Sunday, April 11, 2021

Heroclix Sunday: The Pension Building

There's an exciting new set of Heroclix figures coming out this month in honor of the 80th Anniversary of Wonder Woman.  The figures are more detailed than ever (thanks to SCIENCE!), there's a neat new mechanic for empowering sidekicks, and lots of characters are being made for the first time (e.g., Angle Man, Ferdinand the Chef, and Wonder Woman's brother Jason). If you are new to Heroclix, there's even a Wonder Woman-themed starter set to help you learn.

In preparation, I created a new map of Washington DC indoor location: The Pension Building.

The exhibit rooms are empty so you can put object tokens in there for the characters to throw at each other.

Build in the 1880s, the Pension Building is an imposing building inside and out. 

It's monumental. Even for DC.

Even if you ignore the exhibits, the building itself is a thing to be seen.

Originally a government office, it's housed the National Building Museum since 1980.  I call it The Guy Museum, because male visitors who aren't keen on art or history still eat up exhibits on architecture, city planning, and building construction.  

Although it's too large to accurately represent on a Heroclix map, my scaled down version comes close (although it doesn't capture the second story).  The bespoke element is the rug which is a scanned version of the ACTUAL iconic rug at the museum (and I almost fell off the balcony!).  

The Pension Building is known for holding prestigious events, like the Presidential Inaugural Ball, in its Great Hall, or wacky large-scale interactive art projects:

The Beach

The Hive

The Maze

The Lawn

In fact, it was at the National Building Museum's indoor kite exhibition that I got the idea for the Flying Robot Zombie Shark of Christmas Future. But that's a story for another time.

Sunday, April 04, 2021

Heroclix Sunday: CCPD HQ

Astonishingly, Heroclix is still going strong 19 years later (despite every single change, evolution, or improvement to the game being trumpeted by Gabriels of doom as "the end of Heroclix").  And there are lots of new rule and power changes that, frankly, were overdue and make it much easier to play (and which, of course, are being trumpeted as "the end of Heroclix", but aren't).

Making maps for the game (as alternatives to the officials ones, which are often not to my liking) is one of my hobbies, and I'd like to share one of my latest efforts:  Central City Police Headquarters (as seen on the CW show "The Flash").

The real one is 2ftx3ft.

The structure of the actual set on the CW show is hard to capture; properly the Squad Room (in the center) would be UNDER Barry's lab.  But 2D Heroclix maps aren't really designed for that, so on this map it's just walled terrain in front of Barry's Lab, which is up on the upper floor, accessed through the same sets of stairs we see on the show.

Ever wonder why CCPD has a two-story lobby that's NOT on the ground floor (as proven by the elevators)? Never quite figured that one out myself.  Central City likes it's grand Art Deco flair, I suppose.  Set designers love elevators because, unlike doors, they don't require having another set BEHIND them.

Most of the decor is standard but there are two bespoke elements: the CCPD logo used on the show and, at the very bottom, the bas relief wall hanging of JUSTICE that's on the show.

You know, this one, that the villains are always standing ironically in front of when they attack the Detective Division.

For obvious reasons, I start Team Flash figures at the north end of the map at the windows of Barry's Lab (assuming there's no thunderstorm, of course), and the villains in the elevators (although I like to force them to move in front of the JUSTICE mural before they are allowed to attack, because presentation is important).

Saturday, April 03, 2021

More Fun with FACES

With the gargoyles captured (and off to have their faces presumably 'returned' to them by Dr Rankin at some point), the Real Villain of the Piece hightails it outta there.

Some writer was SO proud of writing "devilish Angel".

Returning to his hospital (how DOES a hospital become famous is all it does is mess up people's faces?!), Angel forces Dr. Rankin to give him a new face as a ticket to new life.

Look, Rankin; Green Arrow may be no Batman, but you're no Sonny Blandish.

After all this shouting in the hospital Quiet Zone, the deed is done.

I guess Star City police couldn't track down the man whose face was completely covered in bandages and on the run.  They did, however, detain Tommy Elliot, Larry Trainor, Dr. Spencer, Prof. Wilson, Hugo Drummond, the Unknown Soldier, and Hassan the Mummy.

But, lest we forget, Prof. Angel is, in his eagerness to keep himself at arm's-distance from his nasty business, SLOPPY.  All of his gargoyle crimes were unproductive fiascos, he let someone else 'do in' Green Arrow, and then couldn't even be bothered to make sure Green Arrow was dead.

If I had the chance, I'd sit on Ollie's corpse for at least two hours, just to make sure.

So perhaps his belief, as he strides purposefully toward the glorious end of his next five-year plan, that he's gotten off scot-free is misplaced.  

"I'll make a fortune! Just like I did this time!"

Sure enough, he's soon got men on his tail: the po-po!

Panicked to defend himself, he pulls a gun...


and he's shot dead by five cops with seven guns, who apparently were chasing him not because he was Professor Angel, but because they thought he was someone else.

Yes, Doctor Rankin got his revenge on (and freedom from) Professor Angel by giving him the face of someone the police would naturally chase:

FBI Director
J.  E D G A R  H O O V E R

Well, much like Professor Angel, I certainly didn't see THAT coming.  But I guess if you don't want men on your tail and shooting on you, don't run around looking like J. Edgar Hoover.  

My apologies for dissing Dr. Rankin earlier; perhaps he IS Star City's Sonny Blandish!  He, at least, stopped Prof. Angel (a powerless, talentless, sloppy blackmailer) when Green Arrow couldn't.  And Rankin was smart enough to know that anyone dumb enough not to notice that Ollie was still breathing would also be satisfied when you gave him this face:

J.Edgar, when this story was published.

So, all's well that ends well. The bad guy is dead, the victims get their faces 'returned', no one cares about some dead truck drivers, and Ollie gets another item for his Armoire of Trophies.

"Ollie.... you DO realize that Bright can't WORK without that, right?"
"That's right, Roy; another actor saved from being on a CW show!"

Friday, April 02, 2021

More Fun with GAS


"I had to use the Starman Code, because there is no Green Arrow Code, because you aren't in the Justice Soci--"

Yes, I was DECEIVING you yesterday on April Fool's Day, for Ollie Queen is NOT, in fact, dead. Neither is Roy Harper, which was, of course, the 'dead' giveaway; killing Ollie Queen is one thing, but what kind of idiot writer would kill off Roy Harper?

Yet another underwhelming Batman foe winds up in Green Arrow's hand-me-down Rogues Gallery.

As you read in the story panel, Doc Rankin's 'shaking hands' were IN FACT tapping out a message on the bowmen's faces in (what we can only assume was Morse) code.  If you were lying semiconscious, would YOU understand if some tapped out "P L A Y D E A D I T I S O N L Y O X Y G E N" on your face?  Well, then you're no Green Arrow!  Fortunately, as I mentioned once 16 years ago, everyone in comics knows Morse code, cold.

Even dogs can do it. In Spanish. While dying of radiation poisoning.

Dr Rankin explains the whole situation to the bowmen, who speed off in the Arrowcar (yeah, I know, they are still calling it the Arrowplane at this point, probably because it's the size of a hangar) to the gargoyles' next heist.

"Um, sure, Arrow. I'll... 'return' their faces to them. I keep them here, in a jar by the door, next to Ms. Rigby's."

Sigh; you know, if Rankin were a Gothamite instead of a Star Citizen, he would have kicked Angel's ass, then flown to Germany and rescued his own family.  That's what Sonny Blandish would have done.

The next heist is at a gold mine, where the third gargoyle uses his expertise as a mining engineer to effect some chemical folderol that knocks out all opposition.

Only idle billionaire anthropologists can afford their own aqualung-arrows, you know.

Green Arrow shows up to foil them, and, once they realize Speedy is with him, they know they are in trouble.

Unfortunately, Roy seems to still be hyper-oxygenated from Dr Rankin's ruse, and misjudges his entrance.

I have no idea what "here's where this ghost goes west" means. The past is a foreign country.

Gotta appreciate that Roy is still brassy enough to sass Ollie while falling to certain death.  Ollie saves Roy in the scene depicted in the opening splash page and has NO intention of letting Roy ever forget it.

"It would be a THIRD chance, you see, because your SECOND chance is the one I, Green Arrow, gave you by saving your life, when you messed up your FIRST chance."
"Yeah. I get it. Thanks, G.A. You're my hero."

With no aqualung arrows of their own as backup, the gargoyles succumb to Green Arrow. Or, at least, to all the gas.  

"Yep! Lucky there's nothing serious, because all those dead truck drivers were merely subhuman chattel!"  Never forget that Ollie's a one-percenter.

The three gargoyles may not have very successful in actually pulling off any crimes, but you must admit that these unwilling amateur criminals have made a pretty strong showing in holding their own against the Heroes of Star City.

But what of the REAL villain of the piece, Professor Angel? Well, like Roy & Ollie, we'll have to catch up with him tomorrow...

Thursday, April 01, 2021

More Fun with Chemistry

Yesterday, Green Arrow & Co. used their absurd (and absurdly dangerous) car-o-pult to launch themselves through a glass window on the top floor at Professor Angel's hospital, whereupon they were IMMEDIATELY clobbered by his gargoyles (who knew that Green Arrow wouldn't be able to resist crashing head-first through the window).

Hal Jordan, eat your heart out.

One man's "cowardly blow" is another man's "obvious counter-tactic". I haven't enjoyed an Ollie-foiling this much since Bullseye just threw rocks at him.  

Fortunately, it IS a hospital, so they can get treated right away.


Professor Angel forces his plastic surgeon, Dr Rankin (whose family is being held hostage), to kill off GA and Speedy. Prof. Angel, as we have noticed from previous scenes, always uses intermediaries and never gets his own hands dirty.

"You MUST, Dr. Rankin!  It's the only way Black Canary can live a full and happy life!"

Seems a waste of the opportunity to just put them BACK in the Arrowcar's catapult and hurl them to a splatifying doom, which would be a much more fitting end.  And everyone would just shake their heads and say, "Well, we all knew it would happen eventually!"

But Professor Angel is not a supervillain and doesn't go for death-traps.  Dr. Rankin hesitates but

"Ca- can't I livestream this?  It would go SO VIRAL!"

does the deed with shaking hands. Can you blame him? I'd be excited, too.  

Oh, and, to answer your question...

...YES, that makes for a great desktop background.  Staring at it, I can almost hear Ollie's final thought::

"This... gives me... ... an IDEA!"

Hey, Aqua-lung; 

Ollie's feeling like a dead duck and splitting out pieces of his broken luck.


Green Arrow no more! Thus died Green Arrow and Speedy, now forgotten by time, never to have Underoos or Heroclix figures or even a CW series. But tomorrow we will move on with our lives....!

Wednesday, March 31, 2021

More Fun On Stage

As it happens, Oliver and Roy are directed by Equity to the very Stage Door Canteen that Professor Angel's gargoyles are about to rob.

Ollie's still clinging to that 'black market Equity card' theory, I see.

Fortunately for Professor Angel, his gargoyles (a has-been actor, a trucking expert, and mining engineer) just so happen to know how to handle tommy guns.

"SPEEDY??!  #$*(!, now we're in trouble!"

"Now that I see Green Arrow, I KNOW I don't have to take this seriously!"

Per usual, the Star Citizens in attendance think the whole thing is just part of the show.  

I mean, if you saw Green Arrow, would YOU think he was real?

The Gargoyles beat a hasty retreat, because god forbid two young expert archer crimefighters should be able to capture three denuded middle-aged unwilling amateur crooks.

Ladies and gentlemen: let's hear it for Green Arrow's Rogues Gallery!

Roy, since he lives with Ollie, knows how to deal with stupid people and helps G.A. warn off the Star Citizens.

A nod to how Speedy, a superior sidekick, efficiently accomplishes both klonking a foe on the head with the same actions as giving Ollie the opportunity to warm the crowd.  Roy is the best.

Green Arrow may not be the hero that Star City needs, but he certainly is the hero Star City deserves, since the local goobers fawn all over him:

At least it gives the bowmen an excuse for not being to catch the three feebs they are fighting.

The crooks escaping is a dream for Ollie because it lets him to do the only thing that makes him feel alive:


This decision, happily, leads to the only thing that makes ME feel alive:  watching Ollie's catapult schtick blow up in his face.


This only way this could be funnier would be in the gargoyles were still in their underwear.  Add "coffee pots" (I guess?) to the list of 1001 Ways To Defeat Green Arrow.

Tuesday, March 30, 2021

More Fun WITH Green Arrow

In yesterday's episode, Professor Angel and his deformed, blackmailed proteges had used a giant mirror to cause a horrific accident with a truck full of rubber tires, a valuable wartime commodity.  Into this mess roars Green Arrow in that lemon-fresh mobile-home he calls "the Arrowcar":

Pikachumobile needs a new pair of shoes!

This single panel encapsulates everything wrong about Green Arrow (except, you know, the archery thing).  Roy is the sensible adult and Ollie the impetuous child.  Ollie's #white(millioniare)privilege in having a priority rating for his tires and his putting his own desires before the country's needs.  The absurdity of the behemoth Arrowmobile, which weighs so much it probably needs new tires every 10 miles.  Ollie, proving his malfeasance in this regard by driving the car needlessly fast to satisfy his whims, even though that the exact reason he needs new tires.  He's not even waiting for the tire convoy to reach its distribution point; he's driving out to meet it on the road.  I suspect Oliver Queen's middle name is Karen.

If I were in a car with an ejector seat, being driven by Ollie Queen, I probably wouldn't sit down either.

Note the exact timing of events in the next panel, folks.

"You know what to do! I mean... don't you? You always do. Please tell me you know what to do, kid.  I don't need to know what it is; just do it, while I drive and dream about my new tires."

I'm guessing from the context (and the lack of an AAEEEIIIIIGH!) that this is a second or so truck derailed by the mirror, not the first one. But ask yourself what would have happened WITHOUT the mirror there, as Ollie, who we know is driving too fast, careens around the corner in his canary Kampfpanzer.  Odds are the trucks would have driven off the cliff TO AVOID THE ARROWCAR.

Anyway, as always, Roy takes care of the issue, while Ollie gawks like a tourist

Giant Mirror of Destruction is the name of my next quartet.  Always look to Golden Age comics for the name of your next quartet, they never disappoint.

Despite being amateur, first-time criminals, Angel's stooges immediately and intuitive realize that

...the real threat is the red-threaded kid and that only one of them is need to deal with Green Arrow.

They flee but leave behind a clue:

"That's it, Speedy! Their REAL racket is blackmarket Equity cards and this attack on the tire convoy is just a diversion! To the Arrowcave!"

Boy, the crooks (and writers) sure do make it easy on Ollie, don't they?  At this stage, Batman (an actual detective) was doing stuff like tracking down criminals from scraps of material from the clothing.  But Green Arrow writers know they need to literally hand Oliver a piece of paper with the criminal's name on it if he's to stand any chance (N.B., Roy is the one who found the clue, 'natch).

The next encounter is, literally, a Bright idea:  to rob a benefit at a Stage Door Canteen in New York.  

"We'll go in as instrumentalists; that way, no one will notice that we are hideously deformed."

As it happens, pre-internet Oliver and Roy are ALSO headed to New York City to visit Equity Headquarters in hopes of finding Richard Bright...