Mondo and Restoration Games have teamed up with Marvel to create several additions to their Unmatched line of miniatures dueling tabletop games planned for release beginning in thesummer of 2021. Four new sets have been announced:
Redemption Row – featuring Luke Cage, Ghost Rider, and Moon Knight
Hell’s Kitchen – featuring Daredevil, Elektra, and Bullseye
Teen Spirit – featuring Ms. Marvel, Squirrel Girl, and Cloak and Dagger
For King and Country – featuring Black Widow, Black Panther, and Winter Soldier
Unmatched veteran artists Heather Vaughan, Oliver Barrett, and Ian O’Toole will be joined by Matt Taylor and Sanford Greene as the key illustrators for the line. The combined weight of their contributions to the worlds of gaming, comics, and entertainment is staggering; fans can expect each standalone title to be as visually impactful as they are mechanically sound.
Since debuting at Gen Con in August of 2019, Unmatched has released seven titles featuring 19 heroes sourced from myth, literature, television, and movies – presenting players with nearly two hundred possible 2-player battle scenarios. The upcoming Marvel editions will offer 66 possible in-world combat pairings and will feature unique gameplay additions building off the core game ruleset.
We’ve got some big entries to tackle this time, readers. The latest Marvel Legends Riders, Squirrel Girl, and Cosmic Ghost Rider, have hit, and I finally got the third Dani Moonstar I needed to complete that trio of New Mutants. We’ll lead off with that . . .
Marvel Legends Dani Moonstar (Walgreens Exclusive): This figure was both a glorious offering and a pain in the ass. I love the idea of offering extra accessories to convert a figure into another character. However, between six Walgreens in my area (in and around Indianapolis), I saw exactly zero over several months. Over time, I did manage to get three on eBay for not-terrible prices. I tried to order on Walgreens.com more than once, only to have the orders fail for various reasons. However, a few days back, I managed to get ahold of the third so that I could put together Dani, Karma, and Wolfsbane.
Dani Moonstar: As the base figure, Dani Moonstar has been a long time coming. One was originally supposed to appear in a wave as far back as 2013. On the upside, it’s finally here, and it looks good. The basic costume and look of the characters comes from New Mutants vol. 2 #1 from 2009. In the case of Dani, the bow and double-ponytail is directly from the wraparound cover. I’m satisfied with the sculpting overall and the team did a nice job on the bow and arrow, distinguishing them from other, similar accessories in the line.
Karma: Similarly, Karma’s look is taken right from the same cover. I like the head-sculpt and the eye effect; the hands are similar to other sculpts that have been emblematic of psychic or magic powers (see Emma Frost, for example). I’m wouldn’t be surprised to see a variant Karma with the cybernetic leg turn up sometime in the future, but I think I prefer this version.
Wolfsbane: Not bad overall, but it lacks a certain flair. The head and clawed hand sculpts are good, but I wish that we had a “human” Rahne head. I would definitely like there to be a Stroman-esque X-Factor Woflsbane in the future to go with Havok, Polaris, Madrox, and the forthcoming Strong Guy BAF. But as far as representing the character for the New Mutants, it’s adequate.
Really, the best part of the Dani Moonstar figure is seeing all three versions together. We have literally never had all three characters in figure form, and it’s great to see. It makes me want to see a similar figure for the boys with heads/hands for Cypher, Sunspot, and Cannonball. Just maybe make them easier to get.
Moving on . . .
Squirrel Girl: This is pretty delightful. A great sculpt (that tale is hilariously huge) and a sense of fun are all over this set. Sure, the scooter is basically the same as the Deadpool version, but it does have the basket. The three squirrels are appropriately cute. Do I wish that they would have done the character as a regularly priced figure with the 3 squirrels still packed in? Sure. But I understand that occasionally certain things are done due to the realities of getting things on the market.
Now, I realize that there are some people out there that don’t like, even hate, Squirrel Girl. Frankly, don’t care. If you don’t like it, don’t buy. This is a great rendition of a character co-created by the immortal Steve Ditko that appeals to a lot fans. They like it, and so do I.
Cosmic Ghost Rider: I’m not going to beat around the bush here. This is AWESOME. I love everything about this set. The cycle is an incredible design. The figure looks great independent of the bike, and the faux metallic finish is nice. There’s an insane of amount of new tooling on this thing; I can’t peg anything from the bike that’s been used before. The giant energy ball “front tire” is great. This is one of those rare occasions that I’m going to write less and let the pictures speak for me.
Personal Note: We
all know what’s up out there. Figure reviews might be few and far between for a
bit. Everyone stay in and stay safe. The column is no fun without you.
Some may scoff at Doreen Green when they meet her, but she uses her squirrel-like abilities and positive attitude to take down some notably intimidating foes. Squirrel Girl is now available on Kabam’s Marvel Contest of Champions.
Doreen Green’s squirrel-like abilities made her an outsider in her teenage years. She escaped the insults of her classmates by hiding in the woods, among the squirrels. With the help of her good friend Tippy Toe, Squirrel Girl has taken down some of the most feared Super Villains in the universe. With an almost unrivaled win record, she lives up to the title, the “Unbeatable Squirrel Girl.”
The Champion’s spotlight is here if you’d like to know about this character’s abilities and stats.
The “War of the Realms” takes a break this week from the main heroes and blockbuster trappings to tell smaller, quirky stories that are varying degrees of fun. The McElroys bring the road trip banter in War of the Realms: Journey into Mystery #2, and Andre Araujo gets to take a break from advanced technology and gory fight scenes to be a humor cartoonist. War of the Realms: New Agents of Atlas #1 is one of the first tie-ins to remember that this event has a global scope, and Greg Pak and Gang Hyuk-Lim introduce Marvel’s first Filipina hero, Wave, although the story comes apart at the seams sometimes. I tip my hat to Pak and Lim for introducing more Asian heroes to the main Marvel Universe, and hopefully we get to hear for them after three issues. And Unbeatable Squirrel Girlcontinues to be a sweet cinnamon roll of a comic that I hope Marvel never cancels. (Thank you Scholastic book club marketing!)
War of the Realms: Journey into Mystery #2
With the boring team assembling part out of the way, the McElroys, Andre Araujo, and colorist Chris O’Halloran are free to write and draw road trip hijinks after a quick prelude showing why Ares is working for Sindr and after Thor’s baby sister, Laussa. The McElroys settle into writing this truly odd assortment of characters in Journey into Mystery #2, and honestly, I could read a whole ongoing series of them traipsing through the Marvel Universe and arguing about personal space, the fact that no one on the team can drive except Kate Bishop (Kudos to Miles Morales for doing driver’s ed next semester though.), and Thori being fierce.
The McElroys and Araujo don’t force a fight with Ares just yet and have the team stop at “Bide-A-Wee” trailer park because, again, no one except Kate Bishop can drive. Araujo draws the denizens of the trailer park in a stiff manner like they’re pretending to be human. This makes sense because they are actually Skrulls. (Of course, the McElroys use this fact to get in some licks at Secret Invasion.) And, then, there’s the requisite action scene that Araujo and O’Halloran make fun with some creative shapeshifting and pink arrows for Kate. However, the sequence is resolved in a very un-War of the Realms way. But what do you expect from a creative team that made changing a dirty diaper both hilarious and suspenseful.
If we had to fight a War of the Realms to get this fun buddy road trip story from the McElroys and Andre Araujo, it will have been worth it. This comic definitely feels like it was written by a bunch of guys who have probably been in enclosed spaces with each other for a long time whether that’s childhood road trips or doing live podcast shows for rabid fans. Throw in a sense of wonder, humor, and love for cute babies interacting with Helhounds, and Journey into Mystery #2 an overall verdict of Buy.
War of the Realms: New Agents of Atlas #1
Through his elevation of Amadeus Cho to the Hulk and especially a four issue arc of Totally Awesome Hulk where Cho teams up with other Asian-American superheroes, Greg Pak has used his clout as a writer to push for more Asian and Asian-American superheroes in Marvel Comics. He and artist Gang Hyuk Lim turn that up to eleven in War of the Realms: New Agents of Atlas #1, which features appearances from Marvel’s first Filipina hero Wave, the Chinese hero Aero, and Korean heroes Crescent and Io and Luna Snow, who were popular in the Marvel Future Fight mobile game and make their first comic appearance here. It’s cool to see these characters and their unique abilities get the spotlight, but Pak struggles to juggle such a large ensemble cast in one issue. Lim’s art is also fairly pedestrian even though there are pops of color from Federico Blee like when Crescent sics his magic bear Io on some Fire Goblins.
In New Agents of Atlas #1’s back matter, Pak says that he wanted to use the book to explore the “diversity within diversity” having Asian and Asian-American from different countries and backgrounds interact while defending the continent from Sindr and Fire Goblins. And he pulls this off in one fantastic scene where Jimmy Woo, the leader of Agents of Atlas, asks Amadeus Cho, Kamala Khan, Silk, and Shang Chi what kind of pear he’s holding. Depending on their background, they say it’s a Korean, Chinese, or Japanese pear because Kamala has only seen that kind of pear at the Japanese grocery.
However, the lesson is that the kind of pear doesn’t matter, and Woo says that the important thing is that they work together as a team. They proceed to not do this with Kamala and Amadeus constantly bickering about some Champions business, which leads to their plane crashing outside Seoul and a fight against the Korean superheroes, not Sindr’s forces. Pak and Lim nail Amadeus Cho’s egotism as he flexes his muscles and showboats throughout the comic and impetuously launches himself into battle without regard for his teammates. However, the scene where the newly minted Agents of Atlas fight the Korean superheroes is very rushed as White Fox immediately assumes that Amadeus Cho is bad because he had a Hulk incident a while back. It’s a good illustration of the pointless drama that gets in the way of teamwork, but with an emphasis on the “pointless” part.
Luna Snow, who Silk fangirls over because she’s a hero and a K-Pop star, Crescent and Io, and a cool surprise character have visually distinct abilities, but Gang Hyuk Lim is too married to the Marvel house style to really let them shine. This is a book that could have used the stylized touch of a Takeshi Miyazawa, who collaborate with Greg Pak on his creator owned comic Mech Cadet Yu, or David Lafuente. With its introduction of new heroes and soapy team dynamic, New Agents of Atlas has tantalizing potential even if this first issue doesn’t completely deliver so it earns the Overall Verdict of Read.
Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #44
the best “War of the Realms” tie-in continues as writer Ryan North, artist Derek
Charm, and colorist Rico Renzi
have Squirrel Girl team up with Ratatoskr, the Norse squirrel god of chaos
against Frost Giants and then frighten the citizens of rural Alberta. North and
Charm do a good job laying out Ratatoskr’s motivation as she sees that Malekith
ruling all ten realms would lead to conformity and boredom, which is the
opposite of chaos. So, she’s fighting Frost Giants although in a flashback, she
did give a thumbs up to Mangog, the destroyer of Asgard. Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #44 is really an exercise in ethics as
Ratatoskr tries to cross lines, but Squirrel Girl holds her back and tries to
keep everything even kneeled. However, this backfires.
every issue in this series, Unbeatable
Squirrel Girl #44 is a dense comic filled with jokes, extended riffs, footnote
jokes, and kick-ass fight scenes. What could have been just a simple fight
between Squirrel Girl and two Frost Giants ends up with Ratatoskr giving an
update on what she has been up to over the past 30 issues or so while
imprisoned in Asgard as well as some jokes about how Frost Giants see humans as
action figures and superhumans as rare ones. They’re still looking for the rare
action figures with kung fu grips though.
the Giants go down, North and Charm go into full fish out of water mode with
Ratatoskr, who is trying to blend in with the locals, but ends up as a femme
fatale in rural Canada and does not pass for human. She has great fashion
sense, and North and Charm get to sneak in jokes about video game palette
swaps, Sailor Moon, and draw a
squirrel ear wearing Spider-Man costume while she picks her look. Also, in her
interactions with the regular folks of Alberta, she chooses the chaotic option
over the safe one and ends up getting in random guys’ faces. This scene also
illustrates the classic principles that humans hate and fear what they don’t
understand as the Albertans turn on Squirrel Girl and Ratatoskr, once they
realize that “they’re not from around here”.
Ryan North, Derek Charm, and Rico Renzi seem to be having a hell of time combining Squirrel Girl’s morality and empathy with Ratatoskr’s penchant for chaos and manipulation. It’s an instant source of drama and mischief and gives Charm the chance to draw “resting evil face”. Also, for its dedication to fun, good comedy, complex baddies, adorable art, and expressive, flat colors, Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #44 gets an overall verdict of Buy.
Although the quality of this week’s three comics does fluctuate, Journey into Mystery, New Agents of Atlas, and Unbeatable Squirrel Girl use the backdrop of “War of the Realms” not as a crutch, but as a freedom to tell road trip, Asian superhero team-up, and odd couple stories. Frost Giants are coming through portals so why not bring back the entertaining villain Ratatoskr from a few years back to mess with Squirrel Girl and use her divine abilities to troll mere mortals. A book like New Agents of Atlas could use its own series to build up the new characters, but Journey into Mystery and Unbeatable Squirrel Girl uses the events of “War of the Realms” as jumping on points for comedic misadventures. This week is a breath of fresh air after all the melodrama, gore, and Frank Castleness of previous “War of the Realms” tie-ins.
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In an effort to recognize their most special accounts and loyal retailers, Funko is continuing their Specialty Series. Every month, they announce two major exclusives – this month includes a Dorbz and Pop!
Why is it so special? You’ll only be able to find these Specialty Series exclusives in boutique retail, specialty stores, local comic book shops and from qualified online retailers. This is your chance to help support local businesses and smaller retailers, and you’ll pick up an amazing exclusive item in the process!
The latest exclusives are a Squirrel Girl Dorbz and Gargoyles Hudson Pop!
Remember, these two fantastic pieces are exclusive to the Specialty Series. So pay a visit to your favorite specialty store or your local comic book shop and let them know to order the Specialty Series from Funko.
Unbeatable Squirrel Girl takes a little break in issue 26 for a special in-universe zine comic written and drawn by various heroes, villains, and denizens of the Marvel Universe. In real life, they are all written by Ryan North with Erica Henderson switching roles with her Jughead collaborator Chip Zdarsky to pen a surprisingly sultry Howard the Duck story. It’s a fun sampler that mostly hit and very little miss from the much vaunted series of three panel Galactus gag strips by Garfield‘s Jim Davis to Anders Nilsen and Soren Iverson’s poignant story of Wolverine befriending a Sentinel and shotgunning a beer with his adamantium claws. The series Unbeatable Squirrel Girl has a lot of fantastic action, jokes, and the occasional superhero parody, but it’s a book where Doreen listens to both her opponents and allies and tries to work things out with eating nuts and kicking butts. S
So, it’s fitting, we get this comic that is written by a wacky range of POVs beginning with Squirrel Girl herself who stutters through the intro about his being a fundraiser zine. We get to listen to Kraven, hear Spider-Man’s retort, and see the world through Tippytoe’s eyes, which is drawn and colored in an adorable manner Madeline McGrane’s art and colors make this frame story definitely look like a zine you might pick up at the local coffee shop or one of those fancy schmancy zine stores in bigger stories. It’s followed up by Chip Zdarsky going the closest he’ll ever get to his work on Sex Criminals in a mainstream comic with Erica Henderson doubling as a film noir director, but more awkward. They use close-ups and small panels of Howard the Duck and his femme fatale/client like they’re egging Marvel editorial to linger on this scene more while adding a funny caption. Zdarsky doing Big Two interiors is a big treat, and he barely holds back.
Tom Fowler’s Brain Drain story is a nice showcase of the underrated Unbeatable Squirrel Girl supporting character and hews the closest to Henderson’s usual style on the book. His take on Brain Drain is philosophical, adorable, and structured like the computer science programs that the character loves. It’s oddly motivational too and worth a reread thanks to its erudite writing style. Speaking of rereads, Carla Speed McNeil draws a Loki comic that only makes sense forwards and backwards and is a great example of how the comics medium allows for flexibility of meaning using Loki as a litmus test. It’s a wonderful double page spread, and the best Loki story since Journey into Mystery.
After this, Michael Cho draws a Kraven the Hunter comic/Spider-Man diss story, which is a pretty fun riff off “Kraven’s Last Hunt” and features dead presidents. His art has a light hearted old school vibe while having a subversive take on superhero/supervillain relationships kind of like the main Unbeatable Squirrel Girl title, but from the bad guy’s perspective. It’s followed up by a one page retort from Spider-Man with some gorgeous, yet still funny digital painting work from Rahzzah, who teams up later in the book to do Nancy Whitehead’s photo collage comic with the help of North, who channels Dinosaur Comics in the strip. It’s a well-designed remix story that will make the non-artists reading this comic smile and the kind of mash-up that you would find in a real zine.
But the heavy hitter of the bunch is Anders Nilsen and Soren Iverson’s Wolverine story that is fitting for an artist who had done a comic called Poetry is Useless. Anders Nilsen has a minimalist Euro style perfect for a comic about Wolverine getting talked out of killing a Sentinel, who challenges him to look past his shiny mutant killing exterior and team up with him to beat up some kaiju. (Sadly, this part of the story is off panel.) Wolverine gets a big epiphany moment when he realizes that he’s “hating and fearing” the Sentinel just like the X-Men have been treated for most of their career. This story is proof that more Fantagraphics and Drawn and Quarterly guys should draw superhero comics.
Following this weighty, yet fun story is a couple of candy confections. Unbeatable Squirrel Girl colorist Rico Renzi draws an adorable and faux edgy Batman parody starring the one and only Tippytoe. It pokes fun at Batman’s angsty backstory as well as the fact that Tippytoe always plays second banana. Renzi’s art style is similar to the cartoon The Amazing World of Gumball with lush digital backgrounds and colors. Finally, Jim Davis, whose work I was familiar with eons before I ever opened a Marvel comic, transposes the classic Garfield and Jon relationship to Galactus and the Silver Surfer. It’s the same dad-ish, three panel punchline jokes, but told in a more cosmic key, and Davis has a lot of fun showing Galactus doing his planet devouring, face stuffing thing. His literal eye popping Silver Surfer has a similar manic energy to Robin Williams’ Genie in Disney’s Aladdin.
Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #26 is a real treat as independent cartoonists, the creator of Garfield, and even the book’s colorist get to take a stab at some of the more familiar faces in the Marvel Universe while also giving Squirrel Girl’s supporting cast a moment in the sun. It’s sometimes poignant and always funny.
Story: Ryan North, Erica Henderson Art: Madeline McGrane, Chip Zdarsky, Tom Fowler, Carla Speed McNeil, Michael Cho, Anders Nilsen, Rico Renzi, Jim Davis Colors: Madeline McGrane, Chip Zdarsky, Rico Renzi, Rahzzah,Soren Iverson Story: 9.5 Art: 9.0 Overall:9.2 Recommendation: Read
One of the announcements I had predicted for San Diego Comic-Con was the unveiling of the cast for Marvel and Freeform‘s New Warriors television show. A week early the information has dropped with some fantastic additions and what looks to be a solid group.
Comedian and actress Milana Vayntrub has landed one of the most coveted roles out there as she steps into the tail of Squirrel Girl. There’s been lots of speculation as to who would play the lead character with some pretty high profile actresses publically vying for the spot.
Joining Vayntrub is Derek Theler as Mister Immortal, Jeremy Tardy as Night Thrasher, Calum Worthy as Speedball, Matthew Moy as Microbe, and Kate Comer as Debrii.
The series is Marvel’s first live action comedy and one of two live action series to debut on the channel from the multimedia company, the other being Cloak & Dagger. The show was picked up straight to series and will launch in 2018.
Freeform, Marvel, and ABC (all are owned by Disney) have announced a new television project, Marvel’s New Warriors. The television series is the second Marvel project for the television and is a comedic live-action adaptation, the first comedy for Marvel on television. The series has been picked up for ten 30-minute episodes and will debut in 2018.
Marvel’s New Warriors is about six young people with powers living and working together. With powers and abilities on the opposite end of the spectrum of The Avengers, the New Warriors want to make a difference in the world … even if the world isn’t ready. Not quite super, not yet heroes, Marvel’s New Warriors is about that time in your life when you first enter adulthood and feel like you can do everything and nothing at once – except in this world, bad guys can be as terrifying as bad dates.
The series will feature fan-favorite “Squirrel Girl” (Doreen Green) as a totally empowering fan girl— tough, optimistic and a natural leader. Doreen is confident and has the powers of a squirrel … She’s acrobatic, can fight and talk to other squirrels. Her most important trait is that she has faith in people and teaches them to believe in themselves. Additional cast to be announced.
The series is co-produced by Marvel Television and ABC Signature Studios. Marvel’s Jeph Loeb, and Jim Chory serve as executive producers on the series.
The New Warriors debuted in 1989 in The Mighty Thor #411 and Tom DeFalco and Ron Frenz are created with their creation. The team has numerous versions with a rotating roster. It’s unknown who will be a part of this version. While Squirrel Girl hasn’t been on the team she was a part of a version of the team that appeared on the Ultimate Spider-Man cartoon series.