. He’s a flurry of nunchuk-spinning pain.

Countering
Again we get a taste of the turtles’ defensive capabilities, as Mikey counters not one, but two Foot ninja attackers at once (:15)! This might indicate that Red Fly has taken a page out of the Batman book and allowed for multiple parries at once. Cowa-freaking-bunga. Is it as easy as just pushing a button?

Special Attacks
For supposedly being the turtle with the worst single enemy damage output, Michelangelo has more than a few ways to deal with crowds. Check out one beefy spin cycle at :44 and a shell sliding spin attack at :46. Mikey spins around with nunchuks out, laying low anyone in his way. Does it look like the handstand version clashes with a Foot attack? Are we seeing a little invincibility there, or did Mikey just knock him out of his animation?

teenage-mutant-ninja-turtles-michaelangeloThen we have the nut cracker, the oh so beautiful nut cracker (:36). I think it might be the highlight of this little vignette and I love it. Mikey also has a flash kick (:22), though he does it without the help of a bo staff. I’m not quite sure how the special moves work in this game, IGN seemed to think that they were mapped to the right stick, thus I don’t know if this is a special move or possibly a combo ender. Or maybe a command normal?

Then we’ve got the attack at :41, which I’m going to be calling the Turtle Tower, just for giggles. Mikey breaks one ninja’s guard with a powerful rising uppercut, then sweeps the leg for a knockdown while his opponent is reeling. Might be useful for those turtling enemies. Heh.

Environmental Attacks
In Raphael’s vignette we saw him leap off of a truck and embark on a beatdown of epic proportions. Mikey shows off some acrobatic flair of his own, swinging around a sign post wailing on dudes (:25). So now we know that the turtles are more than capable of using the environment to their advantage. I wonder what else they’ll be able to play with?

ZE END!
There was a lot less for me to talk about in the Mikey video, I think mostly because we talked about a lot of it in the previous posts. He’s fast, agile, and brings a whirlwind of pain to the creeps dumb enough to get in his way. He also brings the party. Cowabunga.

Symbolia Half-Off Sale This Weekend Only!

tumblr_moeafdLWFf1rqjcjlo2_r1_500If you guys haven’t heard, Symbolia is having a subscription sale during the Chicago Alternative Comics Expo! You better jump on this deal though, because it ends Sunday night. Normally a Symbolia subscription is $11.99 for six issues. Now you can get 6 issues of impeccable comics journalism for $5.99 – $0.99 an issue!

Hurry up team, Sunday will be here before you know it! Get it now: on iPador via PDF.

Follow Symbolia on Twitter, like us on Facebook, and be sure to pick up issues or subscribe to the magazine here!