Tuesday, January 30, 2007

A hard life if you don't weaken

The redoubtable Jim Henley recently did a post on Heroes where he was generous enough to link back to my previous post regarding race and gender roles in said show.

This sent some traffic my way, for which I am deeply grateful to Mr. Henley.

It also touched off a spirited debate in Mr. Henley's comment threads, which my regular readers may enjoy.

This is reproduced pretty much exactly. In the original thread, though, you'd see that "John Doe" is actually a live link, and foolishly thinking I might find out something about my newest fan, I clicked on said link. However, it only leads to the main page at blogger dot com. So, clearly, whoever this is, he or she prefers to admire me from afar.

Long distance being the next best thing to being here, etc, etc.

For all I know, there's still more to come. Mr. (or Ms.) Doe doesn't strike me as the sort of person who is capable of allowing someone else to have the last word. But this is what we've got so far:

1. Comment by John Doe —

January 30, 2007 @ 11:33 am

My goodness, though, what a tedious post complaining about “race and gender issues.” Nearly 4,000 words straining to construe every action by every female or minority as somehow subordinate to the white males. One could just as easily write an exhaustive and tedious blog post explaining that every action by Claire’s father is just a “reaction” to what Claire does.


1. He has to scramble to dig up fake parents when Claire wants to meet her real parents.

2. He has to scramble around erasing people’s memories when Claire demonstrates her abilities to her friend.

3. He has to rush to the high school on homecoming night to chase after Claire.

Etc., etc. All of which proves nothing except that someone needs to lighten up and stop hyperanalyzing everything like a lawyer.

2. Comment by Doc Nebula —

January 30, 2007 @ 12:55 pm

Deeply, deeply sorry my ‘hyperanalyzing everything like a lawyer’ offends you on such a thalmic level.

Oh, no, wait… I’m not.

My writing doesn’t intend to prove anything; as with so many others, I’m simply stating my views. If you find them tiresome, that’s a big boat with a lot of people in it, and I appreciate you taking the time to read my work and respond to it at all, even if it is in someone else’s comment threads.

Good night, and good luck.

3. Comment by John Doe —

January 30, 2007 @ 2:15 pm

I’m responding here because your article was recommended here. Anyway, you can do what you will, obviously, but IMHO, life is happier if one can just chill out and enjoy TV without dissecting every aspect of a show with an enormous chip on one’s shoulder.

4. Comment by Doc Nebula —

January 30, 2007 @ 3:12 pm

Anyway, you can do what you will, obviously, but IMHO, life is happier if one can just chill out and enjoy TV without dissecting every aspect of a show with an enormous chip on one’s shoulder.

Life is happier without many things, nearly all of them including actual rational thought. However, the world these ‘happier’ dolts inhabit is a bleaker one for the lack of said thought, and a considerably shabbier one than it needs to be for the minority of us who actually do try to think more often than not.

My particular life is greatly enriched by my efforts to actually process data and reach reasonable conclusions and and otherwise ‘overanalyze everything like a lawyer’. I hypothesize — utterly without evidence, of course, because the world just ain’t like this — that the reality we all share would be a much better place if more people were equally analytical, engaged in rational thought more, and elevated their standards as to the entertainment products they consume/support, as well.

There are literally millions, if not billions, who ‘just chill out and enjoy’ TV, movies, books, comics, radio, pop music, etc, etc, etc. This enormous audience of nondiscerning swill consumers is why we have movies like DUMB AND DUMBER (and why its big budget, yet still entirely idiotic, exemplar, FORREST GUMP, won multiple Oscars).

I understand that there are many MANY people in this world who enjoy actively not thinking about anything, and that I am in a pronounced minority as I get actual pleasure from just the opposite. I equally understand that many MANY of these people become disgruntled, surly, and/or actively hostile when they are actually asked to think about anything at all for any length of time, but it seems to me that you are taking this to an entirely unprecedented level by becoming surly and truculent with someone ELSE for daring to think about something in your presence.

I could be wrong.

I admit it frankly, I have high standards. I think about things. I write about the results of my thought processes. For some reason, you seem to find this offensive, and believe on some gut level that I owe you an apology for all this.

These are Mr. Henley’s comment threads, so out of respect for him, I will not resolve my response to you as I absolutely would in my own. However, were I in my own threads, I’d have just two more words for you, and those two words would not be ‘Happy Birthday’.

More to come?

Sunday, January 28, 2007

The days are just packed

In a previous post, I referred to how little time I have on weekends, now that I actually have a life. This weekend has, to date, been no exception. Here's the list of wedding stuff we've accomplished since Friday afternoon:

* call officiant and reserve time
* schedule cake appointment and tasting
* order the medallion pendants for the girls
* get a new printer cartride (for invitations)
* get gel pens (for invitations)
* start looking at rings
* pick up sheet music for the older two SuperKids to play/sing from
* get tablecloths
* get shirt and belt for groom
* get stamps for invitations
* get stuff for groomsmen

All this is stuff crossed off a much longer list, and more stuff will come up and be added to the list as we move forward, but with the wedding itself 15 weeks away, I think we're in pretty good shape, and I say, as I have said so many times before, thank Whoever for SuperFiancee. I cannot imagine any other woman I have known whom I could have possibly ended up marrying being able to take care of all this stuff as competently or capably as she has and is.

My contributions are, essentially, I get in the car, go where she drives me, and then I let her load me up with shit that I then carry around for her until she points out where she wants me to set it down. She advises me often that this makes me an invaluable and indispensible member of the wedding team, but, well, I suspect she's just being nice. I mean, it's not like these places she's going to don't have shopping carts.

A lot of the stuff on this list came at me straight out of outer space. I'm supposed to buy presents for my groomsmen? Uh... okay. And she asked me, did I really want a groom's cake? Because it wasn't mandatory at a second wedding, but she'd make one for me if I really wanted one. I had never in my life previous to that moment even heard the phrase "groom's cake", so I had no difficulty reassuring her that if it wasn't mandatory at a second wedding, I could certainly live without it, and even if it was mandatory at a second wedding, well, I had no idea what it was and honestly couldn't have cared less.

But, apparently, as with this deranged rule that only women know about regarding exactly when during the year you can and cannot wear white, so too are there hundreds if not thousands of arcane and obscure laws, or, traditions which have the force of law, as regards weddings. These are things that I, as a male, know nothing of, nor should I, and as such, I am content to let SuperFiancee handle all of it, with such unskilled brute force efforts as she condescends to tolerate from my directional.

She is clearly the expert here, and I never argue with an expert, unless, of course, there's ice cream involved, in which case, it's hats-over-the-windmill, every Anglo-Saxon for themselves, and devil take the lolly-come-see-me's trudging stolidly in the rear.

While we've been out in mad pursuit of matrimonial merchandise, however, we've also managed to wedge in here and there a few side trips, and on said trips, I've scored a couple of packs of Magic cards, a booster of Supernova, four individual HeroClix, and a week's haul of comics. And we'll be discussing all of these, assuming I have time to bang all this crap out before the SuperKids get home from the Cave of the Bio-Dad later on tonight, after which, my life goes off the rails and straight into the hobo jungle at maximum velocity once again, whistle blowing like a televangelist in hell, wheels grinding and throwing huge side-arcs of golden-white sparks as I plow across the cinderyard, people screaming and flinging themselves everywhere in a mad orgy of frenzied self preservation, and loose coal cascading from the back of the firebox like rats hurling themselves from the decks of a just-post-iceberg Titanic.

As to the Magic cards, nobody reading this cares, so I won't bore you with all of that. I did get a few dual lands, which was nice, and a gigantic 12/12 trample creature that I look forward to using to pound my opponents into bits with at some point in the near future. But now I'll pass on to other matters.

I was going to talk about this week's sneak peek of Origins, the next HeroClix expansion coming out from WizKids in, I believe, March. However, Mike Norton has already done it, with graphics and dial charts, no less, and in doing so has said nearly everything I'd want to say better than I'd ever manage to say it. So, all I have to add to what Mike has already written about the new Supergirl REV is, well, I wish she'd give Dr. Strange his cape back. On the other hand, it is for matters such as this that we keep our old figures, and swapping the Unleashed Supergirl sculpt out for the new one, on her much better dial, certainly won't be difficult.

As to the four new figures I picked up this weekend (well, actually, yesterday) they are as follows:

Dimitri Bukharin, the LE version of the X-plosion Crimson Dynamo. At 147 points he is 13 points more expensive than his Veteran version, and largely the same -- the only real difference is, the LE has a single click of Running Shot (in his first slot) on a 10 Speed Value and an extra slot where he has a 10 Attack Value with Super Strength.

That single click of Running Shot is worth the extra points, though, especially since his Ranged Combat Expert, present for the first six slots of a ten slot dial, lets a canny player add Trick Shot to him. Do this, and he becomes a fabulous early round force projector. Under WK's rules, he can move out five spaces and peg a shot at anyone within his formidable range, as Trick Shot will allow him to ignore most things a likely target might be hiding on or behind. Under my House Rules, he can move his full opening speed of 10 out onto the board and shoot, giving him access to nearly any spot on a standard map. Just hide your Batman on a piece of shrubbery or behind his big buddy Superman against my Dimitri and see what happens to his ass. He'll be five clicks down his dial with little cartoon birdies flying around his head before he can say "Holy Russian Repulsor Rays, Boy Wonder!"

Other figs I picked up as singles -- Binary, the last of the Supernova Uniques I really had much interest in (I also still need a Thanos, but I don't much care about the character, despite the new version's pretty awesome dial and PC TA). In addition, I also got a Len Snart, the Captain Cold LE, and a George Tarleton, the AIM Agent LE.

Len has a shorter dial and a shorter range than his Vet version. For 5 points less, that's a trade off I can live with, especially when you throw in his 2 range targets vs his Vet version's one, his opening click of Incapacitate (where his Vet has no attack powers in his opening slot), and an opening click of Leadership that his REV doesn't get at all, to reflect his alpha male status amongst the Flash's Rogue's Gallery.

Len has the same two clicks of Running Shot that his Vet gets, although the Vet's opening speed is a 10 compared to Len's 8. Still, the extra range target on a character loaded with Incapacitate is a fabulous plus.

The only drawback is, under my House Rules, Barrier squares can be set up in occupied spaces on the map. This makes Barrier much more consistent to how such things are used in comics. Superhumans with such powers do indeed use the ability to create ice, or webbing, or gelatin, or glowing solid energy shapes, so that it forms barriers in front of, behind, or to the side of, their opponents, or to block doorways and other access points, which is how the power works under standard HeroClix rules. However, superhumans also tend to use such powers directly on their opponents -- Spider-Man encases his villains in webbing, Green Lantern puts big energy crystals, or sometimes bird cages, around his bad guys, and Captain Cold has a tendency to embed his opponents in gigantic icebergs and/or cubes, given the opportunity to do so. And by allowing Barrier squares to be set up on top of opposing figures, well, my House Rules simulate this much more closely than WizKids' rules allow for.

So, under my House Rules, Barrier is a much MUCH more effective power than it is under normal WK rules. Which means the extra range target on the Len Snart LE really doesn't matter as much to me, as I will hardly ever bother with an Incapacitate attack when I could use Barrier instead.

Barrier effects four continuous squares and requires no attack roll; Incapacitate, even when multiple targets are involved, requires an attack roll on each. Barrier effectively fills the entire square it hits with solid material (known in the game as Blocking Terrain), thus surrounding any figure in that square on five sides (front, back, right, left, top) with an immovable barricade. Barriers can be broken by either 3 clicks of damage or Super Strength, but the act of breaking the barrier would cause the imprisoned figure to take an action token, and it wouldn't be able to take any further actions, including moving, for the remainder of the turn. Thus, someone with the Barrier power can effectively imprison up to four enemy figures (if they're all adjacent to each other, and within the attacking figure's range) for the next turn, without making an attack roll. It doesn't cause them damage, but they can't move.

About the only way a figure can pretty much ignore being Barriered, under my system, is if they have Phasing/Teleport, or if they have Super Strength and the Unstoppable Feat Card on them. Otherwise, they're stuck for a turn.

Incapacitation, on the other hand, simply gives a figure an extra action token. This will cause that figure to be unable to move the following turn, and to take a click of damage, if they already have an action token on them. However, it requires a successful attack roll to do it, and if the target figure didn't already have an action token on it, then it can go ahead and move next turn anyway, it will just take a click of damage for doing it. Overall, Incapacitate is much much less useful than Barrier, at least, as Barrier is written up under my House Rules.

So, while it's nice to have the 2 range targets, I'm unlikely to ever use them. The Leadership, though, could come in handy, as I don't think anyone else in the Rogue's Gallery has any.

George Tarleton is a 16 point AIM Agent whose only distinguishing feature, on a pretty average four click dial, is a single click of Barrier. However, as I've already pointed out (and I wrote them up in this order just for this reason) Barrier is a pretty handy power under my House Rules, so George could see some play -- even alongside his own future incarnation, M.O.D.O.K.

In the single Supernova booster I picked up, I got a lot of crap I already had -- but my heart leapt up when, down at the bottom of the box, I saw a distinctive blue figure with yellow solar-sails arching from his shoulder blades. Yep, it was Starhawk, an extremely difficult to get sort of Unique (he's the Vet version of a REV whose Rookie and Experienced figures are the character's less powerful female form, Aleta) and one of the figs in Supernova that I still want the most.

Alas, I realized something was wrong near-instantly, when I saw that the base stuffed into his packing cube with him showed a yellow dial rather than a red. Sure enough, closer inspection showed that my Starhawk sculpt had been mispacked with a rookie Weapon Alpha dial. Grrrrrr. Well, I'll have to send him in, and hope that eventually WK mails me a corrected replacement. Grrrrrr...

That's enough HeroClix stuff; I see your eyes have long since glazed over as you've sunk into a somnolent torpor, said torpor being the only thing keeping you from crying out to me "for the love of God, for the love of GOD, please, PLEASE, stop talking about Heroclix, PLEASE". But I will, and instead, I will talk about the comics I bought this week.

First, there's the sixth issue of Neil Gaiman's ETERNALS series. You may note that I did not say "the sixth and FINAL issue", because, despite the fact that each preceding issue of this supposed miniseries has been numbered "1 of 6", "2 of 6", "3 of 6", etc, etc, suddenly this one is labeled as "6 of 7".

It's not that I mind; in fact, I think this is a brilliant idea, if only for Neil Gaiman miniseries. "Suuuuuure, Neil, you only have to write six issues for us, absolutely, just one little miniseries, boyo, then you're out again"... but, hey, if Neil will hold still for it, by all means, keep tacking 'em on. Maybe next issue will be "7 of 8", and we can just keep doing this until Gaiman finally catches on, realizes that he's actually writing an ongoing superhero series again, and stomps out in a huff once more.

As to the issue itself, well, I liked it okay, although I'm certainly not wild about a few things in it. First, I hate all the fucking Civil War references, and it should be noted just how embarrassing and cumbersome these will all seem to future generations after I write my big time travel crossover for Marvel next year in which a band of heroes who are nearly as sick of the whole thing as I am go back in time and prevent Nitro from ever blowing up that goddam school in the first place.

Second, I'm absolutely not crazy about seeing Iron Man and Yellowjacket casually mind controlled by Eternals who have never displayed the slightest capacity for mind controlling anyone before. Gaiman generally treated DC's mainstream heroes with respect when they occasionally showed up in SANDMAN; it would be nice to see that same respect accorded to the vastly superior characters of the mainstream Marvel Universe, when they show up in ETERNALS. If a writer has no respect for Tony Stark or Hank Pym, he or she shouldn't be allowed to write Tony Stark or Hank Pym... and god knows, I wish Marvel had adopted that policy about twenty years ago and stuck with it, especially when Mark Millar and Brian Michael Bendis came staggering into their lobby with their resumes in their teeth.

Despite all this and the always crappy John Romita Jr. art, I enjoyed the issue and look forward to the resolution, or the next installment, whichever comes next.

52 #38 was an emotionally powerful installment of the ongoing serial/anthology series, most likely because it was near entirely driven by Rene's ultimately futile attempt to save Vic Sage from terminal cancer. We all knew she would have to fail, as clearly it's on the boards for her to take over Vic's heroic identity and become a new Question, something she can't do until he finally dies. And, as a general rule, modern comics shy away from depicting miracle cures for terminal cancer cases; it's just too much wish fulfillment for the grim n' gritty constructs that these imaginary worlds have largely become.

A brief check in on the island where Ozymandias is building his pseudo-alien... er... I mean, the island where all the supervillains are creating massive megaweapons... shows that Will Magnus has gone totally off his meds again and is recreating "the Plutonium Man", about which I really know nothing at all but it certainly doesn't sound like a good idea, while a bunch of other villains have followed instructions found in Apokolips' Crime Bible to recreate the Fourth Horsemen of legend, who look really really ugly.

Meanwhile, Steel's niece, Steel, has decided to turn against Lex Luthor and gather evidence against him for her uncle and the Teen Titans. If someone were to tell me that Steel's niece Steel is not slated to survive to see the end of 52, well, I would not wager any money on them being incorrect.

The next comic I bought this week was Checkmate #10, featuring Shadowpact. The last issue of this comic also featured Shadowpack, although all they did was magic up an illusion of a great many Checkmate characters dying so that a covert Checkmate agent could infiltrate the ranks of Kobra. That particular sequence was uncharacteristically cliched and transparent for Rucka, so I tried to just let it ride, and in this issue, he manages to nearly redeem himself. I'm not wild about Shadowpact and would be just as happy if we never had to see them anywhere in the DC mainstream at all, especially that dumbass Republican monkey (although I will say that the Enchantress looks a great deal better in the Emerald Empress' spare costume and should never, ever give it back to her). However, overall, this storyline is working well for me, although I have to say, DC badly badly needs to get itself another generic villain/terrorist organization besides Kobra, and Checkmate needs to start fighting someone else pretty quickly, too. Either that, or just team up with GI JOE and get it over with.

Last but not least, we have WELCOME TO TRANQUILITY, some Wildstorm comic which Gail Simone is writing. I picked it up only because it had Gail Simone's name on the cover, and to be honest, I found issue #2 on Friday, at Great Escape, before I found issue #1 at Book and Music Exchange on Saturday. So I read issue #2 first, and was absolutely baffled as to what the fuck was going on. Finding the first issue and reading it on Saturday helped to straighten some shit around for me, so I now have a vague clue as to what is actually happening in this title.

It's all interesting, and if you're a big fan of Top 10 and you don't mind seeing pretty much the entire concept ripped off and reset in a small town instead of a big city setting, well, you should probably pick this title up. Simone does a surprisingly good Alan Moore riff, and, in fact, in many places her dialogue is better than anything Moore would turn out under the same circumstances, as Moore finds it nearly impossible to write about superheroes without doing some kind of tongue in cheek meta parody on them at the same time. Simone understands the genre well enough to satirize it, but she's capable of taking it seriously when she has to, too, which means you can sometimes go four or five pages at a time without feeling as if the writer thinks you're an emotionally retarded asshole for enjoying any of what you're reading at the moment.

Other than that, and the small town setting, this is pretty much what you expect from any Alan Moore imitation -- interesting concepts, fun dialogue, no captions, no thought balloons, bewildering storylines, and dreadful character names. Simone brings it off better than most of the usual Moore wannabes, though.

The art, by someone named Neil Googe, is much more cartoony than I normally like, but the style works well for this particular strip.

Late yesterday afternoon, just because we could, SuperFiancee and I went and saw Dream Girls. As the movie is directed by Bill Condon, I didn't expect much except another expertly crafted, overtly manipulative movie about an enormously talented and gutsy underdog inevitably triumphing over some sort of corrupt industry establishment. That's pretty much exactly what we got in this movie, but, well, there's a lot of really fabulous acting, dialogue, singing, and dancing along the way, and that final moment, when Jaime Foxx's character is abruptly discovering something he thought he'd never have, and has no idea how to deal with or accept, is an absolute knock out punch. Everything Condon has learned making every movie he's created prior to this is up on the screen in this one. I enjoyed it enormously. Of course, your mileage may well vary.

And that's what I've done this weekend. Well, okay, I haven't even talked about the presents we got the SuperKids for Valentine's Day, or the grocery shopping expedition we went on today, or the fact that we rented EL NACHO LIBRE Friday night, because it was the only thing we could all decide on. (And, let me tell you, a Blockbuster gift pack is a wonderful and thoughtful and generous Christmas gift, and we all appreciate it, but when you're trying to get a concensus on a single film among two mid 40s adults, a 17 year old female gay girl who likes anime, her 16 year old sister who likes geeky SF stuff, and the 7 year old doesn't like anything that wasn't made by Disney, well, it makes for an interesting hour or so at the video store, to say the least.)

Next time, we'll give the candy to the kids and rent the movie on one of those weekends when we're home by ourselves.

I still have all kinds of minor changes I want to do to my HeroClix House Rules (like, making the Green Lantern Team Ability one that cannot be copied by other TAs or Feat Cards) but as I predicted on Friday, this weekend has fled before me like a Republican running from a tax increase, and the horrifying maw that is another workweek with mandatory overtime yawns before me. Pray for me, as I go once more into the belly of the beast.

And I hope everyone out there had a good weekend, unless you're somebody I don't like, in which case, you probably did anyway, regardless, because that's just how that seems to go.

Friday, January 26, 2007

Everything, all the time

...well, Blogger finally stopped screwing around and forced me to bring my poli-blog into the new, Beta format today. When it did, I got a pleasant surprise... it let me use my Google email account to do it, so now, all my blogger sites are linked together on one dashboard. Which is very handy; all I need to do is log into my email and hit a link, then hit another one, and I can pick which of my blogs I want to edit, moderate, or post to at any given time.

Very nice.

It's the kick off of a three day weekend for me, and while I know it will hurtle by at hypersonic speed, and within what will seem like subjective minutes, I'll be staring blearily at early Sunday evening and trying to battle the waves of palpable dread rising up through my thalmic system at the thought of work on Monday, still, I'll try to enjoy this moment as I have it.

Back on Monday of this week, I was staring into an emotional black hole, having no clear idea how I was going to make it through four back to back 12 hour shifts in a call center where no matter how bad things seem at any given time, management always manages to find a way to make them worse. I still have no idea how I did it, and to be fair, I was very nearly fired yesterday so I very nearly didn't... but here I am, with a Friday off and two more days of no work ahead of me, and I guess I'll just have to take my little victories where I find them.

An interesting thing I discovered this week -- the guy who runs our Call Center, whom I'll call Rick although that's not his name, and whom I pretty much loathe entirely based only on (a) his spectacularly shitty management decisions, (b) his even more spectacularly shitty attitude towards the well being of the employees he's in charge of, and (c) the fact that he's a gigantic gaping assneck of truly epic proportions... is a realtor on the side.

I found this out when I discovered one of his business cards laying on a filing cabinet in the hallway leading to the downstairs bathrooms. There he is, big as un-life in a small color photograph, looking almost exactly like the incompetent former boss in the SALLY FORTH comic strip, with that giant shiteating grin on his face he always has unless, you know, he's just been told that one of his wage slaves can't work the full 12 hour shift he demands of him or her, seeming to stare at you with an expression that says "Say there, fella, I can buy the ground you're standing on and have you torn down".

At first I thought it was a business card for our mutual employer, but no, it's a real estate company wallet-ticket, and when you turn it over, on the back you find printed:

Fine Properties Collection

I mean, Jesus Christ, could this guy be a bigger Republican? Or, you know, a bigger nuthole in general?

Today it's an endless cavalcade of wedding errands, which will be enjoyable because I'll be doing them with SuperFiancee, and tonight, we get to rent movies and watch them at home with popcorn and candy, due to the exceedingly thoughtful and generous Christmas present (a Blockbuster gift package we get in the mail once a month for the next three months) we got from my brother Pat and his family.

Then the SuperKids head off to their bio-dad's for the weekend, and SuperFiancee and I get to work on wedding invitations, do a lot of [sex scene deleted], and I may find some time to work on a particular writing project I've been puttering around with for a while now, which eventually, all of you may get a chance to read and provide me with feedback on, prior to me submitting it to an actual publisher.

And then, y'know, back to work. But not for two and 2/3s more days! Yippee!

On a final note, if you aren't reading SuperFiancee's blog every day and leaving her interesting comments, I don't know you and you can't come to the wedding and your father smelt of elderberries.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Odds n' sods

Back when I didn't have a life, I did most of my blog posting over the weekend, which was frustrating, because my very few regular readers all did have lives, and they followed the more typical pattern of most blog readers/writers -- they updated their blogs, and read/commented on other blogs, during the work week, in stolen moments while they were at work.

Now, I have a life, too, and a very busy life it is, so on weekends I can rarely find two spare consecutive seconds to sit down and do anything on the Internet.

Nonetheless, it does seem to me like there were a few minor, random things I wanted to mention, so... lemme think here...

Oh yeah. I found this blog while I was surfing around the other day. Fellow River City blogger, apparently freelances for the LEO, which is our local kneejerk liberal rag. He writes better than I do, and is even more rabidly opinionated than I am. He seems to have some geek interests and I find his blog interesting. I'm fairly sure if he and I ever met in person we'd hate each other on sight, but, still, his blog's a fun read. Give it a shot. He doesn't seem to ever bother responding to his comments, though.

On the homefront, we got the SuperKids back from their dad this weekend and all is chaos, but it's fun chaos. Apples to Apples last night (I won!) and Magic: the Gathering today (I won again!)

Tomorrow, of course, I return to Craptastic City, where we are all still on mandatory overtime, due to insanely excessive call volume arising from the sheer blithering idiocy of our management. Now, when I say 'we are all still on mandatory overtime', I of course merely mean we peons in the trenches who actually take the calls, and who had no say whatsoever in the monumentally fucktarded management decisions that led to this situation. Management itself seems to be content to work their normal hours, and, well, who can blame them? They have the really really tough jobs, involving (a) going out and bringing in huge volumes of new business that we are not sufficiently staffed to adequately handle and (b) making the hard decisions about forcing everyone underneath them to work longer hours to try and help ameliorate the inevitable consequences of (a).

Well, I've covered all that before. Still, things reached new pinnacles of hysterical absurdity on Friday at my place of work, where our supervisors came around in the late afternoon to advise us that (a) no matter how inclement the weather is, Craptastic City will remain open (yes, even if we get so much snow and ice from the predicted storm system supposedly moving in tonight that the entirety of River City, Kentucky, and Indiana are declared Federal disaster areas and the governor himself goes on the air and declares no one but emergency personnel are allowed on the roads, all of us employees must understand that our place of work is still open and we are responsible for getting to our shifts on time) and (b) to help us get to work on time, on Sunday night, if the weather starts looking bad, management will call employees up and order them to report to hotels near Craptastic City (at corporate expense, of course) so we can be up bright and early the next day to man the phones.

So, let me recap, just for those of you who haven't been following the workplace saga closely, let me recap: Prior to Christmas this year at work, we all got a Christmas bonus -- a small plate with the company logo on it that, according to the little note card that came with it, we should not actually eat off, because the chemicals used to cure it were toxic. After that enormous and heartwarming gesture of appreciation towards all us lowly peasant types from management, our call volume went absolutely batshit and has stayed that way ever since. After two weeks of this literally hellish call volume, two weeks where all us CSRs were spending our entire shifts immersed in a corrosive, battering environment of non-stop calls from inevitably hostile participants, all of whom opened their conversations with us using some extremely aggravated variation of the phrase "I HAVE BEEN ON HOLD FOR HALF AN HOUR NOW", management decided to finally resolve these ongoing issues by instituting mandatory overtime... for us, not them.

And now, two weeks into that, they've told us that no matter how bad or extreme the weather gets, our place of work will never EVER be closed, we will be held responsible for getting there through any conceivable climate or road conditions, and to make this easier for us to comply with, they will require us to leave our homes if it seems like extreme or disastrous weather is imminent (presumably, abandoning our families to fend for themselves amidst said extreme, disastrous weather conditions) and stay in a hotel near work, so we can be sure to show up for our shifts.

I cannot tell you how much I am looking forward to getting a call from some supervisor or team leader at Craptastic City in the event such a meteorological cataclysm should occur, ordering me to report to a hotel so I can be sure of being at work the next day. I will laugh and laugh and laugh. And then I will say extremely rude and vulgar things, and then I will hang up the phone, and laugh some more.

Lastly, if you haven't yet seen the sound and the fury I've kicked up over at my poli blog with my latest entry there (an essay on exactly why it is conservatives all suck so bad), well, you should go check it out. Assuming, of course, you already know what the URL is, because if you don't, I ain't gonna tell you. Unless, of course, you email me and ask me and I feel like telling you. And in order to do that, you'll need to either already have my email address (in which case, you almost certainly already have the poli-blog url) or you'll have to be smart enough to dig up an email address on me from somewhere.

Super Adorable Kid got THE LION, THE WITCH, AND THE WARDROBE on DVD for Christmas, and she's watching it now. What does this movie teach those of us who have reached double digits in age? Well, other than the fact that little kids look really dopey in capes and armor, Liam Neeson doesn't sound anything like an omnipotent lion, and talking beavers should almost certainly be skinned for their pelts, not a whole hell of a lot... oh, wait, yeah, one more thing... Hollywood needs to keep its hands off THE CHRONICLES OF NARNIA. They did okay with LORD OF THE RINGS, but it made them cocky. Adapting J.R.R. Tolkien is one thing; there you just need a big special effects budget and a lot of people who look good riding horses. C.S. Lewis, on the other hand, actually knew how to crank out a solid story with real characters speaking well written dialogue and doing somewhat unpredictable things in the course of a reasonably complex plot with an actual point to it; that kind of thing is way out of Hollywood's depth.

I can only hope that whoever HBO gets to adapt A SONG OF ICE AND FIRE, it ain't the bozos who made this particular pile of shit. But I have little hope there. As with C.S. Lewis, George R.R. Martin can write, too. I have a feeling even A GAME OF THRONES will end up being way over the head of anyone HBO can come up with to do an adaptation.

Okay, I can smell homemade beef stew for dinner. Those of you who aren't eating with us tonight... sucks to be you. But drop by sometime. SuperFiancee's cooking is always worth the trip.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Distributor cap

Miraclo has already noted WizKids' announcement that they will be consolidating distribution of all their product, very much including HeroClix, with one company, Diamond/Alliance... the company that already controls nearly all the comic book distribution in North America.

Reactions to this have been mixed, and you can find a representative spread of them here. Mike himself finds this to be pretty much an entirely negative development; he is what I would call a Type A buyer of HeroClix, which is to say, he has enough disposable income in his budget to buy his clix by the case, and take advantage of the bulk discount one can get from various online shops when one can afford to plunk down $220 or so at a time for an entire case of 48 boosters of clix whenever a new set comes out.

In point of fact, Mike's buying habits whenever a new expansion comes out have evolved over the last few sets to where he seems to spend about $340 per expansion -- $220 or so for the case, another $95 for a 'clixbrick' of 12 boosters from a 'brick and mortar' shop (so he can get the coupon and send away from the free clixbrick exclusive figure and any associated collector's sets), and then another $25 or so for three boosters at a local venue, so he can try and get one of the prize LEs -- and come away with a complete collection of figures for each expansion, plus extras to trade if he needs to.

This has worked very well for him, especially lately, with WizKids getting their per case figure distribution system down to the point where a player can buy one case and very nearly be certain of getting a complete set. With the extra brick for coverage, that $340 investment generally nets him every single figure in every new set that has come out lately.

Yeah, for the last couple of sets, the Type A buyer has definitely been sittin’ in the fabled catbird seat.

Me, on the other hand, I'm a Type B buyer. Nowhere near as financially successful as Mike, I just can't swing $340 dollars out of the budget at one chunk every four months or so to get myself a case and a clixbrick, and then enter a sealed booster venue to procure a prize LE. There's always something that's come up in the meantime -- doctor bills for the kids, lawyer bills generated by the Idiot Ex's perpetual War On Christmas, a Florida vacation, car repairs, Christmas presents, the rent... I have some expendable income, and I certainly expend it, but $340 at one time never seems to sit in my checking account long enough to be spent on something like HeroClix. There is always a better, more urgent hole to stuff it into. That's family life; the cost of having a fabulous apartment in a fabulous neighborhood and a fabulous fiancee and three fabulous kids to share it all with. I in no way begrudge it -- but a Type B buyer is what it makes me.

This means I buy my clix in boosters, paying full retail for them, as many as I can spare the cash for over the course of any given span of weeks or months. One paycheck I may have barely enough to afford a single booster along with my bi-weekly comic book fix. Another paycheck I may be a little more flush and can snatch up a half dozen boosters, or maybe even a clixbrick. SuperFiancee may pick me up a few boosters occasionally on the spur of the moment, too.

Eventually, this results in me getting to a point where I have nearly everything I want from each expansion, with lots and lots of extras of the very common, low numbered figures that nobody needs or wants any more of. The few figures that I will still need at this point are always what are called 'chase figs', stuff that everyone wants and that is distributed maybe one to a case, so when you buy random boosters, odds are, you will never see at least a few of them. You have to buy them as singles from the secondary market at exorbitant prices, or, if you get lucky, maybe you can find someone else to trade a few of your extras with for them.

For example, I got very lucky recently -- I pulled that Zombie Captain America from a random booster, and ended up trading it for 30+ figures, many of which filled in most of the gaps I had for the last two sets, SINISTER and SUPERNOVA. I'm still missing a few very hard to get figures -- a Veteran Daredevil, a Veteran Bullseye, a Veteran Silver Surfer and a Veteran Bulldozer, mostly, plus a Unique Binary -- and of course, there are older, very rare figures I covet that I will very likely never manage to acquire, like KC Green Lantern and Ultimates Thor and like that... but this is what it's like when you're a Type B buyer.

The Type As shell out their wad of cash and end up usually with complete sets almost instantly. In fact, for a brief time in Florida when I had no social life at all, I was a Type A buyer, and I bought myself cases of several sets, and it was a sweet, sweet life, except, you know, I had no friends and never got laid and was actually pretty fucking pathetic, sitting there in my tiny cinderblox duplex gloating over my little plastic toys. Which is yet another reason why I really don't much mind being a Type B buyer now. You lose something whenever you gain something, but nothing I've lost is anything compared to everything I've gained, and I don't miss that cinderblock hovel one little bit.

As you'll see if you actually head on over to that HC Realms comment thread I linked to, opinion as to WK's distibution consolidation is largely divided, with Type A buyers, some geek-shop owners, and some former WK distributors on the "It's the worst thing since Osama Bin Laden" side, while mostly us Type B buyers are over on the "Quit yer bitchin' this ain't so bad" side.

See, the Type A buyer knows that with WizKids making an exclusive deal with Diamond for distribution, the shop he buys his cases from at a huge bulk discount (about $4.60 per booster) will no longer be able to buy their cases direct from WizKids at wholesale prices, or direct from one of maybe a dozen distributors at only a slight mark up over wholesale prices. With only one distributor in the supply chain, that distributor will pay WizKids one wholesale price (probably a somewhat higher one than the other 13 or so were paying) for their clix, and then they will mark the product up considerably and pass it along at a much higher price to the retail shops. (No reason not to, they don’t have any competition. If the retailer wants WK product, he or she can no longer shop around for a better deal, they have to pay what Diamond wants to charge.)

This probably won't result in the retail shops selling it for any more per booster than they already were, but it will keep retailers from selling cases to interested individual buyers at a bulk discount, because they will not be able to afford to do so any more. If Diamond is charging retailers significantly more per case than they had to pay previous to this, when they had a range of distributors to choose from, then they will have to recoup that price by charging all the market will bear. So, you want 48 boosters? You pay $7.99 x 48, or $383.52, for your case... if you're lucky, and a canny shop owner doesn't slap a 'case surcharge' on top of it, knowing as they do that when you buy a full case, you are very likely to get a complete set of that particular expansion... something that won't happen if you just buy 48 boosters at random from several different cases.

Paying full retail price for their complete sets of each expansion is something Type A buyers have no interest in doing, after years of effectively getting their clix at 2/3s retail price.

All of this presumes that Diamond will mark the price of the product up when they distribute it. It's possible they may not, but one of the perks of exclusivity is you can charge whatever you want to, and if people want the product, they have to pay it. Diamond isn't going to want to drive WizKids out of business, so they are unlikely to jack up their prices to the point where retailers would have to charge $10 or $12 per booster, which would pretty much end player interest in new figures from WizKids. But certainly, if retailers can afford to offer entire cases to buyers at 2/3s of normal retail cost, they must be paying much less than that per case to their own distributors. Diamond will absolutely increase their prices to the point where retailers will no longer be able to afford to offer that kind of discount. You want a case, again -- you will pay the full fare.

Diamond will probably also restrict supplies somewhat, to increase demand. I say this because it's something that any exclusive dealer does when they have the chance. With Diamond controlling the pipeline, retailers will get fewer cases of product, and will have to break those cases open and sell them at individual booster rates to make a profit.

So, yeah... I have to agree... for Type A HeroClix buyers, things look pretty bleak.

Yet it's not all bad. As this thread indicates, since announcing the new distribution deal, WK has agreed to offer formerly exclusive Collector's Sets to retail outlets, through Diamond/Alliance. Previous to this, these sets were only available direct from WK if you jumped through a lot of hoops to get special coupons. I can't see greater access to sought after product as being a bad thing, and I am as certain as I can be that this is something that Diamond insisted on, and that would never have happened if WK had continued to deal with a dozen different distributors. WizKids would have had no incentive to make their exclusive Green Lantern Corps set available to retailers through 13 or so different distribution chains; they'd have been selling them cheaply in bulk and those distributors would have turned around and sold most of the sets at a slight mark-up on the Internet, with no benefit at all accruing to the brick and mortar retailer WK is most interested in supporting.

Diamond, on the other hand, has a ready market in those retailers, and can put powerful pressure on WK to make desirable product available to them. And if these sets start showing up on the Internet at wholesale costs, or slightly above, well, WK doesn't have to guess which out of many distributors is doing it; they can go straight to Diamond with their bitches. Not to mention that as Diamond is doubtless paying WK more for the product than previous distributors were, they have less motive to sell product for a discount on EBay.

WK has announced that they are pretty much out of the Collector's Set business, but with Diamond in the picture, I am going to take that with a grain of salt. I have long thought WK was missing out on a very lucrative business opportunity by refusing to market specific sets like this to their entire target demographic. The world of comic book superheroes is rife with potential for exclusive boxed sets of this nature. Hobbyists enjoy buying boosters and being surprised (hopefully pleasantly) by what's inside, but we are also willing to sometimes pay a premium for a known quantity, especially if it contains one of a kind stuff we can't get anywhere else.

I have said for years now, if WizKids put together an Invaders collector's set, featuring new sculpts and new dials for Captain America, the Human Torch, and the Sub-Mariner, and completely Unique, exclusive to the set figures of Bucky, Toro, Union Jack, and Spitfire, all with a unique Invaders TA, they could sell 40,000 of them at $40 a pop without working up a sweat. And the history of superhero comics provides plenty of material for such ‘niche’ sets – any comics fan could probably put together a list of a dozen such sets they’d like to see after thirty seconds’ thought. Silver Age X-Men (one set in the original gold and blue uniforms, maybe another in the Neal Adams era costumes, each with unique sculpts and dials and a unique Silver Age X-Men Team Ability), Silver Age Teen Titans, Golden Age Batman Family, Golden Age Seven Soldiers of Victory, Silver Age Legion of Superheroes, maybe a Forever People set… I’d love to see a Kamandi set and a Norse Gods set (from Marvel’s Thor)… and while certainly not all these specific concepts are necessarily marketable, the collector’s set concept very much is. With Diamond now able to exert pressure on WK as to what kind of product they will produce, I think more sets like this become a very real possibility.

Beyond that, I can’t imagine Diamond is going to remain content to see some of WK’s most collectible and avidly sought product remain solely accessible through gaming events or the secondary market, neither of which Diamond has any piece of. I’d like to think that there is a possibility that as time goes on, Diamond will put pressure on WK to create pre-packaged retail shop versions of some of the most sought after LEs and con exclusive figures.

This last is something I would very much like to see happen. Fifteen years ago, one of the factors that drove me out of Magic: the Gathering was the rarity of certain extremely powerful, out of print cards. Wizards of the Coast, the creators and suppliers of the game, had decided that certain early edition cards were ‘broken’, mostly because they were much much more effective than WOTC wanted them to be within the gaming environment they were trying to evolve. So they took those cards out of print – but to keep from enraging the secondary market, they refused to ban those cards from play.

This quickly created a gaming situation in which relative skill at the game mattered far, far less than a player’s disposable income. 12 year olds with wealthy, indulgent parents could afford to pay outrageous prices for these insanely expensive OOP (out of print) cards, and since the cards were still legal for tournament play, such Million Dollar Decks quickly came to dominate every venue.

If WOTC wasn’t going to ban the OOP cards, which would have been the fairest overall solution, my thought was that they should have reprinted every single one of them in a cheap, easily available edition. Original first and second edition ‘black border’ versions would still be sought after, so collectible prices would remain up, although not at the obscene levels we saw then and still see now; but people who wanted to put their decks on an equal footing at tournaments would be able to get inexpensive versions of the cards as well.

This is the kind of thing I’d very much like to see happen with HeroClix eventually. I may not much care about the Marvel Zombies, for example, but I’m sure there are clix players out there who are also huge fans of the mini series and who are extremely frustrated that they will never be able to assemble a complete set of the figures. Eventually marketing a retail boxed set of the figs, with maybe a few new figures thrown in, would satiate those collectors, and the original LEs from Supernova will still have their own allure for the diehard collector. The only people who will scream about it will be those mean spirited dickweeds who always want to be the only person in their area that has something cool, and, well, I don’t worry much about those assholes, and they aren’t much of a sales driver in the collectibles marketplace, either, since they generally only want there to be very few, or, ideally, one (theirs) of anything.

All of this may be nothing but a pipe dream, of course, and none of it is much consolation to the Type A buyer who is looking at the elimination of his treasured bulk discount, facing with no little despair the prospect of living in a world where everyone is a type B buyer, or, at the very least, where only a vanishingly narrow elite of collectors can continue to buy a case, a clixbrick, and three random boosters at a venue as each succeeding set comes out.

As a Type B buyer, I’m not as gloomy about the development. There are valid concerns about the flexibility of a more open market vs. the lockdown of having to deal with an exclusive monopoly, and I’m not dismissing them… although I will note that many of those who are grimly and/or loftily citing these issues seem mostly to be using them as a mask for their own more personal interests.

Which is to say, as always, it’s the people who stand to lose something who are objecting the most vocally.

Many are bitterly – perhaps even petulantly – predicting that this decision is a huge mistake for WizKids, one that the company will deeply regret in times to come. Spurned former WK distributors are muttering darkly about how all the geek-shop owners they personally know hate Diamond/Alliance and because of that, they will drop WizKids product immediately and start pushing other miniatures games, like Star Wars, on their gaming customers instead. Pissed off Type A buyers are saying this will drive them out of the game entirely, and as always happens when someone who loves a game decides to quit it, at least some of these folks seem to be possessed of a dark certainty that once they walk away from HeroClix, the game itself will quickly founder.

I tend to have my doubts as to any of this. Geek-shops are generally never more than three steps away from bankruptcy court at any given moment; it’s the nature of the beast that such shops always have huge amounts of their cash flow tied up at any given time in very expensive inventory that may or may not ever sell. It’s a maxim of any business that if your customers want something, you will try to get it and sell it to them, and by the nature of economics, there will always be more Type B customers than there are Type A. If Diamond is stupid and does something to keep Type B buyers from getting boosters when they want them – like restrict access prohibitively, or drive retail price up to a point where we all just say to hell with it in disgust – then, yeah, WizKids is going to deeply regret this move. But Diamond has been around for a while and for all that their competitors have absolutely nothing good to say about them, they don’t seem to have stupid business practices. My guess is, Type B buyers will continue to want to buy WK product, and retail shops will continue to want to supply them with it. Those retail shops that ordered extra cases to sell on the Internet at a discount will lose some of that business… but profits couldn’t have been particularly high there, anyway.

I don’t even think the secondary market is going to take too much of a hit from this. We’ll still buy boosters for $8 each, occasionally get a Unique that is worth $10 or $15 on the secondary market, and that’s where we’ll go to sell it, if we don’t want to trade it. If Diamond starts putting pressure on WK to re-issue some of the rarer, more exclusive and sought after figures in retail sets, then prices on those LEs will go down on the secondary market… but it will still function.

Still, I’ll be very sorry if my buddy Mike Norton ends up getting out of clicks over this. For one thing, I’ll lose just about the only person I ever have to talk about the damn things with, and, for another, well, Mike will lose one of the few things he seems to genuinely enjoy in his life right now. That’s a sad thing.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Can't buy a comment

No, seriously, check out my last several posts. It's painfully obvious. Other than the wedding announcement, I couldn't provoke a response if I insulted all your mothers at once. It's sad but true.

Also, National Delurkering Week is pretty much over, and none of you ungrateful lurking mofos delurked. You don't write, you don't call, you don't leave comments... where's the love?

First off, it's both necessary and urgent that I throw a little love Tony Collett's way. Just as he did once before when my Vision HeroClix figure went down in action, so too has he come through this time, with a surprise replacement Deathbird fig for the score. I'm deeply grateful to Tony for his continuing thoughtfulness and enduring friendship, and hope to show him how appreciative I am by kicking his butt all over the basement in our next clix game, which should be coming up sometime soon, if news I'm hearing of imminent visitation plans comes to fruition. In the meantime, thanks, Tony, and maybe you'll be facing a squardon of Shi'ar when next you seat yourself across from me in Gaming Area A.

Let's see -- I'm fighting some kind of low grade cold germ. Sometimes I'm winning, sometimes it is. It's cold and damp and rainy here and has been for days now and will be for days yet to come. I had Thursday come up as my floating day off this week, and wound up calling in sick on Friday because I still felt a little bit punk, and with the mandatory overtime, another 12 hour shift didn't appeal even in the slightest. Monday through Wednesday were also 12 hour shifts (11.5, to be technical, I was there from 8 to 8, with a half hour for lunch), so with the 8 hours paid sick time, I'll have at least full time money for the week, and frankly, I enjoyed the break, even with a runny nose and a sore throat.

But now, at 5:23 p.m. on a Sunday afternoon, work looms like a Roman work party equipped with a cross, a hammer, and four bronze spikes.

As somebody or other once sang, sooner or later you'll be clockin' in again.

As to the weather, James Kunstler, who likes nothing more than saying the doom, has wondered recently on his own blog what the summer temperatures will be like, if this is the kind of winter we're having. Billmon seems to have pulled the plug on his own blog, and prior to that, he'd made infrequent joking references to hauling stakes for the Arctic, to head off global warming. I'm wondering now if those references were as joking as I thought.

Me, if I were going to move to a pole, I'd go south. Assuming a complete global meltdown, there's a sizable landmass underneath the Antarctic ice cap. Up at the top o' the world (ma)there's nothing but forty degree saltwater all the way down.

I tuned in the Ravens/Colts game yesterday fervently hoping I'd get to see Peyton and his boys get their asses handed to them, but nooooooooo, the fucking Bawmore Birds couldn't score a touchdown if it was a pizza topping and they had a Domino's gift card. The Colts couldn't score a touchdown, either, but they kept getting close enough to kick goddam field goals, and eventually, that salted the game away for them. I have no idea who they'll be playing next, but I suspect if whoever it is can score a friggin' touchdown, they'll win in a walk.

Today I have the Chargers/Patriots on in the background, for much the same reason as yesterday. If my hatred of the Colts is mostly fueled by (a) the fact that they're a buncha goddam Hoosiers and (b) my heartfelt loathing of Tony Dungy, my vitriolic, rage fueled revulsion for the Patriots comes from my football roots as a Buffalo Bills fan. You can't be a Bills fan without utterly despising the goddam Patriots and the cocksucking Pittsburg Steelers, and while I've recovered a little bit from the Steelers odium, I will take my malevolence for the shiteating Patriots to my grave with me.

So I badly, badly want to see the Chargers hogtie the Patriots and then use them for a pinata, but so far, it's looking very much like hotshot rookie quarterback Philip Rivers can't fucking throw. Hey, the Bucs got one of those hotshot rookie quarterbacks who can't throw, too; why aren't they in the play offs? Oh, yeah... the Chargers actually have a team in addition to the QB. I forgot.

So, as with the last expansion WizKids has finally given us plastic versions of all the participants, I'm replaying the classic Avengers-Defenders War down in Gaming Area A. Actually, I'm on the second game. In the first game, the Defenders went as first player, and fired up by the chance to launch the first attack, they came in fast and concentrated their attacks on Thor and the Black Panther, figuring to take out the biggest figure, and the unpleasant Outwitter, quickly. They did manage to knock Thor most of the way down his dial (Dr. Strange's Outwit and Psychic Blast, combined with the Experienced Sub-Mariner's Charge, Damage Value of 4, and a 3D Mailbox did the honors there), but the goddam rookie Black Panther proved elusive, somehow dodging the Vet FF Hawkeye's opening barrage, requiring the Silver Surfer to also push himself and move up the board to cosmically fry T'Challa's uppity ass for him. This put the very nearly useless rookie Panther on his last click of life, where he remained for the rest of the game, as he wisely chose to stick to the back and preserve his own victory points. Unfortunately, the idiot running the Defenders (that would be me) had overlooked that the Iron Man on the Avengers squad was the New Guy Night LE from Supernova, and he not only had Outwit in his opening slot, but he also enjoyed an 8 range and 2 targets. Soaring into the sky, The Cool Exec With The Heart of Steel hurled a disuptive pulse of ionized particles at both the Sub-Mariner and the Silver Surfer, stripping both of their Invulnerability for the remainder of the turn. He then dealt both Defenders death, or at least, two clicks of damage, with either hand as the result of a normal ranged attack.

This set up Namor to be taken out of play by Captain America's shield closely followed by Thor's uru hammer, and for the Silver Surfer to be knocked most of the way down his dial by THE FRIGGIN' SWORDSMAN, whose Leap/Climb allowed him to make a close combat attack on the Skyrider of the Spaceways, even as the former Herald of Galacuts soared hundreds of feet above the battlefield. Don't ask me. I don't know.

Anyway, that game ended up in such an ignominously unbalanced victory for the Avengers that I immediately set it up again to give the Defenders a mulligan. This time, the Defenders are doing better, as most of their heavy blasters (Hawkeye and the Silver Surfer) are sticking to the periphery and hurling high damage range strikes into the fray where it seems it will help most, while heavier hitters like the Veteran Valkyrie, the Raging Hulk (at 201 points, I felt he was the most appropriate Hulk to represent the green powerhouse we saw grapple Thor to a standstill in DEFENDERS #10) and the Experienced Sub-Mariner mix it up in the scrum. The Experienced FF Dr. Strange hovers around and uses his Outwit and/or Probability Control to judiciously influence events here and there, occasionally taking a more active hand with a shot of Psychic Blast.

To date in this game, the Swordsman, Mantis, Captain America, and Iron Man have fallen from the Avengers side. The Defenders have only lost Hawkeye. However, a judiciously launched tag-team attack by the Black Panther and a 3-D dumpster armed Thor has pummeled the Savage Hulk past his best clicks towards the end of his dial. The Hulk responded by picking up that same 3-D dumpster and making Thor wear it for a hat at high velocity, so the Thunder God's within three clicks of unconsciousness, too. Given that Dr. Strange and the Silver Surfer are still near the starts of their dials, and the Sub-Mariner is somewhere around mid-dial (but poised to pick up a Hot Wheels car and give Thor a high colonic with it on the Defenders next turn), I'm thinking things look better for the Defenders this time around.

It's not that I like the Defenders more than the Avengers. It's just that in the original crossover, the Defenders beat the Avengers like a rug, which they should have, given that Dr. Strange and the Silver Surfer are pretty much omnipotent, and the Hulk and the Sub-Mariner are among the strongest mortals in the Marvel Universe. Hawkeye and Valkyrie don't polish that apple much, but in the comics version of the conflict, Valkyrie did kick the Swordsman's scrofulous ass for him (which she certainly should have) while somehow or other, Hawkeye the Archer managed to outwit the Invincible Iron Man.

However, setting up the battle in clix form is a whole different thing, because, to put it gently, the clix versions of Dr. Strange and the Silver Surfer do not really adequately represent the characters as they are portrayed in the comics. The Experienced Hulk from Infinity Challenge, who has the actual Defenders TA, is nearly useless, too, which is why I substituted the Savage Hulk for him. The Experienced Sub-Mariner is far from the most useful version of Namor available, but if you use him sparingly, he's okay.

The Avengers, on the other hand, at least in clix form, are surprisingly effective pieces. The new Vet Thor from Supernova is a romper stomper, and the Iron Man LE is very useful, too. The Experienced Vision from Supernova can leave a dent in an opponent if he gets a chance, and his opening click of Perplex is handy as well. The Veteran Captain America from Armor Wars is very capable, especially on his opening slot with an Inspiring Command Feat Card on him. What's surprised me the most, though, is how solidly the Experienced Mantis and the Experienced Swordsman perform up close and personal. They can and will fold up after a few shots from the opposition, but they'll do some damage first.

Of course, all reported results are greatly influenced by my House Rules, specifically, in this case, by my homegrown Avengers and Defenders TAs. In the second game, I deliberately held all my Defenders except the Hulk and the Valkyrie back. This forced the Avengers to engage those two first. The Savage Hulk is a piece nobody wants to hit, as five or six clicks of damage will only move him onto his most unpleasant slots, stats and powers wise. The Valkyrie, on the other hand, starts out with a hard to hit 18 Defense Value, and with the Defenders TA on her, she can add +3 to that as long as the Defenders continue to have 6 members on the board. (The presumption is, the Defenders are fighting in such a way that they can choose to protect one of their members each turn. The Avengers TA reverses this; once per turn, the Avengers can choose one of their members to receive a +1 to Attack value for every 2 Avengers on the board. The Avengers have, in fact, used this ability to attack Valkyrie on several occasions, and with the Scarlet Witch letting them reroll attacks when necessary, they've had some success with it -- but if they're focusing on the Valkyrie, they aren't focusing on her more dangerous teammates. Which is proving a mistake.)

Anyway, what makes me most confident for the Defenders' eventual victory is that somewhere down his dial, the Silver Surfer has some Support, which will let him heal himself or his teammates should it be necessary when and if it comes up. This is a vital power, and the Avengers have none of it.

Hey, the Chargers are beating the Patriots. I like that.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Get a life

Another deathiversary. 14 years, and Jeff has yet to be cloned by anyone, raised in an occult ceremony giving him demoniacal powers so he can seek out lawbreakers, or had his death revealed to have been an elaborate hoax so he could go undercover and fight the Illuminati.

I guess he's just, y'know, dead.

I hate that. Especially this year, when I'm getting married. I very much wish he could be there.

SuperFiancee, with the sensitivity and thoughtfulness that is very much an essential part of her character, suggested that we put something on our wedding song list for Jeff. Obviously, the first choice there is "Don't Fear The Reaper", a gruesomely apt song, given the givens. But it's not one that will work at a wedding. After some thought, I've suggested substituting "Death Valley Nights". Nearly all of the good BOC love songs are strange and twisted; this one may be the least so. Anyway, she can't recall hearing it, so I'll play it for her at some point in the future and we'll see.

I'm inserting this item retroactively. Between mandatory overtime and the upcoming wedding and all the other uproar that is my life right now (and, for the most part, from now on) I completely failed to note the anniversary when it went on by almost a month ago.

I guess that's okay. I guess I have to move on.

I still miss you, though, big guy.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

John Parker demands it!

The finest woman in the world advises me that it's DeLurking Week. In fact, DeLurking Week is very nearly over.

So, as the guy with the big pink box in this blog's titular movie says... "Identify y'self, nuh?"

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Hey, hey, Tammy... I'm gonna marry you

The date is set -- April 21, 2007. The location is also chosen, and it's lovely, but that's confidential information for now. It doesn't have to stay that way, though... drop me an email for the full scoop, or, you know, just check your own email lately, and snailmail in a month or so, if you're on the Good List. If you're not... suffer.

Those of you who know SuperFiancee... well, you already know what a deal I'm getting. Those of you who know me must wonder what bizarre mind control drugs I'm introducing into SuperFiancee's salad dressing to so thoroughly blind her to my many impecunities, and the answer is, that's a trade secret, buddy, go get your own brilliant enormously capable gorgeous sexy divorcee with fabulous kids and mind control her. SuperFiancee is mine. Soon... forever! ::cackling maniacally, twirling my mustachios::

For those of you who don't really know SuperFiancee that well and therefore are perhaps doubtful that I may in fact be the luckiest of all creatures in this or any other universe, well, let me strive to correct your insane and delusional viewpoint as regards the most wonderful woman who has ever trod shoe leather, and my infinite fortune in somehow having managed to trick her into spending the rest of her life with me:

Back when SuperFiancee and I were just Internet acquaintances, and I was trapped and miserable in my brother's back bedroom in a tin shanty in the most horribly racist and backwards ass small town in all of Florida, SuperFiancee took it on herself to make my life better. So she started sending me CARE packages. I'd understood that these were only going to contain a few HeroClix she found cheaply at some yard sale somewhere, or something (my borther and I had just gotten into Clix, and any clix at all would have been more than welcome, as back then we had, like, maybe 9 between us). So I was expecting this tiny little box with a few little plastic figures in it, and instead, UPS rolls up with an 18 wheeler and uses a derrick to offload something roughly rectangular, wrapped in brown paper and twine, approximately the size of a whaling dinghy. Astonishingly, it was addressed to me, from Kentucky, and when I finally chainsawed it open, it proved to contain a enough goodies to sustain a small African nation -- not just thousands and thousands of HeroClix, but also snack foods of every description, as well as various other grocery items that were entirely welcome, given that Paul and I were so po' at the time that we had to actually rent water to boil our Ramen noodles in, because we couldn't afford to buy any outright.

The look on Paul's face when I staggered into the house with my arms full of Ding Dongs, brownie mixes, M&Ms, and Kool-Aid packets and kicked him mercilessly awake (he worked a night shift at the time, and slept on the couch) was priceless. Well, at first it was just a sort of mixture of bewilderment and irritation, as he hid his head in his arms and whimpered "Stop it, stop kicking me, jesus, it hurts", but then, his eyes went wide and he was like "WHERE did you get all THAT?" and I was like, "From Tammy!"

And that was cool.

And the packages, full of enormously thoughtful selections of foodstuffs and giftcards and useful household items and tshirts and HeroClix and DVDs and CDs and on one occasion even a frickin X-Box dude !!!! kept coming, for the next two years, along with the cards -- including a blizzard of birthday cards Tammy mailed to me for a week leading up to one of my birthdays, so I'd feel wanted -- and the gift baskets, and the frequent phone calls and emails that turned into nightly and daily phone calls and emails. And my last Christmas in Zephyrhills, because Tammy didn't want me to feel sad and alone, she sent me a truckload of presents and an amazing pre-stuffed Christmas stocking. Of all the Christmases I've spent alone in my life (and there have been way too many) that was easily the happiest. Which sounds like damning with faint praise, but it isn't, because none of the others were happy at all.

It takes true talent to make someone happy when they're all alone on Christmas morning. Talent at making people happy is something Tammy has. At supergenius level.

For that whole two years, Tammy was the only really wonderful thing in my life in Zephyrhills. And when Zephyrhills was done with me, it was Tammy who came swooping to the rescue in a rented UHaul, and when I arrived in Louisville and unpacked that truck, it was into an apartment that Tammy had found for me.

At that time, I already thought I loved Tammy to an infinite and endless degree, but I didn't even know what love was, because at that time, I hadn't met the SuperKids yet.

You think something is perfect, and it can't ever get better, and then, it becomes even more perfect, which shouldn't even remotely be possible, but, with SuperFiancee and the SuperKids, all things are possible, as long as all things are good and wonderful and amazing and fabulous, which, with them, all things are, always.

So, hey, hey, Tammy... nobody else could ever do.

I love you, baby.

Thank you for making the rest of my life so much better than I ever dreamed it ever would be.

Monday, January 08, 2007

Koufax alert

The Koufax Awards are now open.

If you'd be so kind (whoever you may be, reading this at this moment) please go over there and nominate this post for most humorous political post of 2006.

Feel free to nominate this blog, or my poli blog if you have the URL, for anything you feel fits, too.

Yeah, I'm shameless. I almost certainly can't win anything, but I sure wouldn't mind some more traffic to either or both sites.


Sunday, January 07, 2007

Tripping the light craptastic

A 12 hour shift at work, beginning at 8 am and ending at 8 pm. A day that started with me rolling out of bed at 5:30 and hitting the floor running -- or at least, shambling rapidly -- so I could shower, apply abrasives to selected quadrants of my facial hair, polish my teeth, pull on dress code compatible garb, and hie myself up to a windy corner in time to leap aboard my bus, and which ended with me getting into SuperFiancee's car for the longish trip home (buses don't run from where I work after 5:30 or so), where I disembarked and found myself in a home warmly swarming with noisy future stepdaughters and their concomitant, occasionally cyclonesque clutter.

If you have to work an involuntary 12 hour shift at Craptastic Call Center, I heartily recommend having SuperFiancee and the SuperKids waiting for you when you get home. It reminds you that life is not only worth living, but even fabulously so, despite everything that asshole supervisors can do to convince you otherwise.

All of which is to say, people up the food chain where I work went out and brought in several new clients, each of whom have tens of thousands of new participants. They also sold new features to existing clients, each of whom also have tens of thousands of participants. This generated wonderful six and seven figure bonus checks for them, and astonishing six and seven figure call queues for me and my twenty six or so fellow Customer Service Reps, because it apparently never occurred to these fucking dimwits that all this new business would generate massive amounts of new phone calls, and they hadn't bothered to hire any new staff to deal with said phone calls.

So, the progression at work has been as follows: about a week before Christmas, all us non-managerial types got a wonderful holiday bonus, in the form of a decorative plate that probably cost the princely sum of nearly 7 cents apiece. Beginning the week after Christmas, we started to get insane levels of call volume, maxing out all 50 available incoming lines after everyone working was taking a call and leaving hundreds of participants to get busy signals all day long. This continued for the first week of the New Year, entirely because nobody in management had bothered to (a) hire more people to deal with the entirely predictable increased work load, and/or (b) implement fairly easy alternate methods for new participants to do various things like activate their new account cards or order extra cards for dependents, two of most common calls out of the deluge of new calls we were getting.

So, after the insulting Christmas non-bonus and two weeks of an insane, nightmarish, and hellish increase in call volume, all of which was directly attributable to management greed, neglect, and/or incompetence, management finally came up with a brilliant solution:

Mandatory overtime for the entire month of January.

Not for them.

So, I won't be posting much for a while.

Now, the upside of this, if there is an upside, is that I have to assume that even higher in the stratosphere than the people I answer to are people that they answer to, and those people can't be very happy at (a) our stats being in the toilet for the last two weeks and (b) the thousands and thousands of bitter, vicious complaints they must be getting from participants and client HR departments over 90 minute hold times, assuming one is lucky enough to actually get into the queue in the first place and not just get a busy signal all day long. Compounding all this is the OT they're going to be shelling out; management is never happy to be paying 20 or 30 people a lot of overtime for 4 weeks in a row, and compounding that will be the fact that we all got raises on January 1 that won't go into effect until April something, and when they do go into effect, we will all get a one time retro check to make up the difference in wages from January 1 to April, and I'm thinking that all this mandatory OT is going to make those retro checks pretty frickin' impressive. Which, again, is the kind of thing that makes management very very exasperated.

So, I'm badly badly hoping that at least a few middle management heads are going to roll over this. It would be scant comfort, but like Dick Jones, I say good business is where you find it.

All this, and on New Years Eve, we had several of the older two SuperKids' friends for a sleepover, which was a great deal of fun, but in the ensuing chaos and mayhem, someone with a sproingy Santa cap on their head managed to knock several of my clicks off the bookshelf where they live, and one of those clicks did not survive the plunge. Alas, poor Deathbird, we barely knew ye. I'm on the prowl for a replacement, but sure enough, now that I'm in the market, all the local comics shops that used to have them in their singles bins are abruptly high and dry. Just when I was getting a respectable crop of Shi'ar together, too. Dammit.

Okay, this is probably nearly all you get for quite a while. Sorry. Kill some time nominating me for a Koufax Award. It's fun, it's easy, and your nation will thank you. Or, at least, I will.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Original thoughts

Mike Norton has been kind enough to drop a dime (or is that fitty cents, these days?) on the next HeroClix expansion, Origins, due out in March.

As Mike himself notes, it's pretty much unheard of that we're deep into the preceding set (Supernova)'s release and still, we've had no official word on this next one from WK. For whatever reason, they seem content at this point to backdoor things through leaks to unofficial Internet outlets. It's impossible to be sure what this means, but it wouldn't surprise me at all to discover that one, or maybe a few, entries on this unofficial list are in fact deliberate misinformation... or tentative plants, to see if they generate buzz, and susceptible to being replaced with other options during a later, more official announcement, if said buzz doesn't seem to be there.

Whatever the case, here's what we think we know right now:


#01-03 Blackhawks (Stanislaus/Hendrickson/Blackhawk)

Part of me wants to doubt this, as what the hell good is a Blackhawk without his plane? And it strikes me that it wouldn't be wildly unlikely for WK to want to keep the first three slots in the upcoming set to themselves for a while. Beyond that, Blackhawks aren't exactly overwhelmingly popular; if WK were to announce later on that it wasn't actually Blackhawks that were coming out, but was, instead, a new set of Parademons, or Hunger Dogs, or Checkmate agents, I doubt too many customers would mind much.

If the first three slots actually are Blackhawks, well, I'm torn several different ways. First, where the hell is Chop Chop? Second, as already noted, what good are Blackhawks without their planes? Third, well, actually, it's kinda charming to have actual figs of three of the Blackhawks, but given how resolutely WK has been issuing similar characters as pogs recently, again, I just don't believe it. If they really do give us Blackhawks figs, well, I'm going to start severely agitating for an actual Rick Jones fig.

#04-06 Phantom Lady

Oh, goodie. Now people can start beating the drum for more Freedom Fighters, so they can complete their squads. Yaaaaaaay.

This may end up being one of the more fun to look at sculpts, though.

#07-09 Robotman (Cliff Steele)

I'm happy to see Doom Patrol figures come out, finally. Will they continue what they started, with Rita Farr, and give DP figs the Outsiders TA? And will there eventually be an alternate DP TA for them? And will the rookie Robotman be the Golden Age version and have a JSA TA? And will WK eventually give us an alternate All Star Squadron TA? Knowing WK, the answers to all of these questions are no, because that would all make too much sense and fans would like those things, and we'll most likely get some crappy looking modern age version of Robotman anyway, which will ruin everything. But at least having no official information right now allows me to continue to live in hope that WK won't dash my hopes utterly... although they often do, in the end.

#10-12 Ray

The Golden Age Ray is a character I'm very slightly fond of, as he was featured in several reprints in various 100 Page Super Spectaculars I read when I was a kid back in the 1970s. I always liked the idea of a guy who could turn into a sunbeam and shine into the bad guy's house through his window. And he's one of those Golden Age characters who has a fin on his head, and I always liked that look, and, to date, I don't think there any HeroClix who have it.

If it's the Modern Age version of the character, well, no fin on his head, but he has a cool looking helmet and a nifty looking jacket. On balance I'd rather see the Golden Ager, but I can deal with either.

What would be optimal would be a Golden Age Ray with a JSA TA on the rookie version, and a Modern Age Ray on the Vet Version, and... I dunno who on the Experienced.

Maybe Beppo the Supermonkey.

Yeah, that would be cool.

Anyway, the Ray should pretty much have Phasing, a very good range, some Ranged Combat Expert, and some Pulse Wave. If WK was smart they wouldn't put him on a flight stand, since he has to turn into energy to 'fly' and can't carry anyone else (which is basically all flight is good for within the context of the HeroClix game itself; Phasing would cover every other contingency one might use Flight for). But WK has to date demonstrated no intelligence whatsoever in this regard; neither the Vision (who alters his density in order to fly) or Captain Marvel/Photon/Pulsar (who, like the Ray, also turns into energy to fly) should be able to carry anyone else, either. But they are drawn flying in the comics, and WK's game designers simply don't seem to be very bright when it comes to applying their own rules to the figures they build. So I'm sure whichever Ray we get will be on a flight stand, although he really shouldn't be.

#13-15 Wildcat

You need him for a complete JSA, so, certainly I'll want one. But unless he has a truly godlike attack, or a ridiculously low cost, there's seems little point in ever putting him on an actual team you want to play an actual game with. I mean, he's a boxer in a cat-suit. An OLD boxer, nowadays. For all that they try to give him airs as the guy who has trained nearly every contemporary DC superhero in hand to hand combat, honestly, they simply can't make me be impressed by this guy. In the Marvel Universe, Captain America is the character who trains all the rookie superheroes in hand to hand, and when someone says "I was trained by Captain America", well, that means something. "I was trained by Wildcat"? Not so much. At least, not to me.

I'd expect him to have some Leap/Climb, some Toughness, and some Close Combat Expert. His Vet might get a click of Charge. If his Veteran version gets as high as a 10 Attack on even one slot, I'll be very pleasantly surprised, but if he does, I imagine it will be offset by a 15 Defense, maybe brought up somewhat by Combat Reflexes. I can't imagine him having a higher Damage Value than 2, although CCE will bring that up to a 4 when he belts someone, meaning that, under WK's normal rules, he could quite feasibly hit Superman for two clicks of damage... an absolutely ridiculous situation made impossible by my House Rules, where Impervious reduces damage dealt by 4 clicks, instead of merely 2.

#16-18 Damage

One of the few characters included in this set I honestly don't give a shit about. Well, no... actually, his inclusion in the latest version of the JSA, in a spot I expected to be filled by Atom Smasher, makes me actively dislike him. Given that, I imagine he'll have a fantastic dial and be a figure I'll really want to use. That's generally how it works with me and WK.

#19-21 Halo

I could not possibly care less about the character, but the completist in me -- not a quiet voice by any means -- wants her to complete my original OUTSIDERS roster. I'd like to see a Looker fig for much the same reason, although Looker wasn't a charter member of the team, and, well, I pretty much hated the team when it first appeared, anyway. I'd expect her to be fairly useful with a rainbow dial -- something particularly appropriate for this character. As with nearly every Seth dial design, though, I'll expect her utility to be limited, if not crippled, by a truly crappy attack value. Which will make her fit right in with her fellow Outsiders; as rendered in plastic by WizKids, there's no one on the team who could hit the wall of a barn unless they were standing inside it.

#22-24 Mano

He'll most likely be an impressive looking figure, and I'm happy to have another member of the Fatal Five. Having said that, though, I have great difficulty imagining what kind of dial Seth is going to create to represent a character who basically has a hand that can disintegrate anything. Exploit Weakness combined with Close Combat Expert could come close, but WK won't use split powers on their HeroClix dials, so that's out. Most likely, he'll have Exploit Weakness, a 3 or 4 Damage Value (to start with), no range, and a decent Attack Value. Mid-range Defense (maybe a 16) should get a boost from Energy Shield/Deflection (Mano has demonstrated a capacity to use his hand to disintegrate incoming missile weapons).

Once WK completes the Fatal Five by giving us a Tharok fig, I'll have to come up with a Fatal Five Team Ability. And I should probably create an alternate Legion of Superheroes team ability, too, come to think of it.

#25-27 Shadow Thief

Mike Norton has commented a few times that he's always more excited about seeing some third string Marvel villain get a figure in a clix set than he is about anything that comes out in a DC expansion. I tend to agree with him, but, well, on the other hand, I'm very pleased to see a Shadow Thief figure coming out, too, and he pretty well exactly fits that description in the DC Universe. (Of course, it's hard to be anything but a third string villain when your primary heroic nemesis is Hawkman. I am a big Hawkman fan, but let's face it -- as Hawkeye the Archer once said about some entirely different, but similar, character "That bozo's only powers are flying and rapping with birds!")

Shadow Thief is a goofy character, but he's figured in some of my most fondly remembered Silver Age JLA stories (he was a perpetual member of the Injustice League, and occasionally even went up against the League on his own). I imagine his dial will be much like what we've already seen with The Ghost, from ARMOR WARS. And like the Ghost, he'll be an almost entirely unplayed figure, unless Seth loses him mind entirely and puts something like Probability Control on Shadow Thief's dial.

#28-30 Knockout

Yet another renegade from Apokolips that Jack Kirby never heard of; this one a superstrong omnisexual ultraviolent chickiepoo who is currently a member of the contemporary Secret Six. I don't mind her much, but I also don't see much chance we're going to fill out that team's roster any time soon... or if we did, that anyone would ever play them together. Again, given what Seth has shown us in the past about his design philosophies, she will most likely be rather limited in her applications, mostly by a mediocre at best Attack Value. Since I don't care much about the character herself, this isn't a figure I'm looking forward to all that much.

#31-33 Copperhead

I honestly don't know who this is. Marvel has had a character named Copperhead, too, although I think he only showed up once, long ago, in an old LUKE CAGE comic, where he got stomped so bad he's never showed up again. Speaking of Luke Cage villains who showed up once and got stomped so bad they never showed up again, I would really love to see WK do a figure of the Steeplejack. But I genuinely doubt they ever will.

#34-36 Question

While it seems obvious that Rene' Montoya is being groomed to take Vic Sage's place when he finally succumbs to his recently revealed terminal cancer, I haven't seen that confirmed yet, and Sage himself is pictured (in his original Silver Age Steve Ditko hero outfit, at that) on the box designs we've seen. So I expect this to be Vic Sage. Maybe the Vet will be the Modern Age, O'Neill/Cowan version who eschewed his business suit and fedora and went into action essentially wearing whatever he had on when he ran into some sort of trouble.

As to the dial, well, I'd imagine his and Wildcat's will be basically interchangeable... Close Combat Expert, Exploit Weakness, Combat Reflexes, Leap-Climb, maybe a little Charge to make his Vet useful to the tournament nuts. Probably some Smoke Cloud, too.

#37-39 Animal Man

Most likely he'll have a dial very much like we've already seen with Vixen -- one version of his REV will be on a Flight stand, another will have the Dolphin movement symbol; his dials will vary widely but include stuff like Blades/Claws/Fangs, Super Senses, Super Strength, Leap-Climb, Charge, Toughness, Stealth... like that. Yet another character I honestly don't much care about, but his Experienced version will fit into my Goober Justice League roster nicely.

#40-42 Cat-Man

The Rookie and Experienced versions should be dumb asses; the Veteran will probably have a decent Attack Value, some Blade/Claws/Fangs, some Charge and Leap/Climb, a lot of Willpower, and maybe some Leadership alternating with Outwit. Could be a Ka-Zar for the DC-only players.

#43-35 Booster Gold


#46-48 Atom

I'd really like it if this were the Ray Palmer version, rather than the more recent Asian incarnation. Ray's history is nearly tailor made for a REV -- the rookie would have his Silver Age costume and essentially have the same dial as the hockey puck WK has already given us, the Experienced could from be the SWORD OF THE ATOM period and have some B/C/F, the Veteran could be the Modern Age version with the mask that cuts away to show his hair, and some levels of Super Strength and Invulnerability.

If it's Ryan Choi, on the other hand, well, I won't much care.

#49-51 Mirror Master

As Orto has already noted, "A classic Flash villain is always welcome". I expect a dial design that goes heavy on ranged attacks, including Ranged Combat Expert and Incapacitate, along with some Phasing and maybe a little Running Shot.

#52-54 Triplicate Girl

Always nice to see another Legionnaire. Orto speculates that she'll end up similar to the recent Madrox REV, but I don't know... the thing about Luornu is, all three of her different bodies are supposed to be identical, so it really wouldn't make sense to create a REV of her in which each separate dial had different abilities. Essentially, her rookie, experienced and veteran versions should all have exactly the same dial. And, other than a flight stand (all Legionnaires have flight rings), I can't really see where she should have any powers, either, besides being able to have all her REVs on the same team at the same time without anyone screaming 'cheese' about it.

#55-57 Supergirl

Yet another version of Supergirl. The picture on the box shows the current costume, with the midriff baring halter top. How powerful is that version? I honestly have no idea. Will this version have some HyperSonic Speed, as I'm sure all the cheese geeks out there are hoping? I think it's likely. Depending on her point cost, some version of her could see some play.

#58-60 Hawkman

I'd like to see a version of Hawkman who could actually hit something. Maybe the Vet will have a double digit Attack Value. Hopefully, nobody at WK likes Roy Thomas; otherwise, this one may have that horrible tongue sticking out of the beak on his mask.

#61-63 Wonder Girl (Cassie Sandmark)

Again -- whatever.

#64-66 Cyborg Superman

I have no idea who this is.

#67-69 Steel

I imagine it's the Gerry Conway/Don Heck character, originally of World War II vintage, versions of which have since shown up as part of the Detroit JLA, and apparently as a member of the newest JSA roster, too, when Johns gets around to introducing him. The newest JSA version most likely isn't the teenage Detroit JLA guy, as we've recently been told he died, although in superhero comic books that's not necessarily a safe conclusion to leap to.

#70-72 Mr. Miracle

Hopefully, his sculpt will show him on those cool looking aero-discs of his, justifying a flight stand, which will allow his dial to have Phasing rather than Leap-Climb. Beyond that, well, I'd give him a high Defense and a decent Attack, some Toughness, some Energy Explosion, and some Probability Control. Maybe a little Incapacitate, too.

#73-75 Mon-El/Valor/M'Onel

Another nice add for my Legion squad. Definitely need to come up with an alternate LSH team ability.

#77 Green Lantern/Sentinel (Alan Scott LE)

Probably the most anticipated figure in this set, and not just by me. I'm going to predict an LE with the Green Lantern TA, since Alan Scott is an honorary member of the Corps, and his powers would certainly allow him to have that particular ability (taxiing up to eight friendly characters at once). His REV will all be JSA.

#79-81 Shazam

I'd much rather see a Captain Marvel, Jr. than another Captain Marvel. But who knows? DC can't use the Captain Marvel name, so maybe this Shazam REV will be Junior... or at least include him.

#82-84 Martian Manhunter/J'onn J'onzz

Well, everyone wants a knew, more powerful Martian Manhunter. I imagine the Vet version will be nearly as hard to get as the Vet Thor from Supernova. I'd also imagine he'll have at least one click with a 5 damage value.

#85 Starman (Ted Knight)

Another character with a fin on his head, which makes me happy. Now, if he just has a decently varied dial and effective stats, I'll be ecstatic.

#86 Sandman (Wesley Dodds)

I'm not sure whether I'm hoping for the gas mask/business suit appearance, or the purple and gold Kirby costume with the wirepoon gun. If it's the latter, a great many people will be disappointed, but I'd bet money we'll see a Sandy pog.

#87 Blue Beetle III

A Blue Beetle I (Golden Age) figure would have been much cooler. Oh, well.

#88 Mr. Mind

Welllllll... yeah, okay, but I'd rather see a Sivana...

#89 Jakeem Thunder (and T-Bolt)

I really don't care much about this character combo, but... okay, maybe he'll have a cool dial.

#90 Gentleman Ghost

Another Hawkman villain. Another pretty much untouchable Hawkman villain, at that. His sculpt could be very cool. His dial... I'm thinking he should have a great deal of Perplex.

#91 Vandal Savage

Could easily be a 300 point character, but almost certainly won't be. Vandal is an immortal who was born in prehistory and who has been demonstrated to be pretty much a master of every human field of endeavor, including magic -- but I'd expect his dial will go heavy on his physical capacities, like Super Strength and Regeneration, and leave his other abilities to be mostly represented by Outwit and Perplex and maybe some Probability Control. I'd give him some Super Senses, too.

#92 Johnny Quick (Crime Syndicate)

Now all we need is Power Ring.

#93 Negative Woman (Doom Patrol)

Oh, yuck. Paul Kupperberg Doom Patrol members? No doubt when WK finally gives us a Chief, he'll be a pog.

#94 S.T.R.I.P.E.

Something to slap a Sidekick feat on when playing a JSA squad.

#95 Batman (Golden Age)

Unless they give him a JSA team ability (and an 18 Defense Value) I can't see much point to the figure. On the other hand, if they did give him a JSA TA, they'd have to give him at least one opening click of Stealth, which would make Swingline a necessity for him... which would be appropriate.

#96 Superman (Golden Age)

An 80 to 90 point pocket Superman could be interesting. Greying temples; no flight stand; a dial full of Super Strength; Toughness or Invulnerability but no Impervious... maybe no range strike, since Superman didn't have heat vision until a writer for his radio show gave it to him in the early 50s. Give him the Superman TA and he won't really need Leap-Climb, since hindering terrain effectively won't exist for him. This would make sense, as the Golden Age Superman did have X-ray vision and super hearing. This would allow him to have a dial full of Charge, which would nicely simulate him being both 'faster than a speeding bullet' and 'more powerful than a locomotive'.

Still, I'd love to see both the Golden Age Batman and the Golden Age Superman given JSA TAs. If Batman had a high defense (I'd give him at least an 18), he and Superman could go into combat side by side, so Supes could be a little harder to hit, too. In that case, you might want to just give him the flight stand and be done with it.

And that's what I think, as of this moment. When we know more, I'll probably think different things. And write another incredibly tedious post about it, too. Until then, you may want to seriously consider sending me a great deal of money, so I'll be too busy buying things for SuperFiancee and the SuperKids to torment you like this again.