Saturday, March 15, 2008

SHIMETHTHF #2

Super-Heroes I'm Mildly Embarrassed to Have the Hots For

Okay, I'll confess: I never read his comic. In fact, I think the only stories I ever saw him in were Zero Hour/crossovery kind of stuff. I'm embarrassed to have the hots for him mostly because everyone thinks he's a screw-up and his recent behavior has been un-heroically temperamental. But that doesn't stop me from having the hots for...


Damage (Grant Emerson)

First off; he's short. I like guys shorter than I, and since I'm only 5'7", that's a limited field. Most people in comics are not short. In fact, they are egregiously not-short. For example, I've noticed that one of the unique characteristics of the Justice Leaguers is that they are not only taller than regular people, they are each and every one of them taller than all the other Justice Leaguers. Superheroes, you see, transcend mere mathematics and topology and if you don't believe that, just go take a look at some old Sekowsky JLA art. Anyway, Grant Emerson is my shorty.

He's young beefcake, by drawing, portrayal, and characterization. Just take a look at this example, stolen generously from the bravely unashamed Shirtless Superheroes site. I mean, really. I don't know whether the writer was in on it, but the artists certain took advantage of Grant's hunkiosity.

Sometimes it doesn't hurt until later, you know.

Don't worry; I'm sure that the person saying "You okay?" is a safe, non-sexually-tensive supporting player, like an elderly female relative. I mean, it's not like it's some hunky young guy in skin-tight clothes, the kind who dances at clubs with his arms in the air.

Or perhaps it is.
What does he want, Grant? I dunno ... Round Two, maybe?

Anyway, young buck that he is, Damage is brimming over with (highly suggestively symbolic) explosive power. Just thinking about it makes me reach for a limonada. I mean, really: "banging" is his power. What more could one want in a man? Or, for that matter, in oneself?

Oh, Geoff Johns didn't make it up; he really isn't allowed in Atlanta. Atlanta's loss!

Friday, March 14, 2008

Things That Made Me Happy...

in my comics this week.

  • If you don't pay attention, you'll miss the cinematic visual scene transitions in Legion in the 31st Century; and that would be a shame.
  • I don't remember Paragon; did he actually appear before, or did he escape from Blockade Boy's blog...?
  • Woo @&#%ing woo. I love you, Etta.
  • I almost fainted for joy when I saw Catherine Colbert. Pity about what happens... .
  • Love the Kent's new apartment and its secret passage to the Conservatory.
  • That's not my whore, that's my accountant!
  • Dr. Fate cleans the courtyard.
  • Hey, who designed that Wonder Woman statue? Jack Kirby?
  • Kyle Rayner, Donna Troy, subtract Jason Todd, the Monitor, but add Harley Quin, Rookie Catwoman, Mary Marvel, Karate Kid, Triplicate Girl, Firestorm, and Veteran Atom... I'm not sure what Countdown's building toward, but it's great at building Heroclix teams!
  • Blue & Gold working with Hawkman & Green Arrow? This oughtta be good.
  • Thank you, Kurt, for showing Superman actually working on the serum; I've missed that.
  • OMAC-Alfred. Heh; sir, would you like some tea with your termination?
  • Wonder Woman starts dating; yay!
  • Nobody delivers good news like Dubbilex!
  • The Time-Stealers. Ah ha! Now we know...
  • Thank you, Kurt, for taking the time to show someone clobbering Hal Jordan.
  • Wait... is that the beginnings of the "Spectre Revenge Squad"?
  • The Daxamite Priest Elders of the Protonic Flame. I just love saying it.
  • How Ted Kord escapes a thousand OMACs.
  • Hey, look, we've reached that point again in a Judd Winick story where demons/aliens/monster show up completely out of the blue because he never knows what else to do with a plot!
  • "Yes. There are thorns." I love you, Wonder Woman.
  • The Phantom Stranger Showcase 2. Steep yourself in the madness.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Green Lantern and the Decennial Cycle

Have you noticed that we go through a Green Lantern about once every ten years or so?

The Trinity -- Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman -- adapt to each decade, as do their larger casts. They change their styles and personalities but still remain quite recognizably themselves.

But other characters, the ones who didn't continue being published through the Wertham Era, their personal momentum was halted. When they were re-started by Julie Schwartz in the Silver Age, they were ripe for replacement. And this has (so far) doomed the name "Green Lantern" to a succession of replacements at a rate of about one per decade, each a product of his time.

The Green Lantern of the 1940s. Alan Scott. A manly man of the WWII era. Barrel-chested and broad-shoulders, just as like to throw a punch as use his ring, which was full of strange mystic power.

Thanks to Dr. Wertham, we'll never know exactly what the Green Lantern the 1950s might have given us. But...

The Green Lantern of the 1960s. Hal Jordan. Ah yes; the space age. Test pilot, and dinner jacketed swinger. Smooth, but still kind of dorky in a NASA way. And, as the Guardians came into play, he became the Company Man. With his two brothers in tow, he was also the JFK of the hero set. Truly, a character of his era.

Hal Jordan tried to become the GL of the 1970s by hanging out with liberal Green Arrow and tuning in to the scene. But it really just showed how square he was. Eventually, instead of becoming the 70sGL, he became the 40GLs. A straight-laced eminence grise (grey hair and all). This is a pattern the other GLs would follow, as well. And so he was slowly displaced by...

The Green Lantern of the 1970s. John Stewart. Blaxploitation films, big hair, fighting The Man and The System, grassroots battles rather than galactic ones.

Ah, but the 1970s didn't last forever and John's political activism devolved into Political Correctness and "Mosaic" in the '80s. New decades demand new Lanterns, like...

The Green Lantern of the 1980s. Guy Gardner. You see, Gardner had been created much earlier (1968), but hadn't been very active. Comas will do that to you. No, Guy didn't really become his own man until the Big Eighties. Brash. Conceited. Childishly competitive. While John Stewart was busy being ignored as the main character of the Green Lantern series, Guy Gardner was becoming famous as the GL of the JLI. But Guy became as hard to take seriously as the pretension of the decade of his floruit, and so we got...

The Green Lantern of the 1990s. Kyle Rayner. Oh, Guy Gardner tried to become the Lantern for the '90s: tattoos, enormous guns that formed out of his body (ick). But that's not really what the decade wanted. It wanted a release from padded shoulder pretension of the '80s. It wanted ... Young! Edgy! Struggling! Down to earth! In search of himself! Ah, Kyle, sketching, hanging out in coffee houses, sleeping with his colleagues. In the 1990s, somebody gave Joey Tribbiani a ring, it seems.

But the new decade -- and millennium -- wanted something more. Millennial rebirth, a return to greatness, a Brave New World. Kyle tried, even becoming the godlike Ion; but it was still, in the final analysis, just Kyle. A new Green Lantern was called for.

The Green Lantern of the 2000s.

Hal Jordan.

Sure, the other ones are around, but they aren't the one the series is named after, are they?

Is this "Rebirth", then, the end of the cycle?

I hope so. For I do not like the Decennial Character Cycle of the Green Lanterns; it is like building a castle on the sand, only to see it washed away with each successive tide. It has spread, now, to the Flashes, and threatens to beach the Aquaman name as well.

DC; If you want these characters to remain also-rans behind the Trinity, stick with the Decennial Character Cycle. If you want these characters to grow in greatness, keep the same person in the role and evolve or adapt them, not just toss them aside as soon as the culture shifts underneath them.

What do YOU think, Absorbascommenters?

Monday, March 10, 2008

You Can Run, But You Can't Hide

Flashophiles, I have not forgotten you. Either of you.

I kid! The Flash has lots of fans ... particularly among Heroclix players.

In Heroclix, Flash and Flash Family figures generally have HSS (that's "Hypersonic Speed", for the uninitiate) or a related special power. Basically, it's the ability to run up to an opposing figure, hit it, then run away, all in one turn. Wheeee! Many (most, really) other figures need to move into range of an opponent on one turn, rest on the next, then attack on the third. Thus, a figure with HSS can do in the time of one turn what it normally takes other figures three turns to do. During gameplay, that certainly gives HSS figures the feel of being superfast.

"Speed" in Heroclix is defined as how many squares a figure is allowed to move in one turn. Most regular figures have a speed in the 7-9 range; superfast characters have speeds more in the 11-14 range. There is only ONE figure that has a speed higher than 14: Jay Garrick, from the original set of DC Heroclix, with his speed of 20. The difference between the speed of a regular character and a superfast character may not seem that huge, but when combined with HSS, it makes a difference, trust me.

The bane of HSS (and related special powers) is hindering terrain. Hindering terrain represents stuff that doesn't completely block your path, but is enough of hindrance to slow you down or mess with your aim: bushes, furniture, rubble, that sort of thing. Unless a figure has particular powers (such as Flying or Leap/Climb), it has to stop when it enters hindering terrain; when it moves from or within hindering terrain, its speed is halved.

The other thing about hindering terrain is that it creates dark areas for lurking, so that figures with Stealth or Stealth-like powers can hide in it, where, being unseen, they remain safe from long-ranged attacks. Now, this doesn't affect Flash figures directly, because they can't make ranged attacks anyway. Besides, they can just run up, smash a stealthed figure in the face, then run away.

I wanted to make a map for Flash-y figures, one with no hindering terrain to slow them down or for stealthers to hide in. Thus, I have created the sunny Central City Heroclix Map, where "you can run, but you can't hide!"

So, we all know what Central City is like: comedically, absurdly vast. It's also in state of perpetual sunny but not hot afternoon in later summer. Gotham has more night than day, and Metropolis has more day than night, but each seems to enjoy all four seasons. I can remember stories in each city where it was snowy and cold and others where there was a heat wave. But in Central City, it always seems to be a sunny but not hot afternoon in later summer. Long shadows; ice cream vendors; good weather for a run.

How to represent such a place on a Heroclix map? Well, one square on a Heroclix map represents about 6 to 8 feet across. That means a large 3' x 3' map would represent roughly an area anywhere from 21,000 to 37,000 square feet, which I figure is about the size of the lab in the back of Barry Allen's apartment or Iris West's living room. But I decided to represent a small segment of a Central City block instead.

Welcome to Central City, Home of the Flash!



Note that the street has at least six lanes of traffic (since three are visible and there's no median). Any place else that would constitute a major thoroughfare. But this is Central City, home of the horizon, which means this must be a quiet little sidestreet. Perhaps even an unnamed alley.

I tried to show the ridiculous size of the sidewalks, but, really, based on pictures like this, I don't think I've done them justice. Perhaps the entire map should have been sidewalk!

Although there is no hindering terrain, there is blocking terrain (that means figures can't move or fire through it). Scattered blocking terrain is good for HSS figures; they can run behind it to prevent opponents from attacking them at range, and rest up for their next HSS hit-and-run. The carriages of the cars, the trees, and the street vendor tents are all blocking terrain; the back of the bus-stop is a wall (which functions the same way). Oh, and, no, the traffic isn't moving; the police car is there to indicate that it's been stopped as a result of some supervillain melee.

Note that not every part of the vehicles is blocking terrain. After all, it's not really that hard to fire over the hood of a car (or, for that matter, to climb over it)! Don't be deceived by the convertible; it counts as clear terrain. The right third of the map is almost all clear terrain, for, although it has some decorative features, such as the picnic tables, they are sufficiently circumnavigable so as not to constitute hindering or blocking terrain. Across from some outdoor chess tables (for speed chess, natch) is the Flasheteria, a fast food joint for the tourist crowd. Courtesy of a local street artist, there's a little chalk drawing of the Flash outside the Big Monkey store, and at the other end of the sidewalk is a men's tailoring shop of some renown.

Oh, and that "Home of the Flash" street engraving? There's one on every block. It's not as excessive as it seems; after all, that's only one per mile!

For a bit of local color (but not affecting gameplay) I've draw the scene in the midst of a battle where a small cadre of Rogues are trying to kill Flash and Kid Flash. In other words, just your average late summer day in Central City!

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Gang Up On Me!!!!

I really need my readers' help with a project I'm working on, because the internet is not providing the answers I need.

I need the names of as many Gotham streetgangs as you can conjure. Not gangster gangs (like the Black Mask Society) or cult gangs (like Kobra) but streetgangs (like, say, the Streetdemonz from Robin). Even streetgangs from other DC fictionopolises would be helpful, but I figure most named streetgangs are from Gotham books.

So far I've only got:
Streetdemonz (from Robin)
Ghost Dragons (from Robin)
Sons of the Bat (from Dark Knight)
The Mutants (from Dark Knight)
Los Lobos (from the Detroit League)
BTM (the Burnley Town Massive)
Lucky Hand (Tec)


But I need as many more as you can name (and, if possible, where they appeared)!

Things That Made Me Happy in the Spider-Man Cartoon!

  • Peter's teenage goofiness/optimism; it really helps contextualize everything else about the character.
  • The new theme song. Naturally, it's not as catchy as the original one, but it IS, as far as I could tell, confined to the pentatonic scale, which was the earmark of the original song. Nicely done.
  • Peter's beauty mark.
  • JJJ was perfect; that's important.
  • Oh, my god. They actually drew Peter with his shirt tag sticking up from his neckline. Now that's impressive.
  • Peter's cellphone is remarkably resilient to electrical shock, isn't it?
  • The Spider-signal. I just love that thing; it's so... apt. The Bat-Signal is used by others to call Batman into action; the Spider-Man uses the Spider-Signal to announce himself in battle. I'm surprised Lee doesn't have a "Stan-the-Man" signal built into his belt buckle. Yet.
  • "M-cubed" is a great name for a school!
  • Dr. Bromwell. Fans appreciate that sort of thing.
  • Great fight scenes!
  • The 9:58 phone call to May.
  • Villains galore. In one form or another, the Vulture, Electro, Hammerhead, the Big Man (who I'm thinking will actually turn out to be the Kingpin this time), the Green Goblin, the Lizard, Sandman, Venom, the Enforcers (Fancy Dan, Montana, & Ox); in one way or another they are were all there. And was that fat middle manager perhaps Dr. Otto Octavius? Was that Aleksei Sytsevich that Marko was working with? We'll find out at some point.
  • Peter's ringtone. Cute.
  • The Spider-patter was not all that annoying. Surprisingly.