Hello and welcome once again to Vorthos Is Magic! After the copious amount of feedback after the last article about it, it is clear that I have only begun to tap the well that is gruesomeness in Magic. And because I value all of your input, I would feel remiss if I didn't heed the cry of the masses. I wouldn't dare to dream to be the absolute authority on all things aesthetic in Magic, so why not strike while the iron is hot? You asked for them, and so here they are; this is your Top 10 More Gruesome cards in Magic:
10. Mind Ravel (Ice Age)
Requested by my friend and Jace impersonator himself, David McDarby, this is Mind Ravel. A curious piece from Ice Age done by artist Mark Tedin, this art doesn't really scream gruesome or unnerving to me as much as it does local used car lot decoration.
I can just picture this brain man attached to an air pump being inflated to get those tendrils-a-dancin' in order to attract customers' attention from the interstate. Maybe not used cars, but definitely a Mind Flayer's second-hand store. “Come on down to Crazy Sarkt's Discount Brain Emporium! We've got frontal lobes! We've got medulla oblongatas! We've got brain stems the hosts only used on Sundays during Jeopardy! So come see me, Crazy Sarkt, and we'll find you that used brain you've been dreaming of! Have half a brain; come on in and save some money*!”
9. Grim Feast (Mirage)
All right, now things are getting graphic! It's rare to see cannibalism in Magic without the aid of zombies or some other form of necromancy. Although I hate to say it to young Grasshopper here, but I think that meat has long since gone bad. Take a look at the carcass he's going to town on; it's already rotted down to the skull. At least I think it has. It could be that our would-be Dahmer likes to start with the tender face meats. Wow, now that is pretty gruesome. Thanks for the suggestion, Dean Duprez. I think I might start ordering tofu in the near future.
8. Amnesia (The Dark)
Amnesia nothing! That man is dead! Of course the guy can't keep nonland cards in his hand after this spell; you blew a hole in his head big enough to house a softball! I'm surprised the card doesn't read “Destroy target player” based on the art. Aside from the obvious balance issues, but look at him! What kind of shape would your opponent be in after you turned his skull into a birdhouse? And were the needles in his neck and collar really necessary after that? Thanks Nick Stroozas, you blew my mind.
7. Mindstab Thrull (Fallen Empires)
Where to begin with this one? A nightmarish collection of rotten arms attached to a head. This thing looks like it crawled straight out of Silent Hill, and one of the good ones too! You know what would suck? Drawing the short straw amongst the Spell Stitcher's minions and getting volunteered to be the head part of this monstrosity. Not that losing an arm for your master's dark experiments would be a walk in the park, but if I had to choose between relearning to write with my left hand and riding atop H. R. Giger's barstool for the rest of my days I think I'll take my chances with the missing arm. And to do what? Hand the master a bottle opener whenever he needs? Actually, if you look closely, this thing has an armband full of small cutting tools ready to be passed out at a moment's notice. Maybe the master is really into Warhammer 40k? Maybe he just needed someone handy around the lab. This terrible pun brought to you once again by Dean Duprez.
6. Maze of Ith (The Dark)
A giant ball of flying guts. Awesome. I am having Living Wall flashbacks all over again. Actually this thing reminds me more of Granfaloon from Symphony of the Night. Or Legion if you are a Castlevania purist. Anyone ever play Abadox for the NES? Or the Villi People level in Earthworm Jim 2? Or Jabu-Jabu's belly? Or any Contra game ever? Why are there so many games where at least one level is composed primarily of internal organs? What's the fascination here? Anyone who has ever field-dressed a deer can tell you that guts are gross and stink. I suppose though that is the point. What better way to demoralize your captured foes than by throwing them in the intestine jail? Be sure to say hi to Ms. Frizzle and the rest of the gang while you're in there. Everyone thank Sean R McMullen for taking us inside this one.
5. Incinerate (Ice Age)
Adam Keener mentioned that Incinerate has a couple of different versions that would be home on this list, and I can't really argue with that. Granted, red spells start to all look the same after a while, but if you folks out there can think of a new way to make something on fire look fresh and visually unique, the comment box is right below. I think we as Magic players may be a bit jaded when it comes to images like these. After twenty or so years of throwing lightning, fire, and even lava itself at each other, we tend to forget just how terrible that experience would be on the receiving end. So let Mark Poole's amazing work here be a lesson to you red mages out there: this is what you have been doing to people all this time. I hope you feel proud…and have a very large dustpan.
4. Banewasp Affliction (Shards of Alara)
Ah yes, more swarms of disgusting insects eating people alive. Always a treat. To be fair, this does totally trump Carrion Beetles as far as horrific imagery goes. Sure, getting your eyeball plucked from your head is bad, but there was no evidence that they crawled down your insides as seen here. Gross. Put yourself in this poor sap's shoes. A bloated, greasy ant larva working its way through your central digestive system like a bad decision at Chipotle while you're being ripped apart by more of its less adventurous brethren. You'd hope the ones working over your head and throat would get the job done before the one on the inside starts having desires to reenact that scene from Alien. Rather, Promethean for you kids these days. Props go to Willam Thomas for this addition. Terrible flesh-eating larva props, but props nonetheless.
3. Terror (10th Edition)
This piece was a consideration for the original list. Puking your muscles and bones out through your mouth certainly qualifies as being gruesome, but the more I look at this art the more I think it looks like a diagram you'd seen in a doctor's office, right next to a poster demonstrating the dangers of smoking. It just seems so clinical and sterile. Granted this is almost verbatim from my reply to Aaron Brummer's original comment on my last article, but I've always had the bad habit of sticking my foot in my mouth.
2. Gaze of Pain (Ice Age)
I must confess I don't get this one. I had several comments mentioning that not having this card on the original list was a failure on my part, but I have to chalk this one up to difference of opinion. I don't see it, folks. Is it the cuts on the face? Magic has a lot worse to offer in terms of spooky imagery than a few facial lacerations. I can see the staples in this androgynous figure's forehead and can only surmise that this is supposed to be some kind of flesh mask. If that is in fact the case then the card is even less scary by reminding me of Nivek Oigre's character in Repo! The Genetic Opera. The figure is even holding opera glasses to make the comparison come full circle. Not to mention it's wearing a stupid looking hat. Not as stupid as Alpha's Prodigal Sorcerer or Urza's Miter, but still pretty stupid.
“I'm a huge Prince fan. What of it?”
1. Pulling Teeth (Morning Tide)
This one I feel the most shame for omitting from my original list. This one smacks of guttural discomfort, and I am not even afraid of going to the dentist! Although after looking over this piece by Jim Pavelee I might start to be. Honestly though, this guy does look like he needs some serious work done on those browning, jagged chompers. I suppose if my dentist used a meat hook to pry my mouth open and ripped my teeth out by means of rope and what I assume to be a horse I wouldn't keep regular checkup appointments either. “Fluoride? Novocain? To hell with that! We'll just yank those suckers right from your still screaming mouth! I'll go fetch the gauze I've left out overnight in the pigs' pen, 'cause you're gonna need a lot of it before we're through! Oh, and here is your lollipop. Remember to floss!”
Thanks once again to everyone who posted comments last time! I really want this column to be as interactive as possible, and I really do value the community's input. So keep the comments coming, and I will be happy to oblige. I want to give credit to Ray Dill, my graphics guru, for once again providing enlarged card art for me. You can follow me @Fru17Spr34d if you feel so inclined. I have something special in line for next time. Until then, don't forget to have fun!