Thursday, May 31, 2012

Google Maps Warns Against Walking Into Mordor

Oh, Google. Yes, you're a wonderful company that produces tons of very useful software. But it's your personality I love.

Like this nugget - if you ask Google Maps to give you directions from The Shire to Mordor while walking, this warning appears on the screen:

Want to check it out for yourself? Go ahead.
We didn't have Google back in my day to supply fancy maps, I can tell you that much. We wandered around the forest encountering all sorts of things like orcs and spiders. My worthless dwarven traveling partners weren't much help either, I can tell you that. And then we finally got to where we were going and some NPC you've never heard of kills the dragon with one arrow. ONE ARROW! I'm not kidding either! That guy open ended his crit like twelve times in a row. You could roleplay for the next five hundred years and not see something like that again. And we did it all without Google Maps, we did. So there you have it. I've told my story of how I got there and back again. And no Google Maps to be found anywhere in it, was there? Nope. Certainly not. Now I'm sleepy. Let an old man rest. Away with you. Shoo!

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Marvel Media Mania: Spidey Super Stories (From the Electric Company)

Spidey Super Stories was a part of The Electric Company television show from 1974 to 1977 on PBS.
A example of the show's format and Spider-Man's dialogue

This show represents my first memory of Spider-Man (the episode "Spidey Up Against the Wall). I recall thinking it was ridiculous even back then.

Of all the Spider-Man shows and movies, this one stands apart as completely unique.

First of all is the format. Each segment started with an actual comic book. A hand would reach forward and open the comic, revealing the panels on the first page while a narrator introduces the story. Then the panel would come to life as a live-action Spider-Man would play out the scene. The entire segment would be framed with a comic book gutter and you could see snippets of other panels around the exterior of the screen. Transitions were done with more still-art done as a comic book panel. Spider-Man is the only character to never speak. Instead, a speech bubble appears, just like it would in a comic book. Other characters would then look at the speech bubble, take a moment to read it, and reiterate what Spidey was saying. Characters often reacted to what the narrator was saying.

Secondly is the budget. Certainly this is the lowest budgeted Spider-Man of all time. Spidey's costume actually looks pretty good (on grainy 1970's television footage) but the villain costumes are ridiculously bad. None of the villains used are actual Spider-Man villains. Instead, they are ridiculously innocuous threats such as a Yeti that sits on cold things, a man who is a brick wall, and a man dressed up in as a giant flour sack. Spider-Man's webbing was done as an effect on screen and then, after a cut, was turned into a black cloth net.

The name "Spidey" in the title really represents a level a familiarity in the general population with Spider-Man, perhaps due to Spidey's earlier cartoon from the 1960's.

Strangely, Peter Parker does not appear in any of the segments. Nor do any of Spider-Man's supporting cast make appearances.

It's worth noting that Morgan Freeman (before he was famous) appears in several segments.

Spider-Man was referenced and appeared in some of the educational segments apart from  his own storyline segments on the show. There is one strange educational segment that both Spider-Man and the Blue Beetle (a DC superhero) appear in.

Surprisingly, despite the campy villains, low budget, and odd format, this show somehow manages to work. One factor that probably helps this is the short length of each segment (two to five minutes). The show somehow manages to seem like it's making fun of Spider-Man while at the same time loving him.

1LR Review - 14 out of 20! It's a Hit!

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Gaming Notes: Catan Junior #1

Catan Junior
Mayfair has released another new Catan game - Catan Junior. This one is obviously designed for little kids... but will mom and dad like it? 

I got this game for my son who just turned five. The first time I played, however, was just his mother and I. After all, I've got to figure out how to beat him before I play him!

You collect resources and buy things just like in the regular Catan games. One of the things you can buy is a Coco tile (Coco is the parrot who "helps you"). What my wife discovered early on is that Coco Tiles are incredibly powerful. She had three sitting in front of her before I had purchased any! 

In fact, she was one point away from victory before I caught on. I quickly purchased a bunch of Coco Tiles for myself, setting her back a point by tying her and kicking her off the pirate island. 

This is where my brilliance comes into play. I could have purchased a pirate's lair and gotten within one point of victory but INSTEAD I purchased a Coco Tile. This allowed me to place a pirate's lair on the pirate island, earning a victory point AND the Coco Tile allowed me to build my final pirate's lair, winning me the game.

What great fun. I can't wait to play with the kids.

Walk the plank, lady! The sharks be hungry! Arrr!

Monday, May 28, 2012

Marvel Media Mania: Spider-Man (1967)

Spider-Man is a cartoon television show that ran from 1967 to 1970 on ABC.
1967 Spider-Man
This show has two notable distinctions. First, it is Spider-Man's first appearance on any screen. Second, is, of course, the classic theme song. Even today my five year old knows all of the lyrics. For those two factors alone, it's hard to hate on this show.

But is it a good show? Well... no. Probably not even by 1967 standards.

The art isn't just sub-par, sometimes it is downright terrible. Human anatomy wasn't a big concern as Spider-Man's head changes shape in almost every shot and characters stand frozen in impossible positions. Spider-Man himself only had webbing on his head. It was probably too time consuming to draw the webbing on the rest of his body. The backgrounds largely consist of psychedelic watercolor paintings and endless skyscrapers.

In many regards, the animation of this show is much like the "motion comics" of today. Characters often stand still with only their mouths and eyes moving. The show relies over-heavily on stock footage. Notoriously, Spider-Man is frequently seen swinging on a webline when there would be nothing for his web to attach to.

Oddly, Spider-Man is stripped of his supporting cast except for J. Jonah Jameson and on a few occasions, Captain George Stacy. While episodes in the beginning relied upon comic book storylines and used tradition Spider-Man villains such as the Rhino, Doctor Octopus, and the Green Goblin later episodes instead use completely new threats such as the Marian giant who throws lightning, a electric knight, a clown with balloons, and an endless stream of faceless gangsters.

As much as I appreciate this series personally, I can't recommend it as a quality show.

1LR Review - 10 out of 20 - It's a Miss!

Sunday, May 27, 2012

One Actor, Two Superheroes

Captain America
Human Torch
Casey Jones
Chris Evans made a big stir whenever he was announced to play Captain America. "Isn't everyone going to think of him as the Human Torch?" everyone said. Well, I doubt many see Chris Evans and think of the Human Torch after the success of both the Cap and Avengers movies. And, of course, Evans also played the voice of Casey Jones in the 2007 TMNT movie.

Captain Marvel - the original!

The Phantom
Still, the "Superhero Switch" isn't without precedent. In fact, it goes back to the origin of superhero cinema. I am just watching the old Phantom movie serials for the first time and I said to myself, "Wait... isn't that the same actor that played Captain Marvel?" Yep. That's right - the very first superhero on film (in 1941) - Captain Marvel was played by Tom Tyler - the same guy who played The Phantom two years later.

And this tradition has continued. Kirk Alyn, who famously was the first actor to play Superman on film, moved on to play the comic book character Blackhawk as well.

Catwoman and Storm

Of course Haley Barry playing both Catwoman and Storm.

And hey, Ryan Reynolds played Deadpool, Green Lantern, and Hannabal King!

The Superhero Trifecta!

Saturday, May 26, 2012

IDW Dungeons and Dragons Graphic Novels

IDW has released three graphic novels from their ongoing Dungeons and Dragons comic books. They are Shadowplague, First Encounters, and Down. What makes these books noteworthy? Their brilliant packaging.
The cover to Volume one.
What's so noteworthy about that? Well, looking at the picture may not seem like much but trust me - whoever packaged these books deserves a raise.

They're the exact same size as your standard DnD book with the same type of cover as well. NOT your typical hardback. These things look like you should be able to pick one up and reference a rule. Very clever. Well done, IDW!

Friday, May 25, 2012

Gaming Notes: Marvel Heroic Roleplaying #4

I am an alien. I am an alien. I know this to be true. I've just got to keep telling myself this. I am not human - I am an alien.

The Imperial Guard
The reason for this mental exercise in self-assertion is due to some strange events recently. See, I remember being an alien. I had powers. I was the eyes of the Imperial Guard of the Shi'ar. They had stationed me on Earth to monitor and report on the activities of the Earthlings since far too often their problems have erupted to threaten the universe itself. To that end, I set aside my true name of Kae-Len and assumed the guise of a mild-mannered reporter for the Daily Bugle, Kizza Cant.

I find these Earth people peculiar in their ways. But in my short time on Earth I have also grown fond of them. It's easy to see how they shake the cosmos - never in all my travels have I seen another specials that rivals their ability to create and power to destroy. Because of this affinity, I seek to protect these powerful yet frail creatures from unwittingly bringing harm upon themselves. To protect my disguise as a human and so they don't learn that I'm an alien recon officer, I have constructed a superhuman identity. Looking on the electronic information access system, I discovered that when humans want to hide their personhood they often come up with a screen name such as Fata1ity. Well, my screen name is $tr@ng3r. I thought it fitting because I'm a $tr@ng3r in a strange land (as they say.) I have clothing to conceal my identity and everything.

For example, earlier today I found myself in an institution of finance without any knowledge of how I had arrived there. I recognized five other people in the room with me but didn't know how I recognized them.

Suddenly, humans with cloth on their faces and pointing metal cylinders at the occupants of the financial institution loudly barged in and demanded that everyone lay down on the floor. Seeing that the surface was unpadded and not feeling sleepy, I began to question the humans as to their motives so I could better understand them. However, they insisted that I assume a horizontal position so I complied.

No sooner had I lain down than one of the humans I recognized grew massively tall and started causing violence. Quickly the other four beings (I call them beings because they were not all human) I recognized also joined in the pandemonium. Loud booms rang out, beings sustained injuries, and general mayhem ensued. I wanted to restore tranquility but I didn't want to reveal my secret identity (I saw many observation devices in the place of money). I began questioning those involved in the mix-up. Apparently, my barrage of questions was disorienting to the humans with the cloth over their faces because they seemed to show signs of emotional stress from them.

After a short while, most of the aggressively violent humans were subdued except those that had locked themselves behind a big, metal heavy door. The others I recognized seemed to want to open the door. When they did, however, something very strange happened. The entire room disappeared in a flash.

They're coming to take me away...
We awoke lying in beds in a white room. We stood and exited the room. None of us had any powers. I was having trouble with my mental recall of the past. Humans in long white coats greeted us and said that memory loss and disorientation were normal side-effects of the serum.

Something is not right. I'm an alien with powers. I'm the eyes of the Shi'ar Empire's Imperial Guard. I'm a Screen Name Hero. I'm The $tr@ng3r. Could that have all been a lie? Could that have all been something my mind made up? Could I be a human after all?

I hope to discover the answers to those questions very soon.

The Great Debate - Are Movies Good For the Comic Book Industry?

Let's start by asking the opposite question - Are comic books good for movies? The answer, of course, in every way, is a resounding, "YES."
Ock and Wolfman no steal Hulk's popcorn!
But how about the opposite - is all of this movie success good for comic books?

That's a much harder question to answer. It shouldn't be, but it is.

First, the movies influence quite a bit of influence over the comics. Comic book companies looking to cash in on movie success alter almost anything about their characters to make them more accessible to moviegoers. The X-Men changed uniforms, Spider-Man got unmarried, and the Hulk rejoined the Avengers. I can't think of another medium that is so influence by the movies produced from the source material.

Next, there's a real danger in planning future comic book projects solely to catch Hollywood's eye. That's like trying to create a video game going, "Gee, I hope Hollywood turns this video game into a movie!" No, you try to make the best video game you know how. If you're lucky, it becomes successful enough to warrant a movie.

Finally, movie success has failed to translate into actual comic book sales. I personally think the price of comics has a great deal to do with this but whatever the reason, the source material doesn't benefit like, say, the Harry Potter or Twilight books did. Since DC and Marvel are owned by movie producing companies already this puts them in a peculiar position. Are they comic book companies that happen produce movies or movie companies that happen to produce comics? The answer, more and more, is looking like the later.

Now it's not all doom and gloom. Certainly, a high profile movie can raise public awareness of your character greatly. Hellboy is one example of this. I think even Thor, the Fantastic Four, and Captain America were below the radar for a large percentage of people. Now they're part of the cultural language. That can't be a bad thing.

And money is money no matter how you make it. The fact that comic book heroes make tons of money only means that comic book fans will continue to enjoy a growing multitude of comic book options for the foreseeable future.

And don't forget about cross pollination - Sure, comic books spawn movies but the reverse is also true. Plenty of movies has been turned into comics. Some are one-shots, others are miniseries, but there have been a few quality ongoing series based on movies as well.

So are the movies good for comic books? I'll say this - I'd rather have successful comic book movies than not for the industry. So yes, movies are good for comic book industry.

How You Can Use 1,989 Valiant Comics #27 - Coaster

Continuing our series on how YOU can make use of those worthless Valiant Comics you've got lying around!

#27 - one comic - Ever see someone spill something on a comic and frantically try to wipe it off before the comic is damaged? Well, using a comic as a coaster is about the exact opposite of that. 
Sweat rings, here we come!
VALIANT COMICS USED TO DATE: 36 of 1989! 1953 left to use!

Marvel Media Mania: Men in Black III - (Midnight Show Review - SPOILERS!)

Men in Black III was released today. Warning, I'm not holding back the spoilers on this one. I'll put in a jump break for those that don't want to have it ruined for them by accident.
MIB 3 poster

1LR Midnight Movie: Men in Black III Fanboy Experience

Pretty empty, right?
Does Men in Black have fanboys? I don't know. I've been to quite a few midnight shows and this one was pretty sparsely attended. Here's the theater I was in:

Still the Frank Theatre had some special events. First, they actually filmed a special "trailer" using footage from the movie and footage they took themselves at the theater to promot their special MIB3 party on May 26. This party will include an alien costume contest, petting zoo, car show, BBQ, and more. That sounds kinda cool for a theatre to do.The theater also had a drawing tonight. It was a "guess the number of swedish fish in the jar" contest with the prize being a gold fish. How does this tie into MIB? There's a throwaway line in the movie about fish. Weak link, but still pretty cool. The best was the crashed ship the theater had constructed complete with flashing lights and yellow tape. I'm going out on a limb but I'm guessing the theater manager is a big MIB fan.
Party flier from the theater
MIB drawing for a fish? FLUSH!
I only saw one brave fan dressed up. She even had a gun. BRAVO, MIB fan! I guess MIB do exist!

Very cool fangirl in MIB costume!
Crashed alien ship with flashing lights!

1LR Midnight Movie: Men in Black III Instant Reaction

I just got back from the midnight show of Men in Black III.

No subliminal message here.
Overall, I've got to say I was pleased by the film. It's a time travel film, of course, and I have a big soft spot in my heart for time travel. The tone of the movie seemed more serious than the first two films. MIB3 comes across as being more serious. In the first two movies you never really consider that Agent J or Agent K will die because all of the violence is very cartoony. In fact, in the cartoon series Agent K's false death was a running joke. The movie starts out with Zed's funderal and the hook for the whole storyline of his movie is Agent K's death so it puts everything in a more somber mood.

Not that the mood change is all bad. Like I said - I liked it. This film actually has a real villain that poses a real threat - something the first two lacked.

But don't worry - there are still a bunch of jokes thrown in there and fans of MIB won't be disappointed.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Avengers Visit York Revolution Baseball

The York Revolution baseball team in York, PA hosted the Avengers tonight. They really went all out. In addition to the heroes in costume they had Avengers prize drawings, showed the trailer and clips from the movie, and included the Avengers logo behind the player introductions.

I saw a lot of kids with Marvel shirts and superhero props. My own kids got a lot of props from the fans for dressing in costume. A good time was had by all. Way to go, York Revolution! Now when can we expect Spider-Man or Batman nights?
The core Avengers united!
Which is the Cap clone?
Cap, Thor and their proteges.

Avengers Next?
The Revolution really went all out to welcome the Avengers!
Great costumes!

Comic Books Unbound - Movie Reaction

Comic Books Unbound is a Starz documentary about the influence comic books have over Hollywood in today's market.
I hate it when the binding comes undone on my comics.
While this documentary is dated, I did enjoy watching it. Sure, the title is a little vague (it says nothing of the documentary's hollywood focus). And there is quite a bit of "no-duh" material in this film for anyone who's been paying attention the last ten years (Wait... comic book movies can be a SUCCESS? NO - REALLY???).

The thing I liked about this movie was the overview it gave on the relationship between comic books and the movies. The movie goes all the way back to the first movie serials featuring superheros. You really get a sense of the ebb and flow of the influence of comic books over film.

While this is in no way a "must-see" for comic book fans, it does serve as a good primer to start discussions about the relationship between comic books and movies.

What are my thoughts? Well, allow me to share more tomorrow...

D&D 5.0 Rolls a "1"

D&D Five Point Uh-Oh...
After waiting for the requisite 30-60 minutes, I got my e-mail and eagerly clicked the link... only to be redirected to the WOTC troubleshooting page.

Was it all just a cruel joke? Was my faith restored only to be dashed again?

Either way, D&D 5.0 just hit a bump in the road...

I wonder if you can botch a skill check in this edition...

D&D 5.0 Playtest Has Begun!

*gulp* Thanks, but I'll opt for the dungeon instead...
Honestly, I had given up hope. I had signed up for the Dungeons and Dragons 5th Edition playtest and I heard nothing for months. "Yet another cruel joke on the fans," I said. "How disappointing."

Well, I was wrong! I just received the e-mail link to download the playtest packet!

I'm hoping to get to playtest it this weekend! I have had a little bit of my faith in D&D restored! Way to go, Wizards!

How You Can Use 1,989 Valiant Comics #26

Continuing our series on how YOU can make use of those worthless Valiant Comics you've got lying around!

#26 - one comic - Ahhhh... the paper hat. A classic! To get one that's actually big enough to wear, you'll have to tape two full comic pages together top to bottom. 

Someday I'll show this photo to his girlfriends to embarrass him.
VALIANT COMICS USED TO DATE: 194 of 1989! 1795 left to use!

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Marvel Media Mania: Men in Black: The Animated Series

Men in Black: The Animated Series ran for four seasons on the WB starting in 1997.

Like the movie that inspired the show, Agent K and Agent J are the main characters. Since the movie felt almost like a cartoon (with cartoony violence and wild stunts) the transition from live action to cartoon is actually quite smooth. As far as continuity, the cartoon picks up from the first movie, only it's somewhere before K has had his memory wiped at the end of the movie since in the cartoon series he's still an active agent. There are other changes as well such as Zed's appearance. Only true MiB continuity buffs would be concerned about these but for me they didn't impede my enjoyment of the show in the slightest.

In many ways, the cartoon comes across as being more serious than the movie. The titles sequence is one good example. Use of "lighting" techniques and "time lapse" photography as well as a steady beat that the characters all move to gives it a very serious (but stimulating) tone. In many cases, the color pallet is kept very dull. Your main characters are dressed all in black and often the backgrounds are plain grey or dull greens.

The action sequences are very similar to the movie- over the top, cartoony violence in which nobody ever really gets hurt. There are some pretty weird and gross sequences that were surprisingly graphic, such as aliens bloodlessly bursting out of human bodies.

I'd say they nailed the characters' personalities. K is the all-knowing mentor who plays his cards close to his chest (a series-running gag is K's apparent demise proving false). J is overconfident know-nothing who constantly makes a buffoon out of himself. By the end of season four, however, you're wondering why J hasn't improved his skills and increased his knowledge. It was interesting for me to be introduced to other agents and to more fully explore the history and inner workings of the MiB over the course of the series.

Overall, the series nails the tone and mood of the movie. The slightly insane logic that rules the galaxy is well applied. The episodes do tend to all blur together, however. With few exceptions (such as Alpha), the villains are pretty much totally exchangeable. They get used for one episode and then are never seen again. The show's running gags such as the word "Syndrome" in all of the titles do wear a little thin and serve to make the series even more predictable than it already was.

Basically, your reaction to this show is going to be the same as your reaction to the movies.

1LR Review - 13 out of 20! It's a Glancing Hit!

How You Can Use 1,989 Valiant Comics #25

Continuing our series on how YOU can make use of those worthless Valiant Comics you've got lying around!

#25 - eighty comics - For number 25 I decided to bust out a big one. Wallpaper a room in your house (not a dollhouse this time)! Just take the staples out of the comic, coat the wall in glue, and apply the comics!  I arrived at the number 80 based on the size of the room I did (I only used one coat). Of course, if you have a smaller or larger room your actual number will vary.
It's not the fumes from the glue that makes you dizzy.

VALIANT COMICS USED TO DATE: 193 of 1989! 1796 left to use!
Number 25! If I was a Valiant comic I'd put a special holographic cover on this!

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Gaming Notes: Marvel Heroic RPG #3

At Comic Store West's last Free Heroic RPG Day, I got to run the Marvel Heroic RPG. Everyone playing had never played except for myself. I ran two sessions.

Spidey, Daredevil, and Cage
The second session had the following participants:

Eric played Luke Cage
Martin played Spider-Man
Sean played Daredevil
Jim played Captain America

Purple Man
I started them out inside the Raft high security prison. Murdock (Dardevil) was on his way to interview the Sentry, his client. Murdock brought Luke Cage with him as a hired muscle in case trouble broke out so he wouldn't have to reveal his secret identity in this highly monitored environment and he also brought alone Parker (Spider-Man) as a photographer. Cap was assigned as their SHIELD escort.

Of course, an explosion rocks the prison, the lights glow bright and then everything goes black. I threw everything but the kitchen sink at them right off the bat to really up the ante for the second session. So, one at at time, I had villain after villain pile on- Zzaxxx, Graviton, Count Nefaria, Purple Man, Living Laser, and the Grey Gargoyle. The heroes rose to the occasions, defeating each of them in turn (except Graviton, who fled and escaped once he wasn't engaged in combat). The purple man successfully controlled several party members which made things even more difficult for the remaining heroes.

The heroes then made their way to the Sentry. Daredevil reasoned with him and convinced him to rejoin society. Only, I don't suppose they anticipated how he was going to do it. He grabbed the nearest bad guy by the throat and then slammed upward through all eight stories of the Raft, causing a massive collapse.

The heroes then made their way up several levels. They started noticing something odd - the prison was completely deserted. No bodies, no SHIELD agents, no prisoners. Then they saw the blood trails. It appears that something or someone was killing indiscriminately and dragging the bodies up to the next level.

When the heroes arrived at the next level, they discovered... well, complete Carnage. Carnage, Vermin, Typhoid Mary, Tiger Shark and Razor Fist had gone on a killing spree, murdering anyone, villain or hero, they encountered. Vermin munched on the dead while Carnage arranged their limbs to spell "HELP ME!" as some sick joke. Seeing the heroes, Carnage drooled, "Play time!"

The heroes were in for a struggle to save their very lives. Carnage was playing for keeps and I really threw everything at them, burning dice from the Doom Pool left and right. Eventually, of course, the heroes were triumphant but they were sorely tested.

Bruised and battered, they made their way to the surface, only to encounter a large mob of powerless villains trying to break into the Raft's weapon's locker. The weary heroes bravely waded into the mob and beat them back.

Finally, they made their way to the surface and were greeted by swarms of SHIELD agents surrounding the island. Using their resources, they discovered that there was something fishy going on at a SHIELD outpost in the Savage Land. The heroes resolved to stick together until they discovered what was truly going on.

Blankman Review

Blankman is an original superhero movie starring Damon Waynes.
Blankman poster... the movie is just about as exciting.
The reason I saw Blankman was simply superhero curiosity. I really had no knowledge of the film before viewing it. I liked certain elements of the film but probably for none of the reasons the filmmakers intended.

I'm guessing this was suppose to be a comedy/parody but it wasn't actually funny. I also that although it took some story elements from a typical superhero narrative there was quite a bit of original material as well. This diminished the "parody" feeling.

I actually thought the storyline was pretty realistic. Blankman doesn't have any powers (except the ability to turn junk into working gadgets, including a bulletproofing formula). I think the motivation for real life superheros would be quite similar to that of Blankman - personal loss and a true desire to make things better.

Would I recommend that you see Blankman? Well... no. But the film isn't without merit.

1LR Review: 9 out of 20 - It's a Miss!

How You Can Use 1,989 Valiant Comics #24

Continuing our series on how YOU can make use of those worthless Valiant Comics you've got lying around!

#24 - one comic - Dress up that doll house with some fancy wall paper! Barbie's been buggin' Ken about redecorating anyway. 

Ever wonder why Barbie's hair ends up standing on end?

VALIANT COMICS USED TO DATE: 113 of 1989! 1876 left to use!

Monday, May 21, 2012

Gaming Notes: Marvel Heroic RPG #2

At Comic Store West's recent Free Heroic RPG Day, I ran two session of the Marvel Heroic RPG "Breakout" adventure. This is the first.

The participants were:

David played Luke Cage
Craig played Spider-Man
Eric played Captain America
Marlin played Wolverine
James played Daredevil
Talen played Iron Man

All of the heroes were at the Raft for various reasons when a huge explosion shuts down the power. Separated, the heroes encounter villains. Iron Man is devastated by an initial attack from Graviton. Count Nefaria, Zzzax, and a few other villains keep the other heroes occupied. The group comes together when Iron Man flees from Graviton, allowing him to escape.

The heroes proceed to the Sentry. At first, they have a great deal of difficulty convincing him to rejoin society. Eventually, the heroes persistence pays off and the Sentry bolts through the ceiling, causing a collapse behind him.

The heroes are left to fend for themselves and slowly grind their way up through the levels until they reach the top of the Raft prison.

As they go up a few levels, they see that the walls have literally been painted with blood. The entire floor is deserted - except for Carnage, Tiger Shark, Vermin, and Razor Fist who are lording over a pile of SHIELD agents and inmates alike.

The heroes throw themselves into battle against this group of psychopaths. They sustain some heavy blows but, in the end, emerge victorious.

Continuing on their way up, they encounter an enraged mob of depowered heroes trying to break into the Raft's armory. Cap starts flinging his shield everywhere, Iron Man fires off his Uni-Beam, Luke Cage picks up a inmate and uses him as a battering ram, and Spidey is swinging from the rafters, kicking inmates out of his way. In no time, they have the mob subdued and dispersed.

Reaching the surface, they are greeted by a swarm of SHIELD agents who enter the Raft to "contain" the situation that's already been contained. Iron Man manged to get the backup generators up and running while Luke Cage uses his experience as an ex-con to get some information about what the heck is going on at the Raft. Cage learns that there's something funny going on in the Savage Land and that it involves Sauron, the mutant villain who Elektro rescued from the Raft.

The heroes jump into one of Tony Stark's private Quinjets and fly off to the Savage Land to get to the bottom of the matter...

Millenium Falcon on Google Maps

Parkland High School or space craft...?
This one was sent in by my friend Sam. Check out this school that looks like the Millenium Falcon from the sky on Google Maps (in satellite view):

You can check out the map here

How'd you like to go to school HERE?