Tag Archives: dc comics

Aquaman Resurrected For A Reason.

Back in the day, I had the mind boggling honor of introducing brand new Vs. System cards to the world. I got to see the playing pieces early so I could gush. Three years later, my oceans are still foaming. Since we went underwater yesterday with Aquaman, it is time to ride the tide.

I wrote this for the DC Legends set, originally published on December 10th, 2007. It is still as fresh as the day it was caught. Enjoy…

Aquaman has become a rather funky icon in modern pop culture. When he first hit the television screen forty years ago, he made his initial mass media splash with The Superman/Aquaman Hour of Adventure. That sixties series couldn’t hold its breath for very long. Then the Super Friends made their extended run on the small screen starting in the seventies, and Aquaman was back, with his underwater telepathy beams rippling into homes across the country. That time, he was strong enough to stop a tidal wave.

Unfortunately for him, his visibility and name recognition were not enough to maintain his super-strength through a long string of spin-offs. The titles were ridiculous enough to tarnish an image on their own: Challenge of the Super Friends; The World’s Greatest Super Friends; Super Friends: The Legendary Super Powers Show; and The Super Powers Team: Galactic Guardians. Even though he was a key member of the “Super Powers Team,” Aquaman’s tricks were reduced to their briny essentials. Adding insult to injury, he was also forced to teach magic tricks to the kids in the audience. The power to hide a coin in the palm of your hand is not exactly the kind of threat that strikes fear in the hearts of the DC Comics super villain community.

He still had admirers, though. Despite his limited skills, Aquaman survived into the future as a cult favorite, overcoming the fashion obstacles of an orange-and-green outfit with pointy-finned boots and gloves. He didn’t have the same superstar popularity of Superman or Batman, but he had dedicated fans. Aquaman resurfaced in a big way near the turn of the millennium. For the past two decades, his scaly spandex and fishy talents have been celebrated, often through parody, in over twenty different programs.

From Seinfeld to The Simpsons to Smallville, Aquaman has gotten serious screen time. He is referenced in Family Guy and Robot Chicken. Button smashers worldwide have played video games featuring Aquaman since the days of Super Nintendo. There is a feature length film in the works for the fan-favorite orange shirt, and right now, Vs. System is allowing Aquaman to dig up some buried treasure.

That’s right—he’s three cards for the price of one. Any combo deck in the world can take to the seas and splash the Lord of Atlantis to make sure things are set up for the kill. His JLA team affiliation has a new good guy to act as a safety net when things go to turn 6. Cable is itching to spend an afternoon on the beach watching Aquaman try the Bodyslide to double the digging delights. Like the ocean he calls home, Aquaman, Lord of Atlantis represents the chance to fish out an uncountable bounty in our game.

That is not, in my personal opinion, the most exciting benthic announcement I am privileged to make today. As you probably know by now, I have been in love with tiny Army characters since the day Vs. System was released. DC Legends is rewarding my affections with the potential to create a spectacular seafood swarm.

One of the most touching mythological moments in comic book history occurred in Adventure Comics #476. Aquaman was facing a truly evil villain dressed as Poseidon. The bad guy seemed to be the real deal, and he could command the ocean’s residents with the same ease as our hero. When the pretender’s plot for world domination sent schools of fish to the surface to take over the world, Aquaman wrestled the mental control of a single dolphin away from the Poseidon impostor. The flippered friend was telepathically commanded to snatch the trident from the villain’s hand and save the day. It worked, but the tug-of-war inside the dolphin’s head caused it to have a heart attack. Aquaman got emotional and blamed himself. He settled silently to the bottom of the sea and worried about the great responsibility that comes with great power.

Then, something truly moving occurred. Tens of thousands of marine animals swam slowly, in formation, toward their sullen commander. They saluted him from the heart, telling him in their own special way that they follow him out of love, not because of force. It was the kind of story that can fill the reader with pure joy. It was almost as good as the Sea Creatures we will soon get to flip on our kitchen tables.

That, my friends, is fresh fish. We have been blessed with a rare Army character that becomes a salty, 1-cost beatstick when Aquaman is in play to continue his legend. Sea Creatures automatically align affiliations with their brave captain, and together they will be able to bring the pain to any defender who gets plopped into their watery domain. Team attack tricks will hit new heights when these little beaters cover the field. Aquaman, Arthur Curry can hit the board on turn 3 to call forth the tuna troops for the rest of the game. Sea Creatures are a natural source of protein for all the Ally recipes that the JLA has been cooking up since the Justice League of America set, and DC Legends promises to fill the cardboard pantry with even more legendary spices. It may never be safe to go back in the water.

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Filed under Aquaman, Greatest Hits, Vs. System

Something Fishy: Aquaman RULES.

     

And now for something completely fishy. We put our dollar into the machine. Our aim was true. We grabbed the spotlight at the Aquaman Shrine!

Just in case you have never been there, you must visit Rob Kelly’s Aquaman Shrine. Do it now.

While we wait for you to return, IF you ever return, here is the full glory of Craig Hamilton’s painting from the Vs. System Sea Creatures card, which is now swimming blissfully in Rob’s collection. I remember the day they showed it to me before anyone else had ever seen it.

That day has never ended.

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Mike Allred Returns.

Ivampire

Riffing on the old I… Vampire! Who could it be? None other than  Mike Allred.

Vertigo/DC Comics just announced a new series called I, Zombie written by Chris Roberson and drawn by our man. Could he actually revive the spirit of X-Statix, his masterpiece? Meet me back here on Halloween to find out.

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MMK089 MMK219

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Promethea Lives!

PrometheaAndGod

(Promethea copyright DC Comics.)

If I have said it once, I have said it a thousand times. Promethea is the best comic book ever made. Alan Moore, JH Williams III, Mick Gray, Jeremy Cox, and Todd Klein created a transcendant testament that tickles while it teaches. There is, perhaps, no greater source for learning about magical and spiritual traditions while being totally entertained. If you have never read the 32 issue series, please do it as soon as you can.

Our personal connection to Promethea is pretty intense. We jumped in at issue 12 and it became the only book we ever wrote letters for. Yes, the early issues had a published letter section just like the glory days. The book was highly irregular when it came to schedule, and I will never forget the months it was late. Such delicious agony. Then the ecstasy.

The page above shows the moment that Sophie finally came face to face with God. Did she say just any old words? Of course not. She was Promethea. She was the invisible embrace of the collective imagination that joins us all. She said our prayer.

We have three children. They are magical adults now, but every night when I tucked them in we said a prayer. It goes like this.

Dear God, I love you.

Help me to be what you want me to be, and thank you for everything.

Amen.

When I saw that Alan Moore had written the same words for Sophie to say when she finally got a chance to speak to The Universe, I was speechless.

There were many, many moments like that from 1999-2004 while the new issues were still flowing. Issue #32 was the end of the line, in keeping with the Kabbalistic tradition. Promethea, however, lives on.

Surfing the interwebs keeps everything going nowadays. Yesterday something jumped from its grave and pulled my eyes out of their sockets. I was toying with bing instead of the google, and their image search returned a synchronicitizer stronger than any other.

The best interview I ever found involving Promethea contained two pics that blew my mind, since the original art hangs on our wall. They were nestled comfortably alongside Mick Gray, the World’s Greatest Inker. We will start with the interview highlights, then I will explain the connection.

MickAndHollyGray

(Mick Gray and his wife Holly.)

Working on Promethea is much more challenging than any other job I have ever had. J.H. is always pushing me to the next level and it has been very rewarding. I am not looking forward to its end. It is just so inspiring to work on this book.

Alan Moore is well known for the notoriously long and detailed scripts that he provides for his illustrators that still give leeway for their input into the finished product. Do you get to read much of Alan’s scripts yourself or do you just concentrate on finishing the art that JH Williams provides for you?

I have a copy of the script for issue #1 and it is huge. But my job is to work close with J.H. to try and capture the vision. I have only talked to Alan once over the phone (After we won the Eisner award!) but J.H. talks with him quite often. There is a lot of communication between everybody who works on this book, this is why the quality is so high.

When Promethea finishes with Issue #32 you will have been working on it for about 5 years (1999-2004). Is this the longest you have worked on a single title?

Yes this is the longest run we both have on a book.

What are some of your favorite images from Promethea so far?

The “Mobius Strip” page from issue #15 (this is most definitively the most asked about page), the “Four Horseman of the Apocalypse” from issue #5 and the whole issue #12!

From an artists point of view what were some of the hardest images you have had to produce for Promethea. Which images do you think most closely approximated what you imagined they would turn out like?

The “Four Horseman” page was a lot of work, it just took a lot of time! And issue #12 was pretty tough because of the deal with all the pages put end to end make one long piece of art. That took extra time in making sure all the pages butted up to each other just right. Wow, that was some issue.

Do you have a favorite character that you enjoy producing an image of more than any of the others?

I have a soft spot for the original costume of Sophie’s. I miss it! Even thought it took longer to pencil and ink, it was just so cool.

Both Alan and JH Williams have said in interviews that while they were working on the Daath Issue “The Stars are But Thistles (#20) they were taken quite ill as if someone or something didn’t want them to be doing it. Did you have a similar experience yourself when you worked on it and have you received any interesting feedback from readers about this particular issue?

Hmmm… I had a really bad hemorrhoid during that issue… just kidding. I have never heard about this from Alan or J.H., sorry.

Has working on Promethea spurred any interest in finding out more about Magick, The Kabbalah, Aleister Crowley, Austin Osman Spare, John Dee or any other figures of real people who have appeared in Promethea?

I am very interested in the Kabbalah and I have been on a spiritual journey of my own for many years. Working on this book has just made me more interested in these subjects.

 Issue #26 which just came out looks and feels almost like a Tom Strong comic rather than the usual Promethea one (if there is such a thing as a usual Promethea Issue). Did you enjoy your change of style on this one. Are there any other comic such as Ghostworld which inspired this style?

I just love all the different styles J.H. has used on Promethea. It just makes it so much fun when you don’t know what is coming next.

How many awards have you won for your work on Promethea. Was the Eisner a single statue that you had to share with JHW or did you each get a statue?

We have been nominated many times (including this year!) for different awards but the only one we have actually won is for “Best Single Issue” for Promethea # 10 in 2001. We each got a nice plaque for our walls!

Is there a question about your work on Promethea that no one has ever asked you but you wish they would so you could answer it?

If you could work on any book, with any team, and do it forever, what would it be? Promethea.

Endless love to eroomnala for that magnificent interview. Now the freaky part. Mick Gray supplied a before-and-after set of drawings to illustrate the state of the page when it was given to him by JH Williams III. It just so happened to be the exact page we own, thanks to ebay. Spooky conicidence? Divine intervention? Either way, what bliss.

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That is the drawing from JH Williams III. Promethea #7, pages 6-7.

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That is the finished inking by Mick Gray. The planets and eyes are actually collaged onto the ink surface.

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That is a photograph of the pages, hanging in our bedroom .

So, you see, Promethea lives! Synchronicity is her standard time zone, and she set the alarm for this very moment. Thank you Alan Moore. Thank you JH Williams III. Thank you Mick Gray. Thank you Todd Klein. Thank you everyone at DC who allowed something this real to be published.

We will glow in gratitude forever.

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Monday Masterpiece Memories: Madelyne Pryor and Master Mold.

madelyn

madelynepryor      mastermoldcard

mastermold

They are both 6-drops. They are both extremely powerful in the comic books and on cardboard. That is, however, where the similarities end.

Happy Monday!

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Alphabets of Desire: The Words Get In The Way.

promethea20

promethea

(Promethea copyright DC Comics.)

Welcome to the third portion of the extended study of Alphabets of Desire by Todd Klein and Alan Moore, who also happen to be two of Promethea’s real parents. Our introduction has the full image and ordering information, this section has a knife.

These are Alan Moore’s next six sentences:

We are living in a code. We feel the apple resting in our palm, its weight, the waxen texture of its skin. We see the highlights rolling on its dimpled contours and the point at which leaf-green becomes lustrous red. Lifting it to our lips we catch its perfume, redolent of rural mornings, urban dinnertimes, our mother’s pastry and the way she had her hair. Our bite is audible, the crunch of tooth enamel in the crisp wet flesh, cell splitting violently from cell and a sweet aerosol of juice sprayed from the fissure as microscopic dew upon our taste buds. The familiar flavor is infused in our saliva, its initial sharpness rounding to a sumptuous curve there in the mouth’s dark privacy and rivulets of juice uncurl in sticky ribbons on our chins, but our experience of the apple can be only an experience of those words used to contain the raw phenomenon: red, green, sweet, crisp, round, and the way she had her hair.

Do you remember the last time something felt really good? Well, while you were actually experiencing it you weren’t putting it into words. Direct connections don’t have soundtracks. Or narration. Or storyboards.

The human brain gets trained to explain. That sack of meat in the skull is ideally suited to specific translation and categorization. Once it is schooled, it is too late.

The exquisite apple eating doesn’t happen to you. It just happens. In order for you to know what you went through, you need to use code. Identifying yourself with the bliss is a separation process. The words get in the way.

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Filed under Alphabets of Desire, Comic Books, Promethea

Robot 6 FTW.

robot6

The heroes of Robot 6 provide the best source of comic book news in all the interwebs.

Yesterday in their July 1, 2009 issue, they included our humble abode alongside such luminaries as Alan Moore, Grant Morrison, and Clive Barker. It was a birthday present I never could have imagined. Thanks gents, I will never forget you.

birthdaypresent

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Dress like Aquaman. Do it today.

dcsuperfriends16kit

That little beauty is coming in August’s DC Super Friends #16. Now where did I leave my scissors?

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Summertime with Squirrel Girl.

SquirrelGirlMissMartian

Of course Squirrel Girl hangs out here every day of the year. Now, thanks to that sketch by rsj, Miss Martian is going to spend her vacation with us as well.

Summer crossover splendor for the win.

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Two-tone Tuesday: Benjamin Glendenning.

marvelmasterpieces

He calls himself skulljammer on deviantart, and I just can’t get enough. Here’s more in full color.

marvelmasterpieces2

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Marvel Ultimate Alliance + Vs. System = Bliss.

mysterio

That Mysterio is by kevtoons, but today I want to talk about Marvel Ultimate Alliance combined with Vs. System.

mysteriocard

Both games give a MASSIVE survey of the Marvel Universe. I am halfway through the Playstation 2 masterpiece, and I cannot believe the depth of mythological coverage. Then I combo the video game with the full run of Vs. System cards and my mind is completely blown. Especially by the Arcade/Mysterio stuff.

murderworld

Boing!

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Save-It Saturday: X-Babies Attack!

xbabiesattack

That is the card that I never imagined would be printed. The final card in the final official expansion set. Here follows the article that inspired its appearance in reality.

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Risk Vs. Reward: X-Babies Attack!
By Rian Fike
9/3/2007

Marvel Legends fulfills quite a few fanboy desires, not the least of which is a major upgrade in the power level of the X-Men. The new mutants are mighty good, especially the little ones.

Forty long months I have been patiently waiting for Domino in our game. When it comes to the mythological ladies, she is just my type: high contrast, luck based, and nearly impossible to kill. Now we get to turn her sideways Vs. System style, thanks to a 1-drop with a freaky little ability. Big fun comes in small cardboard packages.

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Our tiny new Domino packs a large punch with her recovery ability, but you need to be rather odd to use it. Before we talk about where she will take us in the game, let’s see where she came from in the myths.

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Neena Thurman plays well with others, but most of the time, she is a freelance mercenary. Domino is an independent artist, and her medium is murder. She was born as a custom-engineered biological killing machine. Project Armageddon created her as a deadly human hybrid. The hideous experiment was an attempt to manufacture the perfect weapon. X genes were exploited with disastrous results.

Neena was one of only two surviving test organisms. Chalk-white skin, awesome black eye-patch, and the uncanny ability to be in exactly the right place at the right time. She was rescued from the nefarious laboratory and placed safely in a nurturing monastery to grow up. Domino eventually emerged into adult life and became a dynamite addition to the X-Force.

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As a member of Cable’s Six-Pack, the black-and-white hottie could really save the bacon when necessary. Her mutant abilities kick in subconsciously when she is in a dangerous situation. Domino cannot specifically control her luck powers the same way Longshot can, but when she is around, things always fall into place.

In Vs. System, that means she can keep herself and Cable flipped face-up at the beginning of the recovery phase every turn. There is only one catch. Your deck must have a built-in oddness about it. Check out Domino’s text:

Domino, Neena Thurman

Cost: 1

Team Affiliation: X-Men

Whenever a Cable or Domino you control becomes stunned, reveal the top card of your deck. If its cost is odd, recover that character at the start of the recovery phase this turn.

2 ATK / 1DEF
Ranged

My personal oddness often revolves around 1-cost Vs. System characters, and now they fulfill Domino’s board-maintaining probability powers. Before we jump into the construction of a deck to showcase this former test-tube baby, let’s look back at a list that caused some serious wailing at Pro Circuit Indianapolis 2007. We can use it as a basic template.

OutSoldiers

Phou Phommavong

5th place on Day 1, 21st overall

Pro Circuit Indianapolis 2007

Characters

14 Kree Soldiers

3 Owen Mercer ◊ Captain Boomerang Jr., Prodigal Son

2 Faust

3 Technocrat

1 Thunder, Anissa Pierce

1 Halo

1 Wylde

4 Kimiyo Hoshi ◊ Dr. Light, Sunburst

Plot Twists

4 Booze Elementals

4 Forged in Crisis

4 Batman and the Outsiders

4 Truth and Justice

4 Recruiting Drive

3 Poker Night

Locations

3 Hala

1 New Baxter Building

Equipment

3 Ego Gem

1 Reality Gem

Phou’s metagame masterpiece took our beloved Kim Hoshi to a place that I was not sure she could go, and it will remain forever as an inspiration to weenie lovers worldwide. It serves up a swarm of 1-cost characters to fuel the blinding glory of the female Dr. Light and her Outsiders tricks. Let’s translate it into baby talk using only Marvel Legends cards.

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X-Babies Attack!

Characters

12 Multiple Man, Army ◊ Madrox

4 Domino

4 Cable, Nathan Summers

4 Wolverine, Logan

1 Jubilee, Mallrat

1 Shadowcat, Phase Shifter

1 Blink

1 Nightcrawler, Man of the Cloth

1 Bishop, Time Cop

Plot Twists

4 Bodyslide

4 Mobilize

4 Fastball Special

3 Battle Tactics

3 Healing Factor

3 Berserker Rage

3 Sneak Attack

3 Adamantium Claws

2 Overwhelming Force

Locations

2 Xavier’s Institute of Higher Learning

Phou’s OutSoldiers deck uses Kree Soldiers as fodder for a team-attacking character advantage. X-Babies are going Madrox. Multiple Man is back with a printed X-Men affiliation, and he loves him some Fastball Special. The OutSoldiers bounce guys back to hand to fill the red card requirements of the focus on swarming. X-Babies will rely on recovery to keep the characters on the table each turn. Phou’s win condition was total board control with Kim Hoshi. Domino is aiming for beatdown and burn with Bodyslide.

Cable is a perfect fit for the X-Babies deck. He appeared as an infant in Cable and Deadpool #7, and he has a sweet little 3-drop that rocks. Here is his heated text:

Cable, Nathan Summers

Cost: 3

Team Affiliation: X-Men

When Cable enters play, target opponent loses 1 endurance for each X-Men character you control.

5ATK / 4 DEF

Ranged

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With a mom like Madelyne Pryor, it was inevitable that Nathan Summers would come out looking good. Cyclops is his father, so you know he is a gifted child. Marvel Legends gives Cable his eagerly anticipated Vs. System debut. Bodyslide makes him an intriguing addition to any deckbuilder’s repertoire.

Bodyslide

Plot Twist

Cost: 3

Play only if you control Cable.

Remove target non-stunned character you control from the game. Its owner puts it into play at the start of your next attack step.

That means that Cable, Nathan Summers could swerve out of the game during the draw phase and allow another copy to be recruited. If his playmates have formed a kiddie six-pack to greet him, he will burn for 7. Then the fresh copy can Bodyslide out and return at the beginning of your attack step with its temporal twin. The first copy grabs another 7 opposing endurance, followed by 8 more from its parallel partner. That’s hot stuff.

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In the myths, Cable can slip in and out of time. He spends his days trying to save the world by altering history. That is a sticky business, but it allows more costume changes than any comic book character I can think of. Whenever and wherever Cable shows up, he is always sporting a sharp new outfit.

There are only six cards in the X-Babies deck that have an even cost, so Domino will be a near lock to get lucky. The new Battle Tactics that the X-men have been given are like a turbo-charged Combat Protocols, and they cost 2. Overwhelming Force allows the team-attacking toddlers to remain unstunned, also at a cost of 2. The single copy of Bishop, Time Cop is the 4-drop babysitter. If you let Bishop try the Bodyslide, the kids will laugh their way around the table screaming “+4 ATK!” for the whole turn.

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No X-Babies deck would be complete without a little Wolverine. The Logan version is back in Marvel Legends, and for a 3-drop, he is a really big boy. Scruffy may actually become the favorite win condition of the deck. He has some major ATK pumps that last an entire turn. The nursery includes toys that keep him from being stunned, recover him when he is, and ready him for a fur-flying finish. A small set of adamantium fingernails are poised to rip big holes in opposing characters and endurance totals. Wolverine’s Berserker Rage is about to arrive as a viable Vs. System strategy, and the X-Babies deck is only the beginning.

I have no idea how well the tiny tikes will hold up against proven classic decks. I can’t tell if there will be equally massive forces to oppose as the other new Marvel Legends creations crawl from the incubator. The only way to find out will be to build the deck and give it a go. I leave the little mutant rug rats with you now so that you can help me test them. We will say goodbye with a quote from Cable himself. When Nathan Summers revived Apocalypse in order to unite the X-Men against a common enemy, everyone called him crazy. His response?

“The risks are worth the rewards.”

Rian Fike is also known as stubarnes and he has a kitchen table in his crib. If you do some testing with the X-Babies in your playpen, send the results to fullbodytransplant@dadeschools.net

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Filed under Comic Books, Save It Saturday, Vs. System, X-Babies