Monday, February 28, 2011

All Star Superman Part 5 - Rares

General convention of set design places generics in Common slots, with well known characters in Uncommons, and so it falls to the Rares to fill out some of the lesser known (and lesser loved) figures. Names of rares in past sets like Larfleeze and Rocket Racer populate the bulk with a few high powered or more marquee icons (Wolverine, Storm).

Web of Spiderman continued the trend offering Menace, a relatively new Spider-Foe who makes way for Silver Banshee, an equally villainous femme fatale who can also serve as another LE - Jeanette of the Secret Six.

Bruno Mannheim makes his Clix debut, taking the equally loud and mustachioed place of Daily Bugle Publisher JJJ. Bruno will have a “master” ability for his Intergang minions.

The sewer dwelling Vermin moves over for another “monster movie” type - the Atomic Skull.

The cybernetically enhanced Scorpion got an upgrade in WoS, and so too will Magog, represented here as a member of the JSA.

Noh_varr was the son of a great hero, so it’s fitting that Orion, the son of a great villain (Darkseid) fill his shoes. Orion’s Collateral Damage version while a strong piece could use an upgrade, and would serve as a Silver Bullet piece to Darkseid.

Clone Ben Reilly donned a hoodie sweatshirt and took on the role of Scarlet Spider- so it’s appropriate that another clone take his spot in the set - the Guardian, of Cadmus project.

Relatively new villain Cardiac was a shock inclusion for Spider-fans, so hopefully Codename: Assassin will surprise players.

Speaking of hired killers, where Bullseye is an assassin with grace, I chose to fill his remake spot with another updated character who is notably less than graceful - Kalibak.

Solo, yet another mercenary in ‘Web gets his spot filled by a duo - Flamebird and Nightwing, defenders of the bottle city of Kandor.

Mad scientist Jackal’s spot gets taken over by evil scientist Desaad.

While fan favorite X-man Nightcrawler loses to an equally mobile and hard to pin down Mister Miracle.

Fourth World ranks get filled out in the Rare spots along with some other powerhouses, friends and foes.

#33 Menace = Silver Banshee
#35 J. Jonah Jameson = Bruno Mannheim
#36 Vermin = Atomic Skull
#37 Scorpion = Magog
#38 Noh-Varr = Orion
#40 Scarlet Spider = Guardian
#41 Cardiac = Codename: Assassin
#42 Bullseye = Kalibak
#45 Solo = Flamebird & Nightwing (duo)
#46 Jackal = Desaad
#47 Nightcrawler = Mister Miracle

Next we'll look at the SRs, the cream of the crop of the All Star Superman set.

All Star Superman part 4: Superman's Amazing Friends (and Foes)

Continuing with our conversion of Web of Spider-Man to All Star Superman we take a look at the uncommon slots. The bulk of uncommons are filled with some of the most recognizable characters of the Superman mythos, making fan favorites easy to obtain.

Where Web of Spider-Man gave us one parasitic man-eater in the way of Carnage, Superman foe Parasite could easily be considered a counterpart and needs an update.

Parasite needs a version that will strike fear into the hearts of opponents - a Steal Energy monster with Poison, Flurry, the ability to Wild Card opposing characters - think something close to Zombie Hulk meets Chase Spider-Woman.

Spider-Man’s amazing friend Firestar helped fill WoS’s set list with a much needed update, and Superman has an amigo that equally needs a remake - Supergirl.

We’ll let Big Blue take the Black suited Spider-Man spot. We could have put Superman as a common, but figured fans would appreciate multiple robot generics over a 200+ point definitive beatstick. Black costume Superman will be an LE, complete with regeneration, a power not seen often on Clark’s dial.

Web of Spider-Man gave us three takes on his greatest foe: Norman Osborne, so it goes without saying that the other Billionaire Industrialist villain that must be included in a Superman set is Lex Luthor.

I have him listed as President Luthor, and it’s fun to imagine him with a Diplomatic Immunity trait that prevents Superman Allies from targeting him. In any event, I saved the AE mechanic that lets Lex upgrade into his popular battle armor.

Spider-Man’s ill-reputed girlfriend got hit with the remake stick, so it’s only fitting we include one of Superman’s gal-pals in the form of Lois Lane, from the issue of All Star Superman where she gained powers.

Superman’s not the only hero to call Metropolis a home, and for a while Booster Gold operated out of the big city. A fan favorite who doesn’t have a solo updated version since his Origin appearance, Booster could easily fit in a Man of Steel theme set.

Where Web of Spider-Man had four slots devoted to a complete X-Force team, MoS has four members of a team Superman belonged to: the JLI. With Booster in spot #1 Big Barda fills double duty as a JLI’er and 4th World Female Fury,

Barda also has a bit of a "romantic" history with the Man of Steel...

while Maxwell Lord finally gets the HeroClix treatment as both friend and foe of the Kryptonian (and Booster!).

Also in the frienemie JLI category: Lobo, the main man takes Wolverine’s place.

Plainclothes Lois Lane fills in for Mary Jane in the “supporting cast” role, although Lois’s dial will have more powers, as Lois has proven to be sneaky and combative in her investigative journalism.

While we're on the subject of Weapon X - WoS gave us the annoying son of Wolverine, so it’s fitting that Superboy take Daken’s place. We’re talking first appearance Superboy here, with leather jacket and glasses.

That takes us through the Uncommons and some of the most colorful and popular friends and foes of Superman.
  • #18 Carnage = Parasite
  • #20 Firestar = Supergirl
  • #22 Spider-Man (black suit) = Superman
  • #23 Norman Osborn = President Luthor (AE)
  • #39 Iron Patriot = Lex Luthor (AE)
  • #26 Black Cat = Superwoman (Lois)
  • #27 X-23 = Booster Gold
  • #28 Warpath = Big Barda
  • #29 Wolfsbane = Maxwell Lord
  • #43 Wolverine = Lobo
  • #30 Mary Jane Watson = Lois Lane
  • #31 Daken = Superboy (classic)

Next time we'll look at the Rares, which include some lesser known allies and antagonists of the Man of Steel.

All Star Superman part 3 - Complete teams

HeroClix set design accounts for complete, ready to play teams, and recent sets have delivered with Nextwave, the Guardians of the Galaxy, and in Web of Spider-Man X-Force, the U-Foes, and the Outlaws a group Spidey once belonged to.

Superman has a similar group he joined, if not inspired, the Legion of Super-Heroes. In all honesty, the LoSH could use its own expansion as there are so many characters yet to be made into clix form that they would overrun a set on their own.

It's impossible to include a "complete" line-up of Legionnaires, but we can certainly fill out 3 to 400 points worth of members starting with Sun Boy, a fitting inclusion considering Superman is solar powered.

The Man of Steel set wouldn't be complete without a boy of steel that joined the Legion, and I'm not talking about any Kryptonians.

Ferro Lad may have had a short tenure but certainly fits the Man of Steel theme.

Other never before made Legionnaires include Insect Queen, the role adopted on multiple occasions by Clark’s Smallville sweetheart Lana Lang.

Including Lana as Insect Queen is a great way to showcase Superman's diverse universe of characters without turning her into a vanilla Mary Jane Watson role with no powers.

Lightning Lass gives us a chance to fill two spots...

showcasing another easy to conceive LE repaint, from her time as Light Lass, with powers over gravity.

Finally represent a much needed remake of Brainiac 5 the ancestor of one of Superman's greatest foes, and lover of Supergirl.

With the aforementioned Jimmy Olsen/Elastic Lad the Legion makes a strong showing in Man of Steel.

Back from the future we can easily see who in the DCU takes the place of Tony Stark, the Web of Spider-Man's billionaire industrialist in a suit of armor. It’s fitting that the Man of Steel set get its own “Iron Man” in John Henry Irons: Steel.

WoS also featured a complete line-up of never before made Hulk villains - the U-Foes, with one figure in each rarity set level. For Superman’s set, we’ll try and include another team that hasn’t gotten quite a lot of screen time: the Female Furies.

Granny Goodness has two Modern Age versions, so we'll skip over her and include Bernadeth, Mad Harriet, Stompa, and Gilotina.

That rounds out the common slots, and fills up a couple of teams for some epic HeroClix battles.

  • #11 Prowler = Sun Boy
  • #12 Puma = Ferro Lad
  • #13 Will o the Wisp = Lightning Lass
  • #15 Molten Man = Insect Queen (Lana Lang)
  • #44 Rocket Racer = Brainiac 5
  • #14 Iron Man = Steel
  • #16 Ironclad = Stompa
  • #32 Vector = Mad Harriet
  • #48 X-Ray = Gilotina
  • #60 Vapor SR = Bernadeth

Next, we'll look at some of the Uncommons of Web of Spider-Man and figure out who Superman's Amazing Friends are, and what team takes the place of X-Force...

All Star Superman part 2 - Alter Egos and more

Finishing out the commons of a Superman HeroClix set based on the Web of Spider-Man set, we have a conundrum. Spider-Man featured a number of Alter Ego figures, which arguably aren’t needed in Man of Steel, seeing as how Clark Kent got the AE treatment in the Brave and the Bold.

Rather than go the route of including another Clark (and inducing the groans of many players) we’ll include another one of Superman’s Alter Egos: Gangbuster.

Gangbuster was a more “emo” role Superman created when he was guilt ridden with causing the deaths of the Phantom Zone criminals Zod, Ursa and Non, and in Heroclix form would have the ability to “upgrade” into the Man of Steel.

We don’t want to dismiss the real Gangbuster, so we’ll include Jose Delgado as an LE.

Just as Peter Parker’s spot makes way for Gangbuster, so too can we fill in another Alter Ego slot with another newsman - Jimmy Olsen.

Taking the place of Daily Bugle reporter Eddie Brock is Daily Planet reporter Jimmy Olsen. Olsen is known for his many outrageous adventures, including turning into a giant turtle-boy and joining the Legion of Super-Heroes as Elastic Lad.

Both could be represented by a combination of the AE/battlefield upgrade mechanic, where Jimmy needs to meet a certain goal to transform when the Alter Ego power is showing, and can form into 1 of 2 AEs - Elastic Lad or the aforementioned turtle.

Giant Turtle Boy takes the place of WoS’s SR Groot, a large figure who likewise turns into a colossal mid dial. By combining the AE/Battlefield Upgrade mechanics Jimmy *might* turn into something, but it's no guarantee. Otherwise players can automatically field the Olsen of their choice.

In another common spot Web of Spider-Man featured Venom, the darker, evil Anti-Spider-Man, and while Superman has many foes that fit that bill (Bizarro, Ultraman) one version really needs a remake. The Kryptonian criminal that caused Superman to adopt the Gangbuster guise: Zod.

Zod's not complete without his teammates Ursa and Non, so we'll include them (in different rarities) as well. Never before made Ursa takes the place of Uncommon Never before made Chameleon, while Non grabs Victor Mancha's Rare spot.

Taking a look at WoS's set list, we've filled out spots 8-10, and jumped around a little.

#8 Peter Parker = Gangbuster (AE)
#101 Jose Delgado (Gangbuster)
#9 Venom = Zod
#10 Eddie Brock = Jimmy Olsen
#24 Ben Reilly = Elastic Lad (AE)
#49 Groot SR = Giant Turtle Boy
#19 Chameleon = Ursa
#34 Victor Mancha = Non

Next time we'll look at the Outlaws and see if we can't find a compatible team to replace them with.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

All Star Superman Set List (Speculation)

Part 1, the Commons.

Earlier this month WizKids announced a Superman HeroClix set scheduled for release in September 2011. Assuming, it's a full set, what can fans expect? For one thing, don't expect it to be called All Star Superman thanks to the unfortunate abbreviation implied. Instead, we'll refer to it as the Man of Steel.

Names aside, recent HeroClix expansions have given players a number of remade and never before made Superman enemies including Brainiac, Doomsday, Metallo and the Kryptonite Man. It would be a shame to waste spots in the set dedicated to these most recently made foes, so here's hoping that a few classics actually get left out.

If the Man of Steel set follows the same pattern as the recent theme set of a certain alternate universe web headed journalist, here’s what we might expect to see. Web of Spider-Man featured multiple generics, something Metropolis has plenty of room for.

Instead of the HAMMER organization, MoS would feature updated Intergang agents, an equally sinister group of elite super criminals. Sculpts could be repainted on these Intergang minions to represent two power levels, just as the HAMMER team had its grunts and elites.

On the opposite end of the law and order spectrum is the Metropolis SCU with their captain Maggie Sawyer taking the place of Code: Blue and Marcus Stone.

Additionally, there's Squad K playing both sides of the fence. Lead by General Lane and replacing the generic Nurse spot from WoS.

Not too much of a stretch from WoS's nameless Researcher is the STAR Labs Technician. Dr. Emil Hamilton is an easy repaint, and a prominent figure in the DCU to earn his own clix in LE form.

The Symbiote’s spot gets replaced with the Metallo Man minion, a generic servant of Brainiac/Luthor from the classic Alan Moore “Whatever Happened to the Man of Steel” storyline. Unlike Metallo, who was just one man, Brainiac/Luthor created an army of kryptonite powered cyborgs to assault the Daily Planet in an attempt to draw out the Man of Tomorrow. The Man of Steel set also features the buy it by the brick Brainiac/Luthor figure as their battlefield general.

Superman has rich history entwined with the fourth world, which is why a Fenris Wolf sized double based giant Warhound is an appropriate generic for the set, as opposed to Parademons which made a strong appearance in the recent Brave and the Bold. Warhounds replace the common mugger from Web-Head's expansion.

Speaking of robots, a Superman set couldn’t be complete without a Superman Robot generic, taking the place of classic suit Spidey.

So far we've found replacements for 10 figures:

#1 HAMMER Agent = Intergang Agent
#17 HAMMER Elite Operative = Intergang Elite
#2 Symbiote = Metallo Man
#3 Researcher = STAR Labs technician
#4 Nurse = Squad K
#25 Anti-Venom = General Sam Lane
#5 Code: Blue Officer = Metropolis SCU
#21 Lt. Marcus Stone = Captain Maggie Sawyer
#6 Mugger = War Hound
#7 Spider-Man = Superman Robot

Next post we'll take a look at the Alter Egos possible in a full blown Man of Steel set.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

What is Nextwave, anyway?

Nextwave is a comic book music video at full volume,

featuring people getting kicked and then exploding. So says European comic superstar scribe Warren Ellis when he created the team. Nextwave is his bastardized brain child of a series, featuring obscure or third tier Marvel characters like Machine Man and Elsa Bloodstone.

More of an art installation than linear storytelling vehicle, Nextwave issues are crammed full of action sequences, with jaded, self aware heroes playing the role of monster hunters chasing down brightly colored villains that make no rational sense. Pythons in Bi-Planes. Giant monkey Wolverine clones. Dinosaurs in smoking jackets. In other words, check your brain at the door.

Even Ellis confesses that there is little substance to the work:

"I took The Authority and I stripped out all the plots, logic, character and sanity... It’s an absolute distillation of the superhero genre. No plot lines, characters, emotions, nothing whatsoever. It’s people posing in the street for no good reason. It is people getting kicked, and then exploding. It is a pure comic book, and I will fight anyone who says otherwise. And afterwards, they will explode".

It's part satire, part social commentary, poking fun at the strange areas of the Marvel Universe (and the real universe) while honoring Marvel's oft times oddball history.

Nextwave also has a diehard fan following among the Gen-X & Y set with a target audience of the texting-tweeting crowd, where attention spans are measured in nanoseconds. This book is geared for an audience craving eyepopping visual candy, mixed with subversive anti-establishment behavior. In short: it's not a long read.

Opening the pages of an issue of Nextwave comes with a clause: you're agreeing to throw continuity, and even reason out the window. Nothing that happens in these pages means anything as characters act inconsistently, and there are no rules of physics (as applied in even the most basic comic books) to the point where every issue is a cartoon episode of Wile E Coyote chasing that Roadrunner. Or in this case a sharp toothed koala bear hunting a robot.

Now where have I seen this before?

Speaking of rabid koala bears, Nextwave brings to mind another, older property. It could be argued that Nextwave is nothing more than a reimagined Tank Girl, with a bigger cast of characters, cleaner artwork, and less nudity.

Jamie Hewlitt may have more recognition now because of his work with the Gorillaz, but the creator of Tank Girl is like Warren Ellis, a crazy Brit who enjoys ridiculous visuals...

Known for explosive chromatic eye candy

Tank Girl featured killer koalas and little in the way of plot

with lead characters posing for no good reason.

As artistic endeavors, both succeed admirably, but as storytelling goes, they fall a little flat - and they're meant to. Neither one aspires to be anything more than what they are - a showcase for crazy characters and artwork stitched together with a very thin narrative.

It's no surprise that Nextwave will transfer well to a HeroClix map. It'll be a lot of fun to have Nextwave show up and



and Explode!

their way across a map. I will fight anyone who says otherwise.

And they will explode.