Saturday, August 19, 2006

Jimmy Olsen, Superman's Heroclix Pal

There are only two kinds of people in the world of DC comics fans:

  1. Those who hate Jimmy Olsen.
  2. Those who hate Jimmy Olsen less.

Therefore this is the perfect Heroclix custom, desirable to all:

Jimmy Olsen was the winner of our most recent poll on which Custom Heroclix I should have made by Totaltoyz. Heroclix made a Jimmy Olsen pog (spelled wrong!) but that's hardly the same as the figure he deserves.

You, too, can have your own Jimmy Olsen Custom Clix, with "Daily Planet" Team Ability (equivalent to the valuable Police Team Ability).

And what good is he, other than his incomparable aesthetic value? Jimmy has the dial of a Rookie Undercover Gotham Cop, which makes him a perfect complement to Superman. Why...?

Well, Superman's a powerful attack piece but in that circus outfit he's not exactly 'stealthy'. Plus he's always "the Gorilla on the Board"; that is, the powerful threatening piece that immediately becomes the primary target of your opponents sniping and dogpiling. If only we had a way to hide him without feeling cowardly...

Ah! Jimmy Olsen! Jimmy starts with two clicks of Stealth, from all that sneaking around taking pics surreptitiously in his green suit and red bow tie. So Superman can carry Jimmy Olsen up to some hindering terrain -- a tree or phone booth -- to get a better vantage point for his photography. And if Superman just happens to be behind him, where enemies can't target him, well, so much the better. Then Superman can make a heroic high-speed charge out from behind Jimmy to clobber any one who threatens his "boy pal".

Gets better. Thanks to the, ahem, "Daily Planet" Team Ability, Jimmy increases the Attack Value of any adjacent friendly piece against any opponent piece they both can see. You know how alert Jimmy is: "Superman, look out! It's a giant superpowered Nazi gorilla! And it's carrying a kryptonite machine gun!" Gee, thanks, Jimmy; without you, my super-vision would have missed that completely.

If Jimmy takes a little damage -- like, from a falliing brick -- his last click still holds a suprise: Shape Change, giving Jimmy a one-in-three chance of avoiding being a target of any attack. Who says a Disguise Kit doesn't come in handy?

At only 14 points, Jimmy Olsen is an indispensible part of any Superman team.

Or extremely dispensible. Either way works.

Friday, August 18, 2006


Cats Are Evil Week 5

One way to counter my charge -- pfft, I mean "statement of the obvious" -- that cats are evil would be list the superheroic cats of the DCU.



Oh, yeah!

Before you ask, no, Streaky couldn't talk. As a Literary Necessity, Saturn Girl used to loan the Super-Pets the power of telepathic speech so they wouldn't just stare at one other, occasionally snorting, which makes for a boring story (but a pretty hot date).

Streaky seemed to spend most of his time in the 30th century, I guess because having an easily identifiable birthmark would make him a threat to Supergirl's secret identity. You can't see it hear, but when Streaky supered up ihe would wear a cape, which he put on by ... hey, how does a cat put on cape?

Anyway, Streaky did many wonderful things with his powers. Like...



Oh, yeah!

Beat the snot out of the Legion!

Yeah, Supergirl; "command" your cat. That'll help.

Remember, folks: cats are evil.

The Major Victory Shrine Post

Well, slap my face and call me "Lois Lane"!

My new life goal is to go dancing with Major Victory:

You could slice cheese with those jawbones ... and he does!

In a comedy skit, Chris "Major Victory" Watters get naughty.

Major Victory gets rough; is chained to a wall; strips for bed.

Zowie! I'll be taking the next week off to write Major Victory/Josh Bernstein slash-fic.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

"Who Wants to Be a Superhero?"

Tonight, I going to use the magic of the Tivo to compose my reactions to "Who Wants to Be a Superhero?" as I watch it in all its couch-arm-gripping glory!

Ah, Major Victory is explaining that they're starting their day as superheroes should: patrolling the city for citizens to be protected and righting wrongs. Wrongs like...

"Sir! That bag does not go with that outfit!"

He further encourages the nonplussed man to consider a more masculine and flattering outfit composed entirely of spandex. I love you, Major Victory.

Creature seems to be continuing her redemption by charming litterbugs into picking up not only their own trash, but others as well. Good for her; all superheroes should have camera crews. Then she bought some clothes and handled them out to the homeless (among whom she can easily pass undetected, I suppose). OOhh! She crossed against a red light! That's a bad example for others, Creature! She's probably just confused and thinks the red light means "time to go to work"...

Feedback nearly fried two women to a crisp with his earnestovision when they tried to *shudder* jaywalk! But he made it okay immediately by offering to escort them to the crosswalk. Good form, FB. And blocking the little children from the display at the Lingerie window? Priceless.

Fat Momma; oh, once you were a Sweet Chocolate Donut of Pure Delight. But now in your every utterance you cover your goodness more and more with the Bitter Sprinkles of Invidiousness that hurt my teeth so. I wonder how your chastising the Parking Enforcement Officer for occupying a loading zone is going to go over with Stan Lee? "Fat Momma, zoopuhheerowz are supposed ta support lawr enforcement officuhs, not hinder them!"

Oh good lord, moonwalking Major Victory just used his cape to help a (no doubt terrified) old lady cross a puddle... The Baby Adam West weeps for joy.

Great Scott! The Dark Enforcer has teleprompted in, and his speech seems to be growing even more incomprehensible as with each appearance he evolves further toward Eric Von Zipperhood. I theorize that his skullbinding snood of sneeriness is hampering his jaw muscles somehow. Either that or the steroids have begun to petrify his maxillofacial hypermusculature.

I just noticed that Stan Lee has a little bust on his desk of ...



Uh-oh. Dark Enforcer says he's been secretly interviewing the superheroes' friends and families looking for dirty secrets, and now he's saying to Stan, "I come here to tell you these beach bums is bums." All I want to know is, how long did it take the families to figure what the heck the Enforcer was gurbling about...?

So what happens what Dark Enforcer "gives dem 'Da Finguh' "...?

  • Ouch! Creature caught in environmental hypocrisy!
  • Feedback's wife reveals her dark roots, er-yah, I mean, his dark secret! Look for him next on "Clean House"!
  • Fat Momma pulled her fat out of the fire in her battle against Fat Grandmomma. 'Nuff said.
  • Yowzers, Major Victory's ex-co-worker from the stripping business is a hottie!

So distracting a hottie, in fact, that I had to rewind 4 times and close my eyes before I could actually listen to what he was saying. Major Victory, having repeatedly referred to his stripper past as his motivation, was untouched by Hottie McShoulder's thong-throwing accusations. Oh, and a word to the producers: having Dark "Tom of Finland" Enforcer wave a dollar bill leeringly right after MV says, "Dark Enforcer, you're going down!" was either really really stupid of you or really really brilliant.

Lemuria/Lumeria -- what could be worse in her past than in her present? Ouch; her boozy friend called her trampy bartrash. Well, there's a shock. Thank goodness I was sitting down.

Yuh-oh. MV, FM, and Creature have been called on the carpet...

"Fruit is generally raw." Wow. That's a sentiment I'm going to carry with me. My first thought was, "I can put that on a t-shirt!", but that's really not something you want to wear out to the bars, now, is it?

Time for the next challenge! What's that, Stan? You want them to sit on an inmate's lap, rub their shoulders, stroke their hair, and hug them repeatedly? Jeez, now I want to be a superhero! Come to think of it, I think I rented this movie before... The only thing missing from this little scenario is Hottie McShoulder. Is the part where Dark Enforcer's going to "go down"?

Oh. Oh. They gave Lemuria/Lumeria a female inmate. A huge female inmate. Like, she's not a prisoner of Cell Block H, she is Cell Block H. Like, instead of having an inmate number, they gave her her own zip code.

Ohmigod. I predict whatever's about to happen between Major Victory and Man Mountain Dean is going to be on tomorrow. DANG! Major Victory pulled it off ... AND he thanked the guy for it.

Wow. Feedback's clever. Cleverer than I thought. Cleverer than his wife's hairdresser, certainly. His stock just rose substantially in my eyes. And now that I know his backstory, I sympathize with him more. I would happily contribute to help pay the bills for his desperately needed twice-a-week psychotherapy.

As for the other person; well. Bye bye.

Oh, and for the record, I do NOT agree with Stan. I'm perfectly fine with Major Victory's inability to keep his clothes on...

To the Cat Cycle!

Cats Are Evil Week, #4

Let's talk about Catwoman.

One of the essential difficulties in writing comics is the conflict between static characters and the need for a sense of ongoing dynamic development. Or, as a normal person might say, you have to have the feeling that the character and plot are advancing without the characters or the circumstance changing much.

This "static/dynamic" conflict is, in my opinion, the essential quality of American superhero comic books. Not the combination of the verbal and visual (something comic books share with movies and television); not the inability to control the rate at which the reader perceives the action in the story (something comic books share with pictureless fiction); not the stylization and use of literacy convention (something comic books share with other niche genres, such as sci-fi, mystery, and opera); not the fact that the storyline is an ongoing, unfolding series of events rather than a single tale with beginning, middle, and end (something comic books share with soap opera and other running dramas).

Comic books (like their "cousin", the comic strip) have the unique challenge of multidecade storytelling with characters that don't have to change with time and whose iconic consistency is part of their appeal. Comic strips have found their own solutions: multigenerational evolution (e.g., Gasoline Alley and For Better or For Worse) or otherversal timelessness (e.g. Peanuts and Beetle Bailey).

Comic books have develop two unique techinques of their own:

  • Epochal Reboot, and
  • Persona Cycles

Epochal Reboot? Well, if you've been reading DC for longer than, oh, 6 weeks, then you probably get that one already.

Persona Cycles? Also pretty easy if you think about it a little. Characters that have been around a long time get intepreted in different ways over time, slowly evolving the acceptable parameters of the character. Then the character develops a sort rhythm, a kind of cycling through the various edgepoints of his safe zone.

That's a little abstract, so here's a small example. Batman cycles between a loner vigilante and being the paterfamilias of a tight band of colorful crimefighters. At any point in his career, you can "develop" his character going from one of these extreme toward the other. In fact, if you've been following Batman for the last 10 years or so, you can see that's exactly what has been happening. Yet, Batman still always remains recognizably ... Batman.

A lot of fans get hung up on this phenomenon. "No! Batman is only the version of Batman I first became a fan of!" To which Doctor Scipio says, "take a pill, step back, and grow up."

Hey, I'm a fanboy; I don't like it any more than you do when a character I like cycles into a version of himself/herself I don't care for. But I understand why, and remind myself that the character's ability to do that is what allows it to survive, what keeps it vital for on-going generations. That's a better fate than the obscurity to which one-note characters are doomed because they lack mechanisms for adapting through the years, attracting new adherents, and cementing the loyality of old ones.

Many veteran comic book characters have such Persona Cycles. Robin cycles between "Laughing Young Daredevil" and "Brooding Batman Jr.". The Joker cycles between "deformed killer/mastermind" and "demented crime-clown". I'm sure you can think of many more examples; feel free.

But what was the real subject of this post? Oh, yeah ...


Catwoman's persona cycle wheels from "amoral and independent criminal mastermind" through "Batman's alluring but unavailably criminal love interest" to "female Batman with sass" and on back.

If you've been reading her title, you know that she's been in "female Batman with sass" mode for quite some time, recently adding motherhood to the softening of her image. It's time for her to come back: what I would call "the real Catwoman" (or, at least, the "original Catwoman").

You may think that's impossible, given that she's now got an infant. I don't.

We know that Catwoman is going to pressure Zatanna into mindwiping Film Freak and Angle Man so they no longer know her identity.

But I expect her to ask Zatanna to mindwipe HER as well. To protect her baby. As long as the baby is with her, it is in danger. I believe that Catwoman will give up her baby to protect it and have her own mind wiped so that no one -- not even she -- can connect the two.

And Catwoman will have gone full "persona cycle" once again.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Reasons to read Manhunter #16

Manhunter is a woman.

If you're read any of my previous posts on this subject your probably already know that. But I've never really focused on it before.

In the blogoverse, I read a lot of support -- indeed, activism -- toward a more feminist geist in comic books. But, like most comic book criticism (or, for that matter, any kind of criticism) is naturally tends to focus on damning the negative instead of praising the positive.

That's one of the reasons I try to focus on the positive, on praising things I enjoy. I don't always succeed, of course, but in general I find it more fun to hype Vibe than damn Ram. My dislikes will always make themselves known; my likes, however, need and deserve my help.

Manhunter has Kate Spencer and Chase Cameron, two of superheroic comics most fully realized women -- or, more accurately, people who happen to be women. And wait till you see who shows up this week! If all those people who criticize the absence of strong female characters in superhero comics started buying Manhunter, DC might just take notice.

In my book, that's another reason to...

Buy Manhunter.

Los Gatos de la Zona Fantasma

Cats Are Evil Week 2

Now that the Krypto figure is a familiar site at many a Heroclix game, it's only natural that he face the ultimate evil...

The Phantom Zone Cats

You can use them as is, but there's really no point in using them without employing the Special Phantom Zone Cats Rules:

  1. Phantom Zone Cats' moves do not count toward your allotted number of moves per turn.
  2. Phantom Zone Cats have "Phasing".
  3. Phantom Zone Cats have "Enhancement" toward Superman Enemies, but receive an action token when they use it.
  4. Phantom Zone Cats cannot be directly attacked, except by Krypto, or by Pulse Wave , or by Psychic Blast.
  5. Phantom Zone Cats can be Incapacitated.
  6. Phantom Zone Cats do not block line of sight.

Have Phantom Zone Cats float eerily beside your Superman Enemies, advising them so as to improve the effects of their attacks. Use Krypto to chase them away, Superman Blue or Red to disrupt their phantasmic forms, or super-friends like Zatanna and Black Canary to "Incapacitate" them back to the Zone.

For full enjoyment of the Phantom Zone Cats in gameplay, have Theremin music playing in the background and whisper in Spanish every time they do something in the game.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Big Monkey Do

The Monkey reads the Creeper.

The Monkey buys a gift.

The Monkey is a sexy woman.

The Monkey worries about his kids.

The Monkey wonders about Joe Quesada.

"Cats are Evil" Week

Welcome to Cats Are Evil Week at the Absorbascon!

No one likes to talk about it. Some people have trouble admitting it. But everyone knows it's true.

Cats are evil.

That why evil geniuses -- Stavros Blofeld, Dr. Evil, Dr. Claw -- all clutch kitties. How can anyone not know that cats are evil? Do you not watch movies? Do you not read the Bible? Do you not visit the Comic Book Resources Forum? Do you not love nature? Do you not play video games?

Cats are evil. In corollary, of course, dogs are good.

If it weren't for cats, Superman would have married Lois decades ago...

Cats are evil. AND ....they must be punished.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

God Bless Jared Axelrod


Dibny ... Mmmppff Dibny

The wickedness of the Dibnys knows no rest. Even on vacation...

"Hello, ladies! I'm the World Famous Elongated Lust.

Oh, yeah, and, uh, somewhere on the boat is my trophy wife, Envy Sue."

Marsha Mallow, Pog of Power

You do not have the power to resist:MARSHA MALLOW

I don't know about you, but I don't want Marsha Mallow in my game ... I need her.

She belongs on Metropolis-based theme teams, ideally near the Lois Lane bystander token. But she's a dangerous addition to your team if you use

the Special Marsha Mallow Rules:
  1. Other figures do not block line of sight to Marsha Mallow.
  2. Any figure with Willpower loses it when Marsha Mallow is in sight.

Green Lanterns? Pfah! Their fabled Willpower dissipates at the sight of this batter-sucking siren. Watch your opponents blanch when Mallow crushes their schemes to double-punch you, merely by waving a chicken leg in front of their pieces. This will make her a prime target, so have a "guardian" figure protect with her Defend.

For maximum enjoyment of the Marsha Mallow pog during gameplay, put on the Food Channel in the background.