Monday, March 26, 2012

Galactic Guardians Set List: Hit or Miss?

Well, they've finally done it.

After 30 years of comic reading to back up my trivia of the Marvel Universe, WizKids has finally stumped me on multiple occasions with this set. I'm talking about the set list, that roster of names that is a roll call for the latest HeroClix expansion: Galactic Guardians.

I consider myself to be well versed in the annals of comic history. If Spy Smasher or B'wana (nee Freedom) Beast appears on the JLU, I can point them out to anyone in the room. And for years I suffered through game after game and venue after venue with people that never really read a comic in their life, and only knew figures based on one of 3 critera:

1.) They saw them in a movie.
2.) They saw them on tv.
3.) The figure has an amazing HeroClix dial.
Inevitably with every set release I'd run into someone who didn't know anything about someone who I figured was a B or even C-lister. Lobo? Who's that? Adam Strange? Never heard of him. She-Thing? Did Ben get turned into a woman? Etc Etc. Thankfully the character cards got rid of the problem of explaining who some of these morts were.

Today, I'm ashamed to admit that I'm *that* guy.

I'm the one scratching my head saying Replica? Isn't that a Green Lantern villain? Blood Brother? Didn't he fight the Teen Titans? Morg? Who? I blame the craptacular 90's for my ignorance, as I dropped Marvel Comics from my read list right before Thanos came back from the dead (really, he was dead, my Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe told me!) and started collecting jewelry for his girlfriend (boyfriend?).

It turns out I was wrong to blame the craptacular 90's, or rather foster all the blame in that decade. Some of the figures are much newer (again, I don't read much of the current stuff), and surprisingly one dates back to before I was born! So here's a breakdown of the characters on the set list I didn't immediately recognize.

Blood Brother

Their first appearance was in a 1973 Iron Man Comic (#55) where they were featured as Thanos' henchmen. Their power increases the closer they are together, which is represented in their dial. And here I thought they were some 90's take on WWE fighters.


A relatively new character that appeared in 2006 as part of the Annihilation Wave story. Ravenous is a Negative Zone baddie, one of Annihilus's generals, sent on a special mission to hunt down the Heralds of Galactus.

Red Shift

Red Shift was a Herald of Galactus which meant he had the Power Cosmic. Too bad that wasn't enough to keep him from his fate as one of those Ferro Lad/Morph/Warpath characters (ie: doomed from the moment they are created). Red Shift appears in a handful of issues before being killed in the line of duty during the Annihilation event.


Morg's first appearance was at the height of Infinity War in Silver Surfer #69, about two years after I stopped reading the title. A rather amoral Herald of Galactus, Morg seems a lot like Terrax on the surface which is probably why Terrax killed him. As it happens in comics, Morg eventually got better only to apparently die again.

Fallen One

Appearing in an issue of Thanos (#11, 2008) the Fallen One was revealed to be the first of Galactus's Heralds and is one of those type of characters that has a mysterious past, so there's not a lot known about him, or why he quit punching the clock for the Big G.


While I'm not familiar with the character I am familiar with the team she was on: The Guardians of the Galaxy (old school). Everything you need to know you can tell just by looking at her - she's a Skrull, so she has Beast Boy like shapechange abilities, and the skin tone to match.

I also can't help but look at Replica and see the alternate Ben Grimm with pink bat-wings from What If the Fantastic Four had Gained Different Powers?

And that's about it for the "I didn't know that."

This set, like Hammer of Thor, or Web of Spider-man feels very tightly themed, and it makes me a little wistful for what DC HeroClix could accomplish if they picked a Legion of Super-Heroes or 4th World theme instead of constantly picking some "blanket" anniversary theme.

I mean they can't even bother to put Jimmy Olsen in a friggin' Superman set... but that's a rant for another day.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

How to Win: Fighting the Super-Radicator

As an extension of my article series HOW TO WIN I thought I'd write about a team for which I've seen a lot of strategy & tactic questions on (specifically regarding how to deal with it):

Superman (001r)
Infinity Gauntlet
Total = 300

This is a standard Net-Deck team that uses the IG equipped on Superman (because he can turn the dial faster than the Rad-one) and requires little thought or strategy to work on a map and do reasonably well. In short, it's a point and click team.

It works well for what it is too. With Metropolis (or Kryptonian) as a keyword this theme team gets 2 PC Rerolls, and it has a lot of teeth, with HSS'ing Superman and a bold anti-Stealth Running Shot/PB combo on the Eradicator who also has defenses that Nightcrawler is nearly jealous about.

But is it all that and a can of Kick-@$$?

I honestly don't think much of the R 150 point Superman. Sure he's got HSS, an 11 attack, Outwit, and 4 damage with Super Strength, plus Indomitable to do it all over. But the Man of Steel is stacked like Power Girl - he's top loaded, a glass jawed joe, with one click drawing a line between Awe-some and Aw-ful.

Okay, maybe not totally awful, but when he gets Earthbound the seams on the cape really start to show. More on that in a bit. In the meantime I'd like to take a minute to talk about Kryptonite Man.

Note that Superman's Bane gives Superman Earthbound. Many don't know, or have forgotten, but Earthbound got an upgrade in the last PAC update. Earthbound now essentially reads:

This character can’t use combat abilities and possesses the boot, fist, shield and starburst symbols instead of its combat symbols. This power can’t be countered or ignored.

Which means:
  1. If 150 point Indomitable Superman already has one action token when he is given another action and
  2. 150 point Superman ends his action anywhere within 8 squares of Kryptonite Man then
  3. Superman is going to take a click of damage because...


Once Superman takes a click he drops out of HSS and then he's much easier to handle.

Of course, so far we've only discussed one half of a potent two pronged team. With the Eradicator running around on the loose, a tie-up piece like Ragdoll is probably in order. Why? Because Ragdoll will prevent Eradicator from using Psychic Blast.

Even if "Raddy" manages to break away from the Secret Sixer, the doll will cling to him with a death grip thanks to his SP. Worried about Eradicator's superior defenses? With K-Man on the board, you should be able to POISON the heck out of both Superman & Eradicator.

K-Man's kind of a slow walker so he's going to necessitate a taxi. Someone with high speed, that isn't slowed down by carrying people should suffice. That leaves a few extra points to round out the team, and there's plenty of options left.

You could add someone with a Wild Card or Superman Enemy TA to give K-Man some Outwit (Matter-Eater Lad comes to mind as a flying Wild Card who also acts as bomb disposal) and add some extra PC/Perplex/or other Support. Instead, I prefer adding a threat that not only can't be ignored, but will likely be singled out.

Take this sample build:

121 BB032 Kryptonite Man - meant to Poison Superman
50 GX031 Angel - to Taxi Kryptonite Man.
75 GG204 Drax - a strong primary attacker.
46 AN035 Ragdoll - should cling tight to Eradicator.
3 ATA023 Secret Six - hurts Eradicator if he manages to KO the doll
5 GXS101 Crimson Gem of Cyttorak - Filler, and a way for Drax/K-man to be a bigger threat.
Total 300

Looking at this team on a map one thing is apparent: the opponents will want to focus on Drax who is deceptively the biggest threat, so Drax should not advance too far out where he can be hit early.

With the right map in play and good positioning Angel should get a first strike in on Superman, and if carrying K-Man with him, some of the 2 damage will stick. Should Angel charge Superman when Superman has 1 token on him, then Superman is in trouble. Angel can set K-Man down next to Superman, and if Angel missed his attack then Superman is left with these options:
  1. Outwit K-Man's Poison, clear and hope K-Man misses an attack the following round
  2. Outwit Superman's Bane, take a token to attack and attempt to HSS away.
  3. Outwit Invulnerability on K-Man, take a token and take a push because he's no longer Indomitable thanks to Superman's Bane.
  4. Outwit Angel's Super Senses and hit Angel, Ignoring K-man for some reason.
If Superman picks option 1, then K-man has good odds of hitting him in close combat the following turn, knocking him off Superman's Bane.

If Superman picks Option 2, then he's in serious trouble because Angel should just be able to push and fly/carry K-Man net to him the following round, and Superman will have 2 tokens on him and have to take the damage.

Option 3 posses the biggest threat to this team, because if Superman manages to hit K-man with a heavy object he could possibly KO him (critical hit!). Also try to position with Knockback in mind. if either Superman or K-Man take knockback, it ruins some element of the chase.

Option 4 is just sheer stupidity, leaving K-Man to Poison Superman 2 turns in a row, not to mention beat on him.

Now, this all hinges on tying up Eradicator so he can't help Superman KO K-Man. Ragdoll must have moved up, and possibly pushed to get next to Eradicator to prevent Eradicator from PB'ing K-Man . Thanks to the Secret Six ATA (found with art on the Heroclixin' blog) Ragdoll packs a punch even if he's KO'd.

Drax then moves into charge range of Superman when Eradicator is tied up and Superman is busy dealing with K-Man and Angel.

Another route you can take with this team is adding some Perplex/PC to make sure Angel gets first strike while carrying K-man. That way you don't have to worry about K-Man getting hit by a Heavy Object. I went with Drax however, because he makes for a well rounded team should you not face Super-radicator, AND because at a glance he's the biggest threat on the team, but here he's actually a bit of a decoy which is just deliciously evil. Opponents will be so intimidated with Drax that they'll likely forget Kryptonite Man is their real threat.

Obviously this team is a bandage solution to an opposing team in the most meta of fashions, namely building to deal with something you expect to face. It's meant for one thing, and one thing only - to KO Supermen Allies. That's not an entirely bad thing, but it does mean the team is nowhere near min-maxed for well rounded play which is mostly why this article is found here, and not on the front page of

Thanks for reading!

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Thanos Loves Dave!

Comic books are a wild weird wonderful place where anything can happen. The website does a great job showcasing some offbeat moments or items that out of context can seem downright out of place. Take Superman screwing with real life musician Pat Boone for instance.

Through the years any number of strange team ups and story lines have been explored, including Thanos's special relationship with Death.

In the Marvel Universe Death is an actual character, a powerful entity pictured in a manner completely opposite the cut pixie goth girl depicted by the distinguished competition.

No, Death in the Marvel U is the classic version - the hooded skeleton wearing dark robes, always silently gesturing. About the only thing the DC an Marvel universes agree on is that Death is a lady... except when she isn't. But more on that later.

Given the lack of vocal chords I can see how Death's relationship with Thanos works. As your typical megalomaniacal conqueror Thanos is obviously prone to talking - telling the heroes all about his plans, boasting and aggrandizing himself constantly. There's always one quiet one in a twosome.

Talk, talk, talk... evil likes to hear itself plot.

Death hasn't always had an exclusive relationship with Thanos however. Among former beaus she counts the Beyonder as a former love interest, as when she shows up for a date with the Mutant Inhuman in Secret Wars II (issue #2).

Now, the Beyonder was "beyond" a little crazy, to the point of Craigslist killer crazy and so it's no surprise that by the end of the date he's completely wiped Death from existence, just to prove to his friend Dave that he can.

And that's when the metaphorical can of worms gets opened, because suddenly nothing can die. The worms in the can have nothing to eat. This is a problem.

The lack of death starts freaking out the *other* crazy omnipotent folk of the Marvel U, like the Molecule Man who confronts the Beyonder.

The issue ends with Dave nobly (or stupidly) offering to sacrifice himself...

And the Beyonder complies restoring balance to the world by transforming Dave into Death.

And that explains the title of this post: Thanos loves Dave.

Transgendered romances are nothing new to comics. Currently there's the asexual Xavin from Runaways...

Good thing he's a shape-shifting Skrull who could easily adopt a female form to woo the once closeted Karolina Dean.

The 90's explored the idea with Shvaughn Erin, girlfriend of Element Lad was revealed to be a man but only after supplies of a gender bending drug (the aptly named Profem) were cut off to Earth during a war with the Dominators.

And the 80's saw the New Defenders member Cloud pull an "In-Betweener" and assume a male form to woo Moondragon.

Oh the delicious irony of that storyline now that Moondragon is out of the closet.

However, in all of the cases above, these "couples" are far from mainstream. Thanos may not exactly be a marquee name but as the villain masterminding the Infinity Gauntlet story arc he certainly has a lot of recognitions. There's a part of me that is really entertained by the notion that Thanos, the all powerful "Mad Titan" loves Dave.

I mean, this is the same Thanos who humbled the lord of Hell.

The Thanos who ascended to god-hood after collecting the Infinity Gems from the elders of the universe.

Thanos who beat the great powers of the universe (including Galactus) and eradicated half of existence all in an attempt to impress Dave.

Who knew the Mad Titan could know such love?

Maybe that's just how they roll on Titan, or maybe his brother Eros, AKA Starfox is to blame. Starfox has been known to turn people faster than you could say "Pink Kryptonite".

But then that's another wild weird and wonderful story for another day.

Friday, February 10, 2012

How to: Make your own girlfriend in 5 steps!

Thanos is no stranger to love, though it can be said that love is strange to him.

Or rather, his love is strange to the rest of us who watch his romantic aspirations like some twisted, galactic version of The Jersey Shore.

To recap:

Infatuated with the cosmic entity known as Death Thanos kept trying, and failing, to impress the dark spirit. When that failed, Thanos found another gal pal - Terraxia.

Who the heck is Terraxia you might ask? Given the name one might assume, that she's a sidekick/love of Terrax the Tamer. Going just by her costume, one might coin the name "Lady Thanos."

Terraxia's appearance evokes a more feminine version of the Mad Titan, and drums up images of every cliched super hero trope, from teen sidekicks (Kid Thanos!) to ridiculous vehicles (the Thanos-copter!).

Not buying into the Infinity Guantlet storyline from years ago I was perplexed when I saw the Terraxia HeroClix figure in WizKids booth at GenCon this year.

I had to know more about this person that was drawn to intimacy with Thanos. And what I found out... well... it just makes Thanos into an even bigger weirdo.

Terraxia's origin is pretty simple. Thanos, spurned by his girlfriend Death, decides to make Death jealous by creating a new lover. That's right, I said creating. Thanos didn't use, or try a singles bar - he just went out and built the perfect woman.

Is it any wonder the perfect woman he built looks exactly like him, but with boobs?

So to recap:

Step one: acquire the Infinity Gauntlet.

Step two: Make a wish for a hot girlfriend that embodies every aspect of yourself. Try not to think about how creepy it is that she looks like a female version of you. For practice try necking with a mirror.

Step three: Try not to think how creepy it is that you've created an artificial simulacrum girlfriend without a soul or free will.

Step four: Overcome your moral and ethical objections to creating a submissive love slave.

Step 5: Profit!

With a total of about 5 comic appearances dating back 20 years it came as a surprise when Terraxia was announced as a participation prize for the Infinity Guantlet events. A sort of one-hit wonder, Lady Thanos was brought in as a plot device. To prove how tough she was, she killed Spider-Man and Ironman in one issue (both were later brought back to life through the power of the gauntlet).

There's not much more to say about Terraxia, other than her pitiful demise. The space pirate Nebula banished Thanos and Terraxia to deep space, where Terraxia promptly died as her creator, so focused on making the total package look good, did not think to create her to survive in a vacuum.

And if that story strikes you as a little odd, wait until tomorrow when I point out that the girl sitting on Thanos' knee in the picture below...


is really a dude named Dave!