I was going to talk about the first week of Fear Itself, looking at the Hammer Altar, the LEs for the week, what teams I played. But our store is running behind on that front so we’re not having our first Fear event until 2 weeks from now. So I guess I’ll talk about some:

Heroes for Hire!


The Heroes for Hire are a broad team of Marvel All-Stars! They are low on the ‘Super Powers’ scale but high on the ‘Bad Ass’ scale.

Many of their figures have amazing dials for the points! Including and especially their members from Secret Invasion!


Iron First, and Human Torch are both stunning dials for their points, and for Comic Accuracy you can also grab the splendid human Elektra and Hercules from the same set. Tarantula might pale in comparison to her other teammates in that she doesn’t swing in with triple stuffed special powers boxes, but she’s a great buy if you’re going to be abusing all the Wild Cards in the Heroes bullpen, which is a bit tough within the theme team. Even with an extended comic accurate team you’re still limited with printed TAs to Defenders (good) and Avengers (Not good) which is why the Heroes come equipped with many ATA unlocking keywords. I would pick Avengers Response Unit, since it’s pretty great for the melee heavy Heroes but also because you have a lot of Avengers to keep the ATA going if one should die, so you’re not stuck without Wildcard abuse.

I would want to include Spidey here too at my venue since he’s a Hero for Hire we allow for the “Keyword House Rule.” The other thing I have been wondering about is what would constitute a “Spider-Man” family member? It’s not like any other team, were there was a clear roster. No this is a real grey area and I would really like to hammer it out with the other players at my store, cause the Spider-Man Family ATA is pretty boss, especially on this team of so many Wild Cards!

Here’s what I got at 1000 pts.
SI Hercules, SI Human Torch,

SI Elektra (Human), ASM Spiderman (#055), WoS  Black Cat, H She-Hulk (#107)
SI Iron Fist, CA Luke Cage, A Shang Chi, Tarantula and the ATA Heroes for Hire!

For This Week the Format was “1000 pts. Wheel of Death.” Wheel of Death is essetially a d12 chart that gives out a myriad of middle fingers and butt-hole cleanings to you and you’re opponent’s team. It very much lives up it’s name, many of my opponents built teams with long dials that get better over time, which was great concerning one game my team took 9 damage from the Wheel of Death results! Suprisingly I did end up making it into the finals but my many 6 clix figures were melted by the Wheel of Death and I was only left with Herc, She Hulk and Lucas Cage. My opponent easily able to mob up with Terrax!


To honor my Heroes for Hire heroclix team I have been reading the Civil Heroes for Hire tie in, I liked Daughters of the Dragon in spite of it’s butt art and now this version of the heroes has them being hired to round up unregistered heroes and villains. It starts out well and good but obviously things are never so black and white. However the comic has a strange art creep that  when Clay Mann takes over penciling and….wow there’s some strangeness.


This one is literally one panel after another, what is wrong with Misty’s face? Her “Youngbloods Disease” must be flaring up.badart1

This is another example, the girls are “running” from a Devil Style Dinosaur. I have no idea where or who is running from what, why is the dinosaur so low in the shot behind them? And Colleen better open her eyes and stop her thriller dance routine if she’s gonna get away from the dinosaur!
I don’t even want to talk about Misty’s detached breast problems, they look…better here? Than they do elsewhere in the same issue.

Bad art aside the HfH Civil War Tie In is ok, If you like the Heroes or an interesting take on the “Heroes for Hire” dynamic. Then I’d find this trade. It runs for 14 issues until they shut it down. But the Heroes did come back later…

Something is stinky in Outlaw land!




Comics:  Red Hood and The Outlaws

Now for me this comic is INFAMOUSLY BAD, the first issue was so bad that I couldn’t even finish it!

It’s like the Star Wars franchise for everything good there is something twice as vile.

The first issue was so bad that the backlash should have scheduled this little P.O.S. should have been incinerated from the shelves.
However the beatings and course language from public and (hopefully) publisher backlash didn’t fall on deaf ears since the comic is still going. And is…improved?

Well a slap in the face IS preferable to a gunshot to the stomach they always say…

Now, I have tried and tried and TRIED! To slug my way through this comic. I actually love the line-up, Starfire is (was) one of my favorite DC characters and Red Hood was a pretty awesome villain in his day pushing his view of vengeance all the way up to Batman, and Arsenal used to be great before his daughter got exploded for no reason. And now…


…I’m just going to skip over the first issue entirely since I just ignore it to get through the rest.

There’s nothing good in the first issue, and then by halfway through the third it actually pulls on my heartstrings like a real comic!?!?!


At this point I have never been so torn about something in my whole life. It seemed like after the 4th issue they’ve gotten away from referencing the first 2 but then later they keep doing, it. It’s also isn’t even until the 3rd or later issues where they even establish what little characters these people will be.

Red Hood:

He’s the um, asshole? No, um a Jerk? Bastard? No, he’s all those things, but he’s the core of the team, everyone is just vaguely following him mostly for no reasons.


Is the annoying relief of the book, saying everything and anything all the time. He’s very annoying and you know how a book always needs some really good annoying characters to break up the thrilling drama of other people telling the annoying person to shut up. He’s had a few bits that where somehow NOT annoying but that’s not what we pay you for! Make us annoyed!

She doesn’t have very many lines, and it’s explained briefly that she has…Amnesia…plot no remember…no that’s not the continuity now…but it is? -itis? But new Starfire does remember her mistreatment in slavery and how she is a total byatch now as a somewhat understandable albeit still annoying result. All her silly stilted Space Princess dialogue is actually kinda funny if you forget how miss-characterized she is.


I keep thinking the art is pretty cool, the pages have some interesting (in a good way) layouts, all the white backgrounds are weird at times since it sometimes  it seems the panels and characters are stuck in Escher Space. The are also has incredible detail and line work but the colorist can’t shade anything to look like anything, every person’s skin and body seems be made of strange definitions balloons usually, while the clothes and gear have all there edges and shadows defined by the ‘inker’s’ lines Which looks a lot better.




Now unlike the Outlaws comic book the Heroclix Outlaws are a mixed bag… …of AWESOME! The Cross-over bonanza has so much! Leadership, Stealth, Outwit, Lot’s of Outwit, solid or great dials, and TONS of amazing Wild-Card abuse.  Then you toss on a few good AtAs to choose from and you’ve got it made!

First off I’d start off with the TT Set Red Hood, I put a custom Silver Sable on his dial to lead the team. She starts with a great mix of high stats, outwit and special Leadership, her Bat Ally and Outsiders TAs are great! But be warned, keep this one far from harm’s way as you’ll be needing that Batman Ally to copy with the rest of your Spider Friends and Calculators. From the back she can still contribute with Outwit and Energy Explosion.

Speaking of spider friends next up on the include list is Sandman, oh Syndicate TA to copy? And Wildcard? Oh yeah, I’ll take him! This guy is slow as… …sand but he’s good for stopping enemy bricks while you’re ranged attackers shoot them, but he’s also got that attack sharing TA to spread around to your other Outlaws. Sandman is pretty hard to kill but if he does go down you’ll still be ok with printed attack values for DC Outlaws, but it does really help to be giving Prowler and Spidey shared attack from Red Hood.


Finally No Outlaws team would be complete with out A Sensational/Amazing/Incredible/Sizzling Spider-Man! Now at my regular venue of play we have a house rule that keywords are allowed to be added to figures if you can prove they were on that team. So almost  any Spidey can hang out with the Outlaws and get the keyword too, Now I do love WoS 001 Spidey! He’s cheap, great stats that don’t quit, 4+ spider sense, and Wild Card TA can copy stealth and turn this wall-crawler into a very determined secondary attacker, swooping in to smash objects on crooks heads then webbing more mobile opponents to the floor.

The only Spidey I would otherwise recommend with the house rule for the Keyword, is the excellent Mighty Morphin’ Spider-man! Starting on the amazing new ASM 024 125 pts Spider-Man you can do whatever a spider can for a time, light up some guys then morph for the kill/prob/outwit/heal basically if you have collected all the Morphing Spidey Commons and maybe a Chase he’s a great buy for the points! Just be careful not to get trapped because some don’t have the same Leap/Super Senses trait and others don’t have the Spidey TA, so just be careful and read all the cards before you press morph and change right into a sitting duck… …Spider-Duck.


Hello folks! Frank here, I’ve always wanted to a weekly article thingy, just something where I lightly talk about things I’m doing every week, things I’ve seen coming on the horizon, horribly old comics I’m reading (from 2006?). You know something loose that I can do every week. So this will be the first in this new lineage of articles here on Short Box.


So there’s SOOO much to talk about heroclix wise, the newest set “Amazing Spider-Man” launched 2 weeks ago and it’s really neat, a great blend of Spider-Manz and other great unclixed Marvel properties (Draculaz, Living Mummy!). I would like to talk more in-depth about it in a full article, but suffice to say I’m really happy the Spider-Man set was fun and full of unique and wantable figures..unlike the two sets before it.

So speaking of Heroclix every week we have a free-to-play tournament at our local clix store Above and Beyond comics in Erie, PA. It’s a great time and if you’re going to be in town on a Tuesday evening and you want to get your clix on then come on in. So that shameless plug out of the way, each week has a set theme that you must construct your team from this week’s theme is “1000 points, No Resources, No Use of Hypersonic, and All your figures must share a common keyword.” This is going to be a fun one I think.

I’m going to be rolling out some very old but surprisingly devastating figures, you may them better as:


These old guys have a few tricks up their sleeves: Hugely long dials, HUGE DAMAGE NUMGERS, and Super Strength and a few Close Combat powers thrown on. They’re real downside is their very HIGH point cost, and their very short movement values.  Here’s my build:
Wrecker (240)
Absorbing Man (184)
Piledriver (140)
Bulldozer (113)
Wrecker (141)

If there’s one thing this list is it’s:  BEEFY! lol. I had extra points left over so I decided I was gonna add an additional Wrecker but the 2nd one is the older one.


Now,  I read new comics now!But, to be fair I read a LOT more comics in the late 90′s early 00′s. So many times I’m reading those comics AGAIN lol. Like this week for example when I’m reading the oldest Thunderbolts incarnation.

This comic took a little to get going, since they have to go about 8 issues before they really get going but the art is ok for a 90s comic, and there’s plenty of action.  Good Times!



A friend of mine tipped me off to this one, he said that it was great, I hesitantly watched the first episode which blew my face off. It’s aimed at children but the comedy and VERY deep Marvel in jokes fly a mile a minute and you really need to have your spidey-sense going full blast to catch everything. It’s got 1 whole 26 episode season out on Netflix, and another is just wrapping up on the Disney Channel! I would strongly recommend this one to you and even your kids.

Peter vs. Miles

We haven’t had the chance to get to know Miles Morales the way we got to know Ultimate Peter Parker. It’s been long enough where most people have an opinion, though. Which Spider-Man is the best in the Ultimate Universe? Has Miles lived up the the legacy of Peter? Do you like his new costume, powers, and supporting cast? Or, do you wish Peter was back?

ultimate peter parker

Let us know below in the comments section.

What’s Your Universe?

Immortalized by the Adam Warrock song “Marvel vs. DC”, it’s a question a lot of us have asked each other for most of our lives. Which universe is better the 616 Marvel or the contemporary DCU (they tend to have reboots)?

The DC Universe is often sited as being a modern day version of Greek Mythology. Whereas the Marvel Universe prides itself on being more human and real. Superman lives in Metropolis while Spider-Man lives in New York City. Mutants are hated and feared in the Marvel Universe where metahumans of the DCU are often loved and admired. The differences are bountiful so we have to ask you: Which do YOU like better? Comment Below.

Meeting Stan Lee

pittsburgh comic conStan Lee changed my life. It’s that simple. I have been going to cons for years and, for whatever reason, I have never really been nervous around any of the celebrities. Stan was different. When I was living in Pittsburgh, I found out Stan Lee was coming to the annual Pittsburgh Comic Convention. This isn’t exactly a large show and had been shrinking each year…in my opinion. The idea that Stan was going to be in the city I lived in and to a Con I’ve been going to for over a decade was too exciting. The convention created a special ticket that ensured the purchaser one object sign by Stan. I bought two for myself! There wasn’t any thought what so ever what I was going to have Stan sign.

spider-man save the date signed

The Save The Date for my wedding that took place the year prior was a modified (by artist and friend Mark Welser) panel from the famous Amazing Spider-Man #50. You know…”Spider-Man No More”. Spider-Man and Marvel Comics meant so much to me that I included that panel in my wedding, the most important day of my life. I wanted Stan to actually touch something that was intrinsically part of my life. This was a real bridge to what he created and my life.

The second item I had signed was my copy of Fantastic Four #51. He had often sited this as HIS favorite story he ever wrote and I think that’s pretty powerful. I wanted to get that signed for my friend Jason’s son, Alex. I wanted one of his first comics to be a landmark comic written by and signed by Stan Lee himself. He should lord that over his friends when he’s over! That should be enough to make you king of the playground, right?

marvel comics signed jack kirbyMeeting Stan was brief but impactful. He signed the comic and said “This is a great book, are you sure you want me to write on it?” I was flummoxed. I said,”…uh…yeah.” Next came my over sized save the day print. Stan looked at it for a second and that was my opportunity to gain composure and engage. “That was the save the date for my wedding, Stan”, I said. He looked right at me and I figured I could get one more sentence in before I was told to move on. “Your comics have been so important to me that I wanted you to be part of my wedding.” Stan Lee, the closest I’ve come to a mythic person, looked right at me and said, “I wish I had a chance to get some cake from your wedding!”. I laughed, he said thanks, and I actually don’t remember walking the next few feet. Apparently, my friend Steve got a picture of us talking but I was so focused on this interaction I wouldn’t have noticed a bomb going off. There is no one on the planet that I could meet that would impress me more. The only thing I would do differently would be to have figured out a way to record video of the interaction because I would watch it over and over.

signing pittsburgh convention 2009

Feeling cheated, robbed, and unsatisfied.

I was ready. I was the target audience. I have the disposable income. A life long Spider-Man fan, I own 606 of the 700 issues in this series and I named my daughter Parker Jane in tribute to the hero. Amazing Spider-Man was the last comic book series that I was buying faithfully. I wanted to love this issue and be excited for the next evolution. It was not to be. Marvel went deep into my pocket and left me unsatisfied.

What did I get for my $7.99? Let’s break it down and keep it spoiler free. The recent Doc Ock story was exciting and left me wondering how it would end in time for Superior Spider-Man to begin. The first chunk of the book is devoted to ending the Doc Ock thread but it was so slow and used the tired trope of “dead Ben talk” to push Peter back to life. This story also had multiple references regarding not hurting the cops. This was just crazy (even in a comic) considering the characters involved. The story moved and built to an enormous crescendo with no pay off. What is teed up instead is a year of stories with this new “Superior Spider-Man” being a jerk. Once the next movie is ready I am sure we will go back to Amazing Spider-Man and this nightmare will end.

The next feature in the oversized issue was very confusing. I kept going back and re-reading to see what I was missing. This made me frustrated and I didn’t care once the reveal came around. This story also made me realize that the Amazing Spider-Man I know will be back. Hey they kept Superman dead for over a year before bringing him back. The Black Cat feature was stylistically interesting but I felt it didn’t warrant a place in ASM #700. If it were Black Cat #700 then I would say yes, I want more Spider-Man for my Spider-Man dollars. The rest of the issue is filled with expanded house ads for the new Superior Spider-Man and an expanded letters page. In the end I felt like John Malkovich at the end of Rounders when he taunts Matt Damon. Save your $7.99 and pick up Avenging Spider-Man 15.1 for $2.99. You’ll get the same story without all the wasted paper.

It took five years, but Dan Slott has finally won me over.

Here’s why I dropped Spider-Man when Brand New Day began: stories that bring a character back to basics are so much less exciting than those that build on what came before and go to new places.

J. Michael Straczinski did that.

Following the abrupt departure of my all-time favorite Spider-Man writer, in a dissatisfying storyline that JMS requested his name be removed from, I was heavily biased against Spider-Man’s 2007 status quo and new writer(s).  There were four of them at the time if you don’t recall, but Dan Slott has always been at the helm.

Over the course of the last year, I’ve come to accept that I’ll always have the JMS storylines that are so close to my heart.  The ones where Peter learned about the tribal origins of his powers under the tutelage of Ezekiel, battled the children of Gwen Stacy and Norman Osborn, and put the black suit back on now live on my bookshelf, but that chapter of Spider-Man is over.

I moved on to other characters.  There’s no shortage of other comics to read, and for a time I didn’t miss Spider-Man.

Except, Marvel used a host of great artistic talents on Brand New Day, which drew my attention back to Spidey.

These artists include: Chris Bachalo,

Mike McKone,

Lee Weeks,

Barry Kitson,


Phil Jimenez,

Giuseppe Camuncoli,

and Humberto Ramos.

If so many of my favorite artists were illustrating Spider-Man post-marriage, I decided I was surely missing something.

When early BND volumes showed up on the discount table at my local comic shop this past year, I knew the time was right to give those stories a chance.

The contrast was immediately apparent between the Spider-man I knew and the one I was reading in those early Brand New Day issues.  Spider-Man was no longer a winner.  He no longer lived with his hot wife in the Avengers mansion and was instead replaced with the perpetual loser from years past who was always broke, couldn’t pay his rent, couldn’t get a girl, couldn’t hold down a job, etc.

Now, the new status quo wasn’t all bad.  We lost the marriage of Peter and Mary Jane, a story element I adored, but traded Spidey’s retractable stingers and organic web shooters for the return of classic story elements, like Harry Osborn and mechanical web shooters.  We gained a few new villains, like Menace, Screwball, and Mr. Negative; along with a host of villain redesigns.

What I didn’t realize before picking up the new storyline was that it did progress in these comics.   It’s just that, while Slott’s main plot point was to bring Peter Parker back to basics, he allowed the supporting cast to evolve in a big way.

Flash Thompson lost his legs…

…and became Venom.

Doc Ock lost his health.

Eddie Brock became Anti-Venom.

J. Jonah Jameson had a heart attack, lost his newspaper, and became mayor.

Curt Connors transformed back into The Lizard and ate his family.

All the while Norman Osborn was head of Hammer, the SHIELD replacement agency at the time.

Those story elements and others like them were what I gleaned enjoyment from at first.  As I read more, I came to enjoy the consistency in the writing style and the long term storyline goals built up over a number of issues leading to a big reveal.  This was supplied by Slott and his editor Steven Wacker.

Slott’s biggest strength is that, rather than tailoring the title to his own voice like many other modern writers would, he customized his style to stay true to the character of Spider-Man.  Keep in mind that this is the same chameleonic Dan Slott that wrote GLA, She-Hulk, and Arkham Asylum: Living Hell.

Here’s the kicker: I avoided Slott’s run for all of this time because I thought the back-to-basics approach was boring.  Now that I’ve read the books I realize that this was a five-year red herring!

As Slott took over as the sole writer of the title for the Big Time storyline, we had already seen Spidey start a relationship with Carlie Cooper and don the black suit.  Peter would soon wear a number of alternate uniforms and work a steady job at Horizon Labs.  Working as a scientist developing inventions inspired by his adventures behind the mask is a believable idea.  It suits Parker and reminds the audience of his character’s academic background.

Plot elements that were seemingly meant to take Spider-Man back to square one, were setting the reader up to be surprised by what is potentially the most exciting point in Spidey’s long and rich history.

Doc Ock has switched his consciousness with Peter Parker!  All sources point to the next storyline being one where he operates as Spider-Man in Peter’s body.

I can’t wait to see what happens next!  The status quo will inevitably shift back towards a more classic approach in the future, but its a welcome feeling to eagerly anticipate each new piece of the story.

First Appearance and Origin of Spider-Man’s first sidekick, Alpha.

Nick  talks about Amazing Spider-Man #692, the 50th Anniversary of Spider-Man issue.

Trades To Try

Nick, Adam, and our guest Jason talk about trades that need more attention.

marvel 1602 image chew spider-man transformers

They discuss:

  • Marvel 1602
  • Teenagers from Mars
  • Transformers: Autocracy
  • Spider-Man: The Other
  • Chew
  • Joe the Barbarian

Remember, you can check them out on iTunes here or listen to the file here:

Listen to it directly here.

iTunes listeners, do us a huge favor and rate, review, and subscribe. It helps us a lot in the iTunes rankings.