Tag Archives: marvel

XH1-XH5 – HOLOGRAMS

5 Sep

With the checklist card I feel like we’d already reached some form of closure so I figured I would just review all the holograms together.

WOLVERINE

As I mentioned in the Danger Room collage, I always loved Lee’s rendering of Wolverine outside the costume… it was just the perfect depiction of a man wrestling with his animal side, and he always just looked badass. And Wolvie was always getting in the nastiest of scraps which gave ample opportunity to see him in tattered rags (I’ll switch topics now lest this get too homoerotic).

The hologram effect for this card especially is disappointing because Lee’s drawing has a lot of depth, and adding the 3d effect for a 2D drawing will inevitably neuter the 3d effect. You can’t tell in that screenshot, but while the 3d effect IS there, it seems more like tiny slivers of art stacked on top of each other no deeper than a few millimeters between them. Wolverine’s hand and claws as rendered on the same plane which actually RUINS the illusion of depth the original 2D drawing establishes.

Meanwhile, the bio on this card is almost exactly the same as bio in his individual card, except the original card refers to his savagery as that of a “wild beast” where his hologram refers to a “jungle beast.” Wonder where the distinction comes from. At least the Danger Room card makes an effort to convey unique information.

CABLE

This is a terrible drawing of Cable, which is to say it looks the most like Liefeld’s rendering. Cable’s aforementioned bulging thighs are in full effect here, and his crouching pose looks absolutely ridiculous in both 2D and 3D versions. Also the color aberrations of the hologram mean that Cable’s trademark white hair looks purple.

Unlike the Wolverine card, Cable’s Hologram card bio is word-for-word the same as his individual card. Minus the X-Tra fact, of course.

GAMBIT

Finally we get an action shot of Gambit throwing his cards. It’s a pretty good, standard pose, too, and if you were into Gambit you could imagine that frontmost card was ejected from his crotch. The strong negative space in the background also gives the hologram a more pronounced 3d effect, even if Gambit and the throwing cards themselves all look like they’re on the same plane.

Gambit’s hologram bio rephrases the last line of the bio in his individual card… The original says “he uses his phenomenal power to protect people in need– both mutant and nonmutant!” while the hologram says “he uses his phenomenal power to protect man- and mutantkind alike!”

MAGNETO

This image of Magneto plays almost like a more action-packed version of his individual card. This might seem cool, but as I’d mentioned in my review of the first card, I vastly preferred the regal, almost defensive Magneto poses to the action pose. I’m also not crazy about having his eyes shrouded in darkness; as my favorite villain of all time, his greatness comes from his humanity and dignity; he does not need to have a darkened face to seem badass, and doing so almost reduces him down to the level of the forgettable psycho killers of the 90s.

Like Cable’s Hologram card, Magneto’s bio is an exact copy of the bio in his individual card.

X-MEN

I apologize for the different look of this scan compared to the others; ComicCovers.com is missing this final card, and I could only find a scan of the front online, so I had to scan my own card from inside its sealed bag. Really I should just open the seal and scan them each myself. If I wasn’t ready to close the books on this blog with this entry (which has already taken up much of my free time :) ), I might still go about doing this.

The card actually depicts the Blue Strike Force, despite the card name not making such a distinction. This makes sense since Lee’s art duties focused on said team, but it would’ve been a fitting end to see both strike forces together in one card. The comics certainly had no problem mingling teammates even after the separation was made, and the separation didn’t last long anyway. Too bad, cause the art in this card is pretty decent, except for the weird business of Beast‘s legs.


OVERALL

It’s hard not to be mesmerized by holograms as a kid; hell, it’s 20 years later and we’re still immaturely obsessed with the 3D gimmick. The fact that 3D actually hasn’t evolved much from these 20 year old cards makes the cards themselves hold up better than they deserve to. Hell, I still don’t know how they make holograms.

That said, I vastly prefer the holograms that look more like actual 3d models, laser scans of sculpted versions of the cards. They’ve done this before on other card sets (and the hologram comics), and it would’ve kicked ass to see someone sculpt Lee’s drawings.

Anyway, that does it for all the cards. Stick around for one more entry that wraps up the entire experience one last time, and then we can all finally move on!

100 – CHECKLIST and CEREBRO

2 Sep

And now we get to the final standard card on the deck. It’s supremely disappointing for this deck to not have the Power Ratings legend, which explained, for example, how many tons someone with 5/7 for Strength could press. These cards were fan favorites in the Series 2 Marvel trading cards, when Power Ratings first debuted. The system remains in use, with minor evolutionary changes, in databases like Marvel.com and the Marvel Wikia.

Instead we get the checklist, which, while not nearly as cool, was still a valuable asset for the obsessive collector.

Let’s take this moment to just take a look at the series in general, specifically who made the list, who didn’t, and what order.

One of the first things to notice is how integral this card series was to complement the X-Men universe relaunch, which at the time included Uncanny X-Men, X-Men, X-Factor, X-Force, Wolverine, and Excalibur. The cards try hard to include exclusives from each of the books, sometimes a little too hard. I’m hard on the Excalibur cards especially, since a few of them lean more on the non-mutant Claremont/Davis collaborations, but other cards don’t age well at all within the mutant continuity, like Shiva from Wolverine #50.

Overall there aren’t obvious omissions on this list. Ones off the top of my head would be Ex-X-Man Sunfire, who had been redesigned by Whilce Portacio at around this time; New Mutant castoff Rictor (who appears in Boom Boom‘s card). Sebastian Shaw appears in the Hellfire Club card but doesn’t get his own. Mysterious Aborigine mutant Gateway was also an integral supporting character in the late-80’s early 90’s X-Men stories.

I‘d already said much about the ordering of the cards, especially earlier in the series. I admired Beast as the leadoff hitter versus the cliche’d Wolverine or Cyclops, but then they hold off on Scott until #17. Jean Grey doesn’t appear until #24, preceded by Meggan, Kylun, and Lockheed, who manages to appear at #10, one spot ahead of Professor X! In fact four of the first 10 cards are Excalibur teammates, which just seems an odd choice.

Meanwhile there’s much controversy with regards to the Power Ratings, many of which seemed arbitrary in assignment. Most notorious is the 1/7 Strength rating for Havok, overpowered by bruisers like Wolfsbane, Siryn, Shadowcat, Boom Boom, and Jubilee (not to be sexist). Professor X, the most powerful mutant mind in the world, doesn’t rate 7/7 for Mental Powers (equal to Storm).

And there were the choices of Power criteria themselves. Whereas the original Marvel card criteria used Strength, Speed, Agility, Stamina, Durability, and Intelligence, the X-Men cards keep only Strength and Intelligence, adding Energy Projection, Mental Powers, and Fighting Ability, leaving characters like Quicksilver with near-flatline ratings. I’d previously advocated combining the Mental Powers and Energy Projection ratings in order to reinsert the Speed Rating.

What about you guys? What were your favorite entries? Which omissions annoy you the most?

The Most Popular X-Cards of August and All Time

1 Sep

Now that we’ve checked out all 99 normal cards (there’s just the checklist and the holograms left!), it’s time once again to look back at the most popular cards of the past month.

  1. Dazzler
  2. X-Men Blue Strike Force
  3. Dark Phoenix
  4. X-Men Gold Strike Force
  5. X-Factor
  6. Magik
  7. Excalibur
  8. Beast
  9. Wolverine

Meanwhile, as of the end of August 2011, here are the top-10 most viewed posts of all time. Relatively similar compared to last month, though Beast jumps Maverick for #3, Wolverine jumps from 8 to 5, Deadpool enters the list at #8, and Havok falls from #6 to #9.

  1. Banshee
  2. Psylocke
  3. Beast
  4. Maverick
  5. Wolverine
  6. Lockheed
  7. Gambit
  8. Deadpool
  9. Havok
  10. Professor X

Which post has been your favorite so far?