Thursday, August 30, 2007

Things That Made Me Happy...

in my comics this week.

  • Eric Powell's drawings of Superman in Action. Superman hasn't looked that normally sized -- and yet more masculine -- since the Golden Age.
  • Zatanna's Talking Gate.
  • Someone's kidnapping the Justice League members? Okay, that's excellent.
  • The Forerunner's origin was much more interesting than I would have anticipated.
  • Four Horsemen was also better than I would have expected, and I'm delighted to see something done with Veronica Cale.
  • Poor Megan. She really is alien, isn't she?
  • I... I've never really seen anyone throw an airplane before.
  • Bizarro vision? Brilliant.
  • Driving with Bart.
  • I was right about Athena. I know my gods, people.
  • The dirty, stinking Rannies firing Adam Strange. In public. Priceless. And so very typical. Dirty, stinking Rannies.
  • I glad somebody remembers what Buddy Baker's real job is.
  • Hey, Lobo body-shaves; hot!!!
  • Eddy Barrows, your drawing of Cliff Baker's face during the final hug is one of the great masterpieces of comic book art.
  • "Mr. Wayne, are you hurt?" I want more scenes like that and fewer of heroes using first names in costume.
  • So, is Everyman, like, the new Clayface?
  • Even for Geoff Johns, that's a heck of cliffhanger.
  • Jimmy's sunburn.
  • Adam Strange's buddy, whose life expectancy, I'm betting, is comparable to that of Jessica Fletcher's friends.
  • How obviously BAD Wolfman's part of Teen Titans No. 50 is. Perhaps, now that it's right beside modern Titans, some more people will be able to see it!
  • Now THAT is Deus Ex Machina, just as it should be.
  • I note that Robin was written much more appropriately--and politely-- by John Rogers in Blue Beetle than he was in Titans in the scene that appeared in both. I hope DC notices it, too...
  • These Four Horseman are a lot scarier now than they were as big tinkertoys, huh?
  • Picking up Connor from school.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Keep Your Head in the Game

My original plan for today was to post my next "Least Likely to Change" installment, but something happened today to change that.

Today, I received in the mail my latest shipment of customized Heroclix.

Dale, whom you will recognize as frequent commenter "Totaltoyz", made me a nice group of clix that Wizkids hasn't gotten around to making you and probably never will.

I got Argus. I think he's an underused part of the Flash Family, as in both the comics and Heroclix, that team could use somebody who has a schtick that isn't dependent on superspeed. He's on an Azrael dial. After all, what else can you do with an Azrael?

I got the Rainbow Raider (surfing the spectrum with stolen painting in arm), because, well, it's funny. Besides putting him on an Experienced Halo amuses me. I enjoy dissing characters I don't like by stealing their dials for demeaning customs. Especially Halo.

I adore the Busiek-style Prankster (armed with Kryptonite Custard Pie). He's on a very capable 107 point Joker dial, so he'll be a very worthy addition to the new Superman enemies coming out in the Justice League set.

I also got Mr. & Mrs. Menace, the Sportsmaster and the Golden Age Huntress. I love those two. We'll see how well they do against Rookie Alan Scott and Rookie Wildcat!

I got Dr. Impossible (because I helped name him), hilarious prehawkified Northwind (because he's just so fabulously faggy), and, of course, the Awesome Threesome of Torpedo-Man, Magnet-o, and Claw (because they are, ipso facto, awesome).

Oh, and just to give Aquaman a spot of extra trouble, I had "Devil Ray" from JLU made to act as an evil sidekick for Black Manta.

I even got a set of four G.O.O.N.s (surely you remember the Grand Order of Occidental Nighthawks?). Each wears a black derby and a turtleneck that says G.O.O.N. on it. They carry such deadly weapons as brass knuckles (nice touch, Dale!), pistols, a black round bomb that says "BOMB" on it, and an umbrella. Caped Crusader beware!

Ordinarily I would thank Dale for his amazing work (really, the pictures don't do these things justice) by email, but this time I am moved to do so publicly in a post. You should check out his Ebay page and order some custom clix of your own!

Dale also told me he was going to include a special gift to me for free, in appreciation for my support of his work. He tried to prepare me by saying that I should really by sitting down when I opened the box, or at least have someone at hand to assist me to the couch.

Naturally, I privately pooh-poohed this warning; you know how artists are about their work. My mistake. I did, in fact, stagger to couch with this surprise figure in hand, gasping for breath. I don't have a camera good enough to take a photo of it, but perhaps Dale will provide us with some.

It's 23 points. It has Charge and Leap/Climb. It has four clicks of life. Well... not life, really.

the Rolling Head of Pantha.

The "Superman Prime" Revenge Squad (6 figures at 697 points)

ID Name Points
J085Martian Manhunter
le027Veteran -Power Girl
U081Veteran Black Adam
le066Veteran Superboy
jl101Rolling Head of Pantha

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Haikuesday with Green Arrow

Well, the Green Arrow Year One and Black Canary mini-series keep pushing me toward the belief that Ollie Queen just may be a hero after all, and a workable one.

After all, could anyone but a hero speak in such casual heroic haiku at such a critical moment, guiding a fellow hero on the proper path?

But if you kill him,
he can't suffer anymore.
Is that what you want?

Nice one, Ollie!

What is YOUR haiku celebrating Ollie Queen new heroic evolution?

Monday, August 27, 2007

Least Likely to Change: Plastic Man

Judging from the poll in the sidebar, it seems that the majority of you think Plastic Man has changed the least since his Golden Age incarnation.

I couldn't disagree with you more.

Sure, he looks pretty much the same, adjusting for change in drawing styles since the Golden Age. But, in my opinion, he couldn't be more different. In fact, I think he's the character who's changed the most. He's become the very opposite of what he originally was...

the straight man.

C'mon, now, raise your hands; how many of you have actually read a Golden Age Plastic Man story? More than one story? More than five?

Most readers' current impressions of Plastic Man are not gathered from work done by his creator, Jack Cole. Their impressions come from his appearances in the Morrison JLA, his Kyle Baker series, his occasional crossover cameos, or, at oldest, his '60s series and Brave & Bold appearances.

None of those are anything like the original Plastic Man. Sure, his powers were wacky. His sidekick, Woozy Winks, was wacky. His villains, heck, his entire world was wacky.

But he was not. Plastic Man wasn't crazy, and seldom joked, except in that wan way of battle-banter that all Golden Agers favored. Part of the genius in Cole's creation was juxtaposing a fairly straightforward heroic type again a world more like "Fun Comics" or "Percival the Cop" than like Metropolis or Gotham. It was the dynamic marriage of the new superhero comics with the old "sproing-take" humor comics that was the basis for Plas's adventures, and his popularity.

The humor came not from Plastic Man being a wacky goofball, but from his comparative deadpan in his crazy world. Plastic Man wasn't meta-referential absurdism; it was camp. Plastic Man wasn't Jim Carey; he was Adam West.

Plas was, in essence, the straight man in his own series. Almost no subsequent writer has been able, or even tried, to duplicate this effect. It's understandable; it's the natural consequence of
putting him in "our" modern comic book world of superpowered rapists and deformed child-torturers. In order to keep this current world seeming "normal", writers have taken all the wackiness that used to surround Plas and tried to stuff it in him.

He's an elastic character, yes, but not that elastic. It simply doesn't work, so as a result, Plastic Man always seems forced, unfunny, out of context, and generally annoying. All this is done in the service of making the current comics remain "serious". But, naturally, the effect is the opposite. As soon as Plastic Man appears, you are are reminded through his commentary that, ehn, it's just a comic, there's nothing really at stake, don't take anything that happens to heart as significant.

Recently, writers have realized this problem and have therefore begun to ground Plas as if he were a Marvel hero, with personal problems, an illegitimate son, crises of conscience. All of this leads to the further Death of Whimsy and Dearth of Fun in comics, and only serves to spoil, not deepen, Plastic Man. I mean, really; shades of Speedball. Except for his look, Plastic Man is now nearly completely unrecognizable as the same character as the Golden Age version.

If you want Plastic Man to even remotely resemble what he was in the Golden Age, you need to take him out of the more serious center of the DCU and put him off at its wackier edges, such as the Shadowpact, the Doom Patrol, the All-New Atom, Dr. Thirteen, and the like. Let him be the character that takes the craziness seriously, like he did in the Golden Age. Let Plastic Man not be zany, but rather the symbol of zaniness. Reposition Plas as the straight man against all the DCU's zaniness, and he would bounce back in no time.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

The Dirty Cop

As previously promised, it's time to begin revealing the Goon Tokens for Heroclix that I've been making using photos of our readers here, generously donated. We'll be showing you a big size version for viewing enjoyment, then a small size that's just right for copying and printing out.

First up is B902, the Dirty Cop. Its stats are based on the Harvey Bullock token. It may seem a little pricey for a token, particularly since it's a slow target (with a sluggish Speed Value of 5) and an easy one to hit (with a Defense Value of 14, even figures that throw like sissies could hit this guy with rock after a couple tries).

But he's got a decent Attack Value, the ability to shoot at two targets at one and does two clicks of Damage, which is all darned good for a token.

Plus, he's got one extremely rare and very powerful advantage for a token: the Police Team Ability, which increases the Attack Value of any adjacent comrades. Add to that his Defense Power of Toughness (which allows this tough guy to shrug off any attack that only does one click of Damage). Together, those make him the perfect piece to put right beside your main villains, particularly ones that have Mastermind, because it makes them immune to any one-click attacks.

And who will be playing the Dirty Cop?

Detective Allan Mott isn't just a Dirty Cop, he's the Dirty Cop.

The lack of tie. The leather jacket with upturned collar. The seedy cheaters. The 'yeah, I didn't shave today, what's it to you, buddy' look on his face. Shudder.

How did this guy ever get on the force, let alone make detective? Sherlock Holmes could spot that criminal cranial development from miles away. And smell the booze, no doubt.

One look at him and you just know that last words he ever hears are going to be, "Hey, Mott; think about the future!"

I don't where he works; Hub City, I assume. And he probably only moved there because they closed Bludhaven.

But now he works... for you! Or, at least, for whatever villain is paying his "extra" salary this month. Probably Dr. Psycho or Two-Face; their dials would work well with his.

Please note that the Dirty Cop has a Silver Ring, meaning that it is a Unique. You can only use one of each Unique on a team, so you can't surround your villains with a horde of Dirty Cops. Because despite what they tell you on TV, Dirty Cops are still thankfully rare!

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Mercy Reef Heroclix Map

Click on it to see it at full size and detail.

It's an underwater map (no surprise there). There's both Hindering and Blocking Terrain atop the Elevated Terrain of the reef. Because everything is underwater where you can swim over stuff, terrain does not affect movement, only line of sight.

As you can see, I'm getting ready for the two new Aquaman clix...

Friday, August 24, 2007

Least Likely to Change: Superman

Who has changed the least?

Only a select group of Golden Age heroes (Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern, Flash, Aquaman, Green Arrow, Black Canary) are still around. And I don't mean "retrieved" characters like Alan Scott, Jay Garrick, or any of the JSA-style inheritors. They are a different animal entirely from the Underoos Icon Gang.

So let's pull our Underoos out of the drawer and examine them over the next few days ... just to see how they're holding up.


Well, he looks the same except for some minor vagaries of costuming. But he's changed alot.

He's added a host of powers (many of which, such as superventroliquism, were mercifully shed along the way), and the powers that have been consistent in kind have increased dramatically in degree.

His personality, on the hand, has changed in kind. The Golden Age Superman was almost anti-authoritarian. As a reaction to the powerless people felt during the Depression, the GA Superman broke into people's houses (including the Governor), beat the snot out of normal humans, hung them from flagpoles, grabbed unsympathetic employers and forced them to experience the deplorable conditions of their workers... . Superman (no matter what Frank Miller might think of him), has never been about supporting authority, but about having the power to circumvent it.

Yet, nowadays, we not only respect and envy that power, we fear its misuse. So Superman, most powerful of heroes, has had to evolve into the very image of He Who Would Not Abuse His Power, and come to be an authority figure himself. John Byrne (no matter what you might think of him) understood this tension and very early on he cleverly had Mayor Berkowitz use Superman to circumvent regular, slow justice and arrest Lex Luthor on the spot ... after saying he'd "deputized" him, of course.

His larger "secret identity" schtick is still very much intact. Clark Kent is still mild-mannered (I mean, as much as an investigative report can be) and his difference in personality from smiling, confident Superman is still his best disguise. But the two-and-half-sided triangle between Clark, Lois, and Superman is no more.

That's a big change. Superman used to symbolize men's need to be loved and admired not only for their aggressive confrontational selves, but for their quiet nurturing selves as well. And, I might add, some woman's refusal to do so, particularly strong capable ones like Lois. Despite professing to want "sensitive" men, women usually really go for a confident macho guy. How else would you explain that so many comic-reading women who would call themselves feminists are googly-eyed over Hal Jordan, of all people? I don't know a single comic-reading gay guy who goes googly-eyed over Hal Jordan; only women. Comic-reading gay guys go googly-eyed over guys who are confident yet secure enough in their masculinity to wear yellow balloon pants and red neckerchiefs. And breakdance.

Anyway, while that idea of being loved that way used to be presented through Superman as nearly impossible, his marriage to Lois (in which she loves both the Clark Kent Him and the Superman Him) is now shown as an ideal. In all fairness, then that's not a change: that kind of love was presented as ideal and the only kind worth having in the Golden Age, too. That's why Superman never accepted Lois's advances; if she was too good for Clark Kent, then she wasn't good enough for Superman. It's not Superman who changed; it was Lois.

It's a pity they never really showed us that change; they were kind of suddenly, you know, married.

In any case, how much has Superman changed in your eyes?

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Prepackaged Fun!

The new JLA Heroclix set is going to make some fun things possible...

The Superfriends 550 p
Superman (197p), Batman&Robin (138p), Wonder Woman (127p), Aquaman with "Submerged" (75p), Wendy&Marvin (9p).

The Fatal Five 550p
Tharok (100p), Validus(152p), Emerald Empress (102p), Mano (56p) with "Sidekick" (10p) to the Persuader (129p).

Goal: If the Fatal Five kill Wendy & Marvin, they win. We all do, really.

Time Out 250p
Thomas Oscar Morrow 37p + Sidekick (10p) to the Time Trapper 125p, Chronos 77 p.

Time In 250p
Android Hourman 100p, Dream Girl 50p, Veteran Hourman 100p.

Goal: Whoever keeps track of the use of Probability Control most easily wins.

Quien es Mas Macho? 337 p
The Shining Knight 48p, Vigilante 45p, Green Arrow 50p, Aquaman 56 p, Hawkman 135p, Perry White 3p.

Quien es Mas Macho? 337 p
Lobo 207 p, Hawk 69, Bane 61.

Goal: Try to keep Perry's teammates from attacking him.

The Crime Syndicate 600p
Ultraman 242p, Superwoman 93p, Power Ring 90p, Owlman 87 p, Johnny Quick 77p (with "Damage Shield" 10p

Earth 1 vs. the Crime Syndicate 600p
Superman 222p, Wonder Woman 109p, Green Lantern 93p, Batman 79p + Indomitable 5p, Flash 82p + Armor Piercing 10p.

Earth 2 vs. the Crime Syndicate 600p
Starman 106p + Fortitude 25p + Damage Shield 10p + Armor Piercing 10p, Black Canary 46 + Stunning Blow 10p, Dr. Fate 155p, Dr. Mid-Nite 58p + Ambush & Entrench & Flashbang & Running Start & Indomitable & Triage (ttl 35p), Golden Age Flash 101p + Armor Piercing 10p & Fortitude 25p.

Goal: Try not to embarrass Earth 2.

The Committee to Kick Hal Jordan's Ass 200p
Hector Hammond 88p, Doctor Polaris 111p

The Committee to Kick Hal Jordan's Ass 300p
Hector Hammon 88 p, Sinestro 102p, Major Disaster 59p, Black Hand 48p, Carol Ferris 3p

The Committee to Kick Hal Jordan's Ass 400 p
Power Ring 90p, Hector Hammond 88 p, Sinestro 102p, Doctor Polaris 111p, Carol Ferris 3p, Thom Kamalku 5 p.

The Committee to Kick Hal Jordan's Ass 500p
Power Ring 90p, Hector Hammond 88 p, Sinestro 102p, Doctor Polaris 111p, Major Disaster 59p, Black Hand 48p.

Goal: To join the august ranks of the Yellow Ceiling Tile, the Bar of Soap, the Toy Airplane, the Falling Branch, and the Heavy Yellow Lamp.

Things That Made Me Happy...

in my comics this week.

  • Between the amazing work in redefining (or is it just refining?) Green Arrow's character in Green Arrow Year One and the Black Canary miniseries, I am being won over to admiration of GA. I mean taking the boat that's an escape from horrible torture and death... and burning it? To attract the bad guys? That's the crazy heroism that's the stuff of legend.
  • But I'm still glad that some people-- very very smart people-- question Black Canary on the stupidity of marrying Ollie Queen, rather than everyone in the DCU blindly going, "Oh, a wedding, how lovely! This will be as nice as when the Atom married that cruel, self-centered, psychotic who Eclipso liked so much!"
  • Thank heaven somebody finally called Wonder Girl and Supergirl out on their ridiculously tacky belly-shirts.
  • Piper's "immunity".
  • The very Last of Great Lesbian Love Scenes. Well, for them, anyway.
  • John Rogers needs to be writing Teen Titans. Immediately.
  • So I assume Ranx versus Mogo symbolizes Humanity's Vicious Self-Absorbed Denaturized Urbanism versus Recognizing Our Planet as a Nurturing Guide and Provider That Deserves Our Protection. Either that or it just looked cool to draw.
  • Thanks for the pic of nearly naked pre- or post-coital Deathstroke in bed. No, really! Boxers should be his new uniform.
  • The Mega-Rod versus Charizard.
  • Blue Beetle versus Lobo.
  • "Green Arrow's Secret Healing Factor?" or "Gosh, that minimum six to eight weeks of recovering from an open fracture sped by quickly!"
  • I love this Club of Heroes story Grant Morrison is doing; it's like he's on new meds or something. What a great locked-room mystery, with some ace detective work going on. And the art! Extremely impressive, particularly the composition!
  • I really what to know what has Knockout terrified, since she considers fighting Big Barda a hobby.
  • Black Lightning's "Shut up, ho, this is my chair now; go make me a sammich!" look that he gives Vixen at the JLA meeting.
  • I can never remember the name of Blue Beetle's two sidekicks, but I adore them nonetheless. Paco; the big cute one's name is Paco.
  • Mr. Terrific + U.S. politics + Nazis = Jeez, Mr. Terrific is tall + Wildcat is enormous!
  • No matter how nasty they make Eclipso, it still seems like a demotion for Jean Loring.
  • So ... does that make Ollie's reaction to Roy's problem better or worse? Or simply understandable?
  • Kid Devil made me do a Spit-Take of Amusement. That's pretty rare.
  • Now that I realize that Big Barda would love playing Heroclix, I think I love her, too.
  • Nothing says "I care!" like Kilowogg covered in corpses.
  • We don't always get to say goodbye to the ones we love, do we? In fact, we seldom do. It's a good thing to remember.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Aquaman has perfect pitch

On the most recent Big Monkey Podcast, the gang and I mourned the loss of comic book artist Mike Wieringo, who was beloved both for who he was and the work he did. Remembrances by his colleagues (like Mark Waid here at Newsarama) have brought to my attention the pitch that Waid and Wieringo did for Aquaman four years ago, which I include in its entirety below.

It's nice-- very nice-- to see that there are people who get Aquaman. Sadly, DC's editors weren't, and apparently, still aren't among them.

How delightful, how different Aquaman's recent history would have been, had the Waid/Wieringo pitch been accepted. Aquaman would have been leading DC's charge toward brighter, more inspiring heroes, rather than trailing far behind.

Tad Williams would have this guy at right to work with, rather than having been given the superhuman task of writing Aquaman without Aquaman in it, of making bricks without straw. Tad has, in fact, done a superhuman job of pulling together the various pieces of Aquaman's broken history, adding new and interesting elements, and weaving them into a narrative quilt that's made DC's underwater world seem larger and more fascinating than ever before. For that, he gets my highest praise. But DC, in forbidding him to bring back the real Aquaman, has essentially doomed his ingenious series and might as well rename it Aquaman: Meatless Lasagna.

I take some comfort in knowing that the type of Aquaman described below will be coming back. DC's new Superfriends comic (and its concurrent toy line) will, of course, include the Classic version of Aquaman, because, although Editorial doesn't also know what sells, Marketing does. Surely DC won't let pass that opportunity to reassert Classic Aquaman in a manner similar to what Waid and Wieringo laid out below.

Why, that would be like wasting the unprecedented level of public recognition that JLU brought the Martian Manhunter by not having him in the JLA or by dramatically altering his visual and character design!

The Waid/Wieringo pitch

"I am so sick of people making fun of Aquaman that I’m beginning to take it personally. For the last ten years or so, the way we’ve been scrambling to combat Aquaman’s “Dork of the Sea” image--and I’ve been guilty of trying this, too--is by making Aquaman increasingly darker, grittier, and tougher, the brooding, angry king beset with trouble. Each incarnation of the character seems grimmer than the last, to the point where all that’s left for us to do is give him two hooks. And a peg-leg.

OR--here’s ANOTHER thought. Yes, the seas can be turbulent and stormy, but y’know what? Far more often, the ocean is a universal symbol for peace and contentment. It’s a calming influence. If it weren’t, Bermuda would be deserted and Hawaii would be an industrial trade port. It is most people’s “happy place.” Yes, the ocean is the set piece for “A Perfect Storm,” but it’s also the world of “Finding Nemo” and “The Little Mermaid.” I have never yet met anyone of any age who didn’t come away from Sea World envying the guides who swim with the whales and porpoises. I propose we turn this “grim Aquaman” paradigm around for a one-shot and see what happens. “Test the waters,” if you will. I know, I slay me. Anyway....

Our POV character in this story is a female marine biologist--and since Aquaman’s turf covers the world, there’s no need to make her American. (In fact, Russian is preferable--I’ve been doing a lot of reading about the culture of Russian courtship, and that could really play in nicely.) At any rate, our biologist--let’s call her Yelena for now--may have heard the name “Aquaman” here and there, but to her, he’s about as real and significant as, say, German football stars are to you and me.

Yelena’s work is done with grungy old equipment and spit-and-bailing-wire technology, the best she has to work with. Her whole world has a gritty feel to it--

--so when this bright, blond, shining knight of a man pops out of the water and into her life, she’s addled simply by the contrast.

Their paths cross, she’s drawn into an adventure, and to Yelena, this “Aquaman” is, yes, mysterious like the sea--but in a warm, enticing way. To Yelena, he is otherworldly, like a fairy tale character come to life. He rarely speaks (though when he does, he’s staggeringly charming), he lives in the water, and he smiles. Constantly. In fact, at first, Yelena has a nearly impossible time taking him seriously. He’s like a walking cartoon.

And yet...the more she gets to know him, the further she’s drawn out of her world and into his, she’ll come to realize that there’s something going on behind those wide eyes of his. Looking in them, she sees peace and confidence; looking through them, she’s gradually introduced to an underwater world of absolute wonder, a place that is far more colorful and in tune with nature than is her own gritty lifestyle. Once she surrenders to the implausibility of it all, she’s rewarded a thousandfold, and so are we. Aquaman’s joy becomes her joy becomes OUR joy.

There will be no mocking. NO jokes about how “dumb” talking to fish is. Anyone with a keyboard can make cynical jokes. That’s easy. What’s harder is reminding you why, when you were a kid, you thought the idea of living underwater or commanding the creatures of the sea WAS cool. We can do that. We can remind you, and Yelena’s awed voice will be there to back us up."

Monday, August 20, 2007

Be My Thug!

Sorry I'm not a lot of fun right now, but I'm still glowing with pain, which makes witty badinage about comic book panels and insightful analysis of structures within the medium unlikely. Or, perhaps I should say, unlikelier. (If you want some of that tune in to the new episode of the Big Monkey Podcast, and meet Black Manta's new pet.)

But I can craft. If you think I'm the kind of person who lies around watching the television, think again. I'm making some person tokens for Heroclix games: lots of little crooks and goons to help out the villains. The templates are all laid out, but I'm missing just one thing: pictures of crooks and goons.

Now, I could just use photos from movies and such, downloaded from the internet. But that doesn't seem quite fun enough...

This is where you come in. Send me a picture of YOURSELF looking particularly crooked or goonish and I will make YOU into a pog (much as I did for Officers Garling and Sanders). Then I will put the finished products up here on the blog for all to see and print out. Then you too can have the privilege of being kayoed by the Caped Crusaders or crippled by Green Arrow.

Oh, and these pogs are game-legal (well, except for the whole "retired figures" thing). Each one is based on an actual pre-existing Token in Heroclix, so they are playable.

The goon tokens you can submit your photo for are listed below. There are several "rules" for the photos. Please...
  • Be appropriately attired for the token you want to portray.
  • Don't smile, unless it's a nasty smile. You know, like a leer or a smirk.
  • Brings your guns. Real guns. HUGE extra points for having a gun in the photo.
  • Have a background that is colorwise very distinct and different from the part of photo that is you. Otherwise, it will be too hard for me to get rid of the background in Photoshop.
  • Extra points if you send me a Photoshop file with the background already eliminated.
  • Photos should be in color, if at all possible.
  • Photos should be pretty much from the waist up. Just a head shot is too little and a full body shot is too much.
  • If your photo is sufficiently fabulous, but doesn't quite match with one of the tokens below, I'll may make up one to go with it. You want to be "the Moll" or "the Patsy" or "the Underling" or "the Lunatic?? Sell me on it with your pic!

(ones with * should not have guns in the pic, because that token has no range)
  1. The Scrapper* (he's fast in a fight)
  2. The Gashouser* (he's bigger than the Scrapper, but still fast)
  3. The Dirty Cop (extra points for raincoat or cheesy moustache)
  4. The Gunsel (look weaselly; gunsels are always weaselly. The Gunsel has Stealth).
  5. The Black Belt* (Ariel...?)
  6. The Lieutenant (the boss's number one guy. Should not be hefty, because he'll have Leap/Climb)
  7. "Two-Gun" (I don't care if you're a grandmother of four, if you can get two real pistols in your hands in the pic, then you are Two-Gun)
  8. The Gunwoman (in a pantsuit, I should think)
  9. The Gunman (what's the male equivalent of a pants suit?)
  10. The Slugger* (maybe with a baseball bat...?)
  11. The Gunslinger (he watches the Country/Western channel)
  12. Yojimbo (Asian guy, black suit)
  13. The Punk Kid* (if you're a bit long in the tooth, I'll just take off the 'kid' part)
  14. The Hireling* (he's a little nervous but he needs the money)
  15. The Running Dog (this guy is very good but very hyper, kind of wild-eyed)
  16. The Hoodlum* (extra points for a hoodie or a 'newsie cap')
  17. The Enforcer* (this guy looks ... unpleasant)
  18. The Bruiser* (this guy is big but slow)
  19. The Tough Guy* (this one has Toughness, so please look you could actually take a punch to the face without falling over)
  20. Judo Guy* ("I paid Joon Rhee good money for those classes and now is my chance to show off for the boss!)
  21. Judo Gal* ("I am totally going to show up that jackass, Judo Guy!")

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Sunburn Beach

I went to the beach yesterday.

I did all the normal things you do when you go to the beach. I swam in the ocean. I tried to activate my water-breathing genes. I attempted to communicate aquatelepathically. 'Cuz ya never know. What? Oh, like you never tried saying "Shazam!", just in case. Turns out, I wasn't able to summon fish, but while squunching my forehead trying to emanate concentric circles, I was able to summon a giant wave that nearly knocked me on my ass, which I suppose is a start.

I also discovered that if you fall asleep by yourself in the sun, without anyone to wake you, you get sunburnt. Badly sunburnt. I look like one of the female Legionnaires whom Satan Girl infected with the Crimson Virus. Except without, you know, the female parts. And, since my hair looks pretty much like Fire Lad's (particularly after a trip to the beach), I now look like one of the Heat Miser's backup singers. Except not that fat.

And the pain. Oh, as Dr. Smith would have said, the pain. Want to deepen your understanding of characters like the Joker or Two-Face, whose origin involves acid or falling into vats of chemical wastes? Get a sunburn. Suddenly, the way they lash out at the world seems a model of restraint.

So, in that kind of pain, I naturally had trouble sleeping last night (that, and the sleeping all afternoon at the beach and the large coffee I had to steel my nerves). Therefore, I did what any normal person would do, awake a night in teeth-clenching pain from photonic poisoning...

I made a Heroclix map about it.

The "Sunburn Beach" map is for pitting aquatic characters against non-aquatic characters. And unless those non-aquatic characters are Superman, they're going to have a hard time targeting the aquatic ones, who according to the map rules are stealthed from them in the water.

It's pretty shallow water, though; flyers will still be able float out and base aquatic figures. They'll probably have to, because aquatic figures don't like to wander on land, where they have to deal with tedious hindrances like beach umbrellas. And everyone who's not a flyer or a leap/climber is going to have trouble right at the water's edge, which is all hindering terrain.

I hope you have more fun at Sunburn Beach than I did!

Friday, August 17, 2007

Digg it!

I would like to ask a favor of the readers of the Absorbascon.

As you may know, a group of five bloggers (from The Absorbascon, Seven Hells, Those Wednesdays, Jon Hex Lives, and Facedown in the Gutters) are the regular panelists on the Big Monkey Podcast.

We enjoy our show and hope others do, too. So, we'd really like to increase its visibility, with your help. Please go to the I-Tunes (if you have that) and give us a thumbs up comment and join up at Digg and do the same for our show and individual episodes.

Plus, if you have a blog or livejournal or some such, and you enjoy the show, it would be nice if you gave it a little plug!

P.S. Do not miss the next episode, wherein we discuss Jack Kirby at DC, Jack Kirby at Marvel, Mike Wieringo, and have a special visit from Victor Volcanum.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Things That Made Me Happy...

in my comics this week.
  • Well. That's one way to shut Brainy up.
  • I now officially understand why Black Canary is marrying Green Arrow.
  • The Amazon signifer.
  • NOW we know why they sunk San Diego. Nice one, Tad.
  • Okay, if there's ever been a more tantalizing page than the final one of Booster Gold 1, then I can't think of what it would be.
  • It's nice to see that, after 50 years, Krypto and Titano still can't stand each other.
  • Booster's sacrifice... and his price.
  • Grace, your weakness disgusts me. Just as I knew it would.
  • Well. Jefferson Pierce is not as smart as he thinks he is.
  • Clark Kent has a Merit Badge in sewing? Of course he does.
  • Catwoman continues to impress both as a character and a series.
  • Did we just see the departure for Zerox... from the Nanoverse?! 'Cuz that little girl sure looked familiar to me.
  • Okay, the only thing missing in that final panel of Holly and Harley is some D batteries.
  • I bet every single one of those ridiculous Rannian weapons appears in the Adam Strange Showcase I just bought, including the hilariously horrifying Aqua-Ray.
  • Batman versus Circe.
  • The Zatannacave. It's not at all how Dale Gunn described it!
  • Enter, the Clownfish. Don't expect to laugh.
  • "With the Absorbascon, victory was inevitable." It's just nice to have that in print, you know.
  • Supergirl's reading assignment.
  • Yow! I needed to see that even LESS than Red Tornado did.
  • Jimmy's new pal.
  • Well, at least we'll never see that harmonica again after this issue.
  • Hassan chop!
  • I never thought I be happy to see that particular group of jumpsuited goobers; but I was.
  • The Flashcave.
  • "Long live the real king." See; Rip Hunter knows Aquaman's not dead.
  • 31st Century perfume ads.
  • Ah, so the Kryptonite Man does have a weakness, courtesy of Stan Lee.
  • Robin versus the Robin Revenge Squad.
  • I expected to hate Flash 231; I loved it.
  • Now, that's taking tongue-piercing a bit too far.
  • Megistus, just in case you need to know, is the scientific name of the Kissing Bug; it's from the Amazon... or it that "Zamaron"...?
  • Young Superman as a cheftestant on Top Chef.
  • Really? Don't you think you should start with your own sister, first...?
  • My god, Daniel Acuna managed to make Wally West sexy!
  • "This isn't the greatest the League will ever be." See; Rip Hunter knows Geo-Force sucks.
  • Sure he's a good actor; but Batman's not fooled.
  • Well. That's an interesting pair of narrators! Does Brad know something about "Junior" that we don't?
  • Nice homage to the Last Superman Story, Kurt!
  • No matter how many struggling women J'onn J'onnz restrains, I'm sure it's never enough.
  • Pantha smiles; I counted one head squished, one exploded, and unnumbered decapitations on the Beltway.
  • The Pozner Suit? The Pozner Suit?! Very interesting.
  • Well. Now we know why Krypto usually just goes 'yip'.
  • Never, in all the hundreds of horror and Vertigo titles I have ever read, have I seen anything half as horrible as what Brad Meltzer had Roy do to his daughter.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Big Monkey, Mini-Map

Wishing you could play Heroclix at Big Monkey? Well, now you can... in the comfort of your own home!

Yes, folks, that's right; there's now a Heroclix mini-map based on the Big Monkey Comics store in Washington, D.C. Just the place to field your Officer Sanders and Officer Garling pogs!

Not every Heroclix game has to be a 1000 point battle royale. We've all longed for smaller maps to play more intimate and faster games with smaller teams. Leave it to Big Monkey to answer that need! These "mini-maps" are approximately 18 percent the size of a standard Heroclix map; just the size for a tiny one or two hundred point team.

Why spend a quarter of the game just crossing the board to get to your opponent? Big Monkey Minimaps take you right to the action. Why be bored waiting at the airport? Big Monkey Minimaps fit into a regular size suitcase, for all your Heroclix travel needs. Why let your lower point figures gather dust in their storage boxes? Big Monkey Minimaps lets those figures shine in their own environment and breathes life into your game!

But wait, there's more!

Each Big Monkey Minimap comes with another complete minimap on the reverse: the Joker's Hideout!

The Joker lies in wait in his thematically decorated lair as the ever-full Gotham moon shines eerily through the abnormally large window characteristic of the Golden Age. In one corner, a card table hosting a mysteriously interrupted game, and in another, the blueprint for the Crime Clown's next caper. On the mantelpiece sits an unopened box of JLA Heroclix--perhaps containing the new Emperor Joker figure? Leading up from, one supposes, and abandoned factory, the green-carpeted landing serves as a launchpad for the Caped Crusaders' attack!
Personal testimony, by Scipio G. of Washington DC:

"I played a 100-point game on this minimap last night: Batman (Batman 44 pts, "Dick Grayson" Robin 22 pts, Batgirl 25 pts) versus the Joker (Legacy Joker 72 pts, two veteran criminals 14 pts each). Special rule: if a Batman team member gets kayoed and the Joker can run off the board, the Joker wins. The Joker almost kayoed Robin in the card table corner, while the goons kept Batman and Batgirl busy, but at the last second Robin made a breakaway roll to hide behind Batman and the sofa. So, the Joker had to take on Batman before he left. Joker was on his last click, doing 4 (!) damage when he clocked Batman, but Batman managed to make a comeback, kayoing the Joker.

Good times... . It was nice to field Gotham figures in their "natural environment", without aliens with zapping eye-beams crowding them out of play. Thanks, Big Monkey, for the minimap experience!"

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

I'm Not Saying He's GAY, exactly...

... but, have you ever seen the Martian Manhunter dance?

Okay, you straight people may have never seen this sort of thing, but J'onn's what we call a 'dervish', one of those guys whose idea of dancing is twirling around in one place on the dance floor. Not one cool little Jackson 5 turnaround in the midst of other dancing. No, no. We're talking spinning; Stevie Nicks, Tonya Harding, Tasmanian Devil kind of stuff.

That's a Martian Corkscrew, actually.
Wait, wasn't that what Jon Carey was drinking at the last podcast...?

Puh-LEASE, Mary!

I bet he thinks this song is about him.

So, are you really shocked J'onn dances with his arms in the air?

No, really; it's not possible to exaggerate how often J'onn decides that twirling is the best solution to his problem.

Once you go Venusian, you never go back, they say.

If stuff like this happens daily in Whereversville, I want to live there, too.

J'onn J'onnz, the Martian Repo Man.

You decide: Sound effect or editor's note?

Monday, August 13, 2007

The Hobbies of the Martian Manhunter

So, after a busy week of combatting such spirit-crushing threats as the Human Squirrel, what does J'onn J'onnz do for relaxation and personal fulfillment?


"Don't make waves" is not a Martian saying. The Martian version is "make waves, and as often as possible".
You'd be amazed how many times JJ does this trick.

Keeping Up With the J'onnzes
J'onn visits Mars, including his family (did you know he lived with his parents?). He gets visits from his brother, T'omm, and his Martian nemesis, B'rett (yes, those are really their names). Little troupes of overweight Martian invaders visit (Mandrills even). Yet, J'onn can't manage to find a way home. To the planet whose natives are known as "the premier race in the galaxy" even though they don't seem to have mastered travel within their own solar system. Who manage to develop a highly technologically society without being able to use fire. A society completely undetected by their planetary neighbors, despite decades of intense scrutiny of Mars via power telescopes. In short, the Martian Manhunter is just about the single worst sci-fi concept ever conceived.


Don't quit your day job, J'onn.

Dressing Like A Butterfly
Not that there's anything wrong with that.

Practicing Lesser Used Martian Powers

And, of course,

Missionary Work

Friday, August 10, 2007

The Martian Manhunter's Rogues Gallery!

With J'onn's panoply of otherworldly powers, any writer would naturally find the most powerful foes for him, the likes of Despero, Amazo, or Dr. Light.

Or, perhaps not.

Ladies and gentlemen, I present, with comparatively little commentary on my part, the Foes of the Martian Manhunter...

The Dangerous Martian Mandrills

I'm hard pressed to think of anything more "Silver Age" than Martian gorillas.

The Menace of Mothman

Nice hat. Some guys-- one overnight with Killer Moth
and they think they have what it takes to be a supercriminal.

Speaking of which...

The Human Flame

Poor Joey. He loved Mike, despite the Daliesque moustaches and flamboyent outfits.
But the "crime suit" was the final straw.

The Malevolant Mr. Falcon

Uh-oh; now who's going to walk Dynomutt?

And last, and certainly least....

The Human Squirrel
Best. Costume. Ever.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Blues Skies for the Martian Manhunter

So, this week at Heroclix, in honor of Martian Manhunter Week, I fielded a team composed of nothing but Martian Manhunters (the 167 pt. Experienced one, the 114 pt Rookie one, the 177 pt Unique, and the 144 pt. Detective John Jones). Between them, they had a vast array of powers, making them an unstoppable force.

Naturally, I lost. In fact, I got my butt whooped (or perhaps I should say, "driven over by a convertible"). A team of nothing but Martian Manhunters is pretty formidable, but against a team of Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, and Green Lantern-- well, let's just say my "unstoppable force" was forced to stop pretty quickly.

That's okay. There will almost surely be a new Martian Manhunter clix in the new JLA set that comes out September 5. The new "special powers" mechanic will enable them finally to do JJ justice on a Heroclix dial. I will be very disappointed if "Creating Ice Cream Cones With Your Mind" and "Road Bump Butt" aren't among his special abilities.

Batman was definitely one of JJ's problems on the board (that, and Superman shoving a dumpster in his face at Mach 4). Batman, as always, stealthing in bush and outwitting J'onn myriad powers, just as I was about to form a barrier by drawing gold from seawater or alter the path of a baseball to bean Batman on the head. So, to welcome the new improved Martian Manhunter clix I'm expecting I created a map where Batman won't be a problem:

Flyers only on this map! And lots of clouds for JJ to stealth in, and nothing to catch fire.

The battle is in mid-air, so only flying characters are allowed. Note also that no objects are permitted to be used on this board (for obvious reasons). Also, like the murky areas in our last map, the cloudy Hindering Terrain affects only line of sight, not movement. And, yes, characters can still "soar" while on this map.

Word of advice: don't use any characters with "Earthbound" on their dials! If a character does turn up "Earthbound" in the course of the game, it will fall to earth and is removed from the board. UNLESS, that is, a teammate can fly over adjacent to them and "catch" them on the first move of your next turn... but, then, of course, they can't let go as long as the figure has Earthbound!

Things That Made Me Happy...

in (and about) my comics this week.

  • Ollie wears a size twelve? No wonder Black Canary stays with him.
  • Black Adam gives new meaning to "determination"!
  • The price for Hank Henshaw's loyalty.
  • The Ant Map.
  • The Adam Strange Showcase, which I haven't cracked yet, because I know it will be so full of the loathsome vileness of dirty stinkin' Rannies, that it's gonna make me blow my top!
  • I really like the murder mystery when Batman meets the Club of Heroes. Very spooky; love the Black Glove splash pages. "The Most Dangerous Game" isn't exactly the most original plot, but since Grant Morrison can't write a comprehensible plot of his own, he's at least stealing the classic ones!
  • Bug pogs.
  • How the Justice League defeated Kid Amazo... and vice versa.
  • I'll be darned if the Sinestro Corps hasn't made me warm up to the Green Lantern Corps (a book I never ever would have bought before). I'm not sure the entire universe has enough scenery for all these villains to chew!
  • Playing Heroclix with Mr. Mxyzptlk.
  • Apparently, Atom Smasher likes ladyfingers.
  • The new episode of the Big Monkey Podcast, which is now available here and on the I-Tunes.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Support Your Local Martian!

I'm not just here to make fun of the Martian Manhunter this week (although, really, that would be purpose enough for a month's worth of posts). I'm here to help him. Sure, he may be crazy, ill-conceived, and dated; but he's classic, a pillar of the DCU, and full of potential. Unlike, say, Geo-Force.

If there's anything to learn from the examples of Batman & Superman (and the anti-examples of the Flash and Wonder Woman), it's that a solid and consistent supporting cast is conducive to popularity and longevity. In our modern multiversal world where heroes spend lots of time connecting with heroes in other titles, it's easy to forget that each major hero should have a "universe" of his or her own, a world of people and places that can sustain their stories indefinitely without requiring recourse to the outside world of the rest of the DCU. Any hero you can't do that for, simply isn't going to be a major hero.

I've chatted before about cobbling together a "dynasty" for Martian Manhunter, but that's a little different from a basic supporting cast. But a stroll through the MM Showcase edition gives us a number of characters who could be revived or reimagined as part of his supporting cast.

Jupiter the Dacshund

Nothing has ever made the Martian Manhunter a more human, more accessible, more sympathetic character to me than the fact that he adopted a dachshund. A dachshund who wears sweatshirts and is hecka strong. Named "Jupiter". Yeah, you can draw gold from seawater with your mind and phase through solid matter, but can you make a dachshund behave? No, I don't think so.

Unfortunately, despite John's promise that "we're going to real pals for a long time," Jupiter is never seen again in a Martian Manhunter story.

Diane Meade

A "lady police officer"; what will they think of next? Diane Meade was smart as a whip; she figured out JJ was the Martian Manhunter after spending one day with him, and she didn't see him change or anything; she deduced it. You rock, Diane. Plus, you look positively darling in that jaunty little WAC-cap (which should definitely be part of the costume design for any Diane redux).

You know, not every women in comics needs to be a beer-swilling, butt-kicking, Asian lesbian ninja. It would be nice to see someone who fights crime with some gentility (kind of like the Martian Manhunter himself does). How can you not love a character who says things like "Good gracious! A parked truck exploded! Lucky no one was around!"? Bring back Diane, and let her be a detective rather than a street cop.

Diane probably shouldn't be a romantic interest. That should be saved for Lady Cop (Chief Liza Warner of the Ivy Town police department). That way John Jones could be involved in a tense love triangle with her and MetroPD's Officer Devon Sanders, a Loose Cannon Cop Who Doesn't Play By the Rules.

Captain Harding

I like this guy. One, he wears a uniform, kind of like C. Everett Koop. Two, he almost never gets up from behind his desk (I got this rare photo capture from a disappointed Bigfoot aficionado). None of this Aging Action Hero crap for him. No Gordonesque "I was a beat cop once, and I still know how to use a gun, son!" nonsense for Cap't H. He worked hard to get where he is, and he ain't movin' now.

Third, he's got gravitas, the kind that comes from avoirdupois. You can tell when Cap'n H does make the effort to get out of that chair, it's to head straight for the cafeteria (twice on Porkchop Day).

Jim Wade, Editor of the Clarion

It's always helpful to have a reporter-type in your supporting cast because they can pop up pretty much whenever you need them, on the pretext of "following up on a lead". You can have, say, your dentist in your cast, but it strains credulity to have your dentist continually turning up at raging fires, hostage situations, and supervillain attacks (unless, of course, your dentist is Jaime Reyes). Supporting cast reporters are often focused on figuring out the hero's "secret identity", but I don't think anyone would assume a Martian would even have a secret identity. I'd rather seen him as a human buddy for John Jones, someone he could hang out with at the bar, having milk and Oreos together.

"Yes -- you couldn't possibly compete with a free paper, unless..."
... unless it's
The Onion?

Office Mike Hanson

A big palooka on the police force of Whateversville, who's devoted to John Jones. He says it's just his job to protect him, but I think-- well, I think the Strongest Man on the Force would have a much easier time owning up to his real feelings now in the PQM (Post-Queer Eye millennium). Who knows? He might may a fun love interest for polyfreakual J'onn J'onnz (assuming he can handle the whole "driving over J'onn's butt" thing).

Larry Loder, Financier/Feeb

If you crossed Jimmy Olsen with a stick-- well, whatever you got would still be 10 times smarter than Larry Loder, who, for no apparent reason, is one of the Martian Manhunter's dearest friends. JJ describes him as "the most honest man I've ever met" and I suppose if you are a Martian in disguise, a really honest guy who's dumber than Jimmy Olsenstick Junior would be a perfect best friend.

Larry's been unjustly accused of fraud in the past, and is trying to make up for it with Three Magic Devices That Work Only Once that somebody just sort of... gave him. Just think about that for a while.

Yeah, Larry; a Magic Treasure-Finder is just the thing to stop people from calling you a phony. Nowadays Larry would be late-night infomercials peddling the "Larry Loder Foolproof System for Wealth and Independence".