The relaunch of Dungeons & Dragons begins this week with the release of the D&D Starter Set, a $20 box designed to be the perfect introduction to tabletop fantasy role-playing games. I tested it out with a group of neophyte gamers, and we had a blast.
Wizards of the Coast has been steadily demolishing my skepticism about the new edition, and the Starter Set has finally disintegrated it altogether. The boxed set itself is very nice – the huge, full art on the cover looks great, and it’s a big, sturdy box. In fact, a good chunk of it is filled with a cardboard spacer, which means there’s room in there for lots of D&D goodies down the line. It comes with a 31-page rulebook, a rather thick adventure book, and a full set of polyhedral dice. Nice dice, with a rich, marbled blue color.
This stripped down D&D rule set covers a lot of ground with not many pages. It introduces broad concepts of roleplaying (telling a story, reacting to situations described by the DM, rolling dice to resolve uncertain situations), then quickly and clearly explains abilities, skills, skill checks, movement, and combat. The last five pages or so are devoted to spellcasting and a short list of spells. In that handful of pages, though, the Starter Set conveys a wonderful sense of boundless adventure. Mike Mearls and the other D&D designers have said all along that they wanted this edition to feel like a distillation of all the elements from previous editions that made D&D feel like D&D. In this short D&D primer, I think they’ve succeeded. Reading through it gave me clear echoes of the excitement I felt when I was 12 and reading the AD&D Player’s Handbook for the first time.
The past few weeks have brought some truly surprising and exciting announcements from the Batman corner of the DC Universe, but this one tops them all. Today it was announced that Cameron Stewart and Brenden Fletcher will take over as new writers on Batgirl, with Stewart providing covers and layouts for new comics artist Babs Tarr.
Any one of those creators alone would be a pretty big deal deal, but while Stewart and Fletcher are intriguing choices for the adventures of Barbara Gordon, the biggest news by far is Tarr, an illustrator and video game artist best known to ComicsAlliance readers for her incredible cosplay-inspiring art and frequent appearances in the Best Art Ever (This Week) feature. This is a move that we never saw coming, but one we’re completely in favor of.
Oddly enough, Stewart is the most unsurprising choice of the bunch, and that’s actually saying something. He’s worked on the Batman books relatively recently as an artist, collaborating with Grant Morrison on Batman and Robin, and he’s written comics that include an Assassin’s Creed tie-in with Karl Kerschl, BPRD: Exorcism, and his Eisner-nominated webcomic Sin Titulo, but Batgirl is his highest profile superhero writing gig at DC.
Given DC’s recent push for books helmed by writer/artists (or, in the case of creators like David Finch and Francis Manapul, writers known primarily for their art) and his knack for fluid designs and engaging, lifelike characters, Stewart makes a lot of sense to spearhead the aesthetic revitalization of one of DC’s most iconic heroines.
It’s Fletcher’s presence on the writing side that’s actually a little more intriguing, given that he was also announced as the co-writer of the upcoming Gotham Academy, alongside Becky Cloonan — another writer-artist — with art by Karl Kerschl. Given Fletcher’s presence on both books, and the claim that Academy will feature “new characters and old,” it’s almost impossible not to think Batgirl’s new direction will tie into events at Gotham Academy, forging an entirely new corner of the Bat-books based around young women — something that’s a hugely welcome change from the New 52 tradition.
Tarr is the hammer of this particular announcement, and possibly the biggest mic-drop moment that DC’s had in the past few years. It was only a few months ago that ComicsAlliance published an editorial about the idea of a “House Style” for DC and what that unified aesthetic for an entire universe — where Superman didn’t look that different from Batman – meant for the readers.
It was mentioned in that piece that there are a few exceptions to that rule, but Tarr’s not just an exception, she’s the diametric opposite of DC house style. There are some absolutely beautiful DC Comics coming out right now, but I’m pretty sure none of them look like Tarr’s bosozoku Sailor Scouts. There’s a fashion design-heavy style to what she does that doesn’t look like anything else on the stands, let alone anything else that DC’s publishing.
And again, it’s worth noting that Tarr was announced as the regular artist of a relatively high-profile book. For a company that hasn’t been taking a whole lot of risks lately with the visual style of their titles, this suggests a commitment to a new kind of aesthetic that can appeal to an audience outside the core that the New 52 has been pursuing thus far. And that’s a very good thing, even if you’re not already a fan of Babs Tarr — which I most definitely am.
More importantly, DC’s investment in Tarr is a clear signal that they’re finally reaching out to the contemporary female reader, and it’s something that the Batgirl title should have been doing all along.
The new creative team say they plan to relocate Barbara Gordon to Burnside, the hipster corner of Gotham. Fletcher told MTV News, “Barbara allows herself to be immersed in youth culture for the first time, exploring the social side of life in Burnside. That’s not to say there isn’t mystery, of course! Try as she might to live a ‘normal’ life, Barbara very quickly finds herself drawn back into the world of crime fighting. Our take on Batgirl mixes the best elements ofVeronica Mars and Girls, with a dash of Sherlock thrown in for good measure.”
The story also features a costume redesign by Stewart and Tarr — a look that Stewart says was pieced together by Barbara from Burnside’s boutiques and vintage stores.
Entry Fee: $25 per player
GamersCircle Comics is excited to offer a Magic Core 2015 Prerelease weekend. Experience the next Magic: The Gathering set a week before it goes on sale!
You’ll choose a color and receive a Prerelease kit with six Magic 2015 booster packs, one a Seeded Pack with lots of cards in the color you chose, plus a spindown die and an activity related to the now-corrupted Planeswalker Garruk Wildspeaker!
Saturday the doors will open at 10am and the tournament will start at 11am.
Entry Fee: $25 per player
608-B East Bidwell St
Folsom, CA 95630
AMC has officially announced this year’s panel for hit TV show The Walking Dead at San Diego Comic Con, with participants including stars Andrew Lincoln, Steven Yeun, and Lauren Cohan, as well as showrunner Scott Gimple and co-creator Robert Kirkman.
The Walking Dead panel will focus on Season 5 of the hugely popular series, which debuts in October. AMC recently revealed the first footage from the upcoming season during a July Fourth weekend marathon.
Other panelists include: Norman Reedus, Danai Gurira, Melissa McBride, Chad Coleman, Michael Cudlitz, executive producer Gale Anne Hurd, executive producer and special effects make-up supervisor Greg Nicotero, and executive producer David Alpert. Talking Dead host Chris Hardwick will moderate the discussion.
Set for 12:20 p.m. PT July 25, The Walking Dead panel will last one hour in Hall H. There will be an autograph session shortly thereafter.
Bleedingcool been pushing this Humble Dynamite 10th Anniversary Bundle pretty hard over the last two weeks, mainly it’s because we not only feel that it’s for a good cause but also that it’s a great value for our readers. Well, that bundle is coming to an end tomorrow which means you have less than 24 hours to get in on this deal.
At this point over 27,000 bundles have been sold and over $315,000.00 has been earned. How much each bundle costs and how the amount is split depends on the individual buying the bundle, but proceeds from the sales will be split between Dynamite, Humble Bundle and the following three charities: The Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, Doctors Without Borders and The Make-A-Wish Foundation.
Again you have one last chance to score all of these digital titles for $15.00 or more (if you want the Alex Ross Art Book and Robert Jordan’s Wheel Of Time). Or you can get various numbers of these titles for whatever amount you want to pay.
Project Superpowers vol. 1 (0-7) Collection
Jungle Girl Omnibus (0-5, 1-5) Collection
Miss Fury vol. 1 Collection
Vampirella Masters vol. 1: MORRISON/MILLAR Collection
Vampirella Masters vol. 2: ELLIS Collection
Vampirella Masters vol. 4: MOORE Collection
Vampirella vs. Fluffy (one-shot) periodical
Mocking Dead Collection
My Little Phony (one-shot) periodical
Sherlock Holmes: Trial vol. 1 Collection
Kevin Smith’s Green Hornet vol. 1 Collection
Kevin Smith’s Green Hornet vol. 2 Collection
Cryptozoic Man #1-4 periodical
Red Sonja: Queen of Plagues vol. 1 Collection
Amanda Hocking’s The Hollowland Collection
Pathfinder: Dark Waters Rising vol. 1 Collection
George RR Martin’s: Wild Cards Collection
Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time #1-35 (36 issues total) periodical
Chaos #1 periodical
Legenderry #1-3 periodical
Shadow Midnight in Moscow #1 periodical
Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files: War Cry #1 periodical
Dynamite Art of Alex Ross
If you like the above mentioned titles, don’t miss out on this opportunity. You only have a day left. Click here.