Tuesday, October 25, 2011

DC Elseworlds - part 1, of what might have been.

Ever since the Star Trek episode Mirror Mirror pop culture fans obsess over "What If" tales of parallel universes full of goateed evil version and alternate time streams that would take Doc Brown and Marty McFly years to unwind.

Heck even Marty has an alternate universe doppelganger in Eric Stolz, who was replaced by Michael J. Fox after a lot of shooting was completed. In some fringe, alternate universe maybe a goateed Eric stayed with the film.

DC has already put out one Elseworlds theme set, but there's always room for more. Taking a page from the "what could have been" playbook, HeroClix has its own close encounters with alternate reality. For instance, every set goes through a complex pot boiling process that narrows down the list of figures to make it in. When Topps sold WizKids back in November of 2008 fans knew there were still a lot of unmade sculpts, and figures "in the pipe" including the entire Hammer of Thor set.

According to interviews with WizKids staff it's a six to 9 month turnaround from the time a set list was finalized to the time a set is released. With that in mind, the creative team was always working far enough ahead to have a few sculpts that don't make it into a set. Some get held over to the next set.

The Avengers expansion, for instance featured Stingray, Living Laser, the Mandarin, and Guardsman all of whom seem better suited to the Armor Wars theme. Swamp Thing and Human Target were probably edged out of DC75 in favor of more of the Rainbow Lanterns. Morbius, the living vampire was easily a shoe in for Mutations and MONSTERS but didn't find his way into the game until Secret Invasion. Keep looking and you'll find more (Victor Mancha anyone?).

More proof of this theory lies in prototypes and master sculpts of the artists WizKid retained to bring HeroClix to the battle mats. For instance, the incredibly talented James Van Shaik has a few photos of figures that could have made it into a set, but didn't for some reason or another.

Exhibit A: Black Canary

James Van Shaik has this picture of Black Canary with the following caption:

Done for Wizkids during the Topps ownership 2008/2009

I assume James means 2008, because by 2009 Topps really hadn't done anything with the HeroClix property besides sell it. Still, a 2008 sculpt could have put this figure in line for an Arkham Asylum release, which makes since given Dinah's Gotham roots.

Exhibit B: Huntress

Done for Wizkids during the Topps ownership 2008/2009.

It appears 'Canary wasn't the only vigilante slated for a remake in Topps owned WizKids. Fellow Birds of Prey teammate Huntress was on the books as well for a much needed update. Aside from Arkham, another possibility was that these two birds were slated for the Brave and the Bold set, which was the DC theme set rumored (and proven) to follow Marvel's Hammer of Thor release. That might have made this pair a duo, so perhaps it's a good thing these two never saw the light of day.

Exhibit C: Catwoman

Another alternate reality probably saw this original Catwoman costumed Selina Kyle on top of the Bat Signal, instead of this updated version that fans got as a brick figure.

James gives us more insight on his image tag saying:

"The buy-it-by-the-brick figure done for Wizkids Brave and the Bold Expansion. Not my choice on the pose/design of this one. They wanted Catwoman laying on a wall originally, I wanted her crouched at his feet but I suggested the Batsignal to try something different."

It's telling that direction from on top also wanted the costume updated with the goggle look, and not the classic duds of the original gray suited cat burglar.

Exhibit 4: Superman

Not much evidence of anything per se, but noteworthy nonetheless. WizKids sculptor Ben Misenar went through the trouble of creating this Red Son Superman for a 'Clix for the Cure event. Given the recent Superman release it's odd that we never got a Red Son Superman in that set, but rather a second Elseworld's version of Son of Darkseid Superman.

Exhibit 5: Blackest Night part 2?

Call me crazy, but I suspect that the big portion of the "Rainbow Corps" from DC75 were jammed into the set, but originally intended for another Fast Forces styled release.

Examine the sculpts of Sinestro, Larfleeze, and Atrocitus and compare them to the Blackest Night starter figures.

The level of detail for some of these figures is off the charts compared to the rest of DC75. Most, if not all of them have that translucent plastic that summons up images of power ring constructs. Kyle is halfway there with the GLC tombstone/marker evoking Larfleeze's base.

I can imagine WizKids kicking around the idea of a second set based on initial sale numbers but balking due to some obscurity issues the set would have. Wonder Woman is a household name. Flash is a good sale point, but Larfleeze? Atrocitus? I doubt they could help carry a set.

With all these unmade sculpts and signs pointing to other planned releases it makes one wonder what else might have been. Stay tuned as next time we look over the fence at what might have been in the Marvel U.

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