Thursday, October 23, 2014

An Avengers vs. Ultron History Reading List

Avengers: Age of Ultron is due in May, 2015, and thanks to the Avengers 2 trailer, we have our first glimpses of the movie version of the Avengers' ultimate nemesis: the super-intelligent, adamantium death-dealer known as Ultron.  Looks pretty bad-ass.

While we're waiting for the movie, we can still luxuriate in almost 50 years of Ultron history in Marvel comic books.  Many of Marvel heroes' most exciting battles against the merciless Ultron have been published in trade paperback form, so rather than hunting down The Avengers individual back issues, you can buy and enjoy complete stories collected in one binding. these books do not represent every single appearance of Ultron, they do include the most important episodes and some of the best Avengers/ Ultron battles.  Buy comics online for your reading pleasure...

Avengers Marvel Masterworks Vol. 6
Marvel Masterworks Avengers Vol. 6 -- Who is Ultron?  Here's where the story begins.  The first appearance of Ultron-5, the origin of the Vision, and The Masters of Evil!  This 256 page hardcover collects Collects Avengers #51-58, Annual #2 and X-Men #45.  Written by Roy Thomas with pencils by John Buscema, Don Heck and Werner Roth.
Marvel Masterworks Avengers Vol. 7 -- Ultron returns, and for the first time, cast in indestructible adamantium!  Also, identity crises as Henry Pym becomes Yellowjacket and Hawkeye becomes Goliath.  Reprints Avengers #59-68 and Marvel Super-Heroes #17.  Story by Roy Thomas with art by Gene Colan, Sal Buscema, Barry Windsor-Smith, John Buscema and Howard Purcell.  

 Avengers Epic Collection: The Final Threat -- This collection features the classic "Bride of Ultron" storyline.  Ultron's Oedipal complex drives him to kidnap the Wasp in order to transfer her consciousness into a robot body.  Plus, a two-part Thanos epic!  Gathers Avengers #150-188, Annuals #6 and #7, Super-Villain Team-Up #9, and Marvel Two-in-One Annual #2.   Creators include Jim Shooter, Gerry Conway, Jim Starlin, George Perez, and John Byrne!   

West Coast Avengers Omnibus #1 --  760 pages of Avengers action, collecting the first years of Hawkeye's California-based Avengers team.  Ultron 11 becomes Ultron 12 and tries to work out his substantial daddy issues with Hank Pym.  This is a huge tome filled with fun, colorful stories!  Creative team includes Roger Stern, Steve Englehart, Danny Fingeroth, Bob Hall and Al Milgrom. 
Avengers: Ultron Unlimited -- In this highly-regarded story, Ultron returns and destroys an entire country, but he's just getting warmed up.  Iron Man, Captain America, Thor and the other Avengers Assemble, but just how many Ultrons do they have to contend with?  Action-packed!  Avengers #19-22 by Kurt Busiek, with stellar art by George Perez. 
Mighty Avengers Vol. 1: The Ultron Initiative -- Ultron takes over Iron Man and transforms him into a killing machine.  Can a brand new Avengers team featuring Wasp, Sentry, Wonder Man, Black Widow, Ms. Marvel and Ares God of War stop Ultron without killing Tony Stark?  Collecting Mighty Avengers #1-6 by Brian Michael Bendis and Frank Cho!
Age of Ultron -- Ultron has triumphed, and the human race has been nearly eradicated.  Only a few desperate heroes remain.  Will they be able to undo an apocalyptic future?  Features Avengers # 12.1 and Age of Ultron #1-10.  Written by Brian Michael Bendis, with art by Bryan Hitch, Carlos Pacheco and Brandon Peterson.

The Ultron story covers decades, but these books will catch you up on the essentials in time for the release of Avengers: Age of Ultron in 2015.  For an exhaustive Ultron history, check here.

Finally, how awesome is this:

Ultron throne polystone statue

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Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Buy Cards Against Humanity

Cards Against Humanity: A Party Game for Horrible People knows there's sweet black crude in the depths of the human brain.  And more than that, it knows how to sniff it out in the crass and modest alike and tickle them till they spurt.  Yes, sticky goo gushes all over the place and gets in people's hair, but everyone's laughing too hard to complain.  Look up "party" in the dictionary.  Now have one!  Disclaimer: the sticky goo is a metaphor.  Sticky goo not included. 

Our Cards Against Humanity review: this is a game that's very simple: one player reads a "set-up" from a black card, and each other player "fills-in-the-blank" with one of their white cards.  Whoever has the answer that's best: naughtiest, silliest, funniest, most appropriate, most inappropriate -- wins the point.  But this straightforward description fails to do justice to the chuckling, choking, snorting, snickering, groaning, giggling, hilariously good time being had by you and your awful friends.  Cards Against Humanity is the perfect game for dirty minds, hams, punsters, goofballs, double-entendre-ers, non-sequiturs, hot chicks and French Canadians.

Where to buy Cards Against Humanity?  At the time of this writing, the Cards Against Humanity board game is the most-wished-for item in Toys & Games on Amazon.  Buy it here.  It will be a very popular Christmas gift this year.  Have fun! 

Here are some Cards Against Humanity examples:

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Thursday, October 16, 2014

Marvel Zombies Zomnibus Review

Marvel Zombies Zomnibus amazon comic book graphic novel
Marvel Zomnibus
The last few years have seen an explosion in the popularity of fantasy and science fiction movies, TV and books, and of geek culture in general.  The two genres most successful in contributing to the nerdification of the planet have been zombies and superheroes.  The Walking Dead and The Avengers might not seem to have that much in common, but over the course of a few years, the good folks at Marvel comics -- never ones to allow popular trends to go unexplored -- found a way to marry the two genres: their gift to the world was Marvel Zombies.  As a concept, it's one of the most awesome mash-ups imaginable.  Zombies are cool.  Superheroes are cool.  Zombie superheroes are cool squared.  As executed, Marvel Zombies turned out to be a fun, campy, messy ride, a guilty pleasure of guts, gore and gloom.

The 6 Marvel Zombies mini-series, as well as zombie-relevant selections from Ultimate Fantastic Four, Black Panther and more, are collected in the Marvel Zomnibus.  This BIG 1200 page, 2.5 inch thick hardcover omnibus tells the story of an alternate Marvel Universe where zombified undead Marvel super-heroes have destroyed all life on Earth and have to seek out other dimensions where they can feed.  The beautiful conceit of Marvel Zombies is that the infected heroes retain much of their personalities: Spider-Man is still a kid with a conscience... Colonel America is still a natural leader... Hulk is the hungriest one there is.  This makes the characters much more entertaining than they would have been as mindless walkers -- the Marvel Zombies are the protagonists of the story, and while they're slaves to an unstoppable hunger, they're still free to be -- to an extent -- the characters we already know and love.

The Marvel Zombies concept began with an Ultimate Fantastic Four storyline, included here, by
Marvel Zombie Captain America
Zombie Cap has a battle plan
Mark Millar, who also wrote the Civil War, Ultimates and Kick-Ass comic books.  The first Marvel Zombies mini-series was launched by Robert Kirkman, creator of The Walking Dead comics and television series, a man who undeniably understands the zombie genre.  The Marvel Zomnibus also includes stellar "zombified" art versions of iconic classic Marvel comics covers painted by Arthur Suydum.

Marvel comics has recently announced an Age of Ultron vs. Marvel Zombies project for 2015.  The Marvel Zombies Zomnibus is an excellent way to immerse yourself in the history of events before the new story unfolds.

We can't recommend the Marvel Zombies collection for kids; it's just too graphic, and some of the situations would definitely be unsettling for children.  Consider it adults-only due to braaaaains.  However, for the grown-ups, this book is a grisly good time.  As a bonus, this tome is heavy enough to be useful for barring a door in case of an actual zombie apocalypse!  Check the reviews on Amazon, and consider giving yourself the gift of gore.

X-Men Magneto Marvel Zombies Zomnibus cover

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Thursday, October 9, 2014

10 of Our Favorite Sexy Cosplays

One reward of all the work it takes to craft a great cosplay is the fun of getting to act like a kid.  Who doesn't like to dress up?  Halloween costumes year round?  A stellar idea.  Another reward is that the cosplayer gets to be admired for her (or his) dedication, craft, beauty and style, to be respected for her artistry.  And finally, the cosplayer gets to  -- depending on the cosplay, of course -- strut and shine in broad daylight, to be shameless, open, and playful, to be both anonymous and iconic in the same body, to radiate a powerful, brazen sexuality.  With that last aspect in mind, we want to dedicate this post to praising some of our favorite sexy cosplays.  These picks are our ideas of what makes for a sexy costume.  We'll try as hard as possible to not be the sexist monsters we probably are.   

Black Cat best cosplay
 #10) Black Cat

There's just something inherently sexy about the Black Cat costume (same with Catwoman), and so it's a popular cosplay with those wanting to get in touch with their feline side.  This gorgeous woman's version of the character worked for us because of her playful pose.  Kitten has claws.  But they look like they're set to "tickle".  Meow.

Super Sonico cosplay
 #9) Super Sonico

A gorgeous model shot by a talented photographer.  There's not much to the costume to comment on other than her excellent make-up job; this look is all about the color composition.  An inspired choice for the background color makes pink seem like the most natural hair-color in the world and makes this cosplayer seem like the girl next door, someone easy to get to know.  Some anime-inspired cosplayers try to make themselves as cartoon-like as possible (giant eyes much?).  We like this woman who's created a living anime who seems entirely at home in our universe. 

Velma cosplay
#8) Velma

It didn't seem that way when we were kids watching Scooby-Doo, but it turns out in real life, of Velma and Daphne, Velma is the hot one.  First off, knee-length socks are just sexy.  Second, nerd-girls are sexy.  How sexy?  Sexy enough that if you combine those two elemental forces of sexy, you can cover more than half your body in ORANGE and still look great.  Jinkies.

Lara Croft cosplay

#7) Lara Croft

We can't help it.  We're animals.

Green Lantern cosplay
 #6) Green Lantern

On the other hand, there's this cosplayer, who's showing very little skin but is still a total hottie.  It's all about her confidence, spunky attitude, expressive face and flirty eyes.  We submit to her will, as if we had a choice.

Scarlet Witch cosplay
#5) Scarlet Witch

We were split on this Scarlet Witch cosplay.  She has a very pretty face, we like her hair and costume and bemused (bemusing?) expression.  As testosterone-fueled beasts, we're programmed to respond positively to an hourglass figure.  But we kept thinking that she must be wearing a corset and that it must be damned uncomfortable, and that she'd still look great even if her waist were a few more inches around.  So we argued over whether or not she looked unnatural, but in the end, we couldn't take our eyes off her and that won her a spot on this list.  Chaos magic!

Rei Ayanami cosplay

#4) Rei Ayanami

Another case of "not much to the costuming", but this cosplay girl's personality shone through and won our hearts.  Sometimes all you need is an impish smile, delightful eyes, creamy legs and a pose that's like a puzzle waiting to be solved.

Wonder Woman cosplay
#3) Wonder Woman

The costume is perfect, her look is seductive, and well, wow.  Less "warrior woman" than "Cosmo cover," but we're not complaining.

Supergirl cosplay
#2) Supergirl

We love this cosplayer's Supergirl so much.  She radiates confidence without cockiness and wholesomeness without naievete.  Moreover, the photograph is in such Summery colors, it seems as though she's lit from within.  The darkest part of the photo is her eyes, so the viewers gaze is drawn back to them, a delightful oasis in a dimension of warm tones.

Poison Ivy cosplay
#1) Poison Ivy

We're all Marvel guys.  Could our Top 3 on this list all really be DC characters?  As it turns out, yes.  This Poison Ivy cosplayer seals the deal.  This woman is so attractive, I can't see how she wouldn't make Top 10 lists of categories she's not even in.  Top 10 Life Hacks from Old Books?  Uh, sure, have you seen Poison Ivy?  Top 10 Places to Vacation in Mexico?  We're just saying.  The cosplayer's beauty combined with excellent costume, lighting and mood make this cosplayer our favorite of the bunch.  

Think we're wrong?  Did we miss the sexiest cosplayer or best cosplay out there?  Share your best photos in the comments section below.

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Secrets of the A Game: How to Meet and Attract Women Anywhere, Anyplace, Anytime