Thursday, January 29, 2009

Things That Made Me Happy...

... in my comics this week.

I really liked my comics this week.

  • Didn't expect to see Yankee Poodle there, I must confess.
  • Hardtime smackdown uglygirl payback.
  • "The Story of the Robot That Attacked Me"
  • Selina's exit strategy, complete with helpers.
  • Ted's notes; marvelous, simply marvelous.
  • Jim Harper has a new job.
  • So does Zod.
  • And Starman.
  • The So-Called Guardians of the Universe.
  • Heh. Of course the Giant Penny survives. It always survives. God bless Joe Coyne.
  • "Is that a family name?" Nice one.
  • Funny; I was about to drop Teen Titans. But with this (and I can't believe I'm saying this) Brother Blood issue it seems to have suddenly become twice as interesting.
  • Carapax... in two comics this month? Really? That's... wait, really?
  • "Flash fact." Wow; that hit me like a punch in the face!
  • Oh! So THAT's what explains Sarge Steel's strange behavior; ingenious!
  • Another classic Hawkman hissy.
  • Prism pellets. Must. Have. Prism pellets!
  • "Mercy is a sin."
  • Not every day you see Batman's smoldering corpse, you know.
  • The Crystal City of Thalarion, by the Golden River, where dwell the Gargareans.
  • Always good to see Tula, the original Aqua-Girl, kicking butt.
  • It takes a lot to render me speechless. "Call the Queen and tell her to execute Plan 778" succeeded.
  • The house ad for Superwoman. Superwoman is the Sensor Girl of the new millenium.
  • The color scheme of Dick and Tim's civilian outfits; I haven't seen that done since the Golden Age; thank you Dustin and Derek!
  • Herc and Amadeus settle for pizza.
  • W-wait... did she just... castrate Felix Faust?!
  • "You shall die for your impertinence, insectile swine!" God bless the Masked Marauder.
  • Jason does not approve of the New England.
  • "Obey Darkseid" is a terrible movie title.
  • What the HECK is Jay Garrick doing in that story? With THEM? This just keeps getting more and more interesting!!!
  • "Will wonders never cease?"
  • Well, of course I guessed Luthor's password. Didn't you?
  • Lyle's upgrade.
  • Wait... a steampunk upgrade? That's hilarious!
  • Sigh. I guess I will always owe Morrison for bringing back real Aquaman, riding a sea-horse, won't I?
  • The Prisoner of Wayne Tower.
  • Sivana's characteristic "meh" of unimpressibility. Unimpressibility is Sivana's superpower.
  • Gold, silver, and bronze costumers; very nice, Gail!
  • Billy shares a secret.
  • Don't worry, Brainiac will just grow you a new body if something goes wrong!
  • I can honestly say that, in all my years reading comics, I've never seen a rhino used quite that way before.
  • The Return of the Squid Gang!!!
  • I love how Kid Eternity works now.
  • OMG, was that ... supersinging? I'm speechless. Again.
  • Batcave, indeed. Interesting. Incomprehensible, but interesting.
  • "I thought there would be more people not wearing pants."

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

The Case of the Super-Voyeurs!

So, since the A-list of the Justice Leaguers are hyper-competent --

well, most of them, anyway--

it probably leaves them with lots of time on their hands, just sitting around the Secret Sanctuary, waiting for the Trouble Alert or Wonder Woman's next scheduled lesson on Parliamentary procedure.

What do you think they do to pass the time away? Answer:

Watch Hal Jordan get his ass kicked.

  • "Why doesn't Green Lantern use his emergency signal? Then we'd all go to help him."
  • "Because he's a man, Kal!"
  • "Because he's an idiot."
  • "Because he's vain."
  • "That's what I said..."
  • "Don't start, princess."
  • "Oh, I think there's nothing wrong with him that wouldn't be cured by a bit of sweet, sweet octopus love."
  • "I concur wholeheartedly, Arthur."
  • "What in Rao's name are you two freaks jabbering about? Shut up and let me what he..."
  • "Yikes. Perhaps you two have a point. It's really not decent of me to watch Hal's sordid tete a tete this way. But I'd better continue. In case... in case he needs help."
  • "That the excuse you use for spying on Lois, too, isn't it?"
  • "Don't start, human."
  • "What's happening?"
  • "I ... I think he's getting his ass kicked by a wall-walker and a mood ring."
  • "I told you we shouldn't have let him become a toy salesman!"
  • "I think anything that keeps him conscious benefits us all."
  • "That's funny, I was about to say the opposite..."
  • "Oh, c'mon, guys; it's not that bad. I think he's just fooling around. It's not like he's really into the bondage thing."
  • "Was that a crack?"
  • "You would know."
  • "I'll deal with you later, human."
  • "Be fair, guys. It's not like it's really getting him all hot and bothered..."

  • "Oh, Rao, it burns my super-eyes...!"

Well, we all know how the real Leaguers think. But what do you think Snapper Carr's take on all this is?

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Dr. Fate's Tower

In a previous post , I was challenged to make a Heroclix map of Dr. Fate's Tower, which given its Escherian architecture is clearly impossible.

Naturally, I began work on it immediately.


There's a "floor area", where players start, and there are chambers that are "above" the floor area; the two areas are not connected, and each treats the other as blocking terrain (except for the stairs, which floor figures can move past, but not see through). That is, until...!

At the beginning of each players turn, he rolls one die (or, if the players agree to it, two dice). The chamber(s) that corresponds to the number on the die is immediately considered part of the floor (with no walls). Through that chamber, the other chambers can be accessed. Except for the very first "room roll", a player can choose to skip their roll and leave the chambers where they are.

So, exactly where you are and who can see can change with each room roll. Kind of like the wackiness of Dr. Fate's ever-changing tower.

It's a hard environment to plan for, so you want a team that's mobile and adaptable. Powers of particular value would include Stealth, HSS, Running Shot, and Probability Control (which can be used on the room roll).

Monday, January 26, 2009

Pep 4; An Incident on the Mall

So, there I was walking along the Mall for no particular reason, just like people always do on teevee shows set in Washington, but which real District residents absolutely never do because the Mall is a featureless void that sucks out your soul, warps all sense of perspective, and slows time like the event horizon of a black hole, an endless expanse where you can wander for eternity surrounded by travel-numbed Kansans and Japanese tourists, barely sustaining yourself from one facade to the next with $20 hot dogs and $9 sodas.

As always, there was some sort of motley collection of Hell's Angles/POW-MIA/Ex-pirate ministry/D-Day re-enactor types milling about in those needlessly loud homemade 'tanks' they cobble together to impress, one supposes, travel-numbed Kansans and Japanese tourists. Sometimes they try to cluster within spitting distance of their perceived foes at the Moscovian and Nordic Embassies, but, since those are in Dupont, they're usually scared off quickly by advances from patrons of the Leather Rack. You shoulda seen it last week, when the Inauguration coincided with the Mid-Atlantic Leather Convention.

Anyway, suddenly, a red-haired Evel Kneivel impersonator actually leapt onto one of the vehicles to savagely pummel its driver about the head and shoulders. Thank goodness the poor driver was wearing a helmet or who knows what kind of brain-damage he might have sustained, because this lunatic was hella strong and appeared miraculously impervious to pea-shooters. I was anxious to see whether the Kap Kops would be able to subdue him with motions for cloture or whether he'd have to be taken out by an irritable Geo-Force, who was standing nearby outside the Hall of Justice like he does every day, hoping today is the day they reinstate his access codes. Of course, "nearby" on the Mall means around one mile away, so Brion, being notorious self-absorbed, might not have even noticed the commotion.

Thanks to Washington's wacky weather, I missed what happened. I was distracted by a golden shower that at just that moment burst forth above the Capitol, raining UPS men all over the West Lawn (fortunately, thanks to Frederick Law Olmstead, there's never anyone there, not even Kansans or Japanese tourists, or somebody might have been hurt-- I mean, somebody other than the UPS men).

Later, I read in the City Paper's Loose Lips that it wasn't either the Kap Kops or Geo-Force who subdued the "Evil Kneivel". Turns out a Canadian Defence Attache dashed out of the embassy and stunned the lunatic into submission by showing him the brochure of the Newseum's admission prices.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Seafood Every Night


STILL the go-to hero for Indy Bands That Feel Underappreciated and Misunderstood.

Aquamans Lament - Mark Aaron James

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Things That Made Me Happy

... in my comics this week.

  • The Composite Superman.
  • Gay Sex Police Blackmail Naughtiness Fun Time!
  • The Composite Superman's "secret identities".
  • Inspector Henderson's nose.
  • The Composite Superman using his stretching powers on Superman just like he did the first time.
  • Now Robin has a real enemy.
  • The Composite Superman using his "JLA powers" in ways that recall his original set of powers from the LSH. Elongated Man = Elastic Lad, Firestorm = Element Lad, Atom = Shrinking Violet.
  • I just LOVE that Star City hat. MUST get one.
  • The Composite Superman doesn't seem to have "super-sewing". He should have had the Spectre help him with that costume.
  • Clark Kent wears Old Spice? Hilarious. And permanently disqualifying him as a sexual fantasy.
  • You want Hal Jordan to be ... a saint? BWHAHAHA! That's not gonna make it past the Senate Confirmation hearings, particularly if stewardesses are allowed to testify.
  • An entire page of the Composite Superman versus Two-Face.
  • Why, I'd completely forgotten Agent Liberty!
  • The USA NOW headline: Martian Manhunter Captures Human Flame.
  • Phantom Stranger in Ollie Queen's bathroom.
  • Prof. Ivo created the Composite Superman? Brilliant.
  • Supergirl sunbathing.
  • Batman's mirror.
  • Apparently being a Blue Lantern doesn't make you ineligible for sarcasm.
  • "When exactly did you obtain samples of my DNA?" "That's not important right now."
  • Starbreaker. God bless you, Len Wein. Starbreaker scared the bejeezus out of me some 35 years ago, and he still does.
  • I'm sure Batman had NO idea that would tear him apart. Snicker.
  • Even as an object of pity, Sinestro is still a nasty, snotty, bastard.
  • "Nobody makes a fool out of Metallo." Well, almost nobody.
  • "Behest". Heh.
  • Having to wait 17 whole seconds.
  • Starbreaker + Shadow Thief + Dr. Light = genius.
  • Once again, I thank the artist for remembering that the Giant Penny is dated 1947.
  • Whoa, Ulysses! That's one way to deal with sibling rivalry.
  • "You're just a walking, talking forensics kit, aren't you?"
  • A masterful retelling of the original Starbreaker storyline, particularly the beat-down by Aquaman.
  • "Them super-types, always updatin' their costumes...!"
  • Hey, Hal Jordan only got possessed twice this month!

Monday, January 19, 2009

Pep 3: Baseball in the Fifth Dimension

The Shield's balls are exploding and he's not afraid to use them again you! Gotta hand it to the artist: that's some fun use of perspective.

Of course, as a result, you get this odd impression that the Shield is somehow throwing forward mines that wind up behind him, like some sort of fifth dimension baseball pitcher.
Or like one of those shiny lenticular postcards they used to make. By Olympus, those things used to freak me out as kid....

So, do the boats and planes all belong to the bad guys? Are the bad guys (Moscovians, probably) dropping mines or their own ships? Is the Shield catching the mines only to them throw on our own ships?

I give. The Shield is simply beyond mere logic.

Oh, how I wish the Shield would visit Washington. But for that we'd have to be able to provide him with one of those vast expanses with infinitely recessing backgrounds his fifth dimensionality requires. Hm...

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Sinestro Corps, the Early Years

Surely, you don't think Geoff Johns (brilliant though he is) was the first to imagine Sinestro creating a corps of anti-Lanterns, do you?

John Broome did it in the 1967 cringe-worthy classic, "My Mastermind, The Car!", in which the spirit of Sinestro possesses "Goitrude", the former cab of the former Green Lantern's former sidekick, Doiby Dickles. Yes, really; could I make that up?

"In brightest day, in blackest night,
no justice shall escape my sight!
Let those who worship justice's might
beware my power,
Evil Green Lantern's light!"

Evil people have no regard for scansion and meter, folks (for example, have you ever read Maya Angelou?). Either that, or Sinestro hired William S. Gilbert to pen the oath.

Nah; that would have come out more like this:

"In brightest day, I dare surmise,
or blackest night, to all surprise,
all justice seen before my eyes
shall surely quake and quiver.

Then justice-lovers, softly simpering,

bow their heads in shameful whimpering.
Evil Green Lantern light come shimmer, bring

death, and doom deliver!"

Anyway, the reason you never heard of the Evil Green Lanter Corps (a.k.a. Sinestro Corps 1.0), is that it failed in the beta test... in one panel.

"Coming up on DC-ESPN: Sinestro Bowling!"

Yeah, back in the day, all it took was Alan Scott and Hal Jordan to defeat the entire Sinestro Corps, and they did it in one panel, rather than 12 issues plus special one-shots.

Friday, January 16, 2009

The Spooky Churchyard

Most Heroclix maps just aren't spooky enough.

Oh, they're fine if you're fond of the glitterati heroes, with their zappy powers and flaming hairdos. But I'm a fan of the scitterati set, with their smoke bombs and skulking capes. And face it, these are not characters who fling hot dog carts at you in the middle of a sunlit park.

I want an appropriate place where Batman and Dr. Mid-Nite can throw smoke bombs at the Scarecrow; where the Blue and Red Devils can confront Etrigan about his breath; where Deadman and the Phantom Stranger can chase the Gentleman Ghost and the Shade; where the Spectre can teach Ragman to sew.

And, so, I created

The Spooky Churchyard

The abandoned church and its adjacent graveyard make for lots of changing terrain, where walls and hindering abound. The windows in the church and the closed back-gate of the graveyard could be treated as clear terrain entrances or as walls that need to be destroyed; I leave that up to those who play the map!

Too many maps are big open affairs, where all the figures just charge up the middle, as if in a big football game. I like maps that force you to make choices, and finding the right place to confront your opponents on this map will be challenging. Of course, any ghostly figures with phasing are going to have a distinct advantage here, as they'll be able to ignore all those pesky walls.

As for layout, this map was about orienting the "rooms" (the church and graveyard) the "wrong way". Because there's not one obvious way to approach the enemy, it encourages different theaters of action, increasingly the repeat playability of the map. Too many Heroclix maps are almost perfectly symmetrical, which, although fair, is rather boring; I mean, it's not chess, people!

The design was all about trying to create a spooky atmosphere without having the map be too dull. I had fun playing with lighting/shadowing, and using gradient on the grid so that it was visible in both light and shadow. The fog was the hardest thing. Tried a million different things, then I simply cheated. If you can figure out how I cheated, I will be mightily impressed...

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Thank Goodness for Whores and Crazy People!

I have laryngitis. When you talk as much (only out of necessity, of course!) as I do, that's bad. But I can still type. Which means I can still post this:

Marvel is a whore. And people are crazy.

Now, I'd been intending to start a post with those words as a complaint. But after today, I'm not certain that those aren't words of gratitude.

Which, naturally, is why I have laryngitis. This morning, I just had a sore throat. But I spent all day, pretty much non-stop, talking at Big Monkey, until my voice simply stopped.

What was I saying? The same thing, over and over, again. "Yes, it came out today. No, we can't hold a copy for you. Yes, it's only $3.99. No, it's sold out. No, he's on the second cover, not the first one. Yes, we can order it for you for next week if you pre-pay."

I've talking, of course, about Amazing Spider-Man #583. At first, I was keeping count of the number of calls and drop ins asking about it. But I quickly became too busy for that. Really, I don't think we'd even get these many inquiries about a comic book if it had been proven and publicized to cure acne and halitosis. Or, perhaps I underestimate the level of self-awareness of the average fanboy...?

In any case, this comic book, which doesn't cure any known ailments (which the possible exception of sickly sales at comic book shops) has generated almost... disturbing levels of interest. Almost as if Stan Lee has stumbled across the anti-life equation scrawled on the back of an old manuscript he stolen from Jack Kirby, and used to simply compel people to buy it.

Have you ever stolen a toy from a dog, or seen a small child drops its ice cream cone, or had to tell your patient that the cancer is inoperable? Well, then you have an inkling of the looks of the faces of people when they're told, "I'm sorry, we're sold out of Amazing Spider-Man #583... ." DC Comics, forget about Enemy Ace and Prometheus (since the rest of us have already): if you want to do a "Faces of Evil" series, base it on the faces of first-time comic shop visitors when they discover that Amazing Spider-Man #583 is not available in limitless supply.

Sure, we'd ordered extra copies. Didn't everyone? But we didn't really understand the breadth of Obama-mania. Did anyone? People called us from California.

Now, granted, we are in the Nation's Capital, and things sell here that don't really sell well anywhere else (like, say, C-SPAN). But, really: we sold only about 15 copies of the comic that was ABOUT Obama. Today, before I had to stagger out of the store at about 5PM, speechless, we took orders for 350 copies of Amazing Spider-Man #583. Heaven knows how many more will be taken in the rest of the evening.

I don't usually write about comics from the perspective of a store owner (it's not an especially interesting vantage point, usually, and gives little in the way of extra literary insight to the meaning and delights of comics themselves). So, as a reader, I had been planning to bitch about how, frankly, whorish Marvel is in throwing together a quick back-up story and stapling it awkwardly on end of Spider-Man's current storyline.

It's such a blatantly tawdry grab at borrowed spotlight, and so in keeping with the Marvel's utter lack of dignity. And the "story" itself? I hesitate to do it the honor of calling it "slapdash". In fact, I hated the story the first time I read it, over 20 years ago (which was in Booster Gold #8, in case you're curious). Really, how bad is it when you're stealing plots from the original Boo$ter Gold series? And is the Chameleon thinking basketball is played with helmets supposed to be... funny?

And people are falling over themselves to buy this story. It's... crazy. And maddening! There are some many good comics. And this isn't Marvel-bashing; there are plenty of good Marvel comis to be reading. In fact, until this month, I would have put Amazing Spider-Man at the top of that list. Why aren't people reading Blue Marvel, PistolFist, and Invincible? For that matter, if their interest is in Obama and not comics per se, why didn't they buy the comics that actually help you understand how impressive he and his rise are? That's a way to honor the man, not this cheap walk-on publicity stunt.


This "publicity stunt" worked. Many people came to our store for the first time today. I got of a lot of people to leave with copies of Blue Marvel, PistolFist, and Invincible. Comic books reasserted their relevance today; even if they don't always deserve it, comic book still, in basic cultural ways, matter. That only happened because "Marvel is a whore" and because "people are crazy".

So I suppose I should just shut my trap and be grateful for it.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

A Temple for Diana

This one is for you, Wonder Woman!

Or, at least, for you Heroclix-playing fans of Wonder Woman. Some of my favorite Heroclix figures don't always have the maps that they deserve. Take, for example, the most recent Wonder Woman Heroclix figure:

"I am sorry, sister; but I must shove this Ionic column up your septum!"

Even without going into her dial, it's pretty clear this Wonder Woman is not to be trifled with. So I made her this temple map.

Yeah, I know that actual rituals were seldom performed within the naos of a temple, so the altar is kind of out of place; but nobody knows that other than you and I. Besides, the map needed both color and cover, which the altar, the braziers, and (if you're Aquaman) the pools provide. There's even some elevated terrain, courtesy of the goddess's pedestal. And, please note that the columns are blocking terrain.

Get this map printed and trot this 700-pt level team:
  • Nubia (69 pts),
  • Cassie "Wonder Girl" Sandsmark (87 pts),
  • Donna "Wonder Girl" Troy (94 pts),
  • Artemis (95 pts),
  • Hipployta in her WW garb (106 pts), and
  • Wonder Woman the Column-Carrier herself (at a whopping 248 pts).

To oppose them, field these Wonder-Foes:

  • The Cheetah (63 pts),
  • Dr. Psycho (100 pts),
  • Giganta (108 pts),
  • Circe (149 pts),
  • and the Big Bad himself, Ares (275 pts).

Hola! Place your bets and see who wins!

Monday, January 12, 2009

Pep 2: Yellow Rain versus Yellow Peril

I told you yellow was the Shield's favorite color.

There aren't a lot of "golden showers" themed covers; this is one of the best. Love the Shield's "I got a whole keg here, so I can do this all night, boys" pose.

It's not just the obviousness of the imagery, it's using the subtle yellow sky and title to reinforce that's so impressive.

The fetid stew of man-limbs, like some sort of EC grotesque, contributes as well. Truly this cover is the fuel of nightmares. Or the kernel some boy's lifelong fetish.

It would have been nice if this had become a running theme for the Shield, kind of like bondage was for Wonder Woman. A fun challenge for the writers to work it into every story: "The hydrants are useless! The Moscovians have halted the reservoir... but they didn't count on me hooking up a fire hose to this lemonade truck!"

Friday, January 09, 2009

Martian Manhunter Demostrates Some Heroclix Powers for You

Leap/ClimbOf course it's a meteor;
welcome to Apex City.

PhasingI think J'onn lays awake at night, coming up with weird things to do with his powers.

ChargeI have got to use that line the next time I push someone aside on the dance floor!

ElasticityBecause it's not like he could, you know, phase through the wall or anything.

TelekinesisMostly, J'onn seems to use this power on clothes.
And baseballs.

Pulse Wave


Incapacitate"Sonic vibrations" is the Martian euphemism for flatulence.

Psychic Blast
Destroying hurtling boulders with your mind counts as Psychic Blast in my book.

Smoke CloudThis, and any other, attack power could just be listed on his character card as Martian Finger Snapping, since it can pretty much do anything.

RegenerationEven for J'onn, that's ridiculous.

and InvulnerabilityNow THAT is exposition.

SupersensesOr it could just be martini time at the Apex Bar.

Defend"Why am I wasting my turns defending pogs from Batman Ally attacks? Why did I decide to explode a mine with my butt? What's it all mean?"

Combat ReflexesAnybody else would just dodge, but J'onn J'onnz has to do something both weird and snide, using one of his hapax phenomenon powers to trick some guy into jumping out a window.

DeflectionJ'onn really is rather showy, isn't he?

PerplexFisk? Must be a mixed-universe game.

Ranged Combat ExpertIf you can shatter a tank by snapping your fingers without shattering the people between you and tank, I think you deserve Ranged Combat Expert.

Shape ChangeYou'd be surprised how often he says that.

Black Lightning Year One

Okay, please tell me you read the first issue of Black Lightning Year One.

It can be a little hard to follow in places; I always get confused when I get thrown lots of relatives and supporting characters and people without easy to identify spandex costumes all at once. That's why I avoid parties. Most parties.

But it's a valiant effort to take pull together all the bits of BL's backstory into a sensible narrative. You know, Peter Gambi, the apparent power internalization, the wife and kids no one ever mentioned, the very aggressive timeline of accomplishment that lets him be a former Olympic athlete/ crusading school reformer/ superhero/ potential Cabinet appointee.

What did you think?

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Final Crisis: Secret Files

Len Wein is my newest (Facebook) friend, and just in time for my spirited defense of his most recent comic, the Final Crisis: Secret Files that came out last week.

I've heard from an unimpeachable source, that this book's been getting dissed on line. Inconceivable!

First off, it's the only remotely comprehensible Final Crisis book so far. Grant Morrison didn't write it, and Len Wein did. Len Wein, unlike Morrison, is able to write a story that makes you say, "Wow, what happened in that story was crazy!", rather than, "Wow, I have no idea what happened in that story and whoever wrote it was crazy!"

Second, it's got the villain talking out loud to himself and intropositioning himself through his origin story. How refreshingly old-school and in keeping with the comic book medium!

Speaking of which.... third, the origin itself was almost aggressively old-school. The villain playing with Heroclix figures. Libra's pseudo-prophetic name, Justin Ballantine. The childhood traumas brought on by ... lack of balance. And, c'mon.... how can you not love that the Golden Age Starman is as essential part of the story? Nothing, but nothing says old-fashioned goodness and DRAMA than the Golden Age Starman. Not only does his inclusion gives us that background that makes the original Libra story (more) believable and grounded in the DCU as we know it, but the story lets us know that Ted Knight had all the info on his Starman tech just filed casually in an unlocked cabinet in his office. Of course he did; he's Starman. It wouldn't even occur to him that some lesser being would be able to understand his work.

Now, it's possible that Len just writes this way naturally, as a good Bronze-Ager. But I much prefer to perceive it as an act of literary defiance against the Morrison Generation. I imagine him pounding this stuff out on a typewriter, snickering, "THIS is how an origin goes, you disaffected little postmodernist punks! Everything you think is 'cool' is underacinatably rooted in everything you think is 'uncool'. And there's nothing you can do about it; NOTHING, I say! BWAHAHAHAHA!!!!"

Fourth (and this is really, I suppose, just an extention of the last point), there's the dialog. If I want weepy drama, self-recrimination, and moral quavering, well, my television gets both "the N" and Lifetime, thank you very much. I read comics because I need THIS:
"Should I commit some elaborate crime to bring myself to the heroes' attention?"

"We begin our planetary reign of terror immediately."

"Ahhh.... You're all awake. Excellent."

"Worlds uncounted are now mine to toy with as I will!"

and, of course, this timeless classic reprised from the original Libra story:

"I am truth! I am knowledge! I ... am ... losssssssstttttttt...."

Fifth: Darkseid's makeover-vision. It's the first time Darkseid's ever impressed me or even seemed useful or threatening. Darkseid totally deserves a show on HGTV or Bravo: "Omega Eye for the Earth Guy". Glorious Godfrey could be the Culture Guy, Granny Goodness would handle the grooming tips, and Desaad could renovate your bachelor pad into a swinging torture chamber for the new millenium.

And all this is just Len's story. This book goes for the extra points, including a one-page explanation of the anti-life equation that makes more sense than all of Final Crisis put together, and the sketchbook that includes that welcome news that DC finally understands that Aquaman is a western.

Monday, January 05, 2009

Pep 1: You Knocked My Block Off

That's one less Rockem-Sockem robot to threaten American democracy! Who needs Old Glory Insurance when the Shield's around?

Lot of heroes can handle robots; but robots with guns? Impressive! Odd... but impressive.

Our good friend the Shield debuted in the first issue of MLJ's Pep Comics (in case, you know, you had some trouble READING THAT LETTERING). Pep Comics was known -- originally -- for its unique brand of "Action Detective Adventure". Don't bother reading DC comics, kids; we can give you Action, Detective, and Adventure all in one comic!

Note the yellow background; it's the Shield's favorite color and soon we'll discover why.

Saturday, January 03, 2009

Prison Break

Well, as some of you already know, I'm laid low by food poisoning, which is, to say the least, slowing me down a bit.

Fortunately, this has happened after New Year's festivities, like this one where you can hear me singing the hanger very very loudly. Yeesh, what a big mouth. And, yes, I sound better when I'm sober.

One of first delights I've been able to enjoy (other than the ability to lay on my side rather than face down) has been to watch the most recent episode of the excellent Batman: Brave and the Bold series, titled "Day of the Dark Knight". In it, there's a scene where Batman and Green Arrow, notoriously competitive with each other, are foiling a prison break together and trying to take down as many escapees as quickly as possible.

For a second, I didn't get it: since when do prisoners get to wear hats? Then I understood, almost all the prisoners were supercriminals from the 1960s live-action Batman series (with a few from previous episodes of Brave and the Bold)

I spotted:

King Tut
The Minstrel
The Mad Hatter
Ma Barker
False Face
Louie the Lilac
Clock King
The Black Widow
Marsha, Queen of Diamonds
The Siren
Felix Faust

Now THAT made me feel better.

Friday, January 02, 2009

Fate's Tower

In a previous post, Absorbascommando Steven Mitchell challenged me to make a Heroclix map of Dr. Fate's Tower, which I deemed impossible.

Naturally, I start worked on immediately.

As Fate fans will know, Dr. Fate's Tower has, in recent years, been portrayed as having architecture reminiscent of Escher's "Relativity". Now, the rules of Heroclix don't even take into account things like windows and doors that close, or make a distinction between crawling over rubble at noon and walking through a dark alley at midnight. So you can imagine, representing something as wacky as Fate's Tower is a tall order. One good thing, though; the Tower doesn't even have doors and windows.

Not only is the Tower's architecture wacky, but it changes (and the first person who says, "Just like Hogwarts!" is fired). Plus, like the Escher piece that inspired it, the architecture is relative; it's different for each person standing in different parts of the Tower.

Yeesh! That's impossible.

Here it is anyway.

Dr. Fate's Tower

There's lots of standard occult bric-a-brac for decor, but none of it in meaningful in gameplay. This one is all about the bizarre layout, folks. There basically two different section in the map: the "floor" and the "chambers".

A bottom level, indicated by the giant ankh in the floor is where the figures start. "Above" it (really, just ... "elsewhere") are the "chambers" and the stairs that connect them. There is no direct, permanent connection between the chambers and the floor. Figures on the floor treat the chambers as (undestroyable) blocking terrain, and simple ignore the staircases. So the floor is kind of like a maze (it's a series of passages with no defined rooms).

Conversely, the chambers are kind of like catacombs (a series of rooms connected by individual passages). The chambers and stairs are self-contained, with undestroyable walls.

Each chamber is marked with a number of glowing symbols that designate the room. The symbols themselves aren't significant, just how many of them are on the chamber floor. For example, the chamber in the upper left corner is a "2" room. Why does this matter?

Well as we used to say when I was a kid, "Here's the tricky part"...

Each player rolls a die at the start of each of his turns. Whatever number is rolled, the chambers marked with that number are suddenly considered part of the floor, with no walls surrounding them. At that point, your figures can just walk into the room from the floor (or vice versa).

Of course, your opponent is also doing the same thing each turn, so you can't count on your perspective remaining the same from turn to turn.

It's a very difficult environment to plan a fight in. With your and your opponent's perspectives on the board changing with each turn, you have to be extremely flexible and spread your team around to take advantage of opportunities that the changing board provides. It's not really a fair environment for either player... but at least it's equally UNfair.

One bright spot is that if you have a character on your team with Probability Control, they can use their power that turn on your "floor roll" if it doesn't turn out the way you wanted. That gives characters like, well, like Dr. Fate an advantage.

Characters with superspeed and long-range would probably do well, because they can quickly take advantage of the changing architecture of the map. No use suddenly being able to see an opponent if you can't reach them to make an attack. The flip side is that when such opportunities do not arise, those expensive abilities are completely wasted because the characters are trapped in most cramped quarters.

Does your team have what it takes to prevail in Dr. Fate's Tower? Do you?

Thursday, January 01, 2009

Facebook's Finest

Fans of the following Facebook pages:

Batman: 164,813
Superman: 125,900
Green Lantern: 6,381
The Flash: 3,258
Wonder Woman: 1,442
Supergirl: 871
Green Arrow: 502
Aquaman: 480
Power Girl: 328
Martian Manhunter: 321
Captain Marvel: 298
Vibe: 78
Hawkman: 57
Robin the Boy Wonder: 1
Vixen: No page
Geo-Force: No page
The Phantom Stranger: No page