Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Superhero Media: Seige

Annihilation and 52 aside, I'm not the kind of comics fan that really goes in for the big "crossover" events. If I get the chance, I read them, some I like, most I don't, but I'm happy to co-opt ideas from them for supers games. Siege is one of those "events" that copped a lot of flak for being "continuity management" when it was being pushed by Marvel, and whilst I think there's more to it than that, the criticism is not unfair. Norman Osborn, the Iron Patriot and Director of HAMMER is manipulated by Loki into attacking Asgard, which is currently in the American Mid-West and ruled by Balder, who was revealed to be the bastard son of Odin. God, that's a lot to get out of the way for what is, essentially, a big fight comic. By the end of the fight, Steve Rogers is Director of SHIELD, Osborn is in prison and both Sentry and Ares are dead; basically a reset for the new paradigm. 

All of that works against the overall quality of the comics, but there are enough fun moments and not-overdone fan service to make it a fun read. Most of the "world building" happens in the bookends, leaving a fun romp in the middle where a host of classic Avengers battle an army of supervillains. Most of the big names get a fun panel or two, Spider-Man quips, Cap beats face and Iron Man is arrogant, all the hits. Actually, that's a good way to describe Siege, it's a new Avengers "album", but when you start to listen, there's only two new tracks and the rest are reversions of old hits. It's not bad, just not really that good either. One major moment that I have to talk about is the death of Ares at the hands of Sentry. I like the idea, no really, that a superpowered human gone rogue has the power to take down a literal god; there's a nice sense of rationalism versus religious dogma there, that has been explored better elsewhere. The problem is the [splash] panel in which it happens:

Now I'm no prude; I own the entire run of Garth Ennis Punisher MAX, I think A Serbian Film is brilliant and I regularly rewatch both Luther and Wire in the Blood, however... This is too much. For a comic that is meant to be read by a large swathe of Marvel fans, the fact that I can see Ares' spine shatter takes it beyond the acceptable for me. This could have been even more evocative in shadow, or stylised, almost anything but two-page gore porn. It really leaves a sour taste in the reader's mouth and spoils an otherwise fun comic. As an excuse to have dozens of heroes and villains beat on each other, Siege is good enough, but it's not Secret War or even Secret Wars. If you want to see where Marvel NOW! started to spawn from, maybe worth a look, otherwise pretty forgettable.

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Even more Smash characters... getting silly

Man, I thought my wants for "Smash Switch" were self-serving and backwards, that was before I watched a bunch of YouTube videos of "hardcore" video game fans and their wish-lists. Say what you like about mine, but at least I'm not demanding that Smash become a Fire Emblem fighting game spin-off or feature every single protagonist from the Golden Age or think that fucking Goku is going to work. No, stop it, I don't care that there are Goku mods for the existing games, it's never going to happen, so use the space you've been saving on your shelf for that Goku Amiibo for something useful. 

Rant aside, I, too have a wish list of utterly improbably characters that I'd like to see in Smash, so here's another list of characters that I want to beat up the Fire Emblem crowd with. Yes, they're silly and unrealistic, but that's half the fun.

Segata Sanshiro
A brilliant marketing icon for the Sega Saturn, Segata Sanshiro has gone on to have a life of his own, appearing in comics, video games and even songs. A master of martial arts and every Sega Saturn game, Segata possesses superhuman strength and agility, being able to deflect a cruise missile with his body alone. Oh, and he carries a giant Sega Saturn as strength training and a handy weapon. In Smash, Segata would likely be a tough and agile melee character with brutal Special Moves and taunts that encourage the playing of Sega Saturn.

Duke Nukem
I said these were silly, and there are few video game icons sillier than Duke Nukem. For the younger readers of Lead Capes, the classic Duke Nukem games were actually a lot of fun, with "Duke Nukem 3D" actually being something of a deconstructionist classic, not that we got that at the time, we just liked the blood and boobs. Duke is a goofy spoof of the '80s action hero, complete with buzz-cut and tank top and really only seems more at home in the current era of poorly-shaven, Caucasian "dude-bro" game protagonists. With all of the sword-based characters in Smash, why not a guy with guns? Also, he could "rocket-jump", because that would be a lot of fun.

Phoenix Wright
That's right, I can enjoy Japanese pop-culture without being a full-on weeb. Full disclosure, I've never played an Ace Attorney game, but I have watched a couple of the adaptations and think the character is pretty unique and enjoyable. I'm not sure how he'd work in Smash, but I would totally play him as an alternate when I didn't want to stomp one of my friends.

Cole MacGrath
My "Superhero Media" of inFamous 2 was a while back, so for those who missed it, I thought it was a great game. Cole isn't an amazing character, but his powers are cool and Bayonetta proved that having only two games and a cool set of moves is more than enough to get into Smash. I'm not sure how it could it be managed, but some kind of switch between "Good" and "Evil" Cole would be fun, especially if it was based on player choices throughout the match. Perhaps picking on foes with higher damage brings out "Evil" Cole? I don't know, but it sounds like a fun mechanic.

Travis Touchdown
The real question is how has this lightsabre-wielding, Otaku assassin never been in Smash before? No More Heroes was a brilliant game that used mechanics to tell the story in a way few video games manage. Suda51 has mentioned several times that he'd like to see Travis in Smash, so that's at least two people who would be happy to see him again. Play wise, I'm thinking a hard to control sword character with some randomness to him. Much like Conker on a previous list of mine, Travis could easily keep some of his adult humor, so long as it was subtle enough to go over the heads of younger players. 
Think I'm done? Not yet! There's at least a couple more of these I want to do, so stay tuned for more Smash stuff in the future. 

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Superhero Media: Transformers (2007)

I hadn't seen this film for a number of years, but I remember loving it back in 2007. Yes, I really enjoyed Michael Bay's Transformers when I first saw it, shortly before I started studying cinema. You see, Bay makes big, dumb, fun films for an audience that doesn't want to think about them too much, and that's ok. And actually, Transformers was probably the perfect franchise for a series of big, dumb, fun films, the cartoons having always been dumb and fun, but occasionally aspiring to something greater. Really, there are quite a few moments to enjoy in Transformers, the Autobots and Decepitcons look good, but a little busy, the fight scenes are pretty decent and Michael Bay can shoot the hell out of a car chase. The real problem of the film is, once again, a focus on uninteresting characters at the cost of those with far more stake in what is happening around them.  

No, I'm not one of those fans who complains that there are more humans than Transformers in the film, I do think it was a good choice for the first one. However, Sam is a big problem, he literally has no reason to be in the film other than owning the glasses that both sides are hunting. I don't think Sam's motivation, of wanting to have sex, is that bad, it does fit his character, but his entitlement, narcissism and ignorance of his own privilege render him nothing more than an irritant rather than a character. Mikaela is the daughter of a car thief, why couldn't she initiate the plot by stealing Bumblebee? The sub-plot of Captain Lennox and his men surviving a Decepitcon attack, learning how to fight them and bringing that knowledge back home is really good, why wasn't the film about that? That would have been really cool, actually.

It was an interesting experience going back and taking another look at Transformers, the sexism and racism made for uncomfortable viewing, but at the same time, there were some great moments that felt overlooked in the broader discussion. Jon Voight is in this film, (remember that? I didn't) playing a surprisingly forward-thinking and pragmatic Defense Secretary who is willing to listen to the most outlandish theory from his lowliest subordinate when she brings him evidence of the impossible; I don't recall ever seeing that in any film. Having Peter Cullen as Optimus Prime is pretty damn fantastic and lends a shocking amount of gravitas to the character's dialogue. When Bumblebee and Mikaela decide to go back and join the fight, despite his being wounded and her being scared, is possibly the centerpiece moment of the film, but I didn't remember it. In short, Transformers is a study in contrasts; it's not good, but has great moments. Has a brilliant (for the most part) cast, but resorts to uncomfortable stereotyping. Perhaps worth another look, but far from a classic.

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Miniatures Finished: 18/12/17

Mostly supers for campaigns and the odd thing I had knocking around. 

 Necronomicon Objective for French Revolution Campaign (GW), new and improved Superman, Tabitha Smith in Next Wave costume (both Clix). 

 The Fury "It kills superheroes" (converted Horrorclix), Centurius and Chemo (Clix). 
I actually wasn't happy with The Fury, so I've since converted it again and it will show up finished at a later date. 

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Superhero Media: Wild Wild West

I saw this one on Netflix and decided it was worth a go, I remembered liking it and it's not like there are a lot of good pulp/steampunk films anyway. In the years since I last watch Wild Wild West, I've seen a number of reviews that really tear into the film, rating it very poorly and steering people away from it; that's not fair. Sure, Wild Wild West is silly, but it's a fun silly and is also possibly the most subversive Hollywood film I have seen in years. No, really. For starters, Kevin Kline's Artemus Gordon is pretty heavily trans-coded and not in a negative way. The name "Artemus" reads like a masculine Artemis, Hellenic Goddess of war and the hunt, indicating a transition from female to male, this is corroborated by the character's comfort in female clothing and lack of self-judgment for wearing it. Artemus is fixated on his skill in creating things (typically read as female in literature) being seen as the equal to Jim West's strength, agility and combat prowess (typically male traits). Finally, Artemus' prosthetic breasts are under-sexualised, as if he has an active distaste or them, which is undercut by his attraction to Rita. Not great evidence, but it's there. 

The big twist I wasn't expecting when watching this film again was the epiphany that Dr Loveless is, in fact, the good guy. Unless, like Jim West and President Grant, you happen to be in favour of genocide and American colonialism. You see, Loveless' plan involves dissolving the United States and handing land back to France, the British Empire, Mexico and the Native Americans, as well as carving out a chunk of the Pacific Northwest for himself. That's right, the "bad guy" of the film plans to return Manhattan to the native tribes, complete with diplomatic recognition by and protection from Europe. Sure, more power to "Imperial" Europe isn't great, but that'll get fixed come 1914. Many of Loveless' henchmen are wounded Civil War veterans who fought for the South and were left to rot by the victors; Loveless made sure they got the best medical treatment and prosthesis available at his own expense. Despite his many, debasing sexual comments, Loveless employs several women in positions of authority, most of which require an education not available to many women at the time, in contrast Rita is shown to be incompetent and only able to follow the men around, the same men that constantly treat her as an object.

Finally, even though Loveless fought for the South in the war, he holds shockingly little racial prejudice (don't at me, apologists, the South fought for the right to own slaves, deal with it). When funding his scheme, Loveless milks money from rich Southern landowners who are funding a second rebellion, then turns around and guns down General McGrath's soldiers to prevent an uprising in the name of the Confederacy. And although Loveless throws more than a few racial slurs at Jim West, he works fine with other African-Americans and Native Americans, he only dislikes Jim West because Jim West is directly responsible for crippling him. Also the film has a steampunk spider mech and rail tank? Man, I didn't even talk about the assassins hiding in the paintings, which was pretty cool too. I wonder how many films actually have the protagonists working to take down the "real good guy"? I need to go back and watch some stuff again.

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

More Smash Characters - Wishful Thinking

Been on the Smash train a bit lately, playing my 2DS on the train ride to and from work, just getting my skills up before the new one drops, which may have been ages ago by the time you're reading this, but whatever. I'll happily admit that these articles are nothing more that ego-stroking fan-fiction exercises, why pretend they're anything grander than that? Hell, depending on how my other projects go, you may have already seen my Smash-inspired Super Mission Force project in action, as I've made the decision to publish AARs and similar articles as soon as they're done, rather than leave them for over a year. What do you guys want? It's not like I get paid for this.  
The following is a list of characters that I'd really like to see in Smash, not so fussed about what other people think, though I'll admit that these are real long-shots, especially given their lack of popularity in Japan.

Ratchet and Clank
Yes, I'm a big fan and there's probably no way that Sony will be up for "loaning" the characters to Nintendo for any reason but, hear me out on this one. Insomniac games clearly don't care about the Ratchet & Clank series anymore with the crappy reboot being the last thing done, so porting the characters to Smash would be a quick and easy way to keep an income from the IP. A few cents from every Nintendo eStore download and Amiibo sale would add up quickly and maybe enough to give us a satisfying end to the Future series at some stage. Hey, this is a Wish List after all.

Earthworm Jim
Technically a classic SNES-era character in his own right, Earthworm Jim has always been a lot of fun in how he plays and move and I'd feel that it would translate well to Smash. Blasting with his ray gun, swinging on his own earthworm body like a rope and using Snot as a parachute would all fit the ethos of Smash perfectly. A Final Smash were Jim pulls out the Barn Blaster and clears the screen would fit nicely too. He probably doesn't need to bring Peter Puppy, PsyCrow or Professor Monkey for a Head with him as playable characters, but assist trophies would be fun to see.

A Boy and his Blob
I actually really enjoy the original A Boy and his Blob, despite its many flaws, having finished it more than once on emulator. The difficulty and awkwardness of the game is offset for me by the unique ideas and atmosphere provided. I'm yet to play the Wii version because I can't find a copy, but I'm happy to see the characters back for a new generation to discover. For those not in the know, the Blob is able to transform its shape into almost anything when given the right flavour of jellybean by the Boy and now you're probably getting an idea of how cool these two would be in Smash. Have one of the Fighter Stances be a hug and the Final Smash is feeding Blob a grape jellybean to make him into the Giant.

Joanna Dark
Essentially everyone my age has played more than a few hours of Goldeneye on N64, due to the issues around licensed games we never got a true sequel, but I always felt Perfect Dark was underrated. (I also like Rogue Agent, but mainly for the insane setting and Bond fan-baiting) The secret agent protagonist, Joanna Dark is a fun mix of Lara Croft and Solid Snake with a great variety of weapons and equipment, including guns that shoot through walls and temporary invisibility. Although she may not be the most iconic characters in video game history, Joanna Dark is probably the closest my generation will get to connecting with all those hours spent playing Goldeneye in Smash.

I'm a big fan of The Venture Bros and own all the DVDs; there's this one scene towards the end of Season 4 where people are describing what they think a sex move called the "Rusty Venture" is. It's a pretty graphic scene and really funny if you're into that sort of thing, but the version that can be found on YouTube with the "censor bleeps" is, in my opinion, actually funnier. Despite being known best for the most adult game on N64, Conker doesn't 'need' to bring all of his fluids, stimulants and language to Smash to work as a character. With enough sarcasm, bleeped dialogue and not-quite-PC antics, Conker would fit well without breaking the family-friendly tone. Think something along the lines of The Simpsons, where the 'adult' humour is pitched to go over the heads of the kids watching anyway. 

Sorry to say, but I have a few more of these in me yet, stay tuned.

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Superhero Media: Fant4stic

Where do I start with this garbage fire? Almost every element of this film screams "studio mandates", even down to its very existence. Clearly Fox were desperate to hold onto the license in a post-Avengers world, but it *had* to be a hit, so let's include everything from every hit film that didn't involve superheroes from the past decade? See what I mean, none of this makes sense! Hire the director of Chronicle, then cut his dreary film to something even less exciting? I can't even. This is almost Super Buddies bad. And I'm not just saying that because I like Fantastic Four comics, this is just genuinely a bad film. There was one scene, just the one, that I kind of liked, where Victor Doom (he doesn't deserve to be called Doctor Doom) is walking through a hallway, killing people by looking at them and bullets can't even touch him; sure, the character is bad, but that scene finally shows off just how powerful Doom should be. 

What I don't get is how Fantastic Four seems impossible to adapt? The Incredibles is the template, it's a family of superheroes who are also some of the biggest celebrities on the planet, seems like an easy pitch. Somehow though, we always end up with half-measures and odd little designs. Like, is it too much to ask that both Johnny and Sue Storm be the same race? I don't care which race, just make them look like siblings. Also, Doom is the greatest comic supervillain of all time, maybe put a bit or care and attention into how he's done? Doom is the dictator of a small European nation, has an Iron-Man style suit of armour, is a wizard, saved his mother from hell, is thousands of years old and genuinely believes that only he can save the world. Maybe stop killing him off in the first film? God forbid maybe do a Doom film or lay him in over a few films? Yes, I'm a fan, but this still seems like pretty basic narrative layout to me. 

Don't watch this film. Not just because it's a bad Fantastic Four film, or a bad superhero film; it's just straight-up a terrible film and not worth wasting your time. The characters are bland, the plot makes no sense and it looks drab and awful. It was made for selfish reasons by a corporation that only wanted to get something into cinemas and did not care about the quality of what they produced, it's bad for the film industry to encourage that kind of behavior, don't give this shit any more oxygen.

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Miniatures Finished: 03/11/17

Still on a Supers painting kick, enjoying it while it lasts. 

 Major Lazer (kitbash), Bat-Bot and a new Storm (both clix). 

 Doombots, one can never have enough (all clix). 

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Superhero Media: Batman Arkham Asylum (1989)

To give the full name of this one; Batman Arkham Asylum a Serious House on Serious Earth, what a damn mouthful. Ever read a book that everyone is so deeply convinced is a bona fide classic that to voice a dissenting opinion is to invite a tirade of abuse and then really not understand what all the fuss is about? That's Arkham Asylum for me, a stone classic that I really cannot get into. On April 1, the inmates of Arkham riot and take hostages, demanding that Batman be sent into the Asylum or else. Batman goes in and a bizarre journey into the psychology of of both him and the inmates begins, ending with... Batman walking out mostly unharmed? The intention here is to have the graphic novel be read multiple times, looking for missed connections and subtleties that won't be apparent on the first viewing. That probably works for most fans, as most fans aren't packing an English Literature degree and a lifetime of overthinking mythology, superheroes and narrative structure; but here I am. 

Here's the thing, the story is clearly Batman having a nightmare. None of this is actually happening and that is set out so plainly on the first page of the novel that I wonder why it's considered a big deal. The novel opens and closes with quotes from Alice's Adventures in Wonderland (because that's not overdone), a novel about an extended dream narrative (and raping children, but let's not get into that here) and the narrative and art have a nonsense, dream-like quality to them. The reader is immediately made aware that events happen on April 1, Joker even has the line "April Fool!" early on. Arkham Asylum is perhaps most memorable for the artwork, which is all painted by Dave McKean and looks great, but makes the dialogue hard to follow, especially as traditional comic word balloons aren't always used.

I don't get the appeal, sorry. The art is great, but not McKean's best work. The twist of the dream is too obvious to be clever. I like Maxie Zeus as a Batman villain, but why does he have lightning powers all of a sudden? Why are the psychiatrists so corrupt and unethical? Hell, why does Arkham need to be displayed as a corrupt and decaying institution, are all the homicidal maniacs not threatening enough? When did Mad Hatter become a pedophile? Is that just a reference to the horrible things Lewis Caroll did? Why does Batman have nightmares about being fondled by the Joker? God, this is actually really not very good at all now that I think about it. If you absolutely have to read all the classic Batman graphic novels, then give it a go, otherwise just Google Dave McKean and check out an amazingly talented artist.

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Five more characters I'd like to see in the next Smash Bros game...

I'm writing this one in the same week as the new Smash Bros teaser has dropped, the one with the Splatoon kids; you better believe I'm hyped. I also just found a full-time counselling job, so I'm keeping an eye out for a Smash Switch bundle so that I can get smashing! I actually had a series of these articles planned, but as most will probably be out after the game, maybe we'll have to start considering them as "Smash Characters I'd like as DLC" or something similar? Either way, there's plenty of great characters that would be fun in the Nintendo and friends free-for-all and I'd still like to talk about them. 
As a side note, yes, I would like to see the Ice Climbers, Pichu, Star Wolf and Solid Snake back in the game, I don't think the franchise should be losing characters, only gaining them. 
Would you believe I wrote that last sentence months ago? Boy was I vindicated by the E3 reveal yesterday!  Anyway, on with the wish-list!

The Prince (of Persia)
Did you know that this character doesn't actually have a canonical name beyond "the Prince"? I could have sworn that he was "Dastan", but maybe that was just the terrible film? For me, Smash Bros is about legacy, and few characters have a legacy like the Prince; having been around since the Golden Age of gaming, enjoyed probably one of the greatest games on the PS2 and still kicking today. In terms of Smash, the Prince is agile, fast and has a fun recovery mechanic in the dagger of time, able to reverse him a few seconds before it has to recharge. 

Alex Kidd
Speaking of legacy, how about some classic Sega up in here? For the youngsters in the audience, Alex Kidd was the star of a few platformers and was, before Sonic, the mascot for the brand. Alex Kidd would essentially be the Sega answer to Mr Game & Watch for Smash, a character that is there to charm a few people more so than being a major draw card. In terms of play style, Alex Kidd would almost be a Mario clone without the fireballs, again, probably no one's favourite character, but one who deserves inclusion. 
Mike Haggar 
I was thrilled to see Haggar turn up in the Marvel Vs Capcom series, having grown up with Final Fight in the local Fish and Chip shop, who doesn't love a professional wrestler-turned-mayor as a protagonist? Haggar is big, tough and focuses on grappling, which is something that doesn't currently exist in Smash Bros, as well as being a popular character in his own right. I'd play the heck out of Haggar if he was reasonably well balanced against other fighters, at least for the fun of suplex-ing Yoshi.

Lara Croft 
Huh, why has Lara not popped up in Smash before? She has the history, brand recognition and variety of moves to fit in, is she just not that popular in Japan? Hell, I'm not sure there's really much I need to say about this choice, it just seems so obvious to me. She shoots, she jumps and she's one of the leading ladies of gaming, she can wear the old blue top or the new dirty rags, but she definitely needs to jump-kick Luigi in the face.

I've never played the God of War games, but I can regonise a popular character when I see one, hence Kratos. He was fun enough in Playstation All Stars Battle Royale, and would perhaps tempt a few of the "hardcore" gamer crowd to pick up a copy of Smash Bros. Kratos is a brawler with a huge variety of weapons, I imagine he'd play a lot like Link, but less controllable and more brutal. Again, probably not someone I'd play a lot, but I love the juxtaposition of the more "realistic" Smash characters with the cartoon ones, like Samus and Pikachu teaming up during "The Shadow Emissary". God, I hope the new Smash has an Adventure Mode like that again, it makes Brawl worth owning alone. 
That's it for now, hopefully more before the game actually drops. 

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Superhero Media: Batman the Animated Series

Best Batman ever. Sorry Adam West, you shall be greatly missed, but you're a very close second to Kevin Conroy. Naturally I don't need to talk about how good this series is, it should speak for itself, but there are couple of things I wanted to discuss that won't quite fill up several "Thinking Out Loud" articles, so they may as well go here. Firstly, how can Warner Bros. not find a good outline for a Batman film when almost any of the Batman the Animated Series [BTAS] episodes would be a good starting point? Sure, there are a few duds like "Baby-Doll", though the pay-off for that one in a later season kind of makes it worth it. Most of the two-parters, like "Feat of Clay" and "Shadow of the Bat" would make a damn good 90 minute film with a little world-building added. Bruce Timm and Paul Dini are still around, why haven't they been approached to take a swing at the flailing Batman film franchise? 

Second, why are people so down of the 4th season of BTAS? Is it just because the animation style changes? Or even just because the design of the Joker takes a weird turn? Season 4 has some of the best episodes, hands down! Ok, the change in animation is jarring, but it was done to keep a unified style with Superman the Animated Series and Justice League, both of which are awesome in their own rights. Season 4 episodes like "Legends of the Dark Knight", "Mad Love" and "Judgment Day" are astonishingly good, stop shunting the later stuff off just because you don't like the Joker having black eyes. For me, a slightly odd-looking Joker is a decent trade-off for Nightwing, Batgirl and Robin. 

Finally, if we're to buy the idea, that in the DECU Films, Batman uses some kind of voice-modulator to disguise the fact he's Bruce Wayne (which is actually a pretty good idea), why not get Kevin Conroy to dub the dialogue? Fanboy moment? Sure. But you cannot deny that the Bale-grunting and Affleck-bot are tiresome, nor can you deny that Conroy has a hell of a voice for the character. It would differentiate Batman and Bruce Wayne, something the better Batman films do well, give a fun nod for the fans and keep the seed of the good idea that the modulation was to begin with. On a similar note, now that Mark Hamill is back to major film roles, if DC and WB insist on doing "Old Batman", why not get Hamill in as "Old Joker"? Just a thought. Haven't seen BTAS? It's as good as you've heard. The DVDs are finally available in Australia for a reasonable price, so I assume they're elsewhere too; check it out, a great addition to the collection.

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Miniatures Finished: Sentinels

A cleaning blitz in the bedroom led to a repacking of my unpainted superhero minis into a couple of boxes to free up space. This left a few "big" miniatures sitting in the open, so I decided to get to work rather than have them collect dust for another couple of years. 

 My original Heroclix Sentinel (centre) and the two new ones. 

 "Blasty", with either blasters smoking from cooking mutants or possibly releasing toxic gas. 

 "Punchy" can go toe-to-toe with even the strongest mutants. 

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Superhero Media: Supergirl (1984)

Think sprawling cinematic "universes" are a new thing? Try this on for size; between 1978 and 2006, Warner Bros released six films in a continuing series about Superman, not all in order, but together they create a fleshed-out world inhabited by multiple super-humans. If you're interested, you can watch Superman: The Movie, Superman II, Supergirl, Superman Returns, Superman III and Superman IV: The Quest for Peace to see the entire epic, though be warned, half the films are pretty bad. Supergirl is pretty bad. Interestingly, although Supergirl owes a great deal to Superman: The Movie, the film in the "saga" that it most resembles is Superman III, which makes sense, at they came out concurrently. Were I to highlight the Superman film that best resembles the comics of the era in which it was made, I'd have to give it to Superman III, a weird mash-up of concepts with a dose of pulp sci-fi that makes odd use of Superman's powers. Sure, it's not good film, but Bronze Age Superman comics were nothing to write home about either. 

In much the same way, Supergirl reflects the majority of the comics from which she spawned; not well thought-out, poorly written with a forgettable villain. There's a reason the Supergirl television programme mines the history of Superman rather than its titular character, Supergirl as a comic character has never really hit in a big way. Her canon is nebulous in the extreme, she has no iconic villains and her character changes drastically version to version. With all that in mind, I do think that this Supergirl film is about the best version that could have been made in the climate in which it emerged. The reference to Superman being in "deep space" at the time of the events in Supergirl curtails questions about Kara's cousin and, retroactively, fits in nicely with the plot of Superman Returns. Although Selena is a crummy villain, Supergirl having to take on Magic (another major Kryptonian vulnerability) rather than Kryptonite creates a nice point of difference to the Superman films, and the fact that Ethan is a gender-flipped version of the typical film "trophy" female is still really clever and doesn't get enough credit.

Peter O'Toole is utterly wasted here, and clearly drunk in every scene he's in, which is funny, but hurts the film a great deal; Brando was amazing in Superman: The Movie despite not learning his lines ahead of time. Helen Slater isn't at all interesting in her title role, I'm not sure if it's down to direction or the desire to paint Kara as a "Magic Pixie Dreamgirl", which just kind of irks me to see, even forgiving the thirty year's distance. Unless you're watching the entire six-film Superman "series" or, like me, am a completionist for the genre, Supergirl is probably best skipped. There's not really enough to hold the interest and the parts that may be useful in planning supers games are covered here and in other reviews. 

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Cyberpunk In Drublic

Did a second playtest for the Little Wars Melbourne Cyberpunk game, just myself, Brendan and Jason. Public Security Section 9 went up against two Corp Raider teams in a quick game of Cyber Alley (Pulp Alley variant). We didn't finish the game, but it did highlight a few things we need to get onto in the next few weeks before the game. The terrain looked great though, so we're well on-track. 

 This was a 4x4' set-up, but the finished table will be 6x4' 

 My urban mat for Superheroes came in handy. 

 Table-level views show off the detail of the terrain.

 Section 9 deployed near the chemical plant. 

 Corporate Raiders move through the processing plant. 

 Network 21 Litigation Team agents appear behind a local Hab. 

 Bateu moves for the first Plot Point while the Major provides cover. 

 An Enforcer moves up to a Plot Point. 

 A well-timed Challenge takes the Corp Stooge out of the game. 

 The Cyborg leading the second Corp team takes a plot point. 

 Minions move over the roof of a local business. 

 The Major opens fire at the Corp Raiders. 

 Bateu moves up to provide support. 

 Combat Drones move forward. 

 A minion attempts a plot point... 

 ...but things do not go well. 

 Media drone and Corp Enforcer exchange fire. 

 Network 21 is not going well on the roof of the Hab. 

 Corporate soldiers aren't happy about potential arrest. 

 The Major is wounded. 

 Drones scan the alley. 

 Network 21 Hardsuit books for the Plot Point. 

Bateu blasts away at the Drones, to little effect. 

After that, the game kind of petered out as we started discussing the little things we needed to get done. But, there were a few more pictures taken by other club members, so enjoy those: