By Michael Barnes
The following is a completely fictitious conversation between Mr. Toby Wachter and me.
TW: Hi, Michael . . . it’s Toby. Hey, I have your assignment for the Marvel Team-Up previews, but I wanted to talk to you about something first.
Me: Um . . . sure. What’s up?
TW: Well, in your last preview, you kind of said some negative things about time travel. This is a bit of a problem, as a good number of Vs. System players are fans of Quantum Leap. As a result, we had a bit of an outcry from our readers.
Me: Really? What kind of outcry?
TW: I had more than one e-mail use the phrase “Off with his head!”
Me: Oh man . . .
TW: Considering the situation, I thought it would be appropriate for you to atone for your comments by previewing a card from the Marvel Team-Up set that has to do with time travel. That way, you can tell people about how great time travel is, and hopefully regain your lost favor in the eyes of the Metagame.com readers.
Me: Yeah, that’s a good idea. Thanks for looking out for me, Toby. I’ll get right on it.
TW: Sounds good. One more thing, Michael: no more microwaveable burrito jokes.
Yes, ladies and gentlemen, it’s preview time once again. For some, it’s a time to catch a glimpse of the latest and greatest cards that Vs. System has to offer. For others (like me) it’s a chance at redemption for past transgressions.
In retrospect, I suppose that time travel is not a terrible thing. Take Dr. Sam Beckett from Quantum Leap, for example. He uses time travel as a means to set right that which went wrong. You can’t help but admire that. In fact, I kind of style myself after Scott Bakula’s character. I mean, I don’t travel in time or anything, but just like Sam has Al, I have my own wise-cracking sidekick in the form of Jeremy Blair. And just as Dr. Beckett has Ziggy, I even have a know-it-all super-brain named Shane Wiggans (“Wiggy” for short).
Me: Jeremy, why haven’t I leaped yet?
JB: Wiggy says there’s a 94.2% chance that you can’t leap until you make sure that Tim Batow has his passport for PC: Sydney.
Of course, I don’t actually travel in time. This makes setting right that which goes wrong rather difficult. I do what I can to do good, but being able to travel in time would make things a lot easier.
Okay, enough of my whining. Let’s get to today’s preview card.
Unless your name is Kergillian, there’s a good chance that you’ve never even heard of the super hero known as Devil-Slayer. Let me give you a bit of background on this part-time Marvel Defender.
Eric Simon Payne had a fairly unremarkable life growing up in the 1950s. Like many kids, he spent his time chasing girls and getting into fights. After high school, Payne joined the Marines and headed off to Vietnam. He was a good soldier, but the anti-war sentiment that pervaded America after the war left him feeling alone and isolated. Unable to reconcile issues with his wife Cory, Payne took to drinking heavily. For a while, Payne made his money as a mafia hit man, but he left after a crisis of conscience. This led him to join the Cult of the Harvester of Eyes as a Reaper of Souls.
With the cult, Payne began to develop his latent telepathic abilities. His powers, while not as strong as notable telepaths like Professor X or Jean Grey, gave him rather impressive abilities. Payne could use his telepathy to alter the way he appeared to others and decipher foreign languages. In addition, Payne also had telekinetic abilities, which enabled him to levitate objects—including himself.
As the cult’s Agent of Death, Payne was given a powerful artifact called the Shadow Cloak. This cloak allowed Payne to teleport to other times and dimensions. Payne used the Shadow Cloak to procure powerful weapons from the past and future.
Some time after obtaining the Shadow Cloak, Payne learned of the cult’s nefarious plot to enslave Earth by reviving a race of ancient demons. Payne fled from the cult and vowed to do everything in his power to prevent the return of these demons. This vow became the foundation of his super hero pseudonym, Devil-Slayer.
Let’s take a look at how the character Devil-Slayer translates into the card Devil-Slayer. One of the first things that comes to mind about Devil-Slayer is that he’s a telepath. (I suppose that should be expected given that his initials are E.S.P.) As such, we might expect his card to possess some of the card manipulation prowess that the Mental mutants from The X-Men wield. Devil-Slayer does not disappoint, featuring a card manipulation power very similar in nature to that of Emma Frost, Friend or Foe and Jean Grey, Red.
What makes the character of Devil-Slayer unique, however, is his Shadow Cloak. Consider the power of an object that enables a hero to travel in time to procure items that might aid him in battles: Facing down Dr. Doom? No problem! Just run off and find an EMP grenade to disable his suit of armor. Locking horns with Magneto? Take a leap in time to find a suit of armor made of plastic. When you have the power of time travel at your command, finding weapons to beat any opponent is within the realm of possibility.
In Vs. System, Devil-Slayer’s triggered effect is a very apt representation of his ability to hop around in time obtaining weapons for his upcoming battles. Once Devil-Slayer enters combat, his controller can do a “pseudo-leap” of sorts by revealing the top five cards of his or her deck. Any revealed plot twists become weapons that Devil-Slayer can use in that round of combat. These plot twists are removed from the game and become lost to the player after that, but the potential access to free cards makes Devil-Slayer’s effect well worth its cost.
I’m sure most of you reading this article have already started thinking about ways to abuse Devil-Slayer. Still, let me offer a couple of ideas for consideration. With X-Corp: Paris (aided by the other X-Corp locations from The X-Men set), a player could set up the cards on top of his or her deck to make the most of Devil-Slayer’s considerable powers. The only thing better than having a random shot at free plot twists is controlling your access to those free plot twists.
If X-Corp: Paris is a good card to use with Devil-Slayer, then Silver Surfer, Skyrider of the Spaceways and Attilan could be absolutely amazing. Now, instead of limiting your setup to the top few cards of the deck, you have your entire deck at your disposal. Effects that can place plot twists on top of your deck become even better with Devil-Slayer in play. If you want to attack up the curve with Mr. Payne, you can have Silver Surfer conjure up a copy of Savage Beatdown to use and abuse. Perhaps you need some extra DEF to bounce an opposing attack? You could use Attilan to bring forth an Acrobatic Dodge. There are a slew of possibilities and combinations with these cards.
Of course, all this speculation is limited to Devil-Slayer’s interaction with cards from older sets. There’s no telling what tricks will be available in Marvel Team-Up that can further aid Devil-Slayer in his weapon fetching.
My work is done here, and it’s time for me to leap out to my next endeavor. I hope you enjoyed the preview, and be sure to head out to a Sneak Preview this weekend to see what other goodness Marvel Team-Up has to offer.
Take me away, Wiggy!