Remembering OverPower

overpower card backI’ve had OverPower on the brain lately and it’s all my friend Brett White’s fault. He started tweeting about the collectible card game that launched in the mid 90s and I’ve been reminiscing ever since. Back when the game launched in 1996 I was 13 and super into comic books. My aunt did PR work for one of the malls in Toledo and told me about a comic book, card and collectible show that was going on in the aisles of the mall. My parents drove me out and after buying a few random Image books — Shaman’s Tears #1 and a Shadowhawk comic both caught my eye because of their shiny foil covers — I was shocked to find something, something I had never seen or heard of before: a deck of OverPower cards.

At this point in my life I wasn’t into CCGs, but my friends were. They were all in Boy Scouts at the time and the older kids introduced them to Magic. At that time it seems like just about everyone was getting in on the CCG racket, which probably explains OverPower’s existence in the first place. I don’t remember off the top of my head which deck I found, but it was cheap and I might have actually picked up two of them. I took them in to school and showed them to my friend Geof who was one of the guys into Magic. He was the closest thing I had to a friend who liked comics, having a subscription to a Superman comic or two if memory serves (he would go on to accompany me on my nearly weekly trips to the comic store in high school because I gave him a ride home). Soon enough our other friends were getting in the cards and we started trading and whatnot.

Here’s the strange thing, though: OverPower cards actually became pretty popular among the guys in my class for a few months. The more popular kids (I’m sure it’s shocking to learn that I wasn’t necessarily in the cool group) started buying up decks and booster packs. I should note here that I don’t know much any of us actually played the game. Geof and I faced off quite a bit, but I don’t really remember playing with anyone else. There was even something of a racket going on with a few of the more enterprising kids happening upon what were considered really good or valuable cards and selling them to the highest bidder among the more obsessed of us. I remember Wolverine being a good card and some kid getting $10 or $20 for it.

The first few series’ were all focused on Marvel characters, but I got really excited a few years down the line when it was announced that DC was getting in on the action. I bought those cards up like crazy. One of my favorite parts of collecting OverPower cards — along with pretty much all the comic based cards I collected over the years — was checking out all the cool artwork. I’ve been looking around online to see if I can get a good deal on some cheap unopened boxes (no luck so far) and have been riding all kinds of nostalgia waves seeing these cards. It’s wild, I remember even some of the much later cards.

overpower Booster BoxEventually, I realized that buying cards wasn’t the best use of my money, though and the OverPower cards went the way of my sport and non-sport card collections: boxes in my parents’ basement where they sit to this day. I need that money for important stuff. No, not dating, I had more comics to buy!

To bring things back around full circle, Brett White and his co-host Matt Little bought their own unopened box of OverPower cards and did an unboxing for an upcoming episode of their excellent podcast Matt & Brett Love Comics. I’m excited for the episode, it should bring back even more memories.

Here’s a few final, random thoughts. First, I asked my parents to bring out my boxes of OverPower cards when they come to visit this weekend. There are three of them! Second, I realize now that I really should have raided the InQuest library for OverPower cards after the magazine folded and all that stuff went up for grabs. And three, I have no idea how the rights would work for something like this, but I’m all for an OverPower app. I know they have them for other CCGs. Someone make this happen!

Casting Internets

I’m still insanely behind on my link reading, but I figured I’d get these particular ones from the past month or so out there for all to read…and to unload a bit.

My pal Rob Bricken left ToplessRobot.com for io9.com. I will definitely miss coming up with crazy lists and writing them for him. Onwards and upwards good sir!

Speaking of Topless Robot, I wrote a few lists for them recently. This one’s about the craziest mini-monsters in horror, this one’s about Green Lanterns we want to see on the delayed Green Lantern Animated Series and this one’s about evil monkeys.

Speaking of me writing stuff, in addition to my usual CBR duties covering Image and doing daily posts for Spinoff Online, I also launched a collecting column over on CBR called Toying Around, I’m pretty psyched about it, here’s the latest one.

While on the subject of things seen on CBR, I was really excited to hear about IDW reprinting Wally Wood’s T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents material. Everything that guy did should be in trade format if you ask me.

Would it be awesome to have Robert Plant’s level of talent where you just go over to a friend’s house and make a record without really meaning to? (via Rolling Stone)ironmenvs-hulkI would very much like to see Ulises Farinas draw all the comics, much like he draw all these Iron Man armors going up against the Hulk.

I know it’s well past the election, but I finally caught up on a few political pieces I really found interesting. First off, director Adam McKay’s HuffPo piece pointed out to everyone that, even though he wasn’t outright saying it, Romney’s politics are almost exactly the same as George W. Bush’s.

I also found Matt Taibbi’s Rolling Stone piece on the big/small government argument is essentially moot considering how huge Bush made the government when he was in power. When will people start actually listening to facts? tyler stout mondo reservoir dogsMan, Tyler Stout’s Reservoir Dogs poster for Mondo is pretty amazing.

The HMAD review of Don Coscarelli’s John Dies At The End makes me really excited about seeing that flick.

John Carpenter talked to Hero Complex about They Live! What an awesome movie.

One of my favorite parts of the year is when Tom and Lorenzo do commentary about the Victoria’s Secret fashion show. Here’s part 1 and part 2. Fun stuff.

Elmore Leonard did the Proust Questionnaire over at Vanity Fair. That guy is so damn cool.

I’m embarrassed to say that I’ve never actually read anything by Harlan Ellison, but I will read his new DC graphic novel with the amazing Paul Chadwick called 7 Against Chaos (via Blastr)

I liked this Hero Complex piece about Adventure Time, then again, I like pretty much anything having to do with that wonderfully weird show.

Some idiots want to secede my hometown of Toledo back to Michigan. What a great use of one’s time. (via The Detroit News)

I like the idea of a new Kurt Cobain documentary, though less so when I find out Courtney Love’s partially involved. I don’t trust that lady. (via Rolling Stone)

Ron Marz’s Shelf Life column over on CBR focused on his days at CrossGen which actually sound a lot like my days at Wizard: a lot of people from all over the place coming together and doing some great work. He wrote a second CG-centric post that I have yet to read, but am excited to.

Toledo Mud Hens On Raising Hope

I waited all night for this image to go live. Last night’s Raising Hope on Fox was a damn funny episode, but one thing made it even better: Jimmy’s Toledo Mud Hens T-shirt. As friends and regular readers know, I am actually from Toledo and it so rarely gets mentioned in the media unless someone says “Holy Toledo,” which is pretty rare considering it’s not the 50s anymore. I did very little research and couldn’t figure out what the connection is between Toledo and the show. I don’t think it’s set there (doesn’t feel like T-Town) and couldn’t find an actor connection. Anyone know what the deal is?

Christmas Stories: Best. Gift. Ever.

Yes, it’s January 3rd and I’ve got one more Christmas post in me. The missus and I headed back to Toledo for New Year’s/Second Christmas this year because my mom had to work hospice on actual Christmas. Well, that wasn’t the only reason apparently. It turned out that my parents and the missus had been conspiring for months to get me in town for one very special gift I never expected: tickets to the Steelers/Browns game yesterday in Cleveland. Originally, the folks were planning on just coming out here, but they all worked behind the scenes to get me in Ohio so I’d be much closer to the game. For a little while I was surprised that everyone was so sneaky (especially because the missus apparently told EVERYONE and no one accidentally let it slip), but after that, I was just happy and surprised.

And it all almost didn’t happen. We left for Toledo on Thursday morning, but early that morning I woke up with some pretty intense stomach pains. I didn’t really want to go, but felt obligated and wanted to see my parents. Then, I got sick on the way. Twice. The missus took over the driving duties and got my sick butt to Toledo which was even more impressive because she’s pretty pregnant. Oh, and it’s about a nine hour drive total and took even longer thanks to stops for both of us. She was a real champ and got me to town, offering to turn around, but I said no. Being sick in the car’s almost the same as being sick at home, right? The answer is absolutely not, but that’s what I told myself. As luck would have it, I woke up the next day and felt perfectly fine.

As I opened the ticket on our version of Christmas morning–which was actually New Year’s Eve day–I honestly didn’t get it at first. I saw the big Cleveland Browns logo on the one side, but it didn’t click right away. For some reason, I’ve thought about trying to get tickets to see the Steelers play against the Giants, Jets and even the Bills, but never contemplated going to Cleveland to check them out. Luckily my dad’s smarter than me and got this whole ball rolling. He even got tickets in a section that had access to an inside section where you could get food and beer, warm up and not go to the bathroom without freezing your junk off (much appreciate as it turned out to be pretty freaking cold).

Even though the Steelers are a much better team than the Browns, the Steelers still played hard. See, even though they had a spot in the playoffs clinched, they were still going for a win in order to get home field advantage and a by week (basically a week off for you non football fans) in order to get some of their banged-up players in better shape. As it turned out though, the injured Heath Miller and Troy Polamalu returned to action for that game, which was a lot of fun to watch. Seeing my favorite players in action was so much fun! My dad and I hoped that the Browns would put up a bit of a better fight just to keep things more interesting, but that was not in the cards as the score wound up being 41-9, Steelers.

It was actually hard seeing the Browns get beat that bad. My mom is from Cleveland, her mom (my Grandma) still lives there and my dad’s dad is a big fan, so there’s a connection to the city and the team. I even used to have a Browns poster in my room,remember when they were good and when they got sold and become the Baltimore Ravens, which was outrageous even to a non sports fan like me at the time. In fact, this is the only cover of Sports Illustrated without a beautiful woman in a bathing suit on it that I remember. Anyway, I think it was the badness of the Browns along with the badness of the Detroit Lions (the only other pro football team I’ve seen play live) that lead me to not care too much about football.

Years later I got into the sport after getting a copy of a few-years-old Madden game for PS2 in college and playing as the Steelers because my buddy Chad was a huge fan and was always talking about them. It was a good year for football because the Steelers were just getting good with Roethlisberger’s first year. Plus dudes like Peyton Manning, Brett Favre and Tom Brady all made the game really fun to watch. I was hooked! Even now, I keep an eye on the scores for Browns and Lions games, hoping to see both teams turn things around (things are looking up for the Lions). Because of that nostalgia, I didn’t take it to heart when the amassed Browns fans hurled insults at the Steelers fans (I was wearing a new Steelers hoodie that I also got for Christmas under my heavy jacket, so I was incognito). Plus, I don’t take this stuff as seriously as most.

I’ve got to give it to the Browns fans. They’re dedicated. For a half at least. As you can see in the pictures, the stadium was pretty packed at first, but after halftime, it cleared out pretty quickly. Part of that is because of the intense cold (the sun started hiding behind the clouds which dropped temps by ten or so degrees which made my dad and I pop into that heated section a time or two) and partly because of the losing, plus they can just drive home in a few minutes while most of us Steelers fans had driven a while and wanted to watch the game. Some of the bigger Steelers players also didn’t return at the half for fear of stupid injury before the playoffs (the goal IS to win the Super Bowl afterall, you know?), but it was still fun to sit there with my dad and watch the Steelers do their thing. Our mostly Steelers section even started cheering for the downtrodden Browns a bit, shouting “Let ’em have it!” when a touchdown got overturned.

So, huge thanks to my folks and the missus for setting this whole thing up and my Grandma for giving us a place to sleep Sunday night, which gave us a two hour jump on our drive home today. We had a great time!

Songs Of Summer “We Belong Together” by Mariah Carey

Like a few other entries in Songs Of Summer, I’m not sure if Mariah Carey’s “We Belong Together” actually came out in the summer or not, but I have a very distinct summer memory of the song. See, after graduating from college I went back to Toledo and spent a few months hanging around with my friends, drinking, playing Halo and working at Barry’s Bagel Shop. My friends had a house that I would go over and hang out at, which meant I spent a lot of time in the car late at night driving from their house back to my parents’ listening to the radio (the car I was driving only had a tape player).

I should probably lose every bit of credibility I’ve ever had for what I’m about to say, but Mariah Carey knows how to sing the shit out of a song and she sure does that on “We Belong Together.” I know the song’s about a break-up and everything, but it still made me think of the future missus who was living in New Hampshire (for the geographically challenged that’s a long ass distance there between NH and Ohio). I’m not sure if there’s anything quite like that feeling of useless craziness between graduating from college and getting your first real job, but I was feeling that pretty intensely for a few months until October when I got the call about an opening at Wizard. Everything changed after that, but this song still reminds me of driving through the after-midnight streets of Toledo, driving past the mall and the flashing yellow street lights, missing my lady. For the record, she still makes fun of me for buying this song on iTunes and knowing all the words, so that’s what sentimentality gets you.

Our Whirlwind Tour Of The Midwest

I was going through the pictures on my phone and realized I had a bunch from our trip to Delaware, Columbus, Toledo and Valparaiso. Yeah, this is the same trip where we encountered the creepy clown in the bar. I’ll think you’ll get a kick out of at least a few of these. Let’s jump in shall we?Our buddy Heather took us to Eddie George Grille 27 (the added “e” makes it fancy, just ignore the 70 TVs playing sports, some of which aren’t even in season right now) in Columbus after our reunion shenanigans. They ordered deep fried cheeseburgers (the missus snapped a picture of hers with my phone at my request) while I got a deep fried Italian sandwich. Mine was awesome and so were the burgers. While visiting my parents in Toledo, the four of us all went to a Toledo Mudhens game (that’s the minor league team that feeds into the Detroit Tigers). I got the tickets for my dad for his birthday and the seats turned out to be pretty awesome. Also, the beer was cheap. And, to answer your inevitable question, no, I don’t know what a mudhen is.
The great thing about the new(ish) Mudhens stadium is that it looks like it was just dropped in the middle of downtown Toledo. You can see how there’s buildings all around it. Some of those are hotels and apartment buildings, so you can just hang out and watch a game from there. Of course, that also means you can get hit by a ball if you’re just walking down the sidewalk. I was disappointed to find that Tony Packos hot dogs were not served in the stadium, though there is a restaurant across the street. This is how close we sat to the bullpen, by the way.The next day we left for Indiana for my buddy Geof’s marriage to the lovely Eileen with my folks driving (they were also invited, though they probably would have driven us and gone back home if we asked cause they’re awesome). Just outside of Valparaiso we stopped at a rest stopped that a carload of my friends from Toledo also happened to stop at. It was all very serendipitous. Anyway, there was a little gift shop that had a ton of statues like the dragon and fairy here. I contemplated buying one as a wedding present, but the missus reminded me we already had a gift and I’m not that generous. And finally, the day after the wedding we had a crazy-early flight out of Midway in Chicago that my parents were nice enough to drive us to. While walking through this strange new place, I was delighted to see them celebrating Chicago’s two finest sons Jake and Elwood Blues. There were actually two statues, but with the sun coming in through those huge windows, this was the best I could get. The other photo was completely washed out. There you have it. It was a great trip filled with friends, family and fun, plus we didn’t have to drive out, so you can’t really go wrong with that!

Robot Animal Bands

Thanks to Whitney Matheson’s fantastic PopCandy blog I’m riding a completely unexpected nostalgia wave right now. She did a post today on a documentary about these animatronic robots that used to play at pizza chains aimed at kids called Showbiz Pizza Place. It sounds very similar to one of my favorite movies from the past couple years King Of Kong and I can’t wait to see it. Here’s the trailer, it looks fantastic.

I have never been to a Showbiz Pizza King, but I was treated to a wonderful place in Toledo called Major Magic’s All Star Pizza Revue as a kid where they had a similar band. Far as I know, it’s still there. The last time I went there was in college, when we met up with some family friends with younger kids before Christmas. The video games were rad, the balloon machine still worked, the pizza was still not-so-great and Major Magic’s band was still rocking out, though looking a little more rickety than I remember.


Unfortunately I couldn’t find any video that didn’t suck to show you what it was like (the two best candidates included a mom trying to get her daughter to dance in the dark near the band and two teenage thinks who think they’re funny and aren’t), but I did find these Rock-afire tracks done by a guy featured in the documentary who purchased the entire band and set them up in his house, programming them to play current songs.

Like Fergie’s “London Bridge.”

And Usher’s “Love In This Club”

Now I have a new dream item for my future man cave. The more I think about it, the more it’s looking like my man cave might have to be a whole separate house. Food for thought…