Sunday, August 20, 2017

Heroclix Custom of the Week: Illoralan Wingors

This is the fifth in my ongoing series of custom figures I have made or had made to add to my collection of regular Heroclix figures.

In our last installment, we immortalized Green-Hatted Exposition Man, whose transquartomuralistic communications let even the most dense readers follow the otherwise incomprehensible exploits of the Silver Age Martian Manhunter. Despite his extraordinary function, Green-Hatted Exposition Man is the most ordinary-looking of characters.  Not so this week's featured customized character!

In honor of Hawkman's impending return and newfound prominence in the DC "Metal", I give you:

THE ILLORALAN WINGOR!

Or as oi polloi would say "the winged gorilla".

Yeah, back in the Silver Age, all the heroes, even down-to-earth detectives like Batman, dealt with really weird creatures, often from space.  How much weirder, then, it used to get when the hero was an actual space alien himself, particularly on given to dressing like a bird and using tricked-out versions of ancient weapons, for no sensible reason.

And the Silver Age penchant for gorillas is legendary.  So it was quite inevitable that Hawkman would at some point fight a winged alien gorilla.  It's impossible to explain simply, but suffice to say the planet Illoral suffered from some sort of reverse-evolution plague, which turned its winged humanoids into winged apes (called "Wingors").

The Wizkids company has (oddly!) never chosen to make proper Heroclix figures for the Illoralan Wingors.  Fortunately, I found a ready-made sculpt that I changed not at all: the "Derhii" figure from the Pathfinder Battles miniature game. 

Other then being grey instead of brown,
that's spot on I think.  And I let him keep the sword, he seems happier that way.

In since the Illoralan Wingor is technically a generic figure that fights in groups...





...I got myself a posse of them.

There USED to be bananas in that fruit bowl.


Even weirder, the best dial I found for them was Marvel's 75-point Jessica Jones:



Which I have interpreted as follows:



Sure, they take up too much room in my Heroclix storage boxes.  But, hey, it's the Hawks fighting flying gorillas, people; it's worth it.  Beside Hawkman's world is woefully under-represented in Heroclix.  Speaking of which, which Hawkman character would YOU like to see in Heroclix...?

Thursday, August 17, 2017

METAL

So, ordinarily long about now I'd be posting about something like, say,

"THIS TIME" is one of the most amusing and redundant qualifying phrases I have ever read.


But current comics have trumped that urge. Specifically, the utter insanity that is the whole "Metal" crossover.  Now, there's all sorts of lunacy I could discuss in a crossover that has evil Batmen modeled on various JL characters coming from the dark multiverse on the blacked out flipside of Grant Morrison's Multiversity map to attack our multiverse.

I mean... this ALONE.

 But, instead, I'm going to focus on Hawkman's role.  Or, more accurately, what the writers seem to be using the crossover to do with him.

As longtime readers of the blog will know, I started this blog for exactly two reasons.  One: I didn't enjoy anyone else's blog enough, so I figured I should write one I would enjoy.  Two: to discuss my pet literary theory, the Dynastic Centerpiece Model (specifically, that in order to become and remain iconic, any comic book protagonist needs to be the centerpiece of his or her own constellation of locations, issues, and related characters).  It's not a revolutionary concept, it's not an original concept; in fact, it's rather obvious.  But it's truly amazing how many characters have been doomed by writers willing to ignore it or actively flaunting it.  For a character to have any hope of becoming iconic, you must build a world tailored around him/her, rather than merely trying to fit the new character into a pre-existing universe. 

Not all the potential elements of such a world have to be in place.  Not every hero needs to collect a permanent full set of tropes: The Older Authority Figure, The Junior Partner, The Civilian Love Interest, The Comic Relief, the Ethnic/Other-gendered Counterpart, The Physical Threat, The Mocking Foe, The Intellectual Threat, The Dark Mirror, et al.  For example, rarely does Batman have a Civilian Love Interest (notwithstanding Vicki Vale), Wonder Woman a Male Counterpart (notwithstanding Warkiller), the Martian Manhunter a Junior Partner (notwithstanding Miss Martian).  And not all of the elements used in building a world around a dynastic centerpiece  have to be completely original; they can be ones that were previously unaffiliated but can be repurposed by serving a role in the main character's mythos. For example, to build a world for the CW's Flash, its creators re-purposed, of all people, Vibe (Cisco Ramone) and Killer Frost (Caitlin Snow). Completely ridiculous and counter-intuitive...yet wildly successful.

I've long thought that DC would benefit from the mental exercise of picking X number of iconic characters and then "arranging" ALL other characters "underneath" them.  Some of you are already typing "but but but the wonderful variety and diversity of the multiverse would be spoiled by trying to box in into arbitrary lines of business....!"  To which I say:



The DCU Online game does pretty much exactly that: superheroes under Superman, magic heroes under Wonder Woman, normal heroes under Batman; boom.  Heck, I have to do it just to organize my Heroclix collection.  

That process alone -- organizing my Heroclix collection -- has made it very clear to me how success/failure in apply the principle of Dynastic Centerpiece Model to certain characters has result in the success/failure of the character.  I have to have TWO boxes for Flash Foes. But my box for Martian Manhunter Foes required some pretty broad interpretation of "foe".  The Atom and Hawkman don't even have separate boxes for their foes, and, under a recent effort of get custom figures for some of their enemies, ALL of BOTH the Atom and Hawkman related figures together didn't fill up a box.

But "Metal" seems to be aiming to fix that for Hawkman.  



There is, as I mentioned, a GREAT deal going on already in the Metal crossover (like the Joker trying to save the multiverse).  But, here on one page, the writers have put the Blackhawks, the Challengers of the Unknown, the Metal Men (with Will Magnus), Red Tornado (with T.O. Morrow), and, of all people, the Will Payton Starman, under Hawkman's metaphorical wing.  Already all those characters (not among my favorites, as you may know) are suddenly more interesting to me because they are part of a larger story.  

I still recall the amazing period around 2005 when Palmiotti & Gray did wonders with Hawkman and Hawkgirl and their suddenly awesome rogues gallery; but it all fell apart out of their creative hands.  I'm hoping that with "Metal", DC is going to put Hawkman at the center of new dynasty of adventurers.  

Tuesday, August 08, 2017

Haikuesday: "Wuxtry!"

This haiku for Rainbow Man is entitled:  


WUXTRY






Rainbow man escapes!

Color King uses paint to

free himself and gang.


What haiku can YOU compose to honor the pale oddity that is Rainbow Man?

Monday, August 07, 2017

The Rainbow Man Song



Rainbow Man, 



Rainbow Man



Does whatever a rainbow can





Spins a wheel,


colorized;







Spinning hues 


with his guys.





Look out, 


here comes the Rainbow Man



Is he smart?



Listen Bud; 




Vigilante lands with a thud.



Can he swing 


at your head?


Give him lip


and you're dead.



Hey, there! 


There goes the Rainbow Man



In the chill of the night 


At the scene of a crime



Like a streak of light 



He departs just in time





Rainbow Man, 








Rainbow Man



Vigilante foe, Rainbow Man



Wealth and fame, 



he's adored



Color is 



his reward


Look out, 



here comes the Rainbow Man



Rainbow Man, 



Rainbow Man






Vigilante foe, Rainbow Man



Rainbow globes, 



he employs. 



Colored lights



he deploys.


To him, 



life is a great big bang up 



Whenever there's a hang up




You'll find the Rainbow Man!











Sunday, August 06, 2017

Heroclix Custom of the Week: This One Is For Dean

This is the fourth in my ongoing series about custom figures I make or have made for me for the tabletop game Heroclix.

It's a companion piece for the Giant Robot Bear I shared with you in the second series entry.  This one was made thanks to the special request of commenter "Dean", who asked,


"How about a figure of Green-Hatted Exposition Man, the unsung hero of Apex City? Without him, we'd have no idea what was happening in that sequence!"







An excellent idea, Dean! Why, without functional ancillary characters like Green-Hatted Exposition Man telling us out loud what was happening, blind readers would be completely lost!  Our hats are off to those unnamed men with hats who spend their literary lives wandering around the danger-filled streets of their fictionoplises, waiting for the opportunity to tell us what's going on.  And so I give you:


GREEN-HATTED EXPOSITION MAN



You can imagine him saying whatever you want 
(within the confines of the Comics Code Authority).


For his dial I used the 15-point version of a Jessica Jones clix, mostly because it's cheap, can't do any damage and has a wonderful special power that cancels Stealth on nearby opponents.  And what is Exposition Man for if not for pointing out things like "THERE'S A BAD GUY RIGHT OVER THERE!"?


If you stare too long into the plot, 
the plot stares back into you.

Do you like Green-Hatted Exposition Man? And are there other such nameless characters from standard comic book story tropes that deserve their own custom figures...?


Thursday, August 03, 2017

Credit Where Credit is Due

I've given writer Benjamin Percy a lot of grief for his work on Green Arrow and he's deserved it.

That's why I feel it important for me to say:

This week's issue of  Green Arrow is one of the best comic books I have ever read.

Lex spared no expense on his "Steel" costume for the annual Rutland Parade.


And easily one of the best SUPERMAN stories I have ever read.

Oh, sure, the plot devices are a bit hokey, even for comics (like computer programs that can subliminally affect your emotions).  But the characterization is spot on.  They say you can most easily see a character's, um, character by means of their interaction with others.  And this story does a clear and elegant job of making clear who Green Arrow, Superman, and Lex are in just that way.  Green Arrow stories aren't supposed to make my heart swell with hope and joy; this one did.

Artist Juan Ferreyra also deserves kudos for his visual storytelling.

I could give you many examples, but this one should suffice.

So....

and I can't believe I'm writing this...

give Benjamin Percy and what he's currently doing a chance by reading this week's Green Arrow (#28).

Monday, July 24, 2017

The Bronze Age Shift

So, we just spent a week looking at the Comic That Ended The Silver Age: JLA #77 "Snapper Carr -- Super-Traitor".

It leads to the question: what OTHER differences did the Bronze Age bring? Why is it considered a different age from the Silver Age, if there was no break in continuity?  Fair question.  The inability of modern readers to distinguish between the Silver and Bronze Ages because there was no break in continuity is one of my pet peeves.  The wiki article linked above gives you some of the grander meta-view of the shift; here are some specifics in the DCU.

Superman.  Superman went from being a mild-mannered reporter for a great metropolitan newspaper 




to a hapless anchorman for television broadcasting company. 




Some of his foes become noticeably nastier.  After years of being a fat guy in a brown suit or prison greys, Luthor gets a gym membership and a new suit.


And that's terrible!


Batman.  Robin left for college.  




Batman closed down Wayne Manor and moved into a swinging bachelor penthouse in the city. 


Who builds a MOAT around a PENTHOUSE?!


Batman foes were reintroduced as scarier and more disturbed. 


No more John Dough.


Warmed over Fu Manchu knockoff Ra's Al Ghul is introduced as ALREADY having figured out Batman's secret identity and not caring.  


I think Dick still uses that picture on Tinder.


Batman stories become generally spookier ...




and Batman becomes MUCH stupider.


Wonder Woman. Diana loses her supporting cast.  




Diana also loses her powers, 




learns martial arts from an old blind Chinese guy, 




opens a mod dress shop


That's because minis are IN, oh, god, Diana you're just HOPELESS.


fights lesbian slavers




borrows a machine gun.




Flash.  Barry Allen finally marries Iris West, 


I think we can ALL agree with that, Flash.


who figures out he's Flash because he talks in his sleep (as highly disturbed people do).  


That's a LIE. Everything Flash says is a lie.


She's murdered by Reverse-Flash 


This would make an AWESOME mural, by they way.

and Barry moves on FAST.


Barry's a player.


Green Lantern.  Slips on soap on in the shower banging his head, giving us our first black Green Lantern, John Stewart.  


You thought I made that up, didn't you?


Despite having a power ring that can take him across the galaxy, spends an inordinate amount of time with Ollie Queen on purposeless roadtrip of the US.  


Dumb and Dumber: The Bronze Age


Becomes a toy salesman and a truck driver and can't keep a job generally


Do NOT ask about the starfish.  I'm still trying to process the phrase "a thoughtful Hal Jordan".

Unable to sustain his own title, he's forced to buddy up with Green Arrow, of all people.


From your mouth to god's ears, Ollie.


Green Arrow/Black Canary. Black Canary immigrates from Earth-2, gains a super-power, and replaces Wonder Woman in the Justice League.  


Larry was such a good-for-nothing, loudmouth, sexist jackass that Dinah had to come to Earth-2 to find a suitable replacement.


Green Arrow loses all his money, suddenly hates rich people now that he isn't one, grows that stupid goatee, becomes a loudmouthed liberal,


Picking on Hal for being clueless is like kicking a puppy.
Except when I do it.


blows off his sidekick who has become a junkie.  


Ollie's a dick.


GA and BC start (what I will politely call) dating, even though he's the reason her husband died.

Martian Manhunter. Who?  Martian Manhunter was sent away on a space-bus (notice his absence already in the Snapper Carr Super-Traitor story). He completely missed the Bronze Age and the Satellite Era of the Justice League. 


"And don't let the door hit you on the way out...!"


Justice League. In addition to the above changes, the JLA become less a supergroup of all DC's icons than a mechanism for trying to make lesser characters more iconic. Hence the inclusion of 

Zatanna, 


"Someone has violated my mind!" Well... that would explain the new costume, alright.


Firestorm,


Whoa; that's ... limber.
I wouldn't let him in the satellite
but my bedroom is another story.


Hawkgirl (-woman, eventually)



No joke pic; Hawkgirl's awesome.


the incompetent whiny villain-created android Red Tornado, 


When the man who married Jean Loring thinks your trouble, you are.

and the goddammed ELONGATED MAN, a goofy self-aggrandizing wannabe gold-digger left over from some Flash stories.


GOD, I hate that guy.


Not the Justice League.  Superheroes lose market share to other genres like Western, Fantasy, and Horror, which is why the Bronze Age gives us ...

Swamp Thing, 


Back luck for Terry Thomas.


Jonah Hex, 


Bad luck for Santa.



Warlord,


Now THAT's the Demon's Head.


 and




 the Phantom Stranger.  

There's more, but you get the idea.  Frankly, the DCU changed more between the Silver Age and the Bronze than it has in ANY subsequent reboot.