Check out Phil Noto's upcoming Marvel photo variants

Phil Noto is creating a line of variant covers for Marvel that appear to be a photograph.
They are amazing beautiful and at times capture a purer, more natural moment than is typically seen on a comic cover.  They are like pictures, that slightly surprise the target before they are ready to put on their fake smile.

This Amazing Spider-Man cover is likely my favorite of the bunch.  It is such a cool idea to have it be a picture from Parker, to Gwen of Gwen.  It captures a truck load of emotion in one rather simple picture.


 The others are not slouches either:

CBR released a whole slew of these.
I love this one of an angry Teenager Sam Wilson.  The teenager that would later become the hero the Falcon and later Captain America.

Angela looks like a picture that captured an Angel.

This uncanny X-Men also has the cool lighting effects.  Stylistically looks sweet.  Once again noticed the more naturally posed faces.


There are some silly, romantic and cute moments caught in these covers.
A moment caught between Hawkeye and Black Widow

 He is made a few that look like Magazine covers that are really interesting:

This one is cool too.  In this one the faces are perfectly smiley that you feel that you are looking at celebrity photos.  The ones where everything looks great on the outside but the reality on inside is far bleaker.


I always love to see what great artists can do with Medusa and this cover does not disapoint.

 It has an aged 60s quality, and your eyes are drawn to the beautiful but very determined eyes of Medusa.


New Concept art From Age of Ultron


Newly released concept art for Age of Ultron.
Some of this art is for promotions some of it from merchandise.  The most exciting thing here for me personally is Vision.  He looks amazing.
















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Avengers: Age of Ultron news and speculation

Top 5 best Marvel Stories of 2014

Top 5 best Marvel Stories of 2014

There were some major stories and events at Marvel this year.  There were major events like Infinity, Original Sin, and Axis.  There was Carol Danvers becoming the new Captain Marvel.  Sam Wilson became the new Captain America.  Peter Parker returned as Spider-Man only to be thrust into the biggest event of his life.  Then a Terregenesis bomb went off creating a whole slew of new characters to pop up including the new Ms Marvel.  In space there was a new focus on the Guardians of the Galaxy with many getting their own titles for the first time in ages.  There was certainly a lot to going on in the house of ideas.

In my mind here are the top 5 stories at Marvel over 2014.

5) Thor
Thor has been one of the best action, adventure books of the year.  The last Thor god of Thunder book #25 was full of three awesome stories.  Then the new series launches with an enigmatic new female Thor being thrust immediately into a crazy dangerous situation.

The mystery of the series continues into next year, with a promise of a

Thor #25 Preview first appearance of female Thor!
Thor #1 Preview the age of the female Thor is nigh
Who is the new female Thor?
Female Thor Cosplay

4) Inhuman

Beginning with the events like Infinity and Inhumanity it became clear that Marvel was making a big Inhuman push.  Many of these changes finally start materializing in a noticeable fashion in the series Inhuman.  The series introduces a ton of new place, new characters, and new dynamics to the Marvel Universe.
Inhuman is far from perfect.  The story feels that is forcing too much through at once at times.   New characters are flying at you at such a pace that it is hard to process.  The new faces show up then sometimes inexplicably disappear, only to randomly reappear.  The series also suffered some from a writer switch early on and from a rather weird tie in to the Marvel event Axis.  Those faults aside the jack hammering the series is doing is impressive.  Inhuman is never boring, always bold, it is always surging forward with each issue dropping its own combination of haymakers.  The series has created this massive platform from which Marvel's super heroes of the future will spring, and because of that I think it will be series that many in the future will be searching out to read.

3) Ms Marvel 
 Ms Marvel 2014 review
Ms Marvel was the most surprisingly fresh and original character of 2014.
Many fans including myself were initially more interested in Carol Danvers.  I saw that Ms Marvel old moniker was going to be used by a young Muslim girl.  I figured Marvel was trying to score some brownie points by adding diversity.  One of those little politically motivated projects that comes out with a lousy story and a shallow character.   This was a character that seemed predestined to be carved out of a cookie cutter painted the desired color, fail in her own series, land on the D team of the Avengers before heroically sacrificing herself by getting sucked through a worm hole to save Earth and then disapearing forever.

My initial jaded comic geek expectations were so so off the mark.  I bought the first issue because I have this comic buying affliction where I buy everything with a 1 on it.  Then the issue sat around a bit as I read everything else.  Ms Marvel sat off in a little corner of my stash.  Eventually, I read everything else, so with a little grown I picked up this

 Instead, what we get is a very intelligently written, deep, emotional, and funny character written from a unique and interesting perspective.  Kamala is in her own words is complicated, and she is meant to toy with both Western and Muslim preconceptions of what a Muslim teenager growing up in the United States is like.  She sees a path of full assimilation into western culture, and then another of clinging to her faith and heritage but neither path feel quite right to her.  She wants a third path, her own path, but this path seems to be very bumpy and unpaved .  While, Kamala deals with this large crisis of conscious she is also confronted by all the desires, fears, and complications of being an American teenager.

 Then the Terrigen cloud hits and WHAMO this girl with all of these complications now has super powers.
Ms Marvel 2014 review
Kamala in some ways is the ultimate outsider, her feelings of not belonging are shared by many young adults.  While these feeling have been explored by countless books and movies it all feels fresh with Kamala.  Her journey from as a super hero, and meeting her heroes the Avengers is a lot of fun.  It is a fun ride, that hits on some hard issues but never loses its since of humor or innocent spirit.

Kamala also begins to tie into the events in the Inhuman series as she is an Inhuman or Numan.  Once again she supplies a fresh and interesting perspective to those events that are shaping the entire Marvel world.

The team on Ms Marvel in my minds are rockstars for what they did on this book.  Willow Wilson is going to be a very closely watched writer going forward as she fully kicked the ball out of the park.

2) Scottie Young's Rocket Raccoon
While Ms Marvel touches on a lot of everyday issues and the major events in the Marvel Universe, Rocket Raccoon's series is just plain out there on its own.  It is its own thing, in art, in tone, in story it is the crazy child that does not fit anywhere but you can't take your eyes off it.

Its one part looney toons, one part cosmic Marvel, and one part......I don't know.  The series constantly surprises you with amazing art and fun writing.

It has been awhile since there was a series that I could easily hand to a kid under 7 and know they would like it.  This series is not too kiddie, nor too graphic, and reeks of this pure creativity that all ages can enjoy.

Preview of Scottie young Rocket Raccoon ongoing series

1) The Spider-Verse
Dan Slott has taken some serious risks with Marvel's flagship character.  First, he allowed Doctor Octavius to take over Peter Parker's mind and effectively kills off Spider-Man.   The result was a long arcing story of what became called Superior Spider-Man.  Then Dan brought Peter Parker back and barely gave him time to catch his breath before shoving him into the most epic Spider-Event story of my lifetime.

The Spider-Verse is awesome, and is jammed full of a ton of interesting and characters who normally would not see the light of day.

Some have faulted the series for the sheer amount of death it employs.  There is a casualty list that is quite long and requires updating with almost every book. 

See the list here --> Spider-Verse Deaths and Casualty list

There are panels after panels of dead, formerly beloved characters strewn about like chaff.   Perhaps, this is an interesting topic to bring up with shows like Walking Dead and Game of Thrones also becoming  known for killing off characters.   While many of the deaths in Game of Thrones and Walking Dead are used for great dramatic effect, here they just happen, they just are, neither the characters in the story or the reader are given much time to process that a life was just snuffed out.  I have to reread each book to remember exactly who died.  The effect of the death in the series does up the ante, each time I open a book I am confronted with bizarre cocktail of dread and excitement.  There is some adrenaline that runs through you as you read this series.

Beyond the death the other interesting aspect of the Spider-Verse is seeing one of the most well known characters from a different angle.  In this series we see all the different ways Peter could have turned out and what exactly it is that makes him special.  This is an interesting read especially coming right off the Superior run where we had another guy trying to out do the long time fan favorite.

The event also provided a backdrop to bring back lost favorites like Spider-Man Noir while also unleashing a slew of creative new characters.  There are some characters in the series that will likely find themselves in their own long running series most notably Spider-Gwen.

All of this makes the Spider-Verse interesting to watch but there is also just the reality that it is quality throughout.  It is well drawn, well written, put against an epic adventure that just can not be beaten.

The Spider-Verse Checklist 
Meet all of the Spiders of the Spider-Verse! 
Spider-Verse Deaths and Casualty list

What is Orollan?
What is Orollan?

Orollan is a hidden city of Inhumans located in Greenland.  It looks like native American Cliff dwellings despite its Nordic location.  This may be a hint that the cliff dwellings in the four corners region of the US and the Anasazi tribe that made them could be related to the Inhumans as well.

Orollan has been used for a millennia by a tribe of Inhumans called the Lor.  A millennia ago that the Inhuman Royal family had a break that caused Inhumans to break a part.  Many of these subgroups left Earth to hide from the royal family.  The Lor are tribe that left Earth, but then secretly returned.  They set up a hidden in Orollan.

The Lor believe Terregenesis should be restricted to a only a select / elite few.  This was in part due to the fact that Terrigen Crystals were not an abundant resource and the Lor tribe only had enough to be used on a select few.

A philosophy of using Terrigen sparingly grew up around their society and the people of Orollan found other reasons not to use it:

This is done for a few reasons.  First some powers are dangerous, some people with power are dangerous and also some powers can cause hideous, life destroying mutations.

Destruction of Orollan by Thane:

The son of Thanos a man named Thane was hiding amongst the Lor.  When the Terrigen Bomb was activated the powers of Inhumans throughout Earth his own powers were activated.  Many of the other Lor entered the cocoon like transformation stage, but Thane's powers were immediatly activiated.  His powers were highly destructive and killed nearly everyone in Orollan.

Lash recruits

Lash begins to recruit a new Lor tribe or those he deems worthy.  He hopes to use these new Inhuman to challenge to rule of Inhumans by Queen Medusa.

Lash's recruits include:
Mother Bones 

Who is Lash? 
Meet the new characters from the series Inhuman
Who are the Inhumans? 
Earth in the Marvel Universe 
Top 5 Questions after AoS S2 Midseason Finale?
Agents of SHIELD theories and speculation HQ

Lego Age of Ultron comic

Here is the Age of Ultron comic titled Part 1.  These comics come with the sets.

It looks like you will be able to go online to see the rest of the comic and see how it unfolds.

Geek Toys and Games!
Avengers: Age of Ultron news and speculation



Geek Toys and Games!
Avengers: Age of Ultron news and speculation 

Avengers: Age of Ultron Lego Sets 2015

Some pictures are starting to appear of the Lego sets planned to tie into Avengers: Age of Ultron.  I think they look amazing!

In all there appear to be 7 sets:

1) Iron Man vs Ultron - This is a small set that includes some Ultron robots and Iron Man
2)  A Hulkbuster set that has Iron Man's Hulkbuster Armor the Hulk and some Ultron bots
3) An Avengers Jet that appears to be chasing after a truck.  This set includes the Vision.
4) Hydra base / Tower - Has Baron Von Strucker and Quicksilver
5) Hawkeye in a truck and Thor chasing a Hydra agent
6) Avengers tower

Geek Toys and Games!
Avengers: Age of Ultron news and speculation

You can see some  interesting things here.  The first generation Ultron bots appear to be Iron Man suits and you can see these in the Avengers Tower set.
You also see Loki's scepter appear in a few sets and is being held by different bad guys.  In the Hydra base set Baron Von Strucker is holding the scepter.  In the Avengers tower an Ultron bot / Hacked Iron Man suit seems to be making off with the scepter.
The Scarlet Witch is in the Hulkbuster set.  Is she the one that puts the Hulk in a rage?

A few of questions I have.
  1. Who is the Hydra agent being chased by Thor and Hawkeye in the truck set? 
  2. Is Scarlet Witch the cause of the Hulk losing control?
  3. What on Earth is the scepter?  Is the gem inside the mind infinity gem or is it something else entirely?

Geek Toys and Games!
Avengers: Age of Ultron news and speculation

Avengers Age of Ultron Trailer in Lego form

This is a fan made remake of the Avengers: Age of Ultron Trailer using Legos.

It is cute and funny as it goes through the trailer.
Most interesting is the fact that it highlighted a few things that I missed in the trailer.

Geek Toys and Games!
Avengers: Age of Ultron news and speculation

A Merry Gotham Christmas!
Gotham Christmas by Digital Blasphemy

We at Toylab hope you have a Merry Gotham Christmas!

On Christmas I often times think of New York City even though I have never been their for Christmas.  It certainly seems like a magical time to visit NYC.  The closest comic equivalent is Batman's Gotham.  Yes, Gotham is a darker place but it is still filled with the magic and love of Christmas once a year.

 Ho Ho Ho watch out for the Joker, Don't eat the smiling fish, and don't flirt with women in cat suits.  That is right.  Prep your battarangs were going to Gotham kids!

Be Sure to check out:
ToyLab Christmas Coverage! 
What to get your geek for Christmas?
Christmas Tree lighting in Batman Returns
Batman Returns - Christmas Tree lighting
Gotham Christmas tree lighting from Batman Returns
Gotham Christmas card :)
By Rudy Vasquez on Deviantart
Gotham after Midnight #8
Gotham in Arkham Origins video game
Gotham in Arkham Origins video game
Are favorite night owl...errr Bat gliding over Gotham
Look who ended up beneath the mistletoe - Batman Returns
Alright you two, get a room the kids are watching.

Be Sure to check out:
ToyLab Christmas Coverage! 
What to get your geek for Christmas?