Category Archives: Save It Saturday

Save-It Saturday: Huge, Annoying Tentacles.

Here at Full Body Transplant we have been getting some sightseers surfing for squid. Watchmen squid, to be precise, but squid nonetheless. So, Save-It Saturday is serving historical calamari this morning as the next recipe in our archival soup.

The photograph at the top of this post is one of the crowning achievements of our time at Metagame. My magnificent Met-loving managing editor actually allowed me to photoshop myself and Matt Hyra into the halls of hysterical fake history. And we lived happily ever after.

So yeah. It’s not the Watchmen squid, it’s the huge, annoying tentacles from Hellboy. It’s copying over to the blog with bad spacing, and eventually the source links from the original will shut down and the images won’t load. It is delicious while it lasts, and there is nothing like squid for breakfast – or Save-It Saturday on a Sunday morning.

Bon appetit!

hellboyfike

Hellboy Preview: Huge, Annoying Tentacles and Karl Ruprecht Kroenen

Rian Fike
View all articles by this author

What are you afraid of?

If you are Selma Blair, the answer is simple: Huge, Annoying Tentacles. When she was creating Liz Sherman on film for Guillermo del Toro’s version of Mike Mignola’s Hellboy, Selma had to face her deepest, darkest phobia. This is what the brilliant actress had to say about her experience with Vs. System’s latest Army characters:

They actually scared me. Tentacles are the one thing I have problems with. In person, those tentacles were so terrifying, moving on their own and going everywhere. They really made me sick. I was repulsed, and you didn’t see them as much in the final cut because of it. Yeah, I don’t like them. I don’t like slugs or tentacles or calamari or anything. Tentacles made me turn into a vegetarian in high school. I’m not any more, but in high school, we were dissecting squid.

Huge, Annoying Tentacles scared the pants off the former winner of MTV’s Best Movie Kiss of the Year. Now they are going to be mad fun to play with on the kitchen table and in the tournament hall. They are non-unique Army characters and they are a near-perfect representation of the timeless fear that is unleashed and celebrated in the Hellboy Essential Collection. Let’s find out where these creepy crawlers came from.

When Mike Mignola first penned the legend of Hellboy, he drew upon the most hideous and horrible source material that humanity has ever known. Some of his inspiration was non-fiction, but that will need to wait until the second half of the article. Right now, we need to look toward H.P. Lovecraft.

Widely acknowledged as a master of modern horror, H.P. Lovecraft gave us Cthulhu. No single being carries as much weight when it comes to terrifying its audience. Cthulhu is one of the Old Ones, sometimes described as of the sum total of all human fear. Huge, Annoying Tentacles are its signature move. If you are having trouble pronouncing the name, don’t worry. Cthulhu cannot be spoken. Lovecraft himself explained it like this:

The actual sound—as nearly as human organs could imitate it or human letters record it—may be taken as something like Khlul’-hloo, with the first syllable pronounced gutturally and very thickly. The best approximation one can make is to grunt, bark, or cough the imperfectly formed syllables Cluh-Luh with the tip of the tongue firmly affixed to the roof of the mouth. That is, if one is a human being. Directions for other entities are naturally different.

Mike Mignola created the Ogdru Jahad as homage to Cthulhu and the Old Ones. Like its predecessor, this indescribable evil is an ageless being from the beginning of time. It continuously strives to destroy the world completely and throw us all into a state of utter chaos and madness. When Guillermo del Toro interpreted the Ogdru Jahad for his feature film, it had one resounding characteristic: it had Huge, Annoying Tentacles.

Luckily for us, Hellboy and the B.P.R.D eventually thwarted the Thule Society and their attempt to awaken the Ogdru Jahad. The world did not end, and we get to live on for many more games of Vs. System. For better or worse, there will now be Huge, Annoying Tentacles involved, and they will take some getting used to. Playing against these suckers can be exhausting.

The fear caused by this card turns any lower-cost Thule Society character into Rogue, Anna Raven. Aside from the upgrade in looks, why is that good? What is the benefit in attacking an exhausted character unless it is She-Hulk, Jennifer Walters? I hope you are ready, because there are some amazing powers that can answer those questions.

  1. Exhausted defenders are not able to attack back on your initiative turns. Huge, Annoying Tentacles will form the basis for some suicidal stall strategies. Since it gives its power to any smallish characters that it can team-up with, it has me dusting off the Armies of Qward and preparing a new world order for Army swarms.
  2. Whether or not you stun the defender that you turned sideways, you can stick it to the board for the next turn with Adhesive X or Nahrees.
  3. There are some amazing pumps that key off exhausted defenders. The Arkham Inmates are singing “Let’s Go Crazy” as we speak. Every character in the game is practicing their Sucker Punch for a Crushing Blow thanks to Huge, Annoying Tentacles.
  4. Two words: Golden Death.
  5. Some of the darkest, scariest characters that I know just got a whole lot better. Check out Charaxes, Drury Walker; Yelena Belova ◊ Black Widow; and Mystique, Villainous Shapeshifter. Huge, Annoying Tentacles will bring them out of the binder and turn them into the KO machines they were born to be.

As frightening as Huge, Annoying Tentacles are, there is another card in the Hellboy Essential Collection that takes even more of my breath away. Karl Ruprecht Kroenen will chill you to the bone. He is a character that Mike Mignola invented to personify the coldness and cruelty into which the human mind can condense when its sights are set on true evil. This is what happens when the warmth of the human heart is completely extinguished. The pulp version of Kroenen actually froze himself for years, waiting until the proper time for his apocalyptic agenda to be completed.

Over the course of their translation from comic book to feature film, both Liz Sherman and Karl Ruprecht Kroenen received a major upgrade and an expanded presence in the Hellboy mythos. Guillermo del Toro fleshed them out thoroughly, allowing Liz to love and Kroenen to kill. In the director’s hands, they became a yin/yang supernova of opposite power and symbolism. Their migration to Vs. System in the Hellboy Essential Collection captures these content extensions intact, and our cardboard contests are going to get wicked because of it.

Karl Ruprecht Kroenen is one of the most disturbing villains ever created. The skin-crawling evil that his character distills is nearly non-fiction. The Thule Society team affiliation that he represents is based on tragic historical fact. The bizarre and unsettling psychosis of surgical addiction that he unveils in the cinema is an all-too-real example of abnormal human behavior. This character is a true horror.

He is also nearly impossible to kill. This is neatly represented by his evasion ability. You can be assured of his presence for multiple turns, and at the beginning of each combat phase, he will be prepared to employ one of his twisted toys. If the top card of your deck is an Army character that has been brainwashed to follow the orders of the Thule Society as they continue their mission to ritualistically destroy the entire world, then Karl Ruprecht Kroenen will add it to your arsenal. He may find a natural minion with Huge, Annoying Tentacles, or he may expand his troops with a Team-Up. Either way, he brings a terrible beauty to the tortured eyes of Vs. System Army lovers everywhere.

What are you afraid of?

Rian Fike is also known as stubarnes and he is not afraid of anything that he can eat with hot sauce. He wishes that he really could meet Selma Blair, with or without Matt Hyra. If you wish to speak with him about some fears of your own, make an appointment at fullbodytransplant@dadeschools.net.

Advertisements

2 Comments

Filed under Comic Books, Save It Saturday, The Interwebs Rock!, Vs. System

Save-It Saturday: Shuma-Gorath.

shumagorath

shumashuma shumashuma

Shuma-Gorath has commanded my attention since he first appeared in the Capcom video game called Marvel Super Heroes in 1995. He has a large, single eye and huge, annoying tentacles. His abstract essence embodies the purity of desire, free from the detailed annoyance of politics and petty squabble. In the video game, his special move is called “Chaos Dimension,” and when he beats a hero into a pathetic pulp, he taunts the vanquished in a funky voice, calling him or her a “waste of flesh.” When I am looking for a crazy character to become visually enamored with, it doesn’t get any better than that—unless, of course, it includes a fishbowl for a head.

Today we are featuring Jim Nelson’s Shuma-Gorath in the inaugural sailing of the Save It Saturday ship. I will be transplanting one of my old Metagame articles over here as an archive each week while I watch Wacky Races and Banana Splits on Boomerang Channel.

Eventually the links won’t work and the images will not appear, but at least we will have the text for posterity. Enjoy.

Risk Vs. Reward: Aesthetic Obsessions

Rian Fike
View all articles by this author

“I don’t know much about art, but I know what I like.”

—Anonymous

When we first lay eyes upon a brand new set of Vs. System cards, we automatically begin to connect with it through the artwork it contains. We are visual creatures; the organs we use for sight have gained a commanding influence over our entire being. Even when we try to deny their power, we are still tight on the leash.

Since the eyes have it, the soul is guided and formed by whatever personal optical preferences have developed within the individual. You like what you like, and I like what I like—it makes us who we are. As an art teacher, I could spend this entire article explaining in intricate detail the reasons for the success of certain images . . . but you will still like what you like. Certain colors, characters, and compositions will always command your aesthetic allegiance. Some pictures just grab you and never let go.

My life is dedicated to the visual arts. I am aesthetically obsessed. Four objects of my deepest devotion showed up last Saturday at our local Marvel Team-Up Sneak Preview tournament. My eyes are still burning.

I really like Thanos, Shuma-Gorath, Mysterio, and Linda Blair. Let’s take them in that order. Thanos embodies the deepest contrasts in the human experience. His palette is made of complimentary colors, which are actually opposites. Purple is the antithesis of yellow, and Thanos is the most hateful lover of all time. His heart is undyingly loyal to Death. He courts her with an obsession that is unmatched in all of romantic fiction, and he looks really cool while he does it.

Thanos is also a collector. His stash of Infinity Gems is now complete, thanks to the Marvel Team-Up set. Ego Gem is here, and the game may never be the same. The ability to draw extra cards in order to feed whatever risky strategy your aesthetics demand has never been this sparkly. Our new 0-cost jewel of an equipment card looks like fabulous fertilizer for fanciful freaks around the globe. It’s a beautiful thing.

Shuma-Gorath has commanded my attention since he first appeared in the Capcom video game called Marvel Super Heroes in 1995. He has a large, single eye and huge, annoying tentacles. His abstract essence embodies the purity of desire, free from the detailed annoyance of politics and petty squabble. In the video game, his special move is called “Chaos Dimension,” and when he beats a hero into a pathetic pulp, he taunts the vanquished in a funky voice, calling him or her a “waste of flesh.” When I am looking for a crazy character to become visually enamored with, it doesn’t get any better than that—unless, of course, it includes a fishbowl for a head.

How do I love Mysterio? Let me count the ways. Pink and green is my favorite two-color combo of all time. He has a cape, an awesome set of wrist sculptures, and lots of smoke. Best of all, he has a big, round glass globe to cover his visage. That is too cool. I think it’s the sense of abstract art coming to life that sucks me in, but it also makes his facial features pretty easy to draw.

Mysterio is always creating elaborate performance pieces to confound his enemies. When Francis Klum took over the fishbowl mantle as the third incarnation, his work was more impressive than ever. Peter Parker was employed as a teacher at Midtown High School when Mysterio’s latest evil illusions transformed the whole building into the most intense and realistic haunted house—right in the middle of the school day!

I didn’t get to play with Francis Klum ◊ Mysterio in my Sneak Preview deck, and no one played him against me all day. The fun was fully fleshed in spite of that, especially since I had a tiny touchstone to one of the most attractive public figures I have ever seen.

Linda Blair was possessed in The Exorcist, and she scared us all silly in the process. Then she came back all grown up in Exorcist 2: The Heretic. She has owned my soul ever since. My choice for Most Beautiful Actress in Film History now has a very tenuous connection to Vs. System thanks to Frank Drake. The Nightstalker is also devoted to our demonic diva—after all, he named his gun after her.

Frank Drake is more than just a great painting. His power is strong, non-team-stamped stuff if you can drop him on turn 1. I packed his firepower in my 30-card gallery for the Sneak Preview, but I never did draw him in time.

When the clock struck twelve to start the tournament, I busted my five packs and instantly turned into a Sleepwalker. I received two copies of the fancy flipper, and one of them was foil. I also had a risky finisher; Elektra, Leader of the Hand was ready to laugh maniacally if she ever got to fall into a truly hilarious fit of somnambulating beats. The meat of my deck was diabolical. I adore the Underworld, especially since I pulled myself into Death’s Embrace. It was a Strange Love indeed.

The first round was a treat that I had been anticipating for a long while. Gerren Clarke is one of my favorite local players, mostly because of a sick little Constructed deck that he has tuned to perfection. Let me tease you with the basics:

4 Longshot, Rebel Freedom Fighter

12 GCPD Officer

12 Shadow Creatures

4 Kiman

1 Starro the Conqueror

1 Anti-Monitor

4 Qward

Gerren told me about his JSA experiments with the deck, adding Terry Sloane ◊ Mr. Terrific, Allied Against the Dark, and The Rock of Eternity to make the police brutality more vicious than ever. I will never get tired of talking about strategies like that.

Eventually we had to play the match. Gerren jumped out to an early advantage, hitting his full curve from 1 to 5. I was catching up slowly, with Luke Cage, Neighborhood Watch becoming Underworld-friendly, followed by N’astirh with a Teleportation Ring. That paved the way for a furious Hellstorm of recurring plot twists and a mad Mephisto, Mephistopheles. Gerren missed his turn 6 recruit completely, and Elektra mopped up with initiative on turn 7 even though she didn’t get to go sleepwalking.

In the second round, I sat down against another local player, this time the central hub of our Miami Hobby League community. Dennison Fonseca makes sure we order the kits and keep the home fires burning. Now that we have the City Championships looming on the horizon, the house is going up in smoke. In case you haven’t heard, one Vs. System player will soon be immortalized on an official superhero trading card. Personally, that is the best reward I can imagine. Life is about to imitate art, and vice versa.

The match came down to one tiny endurance point, as Dennison swung his Spider-Man, The Amazing Bag-Man for just barely enough on turn 6. We were so excited by the upcoming City Championship that we hardly noticed who had won. Hobby League will never be the same, no matter what our records were at the Sneak Preview.

With one loss, I moved on to the next round against one of my Draft Party buddies. Mike Lovett is getting better and better at this game, and he displayed his skills on this day. I got frisky with Dweller-in-Darkness and Captain America, Heroic Paragon, trying desperately to stave off the final attack from Spider-Man, Stark’s Protege. Alas, it was not enough. At least we had Pro Circuit Indianapolis 2007 practice plans to make when it was over.

The final match of the day was against the classiest man in town. Rob Escalante is the kind of player that you would like your son to grow up to be. I will never forget watching him remind his unaware opponent that the defender recovers after a Validus stun. (This was with a PCQ Top 8 on the line!) Rob would rather lose with honor than win in a suspect manner. We should all strive to have his integrity.

Rob is also a mainstay of our Hobby League, and we spent time dreaming of City Championships and the opportunity to get one of our faces on a card. Then the match began and he had to underdrop on every turn after 2. We laughed for ten minutes as he was forced to turn his Beast, New Defender into a real beast when it was Banished to the Abyss while wearing a Teleportation Ring. A 2-drop with 1 ATK / 9 DEF is nothing to sneeze at, but it sure will make you chuckle. For some reason his deck just wouldn’t wake up, and my Sleepwalker trick was finally able to take flight. Elektra, Leader of the Hand soaked up a whole lotta love, and then flipped the script for the win.

My eyes have seen the glory of Marvel Team-Up, and it has made a definite impression. I’m sure you also have some new paintings that you can’t stop thinking about. Visual pleasure is increased, and our lives are that much better for it. Just think how intense the fixation will get when the City Championships crown one of our own in the halls of trading card game history. The optical endearment may last forever.

Rian Fike is also known as stubarnes and he only has eyes for you. Send a rundown of your favorite paintings to fullbodytransplant@dadeschools.net. If you include a full decklist, he will research the myths that go along with it and publish your personal aesthetic obsession in a future article.


Leave a comment

Filed under Comic Books, Greatest Hits, Magick, Save It Saturday, Vs. System