Monday, March 02, 2015

In (uncharacteristic) defense of Green Arrow

Oh, Vamien McKalin; I have no idea who you are and don't care, but thank you. You made me laugh and laugh and laugh today.

It started with the  headline:

'Arrow' TV Series: Is It Just A Huge Batman Rip-Off? Yeah It Is'


My first thought was that this must be some kind of parody article, a la The Onion.  Surely no person who exist in the 20th century could criticize the aboriginal Batman rip-off, Green Arrow, for daring to be... a Batman rip-off.  Heck every CHILD who watched Batman: Brave & the Bold knows that that's kind of the point of Green Arrow.  

But, no, apparently the article is in deadly earnest; so great is the need to fill up the entire internet with commentary and listicles that things like this happen.

" However, the tone seems more like that of Batman rather than Green Arrow," complains Vamien.  

Oh, dear, it's lost the true tone of Green Arrow which is...
oh ,that's right. Green Arrow doesn't have his own tone.  He never has  Whatever the era is, Batman sets the tone and Green Arrow follows it.  That's hardly a criticism of ANY character, let alone Bat-manque' Green Arrow.  Batman is the trendsetter or, at very least, the bellwether of tone in every comic book era.  How much more true should that be for a character has always been RC Cola to Batman's Coca-Cola?

"Now, don't act like what I'm saying is not true. Arrow, ever since it came on the scene, has felt like a complete Batman copy, and that is not good."

Well, Vamien, if by 'ever since Green Arrow came on the scene' you mean More Fun #73 (NOV1941), then... sure.  I'm not going to act like what you're saying is not true.  It's not merely true, it's AXIOMATIC.  The only thing that surprises me about that is how much it surprises YOU.  If only the internet had warned you!  If only Green Arrow's wikipedia entry actually said "At the time of his debut, Green Arrow functioned in many ways as an archery-themed analogue of the very popular Batman character". Oh, wait... it does.

And to my one reader who's about to comment that liberal activist Green Arrow of the Bronze Age was 'completely different' from Batman...  That's the same period where Bruce Wayne decided that he was too isolated from the real world, shut down Wayne Manor, moved into the heart of Gotham City, started taking an active hand in the philanthropy of his own charity, the Wayne Foundation, and started the V.I.P. (Victims, Inc. Program) (Batman #217).  No surprise there, since at the time both characters were being re-imagined by the same writer: Denny O'Neil (although he didn't write that particular Batman issue).  In short, Batman became a 'liberal activist' in late 1969.  Green Arrow's renovation as a bearded social activist? Late 1969.  

"The first sign of this Batman rip-off is the amount of Batman villains that have managed to show up in the series. It makes us wonder if Green Arrow doesn't have interesting villains the team of writers could pick from. This is truly not the case because there are several great Arrow villains and other lesser ones who could do well with live-action screen time. This copy-Batman thing took a strange turn when the writers chose to make Ra's al Ghul the main bad guy in season 3 of the show. I nearly threw my cup of coffee because right away it gave me that Batman feeling. It's not like it wasn't known beforehand that he would appear, but seeing it happening was still shocking."

Well, Vamien; you are easily shocked.  In fact, I'm now operating under the assumption that you've never actually READ a comic book, you just see them on the teevee. First, sloughing secondary villains off onto other heroes is one of the things Batman does; he's got extra, after all.  Every decade, new writers try to make new 'classic' Batman villains, but most of them don't stick as well as the ones with a Golden or Silver Age pedigree.  Ra's Al-Ghul, created by Denny O'Neil (see above), is one of those, an updated Fu Manchu who, long-term, doesn't work well enough in Batman's world to really stick.  But, as it often the case, one man's garbage is another man's gold, and Ra's Al-Ghul is a perfect foil for Green Arrow.; arrows, meet swords.  Meanwhile, Batman's with Superman fighting off an invasion by Atlantis.  You can let Ra's screw up Green Arrow's life as much as you want, but Batman's got more important crap to do.

Second, --wait, I'm sorry, I need a minute to stop laughing at "it makes us wonder if Green Arrow doesn't have interesting villains the team of writers could pick from." Um; no. It makes YOU wonder, Vamien.  The show's already using some of GA's best (but still crappy villains) like Merlyn, Clock King, Brick, Count Vertigo, China White, and Deathstroke (who's a Titan's castoff, you'll recall).  I swear I will buy cable again -- for my entire neighborhood-- if they put The Octopus or Bull's-Eye on television.   Who the heck else are they going to use, Vamien? Onamatopeia?! Carmen Miranda?  Starro? Auntie Gravity?

In all fairness... I get it.  The CW show is a marvelous opportunity to individualize Ollie as a hero, and, in that sense, the degree to which he's just aping Batman is a loss of that opportunity.  But I think they've done a good job of giving Ollie his own world, with characters all his own.  The standouts on the show aren't his villains, but rather his supporting cast, so much so that they've been introduced in the comics themselves.  The fact that it's different from Batman's AT ALL is a credit to the showrunners' work.  Stop worrying about whether GA's fighting leftover villains and be impressed -- as I am -- that he's the medium's inspiration for the Flash, the Atom, and Firestorm.  Face: Green Arrow is television's Batman, because, as Gotham has underscored, Batman is currently simply too BIG to fit on television any more.

So.. I think I get the point Vamien is trying to make.

But he's not the person equipped to make it.


Saturday, February 21, 2015

Beware of ice-holes

If you're anywhere on the East Coast then you've been experiencing a disturbingly cold week, with nasty precipitation to boot.  This means you are housebound and probably wondering, "Gosh, isn't there an appropriate Heroclix map I could use under these circumstances?"

Well, now there is: 


Golden Gilder fans, you are welcome.

Just like the 'Archipelago' map I posted last weekend, this map uses a hex grid rather than a square one, because it's more fitting with a natural, outdoor environment.  In this case that environment is a snowy ice fishing lake.

While you're reaching for your Heroclix figures of Mr. Freeze, Captain Cold, Killer Frost, the Icicle, et al., note the special features and terrain.  Around the lake itself is a wooded path for playing hide-and-seek with your foes.  The ice terrain itself has a special characteristic: any figure that receives 'knock-back' for any reason is knocked back and extra two squares (because slides farther on the ice, of course).  

On the lake are two ice houses (those are huts that people ice fish from, in case you don't know), which are blocking terrain.  There are also three spots with exposed ice holes, a special type of water terrain which are a unique danger.

Any figure that ends its opponent's turn on one receives an action token as if it were the subject of a successful incapacitation attack.  Basically, you fell in the hole and got all frozed. Naturally, you're not likely to move a figure to do this intentionally; more likely your opponent will try to do something on his turn to move your piece over an ice hole (like cause knock-back or use his fancy telekinesis powers to dunk you).  Brr!  That's when you call him an ice-hole.  For obvious reasons, flyers are immune to this effect.

Aquatic figures are also immune (they don't mind getting wet and cold). But they also get a special bonus!  If they start their turn on an ice hole they can 'teleport' to another unoccupied ice hole (which represents swimming under the ice). Tricky!  How big an advantage will this be? It depends on which figures are in play, doesn't it?  


Friday, February 20, 2015


Let's talk about ....

Superman's new power.

For those who don't know, in the recent "Ulysses" storyline, Geoff Johns had Superman accidentally discover a new power: SUPER-FLARE!

Although Jeremy Rizza would prefer: super-FLAIR.

"Puhlease!  Once I'm done with this place it'll be SUPERfabulous!
That bitch Bivolo will be green with envy!"

It's like an omni-directional unfocused version of heat vision that basically incinerates everything within an 1/8 of a mile.  In Heroclix terms, if Heat Vision is Ranged Combat Expert, then Super-Flare is Pulse Wave.

First off; sure, it's a little crazy.  But for that matter, so is most of what Superman does.  Heat vision?  Wait, light comes OUT of your eyes instead of.. INTO them? How does that even work?  Freeze breath? Wait, you inhale and then, um, draw the kinetic energy OUT OF it, to make it really cold?  What?  Telescopic vision, and micro--well, you get the idea.  Suffice it to say, "Superman can do the Captain Atom blow up thing, without blowing himself up" is probably more consistent with the rest of his powers than superventriloquism.  Sure, why not?

Actually that's more like 'super-weighing'. 

Second: do not let Batman name your powers.  He's not good at it.  Anyone else who saw Superman blow out all the solar energy stored in him in one all-engulfing shock wave would call it what it is: a super-nova.  We've got a word that describes that exact phenomenon that already has the word super in it.  Perhaps Batman thought "super-nova" wasn't a stupid enough name for it and picked something goofier on purpose.  Because making sure that Superman seems cool--let's just say it's probably not one of Batman's highest priorities.

Third; it's only for extreme circumstances because he can't control it. That's good. Because being at the center of a big explosion is one of the ONLY things Shazam has on Superman, and now he's lost that edge.  He's not going to be using it in the middle of Metropolis because that would result in untold loss of life and property damage, which Superman would never do. Except in a major motion picture.

"I am NOT soiling my S on these shoddy hovels!"

Fourth: it robs him of super-powers for 24 hours.  This is so patently absurd that... okay, I love that, actually.  It's completely ridiculous and totally Silver Age science.  Because in the Silver Age, the unit of time for ALL silver-science phenomena is 24 hours.  Aquaman can survive without water... until  exactly 24 hours have passed.  Green Lantern's ring can do anything at all ... until exactly 24 hours have passed, when it shuts down completely.  The effects of Red Kryptonite, though unpredictable, often expire after 24 hours.  Besides, it is such an unabashed set-up plot device!  Superman needs to protect his secret ID for the office physical? Superflare those pesky powers away! Oh but then.... there's an emergency! WHAT WILL HE DO?!

Well, what he's NOT going to is clean under the fridge, that's for sure.

Fifth; yeah, you may not care, but this means Superman needs a new Heroclix dial! One that has an extra power Pulse Wave at his end dial, that double-action pushes him onto a powerless click that has Regen.  Oh, yeah, that'll happen, no question.  And it will be kind of awesome.  

Now THOSE are super-flares.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Driq, is that you....?

I was GOING to write about Superman's new power today.  But everything has to stop when you see this in the news:

Somewhere, Black Hand is laughing his ass off.

During the last few weeks of his life, 50-year-old Puerto Rico resident Renato Garcia took a shine to wearing the costume of DC Comics character Green Lantern after finding it in a bag of donated clothes. Unfortunately, Garcia passed away on Monday because of what Huffington Post reported were “respiratory issues.” Given Garcia’s attachment to the costume, his family was inspired to dress him up as the superhero for his wake held in his sister’s San Juan apartment. Although Garcia didn’t leave any instructions for his funeral arrangements, his family is pretty confident that he wouldn’t mind being last seen in the costume to which he had grown so attached.
Although he presumably didn’t fight crime, Garcia was considered something of a superhero to his loved ones.
“He was always very helpful,” his sister, Milagros Garcia, told Puerto Rican newspaper, Primera Hora. “You beckoned and he was always there.”
According to New York Daily News, posing the deceased upright and in a manner that is representative of their interests is a tradition gaining popularity in Puerto Rico. In 2014, professional boxer Christopher Rivera was propped up in the corner of a boxing ring and dressed in his fighting gear after his murder. The practice isn’t entirely unheard of in the continental U.S. either. Just last year, New Orleans socialite Mickey Easterling specifically instructed her family to make sure she looked just as fabulous in death as in life by displaying her with a cigarette holder, champagne flute, and a brooch emblazoned with the word “bitch.”

No comment from me is necessary here.  But one question:
what superhero costume would YOU like your corpse to be dressed in and propped up in public?

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Simple; clean; shallow.

My latest Heroclix map; treads some new ground.

Or, rather...the lack thereof.

It's called


Sometimes simple and clean is good.  At least that's what I used to tell people when they asked about my boyfriend.

Heroclix maps are actually square grids, but the rules are such that you can pretty much play the game on a hex grid map as well.  I've never made one that way before, but this subject matter seemed to call for it.  Square grids are fine for most man-made environments (such as rooms, buildings, and streets), but a natural environment is better captured by the organic feel of a hex grid.

I'm happy with how this one turned out, and if it plays well, I will look to make similar hex grid maps of natural environments (such as tundra, jungle, desert, or canyon).  Suggestions are welcome.

In addition to the grid, I've designed some special terrain.  The map is all water except for the yellow-bordered "island" terrain, which is treated as elevated terrain for purposes of line of fire.  That means it doesn't impede movement, but it does make it possible to 'hide" from characters on the water by 'climbing' to the center of the island (where in some spots there is also vegetative hindering terrain).  

In addition, the islands are surrounded by the white-washed hexes that represent 'shallow water' terrain.  Shallow water terrain may be treated as regular non-water terrain by non-aquatic characters.

That litotes may be a bit confusing, particularly if you're not a frequent player.  You see, usually when a character enters water terrain it has to stop; then its speed is halved for all subsequent movements within or from water terrain.  There are abilities that let you ignore this effect, such as being a flyer (they fly above the water) or an aquatic figure (they are built to move in the water).  But in this case, the "shallow" terrain itself allows you to ignore the effect.   

But, then why have it be water at all?  Because it's still water terrain, which is relevant to a lot of special powers possessed by aquatic figures like Aquaman and Mera.  Who, believe you me, will be spending some quality time on this map (probably rescuing Green Arrow, who has a propensity for getting stranded).

This map is (another) attempt to find a way to make it easier to play aquatic figures (which there are more cool examples of which each new Heroclix set)  with non-aquatic figures.  For a bird may love a fish, but where will they fight a heroclix battle together?  With this map, each type of figure has its own turf (or surf) and they share the 'middle ground of the shallow water.  

For conversational convenience, I named the islands, taking the names from, well... actual (but fairly obscure) islands, from a variety of cultures, places, and languages.  It sounds much better than "Cay del Lex" or "Otis Bay".  


Friday, February 13, 2015

The Harley Has No Clothes

This is "Harley Quin" Month.  Why I do not know.  Except for the possible reason that sexy-time cupie-doll, cutesy Quirky Girls get straight guys hot and sell books.

Well, someone needs to cry foul on this disturbing violent sexist crap, so I'll do it.  

Hey, kids! Comics!

Harley Quinn is a dangerous, murderous psycho.  There is nothing cute or funny or sexy about that.

Plus, the double standard on this is terrifying.  If DC started treating the Joker, Deathstroke, Lobo -- ANY male villain -- as a fun playful sexy symbol, the public would--

well, honestly, I can't imagine how the public would react.  Because the idea that DC would do such a thing is so ludicrous.

Okay, I get it; I remember the '90s, too, and I watched BTAS.  The FIRST time it was on.  And I read all the comics, too.  I don't dislike the character at all.  She's a great character.  And I get how amusing she could be in the context of the show and those books.  

But she's not in that context any more.  And you know what allowed that context?  In BTAS (and associated comics) Harley never killed anybody.  A crazy crook? Yes.  But she wasn't a psychokiller, and the principal manifestation of her madness was her infatuation with the Joker.

Once she becomes female sexy-time Joker (as she has in the comics)....
well, I don't think it's funny. Or sexy.  It's disturbing, like, "modern Japanese-culture" level disturbing.

Is no one else speaking out about this?

Are you? 

Thursday, February 12, 2015

He's a Lumberjack, but it's okay

So, it seems one of TV Supergirl's first foes is going to be *snicker*...Lumberjack.

I can only assume that "The Gang" and John Ostrander were unavailable.

Now, not that the Lumberjack can't be exciting.  He certainly is in this clip (even though a strong Virginian accent--"Ah inTEEND to!"-- doesn't really scream Brother from Another Planet); shivers my timbers, for sure!

Actually, he's being played by this guy, Rory McCann, who's some gigantic actor from Some Other Show I Don't Watch.
That is NOT a 'lumbersexual'.

If  you've never heard of the Lumberjack, well... you're perfectly normal.  He only appeared once, and not very memorably  They can't all be the Human Flame, you know.

He's probably just a 'getting up to speed' villain. I mean, it's not like you'd expect them right out of the box to start with some big, classic Supergirl villain like...




That IS a potential problem for the Supergirl showrunners, isn't it?  Not only does Supergirl have zero recognizable villains of her own, she pretty much has zero villains of her own at all.  Or even somebody else's villains whom she's been know to fight. In fact--hey, what they heck HAS Supergirl been doing all these years?

You can just "her foes" for yourself, but most of the ones with even a little substances are from elsewhere (such as the Superman or LSH or Batman or Aquaman or the JLA)

Of course this problem can also be viewed as an opportunity to create a mythos around Supergirl, one that will help solidify her in the comics.  Expect to see:

Repurposed secondary supporting characters (such as Jimmy Olsen and Cat Grant: I'd bet dollars to donuts Cat Grant is there).  Flash and Arrow do this a lot (e.g. Felicity Smoak, Cisco Ramone, and Caitlin Snow, all of whom are lesser-known comic characters NOT associated with Flash or Arrow).

Cast-off secondary villains. Just as Batman offloaded Ra's Al-Ghul to TVArrow and Starman bequeathed the Mist to TVFlash, so too some secondary villains from someone else's rogues gallery will be appear as hand-me-downs for Supergirl.  Most likely candidates are lesser Superman villains, since there's no Superman tv show to save them for and they won't rise to silver screen.  Female villains would be especially useful, so expect to see Livewire and Silver Banshee.  

Reimagined native villains. What few villains that are really Supergirl's are likely to be spruced up for teevee. Simon Tycho, for example, is a recent villain native to the Supergirl stories. I would expect him to appear in some form.  Perhaps Satan Girl?  Oh, and Bizarrogirl, because there is no way they will pass that up.

What do YOU imagine they will do for Supergirl foes?

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