Friday, September 30, 2005

The Devil or the Deep Blue Sea

In today's episode of
"The Loneliness of Aquaman Week":

If you're lost at sea...

...just PRAY that a lonely Aquaman and Topo don't come to rescue you.

"Oh, we can return you to dry land...
Meanwhile, you look tense.

I think he needs a backrub,
don't you, Topo?

Just relax, sir--
we're here for you now..."

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Starman Did Everything First

So, you think Aquaman invented sweet sweet octopus love?

Nope; the Golden Age Starman did.

You think Superman invented the nifty trick of turning his head into a lion's?

Nope; the Golden Age Starman did.

You think Batman invented the "Macgyvering your way out of a deathtrap" routine?

Nope; the Golden Age Starman did.

I'm telling you, folks: Golden Age Starman is all the comic book you'll every need. Everything else is just a pale imitation....

Free Fradon!

In today's episode of
"The Loneliness of Aquaman Week"

Ramona Fradon
is arrested under the laws against

piscatorial pornography.

Jeez, Aquaman --
there are kids at that beach.

Can't you at least keep that sort of thing

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Armed and Dangerous

Of all the shockers in this week's comics

--and they are many and powerful--

none is so great, I think, as the revelation that whoever drew and edited JLA 119 apparently doesn't read any other DC books, since there sits the Matter Master ... with two arms, instead of just one! This, even though Hawkman quite famously hacked it off recently and Matter Master has been seen -- repeatedly -- in the major crossover books with only one arm left. Tsk!

The REAL shocker is of course the Martian Manhunter's discovery that there is in fact one single figure behind all the universe-shattering disasters we're reading about in all the DC crossovers, a single figure who has never acquiesced to being banished from the DCU, and whose incomparable power and intelligence will result in a triumphant return, despite the consequences for the DC universe(s?):


Ha, no, just kidding; that was my theory, but, alas....

But Devon of Seven Hells, Devon who erreth not, Devon the Cassandra of Comic Books, has known all along. He's known for a year. He tried to tell us all, but no one would listen.

He'd never brag, so I'll do it for him: Devon is the greatest analyst of comic book storylines I have ever met. Devon could kick the butts of the Mystery Analysts of Gotham, the Elongated Man, and Hamilton Drew while simultaneously operating a cash register. Devon makes Roy Raymond look like Ronnie Raymond. What the Martian friggin' Manhunter and "I'm-the-goddam" Batman have only begun to get the slightest inkling of, Devon has known forever, purely through his own intelligence and deductive reasoning. I hate him so deeply it makes my teeth hurt.

I won't tell you the answer; I don't have the RIGHT to. But go over to Seven Hells and send Devon a message demanding that HE show you the proof of who is behind it all, and how long he's known about it.

And when he answers ....

make sure you're sitting down.

Aquaman's First Mate

On today's episode of
"The Loneliness of Aquaman Week",
an elderly captain makes a painful deal
to ensure the safety of his passengers and crew.

When Aquaman is lonely,
the price for "safe" passage on the high seas
can be very dear, indeed.

"First mate, huh? I could use a 'first mate' myself.
Have you ever wondered what the Aquacave is like,
'little buddy'?

I think you'll like it. Eventually."

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Character Request: Sun Girl

Who is this sneaking in the DCU's window? Is it... Sun Girl?

I'd never heard of this Sun Girl until recently when she was brought to my attention by the eminent Marionette of Dance of the Puppets.

Apparently she has gone utterly to waste in the Marvelverse, known to no one, out of place with her Golden Age styling, and (*sob*) unloved.

She's got no secret identity, no real name, no backstory (except for some monstrosity that Roy Thomas the Mad Retcon Artist shafted her with). And she has ... a Sunbeam Ray. GODS, we need her in the DC!

Perhaps she could be a foe or partner of Night Girl? But, no: even the blank cheery emptiness of Sun Girl would be no match for the Black Hole of Meaning that is the Super-Bouffante of Night Girl; the very thought is madness.

Ah, but what a marvelous partner for -- Phantom Lady! She could join the Freedom Fighters (I hear they're about to have some openings...) and she and PL could be like Apollo and Midnighter (well -- sort of like Apollo and Midnighter).

DC, offer Marvel some Hostess Fruit Pies (tm) for Sun Girl; the bad guys always fall for that trick!

The Most Heroic Haiku EVER!

Perhaps we can find some relief from the hope-snuffing joylessness of

"The Loneliness of Aquaman Week"

by embracing the cool contemplation of Haikuesday,
as celebrated by the Lonely One himself.

That sniveling icthyphobic wuss Aqualad embarrasses Aquaman (again) in front of two bedroom-eyed babelicious porpoises by screwing up his own haiku: the end of its second line falls in the middle of the word "creature". [By the way, note that, apparently Peter David took Aqualad's fear to heart, and made Aquaman do everything single-handed.]

"Inerudite, big-headed, purple-eyed little FREAK!" the oddly-colored porpoises think, "I can only hope one day the Swimmer's real son comes along and kicks the sea-salt out of your silly blue panties!"

Aquaman, mortified by Aqualad's lack of confidence in him, bites his tongue to keep from saying, "What, are you retarded or something? Who the swell do you think I am?"

But no, Aquaman thinks, recalling Book I of the Aeneid, it is better first to calm the waves, and immediately takes to doing so by improvising a stunningly heroic haiku:

"I must! The fate of
Atlantis and the fate of
our world is at stake!

DANG, Aquaman! Nice parallel positioning of "Atlantis" versus "our world"-- and ALL that that implies! Loneliness gives you lots of time to hone your poetic skills, I guess, because that's the most heroic haiku I've ever read.

So, are you an Aqualad,
fearful and incapable of scansion,
or are you an Aquaman,
with the poetic power and inner strength
to forget your loneliness and do the heroic thing?


Shocking, Arthur, just shocking...

In today's episode of
"The Loneliness of Aquaman Week"...

Arthur appears to be what they call

When you've got aqua-toughness like Arthur does,
your idea of foreplay is
electric eels on your nipples.

No wonder Mera left him.

Monday, September 26, 2005

How Aquaman Met Topo

On today's episode of
"The Loneliness of Aquaman Week":

Thanks to his aquatic telepathy,
Aquaman knows what it feels like for a fish.

Oh, I don't blame poor lonely Aquaman
or even the octoprostitutes themselves.

I blame the bearded maritime pimps
who profit from their desperation.

"Oh, Topo,
I can take you away from all this.
You're leaving with me."

Heroclix Rant: Mind Control

If you play Heroclix much, you probably don't use "Mind Control" with your figures that have the power. Why?

Because it's no easier than a regular attack; because most of the figures you'd really want to control are over 100 points and your figure would take a click of damage for the effort of Mind Controlling them; because your Mind Control is going to end in one turn and your "victim" will be looking to make someone pay for it.

Wizkids has wisely been using "Feat Cards" as to "fix" the powers and abilities that are dissatisfying to players, and Mind Control is a prime candidate. It's also an easy fix, with a Feat Card something this:

"Mind Slave"

Prerequisite: Mind Control

This figure may use Mind Control as a free action, takes no damage from using it, and may use Mastermind on any adjacent Mind Controlled figured. Their attempts at Mind Control succeed on a one-die roll of 4, 5, or 6.

10 points.

The high-point figures with Mind Control could use the card, but probably won't; you'll still want to use them to just do damage to the opponent (besides, most high-point characters with Mind Control only have a few clicks of it, not enough to make the cost of the card worthwhile).

But the effect on all the lower-point figures with Mind Control, the ones with the measly little Attack Values, would be profound. Regardless of how low their AVs sink, they'd have a 50/50 chance of controlling an opposing figure. All those sad figures who never use their Mind Control (like Poison Ivy, Scarecrow, Saturn Girl, the tragic twins Kobra and Brother Blood) and the Mad Hatter (who has nothing but Mind Control) would be immediately playable.

Better yet, you'd be using them the way they are used in the comic books; not as direct combatants, but as a means to turn your opponent's forces against him. And, yes, it makes these figures' influence on the game more powerful than their points would suggest; but that's exactly why comic book characters Mind Control others, folks -- to control someone more powerful than they are.

Wizkids, please do this before you put out a Dr. Psycho clix, or there won't be any reason to play him, either.

Sunday, September 25, 2005

The Loneliness of Aquaman Week

Welcome to

The Loneliness of Aquaman Week.

How lonely does it get when you're Aquaman?

Oh, so lonely.
Particularly when your aqua-toughness is such
that your strange desires require
something with the punch of a nuclear warhead.

And apparently he needs a series of them. Shudder.

Where do you think he BUYS those kinds of toys?

From Vice-Admiral Fangschleister at the Pentagon, I bet.
Yeah, you know Fangschleister put the "vice" in Vice-Admiral!

Morrison Challenge

To help us all struggle through the life-sapping depression of "The Loneliness of Aquaman Week", I've chosen now to debut a new feature at the Absorbascon:

The Morrison Challenge.

You have replaced Grant Morrison as the person in charge of
revitalized underused characters in the DCU. You need to come up with a pitch for how to reintroduce "insert character name here" as an interesting and enriching part of the DCU.

Today's Morrison Challenge to you is :

The Ani-Men of Repli-Tech.

Saturday, September 24, 2005

I'm a Classic.

You're Classic Batman. You're the old school,
iconic Batman that everyone knows. Your
sidekick is Dick Grayson, the original Robin,
and you also team up with Batgirl alot. You're
the World's Greatest Detective, and also one of
the best fighters on the planet. You're against
guns and lethal force. Right now, you're pretty
much in the prime of your career, before you
become haunted by Dead Sidekicks and loved

What kind of Batman are you?
brought to you by Quizilla

I tried to resist doing this one.

I couldn't.

Friday, September 23, 2005

Tempest in a teacup

Well, I had Totaltoyz make me a Tempest custom heroclix sculpt; purdy, ain't he?

No one really can make sense out of Tempest's powers, and having just read the original Tempest miniseries, I can understand why. The more Phil Jimenez explains things, the less comprehensible they become.

He can make water hot or cold (like Celsius from the Larsen Doom Patrol) and he's got your basic aqua-toughness; that's pretty straightforward.

Unfortunately, somebody (hi, Phil!) couldn't leave well enough alone...

As a result, Tempest also shoots ill-defined energy blasts from his eyes (purple-colored, naturally).

He's also got some sort of hydrokinesis that lets him make whirlpools and waves, I think (but not "hard water powers"). He'd be fun at a water-park, I bet!

Like most "mages", he can also do whatever silly magick-trick the plot requires (like, say, turning himself into a fish with the infamous and oh-so-useful "Henry Limpet" spell).

How do you represent that on a heroclix dial? Wizkids hasn't given us "Ranged Bungling Expert" or "Halfwit" as powers yet....

I gave him the dial of the Veteran Pyro from the Marvel Universe Set (ui111). Range of 8 with double targeting, because I've seen him go zappy-zap with both hands at a distance in the comics. Three clicks of Ranged Combat Expert and five of Energy Explosion (Ka-zap! Ka-zow!). Nice solid defense to start, with two clicks of Barrier (from hydrokinesis and freezing the water, I suppose). And Flight, not because he really flies but because it lets you take someone with you when you go somewhere; he does that a lot, from what I can tell.

All of this presupposes playing him on a water-map or with the "Atlantis Rising" battlefield condition, of course. And naturally I gave him the Aquatic Ability for free.

You might think the 42 point Vet Pyro doesn't do justice to "Garth's powerful mystic abilities", whatever the heck those are. Yes, I could have justified giving him some dial with TK or even the Mystic ability. But there was no way in god's blue ocean I was going to make him a higher point figure than Aquaman. No matter how many writers keep re-emphasizing, "no, Aqualad's powerful now, really; no, we mean it, really!', I remain committed to NOT having him be worth more points than the Experienced Aquaman from the Icons set (56 points).

Unless someone can suggest a better dial option, that's my choice and I'll stick to it.

The Krypto-nian Silver Age

Ah, the Silver Age.

It was, as readers of El Blog de Jotace know, even funnier in Spanish.

Costumed space dogs whose superpowers manifest as hideous corporeal alterations like hypertuskity and polyleggedness.

Battling invasions of giant fleas.

Created by the Enlargement Ray of a band of black space cats, who are evil (well, of cou
rse they are).

Hiding in the hollowed out c
ranium of a giant statue in the memorial park of giant statues of space dog heroes.

Discovered by a dog who was the girlfriend of a dead space dog hero with the same super- self-inflation power as she.

Preceded by see-through space-bears.

As predicted by a megaloencephalic precognitive dog with super-Powerpoint powers.

Oh, I hear you. You're saying, "Gosh," because people who read Silver Age comics say things like that, "most of that kind of thing can be found on the Krypto the Superdog cartoon currently on the air. It's the Silver Age all over again (for good or ill)!".

But you're WRONG. Huh; amateur! Poseur!

This is real Silver Age, buddy. Because this story has...

Deathtraps composed of kryptonite statues of Superboy's ancestors, placed 30 kilometres from Smallville (oh, sorry -- "Villachica").

Tail-thumping in Morse Code.
In the Silver Age, everyone knew Morse Code. Everyone. Even dogs. So well, in fact, that they could communicate with it while dying of radiation poisoning.

Giant props. With names. You know, if
I ever buy a giant inflatable hot dog, I'm going to name it "Weldon". I said IF, people!

But the REAL KICKER is the special guest stars, who inspired the entire evil plot (uh, whatever it is) to begin with:

The cats of the Kryptonian criminals who've been imprisoned in the Phantom Zone.

Let me repeat that for you.

The CATS of the Kryptonian criminals who've been imprisoned in the Phantom Zone.

Great Rao, I love Kryptonian justice:

"Rather than execute you, we will doom you to an eternity of incorporeal existence in an endless, pleasureless grey wasteland .... WITH CATS IN IT."

Thursday, September 22, 2005

"Peter David's Aquaman"

Knowing of my newfound interest in Aquaman, one of the Absorbascommenters was kind enough to lend me the entire Peter David run of Aquaman, which I had not read before.

And I will never, ever forgive him for it.

Most of the issues I read while I was in a public place, like a restaurant or a park. People kept coming over to me, asking, "Are--are you okay? Did something happen to your head? Do you need me to call a doctor?"

All I could do was stare at them and mutter, "No. No, I am not okay. Peter David lives. And is free, free to write. Don't -- don't you understand?" Most people didn't understand and wandered away, disgusted with the failure of deinstitutionalization as a public policy. But one woman understood; she just stood there, crying and crying...

For those of you who escaped Peter David's Aquaman, here's what happens -- in every issue:

  • Aquaman suffers a bizarre physical transformation, disturbing his friends and subjects, and serving as a metaphor for his dramatic emotional change of the month!
  • Two women have a catfight over a male member of the cast!
  • Someone plots to overthrow the king!
  • A Previously Unmentioned but nevertheless Extremely Important mystical element or entity threatens Atlantis, challenges Aquaman's authority, and mindcontrols a member of the cast with whom they have a Previously Unmentioned but nevertheless Extremely Important connection!
  • Every castmember gets to make a snarky, sarcastic, or flip comment at a highly inappropriate point in the action (just like on "Buffy"; it must be cool!) !
  • The People change their mind about Aquaman!
  • Aquaman discovers that his powers are much greater than previously thought!
  • Someone close to Arthur (oh, excuse me .... "Orin") worries that he's losing it, and someone else close to him denies it!
  • Sea mammals evince high drama and/or low comedy!
  • Another mystical element in Aquaman's background or source of his power is revealed!
  • Aquaman demands respect!
  • A guest star learns respect for Aquaman and teaches us to respect him, too!
  • Something shaped like a skull appears and threatens everyone!
  • Two members of the supporting cast have an argument or fight!
  • The Atlanteans demonstrate that they are highly advanced and completely backward at the same time!
  • Aquaman argues with a member of the supporting cast!
  • Arthur becomes even more kingly than in the previous issue and comes to accept it again as his burden slash destiny!
  • Every castmember gets to make a childish pun!

The main reason I read this ... "stuff"... was to find out why everyone thinks Koryak is a jerk. Now I know -- everyone Peter David writes is a jerk. I find it hard to blame Koryak for that.

Don't get me wrong; I really enjoyed Peter David's Young Justice. But adolescent angst, childlish puns, and whistling past the graveyard humor works fine when your protagonists are all children. It wasn't until I read Peter David's Aquaman that I realized that's how he writes everyone.

I don't mean to upset anyone with these criticisms, but, you know, dreck is dreck. I know that Peter David's Aquaman is Aquaman for a lot of younger readers and that those are the comic books that interested them in the character. But if I'm willing to look at the comic books that interested me in characters when I was young and admit that, yes, they could be pretty darned stupid, then why can't other people admit that, too?

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

When I Was Born

When I was born ...

readers thrilled to such stories as

Superbaby at Scotland Yard

Clark Kent's first haircut

King Krypto

and, apparently,

Superboy practicing to be in the Macy's Parade.

Just promise me you'll think of that the next time you want to complain about this week's comics, okay?

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Starman's Poetry Cosmic

It's Haiku Tuesday again! This time, let's have everyone's favorite drama queen, the glorious Golden Age Starman, show us how it's really done.

So overwhelming is the combination of Starman's raw power of personality and Olympic-level erudition that through the sheer force of his presence he compels his nattily dressed quarry to complete the friggin' haiku for him.

How far do you think
you're going to get? Steel door
crumbling like that! Help!

I tell you, words are not adequate to express my admiration for Starman. Perhaps you can help!

Can you compose a haiku to analyze this situation or praise the glory of Starman?

Big Monkey is coming.

Rungs of Villainy: Recurring Foe

What could be better than starring as a special guest villain?

Duh! Doing it repeatedly as a

Recurring Foe.

There are lots of one-hit-wonder villains out there (like our friend Blaze from the previous Rung of Villainy). But when you've appeared more than once as "the villain of the piece", that's a difference not just in quantity but in kind. For example, on the Batman TV show, Tullulah Bankhead played the Black Widow, but Burgess Meredith was the Penguin. (Did you know those two slept together once at a Hollywood party? It's best not to think about it, though.)

After you've appeared repeatedly as a villain, you become real. No one questions whether "you still ever existed in current continuity". You go from becoming the answer to a trivia question to an entry in the DC Encyclopedia. One-time villains tend to remain artifacts of their era; as fabulous as the Penny Plunderer was (and trust me he WAS fabulous), he's a product of an era when there were zinc pennies, penny slot machines, coin-operated payphones, and electric chairs. But a repeating villain of any era (like, say, Deadshot or Catman!) become "eligible" for a make-over or a "Transformative Experience" to make them acceptable to current continuity (and tastes).

Even if you trip over some swag and tumble ironically into a nearby vat of acid, the career you began as a Recurring Foe can live on without you. The most valuable commodity in the comic book universe is not novelty but name recognition. No matter how goofy your episodes or gruesome your end, the "Q" value of your name guarantees it won't go to waste. Someone else, at some point, will be tapped to follow in your footsteps.

There may be other Purple Pile-Drivers ... but you'll always have been the first one!

Why, think of all the Recurring Foes from decades past who got a new lease of life.

Or better yet ... name them!

Monday, September 19, 2005

I got the power

Before we return to our regularly scheduled Rungs of Villainy, Johnsifications, Character Donations, and Vibe Slash Koryak fictionfests, I'd like to stop to discuss a classic comic book phenomenon:

Power Internalization.

So common (and annoying) is this phenomenon that I bet before I ever start to explain, you know exactly what I mean. A character who has a power from an outside source, say, a machine, at some point "internalizes" the power and doesn't need the outside power source any more.

We've all read, "On my first outings, I had to rely on my 'soap-bubble belt' for my amazing bubble powers. But now I've discovered that, probably as a result of constant exposure to its bubble emanations or the otherwise fatally toxic chemicals it uses, I have internalized my amazing bubble powers!" Or words to that effect.

Translation? "My reliance on an external gimmick for my power rendered me too vulnerable, so my new writer decided to make things easier on himself by giving me the power directly without further explanation."

The classic example is Black Lightning. Had a belt that gave him electricky powers. The belt gets blown up or he forgets to take it out of his pants and his mother accidently sends it throught the laundy; no more zappy belt (replaced by a Sears bill for a new washing machine). But THEN, through the authorial magic of power internalization, he discovered he could generate electricity without the belt. How lovely!

Almost without exception, power internalizations are introduced quickly, like pulling off a band-aid. One world balloon, later, and we the readers can forget the original power device (indeed, we are encouraged to). No writer wants to dwell on "power internalization", for the obvious reason that it strains our credulity; better to move along quickly!

As a result of this need to press on, characters who experience power internalizations always take it both well and casually. It's always, "Now I can't wait to take on my archnemesis, Captain Plaster!". It's never, "What the !@#%!!??!?! I've become a freak, good lord I'm going to die, I need a doctor, now, now, NOW!!!!"

You probably think I'm being silly. You're probably thinking, "Well, who wouldn't be suddenly overjoyed at finding themselves blessed with a superpower?" Uh-huh. That just shows how deeply comic book conventions have imbedded themselves in your thinking. If you were suddenly able to receive television signals directly into your brain or to brown bread just by your presence, would you think, "Gosh, constant exposure to tv/toaster emanations has allowed me to internalize their powers! I can't wait to show the wife!"? I doubt it.

Power internalization is a favorite trick of second generation characters. The Icicle 1 had a cold gun (whoever has the patent on those in the DCU is making a fortune). His son, the Icicle 2, has internalized the cold-making power (due to exposure in utero to the "emanations" from the cold gun; no, really). The original Spellbinder used machinery to disorient foes; the new Spellbinder has the power internally (through a nice "clean" plot device: Neron). The first Quantum Kid (the pompous jerk) used a belt to generate his quantum fields; the second Quantum Kid, his sister, internalized the power (through a series of dangerous experiments, if I recall correctly).

Some characters seem happily immune to the phenomenon. Fortunately, it doesn't seem to work in Keystone or Central City at all, where gadgets and gimmicks are still the thing. Except for Replicant. Remember him? No, neither do I.

Power internalization also happens sometimes when a character moves from one medium to another. In comic books, Mr. Freeze uses a freeze ray; on "The Batman" he generates cold himself. Most famously, when Spiderman went to the big screen, the writers said to themselves, well, if he got all those other powers from the spider why wouldn't he get the webbing, too? Thus the 'webshooters' became internalized.

What other power internalizations have you noticed? Enjoyed? Condemned?

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Character Moment: Max Lord & Bruce Wayne

"So, then, what you're saying, Bruce, is if
-- just as a hypothetical --
you were to build a multi-billion-dollar spy satellite slash artificial intelligence plugged into all the planet's surveillance systems

you probably wouldn't notice if I subverted it to my own purposes as the principal weapon of my super-secret extra-governmental espionage organization and slaved to it over one million cyborg sleeper agents programmed to identify and eliminate every supra-normal operative on Earth?

"Well. That's good to know, Bruce.

"Excuse me -- I need to get back to my office now..."

Saturday, September 17, 2005

Character Donation #104

No man escapes the tedium of the Manhunters.

Winick tried to make them interesting by making them less threatening;
Johns is trying by making them more threatening.

It doesn't really matter how threatening they are;
they aren't interesting, regardless.

They're red robots that kill people. My guess is the Manhunters were cobbled together from ...

Silver-Age Nazi robots,
abandoned projects of Mr. Morden,
and ore-crushers named "Roger"
after they locked Jack Kirby in the DCU garage-vault.

Their devastating power (snicker) has some basis in the Green Lantern energy, but if you ask me their planet-shattering color scheme would be sufficient.

They have zero individual identity (whoa, they really were the predecessors to the Lantern Corps). The most famous Manhunter of all time is Lana Lang (and if you don't understand that statement, then consider yourself lucky and move on).

Compared to the OMACs (who stole their only fun schtick, the human sleeper agent routine), they might as well have big keys sticking out of their backs.

As far as I know, they have no connection whatever with Jack Kirby. Yet they reek of Kirby's chromium pseudo-Aztec designs.

Kirby-esque, square-mouthed, bucket-headed interchangeable drones, bent on destroying all mutants, oops, I mean life?

Off to Marvel with them; perhaps the Sentinels can use them for spare parts.

Heroclix Rant

I don't rant when Wizkids designs a sculpt or dial differently than I would. I don't rant when WK expects me to pay for their product rather than having free things given to me for "supporting the game". I don't rank about "set retirement", because, well, who cares about tournaments when there's fun to be had instead by just enjoying the game.

But I do rant (and am) about WK missing the boat on obvious add-ons that would enhance the game for everyone and which occur to almost any person who plays the game even once.

Today's Heroclix Missed Boat? 3D Barriers.

Many figures have "Barrier", the ability to create temporary blockades in four contiguous squares. This mimics what we've all seen in comic books: Green Lantern throws up a force shield, Terra creates a rock pillar, Mr. Freeze shoots a wall of ice, Dr. Fate gestures up a whopping big protective ankh.

Instead of little generic cardboard squares that say "BARRIER" on them, can't WK take some of that clear plastic they (and we) love so much and use it to make 3D barriers? I'd buy them. A lot of players would.

They'd be easy to make, because there's no dial and the sculpts wouldn't complicated. They would come in sets of four, because "Barrier" affects four squares at a time.

For mystics: yellow translucent ankhs

For Lanterns: green translucent blocks (or palms, if you wanted to get cute with it)

For "cold" characters: bluish-translucent ice walls

For "force shield" characters: translucent blocks.

Similarly, a set of 3D "Smoke Cloud" markers should be made; that would look great!

Come, now! As far as polymer extrusions go, it doesn't get much simpler than that, Wizkids! I'd happily pay as much for a set of four barriers as I would for a box of boosters, and they are a lot easier and cheaper to make....

Friday, September 16, 2005

Aquagirlish Charm

I'm not sure why everyone thinks Aquagirl is bland. She's demonstrably emotional, pugnacious, and headstrong. Hers is unchanneled passion; Aquaman, by his example, is mentoring her in channeling passion effectively. Part of her storytelling function is highlighting Aquaman's character; he still tends to be "angry" but when he is, he directs that anger toward a constructive purpose (or tries!). She has helped me see that we can (and finally do) have an Aquaman who is likeable, admirable, AND an ass-kicker.

Some Aquagirl character moments...

  1. She wants Aquaman to kill Geist. He doesn't waste time convincing her that that's wrong, he merely explains that it's stupid. Intellect should inform and direct passion; nice one, Aquaman!
  2. She's trying to enjoy a "normal" Sub Diego life with her friends. But she becomes angry at their passivity, given how much needs to be done for Sub Diego. "Why don't you do something?" she complains. They wisely suggest that she needs to go hang out with her "friend in the orange shirt", which she does, because Aquaman is channeling his frustation into bettering the situation.
  3. After the "magical life-swapping" perpetrated by the Ocean Master is over, Lorena decides to make the most of it, and keeps the costume she was given. You can view it as a simple plot device to get her in costume or a young girl's interest in pretty clothes (both true), but I think it's a small sign that she's begun to learn the art of turning disaster into triumph, bad into good.
  4. When she sees a shark preparing to attack someone, she, "super-powerless" though she is, charges right in to help. Stupid? Maybe. Heroic? Definitely. If you saw someone, waterbreather or not, take on a shark to save a stranger, I doubt you would think of her as "bland".
  5. When the Atlanteans show up, she doesn't sit on her ass (or, um, "float" on it); she decides to check out Atlantis, do some recon. When she meets Koryak, she realizes that two problems -- Aquaman needs help and Koryak is lonely in Atlantis -- can be solved with one solution, reuniting Koryak and Aquaman, and she makes it happen. I like that she's quite a proactive little problem-solver. I never saw Aqualad do anything like that; all he ever did was stand around and *gulp* about how difficult whatever situation was confronting Aquaman and him (yeah, he's definitely your typical passive, fearful Atlantean-type).

Her crushes on Aquaman and Koryak have been cited as criticisms against her. I'm pretty supportive of differences of opinion on many things, but that criticism is just plain old idiotic. Almost any non-lesbian teenage girl in Sub Diego who doesn't have a crush on one or both those guys would need to have her head examined (and be quickly locked away on the underwater prison bus with "Five Kinds of Crazy" Carl and his purple-smelling traffic light).

Ask any woman you know who she thinks is sexiest, Superman, Batman, Aquaman, Flash, or Green Lantern. Guess what the answer will be (even if she doesn't know about the magical water hand)? Even I, grizzled veteran that I am, get all giggly when Aquaman juts his jaw. As for Koryak, well, when I read Aquaman, I've taken to keeping a handfan, a moist kerchief, and a mint julep at the ready, because I need them every time Koryak appears on panel. He affects me as marine heartthrob Aqualad does the girls on the Teen Titans cartoon; my eyes become pulsating heart shapes, a goofy grin stretches from ear to ear, and little manga-lines radiate from my skull as I clasp my hands together in front of my collarbone. Needless to say, I no longer read Aquaman in public places.

Lorena's entire family died, and suddenly, leaving her alone. Aquaman's saved her life already, what, four or five times? Her having a crush on him or his more age-appropriate son is realistic and I appreciate it. Speaking of which, she's drawn with a realism so uncommon nowadays in comics as to be almost shockingly novel. Her breasts aren't the size of her head and she doesn't have a six-pack of steel. Now, I love Power Girl and Hawkgirl, too, but it's nice to have a more realistically proportioned character once in a while!

She's still got plenty to learn. I was disappointed in her recent childish taunting of Dr. Geist, saying that her "champion" Koryak is better than his, Officer Malrey. But that blew up in her face when Geist ignored her and Koryak announced that he really likes "wonderful" Officer Malrey. Lorena "Aquagirl" Marquez still makes those kind of teen-age faux pas, tee hee! I'd love to read her letter to YM Magazine: "So, there I was at the monster-bashing, boasting to Vice-Principal Geist (who killed my parents) about how much better my guy-crush was than the jerk-faced hall monitor--only to find out they were best friends! Was my face red! Lorena M., Sub Diego."

I'm not one of those readers who automaticaly adores female characters or sidekicks. Supergirl's bare midriff and pert manga breasts don't distract me from that fact that she's just as colorless as her Silver Age predecessor; Shaolin Batgirl with Kung Fu Action should come with a warning not to read while operating heavy machinery; Speedy the Prostitute With the Heart of Gold and STD who just happens to have a Natural Gift for Archery (tm) actually gives cliches a bad name.

But Aquagirl I like. She's gutsy, but headstrong; heroic, but not wise; proactive, but naive; responsible like a woman, but petty like a schoolgirl. She seems not like a prop or plot device, but an actual person, stuck in the mess of Sub Diego and doing her best.

And not bland at all.

Domino Logic

Dr. Domino, he's beyond logic (just like his creator, Bob Kanigher).

All he wants for Christmas is the Bacteria Cloudburst Formula, a chemical Weapon of Mass Destruction. Why? Extortion? World domino-ation? Pesky aphids in his lawn? We don't know.

Instead of getting the formula from the scientist who invented it, he kills him and sails half way around the world to try getting it from the guy who bought it, a smarmy diplomat. What, is the formula in the guy's wallet? Did a diplomat memorize the formula for a chemical weapon?

When, after a little tie-yanking, he can't get the info, he has a hissy fit and straps a nearby unconscious superhero to a NUCLEAR MISSILE. Yes, Dr. Domino desperately wants a Weapon of Mass Destruction because all he has now is a battleship full of nuclear missiles. How much potential for mass destruction does one guy need?

Where do supervillains get battleships full of nuclear missiles, anyway? Wal-Mart? Aurora Models? Admiral Fangschleister at the Pentagon?

And, well, I've been too polite to mention it before, but ... have you noticed there isn't actually any room in the domino for a human head? Defying logic is one thing; defying topology and biology is quite another. Is he, um, a robot? Yes... yes, that must be it. Nice belt, though.

His head isn't a domino, you know; a real domino has two sets of pips on it. Shouldn't he really have called himself "Dr. Half Domino"?

Maybe ... Half is his first name? Sounds Swedish.

Makes sense; the battleship's probably Ikea ("the S.S. Borgholm"). It's a big world, but someone's got to dominate it.

While he and Per Degaton were shopping at Ikea, couldn't he have found a more stylish World Domination Throne? Instead of buying some fun off-white egg-shaped thing named "Gubbo" that would highlight his fabulous outfit, he stopped off on the way home at Pier One's semi-weekly wicker sale. Did Kirstie Ally convince you an unfinished wicker cobra chair looks good on the deck of a battleship? That woman has much to answer for.

I mean, it's not even painted white. It's okay if you're just sitting there in your ruffled tuxedo, mummy gloves, purple opera cape and domino head (mask?) working on your tan, but face it, Half: people do not conquer the world from a wicker chair. Because, even if they do, they still get laughed at (and probably pelted with wooden games pieces by derisive eldery Cuban men).

The sad part is, all this unpleasantness probably could have been avoided if he'd just gotten that gameshow hosting job he wanted...

  • "Oohhh! Morgan Tracy -- you've just guessed the price of this nuclear-missile-armed battleship from Ikea to within $100! That means you get both our showcase prizes!! Yes, that's right -- You've just doomed the Amazon ... AND New York!"
Still, at night, after the Dominominions are snuggled in the hammocks below deck, Half sits in his wicker throne, staring at the night sky and fuming inwardly:

"Damn you, Cluemaster. Just wait till I hit you with the Bacteria Cloudburst Formula! That ridiculous face-kerchief won't save you then!"

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Which Legionnaire am I?

You're...Brainiac 5!
You're Querl Dox, Brainiac 5!

Which Legionnaire are you?
brought to you by Quizilla

I was shocked. Shocked, I tell you.

Diana Invigorates the UN

"World Leaders Seek to Invigorate UN at age 60" the headline reads today.

Yeesh, how stupid are they! Any idiot who reads comic books knows how to do that:

hire Diana Prince.

Just look at what she could do for them -- on her first day!

<-- Publically condemn a U.N. sponsored contest to celebrate the beauty, grace, and unity of women worldwide. The U.N. should be hold contests judging women on the basis of their abilities for violent conflict, warmaking, and personal combat, just like the contest that chose Wonder Woman.

--> Throw herself at the first handsome diplomat who comes along, despite his obvious horror.

<-- Cry in a public place when her tawdry advances are rebuffed. By the way, Diana, when even blind men call you ugly, perhaps it is time to consider a make-over, dear.

--> Seek solace through group make-out sessions with overdressed Inuits (in a public place, of course). There's actually a young boy there below the frame, becoming a man; I had to crop it out because posting that sort of stuff on the internet will get you arrested, you know.

<--> Inspire young women in time-honored Amazonian ways.

Sorry, gang; the internet censors won't let me show you any more of the scene than this!

<--Experiment with turning man's instruments of warmaking ...

into a woman's tools for enjoying peace. -->

That's in public, in case you hadn't guessed

Diana really does seem to like chains and stuff, doesn't she? I wonder what that's all about... .

Naturally, she'd finish up with a big floor show, where she could--

<-- Make out with tribal performance artists and do a big dance number. I swear, I just don't know how she does it! I even hear that -- still on her first day -- she also rode bronco on a nuclear missile and used it to blow up a supervillain and his battleship in the nearby harbor! On her lunch hour.

Well, folks -- they don't call her Wonder Woman for nothing!