Friday, April 27, 2012

A Three Pack A Day

Celebrating the time when comics came in packs of three and you never knew what that third comic was going to be (unless you learned to be tricky)! These are a group of the actual three comics that came in the old plastic bag three packs.

Thor 238:  Not so memorable issue of Thor Fighting trolls along with Jane Foster and Ulik.  But what was really interesting was that Odin, who had lost his memory and dressed in overalls, was fighting a bunch of rednecks.  Now that is a scene to remember!
He thought his name was Orrin but he still spoke in the traditional Asguardian language.
Daredevil 124:  Don't remember much of this issue and I've lost it in the mists of time.  The Gil Kane cover and the Gene Colon art was there as well as the presence of the Black Widow.  I'll have to track this one down again. I think I traded it for some Spider-mans.

Hulk 190:  Russian tanks, Toad Men and the Hulk's love life in the form of Jarella what's not to like about that!  Herb Trimpe's art was in top form being inked by Marie Severin.  The Hulk never looked so good petting bear cubs.

UPDATE:  Wouldn't you know I forgot to add the tags or labels or whatever Google is calling these now.  Nothing like a non-intuitive interface that needs you to click more times than before to make your life easier.  Have I mentioned how much this new Blogger interface sucks?  Hulk smash indeed!

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Vanguard 13: The Characters

We've played three sessions of Icons so far, our fourth scheduled for Monday.  Something that I feel was done perfectly in the game was the random character generation.  Sounds weird in a heroes game but as with classic D&D, the character is what you make of it not what you make your character to be.  I'm not saying there's anything wrong with either approach, it's just that random character gen can give the players and the sessions some really unique situations.

With Icons there is plenty of room to 'flesh' the character out after the random rolls but I feel this process pushes your creativity in coming up with interesting characters that you might not think of coming up with or even playing.  Again, you need a good group of players to 'roll' with this concept and if you've read any of this blog, you'll know we have a pretty good gaming group.

So I'd like you to meet the Vanguard 13 circa 1942!

Automaton: The Mechanical Marvel

Lord Genovasis:  The father of Meta-humans

The Sponge:  A janitor
The Scarlet Hood:  The scourge of the underworld
Prophylactica:  The woman wonder of rubber!
King Cobra

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Friday, April 20, 2012

ICONS Issue 3

Enter: The Destructoid!
The Vanguard 13 Roster:

Lord Genovasis - The father of Meta-humans
Automaton - The Mechanical Marvel
Nate Brown - Lowly janitor (AKA The Sponge)
The Scarlet Hood - The bane of organized crime and political corruption
Prophylactica - The woman wonder of rubber!
King Cobra

Last session the Vanguard 13 were lead on a wild goose chase by the notorious Mr. Roboto only to find that he has attacked Shore City with his giant Destructoid robot!

Hi-tailing it back to Shore City in their Gyro-copter, Vanguard 13 is caught in the destruction caused by the rampaging robot. Fired at by the robots canons and machine guns the pilot is mortally wounded. The Gyro-copter begins to go down and Prophylactica tries to slow the fall by stretching her arm out to grab a building but fails to stop the flying machine. Lord Genovasis then leaps out and growing to his 20 foot height slows the fall of the copter.

The Vanguard 13, now on the street and ready to face the advancing robot are attacked by the remotely controlled Automoton along with two other of Mr Roboto's killer robots. Vanguard 13 leaps into action! Prophylactica grabs downed light pole and swings it at the mechanical trio but misses. The Scarlet Hood, while invisible, attempts to subdue their robotic ally as the Sponge and King Cobra destroy the other two.

Suddenly, out of nowhere, Ninjas materialize out of thin air and attack the group with a focus on King Cobra. The twenty foot Genovasis tries to boot one of them for a field goal but instead falls flat on his back. One of the ninjas tries to slice up Genovasis with extended razor sharp claws but fail to cut through his armor. King Cobra and the Ninjas battle up on a fire escape. All the while Mr Roboto's menacing machine moves closer.

Sponge shoots one of the Ninjas and he goes down, unconscious while the rest are defeated and disappear with a puff of smoke. With two of the ninjas captured, The Sponge steals their teleport powers as Mr Roboto and his Destructoid begin to fire on the group once more. Sponge teleports to inside the robot's control cockpit and begins to battle Mr. Roboto hand to hand while the rest of rushes the fifty foot robot. Fearing that the Sponge will kill Roboto, the Scarlet Hood has Prophylactica slingshot him to the top of the robot so that he can 'save' Roboto for questioning. Finally, as the out of control robot flails around, almost smashing the agile King Cobra, the twenty foot Lord Genovasis pounds the robot in his weak spot (discovered from some blueprints picked up last issue) and the robot goes down.

The Hood questions a very angry Mr. Roboto about clues of the death of the DA (The Scarlet Hood's wife) and gets a mysterious address out of him.

As the terrorized citizens of Shore City begin to come out of hiding they praise the Vanguard 13 as heroes!

As the military begins to clean up the mess and cart the robot back to the Vanguard 13 hanger, General Fairway, who is in charge of Operation Vanguard, praises the group for a job well done and that their government funding is secure.

Vanguard 13 spends the rest of the session repairing Automaton and building a more appropriate base of operations.

Session thoughts:

This was our third Icons session, our second run by Corey. There was a lot of action in this one. The flow of the game, dice rolling and using determination, began to flow better than in the previous sessions. I think we're finally getting the hang of the game. I think there's still some more elements that we have to grab onto to really make the most out of this great little game but we'll get there. Each session has been more fun than the last and this one was a blast.

Looking forward to the next one!

Thursday, April 19, 2012

A Three Pack A Day

Celebrating the time when comics came in packs of three and you never knew what that third comic was going to be (unless you learned to be tricky)! These are three comics that actually came in the old plastic bag three packs.

With these three comics, Marvel forever changed my young mind with what a comic is. These were just standard, run of the mill issues but compared the the mild fare coming out of DC, these covers exploded with bright colors, dire-straights for the heroes and a sense of action that I never recalled seeing before. Of course, it could've just been my impressionable young mind...

Amazing Spider-man 147: Two arachnid supers going at it in the streets of NYC with a dead cop (yes, he is dead, look at the blood), Spidey inches away of the same fate as the entire city looks on. Man! I've had Spider-man comics before this one but with Ross Andru's dynamic fight scenes and drama of the escape of the Tarantula is just plain thrilling. This is also the return of the dead Gwen Stacey (cloned that is) and the Jackal pulling the scenes. With the cliffhanging ending of Spider-man being tossed off the Brooklyn Bridge in chains it would take me twenty years to finally find out what happened.

Iron Man 77: Again with the awesome cover, Iron Man getting blasted, his protective armor beginning to shred - they don't make comic covers like this anymore! The story is forgettable with the end of some super-villain war but that cover more than made up for it.

Captain America 188: The last time I saw Cap he was quitting but now it seems he was back but getting his ass kicked. Not only is this cover dynamic in a way you just don't see anymore, but Cap is fighting an unbeatable villain. You can see my recap of the issue here. But Cap's awesomeness as he finally pounds the Druid's henchmen and then finally the Druid himself cemented Captain America as one of the greatest comic book heroes.

After this three-pack, I became a strict convert over to Marvel. Sure, I'd pick up some DCs from time to time but they would never compare.

A Three Pack A Day

Monday, April 16, 2012

A Three Pack A Day 4

Celebrating the time when comics came in packs of three and you never knew what that third comic was going to be (unless you learned to tricky)! These are three comics that actually came in the old three packs.
So from DC we have...

Justice League of America 124: Good stuff here as the JLA battles dead JSA members on Earth II. The interesting thing about comics in the early 70's was that there were a lot of reprints from the silver age and the golden age being released at the same time. As a young kid with no concept of a continuous comic universe, all these artists, styles and heroes were mish-mashed within the same era. In this example, they were all one Justice League to me. I always thought Capt. Midnight was awesome. The JSA members were always a bit of a mystery to me and was always intrigued with the lineup and the characters.

Superboy Staring the Legion of Super-heroes 213: Now this was one comic I never got into that much even as a young kid. Superboy in space with all these weird heroes never made sense to me. This was one that my brother held onto because of the Glactosaur eating the space-ship. This one didn't come out of the paper bag much (yes, our comics were piled in a paper bag).

Tor 4: Dinosaur and cave-man mayhem with Joe Kubert. Kubert wasn't at his finest with this series but for some people, like my younger brother, the dinosaurs spoke volumes. Tor had his little monkey sidekick no doubt added for comic relief.

Bonus Book:
Batman Family 2: Right during the height of watching the Batman television show reruns this showed up in my bag'o'comics. I believe most of these stories were reprints but the Batgirl stories were fun and there were a couple of them. I flipped through this one a lot especially the pin up the the golden age Bat-man Family including Bat-hound and Bat-mite.

A Three Pack A Day

Thursday, April 12, 2012

A Three Pack A Day 3

Celebrating the time when comics came in packs of three and you never knew what that third comic was going to be (unless you learned to tricky)!

Today from Marvel we have....

Marvel Tales 52: Everything from the dynamic cover by John Romita to the interior pages of a shirtless Spider-man (he's human after-all) to his hand to hand battle with the Kingpin, this reprint of Amazing Spider-man 69 burned Spidey into my young little brain. This was all part of the ancient Petrified Tablet storyline which I've never completely read even after all these years.

The Tomb of Dracula 23: Right during the era of Chicago's Friday evening Creature Features program this issue of TOD popped up in a three pack. Gene Colon's very dynamic realism was quite the contrast to the super-hero stuff I was use to but why did Drac have a mustache? Boggled my mind at the time but it was still creepy what with the mansion, lurking spirits and the count himself.

Captain America 176: This one will forever be a classic in my mind. A very quite issue as Cap/Steve Rogers debates if this man out of time should kill off CA. What's great about this issue is it recaps his origin, guest stars some of the Avengers and leaves you hanging with Cap deciding that yes, the star-spangled avenger my 'die' Being young and unable to buy comics that frequently I had no idea why he was making this decision (prior issues being about the Secret Empire within the US Government) or what happened afterwards (the birth of Nomad) but the issue stood on it's own. Again, this one left quite an impression on my for it's non-action story.

A Three Pack A Day

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

A Three Pack A Day 2

Celebrating the time when comics came in packs of three and you never knew what that third comic was going to be (unless you learned to tricky)!

More from DC!

Superman 291: This came out during the era of those crazy Timex commercials so what better way to promote your watch then to have Superman take it through it's paces. Superman takes the watch through glaciers, volcanoes and it still keeps tickin'. So what does this have to do with superhero action you might ask? Well some down on his luck looser comes across the watch and because the watch was handled by Supes in all these extreme environments it grants him super powers to challenge even superman. Nothing like seeing a normal guy belt superman around the world, nicely drawn by Curt Swan, btw. For some reason, this simple story was fun mostly because of the brilliant art by Swan and the insane twists for having Clark and Supes appearing at the same time.

Claw 2: DC's foray into pulp fantasy to challenge Marvel's Conan. Drawn by Ernie Chau (Chan), who would later ink much of Buscema's Conan work, it's your typical swords and sandle yarn. The battle with that two-headed creature was pretty awesome as Claw makes it stab itself in it's eye. Wasn't much into this stuff at the time so it was mostly just put in the pile.

Tarzan 241: Adaption of Edgar Rice Burroughs "The Castaways". Drawn by Joe Kubert gives the story a nice, loose pulpy flair. The attempted human sacrifice at the end of the issue is pretty intense. That scene would make me come back to this comic over and over.

A Three Pack A Day

Monday, April 9, 2012

A Three Pack A Day

Celebrating the times when comics came in packs of three and you never knew what the third comic was (unless you were tricky).

Back in the early Bronze Age of comics my mom use to pick up a couple of 20¢ Marvel and DC comics from an actual News Stand. She'd pick up one each for my brother and me. These were the first comics I remember owning and many of which I still have today.

But around this time I also remember seeing them sold by threes in plastic packages. Sold usually at dime-stores and the news stands, this is how we began collecting comics. I still have may of these very issues and it was always a blast getting the three packs because you weren't quite sure what the third comic was as it was sandwiched between the front and back facing issues. Some times my brother and I would end up with just one pack to share and we'd fight over who got the extra comics, but most times we'd each get our own pack. It didn't really matter as we'd pile them all into one big paper bag (oh the horror!!).

So starting with my earliest recollection of the three packs we have....

From DC Comics:

Superman 277: A typical tale where a safari hunter/writer, Ted Mailerway, decides to hunt the biggest game in town which would be Superman's identity. Of course Supes out smarts him with his super-speed and quick changing abilities. But in the end, Ted does piece it together on his way out of Metropolis. I was amazed by seeing Curt Swan's multiple Superman image panels.

Ghosts 29: I think there were three ghosty stories. Nothing that really stuck in my mind. I think my mom bought this pack mostly for her as she liked Superman and Ghost stories.

Kamandi 20: Ah, my introduction to Jack Kirby. Explosive action! Robots! and talking apes! A post-apocalyptic Chicago (the town where I then lived). What's not to like for the young 6 year old boy? Beautiful cover and one of my favorite comics of all time.

And from Marvel:

Marvel Tales 45: A reprint of an Amazing Spider-man tale (sixty something I believe). Medusa, drawn by Romita sr.) was quite the character of feminine power. But what really blew me away in this issue is that Norman Osbourne, who was slowly recovering from amnesia being the Green Goblin, sees visions of removing Spider-man's mask but is unable to see Parker's face. I've never seen anything like this! A hero unmasked by a villain!

Avengers 116: A great issue in the middle of the Defenders / Avengers war. Both teams were after The Evil Eye of Prester John. All cool but what really blew my 6 year old mind was the battle between the Vision and the Silver Surfer in the pit of a volcano! Flippin' out of this world!

Red Wolf 9: A lesser of Marvel's heroes but one that I've always liked. But it was the cover that always stuck in my mind. You don't see comic covers like this any more!

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Pop Music Super Heroes: Encore

Just when I thought we've run out of pop star super heroes it's been brought to my attention a couple other super-jems. These both feature the original hero, the man of steel. So I close out the set with:

Crash Test Dummies
Superman's Song
Featuring both Superman and Tarzan

and loosen your leisure suit and put on your boogie shoes for...

by Herbie Mann

Check out set one, set two and set three here.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Pop Music Super Heroes Vol 3

Continuing our exploration of Superheroes appearing in pop music today brings us to the conclusion with a couple of cool tunes. You can check out Vol 1 and Vol 2 to get caught up to speed.

Today we being with Chicago's very own Veruca Salt with their rendition of "Spiderman '79"

Next up we have Henry Rollins performing "Ghost Rider". He has two versions of this song and I went with the one from '87. The other one, which is much heavier sounding was from The Crow soundtrack.

Back on over to DC we have The Dukes of Stratosphere with "Brainiac's Daughter".

And finally we have The Who preforming the Bat-man theme song from 1966.

Check out set one, set two and Encore here.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Pop Music Super Heroes Set 2

Yesterday we began the exploration on super-heroes in pop music. Today we continue that with a focus on the hero that started it all; Superman! It's not surprising that this man from Krypton has iconic status and is almost the go-to figure when looking for that all-encompassing super-heroic image with him being the first man in tights, an outsider, an alien, powerful and invulnerable yet isolated and alone.

Yesterday, Donovan showed up with his Supergirl song and today he's here with Sunshine Superman featuring both Superman and the Green Lantern

Next up we have Jim Croce with "You Don't Mess Around With Jim" featuring Superman and the Lone Ranger.

REM comes up next with "I Am Superman" which is actually a cover from a 1969 band called the Clique.

Finally we have The Spindoctors with Jimmy Olsen's Blues (A Pocketful Of Kryptonite).

Check out set one and set three here.

Encore here

Monday, April 2, 2012

Pop Music Super Heroes Set 1

Though comic books and super heroes have been a part of the American landscape since the late 1930's it has really been in the last 40 years or so that these same comics and heroes have been elevated to a higher status in America's pop culture.

With the cosmic artwork of Jack Kirby and Steve Ditko of early to mid 60's Marvel comics, the underground acid culture adapted comics as their own. The heroes began making their way into the blown minds of a counter-culture that would soon become the main-stream.

Not only Marvel but DC characters too became enmeshed with pop art and popular culture and rock music and comics began a marriage that is even stronger today.

"Catch Me Now I'm Falling"
The Kinks
Featuring Captain America

Magneto and Titanium Man
Paul McCartney and Wings
Featuring Magneto, Titanium Man, and the Crimson Dynamo

Superlungs my Supergirl
Featuring Supergirl

And of course....

Iron Man
Black Sabbath
Featuring Iron Man

Tomorrow Set II: Superman

Set 3