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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Two words: Golden Death.
- 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.