Saturday, September 22, 2007

Things That Made Me Happy...

in comics this week.

  • The most relaxing Big Monkey Podcast of all.
  • Jordana Gardner. Who'd thunk it?
  • Poor Catwoman. But really, it's inevitable, and thank you, Will Pfeiffer, for realizing it.
  • Bouncing Boy versus Starro.
  • I really have no idea why a badger is attacking Phobia, but I love it anyway.
  • Pomegranate magaritas?
  • I actually enjoyed the Flash this week!
  • Nice G'norrt cameo in Legion.
  • The entire history of the relationship between Green Arrow and Black Canary in three pages.
  • See? I told you Klarion's a bad guy. Don't believe otherwise.
  • Lois brings mace and brass knuckles to a wedding? Good old Lo-lo!
  • Good lord, it's Serling Roquette; I'd almost forgotten her.
  • Those are gardening gloves the Spectre wears, aren't they?
  • "The U.S. Navy?!!" Heh; nice one.
  • Well, THAT's an interesting origin for Eclipso, and probably the most sensible one so far. Even if it turns out to be a lie.
  • See? Everybody knows he's an idiot.
  • Good lord, I'd almost forgotten the origin of the cold-gun.
  • Impressive recap of the Fate helmet's recent history.
  • That the four men wearing suits to a bachelor party are Clark Kent, Alan Scott, Jay Garrick, and Plastic Man.
  • Two successive panels in Robin completely encapsulated the spectrum of Batman's personality.
  • Wait... is that Power Girl spanking a stripper...?
  • Soup into a colander? That's ingenious.
  • Connor Hawke can perform weddings; monks are cool.
  • The Return of Mister Terrible.
  • Tad Williams, who realizes that Aquaman can crush a gun, that Vandal Savage is just a caveman, that Lorena would take the time to paint an "A" on her armor, and that Aquaman has the power to defeat Krusivax and save the world.
  • "I came for the fight."
  • I love the realistic mundanity of Kent Nelson's fall from grace.
  • Plastic Man versus Clayface.
  • Kyle becomes a penciller; take that, Dr. Wertham!
  • Hey, Eclipso; please remember he used to be Public Enemy No. 1!
  • Most surprising honeymoon ever!!!! And leave it to Ben Hatton to put all the pieces together...
  • I think BOP 110 just taught me to love the Huntress.
  • Zatarra's even hotter than Tim Drake, if that's possible.
  • Glad to see that Acuna realizes how freaking huge Central City/Keystone is.

Friday, September 21, 2007

"The Jungle" and other heroclix maps you can buy!

As you may have guessed from reading this blog, Heroclix is a big thing at the Big Monkey Comics stores. In addition to teaching the game and providing a forum for tournies and games, we try to do other fun stuff, like making special pogs, facilitating group orders on custom pogs, and designing special maps for our customers to play on.

Now, you too can share in some of the joy of being a Big Monkey Monkey customer who plays Heroclix, all in the comfort of your own home. Big Monkey Comics is proud to announce that our new line of custom Heroclix maps is now available through Xion Games!

The first three are water or "underwater" maps for all my fellow fans of Aquaman, and I think I've mentioned them on here before. Someday I hope to gather Will Pfeiffer, Kurt Busiek, Tad Williams and me around such a map, enjoying an all-aqua-game, watching the real Aquaman kayo Black Manta, who's just clobbered the Sword of Atlantis. And Ramona Fradon would be there, just sort of having tea and smiling at the little boys playing "Aquaman".

But the next two maps are ones you haven't seen and they are regular land-based maps.


Mercy Reef
Get out your "aquatic" clix! This all-underwater map has a coral reef separating opposing forces, and special rules for navigating its terrain. Take the plunge and visit Mercy Reef!

Sea Levels
For battles at and under the sea, you need "Sea Levels", which r
epresents one segment of the sea at four different depths (The Surface, the Diving Zone, Deep Water, and Sea Bottom), each with its own special rules for movement and terrain. Take your aquatic gameplay to a new level!

Sunburn Beach
Want a nice open map on which aquatic forces can invade the land (or vice versa)? Pit landlubbers against ocean-dwellers at Sunburn Beach!

The Old Cemetery
A graveyard is a spooky place for a battle ... and a tricky one! Special headstone and tomb terrain
make for lots of strategy. Will your figures survive "hide and seek" or wind up remaining in ... the Old Cemetery?!

The Jungle
"The Jungle" is a dangerous place, and now your Heroclix games can take place there! With lots of undergrowth (hindering terrain) and trees (blocking terrain), plus the river and the pond (water terrain), the Jungle is a challenge to get around in, let alone fight the enemy. Oh, look out for the crocodiles, gorillas, tigers, boas, vipers that occupy Danger Terrain. And did we mention the quicksand...?



Did I say "regular"? Well, that's a lie, of course. Each of them has special terrain, designed to enliven and give a bit more variety to your Heroclix gameplay. The Old Cemetery has "headstone terrain"; you can occupy it like hindering terrain, but from outside it blocks line of sight. That way, your figures can creep around hiding behind headstones! But the elevated terrain on the tops of tombs serves as special vantage points for attacking (or being attacked!). There's more than you might expect going on in an Old Cemetery.

Our latest map, the Jungle, has "Danger Terrain" which 'attacks' anyone who lands on it and "Elastic Terrain", such as the quicksand that requires breakaway. Beware the boa constrictor because it's BOTH! In the Silver Age, big monkeys came from the jungle; nowadays, "The Jungle" comes from Big Monkey.

Just think how many characters need to be on this map! Adventurer Rex "Metamorpho" Mason. Archeologists Adam Strange, Carter Hall, and Kent Nelson the first. Ray "Sword of the Atom" Palmer. Animal Man, Vixen, Cat-Man, & Bronze Tiger! Changeling & Cheetah! Copperhead and Eclipso! Gorilla Grodd, M'sieur Mallah, and the Ultrahumanite! Killer Croc and Kobra! Green Arrow and Sargent Rock! Poison Ivy and Solomon Grundy! Heck, the whole Suicide Squad, since they seemed to spend lots of time in the jungle... .

Oh, for those who buy the Jungle map, I've made a few special pogs for it. Of course!

You can't see it easily, but Bomba has the Aquatic ability, so he can wade through the river for you. Both he and Congo Bill are legal by the way, because their stats are identical to existing tokens (Bomba is based on Mera, and Congo Bill, with extreme irony, is based on Ken Hale). I'll make some more tokens for jungle characters, if anyone wants them and comes up with good ideas for ones to use.

The little capuchin monkeys below are special tokens you can add to the game. Nobody owns them, they're just sort of 'moving terrain'.

There are three trees on the map that have monkeys pictured on them. A capuchin token is placed adjacent to each of those trees, serving as blocking terrain. You can choose to move one of the capuchins as one of your actions during your turn (although they cannot be "pushed").

Like any token, the capuchins tie up regular figures, so you can use a monkey to run up and base an opposing figure, which must either breakaway or kayo the monkey (but that's bad luck). Of course, they have leap/climb, so your opponent can make them run back at you! Pesky little monkeys!

Thursday, September 20, 2007

The Madness of Queen Jean, 4

Okay, so Jean Loring's gone crazy (I mean, publicly, in a way people can't help but notice), Ray's locked her in his bedroom while he explores the rug, and his arm's been mysterious encased in silver. Just another day in Ivytown.

Suddenly, Ray's attacked by Don Quixote and gives us a judo lesson.

They just don't write 'em like this anymore, folks.
Well, except for Judd Winick.



Ray's about to get zapped by Mister La Mancha's argentrifier, when he escapes by de-shrinkifying, which cracks the silver casing on his arms. Upon enbiggenment, Ray discovers...

JEAN LORING HAS ESCAPED!!!

It's such a lovely image. Helmet-haired Jean Loring, in those kicky white boots, lurching around the suburbs of Ivytown, whirling a cigarette stand above her head like a drunk Nancy Sinatra, escaped from her backstage handlers at the LA Pride Festival.

Is "a drunk Nancy Sinatra" a redundancy?

Now, if I discovered that

JEAN LORING HAD ESCAPED,

I'd call off the FBI manhunts for the Joker and Lex Luthor, signal the JLA, the JLA reserves, the JSA, the Freedom Fighters, and the Sea Devils, recall the 50 Green Lanterns who guard Superboy Prime, and leave a note in a time capsule for the Legion of Super-Heroes (because they are notorious for eavesdropping on our era).

But Ray Palmer is not me. Ray Palmer calls Hawkman.

Fortunately (because this is how comics worked in those days), Carter "Hawkman" Hall just happens to have lying around in his museum a suit of armor identical to the one worn by the Atom's assailant.

See? And you thought Ray was stupid for calling him.

The armor, Carter says, was found in Death Valley and appears to be made of an extraterrestrial alloy. So instead of being in a government lab, being studied, it just sits around in a museum somewhere. Welcome to the Silver Age.

You know who should play Hawkman in "Hawkman: The Movie"?
Josh Bernstein. Josh Bernstein in spandex and a harness.



Naturally, they go to where the suit was found, Ray turns a shrinky-dink ray on Hawkman, then they discover a subatomic city (by this point in his career, everything Ray does is "subatomic", not just tiny; no wonder they named it the Palmerverse), where they are immediately attacked by sentries flying on robot birds.

Why? Mostly to give Hawkman something to do, I suppose. Besides, mechanized birds were kind of a thing in the Silver Age. Remember Major Mynah?

Atom: "Sic 'em!"
Hawkman: "Wait, so, I'm your dog, now?"

Atom: "Silence, beeyotch, or I'll slap you like I did Jean and Hank Pym's wife."



Well, naturally, Hawkman does what Hawkman does, and takes out all the cyberavian sentries.

"Exactly as I hoped--!
The unexpected surge of lift drove him into his companion!"

FINALLY
, I find my signature saying.



But what's this? Who does not approve?



No, Hawkman; not "Jean Loring". Rather, it is...


"QUEEN JEAN!"


And what does Queen Jean do to bad little boys and girls?

PUNISH.

Someones appears to have attached the "Trick Shot" feat to Queen Jean, huh? I guess only truly crazy people can fire in a loop-de-loop.

With Hawkman (the muscle) out of commission, the Atom (the brains) immediately gets clocked in the noggin by Don Quixote, who trusses them up in anti-theft devices, and explains that he drove Jean crazy with a crazy-making device (or possibly just by reading her Denny O'Neill's script for this story).

Why drive Jean crazy? Because he doesn't like long trips, that's why.

Next...

after Hawkman and Atom bond while wearing harnesses, doing heavy sweat work, and sleeping in the same cell, they fall for each other (with Josh Bernstein as "Hawkman", and Jake Gyllenhaal as "the Atom").

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Madness of Queen Jean: Editor's Interlude

Back when they wrote stories like "Queen Jean, Why Must We Die?", comic books had an amazing institution called the "Letter Column" (leh-tuhr cohl-uhm). It was kind of like a message board where you could comment on recent comics. But with some incredible differences:
  • It had a moderator who weeded out stupid comments.
  • The moderator was an editor at DC Comics (!!!).
  • People had to use words, instead of emoticons.
  • It was actually in the comic itself, so that other readers would all see it.
  • The moderator/editor himself would actually sometimes REPLY to your comment.

Amazing, huh?

Anyway, in the Letter Column of the comic book that contains "Queen Jean, Why Must We Die?", there's a letter commenting on a recent issue of Atom-Hawkman, the one with the first appearances of that groovy ghoulie the Gentleman Ghost.




The letter-writer enjoys heroes who lose their temper and act out, generational fear and distrust, and betrayal by friends. But little-bitty flying spheres (you know, like the kind that float around Mr. Terrific?) he finds too hard to swallow.

Who could that be?


Perhaps, the kind of person who would have Batman angrily turn his back on his friends in the Justice League to form and manipulate a group of younger heroes? Yes, it was...


ENEMY OF SOCIETY MIKE W. BARR,
CREATOR OF HALO THE OUTSIDER
AND PERPETRATOR OF
NUMBERLESS OTHER LITERARY CRIMES

The Madness of Queen Jean, 3

Where were we? Oh, yes...

So, Ray takes the hysterical, hallucinating Jean Loring back home to his house. Their house. Whatever. It's hard to tell at this point.

Then, because Ray (who's a big geek, after all) is fixed on his new glow in the dark official "One Ring" replica, he dispenses with Jean and her petty manias by relegating her to the Ranting Room.

Really, you may wonder why anyone would stay with Crazy Evil Jean. But she's got a 15-inch waist, Marlo Thomas hair, and when you say, "Go into the bedroom, lock the door, and don't budge until I call you!", she actually does it. I mean, those have got to be worth some serious points.

At this point, Ray does the only logical thing, after locking his raving lunatic of a lover in his bedroom, as if she were King George III.

He shrinks down to explore the rug.

No, really. It's what the Atom does, after all.

The All-New Atom never shrinks down to explore his rug, though. You know why? He has a dog.

But this rug is not only a rug in the DCUniverse, it's a rug in Ray Palmer's house, making it just about the most dangerous place imaginable. Sure enough, just what you'd expect to happen happens almost immediately...

an unidentified beam encases Ray's arm in silver.

Oh, that's silver alright; Silver AGE.

Anyway, then Hawkman gets involved and there are some killer robot bird assassins and Ray and Carter are enslaved in a subatomic world.

More on that later.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

The Madness of Queen Jean, 2

When last we left Jean Loring, she was hallucinating the same face of some creepy guy on every person she saw.

And, really, how creepy do you have to be to scare Jean Loring, for pity's sake?



I should think that if the alternative is seeing the Face of Jean Loring,
the face of this executed murderer would be a relief.



So, instead of seeking help, like a normal, sane person, Jean, who was the model for "Cole" in Twelve Monkeys, decides to lie down.

Is that the world's worst briefcase or the world's best chocolate bar?

Wait.... lie down? Uh-oh...

Now, if you know Jean Loring, you know that this is bad news. Bad things happen when Jean Loring goes to bed. Remember, what Jean was doing in Identity Crisis when she told Ray she stepped on one of her best friends' brains to help cement their love? Yes; lying in bed.

When Jean Loring lies down, watch out. Jean does most of her crazy evil lying down in bed.

Ten Bed Partners Safer Than Jean Loring
  1. The Joker
  2. Norman Bates
  3. Poison Ivy
  4. Major Force
  5. Jason Voorhees
  6. a six-foot female praying mantis
  7. Kyle Rayner
  8. Jeff Palmer
  9. A black widow spider
  10. Senator Craig


After the Crazy Evil builds itself up in Jean as she lies in bed, affable physicist Ray Palmer arrives at her hotel (which, being in Ivytown, is known for hosting Freaked-Out Conventions). Why does Jean live at a hotel? I assume because no one will sell her a condo. I mean, can you imagine what happens to your property values when Jean Loring becomes your neighbor?

"Somebody's flipped!"
Hm... now, who could that be?
Who could that possibly be? Could it be....



JEAN LORING?!


"P-Please, Miss Loring!"
Oh, how many people have died with those as their last words!


Hm. Vases break too easily. Gotta find something sturdier, something with some heft. But still swingable...

Yeah, she'd never lose control like that;
she'd use a flamethrower.


I'm not sure whether Jean's attacking that bellboy with a cigarette stand or a weight from her rampagerobics class. Whatever it is, at least the hotel lobby doesn't have any flamethrowers lying around.

You know, I really hope this would be my reaction to hallucinating. Rather than saying, "Okay, this is very odd, and disturbing, and doesn't seem to be improving. I need to seek the help of a physician, mental health professional, or my superhero genius boyfriend who has the resources of the entire Justice League, including a telepath, at his disposal."
Because that would be boring. Sane, but boring.


Having dated Jean for quite some time, Ray appears to have gotten pretty blaise about this sort of thing.

"Okay, Jean; let's save this for the Ranting Room at home!"


Really, it's the one way he recognizes her: "Oh, this isn't just a random person having a conniption; she's completely out of her mind! Yep, this is my Jean, alright!"

Then comes ....

One of Comic Books' Greatest Moments
:


And if Hank Pym's wife were here, I'd slap her around, too! And everyone would still love me!


If I had what the kids call "mad skillz" like Jon Carey, I'd make an animation out of that panel, with Ray endlessly slapping Jean, and her going from wide-eyed mania to closed-eyed pain, and him with that same unnervingly amused look on his face, with the crinkly laugh-lines around his eyes and a barely restrained chuckle on his smirking mouth. Then I'd wear it on a digital brooch.

Alas.

Eat your heart out, Hank Pym. When a Marvel hero slaps his wife, he becomes the Symbol of Male Evil For All Time. When a DC hero slaps his wife, she thanks him for it.

Monday, September 17, 2007

The Madness of Queen Jean, 1

Hit the ground, folks; this is going to be oomphy.

This series of posts is brought to you by the generosity of Absorbascommenter Randy Sims, who sent me in a copy of The Atom & Hakwman No. 45 ( Nov. 1969), starring that Maven of Madness, the Addle-pated Attorney, the Psycho Solicitor herself,


JEAN LORING!

I would give good money to see the thought balloons of those jurors.
And
Harry's Hot-Cha Hacienda.



It begins like any average day in Ivytown,

Good lord, Jamie Madrox has been recruited by the Sinestro Corps!

with Jean hallucinating,


"Don't let it show!"
Jean's had years of practice hiding her madness.


descending into paranoia,


Well, at least ONE of them joined the Green Lantern Corps instead!
Probably the gay one.



and, later, ravings and violence. I can't wait to get to the ravings and violence.


"Hey, look! It's a pretty girl... at a comic book convention!"
Uh, yeah, Jean, if I wore a cinch-belt that tight,
I'd be hallucinating, too.


Yes, Jean, everyone
is staring at you.
But
you're the one who decide to wear ...

those boots.
To
court.


Gather round, kiddies, while the old Crypt-Keeper tells you a heart-warming tale of madness, enslavement, and death, one that I like to call...

Sunday, September 16, 2007

The Slugger

As Sunday readers know, I take this day to share thuggish Heroclix tokens I've made of friends and fans of the Absorbascon.

Our next pog is one without range:
B911 the Slugger.

This token gets it's combat values from the Tawky Tawny token. Rahr!

It can do some serious damage if you let it get close enough, but it tends to swing wild, so if you're lucky you can pick it off before it reaches any of your vulnerable pieces. Just don't ignore it until the last minute; you'll be pretty mad if your overconfidence allows this punk to clobber one of your DEO Agents.

The Slugger is portrayed by Australian ne'er-do-well Ben "Baseball Bat" Wynne, who was kind enough to send us this photo of himself from his Reform School Yearbook, in which he was voted Most Likely to Bludgeon.

I tried to use the Slugger in battle the other day; sent it up against the Yojimbo, who calmly shot it below its strike zone.


I swear, all of Australia must be like one continent-sized Tarentino film...