Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Another Dogwood City Drabble

Time for another foray into Dogwood City Drabble, in which I indulge my obsession with constructing 100-word stories based on Dogwood City characters (and presenting them to the world).

Today's edition features the greatest archer of the Dogwood City universe...the Arrow!

Quivering Words

featuring the Arrow

First rule of being a vigilante archer:  Know your arrows.

No one is better at this than the Arrow himself.  It’s more than a science.  It’s poetry.  A web arrow here…a smokescreen arrow there…whatever it takes to get the job done and make a statement.  He always has his words at the ready.

Right now, though, the Arrow doesn’t need a poem.  This isn’t a job demanding subtlety.  Reaching back without hesitation, he pushes aside a dozen clever turns of phrase and pulls out three exclamation points.

You can never really have too many boxing glove arrows, now can you?

Monday, August 22, 2016

Monster Monday: Kaiju of the Silver Age

If there's one thing I'd like others to say about me, it's that I can appreciate a good giant monster.  (Actually, that'd be way down on the list, but please trust me, I can appreciate a good giant monster.)

I'm also a pretty big fan of the Silver Age of comics.  The era that gave us the Green Lantern Corps, the Fantastic Four, the Challengers of the Unknown, Adam Strange, Animal Man, Thanagarian police officers protecting the Earth, and so on (for days...) is always worth celebrating.

I'm a lucky man, because the two are pretty much inseparable!  There's probably a lot that could be written about this connection (by folks a lot more knowledgeable than I).  It's interesting that superhero comics as we know them today and Japanese tokusatsu were forged in the same post-atomic era, were informed by the same drive-in movie aesthetic, and followed many of the same themes.  While the giant monsters of Silver Age comics rarely reached Godzilla's stature (physically or culturally), American superheroes tangled with daikaiju in one form or another quite a bit.  (Check out this post by Hugh Fox III, where he gives a really cool overview of DC heroes' encounters with giant monsters in the Silver Age...and a great starting point for checking out Marvel's contributions!)

Here on Monstrous Matters...and especially on days like today when we celebrate a fine #MonsterMonday...I was thinking it'd be fun to take a look at some of the iconic, near-iconic, or should-be-iconic giant monsters from Silver Age comics.  I'll start things off with one of the most important of the era, because we see it on the cover of one of the most important books of the era:

By the time Marvel Comics entered the heroic era with FF#1 in 1961, the company (along with its very recent predecessor Atlas Comics) was already known for the monsters it was putting out.  And when you have Jack Kirby on board to draw these awesome creatures...well, why not?  I think there's something very fitting about the cover to Marvel's first Silver Age superhero comic featuring a hero in the Human Torch that followed the DC Comics recycle-a-Golden-Age-super method, a giant monster as the antagonist, and a hero that helped define the Marvel approach to supers by being a "monster" himself (the Thing, of course).

That guy the FF is fighting...that's Giganto, a resident of Monster Isle and servant to the Mole Man.  Here's how we're introduced to it in the story...

To be honest, we don't learn much about Giganto at the time.  We have an idea that it's subterranean in nature...and we know it's big and strong...but the issue's action actually ends pretty soon after his appearance, as (spoiler alert) the team escapes the Mole Man's underground lair, and Johnny creates a rock slide that seals off the beasts that have been enslaved by the villain.

Giganto would make more appearances in the Marvel Universe.  When possible, his role in that iconic Silver Age cover is referenced.  Like here...

...and here...

...and here...

...and here, the book where we're finally able to learn Giganto's name...

I normally like to stat up these creatures when I post about them on a #MonsterMonday, but I don't know that it's worth it in this case.  Giganto would basically be a big (60', apparently) beastie with enough hit dice to be a threat and the ability to dig and hold its breath underwater pretty well.  At the moment (which is getting pretty late on Monday), I'd rather just appreciate the huge (no pun intended) role Giganto has had in the history of comics, and give it a big hand (pun intended) for that.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Saturday Evening Cartoon: The Boy Who Learned to Fly (Usain Bolt)

If I ever start to think that some of the names that show up in comics are just a little too coincidentally perfect to take seriously...y'know, characters like Victor Fries or John Henry Irons...I remember that the fastest man in the world is named Usain Bolt.

Here's one final Olympic-related post before the Games end...a little tribute to one of the most superhuman people of our time ( presented by Gatorade, so...well, product placement...).

Friday, August 19, 2016

Modern Pentathlon: The RPG

The Rio Olympics come to a close in just a couple of days, and today marks day 2 of competition in one of the oddest events to maintain its status in the Games: the modern pentathlon.

Here's a quick video guide for those interested...

Most of us are probably somewhat familiar with the decathlon and heptathlon, track and field competitions that combine a variety (a total of ten and seven, respectively...naturally) of events so that men and women can run, jump, and throw their way to being declared the world's best athletes.

Compared to those, the modern pentathlon is kinda weird.  It has running, swimming, fencing, shooting, and horseback riding (specifically jumping with an unfamiliar horse).  When I first paid attention to the sport, I thought it looked like a reality competition for spies.  Apparently, it really was created with the idea of including things that were important for a cavalry officer to be skilled at in the early part of last century.  George S. Patton...later to be known simply by his surname...even competed in the first event in 1912!

In thinking about it lately, I've realized that the events of the modern pentathlon could also define a great RPG adventurer. it is...

Modern Pentathlon: The RPG

All characters start at level 1 and have 5 points to divide among the following skills: Running, Swimming, Riding, Shooting, and Swordsmanship.  Whenever a task is attempted that has a chance of failure, a player rolls 1d20 and adds their character's level and rating in the relevant skill.  If the total meets or exceeds a target number, the attempt is successful.

Target numbers match the ranges used in some of the games you're already familiar with.  A moderate task will have a difficulty of 10, a difficult task will be 15, and a very difficult task should be around 20.  In combat, use armor/defense class as the target.  When facing off in a sword-fight, characters can make opposed rolls, with the winner dealing damage to the loser.  If in doubt, damage should be dealt 1d8 at a time.

At the beginning of each adventure, players roll 1d12 for each level of their characters.  This is the maximum HP of the character for that adventure.  For each successful adventure, a character gains a level and can distribute 3 more points among the five skills.

If a character ever attempts a task that doesn't have an associated skill, the GM can houserule that players may double their level bonus to the roll.  But...this is the Modern Pentathlon RPG, so c' with me here.  If the adventure isn't all about running, swimming, riding...and so should probably play something else.

David Svoboda
2012 Olympic Modern Pentathlon gold medalist
(and an actual Czech military officer)
Level 5, 33 HP
Running 4, Swimming 1, Riding 4, Shooting 2, Swordsmanship 6

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

I may have found just the setting for your next horror game...

The wife and I happened upon this place while traveling around the Great Smoky Mountains yesterday.  I can't say I know much of the history of the Teddy Bear Motel, but I found an image on the web of an old business card for the place, which may have been made during its heyday.

Here's the back of said business card:

I have a feeling the place could be a pretty creepy spot anyway.  It has a very Batman-villain feel to it.  This is only enhanced by the fact that by the time we drove by it yesterday, it had fallen to this state:

I don't really know why part of it is taped off...

...and part of it isn't...

...but the fact that it was apparently abandoned recently enough that when I got out to take a few pictures, I could still hear a smoke detector calling for a new battery, added a little touch of the macabre somehow.

Is it standard procedure to just leave most of the doors open when you have a motel sitting around hoping to be sold?

Oh, and here's a great place to stuff some bodies:

Thankfully, Laura picked up enough of a haunted house vibe that she wanted to stop off for some pictures.  There was also an abandoned Teddy Bear Restaurant right next to it.  I kind of regret not getting any shots of that...

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Saturday Evening Cartoon: Misha, mascot of the 1980 Moscow Olympics

I posted one for the home team with the Sam the Olympic Eagle here's a cartoon that seems like a great companion piece.

Hope y'all are feeling the Olympic spirit!

(Oh, and if you don't feel like watching the whole story, I highly recommend skipping ahead to 7:54 so you can hear the closing song!)

Thursday, August 11, 2016

IDW Crossover Sale

As of the time I write this, there's a sale going on for digital versions of various crossover series from IDW Publishing.  I don't know how long it's been running, or how long these sales usually last, but there's some really worthwhile stuff there.  Besides the fact that IDW is the publisher for licensed they have a great stable of their own to mix together...they've also done some crossovers with DC that are taken straight from a fanboy's Christmas list.  Like this dream series:

Here's the link to the sale at IDW's site, and here's the comiXology link (the .com version) if you prefer that.