Friday, August 11, 2006

Stan and I Pass Judgement!

We all know that the Starman Archive has no rival for DRAMA. But if it did, that rival would be "Who Wants to be a Superhero?"

Boy, when Stan Lee said the tests would only get tougher, he wasn't kidding, True Believers.

Love the Enforcer's new supervillain outfit and his mushmouthed scenery-chewing! I'm now his biggest fan -- or second biggest fan, judging from last night's challenge! HA! AhHAHAHAHA!

He's not a real supervillain, of course; he's a Sinister Sidekick ("Hey, Bawss, you'll find dese here seecret recordins ree-uhl useful-like!").

Who would have thought the "Buying Lunch Challenge" would be an insidious snare, and one which would easily trap all but two of the heroes? FOOLS! THE UTTER FOOLS! Truly an ingenious deception; I applaud the producer's evil.

I bet Nitro G and Levity wouldn't have fallen for that trick, because they actually read comic books. Feedback escaped because of his steely gaze and power of super-disturbing-sincerity. Fat Momma, well, I think she escaped only because the trap was flirtation-based and she knew darned well no one would be flirting with her.

There were two eliminations last night and, lemme tell ya, they were pretty shocking! Shocking, but justified in the context of ratcheting up the moral standards of the contestants. Sadly, two of the contestants I liked the most were eliminated, leaving two who I can't stand.

Now it's time for me to pass Moral Judgment on some of them, like my idol, Stan Lee.

"Lemuria -- you are a vicious backstabbing viper-fanged beyotch of the worst kind. You are a nightmare and should turn in your costume. However, as a consolation prize, you're being sent to DC as the latest member of the Outsiders."

"Tyveculus -- it's my job to tell Lemuria she's a vicious backstabbing viper-fanged beyotch of the worst kind, not yours. Soopuheerowz are supposed ta make people feel bettuh about themselves, not worse! Captain America called; he wants his high horse back."

"Feedback -- if I asked you to bite off the head of a hamster to prove your courage, would you do it? Ah, no, Feedback! Put down the hamster! The '90s are over, Feedback, and people want heroes who can do their jobs non-psychotically."

"Creature -- I hate you less than I used to, because you immediately understood the Self-Sacrifice Challenge and you met it with complete sincerity. I don't like you, but you've earned my respect and you seem to be actually learning something during the process."

"Monkey Woman -- I have adored you more with each passing episode and you are a Tower of Fabulousness. But! A Tower of Fabulousness built on the Quicksand of Deceipt will inevitably sink. 'Nuff said."

"Fat Momma -- you have gone over to the dark side. I was so happy for you when you aced the Fire Walk With Me challenge and used your donuts to comfort the Screaming Twin! But you totally missed the point of the Self-Sacrifice Challenge. I used be a huge supporter of you, but you have abadoned Justice and embraced Vengeance. Overwhelmed by emotion, you have lost your mission and you are lost to us. You will reassigned as the Fat Funny Friend of the Punisher where it is hoped you will revive its sagging sales in the black female readers demographic."

"Major Victory -- every time I think you're going to trip on your own cheesiness, you prevail. Even though you stumbled on the Buying Lunch challenge, you of all the contestants seem to have the best natural sense of what it means to be a soopuheerow. I don't know whether you'll win, but I'm becoming convinced which each passing episode that you are the only man worthy of fathering my baby."

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Heroclix Pogs: Thought Robots

Most of the pogs we've made or considered making are character-specific; that is, they make sense only as part of a very particular team. I mean, you wouldn't expect to find Dale Gunn hanging out with a team of Amazons, would you? Heh.

But today's offering will work on many villainous teams; why, it's practically the "soy" of evil mastermind teams! I refer, of course, to:

THE THOUGHT ROBOTS

The blank eyes. The slack jaws. The hawk noses. The severe cheekbones. The dull browness of their matching suits.

Thought Robots. Brrr!

Really nice hair, though.



The Special Thought Robots Rules


  1. Thought Robots' moves do not count toward your alloted actions per turn.
  2. Thought Robots must start adjacent to a villain on your team, who is designated as their "Master" figure.
  3. Thought Robots have Willpower as long as their "Master" remains in play.

Note that I made five of them; you really just don't have one or two Thought Robots. You need a minimum of three ... otherwise, it's hard to get them insurance coverage.

The "Willpower" comes from their "Master", of course. When he or she is out of play, the Thought Robots can still attack, but they tend to slack off. Good Thought Robots are hard to find.

To enjoy Thought Robots to the fullest, play the whining drone of Complaint Rock in the background.

The Evil That Dibnys Do


Not only is Ralph a cheapskate...



he's a lying cheapskate.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Reclaiming or Purging the Past

Usually, I try to keep things upbeat here at the Absorbascon; one doesn't wish to "rant".

But I am distressed by the tack that DC seems to have taken on New Earth. They seem to have wasted a universal reboot on just adding in a few backstory details to a handful of major characters: the career of young Superman, the capture of Joe Chill, Wonder Woman's role in the founding of the JLA.

None of those are particularly important to the character's present (except, arguably, the WW/JLA connection). What I was hoping for from New Earth was not the inclusion of wanted backstory but the exclusion of unwanted backstory. I thought DC was cleaning house, not shopping for more continuity brick-a-brack that writers will have to dust around.

If Ruled The World, there are a host of things I would have excised from the DCU's past:

  • Bane / Azrael/ Knightfall
  • Millenium
  • Bloodlines
  • Cosmic Odyssey (with its evisceration of John Stewart's character)
  • Superman and Barda's porn film
  • Hush
  • The Death of Superman
  • Major Disaster in the JLA
  • Extreme Justice
  • Zero Hour
  • Gotham's two plagues and an earthquake
  • Luthor's inaction-filled presidency
  • The "B13 Virus"
  • Obsidian Age / The Sword of Atlantis / Heck, Atlantis itself
  • The Outsiders
  • The Darkstars
  • The entire revamp of and war against Eclipso
  • Many other things you will list in your comments to this post
I know that some characters have their roots in these events, but new backstories could have been created for them. Heaven knows, we can't get along without Fatality and her Fleur-de-lis of Doom; we need her "TK" on Heroclix villain teams. But the essence of her history (mad at GLs for failing to save her world) doesn't really require that Cosmic Odyssey remain in continuity. Why are we being forced to swallow a cow when all we wanted is a nice steak?

Why on multiple earths was "The History of the DC Universe" backup feature in 52 a reaffirmation that everything we were hoping to forget actually still happened? Why was it hosted by the one character most in need of a new backstory? It could and should have been a synopsis of the streamlined past of New Earth.

I'm glad 52 is explaining what happened in the one year before "the present", but I'd still appreciate a clue as to what happened in the 20 billion other years that preceded it. And now the character bios seem to be compounding the problem instead of solving it. Re-read the Wonder Woman bio; can you tell whether Diana out-competed her fellow Amazons in order to become Wonder Woman or was she simply 'the natural choice'?

DC; we know what used to be the past (and if we don't, we don't care). What we want to know is what the past is now, and we want it to be less complicated, not more.

Is it just me? Where do you stand on this?

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

The First Creator Pog

Why should comic book characters have all the fun? Why shouldn't we take the opportunity that Heroclix provides to allow comic book creators to interact with their creations? Why should Cary Bates have all the fun?

I'm going to produce "Creator Pogs" so that you can have writer and artists as bystanders in your Heroclix games; how delightfully wicked. Gail Simone was the first; suggestions welcome! Our next Comic Creator Custom Clix pog is for:


You can use this pog as is, but it's more fun to use

the Special Judd Winick Rules:
  1. Judd Winick has "Poison" but only toward Green Arrow, Kyle Rayner, and any figure with the Outsiders Team Ability.
  2. Judd Winick may be carried by other writers.

Note that the Judd Winick pog has no ranged attack but has a Damage Value of 1. That means Judd can do Damage to characters but only when he gets close to them.

For maximum ambience during gameplay with this pog, tune the TV to the Real World or Juniper Lee in the background.

Monday, August 07, 2006

Copy Writing

Ever wonder about the copyright issues involved in comic book characters? Then check out this website by Absorbascommando Britton Payne. Britton has done a lot of work analyzing the issue and provides lots of examples, both famous and obscure.

As an "extra", Britton has proposed a legal citation format for comic books that warms my Blue Book.

All this PLUS an explanation of why you will not receive a singing telegram delivered by Super-Stud!

Majorette Brenda Keeps Time

Rah!

Wonder Woman is a great Heroclix figure, but if you want to build a team centered around her, you'll need some of her friends. Friends like...
If ya wanna be really close to Wonder Woman, ya gotta love the marching. So Majorette Brenda is one of her great pals and a fun addition to a Wonder Woman theme team. You can utilize her as is, or use the Special Majorette Brenda Rules:

  1. During initial figure placement, all your team's members must be adjacent in the back row and Majorette Brenda has to be in front of them in the middle.
  2. Ranged attacks can only be made against Majorette Brenda by using Energy Explosion.
  3. As a free action, Majorette Brenda can grant Willpower to any adjacent female teammate.

To maximize enjoyment of the Majorette Brenda pog, always have symphonic band music playing in the background, preferably in 2/2 time, and wear epaulettes during gameplay.

A Serious Difference Between DC and Marvel

If you really want to be serious about comics, you have to read Marvel. Marvel is serious, man. Marvel tackles serious issues (except for rape). Marvel's characters have serious problems (I mean, other than Joe Quesada).

If you want to understand just how serious Marvel is, read any of their stuff that's supposed to be funny. Urk.

When I talk to DC readers, I hear them say things like, "my comics were so much fun this week!" (assuming, you know, that they think decapitations, eye-gougings, sunderance, and rape are "fun"). When I talk to Marvel fans, everything's about relative badassedness, which character can beat which, and how many pounds each can benchpress.

Marvel's characters can, for the most part, go in two very large boxes:
  • Misunderstood Misfits of Limited Ability Struggling To Do What They Can In A World That Doesn't Appreciate Them and
  • Unfathomable Cosmic Beings of Unimaginable Power and Sloganistic Absolutism.

Or, as I usually think of it, What Adolescents Feel Like and What Adolescents Want To Feel Like.

In either case, it's very serious. Adolescents like to be taken very seriously and to take everything else very seriously. Not like kids. Kids are only interested in "fun"; silly DC comics are just for kids.

What knocks off the socks of a Marvel reader? A story full of Insert Anti-Hero killing bad guys or Insert Hero's inability to pull his life together despite every possible advantage, including high intelligence and superpowers.

What knocks off the socks of a DC reader? One page of Dr. Virus with Kryptococcus the Omni-Germ or a cameo by Mr. Terrible.

Anyway, as a result of all this seriousnosity, Marvel takes things seriously that DC cannot, like Marvel's villains. If you try to imagine that Marvel villains were suddenly folded into the DCU or to identify the New Earth counterparts of the villains of "Earth 616" , and you get something like...

  • The Jester becomes the Prankster
  • The Green Goblin becomes the Trickster
  • Doctor Doom becomes Doctor Domino
  • The Purple Man becomes Dr. Psycho
  • Stiltman becomes Kite-Man
  • Mysterio becomes the Spook
  • Modok becomes Hector Hammond
  • Kraven becomes ... Vartox?
  • Scorpion becomes Copperhead
  • Boomerang becomes Captain Boomerang
  • Beetle becomes Killer Moth
  • Magneto becomes Dr. Polaris
  • Galactus becomes Mr. Nebula
  • Superskrull becomes Amazo
  • Fing Fang Foom becomes Chemo
  • Radioactive Man becomes Professor Radium
  • Mandarin becomes Dr. Tzin Tzin
  • Klaw becomes Sonar
  • M'Baku the Man-Ape becomes the Ultrahumanite
  • Juggernaut and Rhino and Hammerhead become ... well, I don't think DC has any characters whose power is running into stuff with their heads
  • Others you will name in your comments on this post

I'm not saying Marvel's or DC's villains are "lame" (whatever that empty bit of teenage argot is supposed to mean). I'm not saying DC's villains aren't serious threats. Just from the above list, for example, Amazo, Chemo, and Dr. Psycho are quite threatening. But they have their lighter side (as befits Villains Whose Names End In "O").

I guess what I'm saying is:
  • Marvel seems hestitant to show a lighter side to its villains for fear it might make it harder for their readers to take them seriously.
  • DC seems insistent on showing a lighter side to its villains as a necessity in getting their readers to take them seriously.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Reasons to read "Manhunter" #15

In issue #15, we read a series of vignettes that explain the origin and abilities of all of Manhunter's equipment and how it came to be hers.

The staff from the Manhunters, the suit from the Darkstars, the gloves from Azrael. Three short stories in one comic book; I wish they'd do more of that. Makes me feel like I'm getting my money's worth.

Anyway, some people would call this a "filler issue". But what's one of the most common complaints people have about modern comic books? That they rely too much on previous continuity; that a new reader will not be able to understand them, making the story inaccessible.

The Manhunter crew understand that. So occasionally they take the time and effort to get new readers up to speed. Me, I'd just have plopped a Narration Box or Editor's Note ["Which was first seen in Darkstars #1, 1992! -- Ed."].

But the Manhunter team is cleverer than I, and works all the backstory you need into the plot of Manhunter as it unfolds. So as the Manhunter story grows forward, it also sinks its roots deeper into the DCU. Which, to me, is another reason to ...

Buy Manhunter.

Me, Todd, and the Justice Society

What's that, Todd? You want me to talk to the people about the roster of Justice Society? Yes, Todd; yes, I will talk to the people about the roster of the Justice Society.

Yes, Todd, I see you standing behind Wildcat; you look very handsome. I am surprised how many people have not noticed you.

The redhead? Yes, Devon told me that was the new original Red Tornado. He recognized the symbol on her chest. I assume she's a granddaughter of Ma Hunkel.

Yes, I saw Atom-Smasher/Nuklon/Dictator-Squisher's new radiation symbol. Hmph; I wish you wouldn't pay so much attention to him, Todd.

I love the Sandman's spooky costume; that's Sanderson in that get-up, right?

Todd, can you talk to Jakeem about his outfit? Or rather, the fact that he doesn't have one? Devon agrees with me that the whole "hoodie with backwards hat thing" is a bit much. I know he's "street" but I'm sure he doesn't need to wearing Capt. Marvel's leftover shirts. What's that? Take him to Blockade Boy for a fashion makeover? Yes, Todd; yes, I will take Jakeem Thunder to Blockade Boy for a fashion makeover.

Speaking of a bit too much, did Power Girl have surgery to reduce the stress on her back? Good for her.

Is that the Starman of 1952 beside her? How nice. Is he from a future that no longer exists? Is he someone new entirely? Does he understand DRAMA?!

Oh, I'm glad Hawkman's there, too. Silly kids who think he should be in the JLA! That was a different person entirely, an alien fellow, a policeman with curly black hair. This is archeologist Carter Hall, back with his friends where he belongs.

Glad your dad ditched the eyepatch; his costume is busy enough. Speaking of your dad, I think it's funny how every artist and writer always remembers that he's left-handed, but almost none of the readers do.

Isn't Liberty Belle dead? Oh, I guess that's her daughter, the Tramp Formerly Known As Jesse Quick. Glad to see she's donned a less salacious outfit than the one with the

Commander Steel! There's a surprise. Amusing to see a JSAer whose "legacy" comes from a nonexisting retconned WWII character who only exists due to Gerry Conway's Captain America fixation and tachyon shoehorn. I wonder who it is? Does this mean Dale Gunn will be hanging with the JSA? Well! That means we will get to see Courtney become a woman (probably on panel) and witness catfights between Power Girl and Liberty Belle. Not that there's anything wrong with that.

Hey, Todd -- Since Vixen and Gypsy are in Birds of Prey, shouldn't Commander Steel be joined in the JSA by someone else ...?

Oh, Todd, don't be silly! You know there's no one but you...