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.
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!”
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.
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.
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.
Does this solicitation feel like an afterthought to anyone else? It’s like they didn’t even try to make it sound interesting. (Full disclosure: It’s not)
Marvel/Duggan spend 10 issues building on the fact that Kate is actively rejected by Krakoa. Turns out she just needed to be rebooted.
The whole issue is visually off-putting. I mean, it’s a party…why are some of these folks wearing their battle gear, while Kate is in a party dress?
Crossover Dependency: You’ll need a passing understanding of the overall X-men paradigm.
Black King (Sebastian Shaw)
Bishop (Lucas Bishop)
White Queen (Emma Frost)
Nightcrawler (Kurt Wagner)
Storm (Ororo Munroe)
Katherine ‘Kitty’ Pryde
Magik (Illyana Rasputin)
Prestige (Rachael Grey)
Wolverine (Logan/James Howlett)
Bottom Line: 2 Stars!
I want to like Marauders. It started as an interesting concept of a team to swoop up all those folks that, for whatever reason, couldn’t use Krakoan gates. Basically an X-men search and rescue! Unfortunately this title just seems to wander around doing next to nothing. I believe we’ve had something like two missions in 10 issues? Kate and her crew deserve better.
If you count a failed attempt to make people feel sad as striking back, yeah, this is the perfect description.
Doxing Bad: Sorry Marvel, you haven’t built this subject up enough in the sub-plot arena for it to carry a full issue. Ultimately that means your message is lost.
Bad Judgement: If you’re going for an emotional issue…why would you use Glob? The guy has no face. No face means no facial expression!
Great artwork: Not so much. I really felt that this was cartooned out. I couldn’t help but think of some comic strip dad with a pencil behind his ear.
Anole (Victor Borkowski)
Glob Herman (Robert Herman)
Mirage (Danielle ‘Dani’ Moonstar)
Magik (Illyana Rasputin)
Bottom Line: 1 Star!
New Mutants has struggled to find an identity since the House of X event, flip flopping between multiple line-ups, which detracts from its potential. As the youngest team, this title should be full of drama and angst. The attempts are there with relevant subject matter. Unfortunately, Marvel just is NOT pulling it off. The sad isn’t sad, the angry isn’t angry and that means the boring IS boring.
Pretty spot on! We even get a little history thrown in, just for flavor. I may really hate the individual mutants that make up this team, but Madelyn’s mental state did NOT disappoint.
The Good: The Goblin Queen herself, insane and in charge! I dig it!
The Not-so-Good: Everyone else. (I suppose we can give Psylocke a pass.)
Eye Candy: One of the better looking books I’ve read this week. Great balance of heavy and light ink work. [Editor’s note: I completely agree!]
Crossover dependency: None, while Hellions fits into the greater X-men mega story, it also stands alone quite well.
Havok (Alex Summers)
Wild Child (Kyle Gibney)
Orphan Maker (Peter)
Scalphunter (John Greycrow)
Empath (Manuel Alfonso Rodrigo de la Rocha)
Goblin Queen (Madelyn Pryor)
Harpoon (Kodiak Noatak)
Blockbuster (Michael Baer)
Riptide (Janos Questad)
Scrambler (Kim Il Sung)
Arclight (Philippa Sontag)
Bottom Line: 4 Stars!
I quit collecting X-titles years ago, for the single reason that Marvel saw fit to wind the full story through a dozen titles. It just feels like abuse. Given the approaching 22 issue crossover event, X of Swords, I am looking to drop the mutants again. That being said, if the characters, stories and art hit this level consistently, I may stick around. I’m keeping my eye on Hellions.
Actually it’s the second case. The first was proving the death of teammate Aurora. Duh! Also, it’s more like Major League Ballet…there are corporate sponsors and everything.
What is good: Quirky and fun…as Mojo world almost always is!
Another good thing: Character development. There is some. I mean, I never thought anyone could get me to not dislike Daken.
But how did it look?: Is there a westernized version of Anime? Cause this is a westernized version of Anime.
Crossover Dependency: None. Queue the celebration!
Northstar (Jean-Paul Beaubier)
Prodigy (David Alleyne)
Polaris (Lorna Dane)
Prestige (Rachel Summers)
Eye-Boy (Trevor Hawkins)
Aurora (Jeanne-Marie Beaubier)
Bottom Line: 3 Stars!
With absolutely NONE of my favorite heroes, X-Factor managed to get me to care about it just a little bit. Enough that I’ll be back for the next couple rounds. Maybe it was just the Mojo world visit…but this one was fun and I love the premise of an X-team investigating instead of fighting. Even if it doesn’t end-up that way. [Editor’s Note: When this series launched I was hoping for a return to Peter David’s style of storytelling with X-Factor Investigations. This book is nowhere close to that even though it is an X-Factor Investigations story- misses on quality of the original but as Odiumar mentions the Mojo-world story line will be bringing me back at least for a few more issues.]
Magneto reminds us all that we were given “every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food.” Behold the book of X-men, chapter 11, verses 1-32, where he proved it!
Exactly the opposite. I’m not sure how other books fared against the plant people from the Empyre event, but the mutants didn’t even have to break a sweat.
What works: We get to see Magneto go killer mode.
What I could do without: The Empyre crossover. It’s a LAME story guys! Quit pushing it!
But how did it look?: There were two modes; too much shadow, too much dust. Overall, I can live with it.
Crossover Fatigue: So not only do I need to know what’s going on in the title spanning Empyre event, I also have to keep up with X-Men continuity? Mavel…please STOP! Keep the damned events and regular titles separate please. I promise that I will stop buying ALL of your X-books if you keep pushing me to buy “just one more.”
Magneto (Erik Leshiningiereirer)
Iceman (Robert Drake)
Magma (Amara Juliana Olivians)
Magik (Ilyana Rasputin)
Exodus (Bennet Du Paris)
Anole (Victor Borkowski)
Loa (Alain Ryan)
Rockslide (Santo Vaccarro)
Bottom Line: 4 Stars!
So…Let me sum this up for you. The X-Men (meaning all of the mutants on Krakoa) have been strategising their defenses. So when the time comes, don’t you dare disbelieve that Sinister and Cyclops can play nice together!