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.