Saturday, November 27, 2010

Time for some Herclix maps, because, well, the renaissance of Heroclix is one of the many things I have to be thankful for.

And since the return of the real Aquaman is another we have to be thankful for, let's celebrate with some underwater maps. First I'll remind you of my original underwater map, Mercy Reef, which still looks at pretty to me now as the day I first got it.

More fun, however, is the "Ray Ship" map from the resident genius at Curious Lurkings. Vehicles In The Shape Of Things are one of the great glories of comic books and few are as glorious or enduring as a big sub shaped like a manta ray.

Now, Aquaman-related clix put out in the past have not been as thrilling as we deserve, either in quantity or quality. But that's beginning to change with the wonderful new Black Manta, the Aquaman and Mera figures from the Brightest Day pack, and upcoming DC75th Anniversary figures of Aquaman, Ocean Master, and Mera.

So I've been upgrading my Aqua-clix, finally putting my Aquagirl custom on a Teen Titan Aqualad dial, finding a new dial for my custom Fisherman (Marvel's Karnilla, if you're interested) and revitalizing one of my most popular introductions to the game...


I like my fish like I like my women: pretty, but deadly, pawns in my larger game.

My original fishclix had individualized "powers" suitable to their species, but were, in the final analysis, just one-click pogs. Well, such pogs are no longer au courant in Heroclix, so my new-style fishclix all sit upon Multiplex dials. This works well for a variety of reasons. First, they have leap/climb, which means fish can slip out an opponent's grasp. Second, they have that neat Multiplex special power that reduces any damage done to them down to one click as long as they are beside another fishclix. Third, with the Suicide Squad ability, they heal every time an adjacent friendly figures gets kayoed (which can be interpreted either as rallying or, well, just eating whoever got kayoed). This qualities make them just perfect for swarming the enemy and tying up their ranged combat fighters.

And where will Aquaman and his finny friends be deployed?


At first I was worried that the sea floor would be too boring and featureless a place. But by changing my concept of scale a bit, I realized that Atlantis's main dome (Poseidonis) would be large enough to constitute blocking terrain and the smaller domes (named for Atlas's mother and brothers) would serve as elevated terrain. Some thermal vents, vegetation and spawning areas, and a cold seep provide hindering terrain, with some outcropping as smaller blocking terrain. A few decorative touches (divers, some creatures, and a sub) and you have a surprisingly interesting little battlefield, whereupon you can fight to a finish or enact a scenario crafted around occupying the smaller domes.

I'm afraid the resolution here doesn't really do the map justice, but I'd be happy to send anyone the file who is interested.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Just Simply Absurd: JSA #44

Marc Guggenheim, what on Earth-2 are you thinking?

Usually, I’m not given to pure reviews of new comics here at the Absorbascon. And Guggenheim was part of the beloved Sub Diego run of Aquaman (beloved by me, anyway), so I’m naturally favorably inclined toward anything with his name on it (even though he killed Bart Allen, who later got better).

But this new issue of Justice Society? Unacceptable.

Page one? Jay Garrick gets appointed mayor of Monument Point, a previously unheard of city (unheard of by me, anyway), and decides to retire from super-heroics.

Well! I’m a foe a decompression, so getting right into the swing of Big Changes on the first page is fine by me. For example, the first few pages of the beloved Sub Diego run of Aquaman began in medias res, with half of San Diego already sunken into the sea; a brilliant and dramatic opening. But the Mayor of Monument Point is not a brilliant and dramatic opening…

Jay is a chemist and a superhero; why would anyone think to select him as a mayor and why on earth would that seem attractive to him? Oh, and he wasn’t elected, he was appointed. Guggenheim pretty much has to lampshade / handwave the affair, with less explanation and aplomb than was accorded
Chief Screaming Chicken’s repossession of Gotham City in 1966.

Jay, retiring? What, again? Because… why? He’s tired? Or because the world’s fastest senior citizen doesn’t have enough time on his hands? It’s tough to reconcile such a decision with his “Barry brought me out of retirement” speech in recent issues of the Flash. In fact, it’s not in character any more than the near argument he has about it with Alan Scott.

Speaking of Alan Scott, let’s portray one of comic’s most experienced heroes as an overconfident, domineering blowhard, who gets his neck snapped because he doesn’t notice how tough his opponent is (the one who just kicked the rest of the JSA’s butts) and seems to forget that his magic ring doesn’t require him to be within 3 feet of his foe. Doiby Dickles wouldn’t have made that kind of mistake.

All these shenanigans are a clumsy way to take the JSA’s two most dominant figures off the table, I suppose so that some lesser lights will shine more brightly. Similarly clumsy is the, what, six hour fight (during which NO other superheroes/teams show up!!!) with the unnamed “super-terrorist” that destroys downtown Monument Point. Gosh, I wonder whether the heroes, feeling guilty, are gonna rebuild Monument Point into a wonderful new city of tomorrow and take up its protection? Oh, and what happened to Alan Scott’s ridiculous Moon Colony for Magical Friends? I must have blinked when editorial (if such a thing still exists) decided to ignore/retcon that away.

Look—there is NO bigger supporter of the individualized fictionopolis as the backdrop for superheroics than I. Having the JSA in NYC was awkward (no matter what the Past Scipio thinks). But why not simply use
Civic City, the original location for the JSA? That would at least have a Golden Age connection and make Jay Garrick a (marginally) more logical choice as mayor.

Mr. Terrific has caught magical movie disease that is slowly lowering his intelligence? Oh ,for pity’s sake, the Kingpin-o-matic “Put the Heroes Through the Wringer” machine is going to burnout from being in overdrive; heck, it’s already broken the suspension of disbelief in the engine of my imagination.

Clumsy. The JSa--and we--deserve better.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Pep 37: Awakening from the Nightmare

Phew! That cover is SUCH a relief. The Shield, with heavily inked musculature (even in his hair!), is pole-vaulting into a hay-carpeted redoubt teeming with Japanazis, who are apparently in the midst of boring to death some bound Americans, several of whom have already nodded off. Dusty, his cape in extra-starched glory, is socking Tojo Junior in the jaw with, um, a Nikon camera? It's hard to tell, but I'm sure Dusty is indulging in adolescent war-time smack-talk: "Turns out your inferior foreign electronics are good for something after all, Colonel-san!" And the odious Hangman is relegated to the background, busy casting shadows and mopping up the also-rans. ALL IS AS IT SHOULD BE on the cover of PEP!

You see, I had this horrible nightmare last night. There was this red-haired beaver or woodchuck or something in black pullover with an R on it, and he was using his buckteeth to chew away at the cover of a Pep magazine, just chewing it all away, and as he chewed it, it was killing off each character as he ate their picture on the cover, first the Hangman, then Dusty, then the Shield, with finally nothing left to stop him from consuming the entire soul of the nation=== the surreal horror of it was overwhelming.

Phew! Thank Jove it was just a dream...!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

The Bronze Age Batman Boogie

I grew up reading Bronze Age comics and, like any sensible person, hating them. I reserve particular odium for the Bronze Age Batman.

In the past I've had difficulty finding ways of expressing my exasperation at this goofball version of the Caped Crusader (though that hasn't stopped me from trying). Somehow, he managed to be less competent than the Golden Age neophyte Batman, less emotionally stable than the irascible Iron Age Batman, and goofier than the space-faring Silver Age Batman.

In fact, the only I like about him is that he used to go dancing. A lot. And not subtly, either. But that's okay, because I like my heroes to dance.

But thinking of dancing gave me an idea. I will express myself just as I do on stage: IN SONG!

And so I give you, to the tune of American Bandstand's theme song (Charles Albertine's Bandstand Boogie, as lyricized by Bronze Age goofball Barry Manilow)...

The Bronze Age Batman Boogie!

I'm Bronze Age Batman!
I'm stupid in my own way.

I'm Bronze Age Batman!
I'm stupid both night and day.

I"m Bronze Age Batman,
and I don't care what you say,

'cause I'm Bronze Age

I'm goin' swingin'
We're gonna swing in the crowd

And we'll be clingin'
And floatin' high as a cloud

My head is ringin'

I'm always talking out loud
'cause I'm Bronze Age

And I'll jump, and hey,
I may even show'em my handstand
Because I am the dumb
and wholly incompetent Bronze Age

when we dance real slow
I'll show every slavering Bat-fan
What a swinger I am,
because I'm the Bronze Age Batman

I'm Bronze Age Batman!
Can't trust a word that I say!

I'm Bronze Age Batman!
I'm goofy, happy, and gay.

I'm Bronze Age Batman!
I let the crooks get away,

'cause I'm Bronze Age

Bronze Age
Bolas away! Suddenly ten, fighting Big Ben, all in day.

Hey I'm makin' my markGee, my bed is jumpin'

Dick made such a fuss just to go for a driveHey, it's Mr. Dick Gray-
son, he's shedding a tear;

Swell, son! The music's hot here

Dancing in line,
Dance like it's nineteen seventy five!

For an all time-low
I'm caught by the dumb Ten-Eyed Man's hands

Because I am,
Because I'm stupid Bronze Age Batman
I react real slowI'm showin' my ass layed out flat, man!
I fight like a girl,
'Cause I'm stupid Bronze Age Batman

I'm Bronze Age Batman
and I am frequently bruised

I'm Bronze Age Batman
and I am easily rused

I'm Bronze Age Batman
you'll find me often confused

'cause I'm Bronze Age

I'm Bronze Age Batman,

and I am helpless alone.

I'm Bronze Age Batman,
sometimes I'm Matches Malone,

I'm Bronze Age Batman
and I am accident prone,

'cause I'm Bronze Age

And I'll shout and pout and grouse every chance I can,
Fight on giant props, just because I canTune in, dope up, turn on, drop out, I'm on
No way! (BATMAN!)

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Leni Riefenstahl's Revenge!

Wait. Wait, wait, wait.

So, H of the Comic Treadmill-- you're telling me there are...

It's a poseidon-send for Aquaman! DC editors/writers, wake up and do something with this.

It writes itself. Decades later, a Nazi underwater colony, tired of living like bums, attack Sub Diego. Or just start raiding ships. Let's see, this would be an excuse for Aquaman to team up with, say, Uncle Sam, who would look hilarious traipsing around on the ocean floor, not needing air, but still wearing redwhitenblue scuba gear and spouting folksy comebacks. Or even Black Manta, who is probably not someone U-Nazis would like very much. Aquaman and Black Manta teaming up to fight underwater Nazis? TELL me you wouldn't read that.

Now, naturally, Aquaman could mop up these aquanazis with no help at all, except for some Finny Friends. Face it, if you're just schlepping around underwater with no real weapons or protection and Aquaman gets mad at you--well, Nereus help you, 'cuz the sharks sure won't.

So, maybe these Nazis have acquired supernatural powers. Maybe they got bitten by one of the underwater vampires Swamp Thing killed in the 1980s, or the events of Blackest Night have turned them into underwater Nazi zombies, or Ocean Master is their new Fuehrer. Whatever! Just start TYPING, DC creative pool.

I swan! There's seventy years worth of crazy crap lurking in and around the DCU's oceans for Aquaman to deal with. When is DC going to get their act together and start using it?

Friday, November 12, 2010

If This Week were a Comic Book

If this week had been a comic book it would have been something like this.

Aquaman came to the rescue of a stranded cruise ship today. While delighted passengers watched with amazement, crustaceans crawled up the hull of the ship, carrying electric eels which they hooked up to power the generators, then graciously jumped into steam-pots to become the evening’s dinner, “My finny friends, even the ones without fins, are always happy to lend a claw to the over-privileged land-dwellers who prey on them," Aquaman said. “Might as well be comfortable while we are waiting for whales to tow the ship back to shore!” Ship’s engineers have confirmed that they have enough Spam to feed the electric eels that are continuing to power the air conditioners, casino, and karaoke machines.

Gabrielle Doe, a.k.a. “Halo”, marvels at how far she’s gone on “Dancing with the Superheroes”.

The Prime Minister of Italy received a vote of Extra Confidence today for hiring time consultant Rip Hunter to repair the 2000 year old House of the Gladiators near Mount Vesuvius. “It was not merely a cultural imperative, but a practical matter,” the PM pointed out. “He’s much cheaper than Cave Carson…"

Haitian government admits to inaction on cholera epidemic. “With all the super-science available at the Haiti office of STAR Labs, we could probably stop it immediately, using, oh, nanobots or some such,“ said Haitian President Wyclef Jean. “But we’ve kind of been hoping it would activate somebody’s metagene so we could have our own national superhero. Every year, we try to have several major disasters of a various kinds, just in case. In fact, we keep Paul Booker on retainer.”

President Obama arrived in Indonesia this week for a meeting with assembled superheroes of the archipelago, including Prince Elongated and Princess Star. Aquanus had been scheduled to join them , but was detained helping Aquaman take care of a cruiseshipful of spoiled Americans. The meeting went well, despite a potentially embarrassing incident where Herbintang disintegrated the main course at the ceremonial dinner. “It’s quite alright,” Obama quipped, “I hate Indonesian food any way!” The assembled heroes duly laughed at the president's lame joke for nearly 30 seconds while the credits rolled.

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Grodd's Arboreal Imperative

And then there was that time Gorilla Grodd went on a severe diet.
And shaved his head.
And the rest of his body.
And became a human being who shops at an Amish clothing store.
And popped pills that make him think he can command trees.

Someone gave me some pills once in college that made me think I could command trees.
I had to skip the rest of the semester.

Yes, that really is Gorilla Grodd. And whatever drugs Grodd is taking have turned him into a hairless human, made him hallucinate that he can command trees, and, worst of all, caused him to build a salmon-colored factory with highly inappropriate architecture.

AND YET, still those drugs cannot diminish his ability to compose haiku, even when no one's looking.

Now to see how well
the pill works! Tree! Come t'ward me!
Tree! I command you!

Now THAT is some comic book haiku; you impress me, Grodd. If only you devoted your Force of Mind exclusively to creating haiku rather than enslaving humanity!

What haiku can YOU, dear readers, compose to celebrate Grodd's impressive achievement, even under the influence of mind&body-altering drugs?

Sunday, November 07, 2010

Silent Support

Lois is so supportive; she just can't help herself!

It's not like she sits around waiting for Superman to ask her out. She dates other guys, and supports them ... in her own inimitable way.

Like her beau, "Knuckles" Colosimo. Nice guy. Favors white fedoras. Volunteers at the local shelter, even.

If he has one "vice" it's his monthly underground spelling bee. Everybody antes up with phosphorescent poker chips, and tests one another's orthographicality.

Lois knew how much the city championship meant to Knuckles. She simply had to be there to cheer him on. Of course, she didn't want to be a distraction, so she put on a red dress, white gloves, and a veil, and hid on the roof, watching the competition through the skylight. So that no one would see her.

But when Knuckles was given the word "doctrinaire", she panicked. The championship was riding on it, and Knuckles always had such trouble remembering the gender of words of French origin! Poor Lo-Lo wanted to help, to shout out, as she pressed herself closer and closer to the weakening skylight, and Knuckles spelled out "A...I... R..."

Oh, no! No, Knuckles!
Don't stop!

Thursday, November 04, 2010

Heroclix Mod Mod

I'd say we're due for a Heroclix post!

Wizkids is pumping out the DC 'clix this year: The Brave & the Bold set at year's start, two
starter/collector minisets (Blackest Night and Brightest Day seven-piece sets) , and the forthcoming DC 75th Anniversary Set.

Some of the 75th Anniversary pieces have been revealed already, such as long-awaited Golden Agers like the original Mr. Terrific and Crimson Avenger, essential foes like Ragdoll and Ocean Master, boss/minions like Sgt. Rock/Easy Company, more full-spectrum lanterns, and wacky factors like Sargon the Sorceror and Detective Chimp.

But what would a DC Anniversary set be without.... gorillas?

Okay, I'm not expecting "JLApe" pieces (glorious though those would be). But I will be surprised and disappointed if we don't get something like gorilla generics for Grodd (as part of the latest craze for more functional generics that use some sort of 'minion' power that weighs heavily in favor of using them with their appropriate 'boss' figures). C'mon; you KNOW you want to be able to field a team of nothing but gorillas.

So I'm preparing. My (plastic) crack customizing team in the sub-sub-basement of the Pentagon (you know-- where they kept the Telephone Avatar?) has prepared this little gem representing one of the great One-Off Gorilla Characters of all time....


For those few of you who don't already know, the
Mod Gorilla Boss was a criminal mastermind who drank a "gorilla serum" (I bet you didn't know there WAS such a thing! Darn you, FDA!) and probably spent most of his ill-gotten gorilla-crime-gains at Gambi's tailor shop buying silverback-sized pinstriped zoot suits and french-cuff shirts. And he fought Animal Man. And by "fought" I mean, "tossed him around like a ragdoll until the gorilla serum wore off".

Naturally, a character this inspired belongs in my Heroclix collection. And so, behold:

I considered giving him a Special Trait that lets him use Animal Man as a permanent Light Object if he manages to kayo him. But I think I'll just keep that as a House Rule.