Monday, December 26, 2011

The JLA Satellite Heroclix Map!

Like all decent citizens of the DCU's future, I celebrate Klordny; to Freedom, Friendship, and Frunt!

The "JLA Fortnight" series, chronicling the JLA's transition out of the Silver Age and into the Bronze Age and particularly their move from the Secret Sanctuary to the Satellite, has all been a build up to my Klordny gift to your: a custom Heroclix map of the JLA Satellite.

In designing the map, I had to review the published diagrams of the Satellite, which are rather inconsistent, except that they are all, you know... round.

Here's an excellent description of the history of the Satellite I found on an apparently inactive JLA site:

The Justice League's second headquarters was fixed orbit satellite orbiting Earth at Roche's Limit, 22,300 miles from the surface, and was constructed by Hawkman Katar Hol, Superman, and Green Lantern Hal Jordan. Originally, the main entrance was a teleportation tube (utilizing a Thanagarian Relativity Beam) inferred to be atop the building that at the time published DC Comics in New York City. It was never stated why this location was chosen, or whether this was the only terminal in existence. The JLA is shown to have the capacity to "beam up" people and things that are not in the terminal, ala the Star Trek transporters (JLOA-118, -129). This modification would, of course, eliminate the need for terminal tubes anywhere on the surface, since the teleporter could lock onto the homing mechanism in each JLAer's signal device and beam them aboard. Evidently it was an improvement Hawkman brought back from Thanagar (JLOA-117).

Although initial diagrams of the satellite depict but one of the decks (JLOA-78, -95), the entire satellite complex was eventually revealed (JLOA-130). These diagrams depict the satellite as it was at the time of its original construction. The varied appearance of the meeting room facilities would indicate that the space station was modified from time to time to fit the JLA's changing needs and tastes. Noteworthy areas were the Souvenir Room, the gymnasium, the computer facilities, and the outer rim (JLOA-104). An alien called the Dharlu resided in suspended animation in the station's computer terminal (JLOA-130). A device to travel to parallel dimensions called the Transmatter Cube was also installed (JLA-107). Another contribution from Hawkman's homeworld was the Thanagarian "healing ray" in the JLA's sick bay (JLOA-118).

The satellite was ravaged in the wake of a Martian invasion of Earth (JLOA-228-230). It was also subject to subsequent destruction following the Great Crisis in which a transformed Red Tornado exploded within the satellite (JLOA-A3). The remainder of the once-great orbiting headquarters fell to the onslaught of a rampaging Despero.

Ordinarily, I'd just link to such a thing, but I'm afraid the link will go inactive if the site is closed.

Anyway, the first diagram of the Satellite is this one:

DCU architects must be union. "You want more detail? That'll cost you extra, mister!"

A little later it got filled in a bit.

By "individual offices" we mean "phone booths". Only Clark and Ray seemed okay with them.

Eventually, the JLA seems to realize that the Satellite had no doors or hallways, which is inconvenient when only one of your members can vibrate through walls. So a new diagram was introduced. But first, a brief digression into utter madness!

Not NOW, Jean! Later!

In JLA 130, for no reason at all, DC re-does the "Hey, we have a new HQ in space" scene, replacing Flash for Green Arrow, even down to using some of the same dialog (which sounds ridiculous coming out of Flash's mouth, rather than Green Arrow's).

"Yes, yes! I was there! So get to the point!" Actually, Barry... that is the point. You were there... repeatedly. Flash was in the Satellite when it was introduced, had been shown to be in it repeatedly over the intervening FIFTY issues since then, and, in fact, was JUST IN IT LAST ISSUE (Justice League of America v 1 #129). In short, this scene one of the most flagrant, nonsensical, egregious, and pointless violations of continuity of all time. Oh, and it's stupid and out of character. Nice lettering, though.

Okay, I'm being unfair; this is presented as an "Untold Tale", an obvious excuse to re-introduce the Satellite with a new map. Still, writer Marty Pasko blundered badly in using Flash instead of Green Arrow. But this, I suppose, is far down on the list of crimes of the man who created Kobra and Ookla the Mok.

And it did give us this, the first multilevel diagram of the Satellite:

Hm. Architects on strike again, I see.

The original plan is kept as the "B" Deck. The all-important Observation Deck (which is just about the only part of the Satellite we ever really see) becomes "A" Deck. "C" Deck is added to house some HQ basics with private quarters on "D" & "E" Decks.

Once the Satellite goes multi-level, all architectural heck breaks loose in this next diagram from later in the series:

Oh, look there's an Annie's Pretzels next to the Apple Store!

Very thorough! WILDLY out of scale perhaps, but thorough. Somebody seemed to realize that imposing square room designs on a round satellite didn't make a lot of sense, got out their Trivial Pursuit pucks and went to town on this one.

This was the diagram that I used as the model for my first attempt at a custom Heroclix map for the JLA Satellite, but I found it unworkable; the six decks couldn't be well enough represented on even an expanded 3'x3' map. I would be "accurate" but awkward and not fun.

So, rather than go "literal" with the map, I decide to compose it in such a way as to include the elements of the existing diagram, with some more realistic proportioning. I also took inspiration from the way the Satellite scenes are drawn, rather than just the diagrams. So much of the action takes place on the Observation Deck that had to be the
key place on the map not just the top sliver.

Also, with changing times, certain rooms now make more sense than others (even in "the past", as it continues to roll up behind the moving comic book timeline). For example, a physical library seems amusingly quaint in a satellite and was omitted. Conversely, the idea of a 'virtual training room', seen on various media versions of the Satellite, seemed like a must. I also had to do some creative "explosion" of the sections of the Satellite: the four areas beneath the Observation Deck are 'exploded' out and placed in what would otherwise be empty space between the hub of the Satellite and the outer ring.

Note that they kept the table from the original headquarters. Because they would. Also note the color-coding of each member's private quarters and the connection between the amphibious quarters and the pool (because, stupid though that is, they would have it). And if you look really really closely at the Atom's quarters, you'll see that, sitting on a table, is a miniature version of the entire room, just so that he can relax there at his miniature size.

All in all, I'm happy with the result and hope those of you who've been eager to play a Heroclix game set on the JLA Satellite will enjoy it.


SallyP said...

God, I love maps. This is fabulous. I am quite terrified however, that they actually let HAL help build the original satellite. That's just asking for trouble. Remember when Guy helped rebuild the Free's house, and after 24 hours all the glowing green nails dissolved?


But anyway...nice work! And Happy Klordny.

Scipio said...

Thanks, Sally! I'm sure they let Hal "help" in the same way mother's let little kids help with the cooking.

"Okay, Hal! You know what would be a very special help to us? Moving all those asteroids out of the way..."

Scipio said...

Guys, I make the greatest Heroclix map of all time, and all you do is smell my finger...?


TotalToyz said...

But yes, it is indeed an excellent map!

Nathan Hall said...

Best part: There's more than enough space in the Trophy Room for Red Tornado to sulk.

TotalToyz said...

Why did they feel the need to label Indoor Pool (for Aquaman)? Were they saying no one else could use the pool? Or were they trying to justify the expense?

Scipio said...

Because it's filled with salt water? Or because does his business in the pool, and so no one else will use it?

Ronald said...

GL helping to build the Satellite would sort of make sense if he could metaphorically just TELL his ring "See those blueprints? Okay, grab all that metal stuff over there and build that." He wouldn't need to understand the blueprints himself, he'd just need to sort of point/click, because the ring is smarter than he is.

IMHO if anything, it's the notion of Superman building/repairing anything imaginable (including an army of robot duplicates, while still a teenager) in a matter of seconds where the suspension of disbelief sort of strains. Because pre-Crisis Superman not only knows everything, he knows how to DO everything. The whole Fortress of Solitude, with the computers and the medlab and the statues of everyone he's ever met and the zoo and the giant frickin' lock and all? Yeah, he built that. By himself. In, I dunno, a few hours or so. Maybe he shoulda been a freelance architect like Guardiana the Safety Woman of "Rifftrax" fame. ;-)

TotalToyz said...

I'd like to see you do a map of Challengers Mountain; which, as near as I could tell from the diagram in the original Who's Who, had nine levels---and just one bathroom!

Ronald said...

BTW, another point of interest re the storyline (#78-79) which first introduced the Satellite is that it's the storyline in which Green Arrow and Black Canary's romance started. Moreover, at the start of #79, Green Arrow saved the lives of not only Black Canary but also of the Atom, guest-star Vigilante/Greg Sanders*, and the g*dd*mned Batman. So Ollie came out of that one pretty good, all things considered.


*trivia note: the Vigilante had his own feature in Action Comics right up to November *1954*, less than two years before Barry Allen's first appearance in October 1956; if he'd held on a little longer HE might have ended up in the JLA (per #144, he and several other heroes were present when the JLA "really" formed)

Ronald said...

>>>Challengers Mountain; which, as near as I could tell from the diagram in the original Who's Who, had nine levels---and just one bathroom!

How challenging can you get...?

Bryan L said...

It is a fine map
I do not disparage it
It overwhelms me.

But the Heroclix
Have not ever held appeal
And thus I say naught.

Had I played with them
I might gasp at your great work
More fully enjoy.

steve mitchell said...

Great map, Scipio. WizKids really should release an All-Scipio Map Pack.

Nathan Hall said...

I'm with Brian L. I like the maps and the idea of quantifying ideas, but I've had such bad experiences with RPGs I'm afraid to try Heroclix.

It's not the game - it's some of the people I've met in these games.

Scipio said...

Thank you, steve! PLease tell THEm that!

Nathan, Bryan: I hear what you are saying. But remember, it works just as well as solitaire game, which is how I play it.

TotalToyz said...

And if you look really really closely at the Atom's quarters, you'll see that, sitting on a table, is a miniature version of the entire room, just so that he can relax there at his miniature size.

And on the miniature table, is there an even smaller version of the entire room? And on the even smaller table....

Jeff R. said...

Why does the Manhunter have quarters? I mean, he was already gone by this point. Are you saying that they missed him that much?

(Also, now I want full instructions for who ends up in which quarters as Ralph, Zatanna, Hawkgirl, and Firestorm join up [and Green Arrow briefly leaves then comes back].)

steve mitchell said...

Hi Nathan. HeroClix is not a role-playing game in the manner of Dungeons & Dragons or Mutants & Masterminds. It's a miniatures skirmish game. And as Scipio noted, it can be played solitaire quite easily; you don't need a game master to run things for you.

Also, all the various HeroClix product lines are fully compatible, meaning you can mix and match DC characters, Marvel characters, Streetfighter characters, Halo charactes, and even Lord of the Rings characters in your epic battles.

Nathan Hall said...

That makes me feel a little better about it. I've suffered too much at the hands of unobjective DMs.

Maybe I'll check it out at my local comic book shop.

Scipio said...


I had to think a bit before I made the decision to give JJ quarters on the Satellite. I decided to do so, in the end, because many younger Heroclix players know the Martian Manhunter primarily through his television incarnations, where he is key as part of the Satellite gang.

As for where the un-Fantastic Four stay, well, there's J'onn's empty room and the Guest Room, which houses two. And as for Zatanna--well, as we all know, she's happy to bunk with just about anyone.

Scipio said...

Nathan, I recommend that you get the recently released "Fast Forces: Superman"; it's a starter set with six figures, perfect to cut your teeth on.

TotalToyz said...

I am quite terrified however, that they actually let HAL help build the original satellite.

I know Hal-bashing is a popular sport around here (how'd you like your Christmas card, Scipio?) but just to be a devil's advocate: he was a test pilot, and a very good one by all accounts. Which means he must have had at least some working knowledge of how stuff like that worked. I doubt he could have built the satellite alone from scratch, but neither would be have been totally useless.

Jack Norris said...

I love that that one layout includes an "Arts & Crafts" room; how could you leave it out?
Where will our heroes cover balloons with paper mache or glue macaroni to toilet paper rolls and spray paint it gold now?!? Huh?

Scipio said...

Jack, I puzzled over that one for a long time. I suppose it's where Wonder Woman teaches the viewers how to make their magic bracelets out of cardboard, glue, and glitter, and where Aquaman makes those neat kazoos out a combs and paper.

Ken said...

great map but how does one move from the observation deck/ring to the lower levels that fill the otherwise empty space?

Adrian said...

hello how do i obtain this map?