Saturday, January 05, 2008

Things That Made Me Happy....

... in my comics this week.

  • Countdown to Final Crisis #17, or, as I like to call it, "The All-Jean Loring Issue". Crazy whacked out Eclipso-evil Jean Loring alongside Earth-51 pre-psychotic wasp-waisted Jean Loring. And a flamethrower, of sorts. Jean -- either one -- gets more than she bargained for!
  • Speaking of the Atom, if you get invited to a barbecue in Ivytown, don't go.
  • Ra's keeps his receipts? That's hilarious.
  • When you're the Joker, it only takes you one panel to hijack a space shuttle.
  • I just love that all the very worst people in comics can be found in one place: Jonah Hex.
  • The Return of Aqualad the Pathetic Wuss! Shrieking like a little girl. YAY!!!!!!
  • The Crimson Avenger versus Harley Quinn. Priceless.
  • The Globe. Thank you, Mr. Dini. Now I demand he return, next issue, just like in the Golden Age. And I want him to team up with the Clock and fight Robin. Sincerely, Scipio G., Washington DC. P.S. Please bring back Vibe!
  • Note the background color changes in Teen Titans Year One between each segment of the story. Nicely done.
  • Mary Marvel makes a poor choice of vacation spots.
  • Legion 37. More from me on this later. Much more.
  • Aquaman on a seahorse. That never gets old.
  • Panda gets slapped. That's always funny!
  • Speaking of which... ouch! Maybe Robin can go live with Joey Jeremiah?
  • "I will not stand for it." Oh, black humor thy name is Jonah Hex.
  • Okay, I've never been a fan of Mongul, with his over-obvious "yellow hun invader" schtick. But darned if the DOMINATION house ad isn't eye-catching!
  • Wally West, the original Impulse.
  • "That was pointless and annoying" was pretty funny; plus, it took lots of guts to put that line in an issue of Countdown!
  • I adore the fact that Grant Morrison took, what, eight issues building the tedious Ra's Al Ghul back into a Big Bad, and Dini had Batman take him out in about eight pages and with fantastic irony.
  • Chinese arithmetic humor. Gets me every time.
  • Most original, and possibly best, visual representation of aquatic telepathy ever.
  • The Joker versus Zatanna. Yes, it's that easy.
  • Leave it to Palmiotti and Gray to make a charmingly unique addition to the "Starman" legacy!
  • Teen Titans Year One is not at all what I expected; it's much better. Eat your heart out, Frank Miller!
  • Ryan Choi in the stocks. Sigh. Really, sometimes it's as if they want us to write fanfic.
  • Please tell me I'm going to get to see Aquaman pimp-slap Aqualad next month. PLEASE.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Uncle Frickin' Sam

It's Uncle Sam.


I can't imagine what Sam's going to do with his sleeves rolled up like that.
But I like to try.

This February sees the release of the new set of DC Heroclix figures (called
Crisis): Uncle Sam, it has recently been announced, will be among them.

As you know, I adore Uncle Sam; he's the ultimate heartthrob among Personified Nationhoods. Look at those thighs; you could crush Communism with those! It's been great that he's found a unique place of honor among DC's icons (although, of course, he was "inherited" in 1956 from another company, who copied him from the political cartoonists' Uncle Sam). Now he's done the same in Heroclix.

It's also nice to finally have the centerpiece of a Freedom Fighters team. Wizkids has already made a Phantom Lady figure

a Ray

and a Damage (if you want to count him). Oh, if only this forthcoming set also has the Human Bomb and Black Condor! I can wait patiently for Red Bee, Firebrand, Doll Man, and the rest.

Anyway, back to Sam.

Uncle Sam has Leap/Climb (named as "From Sea to Shining Sea"), which means pretty much nothing can stop him from going wherever he wants to go. Plus, he's got the Transporter ability, which means he can pick up and carry with him one of his teammates in his arms. In those pythonic arms with their Popeyesque forearms. With the sleeves rolled up.

Naturally, he has Leadership (named as "Liberty and Justice For All") to inspire his teammates. And they inspire him to! For each teammate near him who has taken an action token in the fight, he gets +1 to his Close Combat Attacks! This special power is called (drum roll)... "Give Me Your Tired".

But what about when Sam grows to massive size (sigh)? They've thought of that, too, giving Sam a special power ("As Big As My Country") that makes him a Giant, which is gonna make him a fightin' powerhouse, particularly when combined also with Quake ("Lay Low Th' Foes of Freedom") to scatter enemies and Flurry ("Truth and Justice will Prevail") to make sure they stay down.

Sam's a tough old cuss, with Invulnerability ("Through the Perilous Fight"), followed by Toughness ("Safe Thro' the Storm"). In his end dial, he's even got Regeneration ("Ya Can't Get Rid of Freedom") and Support ("Mend Thine Ev'ry Flaw") for his teammates (just like when he healed Phantom Lady of her addictions!).

Oh, and if that weren't enough, he picks up Teleportation ("To the Heartland"), so he can whisk his teammates to safety (just like he does in the comics!).

It's a smart job they've done with Uncle S. He's no Superman, but he's a strong solo fighter, able to take a punch with his damage-reducing powers and quickly shatter the enemy lines with offensive powers like Quake and Flurry. They captured his ability to grow big and to regenerate himself.

But it's in making him a team-player that Wizkids really impresses me. He can carry his teammates into battle with him, inspire them, and rescue them when they need it (Transporter, Leadership, Teleportation, Support). I'm pretty sure that's the JSA Team Ability he has on his dial, so he can share his Defense Value with them as a protector (just as the JSA can protect Uncle Sam). And when his teammates are "tired" (as represented by having action tokens on them) he gets extra strength to pick up the burden while they recover.

Talk about "Big Tent" politics; Uncle Sam is going to be one of the greatest "tentpoles" the game has ever seen.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Simulated Lack of Imagination

I have a crappy imagination.

You know how I know that? I mean, other than by reading my own blog?

The Sims 2.

Yes, I play The Sims 2, though I've never mentioned it on here. But, sadly, in a simulated world where you can create whatever kind of people, with whatever kind of lives and lifestyles you want, all I ever wind up doing is...

recreating comic books heroes.

Oh, it's seldom directly.

But my neighborhoods are full of families named Wayne, Kent, Queen, Prince, and Curry. The Kents live in a rural looking house and use Sims Seasons to live as farmers (god bless eggplants!) with an adjacent "barn" where their son can live (before he starts his career in Journalism). The Waynes are always the richest ones in the neighborhood, with a live-in servant; but DANG is it hard to kill that couple before the kid grows up!

The Queen men have, ahem, "Romance" as their Aspiration and their homes aren't complete with a Hot Tub of Love. The Prince household doesn't have a lot of guys in it, if you catch my drift. And the Isley house is sure to have at least one PlantSim in it.

The Rayners earn their living at the easel, the Jordans work in the Military Career, the Palmers decorate with the Atomic Style, and the Curry house is always built around a pool and a couple of major fish tanks.

Sigh. I try to convince myself that I don't lack imagination, it's just wrapped around the mesh
of characters who are archetypes and whose iconic power is irresistible. But I could be patterning my SimFamilies after the great Roman houses, the Greek gods, the signs of the zodiac, Gilligan's Island, or the cast of Top Chef. Maybe even crafting whole new concepts and dynasties all on my own. But no.

It's so bad that Townies and NPCs start to tick me off. "Great Gotham, Bruce," I find myself moaning at the screen, "don't waste time with Goopy Gilscarbo when James Gordon is right there beside him!"

Please tell me I'm not the only one! Does your familiarity with comic books sometimes "infect" your other pastimes?