Web Search nikon coolpix digital cameras The Miserable Annals of the Earth: (not so) Great Scott!

Saturday, March 17, 2007

(not so) Great Scott!


One of my very first 'favorite characters' was the Golden Age Green Lantern. Yeah, that's him over to the left. Funky, huh? I saw him for the first time ever in a 100 Page Super Spectacular that was mostly reprint material -- I couldn't tell you which one in particular, but I know it featured a story where the Golden Age GL had to take on the evil Sportsmaster, besting him at any number of sports-related athletic events without resorting to his magic power ring. Naturally, GL thrashed the baddie utterly, proving that even without his item of power, he was still a force to be reckoned with. Either that, or Sportsmaster was a doofus. Maybe both, come to think of it.

For some reason, the story made a deep impression on me -- probably because when I was a kid, the gaudier and more garishly polychromatic a superhero's costume was, the more I liked him or her. As you can see, the Golden Age Green Lantern may well be the all time champeen and universal record holder for Most Aesthetically Dreadful Superhero Outfit Ever, beating out even the Murphy Anderson designed costume for the adult Robin of Earth-2 (only ever seen in a single two page spread done for an early JLA/JSA team up back in the 60s) and the yellow/red monstrosity sported very briefly by Daredevil, for sheer vulgar tackiness.

I loved it. And, when I managed to read a few more reprinted adventures of the Golden Age Green Lantern, I loved the character, too. I mean, yeah, sure, the then-modern version of Green Lantern was cool enough with his test pilot job and his green and black skintights and his membership in an intergalactic, mostly alien police force. But this Golden Age guy was the bomb! He had that awesome purple cape and his costume looked like it was made out of real fabric and materials and his ring was magic instead of an artifact of alien super science and it seemed much cooler to me that where the current GL's power ring wouldn't work on yellow, the Golden Age Green Lantern's ring was powerless against wood.

I mean, this just seemed more workable, somehow. ANYthing could be yellow, after all; yellow wasn't a substance, it was a subjective condition of an object's appearance -- even as a ten year old, I used to wonder, are there alien Green Lanterns who don't see what we regard as visible light? Maybe bat-like Green Lanterns with a built in radar sense? And if so, wouldn't they be completely invincible, because nothing would ever be 'yellow' to them, and in fact, they wouldn't even know what 'yellow' was? But wood was an actual substance. If something was wood, well, it wasn't going to be anything else if you turned out the lights, or filtered the rays of the sun through a green power prism, or, y'know, closed your eyes.

Anyway, I really liked Alan Scott, the Golden Age Green Lantern. I thought he was super cool, along with that bizarre Hawkman guy, and the stuff we love when we're 10 years old is the stuff we will always love in some way. So, thirty years or so later, when I started collecting HeroClix figures, well, one of the first ones I went looking for was a Golden Age Green Lantern.

Alas, back when I started collecting HeroClix (Christmas of 2003, I believe) we didn't even have a Hal Jordan Green Lantern figure yet; the only Green Lantern that had come out in clix form at that time was John Stewart (most likely because he was pretty much the only black character in that entire first HeroClix expansion; DC's superhero line up being almost overwhelmingly Caucasian in appearance). We weren't to get a Hal Jordan GL until the UNLEASHED set came along, although, in the preceding LEGACY set, WizKids did, kind of, give us an Alan Scott figure -- this guy here:

Straight out of the odious but oh so popular KINGDOM COME graphic novel came this rather foolishly balding Alan Scott (foolishly balding because, you know, while Alan Scott in the Modern Day has to be something like 87 years old, he's also entirely composed of some mystic green energy in humanoid form, and his appearance is entirely a matter of his will, and I find it doubtful that any human male would ever 'will' himself to have the kind of receding hairline that Alex Ross depicted Alan having in KINGDOM COME). The green energy, medieval looking sword and armor made for a lovely looking HeroClix sculpt, and as for the longest time this was the only Alan Scott figure in existence, I wanted it badly. This yearning led to a great deal of frustration for me, since the Kingdom Come Green Lantern was then and still remains one of the most avidly sought after chase figures in HeroClix; a quick jog over to Ebay reveals that right now, he's going for around $50 a pop.

KC Green Lantern is, to my mind, not much of a Green Lantern, as defined by the dial you can see a graph of above. A few clicks of Running Shot on an acceptable but not outstanding movement made him a mobile piece, sure. A missile attack range of 10 helped his usefulness, and 2 targets is always good to see -- but for attack powers, all he has is Telekinesis, making his generally excellent attack values kind of a waste if you want to use that power, and absolutely making the extra range target all but useless. The defense is frankly fabulous, especially on that opening click, and Willpower makes him slightly more useful, as he can take actions two turns in a row without pushing himself off that sensational 20. And a 4 damage with RCE ain't nothin' to sneeze at, either -- that's 6 clicks of bone bruising admonition he could deliver, up to 15 squares away from whatever grid he might start the turn in.

Yet, still, for a character with a magic weapon that can create literally anything he can imagine out of mystic green energy, this was a startlingly limited interpretation -- he was, basically, an orbital laser cannon, or, if you will, a flying plasma bolt generator. And the lack of damage reducers made him a chancy investment of 225 points; yeah, it was going to be tough to hit him with that high defense, but everybody rolls boxcars sometimes, and if some lucky player managed to clip KC GL for 4 or 5 clicks of damage, he suddenly transformed into a 225 point turd. The last two clicks of Defend with the late dial spike in Defense Value could make for an interestingly useful if massively overpriced taxi as the game wound down... but, honestly, he just didn't impress me that much. A Green Lantern, after all, should be able to do so much more.

So it was that, when we first started seeing promotional material for the latest HeroClix expansion, ORIGIN, I was very pleased and excited to see that one of the characters prominently featured on the booster box art was the Golden Age Green Lantern. And, as more and more information was doled out in tiny, miserly dollops by WizKids' sadistically cruel and almost certainly bedwetting HeroClix Brand Manager, Mark Tuttle, one of the tidbits I received with great joy was that not only was there going to be a Golden Age Green Lantern figure, but that Alan Scott would be represented by a full REV -- Rookie, Experienced, Veteran versions -- in the set as well. Best of all, the Veteran Golden Age Green Lantern was going to be 214 points -- a mere 11 points less than what the KC Green Lantern had cost.

I had high hopes that this REV of Alan Scott, and especially the 214 point vet, would finally do the character justice.

I am, at this point, about a full brick (12 boosters) into the set, and, very oddly, I haven't pulled a single Unique yet -- other than Queen Hippolyta, which, I suppose, pretty much used up all my luck in that quarter for some time to come. I was pleased, a few boosters back, to pull out one of these little fellas --


That first one I pulled was just a rookie. Now, the rookie version of Alan Scott, Green Lantern is pretty cool -- for 85 points, you get all this Green Lanterny goodness --




This was the kind of dial I wanted to see on my Golden Age Green Lantern, baby. Solid opening stats and powers that I found very playable for the points -- a 10 movement with Running Shot making him highly mobile, a 10 Attack Value with Incapacitate making him very effective right from the start, a 17 Defense Value with Energy Shield/Deflection making him nearly as tough to hit from a distance as his Kingdom Come version, a solid 3 damage making him a likely candidate for a Stunning Blow feat card -- yeah, this was a rookie Alan Scott I could have some respect for. The JSA team ability meant I'd be able to share that high 17 defense with other JSAers, which was a nice little bonus. Yeah, the 8 range wasn't such a much, but still, he's a rookie. I had very high hopes that the decent stats boded VERY well for what I'd see on his Vet version.

So, just the other night SuperFiancee bought me a couple of boosters of ORIGIN. And I was VERY pleased to open one and see, tucked down towards the bottom, another Golden Age Green Lantern figure -- which, upon closer examination, proved to have a red ringed (Veteran) base. Yes! The 214 point Golden Age Green Lantern -- was MINE!!!

So I got him home and took a look at his base, clicking through all his slots. I'm sure I'd looked at his stats when WK first posted the full ORIGIN gallery a week or so back, but when you click through 123 figures at once, it's hard to really concentrate on one dial in specific. This time, looking at him in isolation, and knowing what the rookie had on his dial, well, I got a much better overall impression of his utility.

Here's what I saw:




The first thing that jumped out at me were his stats. In 75 years of fighting every sort of menace imaginable, Alan still hasn't gotten any faster, or any better at hitting something with his magic power beam. His range is greater -- at a 12, in fact, he's got one of the best ranges in the game -- but he still only has 1 range target, which makes his Incapacitate and Energy Explosion attack powers largely wastes of points. His Defense Value is one better, and his opening click of Barrier is always welcome under my particular House Rules, where the power is actually quite useful. Under WK's normal tournament rules, though, this opening click with no defense mods or damage reducers is basically an invitation to the opposition to bring the hammer down -- and do it for at least three clicks of damage, so as to knock Alan through his two clicks of Invulnerability and onto some Energy Shield/Deflection.

Now, an 18 Defense with a JSA team ability is something worth celebrating, as it's the first time the JSA has gotten a member with a really high defense to share amongst adjacent team members. Still, 214 points is a high price to pay for it. In fact, for a somewhat mobile long range Incapacitator who deals out pretty decent damage when he hits with an acceptable but not spectacular Attack Value -- well, 214 points is just a lot to pay, period.

The Vet GL becomes much more effective if you add Stunning Blow to him, so he can both add an extra action token AND deal 5 clicks of damage to any target he successfully hits from range. That jacks him up to 224 points for a flying pillbox, though... one who still can't hit for the kind of damage his KC doppelganger can deal out, and who will lose that high defense if he takes action two turns in a row. An Armor Piercing will make his weak-ass single target Energy Explosion a bit more effective, but that's simply adding more points to an already out of control, completely unbalanced build investment that will never pay any dividends.

A click of Leadership, one of Phasing, a few of Pulse Wave and Force Blast -- yeah, they make the figure more versatile, but none of this versatility really seems to justify the monumental price tag. I'd trade in all four powers for an extra range target and an opening slot with an 11 attack value. Change out the last slot of Willpower for the first slot of Barrier so Alan can blow shit up two turns in a row without losing his best stats or power combinations and you might just have a figure worth the hefty price tag.

As it is, though, when I play Green Lantern in a JSA team, I will most likely play the 85 point rookie. He's very nearly as useful as the monstrously overpriced Vet, and leaves a lot more room for extra Feats and additional teammates.

It also makes me sad that in an expansion that is truly notable for beautiful sculpts, WK decided to go with an obviously Golden Age, rather awkward and two dimensional looking Martin Nodell inspired figure for Alan Scott. But, hey, at least we have one now. That's something.

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