Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Superhero Media: Nick Fury by Jim Steranko

Probably my favorite comic book artist of all time would be Jim Steranko. Naturally, I admire the foundational work of Jack Kirby, but for me, Steranko is the master of Silver-Age Pop Art comic madness and really needs to be lauded far more than he is. Steranko actually didn't make Marvel comics for all that long a period, but his impact can be felt today, his being the deciding hand behind much of the SHIELD mythos, characters and look that has followed through to the MCU. Whist the classic Lee/Kirby team birthed Nick Fury, originally through the Howling Commandos line, the iconic elements of the character are pure Steranko, including a great many SHIELD agents, like Valenta Allegra de Fontaine and Clay Quartermain, make their first appearances in these issues. If you consider yourself a serious comics collector, you really should have these trades in your collection. 



All the above praise still being genuine, there are a few flaws to Nick Fury that bear mention. The villain, "The Yellow Claw" is an unfortunate racist take on the "evil oriental", which really ruins an otherwise excellent story. If you have a low tolerance for Camp, Steranko's style may not do much for you either, though I love it and would like to see more of the same in contemporary comics. As well as combining a Silver Age Kirbyesque style with Pop Art, Steranko also employs cut-and-paste techniques, with one memorable splash-page of a SHIELD gadget being comprised of a bricolage of anything vaguely mechanical found in a catalog of some sort. I should probably mention that Silver Age comics tend to be more "wordy" than modern ones, but, suck it up? Unless you have difficulty reading for whatever reason, stick with the classics and you'll find them rewarding, despite the increased word count.


Since his heyday of comics, Jim Steranko has gone on to do art work in Hollywood, including being a production designer on Bram Stoker's Dracula and writer for Justice League Unlimited, X-Men: The Animated Series and more. He appears as a guest voice in the Lego Marvel Superheroes games and Ultimate Spider-Man animated series. For a guy mostly famous for drawing some fun but weird comics in the 1960s, that's a hell of a resume. The crews behind Agents of SHIELD and James Bond could really learn some lessons by reading these comics. One of my favouite Marvel series ever, from my favourite comic book artist of all time, grab yourself a copy of the trade or at least some scans to check out this utterly unique voice and see the contribution he made to the medium. Vintage stuff, right here. 

Wednesday, October 9, 2019

Martian Invasion! - SS4 AAR

The SuperSystem bug is biting again! I just wish I was working enough hours to afford a new rulebook, because a friend's cat peed on mine and it stinks. Anyway, Neil and Piotr insisted that I bring the big city table to try out Neil's newly finished Mars Attacks! Martians in SS4. Naturally, that meant the Intergalactic Planetary Beastie Busters had to get their table top debut. A pretty simple scenario, the Martians have to eliminate as many civilians as possible while the heroes and villains do their best to stop them. 

Neil actually spoke about the game, and SuperSystem in general, on the "Meeples and Miniatures" podcast. Check it out here: https://twitter.com/mandmpodcast


Things had been quiet on the streets of Brooklyn, with the weekly alien attacks of the 1980s a distant memory. The still peace will soon come to an end, however, as Professor George Clinton discovered that morning, when his alien detecting device, known as the "Mothership Connection", started flashing and he was forced to call together those three bombastic MCs, The Intergalactic Planetary Beastie Busters! 


The Busters arrive none to soon, the Martian forces have already landed and are rampaging down the street with battle cries of "Ack ack!" To add complications, a mysterious team of supervillains, last seen fighting Ulysses and Team Quasar a while back, are skulking around the area. Despite their goofy appearance, the Beastie Busters know better than to underestimate the danger of the invading aliens. Shouting their battle-cry "Intergalactic, planetary!", the Beastie Busters leap into action. 


The Martians, speakers blaring "We come in peace!", immediately begin blasting away at the innocent civilians fleeing in terror. Activating their force-fields, the Beastie Busters gain ground, but are lagging behind whilst the villainous Doctor Psycho is already matching wits, literally, by bending his psychic might against the Martian Saucer. 



Finally making contact, the Beastie Busters use their laser blasters to start thinning out the Martian troops, but the massive Martian Walker is causing the real damage, mowing down innocent civilians in waves. Knowing that their blasters won't do much to damage the Martian Walker, the Beastie Busters radio back to HQ and summon the awesome might of the SABOTAGE! 


Landing in the plaza, the SABOTAGE and the alien walker square off in a battle of steel on steel. The Martian Menace has the height and reach advantage, but the SABOTAGE has the experience of decades of alien fighting. One round, no holds barred! The titans clash, but the fight is inconclusive as the booming clang of metal on metal resounds through the streets. 


Finally, a couple of the villains break cover, with the Uncredable Bulk leading the charge, punching aliens aside with ease. Meanwhile, Sugar and Cream have boarded the SABOTAGE, increasing it's power with their own, succeeding in holding off the attacks of the Martian walker. Frustrated, the pilot of the walker breaks away from the fight and grips its massive pincers on a car of the nearby monorail. 


The attacks of the cowardly villains Sonic Varlet and Doctor Psycho weaken the pilot of the walker, allowing the Beastie Busters to charge the SABOTAGE in, swinging a bus shelter like a massive cleaver. The impact is enough to cleave the alien killing machine apart, sending it crashing to the ground. Seeing his forces nearly eradicated, the Martian General decides to beat a hasty retreat. 


Victory has gone to the Beastie Busters this day, but just how many Martian soldiers are waiting to attack the Earth? (especially Brooklyn) Only time will tell, but until then, it is likely that there will be no sleep for Brooklyn. 


The game wasn't quite as involved as I would have liked, with the villains not really getting stuck in after taking out the Saucer with a lucky shot and the Martians not directly attacking the Beastie Busters. Also Neil kind of rushed the stats of his Martians, so they lacked a bit of flavour. Hopefully we can resolve this in our next game. 

Wednesday, October 2, 2019

Superhero Media: Godzilla (2014)

As many readers of this blog will know, I'm a bit of a Kaiju fan, though my heart belongs to the Gamera franchise rather than the powerhouse that is the Godzilla series. Naturally, I'm not keen on Western adaptions of the genre, even finding Pacific Rim a little disappointing; there's a particular nuance to the Japanese films that doesn't quite translate, I think it's a cultural thing. I hadn't heard much good about the 2014 Godzilla, things like the trailer not being representative of the final film or the Kaiju not being in enough of the focus, but my motto being "It can't possibly be as bad as Super Buddies", I gave it a watch. I actually enjoyed Godzilla, in terms of tone and framing, it was close to Gamera: Guardian of the Universe, probably my favorite Kaiju film, but with an obvious Hollywood styling. The slow reveal of the Kaiju even got me a little excited, and there was more than enough action in the third act to make me want to see more of this new Godzilla "universe". 


I think the actual "problem" with Godzilla isn't so much "not enough Kaiju" as it is "no decent protagonists that aren't Kaiju". Seriously, I can't remember the names of any of the human characters, I just kept calling them Kick-Ass, Scarlet Witch and Ken Watanabe in my head, but, honestly? That's not a problem. Godzilla vs. King Ghidorah is considered one of the best films in the Kaiju genre, I've seen it at least a half-dozen times and always love it; I also cannot name any of the characters in it. I just call the leads "Japanese Matthew Perry" and "hot future chick" in my head when watching and it doesn't detract from the film at all. In that, I think that Godzilla is probably the "best" American Kaiju film so far, if we're using similarity to the Japanese source material as our yardstick, which I am. The idea of doing a "cinematic universe" out of Kaiju is really smart once you think about it, because the studios never need to keep the same actors between films. Audiences are only really showing up for the big monsters anyway, so whoever you can get will work fine as the human interest. I'm hoping this one doesn't die like "Dark Universe". 


No, this isn't as good as most of the "real" Godzilla films, but it's good that there's an option out there for potential Kaiju fans that don't come will decades worth of canonical baggage. With teases out for Mothera and King Ghidorah already plus the Kong: Skull Island "prequel" having come and gone (I'll watch it soon) there could be a lot to enjoy here for new and old Kaiju fans alike. One day I'd like to see Gamera make it across the Pacific in a film as good as Godzilla, though I may have to wait a while as no one really seems to know who he his. I'm also hoping that the Western Kaiju films can lose the "Army Porn" aspect that's already polluting the Transformers film franchise. Soldiers and tanks fighting giant monsters and robots look cool, but in American films, there is always an undercurrent of it looking like an elaborate recruitment video. Maybe it's a cultural thing.

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Team Finished: Beastie Busters

I've been making an effort to get all of my SS4 teams done so that I can play some games a bit more often and build the story of my setting. Of course, nothing is ever this simple and I'm finding that the team stats I thought I'd done have either disappeared or been done pretty badly, so I'm having to do them again or fix them. This is, of course, a little frustrating, but so long as I'm getting more teams done, staying motivated is pretty easy.



The Intergalactic Planetary Beastie Busters 
Formed in the 1980s, at the height of the first Hero boom, by an enigmatic and disgraced scientist, the Beastie Busters were intended to combat the shockingly-frequent alien invasions of Brooklyn at the time. The scientist (Doctor George Clinton) was looking for a trio of teenagers with attitude when he stumbled across Michael "Mike D" Diamond, Adam "MCA" Yauch and Adam "Ad-Rock" Horovitz opening for Bad Brains and CBGBs and knew he had the right guys. Shouting their battle-cry of "Intergalactic! Planetary!" whilst striking a pose, the Beastie Busters soon became famous for defending Brooklyn, even if they had to forego sleep to do so; even the local government soon issued them with official permission to Intervene Legally at Leisure, or a "License to ILL". When the initial hero boom faded, and with it, the regular alien attacks the Beastie Busters returned to their day-jobs of being an influential Hip-Hop trio, only occasionally returning to the field of battle during some kind of crisis or team-up. 

Outfitted with high-tech battle suits, the Beastie Buster are practically impervious to small arms fire and the special uplink in their helmets delivers real-time intelligence and updates to keep the team ahead. Each member of the team (code-named Sugar, Coffee and Cream when in costume) wields a Laser Blaster, also designed by George Clinton, a reflector shield to repel attacks and a "Restorative Funk Blaster" to heal injuries on the run. When all else fails and the attacking alien has, somehow, become giant, again, the Beastie Busters can come together and summon the Sentient Automaton Buster Of Terrible Alien Genetic Evil, aka, the SABOTAGE, a giant robot that often elicits calls of "Oh my!", "It's a mirage!" and "I'm tellin' y'all, it's the SABOTAGE!". With it's crushing fists and raking claws, the SABOTAGE makes quick work of any alien invaders. 

In the 21st century, the older, semi-retired Beastie Busters still see action on occasion, as they maintain a working relationship with both the Equalisers and European Union Super Soldiers and are seen as the experts on any extraterrestrial threat. 

Sugar, Coffee and Cream, the Intergalactic Planetary Beastie Busters! 
The mighty SABOTAGE! 

Name: Beastie Buster Sugar (Adam Yaunch)  
BP: 85
Affiliation: Intergalactic Planetary Beastie Busters
AP: 10
Strike: 6
Strength: 3
Dodge: 5
Sense: 5
Toughness: 3
Mind: 4
Resolve: 6 (1)
Damage: 3/6 (1)
Powers
Sense Weakness – 2AP TN3 Sense Roll, +2D on next Attack against target in LOS
Gadget Pool – 2 AP to swap Slots, 1 Full, 2 Half
- Ranged Attack 6, Super 1 (Full Slot)
- Healing (Half Slot) – 4AP Resolve Roll, 1 Vitality per 2 Goals scored, KO Healing causes Burnout
- Reflection (Half Slot) – 3AP Ranged Strikes missing by 2+ Goals can be reflected to Short Range
Super Resolve 1
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
X









KO



























Name: Beastie Buster Coffee (Adam Horovitz)
BP: 85
Affiliation: Intergalactic Planetary Beastie Busters
AP: 10
Strike: 6
Strength: 3
Dodge: 5
Sense: 5
Toughness: 3
Mind: 4
Resolve: 6 (1)
Damage: 3/6 (1)
Powers
Sense Weakness – 2AP TN3 Sense Roll, +2D on next Attack against target in LOS
Gadget Pool – 2 AP to swap Slots, 1 Full, 2 Half
- Ranged Attack 6, Super 1 (Full Slot)
- Healing (Half Slot) – 4AP Resolve Roll, 1 Vitality per 2 Goals scored, KO Healing causes Burnout
- Reflection (Half Slot) – 3AP Ranged Strikes missing by 2+ Goals can be reflected to Short Range
Super Resolve 1
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
X









KO

























Name: Beastie Buster Sugar (Mike Diamond)
BP: 85
Affiliation: Intergalactic Planetary Beastie Busters
AP: 10
Strike: 6
Strength: 3
Dodge: 5
Sense: 5
Toughness: 3
Mind: 4
Resolve: 6 (1)
Damage: 3/6 (1)
Powers
Sense Weakness – 2AP TN3 Sense Roll, +2D on next Attack against target in LOS
Gadget Pool – 2 AP to swap Slots, 1 Full, 2 Half
- Ranged Attack 6, Super 1 (Full Slot)
- Healing (Half Slot) – 4AP Resolve Roll, 1 Vitality per 2 Goals scored, KO Healing causes Burnout
- Reflection (Half Slot) – 3AP Ranged Strikes missing by 2+ Goals can be reflected to Short Range
Super Resolve 1
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
X









KO


























Name: The Sabotage (Vehicle) 
BP: 100
Affiliation: Intergalactic Planetary Beastie Busters
AP: 7
Strike: 6
Strength: 10 (2)
Dodge: 6
Sense: 1
Toughness: 10 (1)
Mind: 1
Resolve: 1
Damage: 10 (2)
Powers
Level 2 Vehicle (10” Handling, 3 Transport Capacity, Requires Operator)
Soulless – Immune to Mind-based attacks and Healing. Automatically fails KO Checks 
Massive 2  - +2D to hit this Model
Giant Robot – May make Close Combat Attacks and make Combat Mauvers
Enclosed – Passengers get +2D Dodge whilst mounted
Hyper Move (Warp, One-Shot), Reach 4” , Super Strength 2
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
X










KO