Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Things That Made Me Happy

in my comics this week.

  • So does he just know that, or had Clark Kent actually read Pausanias?
  • In took me a minute or two to figure out they'd just killed Snoopy.
  • How Superman deals with zombies.
  • Interlac graffiti.
  • It was so good to see Ira West again. I've always liked him.
  • Aquaman versus the Evil Seawitches.
  • Speaking of witches, I'm no fan of the "magicks", but Earth 33 is rather interesting.
  • I like the revelation that the Monitors are growing more dissimilar.
  • Blue Devil in a Batman costume.
  • Even though he's a brain in a jar, he stills wants a harem? I'm guessing it just a style thing.
  • I though Old Superman was feeling sorry for himself; I should have known better.
  • Good lord; first, Egg Fu, now I-Ching!
  • Jimmy Olsen, Clark Kent's Pal.
  • I had to learn the words "shoat" and "bardo" to read my comics this week. Do you know how infrequently I learn new words? Very infrequently.
  • Todd Rice ain't afraid of no Superdaddy.
  • Zatanna metes out some just desserts on Halloween!
  • Crabby Monitor exercises his power of superexposition in spades! It really did help me get a handle on the big picture. I also like the Countdown has, almost suddenly, become a whodunnit.
  • Wait; did the Riddler just say he was going to hire gays from now on?
  • Robin's an expert on women's shoes.
  • The Watchdogs. Lycanthropic vigilantes are cool.
  • Mister Terrific in casual tropical wear.
  • Snapper Carr's smarter than we thought. Much.
  • "There he is. Turn your Legion flight ring translators on."
  • So, do you think Himmler's brain lived anywhere near the zombies?
  • Julius H. Schwartz! That's Tiger Moth, Dragon Fly, and Silken Spider! FINALLY someone followed up on that. Thank you, Grant Morrison. I owe you three.

Starman Wishes You A Dramatic Halloween!

More Fan Art!

This one's from Jeremy Rizza, who depicts Hal "Head Trauma" Jordan as Krazy Kat. I wonder how Ignatz would look as Dr. Polaris...?

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Delivery by Lance

The most erotic costume worn by man is the UPS uniform. Especially when you squeeze a hottie into to it like:

Lance the Blogger
Why, yes; I'd be happy to sign for that package.

Speaking of Fitness Celebrity and International Cutie Lance, he was on TV again in a particular charming/amusing piece on "Social Wellness". Lance teaches you how to reach out and touch someone. Tune in and pay attention for:

  • Host checking out Lance's stuff
  • Proof that the key to good posture is EXTREMELY tight clothing.
  • Lance and The Sentence That Refuses To End.
  • Metropolan
  • Lance wondering out loud whether the host has ever experienced how people treat you when you're well-dressed
  • The host following up with a discussion about shopping at Goodwill
  • Lance advising you to go hang out at your comic book store, using Big Monkey as a model of Social Wellness!
  • The host clearly wishing her show had commercial breaks or were half as long
  • "Go out and have some interaction with your mates!"

Go go gadget-haiku!

Today is Haikuesday at the Absorbascon, and who better to hear from than that master of all disciplines, Batman?

Batman and Superman's friendship, like all long-term relationships, is based on playing on each other's strengths and weaknesses but seldom acknowledging them. Superman is the muscle; Batman is the brains. Occasionally, Superman, in his blunt reporterly fashion, will remind Batman that he's as vulnerable and powerless as a China doll.

But when Batman asserts supremacy in his department it's always more subtle... too subtle for lunkhead Clark to detect with his supersenses. And for extra snottiness, Batman will do it in haiku (not that Clark "How many paragraphs does the story need to be again?" Kent would notice!).

"It's certainly a
complicated gadget! I
wonder how it works?"

I imagine this spoken in the same tone that a parent takes when handed a page full of crayon scribbles which he's told is a giraffe: "Why, it certainly is a giraffe,Clark! I think it's the best looking giraffe I've ever seen!" Superman answers in the solemn-child voice with his version of, "I don't want stupid Kara messing up my picture. I shall put on the very top of my toy shelf, where she cannot reach, so that she will not damage it."

Naturally, what's really going on is that Batman is analyzing and memorizing the design and circuitry so that he can reverse-engineer it, while Superman stands there blankly posing for the Kandorian quarter. Superman loves having his face on quarters.

Before Superman can get around to examining the mechanism at his Fortress, he'll have to shoo the cockroaches out of Jimmy's apartment, convince Lois she's turned into a witch, teach Perry a lesson about eating fruit from alien trees, capture Luthor before he's had the chance to change out of his prison greys, and wonder idly whatever happened to that superpowerful dog he used to live with. Before Superman can get around to examining the mechanism at his Fortress, Bruce Wayne will have had his lawyers file the patents, gone into production, and made several tens of millions on the device, whatever it is. Either that, or his copy will be ensconced on a table in the cave, lit by a single overhead and labeled "Complicated Bad-Gadget", put into use against the criminals of Gotham and dusted by Alfred daily.

What haiku can you compose to celebrate Batman's sneaking condescension of Superman, or the machine that inspired it?

Monday, October 29, 2007


Today, I fell in love.

With cardboard.

Like many comic book readers, I'm just a big boy at heart. And boys love their toys (like Heroclix, although this isn't a Heroclix post). Today in the mail I received one of my favorite toys from my boyhood: the Wacky Races Board Game (1969) from Milton Bradley.

Surprisingly, the game mechanics aren't bad.
It's a kind of a more sophisticated version of the game "Sorry".

Oh, how I loved the Wacky Races (and its related shows Dastardly & Muttley in their Flying Machines and The Perils of Penelope Pitstop)! A recent incident reminded of that, and in doing some on-line research about the shows, I stumbled across of copy of the board game for sale, for a reasonable price.
Muttley seems to have dyed his ears blond for this cover; must have been summer.

I didn't hesitate. I didn't even think about it. My nostalgia-ganglia autonomously caused my hand to click on the PayPal button. And, today, when I opened the package, and lifted the lid of the game, I gasped: it had never been played. The gamepieces hadn't yet been punched out of the placards they come in. A heart-stopping surprise! Fortunately, I was revived by the dog licking my face after I fainted.

Now, all this has nothing to do with comics per se, but it does lead me to some related questions.

(1) This item might have very well have been, say, a Batman toy. For example, I remember having cardboard cut-out playsets of Batman characters and props (the Red Phone and the Grandfather Clock stand out in my memory), a playset I cannot, after years of trying, even identify, let alone find a copy of. Surely, each one of you reading this has such a comic book toy you'd adore to have again, or even to know it still exists somewhere. If so... what is it?

(2) I cannot fathom under what circumstance a completely pristine copy of this boardgame sat, unused, unowned, un-anything for nearly 30 years without any damage. It's as if The Island of Misfit Toys shelters these gems for decades until the time for them to return to our world to be adored comes again. How does that happen?

Sunday, October 28, 2007

New heroclix pics!

New pics from the next set of DC Heroclix, "Crisis", have turned up (in Belgium, of all places, but don't ask).

Black Adam, pile of skulls? Heh heh. Nice cape, too. My stab at a special power for BA: Genocide -- Black Adam may kayo all enemies simultaneously if he rolls a 12.

Jason Todd, going postal! Special power? I say he gets to do a Regen roll AFTER he's been kayoed.

A Monitor. If there were still LEs', I would expect "Bob". Dang, those are big hands! He's already got the Quintessence ability; what kind of Special Power would a monitor have?

Starfire and Nightwing on a Duo Dial? Hm. Seems like overkill. If this means we won't be getting a new Nightwing solo figure, a lot of people will be unhappy about it. I'm not sure what kind of Special Power they would have together, but I'm sure I wouldn't want the kids to see them use it.

The new set is due out in February!

Newsaramaboy Prime

Pardon me if what I am about to discuss it already obvious to all of you, and I'm the last person to really catch on. I have always realized that the Infinite Crisis Gang (Old Superman, Alexander Luthor, and Superboy Prime) represented criticism of the degraded,90s-style, Marvelized version of the DCU that has existed post-COIE (Crisis on Infinite Earths, 1985). But it only really hit me yesterday when Julian (one of our Heroclix judges at Big Monkey) pointed out that "Superman Prime" (as presented in the Superman Prime Issue No. 1 special) is Fanboy Outrage personified. Julian called him, "Newsaramaboy Prime".

Like us, Clark (his name is Clark Kent, remember?) is from a universe where the DCU as we know it is just a series of comic book stories.

I'm not saying Clark's an idiot, but ...
he is wearing a Green Lantern shirt and reading a Hal Jordan comic book.
Specifically, it's

Green Lantern No. 163 (1960)
I love the fact that apparently Hal keeps a Babe in Bubble in tow
for when he gets, ya know, the urge.

Note that the comic he is reading is from 1960, way before the COIE. It's not even Bronze Age; it's Silver Age. The comics in his reading pile pictured on that same page are also Silver Age. The creative team could have chosen to show him reading comics from as late as the early 1980s, but they wanted to make it pretty darned clear that Clark is an old-school comics reader.

In his original story, he was excited to learn that his comic book heroes were real. But whenever a comic book reader thinks that characters are behaving "off-model" or those characters are replaced by new versions, then they become less real to him.

Except for Vibe, who lives in the hearts and minds of all joy-loving people. Like Santa.

Darned right he's not. The real Firestorm was an utter moron.
This one's great and actually deserves his own series.

Just because Clark is a murderous wacko doesn't make him wrong all the time, you know.

To Clark, these pale copies of his heroes aren't real at all. That explains why he's not so upset when he kills or maims. That, and the fact that he's a crazy punk.

Clark, like many fans of the pre-Crisis DCU, is disappointed that he was asked to sacrifice the world he loved for the promise of a better one, which turned out, in his eyes and by some objective criteria, to be worse.

Note that Clark doesn't say "what happened to Sue Dibny"; he says, "what they did to Sue Dibny". They? Surely he's not refering to Dr. Light and Jean Loring collectively in incidents that took place with many years of timeline between? Nope; that makes little sense. This an example of Clark as a metatextual commenter. It is we who talk about what "they" (DC writers and editorials) did to Sue Dibny in Identity Crisis.

But, like so many of us, Clark's not about to let go, shrug, and say "oh, well". Like us, he's a rabid fan and he's going to stick around to help make the DCU more like he thinks it should be. He won't rest until Batgirl's not a villain, Spoiler has a memorial case, and Vibe comes back from the dead.

Even if he has to rend some characters limb from limb along the way... .

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Two Great Tastes...

Comic Book Postulate 1:
No panel can contain any more glory than naked Travis Morgan fighting a gorilla.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Home Is Where The Heart Was

If you haven't read "The Death of the New Gods" yet, then you may want to wait until you do to read this.

That said,

I am so glad Barda got to die in her kitchen.

Raised in the cruel environment of Apokolips, poor Barda didn't grow up with the same secure home that so many of us Earthlings take for granted. She grew up in strife, trained from birth for combat, violence, killing. But, she got to leave all that behind and come to Earth to make a new home for herself with the person she loved.

I remember her most from her series with Mister Miracle, where they were living in, mm, Vermont, I believe it was. One of the running comedy bits was that Barda's upbringing hadn't really prepared her well for the kind of domestic life she had chosen for herself. But Barda strove to be more than just the killing machine she was raised to be; she worked had to be a respected costumed adventurer in her own right, and good partner with her husband, in both their professional and homemaking goals. When Barda finally had a home, she didn't take it for granted, and sought to make the most of it.

How I used to chuckle at Barda padding around the house in bunny slippers screaming at Scott on the phone about his needing to come home for dinner! You could take the girl out of Apokolips, but not Apokolips out of the girl. But she always remembered what sometimes seemed to slip Scott's mind: how important and special it was for them to have a home together and to make that a priority in their lives. I was glad to see she remained in character in her final story: Barda was concerned about getting home to prepare for their guests but Scott was focused on doing some crimestopping.

I know a lot of readers, particular female ones, may have seen Barda as a role model of the tough warrior woman. She was. But it was always pretty clear in most stories that Barda saw herself as much more than that; indeed, she never would have left Apokolips if she hadn't. She saw herself as a well rounded person who may have fought for a living, but who lived for her home life, not for fighting.

Her home life was her focus. Do you know where the word "focus" comes from, by the way? It's the Latin word for "hearth", the kitchen fireplace where meals were prepared and shared, in that most intimate of family traditions, the family meal. Barda sought to put hearth and home at the focus of her life, and while she was never a whiz at cooking (!), that was never the point.

Bored readers like us dream us of grand battles and grander deaths. But Barda dreamt of a quiet life at home. And, while, having your heart ripped out isn't a completely, er, peaceful way to go, at least her death wasn't a battle. At least her death was at home. At least it wasn't a titanic gritty slugfest rendered in detail for our prurient amusement.

You may think you deserved for her to die to differently, but I think she deserved to die in her kitchen, in the home that she worked so hard for and meant so much to her.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Listen up!

Please join us at the Big Monkey Podcast, wherein we discuss Grant Morrison, Brian Michael Bendis, and What Makes A Good Comic Book Writer ('cuz we, of course, know).

Also, when you have a moment, check in on the Man With The Biggest Balls on the Internet (before they get cut off).

Things That Made Me Happy

... in my comics this week.

  • The Riddler drinks martinis.
  • Blue Beetle versus the Flash!
  • The Ironic Comeuppance of China White. Now, that, folks, is comics.
  • Oh my god, the Third Kryptonian is ... my mom.
  • Two-Face in two different comic books.
  • Superman vision? Cool. Crazy, but cool.
  • Jay Garrick, who, upon being transported from his girlfriend's front porch to an alien dimension says, "Where the hey am I?"
  • Alfred with a broken bottle.
  • Superman-Prime disarming an opponent.
  • Freddie E. Willaims' art in Robin. Great stuff.
  • Robin's angry dog.
  • You know, if they'd bothered to take Obsidian with them, they could have kept the kid in shadow... .
  • Peacemaker versus the Sinestro Corps.
  • Tobias freakin' Whale.
  • Kristen Wells? Heh; nice one, Kurt.
  • Hey, Flash-- would been nice to have had the real Aquaman to deal with those monsters, huh?
  • The shoulders of Black Condor. Sigh.
  • Tell the truth; you wonder what the Anti-Monitor looks like naked, don't you?
  • The Bat-Treehouse.
  • New Themyscira, Planet of the Babes.
  • So ... that's who Superwoman of Earth 3 married.
  • Jason Todd would never have been able to take out the real Aquaman.
  • The Bizarro Green Lantern is in the Sinestro Corps...?!
  • Stormy's intervention.
  • Thank god someone took the care not to write the Penguin as a boor.
  • Nadia, at a loss.
  • Pa Kent running around the farm in a homemade Superman costume.
  • Peacemaker's homemade backscratcher.
  • The Guardians' Greatest Weapon is darned impressive. They can unleash him on me any day.
  • Maybe to Young Clark, all his victims are "just comic book characters"...? I like seeing things from his perspective.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Great Corpses: Jarrick

Hello, kids; Pantha, here! Back with another installment in my on-going series of "Great Corpses in Comic Book History".

Today's lesson comes from a time I haven't explained to you yet, but you may have overheard your parents discussing in hushed tones with other adults after they thought you'd already gone to bed: The Vertigo Plague.

In the mid to late 1980s (perhaps even before your parents met!), a disturbed genius named Alan Moore started writing disturbingly ingenious stories of horror, with gore and body counts rivaling the long-forgotten days of EC Comics (from even before your parents were born!). The stories usually combined dismemberment or exploding body parts, with bizarre sex (including the molestation of children), satanism, and plants.

Naturally, kids ate this up. [So, apparently, did Kevin Smith, but that's another story... .]

Just as gorillas once filled the pages of comics when editors noticed that gorillas sold comics, so too truly graphic horror started to pop up in all manner of titles. Eventually, editors recognized the danger of a literary pandemic, and naming the plague "Vertigo", they isolated the virus and sent the irreversibly infected characters off to live in permanent quarantine so as not to affect their Underoo-selling icons.

But before they did, some characters (and readers) suffered. Oh, how they suffered... .

Today's Great Corpse from the time of the Vertigo Plague is a little child name Jarrick. How did he earn his place as a Great Corpse, you ask?

It wasn't just because he came back from the dead as a zombie with maggots falling from his eyes.

Gee, I wonder where this is headed.

Or even because he killed his mother by biting out her throat. Impressive though that is.

Why do zombies always want to eat people, particularly their loved ones?

What really puts Jarrick among the Great Corpses is that his father split his head with an axe afterwards.

The lesson? There's a reason graves are six feet deep.

That level of pathos and gore also earns Jarrick a score of FIVE on the Rolling Head of Pantha Scale of Comic Book Violence.

Avoid the Rush

After centuries of practice, the Rannies have perfected the art of surrender...

After all, once you've noticed that Adam Strange isn't around,
why waste time waiting for an enemy?

Surrender first.
An enemy will turn up eventually... .

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Artist Showcase: Jon Maki

From Jon Maki of Leesburg, Virginia, we have the idiosyncratically titled, ""Oh Yeah, There's a REASON I Stopped Pursuing My Childhood Dream of Being a Comic Book Artist", which I have decided to subtitle as "Jean's Back-Up Plan"...

Heroclix Theme Team: Say "AHHHHHH!!!!!"

Say "AHHHHH!!!" (9 figures at 394 points)

Name Points
jl025 Dr. Alchemy
Feat: The Society
cd066 Dr. Light
Feat: Damage Shield10
jl043 Dr. Polaris
Feat Damage Shield10
cd089 Dr. Psycho
Feat Compel15
leB005 Dr. Jeremiah Arkham

Friday, October 19, 2007

Modern DeMedici

Mostly I talk about the writing in comics, not the art. But that doesn't mean I don't care about or like art; I used to work in an art museum, in fact.

So, to help increase the attractiveness of my blog to art-lovers and increase my hit count and acquire a new source of "lazy posts"--


I mean...

"to help bring some much-needed artistic flair to the Absorbascon and to offer it as a showcase for budding pencillers"

I am willing to post any fan art you send me on this blog!

Of course, there's a catch. The subject matter must relate to one of our favorites (or anti-favorites) here at the Absorbascon. Examples of acceptable topics include:

  • Vibe
  • The Cast of the Big Monkey Podcast
  • Hal Jordan getting hit in the head (no head-hitting, no post-ee)
  • Orca the Whalewoman
  • Dr. Domino
  • Much-hated Halo
  • The Rolling Head of Pantha (pictures of Pantha's head while still connected to her body will be disqualified)
  • The Awesome Human Flying Fish
  • Dale Gunn, Love God
  • Jean Loring in any state of madness or evil
  • Koryak
  • The original Starman or any of his villains
  • Purple-robed pansies armed with corndogs
  • Major Victory from Who Want to Be a Superhero
  • Vibe
  • The All-New Atom
  • Congo Bill (no, NOT Congorilla)
  • Evil kryptonian cats from the Phantom Zone
  • Geo-Force getting the crap beaten out of him
  • Oysterwoman beating the crap out of someone
  • Joe Coyne, the Penny Plunderer
  • The Sea Devils (or just Judy Walton, Queen of the Sea)
  • Masterman
  • And, of course, Vibe

Send submissions to:

Thursday, October 18, 2007

The End of an Era Underwater

"I'm not the real Aquaman. Not even close. The real one gave up his life for me, and it's my job now to make that right."
From Aquaman: Sword of Atlantis No. 27.

Thus ends Tad Williams' run on Aquaman: Sword of Atlantis, and today I applaud his work.

He was given a Sisyphean task of making Aquaman work without Aquaman. A less conscientious writer would have swung off completely on his own tangent (like Busiek did), or ignored any inconveniences of the previous runs.

But Wiliams didn't; he embraced them and used them for his plot. He solved the mystery of Sub Diego, using both traditional Aquaman villains and a Very Special Guest Villain (and he did that while not only dodging the curve ball thrown by 52, the raising of Sub Diego, but using it to his advantage). He explained where AJ came from and what happened to the real Aquaman (something his predecessor couldn't be bothered to do in a timely fashion). He even worked in bizarre elements like Veitch's Lady of the Lake, Windward Home, and King Shark.

He introduced new elements and characters to the Aquamythos, such as Topo, the Clownfish, the Hatch system, and the villains of the Deep Church. He reintroduced Mera, Tempest, Black Manta, the Human Flying Fish, Koryak, Aquagirl, and Cal Durham, making them all part of a much larger story.

You might not adore every single thing he did, but you can't deny his herculean accomplishment in tying it all together! Under Williams' direction, the sea seemed both larger than ever before and more intimately connected, an enormous stage set for decades worth of stories.

And did it move! Aquaman went, overnight, from being one of DC's slowest stories, to one of its best bangs for the buck. There was more going on in one page of Williams' Aquaman than in an entire issue of of Veitch's or Busiek's. I usually had to rest after reading it (in a good way).

Impressively, Williams didn't give in to dissing either Old or New Aquaman. On the one hand, he made it quite clear: this guy ain't Aquaman. On the other hand, Williams also made him more impressive than ever.

By letting go of pushing AJ as a replacement for Arthur, he allowed us to see that, quite on his own, AJ was not too shabby. Busiek's Sword of Atlantis splashed about in search of himself; Williams' AJ saved the world. When the real Aquaman returns (something Williams clearly wanted to do, but was blocked from by DC), his new writer would be wise to take a similar approach!

At the end, he made his point: this guy wasn't Aquaman. But he was going to man up and try to bring him back, and just maybe deserve his legacy in the process of trying. Before Williams started, all I wanted was for the real Aquaman to come back and AJ to go away. Now I want the real Aquaman to come and AJ to stay as his Junior Counterpart (because, face it, "Tempest" doesn't cut it).

Thank you, Tad Williams.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Defending Hercules

Hercules (or Herakles, if you prefer) didn't rape Hippolyta.

Now, I'll admit that I would prefer that Hercules be portrayed as a hero. That's not because I like the character personally, but because he's a perfect potential addition to the Wonder Woman dynasty.

Although her plots have been going nowhere for a while, her Dynastic Centerpiece Model has been developing...
  • Her connections to her Junior Counterpart (Donna Troy) and
  • Kid Sidekick (Wonder Girl) have been reaffirmed,
  • her Elder Stateswoman (Hippolyta) has been brought back (although Polly hasn't been much of a stateswoman since her return, huh?),
  • she's acquired a Civilian Authority Figure (Sarge Steel of the Department of Metahuman Affairs),
  • a Civilian Companion (Tom Tresser), and
  • a Contextualizing City (Washington; hey, it's not fictional, but it is artificial!).

Okay, so it may not be perfect yet. I myself wouldn't have chosen to give her male characters to fill out the civilian roles in her dynasty, but, hey, at least they aren't reporters. There are a lot of reporters in Washington. I mean, they have their own bars here, for pity's sake. And two former Dynasty members (Artemis the Black Sheep and Pegasus the Animal Companion) have been lost. But, on the whole, WW's dynasty is gaining heft. And Hercules would be a perfect addition as Male Counterpart, particularly since his approach (tactical) would complement Wonder Woman's (strategic).

But writers seems intent on using Hercules as a bad guy. Maybe that's because, as much as she needs friends, WW needs enemies even more. Personally, I blame George Perez, who needed a cheap and easy Overbearing Male Bad Guy from myth to use in the version of the Amazons' origin he wanted to tell. Instead of using the traditional version of Amazons (the one used by both the Ancients and Marston) -- buttkicking women warriors who founded a society that didn't need men -- Perez chose to make them victims.

Why? Because in Perez's mind and time, the only people with virtue are victims, and all villains are victimizers. If you remember, Perez's Amazons were formed from the souls of women who'd been the victims of male aggression and violence. Because, you know, gods forbid women should decide to do anything except as a reaction to or consequence of men!

So he made Hercules an Evil Male, who deceived Hippolyta (et al.) with promises of love, then drugged, enslaved, and raped her. So that the gods could criticize the Amazons for being soft-hearted, trusting, and open to love; women's weaknesses! So the gods could punish them for being equally open to both war and love; so the gods could punish them for being well-rounded people instead of axe-wielding mankillers (so blame Perez the Scythian for that, not Pfeiffer). Once again, Perez paints the Amazons not as exemplars, but as victims.

How shallow. But don't be deceived by Perez the Evil Male into thinking his tawdry tale of date-drugs is the real story!

In most versions of the classical myth in which Herakles meets Hippolyte, she is simply impressed with him as a fellow warrior, and is happy to give him her girdle as a token of friendship and honor. Thing were just peachy until Hera inflamed the Amazons with rumors that Herakles was out to get them. The Amazons attacked Herc & Co., and in the process of defending themselves, Herakles killed Hippolyte.
That's a general schtick in Greek myth; people don't come into conflict simply because one is Bad and the one Good, they come into conflict because of tragic misunderstandings brought about by the gods/fate/the world/circumstances. Mortals are all victims; it is the universe (the gods) that is the victimizer.

Marston's Amazons, while very creepily into bondage, were otherwise darned cool. They were focused on self-improvement, physical development, scientific study, and the joy of accomplishment that can flourish during peace. They were not wussy, whiny victims (Perez) nor violent vicious victimizers (Pfeiffer). The Golden Age Wonder Woman championed the idea that being peace-loving doesn't mean being weak, and that feminism isn't just anti-male-ism. That's part of our childhood that Perez raped, not Herakles.

So, writers: lay off Hercules.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Cool McCool

It's been two years since I last mentioned Bob Kane's greatest creation, Cool McCool, a bizarre collocation of Get Smart, Batman, and Jack Benny. Yeah, that's right; Jack Benny.

But this time, thank to the magic of the internet I can actually provide you with a direct experience of the Coolness Himself.

Here he defeats Hurricane Harry. Note the crazy electric harpsichord licks McCool's theme song and the part of the song that talks about Hurricane Harry, which my parents used to teach me the musical concept of triplets. My parents were very musical. And odd

In this segment, he takes on the Owl, with the aid of his semi-sentient auto, the Coolmobile.

Cool McCool

Love that Owlette; she deserves some fan fic.

And GOD BLESS WALLY WINGERT, for his glorious contribution to world culture, the musical tour de force, the School of McCool.

I would KILL for that hairpiece.

2000 words

Saturday, October 13, 2007

You're Special to Me!

In our previous chats about Heroclix, we've explored some of the standard powers you might find on a figure's dial. But you may have heard about "special powers" that some figures have; what's that about?

For many characters, standard powers are all that's needed to represent fairly well what it is they can do. After all, there are 40 standard powers (and that's not counting stuff like flight, the aquatic ability, multiple targeting, and Team Abilities), and combining them with different combat values makes for lots of possibilities.

But for some characters, the standard powers seem too limiting or are just "off". In the sets it released this year, Wizkids (the makers of Heroclix) took a simple but huge step that allows them to represent such characters better: special powers.

Special powers basically do one of these things:
  1. Give a figure a modified form of an existing power.
  2. Allow a figure to have two or more powers that would otherwise be mutually exclusive.
  3. Grant a figure a unique gameplay mechanic.

  • Give a figure a modified form of an existing power.

Sometimes a standard power is kind of what a character does, but is too weak, too strong, or just needs tweaked. Special powers can get around that by granting a version of the standard power that’s modified by having different conditions. Take, for example, “Perplex”; that’s the standard power that allows a figure to modify any one of its combat values (speed, attack, defense, damage, or range) by 1, or to do the same to any figure it can see that’s within 10 squares. That’s a fairly broad power, and open to lots of modifiers that make it the basis for many special powers.

Saturn Girl, Aquaman, Batzarro, Lex Luthor, Parasite, Merlyn, Aztek, Power Ring-- all have special powers that are, in essence, modified versions of Perplex. Saturn Girl can alter combat value by 2 instead of 1; Aquaman can "perplex" the combat values of any and all visible aquatic characters at the same time; Batzarro can only alter combat values by -1; you get the idea!

Perplex is not the only standard power used as a basis for some special powers. For example,, some special powers are modified versions of Mastermind (Lex Luthor, Superman) and Probability Control (Hourman, Time Trapper, Chronos).

The appropriate reaction to such powers: "Okay, that makes sense. Pretty cool."

  • Allow a figure to have two or more powers that would otherwise be mutually exclusive.
For each type of combat value, a figure can only have one standard power at a time. For example, Barrier and Deflection are both powers that attach to Defense Values, so a figure can only have one of those powers at a time. That's a problem when you feel a character should be able to have recourse to either one. We talked about this when you were disturbed that a Green Lantern didn't have Willpower, because it clashed with another Defense power.

Special powers can get around this limitation very handily. Either they can specifically grant both powers (as when the special power "Vibration" gives Flash both Phasing and Hypersonic Speed, or when "Psychic Powers" lets Hector Hammond use either Psychic Blast or Telekinesis), or move one of the powers to a different Combat Value (Mento's special speed power, Mental Hold, grants him Incapacitate, which is ordinarily an attack value power). Other figures that have such special powers include Icicle (Mastermind and a Defense Special Power), Black Canary (Energy Explosion and Incapacitate), Parasite (Steal Energy and an Attack Special Power), John Fox (Charge and Flurry).

The appropriate reaction to such powers: "Well, of course. Finally!"

  • Grant a figure a unique mechanic that represents what they do better than the standard powers can.

For some characters, Wizkids pulls out all the stops are creates a power that allows them a special way of doing thing in the game. Deadman, instead of just having Mind Control, can take "Possession" of an opponent's figure, and refuse to give it up (although he takes Damage for doing so, or might get ejected by a bad die roll). With "Disruption", Phantom Girl can remove objects from the board because she's destroying them from the inside. With "Kltpzxym!", Mxyzptlk can "pop" around the board, but each time he does, he runs the risk of being returned to the starting area.

The most popular of these powers belongs (naturally) to Batman, who can leap "Out of the Shadows" from one spot of hindering terrain to another nearby and then hit someone with his fist (close combat) or a batarang (ranged combat). Other figures with such "extra special" powers included Parasite, Firestorm, Bouncing Boy, Doomsday, Captain Boomerang, and Granny Goodness.

The appropriate reaction to such powers: "Yes; THAT is what they do. That is so awesome!"

Special powers have made Heroclix feel much more "comic book-y" than before and, on the whole, comic book lovers who play the game consider them an enormous improvement on the game, one that's helped increase its popularity among people who do not traditionally play such games.

Although some players were concerned that the Special powers would be too complicating or too hard to remember, my friends and I have not found that to be the case, because special powers are either (1) slight modifications of standard power (2) combo versions of standard powers or (3) the kind of thing that we always wanted that character to do anyway.

Friday, October 12, 2007

I know about oysters!

This woman

should be required

to appear in at least one DC comic

every year.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Things That Made Me Happy...

in my comic this week.

  • Bone-saw Batman. Now, is that the perfect Halloween costume, or what?
  • If need be, Jonah Hex will punch you in the throat.
  • Chris's watch, which serves the same function as the kryptonite-laden belt buckles of Clark and Lois's imaginary children.
  • Supernova is going to make a great Heroclix figure!
  • Panda Dio.
  • "Watch your language, Wally."
  • The Extremists are from Earth-8? I guess they would be, since that's where Things From the '90s get banished to.
  • Frankie Laine and Ennio Morricone, for those of you who are wondering.
  • Niecy Nash and the Clean House Gang really need to talk to Black Canary about her garage. Too much mayhem and foolishness in there.
  • Hal Jordan was ... a poodle? How perfect.
  • I disagree with Brother Eye; I'd rather spend the rest of my life without Karate Kid.
  • Demon-possessed Jonah Hex.
  • I guess it's safe to assume that that's Guy's lantern... .
  • Rip Hunter gets rear-ended.
  • I'm not sure which would be cleverer: if Red Herring turns out to the bad guy or if he doesn't.
  • Hal Jordan leaving Kyle Rayner naked and covered in sticky goo.
  • They really don't make bridges very sturdy in the DCU, do they?
  • Hercules working at Sundoller.
  • For those who are wondering, the giant bowling pins are from one of the three deathtraps that Checkmate Jones once trapped Batman in posthumously, having contracted radiation poisoning ("The Doors That Hid Disaster", Detective No. 238, Dec. 1956).
  • "Rabid" Magazine.
  • Love Wonder Girl's new costume!
  • When bullets won't work, sometimes you just have to punch a lady in the face.
  • Hey; Connor Hawke IS half-Asian!
  • Good lord, the Rubberduck clix would have Incapacitate... .
  • Okay, DC, the scene on page 8 of Countdown is positively crying out to be re-dialogued as youth-porn.
  • "Best in Show."
  • Batman does not believe in what does not make sense.
  • The Jokester's final bow. Truly, a class act.
  • As I've said before, always good to see Fox and Crow.
  • Jonah Hex man-crushing on Booster Gold.
The following wasn't in my comics, but it did make me happy. It's Lance the Blogger, who always makes me laugh, on a local health show. The part where Lance tries to describe the only two things you should do it bed is ADORABLE.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

"Face it, Tiger...!"

I'll probably post again later today (a bit busy, you know), but for now please listen to the latest


wherein we discuss Blue Beetle and Iron Fist, Firelord orders pizza, and Blockade Boy does MJ Watson.

Sunday, October 07, 2007


Yesterday at Big Monkey, we had the third of the five legs of the Starro tournament series. Starro; five legs. I love that.

Anyway, there were sixteen players and Rambo took pictures of some of them so that I could "convert" them into goon pogs.

The Punk Kid is Big Mike Pellegrino, who beat me today by 8 points. Not that I'm bitter, mind you. I only picked him for the Punk Kid because of his baby face and his pose. Not because he beat me. By 8 points. Which is four times what his pog is now worth.

The weaselly Gunsel is, of course, Dr. Ben Hatton, host of the Big Monkey Podcast. Note the Stealth (the dial's based on the superstitious and cowardly Joe Chill).

Can't you just picture Ben, cowering behind potted plants, with a little pearl-handed
22 in his trembling hands? Ah, well; the customers have gotten used to it... .

The Scrapper is that pugnacious Irishman, Jon Carey, who writes (and spends his Friday nights) Facedown in the Gutters.

Note that John has Leap/Climb so he can run away from whomever he insulted most recently on the Big Monkey Podcast. Or when someone whom I insulted decides to attack Jon instead.

If you think Chris Peleo-Lazar, the Enforcer, looks mobbed up, that's because he is. His roommate sells cement overshoes for a living, if you catch my drift.

The Hoodlum is supposedly Joe Kroc, but I've always suspected that's some sort of anagramatic assumed named, forced on him after he turned State's Evidence.

Gabe is the smooth Con Man (whose stats I borrowed from Space Phantom). His glib tongue can convince you not to attack him (Shape Change) and his fast-talking can keep you fixated on him (Elasticity).

PJ Rusk is the Accomplice, sinking deeper and deeper in the depravity of underground heroclix clubs. I find it so sad. Profitable, but sad.

Steve is the Bruiser, and bruise me he did during our first game yesterday. But I would have won, if the judge had let me cheat. Darn it. That's okay. Now the judge doesn't get a pog. But I'm not bitter.

The Tough Guy, with the Toughness to go with the title, is none other than Jonnie Hex of Jon Hex Lives and the Big Monkey Podcast. Jonnie always looks as if he's about to shank you or buy you a Courvoisier; nothing in between.

The Innocent Dupe is Mick, a.k.a. Superman's Pal. But in that picture, he looks like just the kind of person a deformed psychopath could convince to help break into the Gotham Gold Depository.

And Yonaton plays the role of Fodder, those indispensably dispensable goons you throw at Batman and Robin while you make good your escape. Have you noticed that Fodder are always male? Do they have female counterparts who work for supervillainesses, and are they called Mudder?

In case you didn't recognize him in the cap, Judo Guy is our local judo student, Brandon Hallmark III. When your name is Brandon Hallmark III, I guess you kind of have to study judo just to stay alive.

Judo Kid is actually "Judo" Kiet. Like Judo Guy, he's got Combat Reflexes, so if you're going to try to hit him, better do so from a distance.

Of course, the worst goon of all -- almost a full-fledged villain in his own right-- is the devious, insidious Pusher.

He acts swiftly to get you hooked on plastic crack. He knows he's got Willpower, but you don't... .

"Sure, kid; you can have a booster. The first one's free...!"