Thursday, October 06, 2011

Heads up, DC!

Hello, everyone! The Rolling Head of Pantha here! As longtime readers know, I embody the Spirit of Bloody Corporal and Capital Violence in the DCU… to the degree I can be said to ‘embody’ anything, that is. You may also know me from several Halloween carols, or my custom Heroclix figure.

I’ve been doing a tour of the state capitals, winding up here in the nation’s capital, visiting Scipio, who invited me to do a guest-post, which I composed primarily by falling nose-first repeatedly onto his iPad; thanks, auto-correct!

I know many of you were concerned that ‘the new DCU’ would be alienatingly different for you. But I’m here to report that under Geoff Johns’ steady, labrys-wielding hands, characters are still being decapitated on a regular basis in the new DCU. It’s true what the French say, “the more things change, the more they splay the same.”

Last month, I was afraid DC has gone soft on us, when the best Detective Comics, its flagship title, could offer us was a de-face-ification. Granted, it was a very high profile de-face-ification of comic’s most famous face. And it did make me miss Jean Loring…

I think the “Dollmaker” is just the neo-DCU’s new, less scary version of Jean Loring.

But (if you’ll pardon the pun) face it: Batman’s earliest recurring foe, Dr Death, already did the “oops I lost my face” routine seventy-some years ago. Heck, Harvey Dent became famous for losing half his face over fifty years ago. To say nothing of Dr No-Face!

Remarkable diction, considering.

De-face-ification isn’t cutting edge; it’s a poor man’s decapitation, if you ask me. So I took heart (um, metaphorically) to see that Detective #2 featured a prominent decapitation and the headless corpse of a GCPD member. With flies. Now, I’d have happily traded the swarm of flies for some actual in-panel violence, particularly an in-panel rolling-head scene. But a girl in my position – nose-first on a iPad – can’t be too picky.

But it was the first issue of Penguin: Pain and Prejudice that really brought a lump to the remains of my throat! There we got to witness, first-hand, a mugging that culminated with decapitation! Now that’s what I call getting capped! For extra points, it was a sweet, philanthropic old lady who got the ax; plus, they didn’t kill her first then cut off her head. No, it was proper death-by-decapitation; thanks, DC! William Gaines would be proud.

Really, in retrospect, I wonder why more muggings in the DCU aren’t decapitation. Guns are so… cold, so impersonal. How much more dramatic Batman’s origin would have been had we seen Martha Wayne’s severed head bouncing off the Fourth Wall in glorious 3D, bloodied pearls EVERYWHERE! Well, I can still hope; perhaps DC will take the opportunity the reboot affords to, um… ‘re-cap’ that scene.

Could that be any more boring? They could easily just be napping. Or moonbathing, which is a thing in Gotham.

Honestly, it’s something that could be worked into almost all the major original stories. We know now that Barry Allen’s mother was murdered; that might as well be a decapitation, mightn’t it? Abin Sur died in a freaking space-ship crash, which could easily have severed off his head, leaving his chatty power ring to do any necessary exposition. Crazy J’onn J’onnz’s reaction to Dr. Erdel’s experiment could easily have turned neck-severingly ugly. We still don’t know how Tom Curry died; cue the shark! During the explosion of Krypton, the sight of Jor-El’s flying noggin, headband and all, sliced off by some shard of sunstone would be the most natural thing in the world. And as for the Kents, well, two words:

wheat thresher.

DC; don’t waste this opportunity!

Sunday, October 02, 2011

Amnesty Bay

I have created a new custom Heroclix Map (above) to celebrate "The New Aquaman" in the rebooted DCU (and his wonderful new Heroclix figure, the most powerful one yet at 156 points, which represents his militaristic version from the Flashpoint crossover, but which, thankfully, looks and acts perfectly "normal" for Aquaman).

This is Amnesty Bay, where Aquaman grew up with his human father (as depicted in Aquaman #1). Geoff Johns has wisely returned Aquaman to his roots as the product of land and sea and the protector of their interface; as the animated Brave and the Bold might say: "HUZZAH!"

The Amnesty Bay Heroclix map features a lighthouse overlooking a shallow beach. Rocky outcroppings and jutting docks create hindering terrain within the water. This is sure to upset Heroclix rules-purists, but to me it's pretty obvious how those squares should work. Aquatic figures treat them as water terrain that has the same effect on them as hindering terrain has on land; land figures treat those squares as regular hindering terrain that they can "stand on" to keep themselves "out of the water".

The beach wraps around the cliff and is almost all clear terrain (except for one square with a lifeguard tower and one with water-side encampments).

The elevated cliff terrain is dominated by the lighthouse itself. The very top of the lighthouse is blocking terrain, by the catwalk surrounding it is second level elevation, accessible by the little staircase leading "into" the lighthouse tower. I conceive the cupola of the lighthouse as a space any figure on the platform can "walk into" and go down and out the stairs. So a figure on any point of the platform can go "down and out" the stairs; conversely, a figure entering the lighthouse by the stairs can "emerge" at any point on the platform. I like fun stuff like that that drives the purists crazy :-).
Oh, and I figure moving from the stairs to platform 'costs' of total of five squares of movement (easy to remember if you use the four square of blocking as a mnemonic device).

The other principle feature on the elevated cliff is the Keeper's Cottage, of course, all clean and beachy-like. Off to one side is a small white gazebo overlooking the ocean, and on the other side, a pool, cabana tent for changing, and a family picnic area. I'm sure most Keeper's Cottages don't have swimming pools, but, hey... this is Aquaman's house, after all. Besides, there's a tactical reason: just as the water terrain has some "land terrain" within it as a staging area for land-based characters, so too the land terrain has some water terrain as a redoubt for aquatic characters.

There are just two points of access via staircase from the cliff to the beach, at the viewing decks on the opposite ends of the map, so some characters with Leap/Climb or Flight will be a huge help here. Add in the scattered spots of hindering terrain, and this map provides plenty of positioning puzzles for any team (except, of course, for Superman Ally teams, which will probably clean your clock anyhow).

I haven't marked some things that I feel are obvious (such as the "levels" of elevation), nor the starting areas. I imagine playing this map with either of two configurations: Land vs. Sea (with one team starting in the Cottage and one at opposite edge in the water) or Amphibious (with a mixed team starting at each of the far ends of the map, staging either on land, at sea, or both).

I wanted this map to be tactically interesting, fair to both aquatic and non-aquatic figures, and, frankly, really pretty. You may notice a preponderance of orange and green on the map; odd coincidence, that!

I hope you enjoy the Amnesty Bay map. I plan on ordering my copy from PosterBrain soon!