GI Joe the Roleplaying Game

GI Joe

Renegade Games brings the ultimate roleplaying game for 80s fanboys- GI Joe the Roleplaying Game!

Over the years GI Joe has had many iterations to the comics and cartoons. The Joes originated in comic and animation starting with Marvel Comics. They were later replaced by Devils Due and then at their current home at IDW Comics. Devils Due continued the story where Marvel left off but IDW rebooted it to take the story with the original write where it was left off at Marvel. I have always wanted to play in this world and now Renegade Games has given us the chance to do just that.

The quality of this book though is what really makes it stand out. The images and attention to detail are superb. Even better is that, with such a rich history of comics and cartoons, you are able to play any source material you want. That’s right! If you prefer the Devils Due run then you can play it. If you prefer the IDW reboot run then you can play that! You can literally play any source you want, as long as the GM/DM and players all agree.

Right off the bat (pun intended) I have a big complaint about this game- you can only play as a member of the Joes team. Other than Snake Eyes, Scarlet and Jinx, I am a fan of Cobra. I want a Cobra Roleplaying Game next or at least a supplement that does the same thing. Their D20 system is really easy to pick up and play without much experience with other roleplaying games.

Bridge Constructor: The Walking Dead

Walking Dead

Have you ever wanted to build a bridge AND kill zombies at the same time? With Bridge Constructor: The Walking Dead you can!

Merging Headup’s series of Bridge Constructor titles and AMC’s The Walking Dead, players must help fan favorite characters reach the other side while keeping them alive. The Bridge Constructor games have been full of innovations including a partnership with the Portal franchise. The concept is rather simple, you have a gap of some sort and a vehicle or people need to cross. Queue the builder, that means you, builds a bridge of some sort.

Each stage has a resource limit to reach but is not required to finish the level. With The Walking Dead version of the franchise you must also kill the occasional zombie. Each stage shows a broken building or ravine to cross, many of which include zombies trying to eat characters like Eugene Porter and fan favorite Daryl Dixon. Characters like Daryl will aggressively remove zombie threats while others will use their brains to out think the walkers.

Like the other Bridge Constructor titles this game is quite enjoyable but at the same time absolutely maddening. Some stages I simply lack the imagination needed to build my bridge effectively enough to complete the level while using less than the resource limit. I love this game despite my skill though.

GI Joe Operation Blackout

GI Joe

The folks over at GameMill Entertainment have delivered on one of the greatest franchises ever known- GI Joe!

Being a child of the Eighties I grew up with the original GI Joe cartoon series and to this day still read the comics. Other than the original title on the NES (Nintendo Entertainment System) I have even played every video game title released for the franchise. Very few forms of media have captured my attention or devotion like GI Joe has. Several months ago I learned that this game was going to be released and reached out to GameMill directly to see if we could cover the game using a review copy and they graciously agreed.


Having played the other GI Joe titles I was expecting a simple game with very linear levels using the likeness of some of my favorite characters. What we got was something entirely different.

Reality of this GI Joe Title

The levels are mostly linear but with a bit of room for exploration. Collectibles hidden throughout the levels means you’ll have some replayability but not enough to overcome the monotony of some portions of levels. The characters and story look like they straight out of the comics. The story is very linear but focuses on both sides of the war, not just the good guys. This game is far from simplistic too. Even on the easier difficulties expect to die, a few times per level. This game is not your typical walk in the park, in fact I know seasoned gamers that commented on the difficulty level. My advice to you is to start on the lowest difficulty and replay on the higher difficulties. Replaying the levels on the higher difficulty will allow you to use built in level modifications and have a much easier time on the level. The best mods are those that give unlimited ammo or bigger shields.

The Breakdown

This game has the look and feel of the comics, as if it was written by Larry Hama himself, and has the world mechanics to cater to nearly every game style. If you are a fan of GI Joe or of a challenge then this game is a must play for you. (Editor’s note: The fact that this game was provided for review had no bearing on the thoughts/opinions expressed here.)

X of Swords, the Epic Mutant Event of 2020!

X of Swords

Heed my words of warning! Many prophesies foretell that the world is headed not toward peace and unity, but toward a final, cataclysmic war! The battle of Armageddon is here! Feast your eyes and hearts on that story in X of Swords, chapters 1-22! Yes…all 22 chapters!

This is the story as related by the soothsayers: Vita Ayala, Ed Brisson, Gerry Duggan, Jonathan Hickman, Tini Howard, Benjamin Percy, Zeb Wells, Leah Williams

Artwork provided by the horde: Mahmud Asrar, Viktor Bogdanovic, Joshua Cassara, Carmen Carnero, Stefano Caselli, Leinil Francis Yu, Carlos Gomez, Pepe Laraz, Matteo Lolli, Phil Noto, Rod Reis, R. B. Silva, Marcus To

The official plot:

“X OF SWORDS, the epic X-Men crossover that represents the next chapter in Jonathan Hickman’s bold new vision for the X-Men, threatens the new mutant nation of Krakoa with invasion by the inhabitants of the lost land known as Arakko…

Saturnyne, the Omniversal Majestrix, has devised a delightful way to settle this ancient dispute—a tournament. Ten champions from each nation will gather mythical swords to wield in duels that will determine the very future of mutantkind, and the hunt is on right now!”

Marvel Comics

Epic crossover? Somehow that statement is both true and untrue at the same time. There is a LOT of stuff packed in this 22 issue monster. Some pretty significant changes…some subtle and some not so subtle. There is also a LOT of unnecessary fluff…and stupid fluff at that. It’s no secret that my future as a Marvel subscriber hinged on the outcome of this event…and I can tell you that halfway through, my mind was made up.

X of Swords
What If…Apocalypse was the leader of the X-Men?!?!

My Impressions:

  • This is an excellent overall story that includes the revelation of Apocalypse’s past, his people, their self imposed exile, the ancient enemy that corrupted them…and turned them against the world they sought to protect.
  • The artwork runs the gambit from bad to beautiful. What else do you expect when you have over a dozen artists working on the same project?
  • The Good: I’ve always like Apocalypse, but now I have so much more respect for him and really understand his motivations. He is NOT a villain…he is a man determined to reunite his people and family.
  • The Bad: All of that emotional build up was wasted. We were sold the idea that we would have 10 epic sword fights between some big names. Instead the contests turned out to be a comical farce that included among other things; a Trial by Wedding, arm wrestling, a foot race, a drinking game, boulder punching, an eating contest, a dance-off and jigsaw puzzles. Sorry…this attempt at comedy really tainted an otherwise great story.
  • The Ugly: Bad business. Marvel forced me to buy 22 issues (25 if you want the preludes and Handbook) to get this whole story…which included issues from series that I didn’t follow. This included multiple stand alone, prestige format, books. Given this filler content of some issues, this feels like Marvel sticking their hands right into my wallet and taking over $101 of my hard earned cash.
X of Swords
Survival of the fittest!

Notable Appearances/Events:

  • Apocalypse vs. Annihilation!
  • Every X-Team member ever…
  • First appearance: The original Four Horsemen of Apocalypse! (His biological children no less!)
  • First appearance: Genesis (Bride of Apocalypse and mother of the Horsemen)
  • Event: The return of the Captain Britain Corps
  • Revelation: Mutants can’t ALWAYS be returned from the dead
  • Revelation: All is not well on the Quiet Council

Bottom Line: 3 Stars!

X of Swords is a return to the true X-Men/Marvel pattern of using a plethora of titles to tell one story and drawing it out longer than necessary. Marvel just can’t help themselves…they have to set things up so that you have to collect all of the X-titles to get a full story. They did it in the 90’s, which is why I quit the X-stories then…and it’s why I’m quitting them now. Please understand that this decision is 100% an objection to the model and not the characters or story.

That being said…I gave Marvel a chance to win me over with a great story. I wanted them to give me a solid reason to keep collecting these books. They came close. X of Swords had some awesome writing, no doubt about it. I can give you two examples. First, I’ve never cared for the new version of Cable until now. As a parent, his final battle and telepathic communication with Jean and Cyclops got me right in the feels. Second, X of Swords is above all, the tragic story of Apocalypse’s loss and struggles to reunite with his family after thousands of years…only to find out they have all become the enemy! I’ll never look at him the same way after this. Unfortunately…Marvel decided to take a big shit right in the middle of this excellent drama by turning the contest of champions into a Nickelodeon game show. That makes this feel like the whole thing was a bait-and-switch that substituted a montage of jokes for the 10 life altering battles we were promised. Sure we lost a few minor characters here and there…but no one that we really cared about.

Marvel’s refusal to deliver a well crafted, impactful story, while simultaneously picking the readers pocket is the ultimate disrespect. I refuse to support this anymore and will be sticking to lower tier characters from now on. I guess that means I’ve got more money to spend on DC, Image, Boom! and other independent titles now.

The Department of Truth

Department of Truth

“And it shall come to pass, that he who flees from the noise or the fear, shall fall into the pit; and he that cometh up out of the midst of the pit shall be taken in the snare!” Prepare yourselves with the book of Department of Truth, chapters 1 & 2!

The Conspiracy Theorist in chief: James Tynion IV.
Propaganda designer: Martin Simmonds!

The official plot:

“Cole Turner has studied conspiracy theories all his life, but he isn’t prepared for what happens when he discovers that all of them are true, from the JFK assassination to flat Earth theory and reptilian shapeshifters. One organization has been covering them up for generations. What is the deep, dark secret behind the Department of Truth?”

Image Comics

That’s a great solicitation…unfortunately, it’s pretty vague. We learn early on, that it’s more like “managing” the so-called secrets. A more apt description is “the truth” is always in flux…literally.

Department of Truth
Of course Lee Harvey Oswald would be in charge!

My Impressions:

  • No doubt about it, this one is a real head-scratcher!
  • If things work the way they are saying…there is one helluva butterfly effect going on. Constantly!
  • 80’s child care abuse cases…not what I thought the first story would tackle…I’m impressed.
Department of Truth
Ladies and Gentlemen…meet out hero.

Notable Appearances/Events:

  • See the glacier at the edge of the world!
  • Witness personified evil feasting on children.
  • Meet the crack team that manages this chaos. Most of whom feel easily replicable.

Bottom Line: 3 Stars!

Definitely not the conspiracy theory story I thought it would be. It will be interesting to see exactly how it plays out. On the positive side, this set-up definitely leaves the book open to incorporating just about anything. Ultimately, the jury is out on if this is a long term title for me.

Batman: Three Jokers #2

Three Jokers

And Batman asked him, “What is your name?” He replied, “My name is Joker, for we are many!” Delve into the insanity in Batman: Three Jokers, chapter 2, verses 1-54!

This is the word according to the infamous Geoff Johns
As envisioned by Jason Fabok

The official plot:

“As Batman and Batgirl follow an unexpected thread linking the three Jokers with someone from the Dark Knight’s past, Red Hood dives headfirst into trouble and finds himself struggling to stay afloat without the aid of his allies. Batman: Three Jokers continues its trajectory as the ultimate examination of The Joker and his never-ending conflict with Batman. Prepare yourselves for the second chapter of one of the most terrifying and personal mysteries Batman has ever faced!”

DC Comics

“Terrifying” feels a little over the top, unless you’re Jason Todd, but aside from that, this is a really spot on synopsis.

Three Jokers
That’s the second time he’s alluded to Jason being one of the bad guys.

My Impressions:

  • This story delves into the metal injuries Joker inflicted on Jason and Barbara…and how they handled the lasting impacts. Heavy stuff that most comics don’t handle to this depth.
  • Without a doubt, this is the Empire Strikes Back of the series. The good guys lose and lick their wounds while the bad guys end with the upper hand. I like it!
  • Jason really needs to understand that he was DEAD, so he can’t blame people for burying him!
  • Was it really necessary to make Jason naked?
Three Jokers
I feel that there’s a big reveal coming…or a retcon.

Notable Appearances/Events:

  • Batman (Bruce Wayne)
  • Joker
  • Joker
  • Red Hood (Jason Todd)
  • Batgirl (Barbara Gordon)
  • Joe Chill

Bottom Line: 4 Stars!

At least this time it’s not Batman’s fault that Jason is beaten to death (almost). Kidding aside, this is a pretty haunting issue…especially the revealing scenes in Barbara’s apartment. All of that evidence of her rehabilitation after being paralyzed…the evidence of how it changed her life. Just how much Jason’s death affected him. It’s a great story. I can’t decide if I want to see Jason embrace the Joker route, or hold true as a hero. Perhaps DC should have set up a phone number and let the fans decide!

Stillwater #2, “The Greatest Burden”


Lazarus came forth out of the grave! If you live in Stillwater…you will too! Learn how in the book of Stillwater, chapter 2, verses 1-32!

Hey look, it’s written by that Howard the Duck guy, Chip Zdarsky. (Yes, I pointed it out last time too…I haven’t forgiven him yet.)
Brought to life (pun intended) by the one and only Ramon K Perez!

The official plot:

“Daniel West has returned to Stillwater, but his homecoming is anything but happy! What secret is the town hiding from the outside world? And can Daniel save his mother from meeting her fate within The Park?”

Image Comics

NOPE NOPE NOPE! IF Daniel ever left Stillwater, it was as an infant…so this hardly counts as a “homecoming.” We already know the secret, so that’s a rhetorical question…and lastly, how does burying an immortal person for two weeks count as “meeting her fate?” This solicitation writer really earned their pay on this one.

My Impressions:

  • Ah – The Judge! I knew there had to be someone in a seat of power.
  • If the deputies are shooting each other, I can’t wait to meet the sheriff.
  • Who’s the boy scout hiking that kid out of Stillwater…and is that kid even Daniel? Inquiring minds want to know.
If you can’t die…what is it like to be buried alive for two weeks?

Notable Appearances/Events:

  • We get to meet the Judge!
  • See…I told you Tony didn’t matter.
  • Punishment in a small, immortal, town is on display!

Bottom Line: 3 Stars!

Stillwater feels like a CW television show. The writer essentially did a mash-up of Riverdale and The Old Guard, and it works. I don’t see this being a long series if they don’t start introducing additional elements soon. So far so good, but I’m not hooked for the long haul.

Stillwater #1, “I Can’t Protect You, No One Can”


“For the living know that they will die, and the dead know nothing” except in Stillwater, where all those rules are out the window! Perhaps you too can live forever, if you study the book of Stillwater, chapter 1, verses 1-32!

The tale as told by Chip Zdarsky. Okay…hold on…he wrote Howard the Duck! He can’t possibly write horror, can he?
Illustrated by the somewhat untried Ramon K Perez?

The official plot:

“SERIES PREMIERE! Nobody dies. In the town of Stillwater, that’s not just a promise. It’s a threat.”

Image Comics

The original solicitation for Stillwater was quite a bit longer, but I removed the name dropping and award mentions. Seems what we were left with was a couple short sentences. Not sure if it’s good that they hype takes up more space than the actual issue description.

That kid…just fell from the roof of a four story building.

My Impressions:

  • Never grow old, never die…where have I heard that before?
  • I seriously watched an episode of Scooby-Doo last night, that started the same exact way! “You inherited money! Go to a backwater town to get it!”
  • Just enough questions without answers to bring me back for another issue. (Kind of like they planned it that way.)
Well this looks serious.

Notable Appearances/Events:

  • Daniel West (The protagonist)
  • Ted (Deputy Asshole)
  • No one else really matters…especially Tony.

Bottom Line: 3 Stars!

Stillwater is more of a psychological horror than the “zombie” story I thought it would be. There is no doubt that it has some real potential. A town full of essentially immortal people are bound to have some really messed up interactions. Hopefully the writers can play up that component.

Talisman Batman: Super Villains Edition

Talisman Batman

Have you ever wanted to take on the role of your favorite villains from Gotham? In Talisman Batman: Super Villains Edition you can!

USAOpoly brings us a new take on the classic game Talisman with Talisman Batman. Having never played a Talisman game I didn’t know what to expect but loving Batman’s rogues I knew that this game would be right up my alley so when The Op Games offered me a review copy I jumped at the chance.

The goal of the game is to play as one of the various villains (what game let’s you do this, honestly?) and sneak your way through Arkham Asylum until you reach the security tower. Finding the exit isn’t simply the end though, you must also face down the greatest detective himself- Batman! Each turn your villain performs two actions, movement and encounters. In terms of movement your dice determine what happens and as always a roll of 1 is a failure, meaning Batman is moving as well. When you finish your movement you must resolve your encounter with the space you are on. Encounters will vary based on the space itself or if you share that space with either another player of Batman himself.

I loved the theme of the game and was honestly surprised there wasn’t an option where you could have someone play as Batman himself. Doing a larger group would have been quite fun if one person was playing the bat and everyone else had to either avoid him, work with each other to escape or face him directly. The mechanics worked well for the game and having to roll for your movement (instead of a default setting) added some stress inducing variables that made for some tense moments. If you’ve ever wanted to play the villain this game is a must for you but leaves a bit to be desired for those uninterested in the role.

Detective Comics #1027, Compilation Tome!

Detective Comics

Brethren! Seek not to ponder the Batman himself, instead, feast yourself on this massive volume of his stories! Behold the book of Detective Comics, chapter 1027, verses 1-144!

This is the scripture according to: Peter J. Tomasi, Scott Snyder, Greg Rucka, Tom King, Brian Michael Bendis, Matt Fraction, James Tynion IV, Mariko Tamaki, Marv Wolfman, Grant Morrison, Dan Jurgens, Kelly Sue DeConnick
(Queue a dramatic inhale!) Illustrated by: Eduardo Risso, Lee Bermejo, Walter Simonson, David Marquez, Jim Cheung, José Luis García-López, Olivier Coipel, Riley Rossmo, Dan Mora, Chip Zdarsky, Jamal Campbell, Chris Burnham, Dan Jurgens

The official plot:

“Light the Bat-Signal, because Detective Comics #1027 is here! In honor of Batman’s first appearance in Detective Comics #27, this special, book-size celebration brings you the biggest names in comics as they chronicle the most epic Batman adventures Gotham City and the DC Universe have ever seen! The World’s Greatest Detective has a mountain of cases to crack: Who murdered Gotham’s most corrupt police officer? What does The Joker’s annual visit mean for Bruce Wayne? And most importantly, what WayneTech mystery will sow the seeds of the next epic Batman event? All this and more await you within the pages of the biggest Batman issue of them all!”

DC Comics

“Most epic Batman adventures…?” Not so much. “Seeds of the next epic Batman event?” Sure, I’ll give them that one. Look, it’s a collection of short stories, some good, some bad, mostly adequate. It all depends on your personal flavor.

Detective Comics
The obligatory supernatural Batman story!

My Impressions:

  • Be careful where you set this issue down, it’s so heavy it could cause some damage
  • Exactly what you would expect from a Batman anniversary issue…a collage of art and words. A chance for some folks to try new styles etc.
  • Initially intimidating…but it should be, it’s lighter fare. Easily skipped if you don’t want to invest the time.
Detective Comics
The obligatory period piece!

Notable Appearances/Events:

  • I am not even going to attempt to list everyone appearing in this thing!
  • The Silver Ghost (Detective #26) – We will probably never see him again, but I liked him!

Bottom Line: 3 Stars!

This thing is a BEAST to get through…144 pages. Seriously a multi-session read. In addition, it’s one of the better milestone compilation issues I’ve seen recently, including some sections that tie into currently running story lines. Of course there are those that go for the “deep” or “shock” stories as well, though none are specifically memorable.