BearSleuth Spoiler Free Comic Book Bundle Week Forty Nine.

Finally I can afford to buy my comics and eat! This week the line ups from both Marvel and DC are looking a little thin but I am not complaining. Marvel are taking, what can only be described as, a brief reprise from the war before everything results in a complete meltdown of the Marvel Universe. As for DC, they seem to have found something strange out there in the swamps of rebirth…their artistic integrity. The great publishing house is putting out the best work in a decade of its history and I’m loving it. Finally, Image have Brian Lee O’Malley’s Snotgirl which is nothing short of genius. Which all these great titles what’s a geek to do? Call the Sleuth.

All images are screenshots taken from the Marvel and DC Comics app [Accessed: 25/08/16]

 

Action Comics Nine Hundred And Sixty Two By Dan Jurgens And Stephen Segovia.


 

Despite what 70% of comic book readers will tell you, there are actually a lot of ways to do a great Superman storyline. These break into a few categories but one of my favourite groups of stories are the ones where Clark is able to just cut loose. To use all his abilities on a being so powerful that he will only defeat it with a super human barrage. In this issue we see one such confrontation and it is a wonder to behold. Jurgens has built up to this moment across the previous issues in the arc and now it’s time for the pay off. I love this issue as it just ties everything together so perfectly. The art from Stephen Segovia is strong throughout. I would recommend this to any Superman fan.

 

Blue Beatle Rebirth One-Shot By Keith Giffen And Scott Kolins.


 

May I just came into DC at the wrong time but I never quite got the whole Blue Beatle craze, I feel this way about quite a few DC heroes such as Static Shock and Dial H. I have always liked the Blue Beatle design and I think that has carried me through his appearances in other books, so it was nice to actually sit down and learn a little about the character. My opinion now I know a little more, this is a weird book, the actual super heroics are awesome and the visuals of a suit constantly changing kind of rock but I’m not a fan of the character’s alter ego life. The writing in the book is good but I feel the plot is lacking something, although that could change over the course of the series. Regardless, the art by Scott Kolins is great and I do enjoy this book. If you are a Blue Beatle fan then this is a must, but I feel that if you are new to character this isn’t going to change your mind.

 

Intentional Ironman Issue Six By Brian Michael Bendis And Alex Maleev.


 

This was always going to be a difficult pitch.  Talking about the origins of Tony Stark’s real parents, a recent mystery that undid a big chunk of Marvel Comics lore and displeased a sizable portion of the fanbase. I do believe the Bendis might have been the only man capable of pulling off the feat of making this work and it’s a good think that he managed to exceed all expectations. The chosen couple are a brand new edition to the Marvel universe and they make a lot of sense, they have qualities you can see in Tony and they are different. This is only the first nugget of information though, and it’s hard to judge the book off such a move, but I have to say, so far so good. The art is knocked out the park by Maleev and there are some fantastic moments of writing here. I don’t know where this arc will do next but for now it’s fantastic. If you are an Ironman fan you need this in your collection.

 

Snotgirl Issue Two By Bryan Lee O’Malley And Leslie Hung.


 

I feel like this book is still finding it’s footing but as an offering from Bryan Lee O’Malley it already has the trademarks of his classic smash hits. There is a good degree of introspection and building background cast of characters I have instantly fallen in love with. The plot is starting to build with a lot of intrigue which is a new tool from O’Malley. I am thoroughly enjoying this series and I feel that once it picks up the pace a little it will be a lot of fun. The art from Leslie Hung is fantastic and serves to separate the book from O’Malley’s previous repertoire. If you like Scott Pilgrim, Lost At Sea and Seconds then you should pick this one up before it becomes a forgotten gem.

 

Star Wars Issue Twenty Two By Jason Aaron And Jorge Molina.


 

There are somethings in the Star Wars Universe you don’t know that you need to see until you see it. For example, in a ‘what if’ storyline from a few years ago we saw what would have happened if Vader had gone and faced Yoda on Dagobah and it was nothing short of fangasmic perfection. This book is another one of those moments in the Star Wars Universe that you just need to see.  Jason Aaron knows how to please Star Wars fans and I am sure this arc is going to become an absolute classic in amongst the fan base. I have nothing else to say apart from, when looking for a first edition copy, may the force be with you.

 

Steve Rogers Captain America Issue Four By Nick Spencer And Javier Pina.


 

I don’t like seeing Captain America work for Hydra. My brain doesn’t like it. With every scene I see where he does something evil I immediately try to contrive the plot and warp it so that Steve is actually acting for the side of the angels. But alas, there is no redemption for Mr. Rodgers. Nick Spencer has crafter the perfect malformation of Cap’s personality but I have to say that I despise it as a long-time fan. Which only means its working. If you are a hard core Captain America fan you may want to steer clear of this book, but for everyone else I have to say this is a hell of a read.

 

BearSleuth Pick Of The Week: Hellblazer Issue One By Simon Oliver And Moritat.


 

Way back in the mists of the early nineties there was an amazing series known only as John Constantin Hellblazer and it was awesome. Many people have conflicting views on how the series changed with time but every comic book fan I have met enjoyed at least one era of the heroes life.  Then DC cancelled the series, tried a few other Constantine series which quickly flopped, and promptly relegated the character to the b-list. Now Constantine is back with the Hellblazer moniker and it is a wonder to behold. Simon Oliver has put together something really special right here that calls back almost perfectly to the old days of Hallblazer. It’s fun, dark and chocked full of black humour. If you want a modern classic get your grubby little mitts all over this.

 

Extraordinary X-Men Issue Thirteen By Jeff Lemire And Victor Ibanez.


 

Jeff Lemire just rocks the mic when he stands up to deliver a brand new X-Men sermon. There is no other way to put it, he balances the heart which has always been the series strength with the madness that has always kept readers coming back for more. This issue is no different, incorporating both aspects of Apocalypse and Limbo storylines making for an insane mix. There are some fantastic sections of dialogue in this book that are worth your time even if you are not a huge X-Men fan. I highly recommend this book to anyone that likes strong character interaction as well as great action.

…That’s this week’s BearSleuth Spoiler Free Comic Book Bundle!!! Check back tomorrow for a new VuePoint and OpinionatedDavid!!!

Comic History 101: Siege

In 2009 the Marvel Universe was a terrifying place. Secret War had dissolved trust between the heroes and Shield in 2005. The Avengers had been broken and then reforged into a more dysfunctional team across Avengers Disassembled and New Avengers. House of M hit in late 2005 and the universe lost almost all of the mutants. Then Civil War came and turned the heroes against each other, only to be followed by World War Hulk and Secret Invasion which left the entire Marvel Universe in tatters with most heroes underground and Norman Osborn at the helm. Under Editor-in-chief Joe Quesada everything had changed and now it was time to put it back, or at least a push in the right direction so that Joe could hang the keys of the universe over. Quesada went to Brian Michael Bendis one last time and asked the writer to pull out all the stops, to make this the comic book equivalent of 4 of July fireworks. With this brief Bendis went insane and created one of the greatest events in the history of Marvel Comics.

The Grand Finale


In Civil War we had witnesses a war between heroes, in Secret Invasion it was a war between heroes and aliens, same again with Planet Hulk except the aliens had Hulk so there was only one natural step left. In Siege Norman Osborn declared war on Asgard, which due to a variety of interesting circumstances was flying over Oklahoma, he would break Thor and any other god that stood in his way and his Dark Avengers would make short work of any hero who choose to help defend the gods. In the early phases of the battle Osborn struck quickly with the Sentry, who turned out to be an incredibly powerful being called the Void, and took down Thor on national television. However, instead of breaking down any resistance to Osborn this galvanised his opponents, bringing together the Avengers, Secret Warriors, Young Avengers and several other smaller factions into a tight fighting unit under the guidance of not one but two Captain Americas. The third act played out about how you would expect, with a huge battle raging across the halls of Asgard and the heroes eventually emerging victorious.

The Dawning Of A New Age


When it comes to reception, Siege got very mixed reviews when it hit shelves. While a lot of people really liked the actual event it represented the undoing of a lot of great events and history in the Marvel Universe, the final scenes showed the super human registration act being thrown out which undid most of Civil War. I feel that the aftermath was a necessity but I do also agreed that it could have been handled better, however, the way the event plays out is fantastic. The book still sold extremely well and most review sites pitch it at the 4/5 mark and while this event is rarely talked about as the best it still holds up for me and I think you could make a case for it being as good as World War Hulk or Secret Invasion. This was the end of an era but it was also the birth of the ‘Heroic Age’ which would take Marvel to new heights! Join me next time on Comic History 101 when I will be looking at the other side of the aisle with Flashpoint and the Rebirth of the DC Universe.

…That was this week’s Comic History 101!!! Check back on Saturday for a new BearSleuth Spoiler Free Comic Book Bundle!!!

BearSleuth Opinion Piece: Starting out With Magic The Gathering

I don’t know whether it’s just me and my circle of friends but board games seem to be making a comeback! Not the tired Hasbro brand of antiquated fun but instead a new beast entirely. Board games such as Munchkin, Settlers Of Catan and even the humble Cards Against Humanity have all made their presence known at recent gatherings of friends and I don’t think this phenomenon is solely being experienced by yours truly. Board games are great, they create talking points and they are often much more inclusive than video games. However, if board games are making a comeback then what is the next step? My theory: Magic The Gathering.

Deckheads


Alright wipe that smug grin off your face, I completely understand why around 90% of the geeks in the audience don’t want to play Magic they don’t want to turn into that guy. If you have ever been near a Magic community you know that guy or girl who simply cannot talk or do anything without relating it back to Magic. My friends like to call them deckheads and it summarises them quite nicely. I once met a gentleman who was pushing forty, smoked about 40 a day and had to limit his spending to a mere £300 a week on magic cards. I couldn’t have a conversation with him that wouldn’t loop back to Magic somehow and after a while I actively avoided him. That being said, not everyone that touches the One Ring becomes Gollum and I know a lot of people who have played Magic and gone on to lead perfectly normal lives. This is because Magic rocks.

Social Magic


If you want a great game between mates where you are all attempting to scheme and play each other in an attempt to reaching a final goal of emerging victorious then look no further. Magic at a wider multiplayer level (games of 3-12 players) rely heavily on social skills to form alliances, make deals and co-operate against bigger threats. The game is pretty simple in that, at least in the majority of formats, you have to attack your opponent until you deplete his or her life total to this end a play can summon creatures to fight for them or use a wide variety of spell which are capable of everything from dealing damage to changing the way the entire game is played. This creates a great atmosphere as other players begin to react to each other and one guy can easily become the dick of the game by summoning a load of douche creature (think the Lannisters with more horns and tusks).

Getting Started


I’m hoping that will have sold you on Magic but in case it hasn’t the only way I really recommend for discovering is Magic would be good fit for you and your friends is by playing it. You can download Magic Duels, a free game on most app stores, and give that a go to get a feel for the game or you can go one step further and buy a starter pack for around £12.99 this will give you your first deck and two packs of cards which will contain a nice mix to get you started.

The Colours


Before I go, if you do decide to go down the starter pack route you are going to need to know which colour you want to be. Every starter pack comes with a deck that will be made up from a primary colour (the colour of the pack normally) and a secondary colour, you can check what colours your pack is by looking at the top of the box. Colours effect the way you play and what your deck says about you so I’m going to end on a quick rundown of the colours:

  • White


This colour normally symbolises order, it’s not necessarily about being good but it is about maintaining control through reasonable methods. You will never be sacrificing your own creatures or dealing damage to yourself with this colour. White tends to win tying down the opponents board in some way, gaining so much life that the opponent simply cannot win or creating an army of smaller creature.

 

  • Green


My personal favourite. Green represents life and vitality, this is symbolised by big creatures and a lot of energy (or mana) to cast them. Green players tend to win through rushing their enemies with huge creatures or being able to cast a multitude of spells on a turn which overpower their opponent. I would recommend this colour for starting players.

 

  • Blue


Every other player will hate you, the entire game will be focused around killing you quickly and yet you will still somehow come out on top. Blue represents logic and mind magic, it is the colour of illusion and control which makes it very powerful. I find blue decks can be a little slow and hard to put to full use when you are starting out but once you get the hang of them they are a lot of fun. Blue players win by fucking with their opponents and changing the way the game is played.

 

  • Red


Power, fire and more power. Red is all about smacking your enemy in the face hard and fast until they collapse in front of you. In most games Red will start strong, possibly tail off a little around the mid-point and them come back like a Phoenix to annihilate the competition. Red players win by dealing damage pure and simple.

 

  • Black


If you want to be vile and villainous then this is the only colour for you. Black is all about sacrifice and sly movements in the dark. While black cards and players aren’t evil their methods are almost certainly questionable and risky. Black cards then to work on a risk reward basis, requiring the player to give something away to gain a powerful boon. Black players tend to win through putting the opponent in a tough position or causing opponents to fight among themselves due to a change in the board state.

 

I may do more on this topic as time goes on so keep checking back and remember, never become a deck head!

…That was this week’s BearSleuth Opinion Piece!!! Check back tomorrow for a brand new Comic History 101!!!

VuePoint: Adaptation Part Two

By VuePoint

Greetings fellow gamers! I hath returned from my hiatus as a 21 year old with a significantly weaker liver, but that won’t stop me from writing! In my last article, I talked about movies and TV shows being adapted to games, and how (in theory) a developer could make that work. Now let’s flip it on it’s head – bringing games we love to life on the big screen.

In my eyes, translating a story from a game to a film would suffer from a lack of material to work with. Aside from a few exceptions, the narrative isn’t the main focus of a game. I’m not saying it isn’t important – far from it actually. A great story can elevate a game beyond it’s peers, but fundamentally, we play a game for the game itself, not the story it tells.

Certain titles like The Last of Us, Red Dead Redemption and even Dark Souls if you look hard enough into it, have worlds and plots that would translate beautifully into live action. Sure, the story isn’t the main draw of the Souls games, and it’s easy to completely miss it if you don’t look, but once you start diving into its lore, you’ll find yourself in a vast sea of sub-plots, character relationships and other little secrets that are just perfect for an ambitious film maker to build a cinematic world with.

For the most part though, games are there to be played. I’ll be quite interested to see how the upcoming Assassin’s Creed movie plays out, as I personally never really pay much attention to the stories in the games. The majority of games use a story in order to tie one action set piece to the next, so the player doesn’t go too long without decapitating a goblin or blasting apart a robot, and this isn’t a bad thing. Take a game like Dragon Age: Inquisition (Unrelated: I just got it from PS+, Deluxe Edition, £65 reduced to £4.99, score). DA:I has a pretty vague story. Aside from the general “hole in the sky, big bad demon” thing, I played through the whole game without really knowing what was going on, and I still enjoyed every second of it.

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Adaptive Panels Presents… Star Wars: Skywalker Strikes

… Yeah it’s pretty good.

Check out Adaptive Panels every other Saturday, and hear more from OpinionatedDavid every week on-

Hold on!

Pat… yes… well what do you want me to say?!

It’s more original Star Wars. It’s pretty good. It’s been around for forty years. Nobody needs me to tell them that Star Wars is g… yes… yes I’m listening… yes I do still want this job… that won’t be necessary… no, nobody needs to go down to the basement… I’ll get it done. Yes… yes, happy chatting.

Okay I’ll stop stalling for time now. Star Wars: Skywalker Strikes is pretty decent. If you like Star Wars (and who doesn’t?) then you’ll probably enjoy reading this, because it’s more Star Wars. In that regard it’s filling, but I’m not sure that makes it truly satisfying.

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BearSleuth Spoiler Free Comic Book Bundle Week Forty Eight

Eisner season continues this week as Marvel reach for every possible gut punch with funerals and deaths spattered all over their pages. DC are going for the slightly more subversive route of through Jim Lee on the book with the highest popularity at the moment and praying for some sort of mystical power to save ‘Rebirth’. In truth, its an absolutely brilliant weeks for comics and if you want a piece of the pie then leave it to your humbler BearSleuth to guide you through. Also check our Facebook page to see how you can win every Marvel Comic released this week!!!

All images are screenshots taken from the Marvel and DC Comics App [Accessed: 18/08/2016]

All-New Wolverine Issue Eleven By Tom Taylor And Ig Guara


 

I still can’t decide whether I like the way that Marvel are playing with the tie-ins in Civil War II. Instead of having certain characters have sub arcs within the main event many are having stories that parallel the issues raised by Civil War II. I feel like the writers are scared that we might miss the subtlety of this reflect so they have to ham-fist it the whole way. This issue is a perfect example of this as it would be a great tense issue if I wasn’t taken out of the action every five minutes with talk of the Inhumans and Ulysses. Don’t get me wrong, as tie-ins go this is still great and it’s a nice continuation of some of the themes raised in both Old Man Logan and All-New Wolverine, as long as you can bare your teeth through the more clunky aspects of the writing. The art is solid and the book is an all-round high standard piece worth a look for any Wolverine fans.

 

Batman Issue Five By Tom King And David Finch


Tom King continues to revolutionise Batman this week but including one of the greatest scenes I have ever seen in, not just a Batman comic, but any comic book I have ever read. It’s the first four pages of the issue and simply for this scene alone you need to buy this book. The rest of the issue is pretty good, as Batman begins to ramp up the action to an end of issue cliff hanger that is sure to thrill any Bat-fans. I have no doubt that between Snyder and King this will be seen as the second or third golden age of Batman for years to come. If you haven’t already started following this series you need to before it becomes impossible.

 

Civil War II: Choosing Sides Issue Four By A Roman Legion Of The Emperors Best Creative Talent


 

I have to say I was a little disappointed with this book this week. The past three instalments have been very thought provoking but that depth just wasn’t present. The first story is a pretty simple Punisher short which, while visually interesting, didn’t really fall into the theme of the book very well. The second story, about Power Pack, was probably the highlight this week but it felt more like a love note to the character which seemed strange to me as I have no love for Power Pack. I mean I simply cannot understand why anyone gives them the time of day, I could understand if they were actually the Power Puff Girls rip-off they appear to be but they aren’t even that, they were an odd idea from an odd era. Not for me. The final story, the over-arching Nick Fury plot, is a silent comic this week making for very quick reading. I will admit it’s nice to see the silent comic come back but it seems like an odd place for it. Overall, I feel like you can probably give this issue a miss.

 

BearSleuth Pick Of The Week: Civil War II: The Fallen By Greg Pak And Mark Bagley


 

Right I was going to try not to spoil the death this book is connected to but then I realised that the cover kind of gives it away. It was inevitable that the death of Bruce Banner was going to be an emotional affair but I feel like Greg Pak really aimed for the old heartstrings on this issue. Every possible moment that could carry emotional weight is here as character we haven’t seen for years come back into the picture and we see a very human response to a situation that seems so fantastical. While I am almost certain that Bruce will make a comeback in the next five years, this feels like a fitting end to his arc and one I would be happy with Marvel keeping going forward. The art by Mark Bagley is fantastic here, which is a sentence I rarely write, making this a must have for your comic collection.

 

I Hate Fairyland Issue Eight By Skottie Young And Jeffrey ‘Chamba’ Cruz


 

I have gushed about this book a lot but I have to say it was becoming a little stale going into this week’s review list. There’s only so far that you can go with ‘crazy fantasy’ and I feel like Young was reaching his limits. It’s for these reasons that I was delighted to see Young throw another artist into the mix this week with guest Chamba. The story reasons for this shift is pretty fantastic and it just served to freshen things up on what could have been a weaker issue. The story is still going strong although I feel like Young needs to continue to add a few more key characters into the mix for a real Eisner-worthy book. I would recommend this to anyone looking for the weird and wonderful in the world of comics.

 

Sam Wilson Captain America Issue Twelve By Nick Spencer And Daniel Acuna


 

Nick Spencer has continued to make his Captain America run very political and I have say it’s starting to really pay off for the series. It was plain that when Sam Wilson took up the shield there would be many themes of race but Nick has decided to push the point as far as it can possibly go with the Americops and the US Agent. I really like the writing here as it is smart and treats the reader like a politically aware member of society rather than a child. I haven’t seen how well this is playing out in the USA but I hope it’s reaching the right ears. If you want to support expression and intelligence in comics this is the book for you.

 

Suicide Squad Issue One By Rob Williams And Jim Lee


 

It was always going to happen, when DC have a film that’s starting to drive up interest in a particular character or team they throw top talent on that book. Just look at Romita Jr jumping on Superman when Man Of Steel came out. Right here the hammer of DC strikes again as Jim Lee takes everyone’s favourite B-list super team and overhauls them to look like the Justice League. I hate that the series is only now getting this attention and that the squad has miraculously changed to reflect the line-up of the film but the thing I hate the most is that I love the book. So many of the issues I have had with Suicide Squad have disappeared and now we have a great streamlined book written by a great writer and drawn by the greatest artist in comic books. I hate to love and love to hate this book and if that isn’t the highest recommendation I can give Suicide Squad.

 

Supergirl Rebirth One-Shot By Steve Orlando And Emanuela Lupacchino


Every so often there is a book that comes along that changes everything that every single comic book reader has to read. This is not that book. This is the sort of book that I have to reread an hour after I have read it it’s so forgettable. This is the sort of book that decides it’s a brilliant idea to introduce a Kryptonian Werewolf, I don’t care if it was don’t in the golden age or something like that it’s still dumb. This is the sort of book that decides to undo all the previously interesting writing on the Supergirl series by a simple plot convenience. This is the sort of book that makes me question if anyone actually died on Krypton or whether they all got into pods and left the planet before the big explosions and then just set timers to send themselves to Earth at points that would really fuck with Superman or Supergirls head. This is the one book this week that I can 100% say do not buy. It does nothing interesting. Nothing fun. Nothing daring. It’s just wallpaper.

…That was this week’s BearSleuth Spoiler Free Comic Book Bundle!!! Check back tomorrow for a brand new VuePoint!!!

OpinionatedDavid: DC Is Going Full SEGA… Never Go Full SEGA.

By OpinionatedDavid

Yes, I know, I’m doing a second negative DC article in the space of a week. For what it’s worth, it’s not like I want to. I don’t want to end up sounding like a broken record, and I certainly don’t want to invite backlash from maladjusted fans who can’t handle people criticising their favourite toys. Most of all, I’m passionate about the superhero genre in general (hence why I write about it) and it doesn’t feel particularly good for me to keep calling one of its biggest players out for being terrible.

However, with the back to back release of the animated adaptation of The Killing Joke (covered last week) and the live-action Suicide Squad, there’s no getting round the fact that they are the biggest story in the entertainment sphere right now. Like it or not, I’m going to keep talking about them for as long as they keep themselves in the news and for as long as I feel like I have something constructive to say, and my opinion of them will stop being negative the moment they start being good at what they do. Deal?

So yes, Suicide Squad has managed to do what I thought was impossible and divide opinion even more than its predecessor, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, a movie so overwrought and po-faced that you know pretty much all you need to know about it once you find out the title isn’t being sarcastic. I don’t have the space here to give a rundown of all the touted criticisms of the movie, but regardless of what you or I think of it, the fact remains that we’re now three films deep into DC’s attempt to follow in rival Marvel Studios’ footsteps (building a continuity between their individual films and their characters, as comics have done for decades) and we’re still yet to see a real crowd pleaser from them.

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Comic History 101: Secret Invasion

It’s 2008 and you’re Brian Michael Bendis and a few years ago you witnessed Mark Millar change the Marvel Universe for ever with Civil War. A couple of years before Civil War you managed to terraform the Marvel landscape with House Of M, an event that would continue to have repercussions all the way through to 2016. You’re editor walks into you’re office, smacks his hand on your desk and says ‘Brain, I want you to rock the world again!’ You pause. After a few tense seconds of internal deliberation you look up and stare your editor square in the eye and give him a two word response. ‘Fuck yeah’.

Tough Act To Follow


Whether that’s exactly how it happened I’m not entirely sure and I wouldn’t like to speculate too much but I am pretty sure that scene, or something similar must have played out in early 2008. It was another great moment in the world of comics and it resulted in a great piece of writer from one of the industry’s strongest workhorses. After Mark Millar had examined the fears of the patriot act and post 9/11 security paranoia, there was a lot of expectation on another Marvel event to bring a new level of introspection to the table and Bendis was more than happy to deliver.

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Covert Coot: The Dark Tower – Reading Order & Guide to the Stephen King Multiverse

If my last post acted as an introduction to Stephen King’s The Dark Tower, then this serves as a guide and suggested reading order to provide a greater experience. While you can just read The Dark Tower novels themselves, the inclusion of some of King’s other novels introduce certain characters that are key to The Dark Tower.

darktower

The connections throughout the ‘Stephen King Multiverse’ are all tied to the evil throughout his stories, the character whose influences ripples throughout the multiverse is that of The Man in Black. The Man in Black has many names, but veteran Stephen King fans will know him better as Randall Flagg, the main antagonist in King’s 1978 novel, The Stand.

Randall Flagg

flaggblac

Flagg is an immortal wizard/sorcerer who ultimately serves The Crimson King and makes several appearances or is alluded to by name – it is strongly suggested that Flagg is the demonic entity behind the events of Children of the Corn (1977), appears in the medieval country of Delain, manipulating and causing havoc to the realm in The Eyes of the Dragon (1986). Flagg also gets referenced in Salem’s Lot (1975), which also features a member of Roland’s Ka-Tet (will return to that in a moment).

Randall Flagg

And of course there’s Flagg’s appearances in The Dark Tower as The Man in Black, Walter O’Dimm, Marten Broadcloak, Richard Fannin.

It’s also worth mentioning that while never confirmed by Stephen King, fans believe the character of Raymond Fiegler from the short story Blind Willie, included in Hearts In Atlantis (1999), is also Randall Flagg. Whether the case or not, Hearts in Atlantis does have its ties to The Dark Tower.

 

The Crimson King

The Crimson King is the primary antagonist of The Dark Tower and is first mentioned in the series during fourth book, Wizard & Glass. The scene where he’s mentioned introduces his sigil and the phrase:

all_hail_the_crimson_king_by_fenrisilver

He first appears in the novel, Insomnia (1994) where he seeks to murder a child named Patrick Danville, who is prophesied to bring an end to The Crimson King. As The Dark Tower series progresses it becomes clear that The Crimson King has worked behind the scenes using Randall Flagg, John Farson, vampires, low-men and other supernatural entities to bring the destruction of The Dark Tower.

The Crimson King is mentioned in the story, Low Men in Yellow Coats in the collection Hearts in Atlantis (1999) which also features Low Men or Can Toi, which also appear in Desperation (1996).

Can Toi - Low Men

Can Toi – Low Men

 

Father Callahan

Father Callahan

Father Callahan

Finally we have Father Callahan, first introduced in Salem’s Lot (1975) and reintroduced in the fifth book in The Dark Tower series, Wolves of the Calla. I personally feel that having read Salem’s Lot before this book makes Callahan’s arc all the more enjoyable – we’re shown what happened to him after the events of Salem’s Lot, but being familiar with the story adds so much more to Callahan’s story of redemption.

The Dark Tower

As most people know, I’m a big fan of Stephen King. I find the stories and characters engaging, visualising myself in the shoes of the main character. My first Stephen King book was Salem’s Lot, followed by the first two Dark Tower books (The Gunslinger & The Drawing of the Three), after reading these I dipped into other King books in no order and took my time with The Dark Tower. Overall taking me almost five years to finish the series, but I feel my experience has been enhanced by all the Stephen King I read in between. I should also mention that the series connects to a lot more of King’s work such as IT, The Shining and more; but felt the material mentioned here to be the most important to the story.

There are lots of guides or suggested reading orders to the series, go with whatever you feel is best. Read the series in chronological order or break it up with other books, but do not forget the face of your father.

Below is a recommended reading order, it’s not the order I read them in but I feel it’s a good starting point for newcomers and demonstrates the craftsmanship behind Stephen King’s world building.

The Dark Tower: The Gunslinger
The Dark Tower: The Drawing of the Three
*The Stand
The Dark Tower: The Waste Lands
The Dark Tower: Wizard and Glass
*The Dark Tower: The Wind Through the Keyhole
*Salem’s Lot
*Hearts in Atlantis
The Dark Tower: Wolves of the Calla
*Insomnia
The Dark Tower: Song of Susannah
The Dark Tower: The Dark Tower

BearSleuth Opinion Piece: Give Dungeons And Dragons A Go

By BearSleuth

Today your regularly scheduled article is coming a little late, there’s a lot of reasons for this but one in particular is that I have been spending a lot of time recently as a dungeon master. Yes, I know that sounds like the role of cult leader or a position in a medieval themed S&M group but it’s actually much more nefarious. A Dungeon Master is someone who creates and runs Dungeons and Dragons’ games, I like to think I’m a pretty good one but I prefer 4th edition so what do I know (a little joke for all the D&D players reading). The thing is, I am a Dungeon Master, a role that takes up a lot of my time and energy, but I am also a copywriter, a party animal and capable of following a hygiene routine on a daily basis. Furthermore, the group of people I play Dungeons and Dragons with is vast, in my eight person party there is a tax officer, a historian, a linguist, a geographer, a chemist, a musician, a cameraman for the BBC and a manager each with different reasons for playing. They all take the game seriously and they all have lives away from the D20’s.

Why Not Give It A Go?


I feel like Dungeons and Dragons, as well as other roleplaying games, have received a pretty bad rap in modern pop-culture, shows like the Big Bang Theory and even Futurama have categorised players as the lowest form of geek. There is a supposition that the players need to escape their own reality and so there lives must be somehow devoid of fun or importance. Nothing could be further from the truth. If you are able to take a couple of bits of card and plastic and turn it into an epic battle between the forces of good and evil, then just think what you are capable of in other aspects of your life. Dungeons and Dragons is a natural evolution of the classic ‘What if?’ or ‘Would you rather?’ games that most people play on a regular basis except it goes a stage further as askes you and your friends to consider scenario after scenario. This creates a safe theatre into which you are able to test your problem solving, your ethical understanding and even your communication abilities. The game encourages you to reconnect with that moment when you were a kid on the playground pretending to be a superhero or a great warrior and I feel that connection can only be positive.

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