Why IndyClix Matter!! (Or, The Ghost of Christmas Future Is Back With an Editorial!!) (Or OR The Eighth Night of Clix-Mas 2017!!)

[EDITOR’S NOTEWelcome to Clix-Mas 2017, wherein we here at Critical Missives rather foolishly try to provide you with twelve different articles in twelve days, all brought to you by either the Ghost of Christmas Past, the Ghost of Christmas Present, or the Ghost of Christmas Future! If you need to catch up with our intro to all of this, the first Night of Clix-Mas 2017 can be found right here! And we announced a new Holiday Scenario for our local venue on Night Two! And the Ghost of Christmas Past named a few of his favorite things from the past Clix year right here! On Night Four, the Ghost of Christmas Present left us his Top Ten Figures from Star Trek: Away Team!! Then, the Ghost of Christmas Future gifted us some Irresponsible Speculation about IndyClix!! Later, the Ghost of Christmas Future came back and talked about licensed properties that would make great Clix sets! And finally, the Ghost of Christmas Present gave us a presentation of the Top Eleven most valuable Heroclix released this year!]

Indy Clix

And so we’ve made it to Night Eight, which means we’re two-thirds of the way through The Twelve Nights of Clix-Mas, 2017!!

So tonight at my local venue we were playing the Holiday Havoc Scenario (from Night Two) and in between rounds I was talking to one of our regular players about Marvel comics. It turns out that neither of us had read much from Marvel in the last two years (for me, nothing really since Secret Wars, which was, what, like 2015?). And the more people I asked, the more I got the same(ish) answer.

Now, I don’t want to get into any of the corporate politics at Marvel or why their books have pretty much gone off the rails in terms of sales–there are plenty of other outlets that have been covering Marvel’s ongoing publishing death spiral (and whether the recent ascendance of new Marvel Editor-in-Chief C.B. Cebulski will turn things around) for the better part of a year.

Marvel Sales

Actual internal sales document from Marvel…

What I’m more interested in is the effect this fallow period might have on Heroclix. It’s tough to make a game based on a comic book license if the comics themselves have no following. And when you consider that Marvel sets make up the bulk of the Heroclix product line, this has the potential to become a huge issue.

Hell, Wizkids almost went out of their way this past year to create Marvel sets that had nothing to do with current or even rectent storylines in the comics. Let’s look at the Marvel set releases (minus the MCU sets which, obviously, were based on movies and not comics):

DXF

Deadpool and X-Force: Okay, this took from both old and somewhat recent Deadpool comics. Fair enough.

AVD War Banner.jpg

Avengers/Defenders War: Uhhhh… what? This story was decades old. And the main Sub-Theme, Marvel Knights, primarily–yet unofficially–revolved around all of the Marvel Netflix heroes.

What IF.jpg

What If… ?: Again, an older series about alternate versions of superheroes that I don’t think has been published by Marvel in years. There were a few newer figs (like the Young Avenger versions of the Runaways), but not many.

TMT

The Mighty Thor: Among all the classic Thor stuff, I think there were maybe five or six pieces pulled from the last three years worth of stories, like Jane Foster Thor, Angela Prime and Colossal Ms. Marvel, among others. Out of more than seventy pieces!

So what does all this have to do with Indy Clix? Well… I think this is part of the reason why Wizkids has been pursuing other licenses like TMNT and Star Trek. Furthermore, I think it’s at least part of the reason why those sets are all Modern Legal, where previous Indy sets like Kick-Ass 2 or Pacific Rim or Iron Maiden were not.

Could we ever get to a point where Wizkids is releasing mostly MCU, DC and Indy sets in a calendar year?

Heck, the fact that Star Trek: Away Team was a 5-figure booster set instead of a Gravity Feed was almost shocking! Could this have been a stealthy “proof of concept” for Wizkids to show that the game could survive without the need for strong Marvel-publishing-based sets?

Well… no. I think that’s all just conjecture that I made up literally while I was typing the last couple paragraphs.

But! I think Marvel’s sales numbers HAVE to be concerning to Wizkids. I think they welcome the fact that Infinity War is coming out next year and that they have a chance to again revisit some old cosmic Marvel stories from the 90’s as a result!

So that’s all I have for today. But I don’t want to be all doom and gloom–tomorrow we’ll look at a few Marvel and DC stories from the last 5 years that could be adapted into great Heroclix sets!

 

The Ghost of Christmas Future Is Back for More Irresponsible Speculation!! (Or, The Sixth Night of Clix-Mas 2017!!)

Christmas Future 3.jpg

[EDITOR’S NOTEWelcome to Clix-Mas 2017, wherein we here at Critical Missives rather foolishly try to provide you with twelve different articles in twelve days, all brought to you by either the Ghost of Christmas Past, the Ghost of Christmas Present, or the Ghost of Christmas Future! If you need to catch up with our intro to all of this, the first Night of Clix-Mas 2017 can be found right here! And we announced a new Holiday Scenario for our local venue on Night Two! And the Ghost of Christmas Past named a few of his favorite things from the past Clix year right here! On Night Four, the Ghost of Christmas Present left us his Top Ten Figures from Star Trek: Away Team!! And yesterday, the Ghost of Christmas Future gifted us some Irresponsible Speculation about IndyClix!!]

Welcome back! It’s Night Six of The Twelve Nights of Clix-Mas, and we’re continuing yesterday’s Irresponsible Speculation by pondering which non-Marvel, non-DC licensed properties out there would make a great Heroclix expansion!

As always, we’ll start with the obvious…

 

Transformers Heroclix

Image Credit: geekgirl137 (@byntp137)

TRANSFORMERS:

Why It’d Work:

Giant robots in disguise? Hell yeah!

A Heroclix set based on the 80’s cartoon and toy line would kick serious butt. It would also tick all the boxes on the unofficial “Heroclix Licensed Property Checklist.”

–Property with large awareness and appeal to target audience;

–Long roster of BOTH heroes and villains from which to pull figures from;

–Plenty of characters with powers/abilities that would be easily adapted to the Heroclix format;

In fact, this is such a no-brainer THAT IT’S ALREADY BEEN DONE... sort of!

An amateur creator going by the handle “geekgirl137” actually created a whole Transformers Heroclix set and sent two bricks of it to the folks at HyperRPG’s “Indomitable” show! Check it out!

Will We Ever See It?

I’m inclined to say no, for three reasons.

First, I have no idea how much the Transformers license would be, but I’m guessing it might cost more than some of the other licensed properties out there. Also, part of the core business of Transformers is selling action figures, which isn’t in the same category as Heroclix, but isn’t that different at the end of the day.

Also, from a design standpoint, virtually every piece in the set would have the Robot keyword, which could technically lead to Themed Teams of figures that have no business being Themed together.

Finally, these characters are, for the most part, giant robots. Dramatizing that as an actual 3D sculpt that doesn’t look ridiculous next to normal Marvel and DC Clix yet still fits in a Gravity Feed or five figure Booster Pack is definitely going to be a logistical challenge.

 

GI Joe CLix.jpg

G.I. Joe:

Why It’d Work:

The G.I. Joe universe is practically as close as one can get to Marvel or DC without actually being them. Plenty of great, colorful heroes and villains to bring into Heroclix, all with distinct abilities (read: power sets), iconic costumes and cool codenames. Duke, Flint, Gung Ho, Snake Eyes, Quick Kick, Scarlet, The Baroness, Destro, Cobra Commander… this set practically designs itself!

Will We Ever See It?

Look, we’ve gotten the Turtles already. One could argue that this would be the next logical step! While I doubt there’s anything in the works, I could definitely see this happening at some point.

 

Stranger Things.jpeg

STRANGER THINGS: 

Why It’d Work:

Because it’s a hot, modern property!

Stranger Things doesn’t have the breadth of content that the previous two entries on this list have, but it certainly has enough to fill out, say, an 18 piece Gravity Feed set and a Starter.

If nothing else, this set would give us a great Map or two!

Will We Ever See It?

This would be really out of the box thinking. The folks in charge of Stranger Things have been licensing the bejeezus out of the property recently, but I don’t think this would interest Wizkids. Usually, when we see an unexpected property adapted in Heroclix, it’s a film (Kick-Ass 2, Pacific Rim), not a television series. Star Trek: Away Team is kind of an outlier in this regard.

 

Agree? Disagree? What properties would YOU like to see adapted by Wizkids? And would you like to see an expanded version of this article at a future date? Sound off in the comments below.

And don’t forget to come back tomorrow for more Clix-Mas goodness!!

The Ghost of Christmas Future is Back With Some Irresponsible Indy Speculation!! (Or, The Fifth Night of Clix-Mas!!)

[EDITOR’S NOTEWelcome to Clix-Mas 2017, wherein we here at Critical Missives rather foolishly try to provide you with twelve different articles in twelve days, all brought to you by either the Ghost of Christmas Past, the Ghost of Christmas Present, or the Ghost of Christmas Future! If you need to catch up with our intro to all of this, the first Night of Clix-Mas 2017 can be found right here! And we announced a new Holiday Scenario for our local venue on Night Two! And the Ghost of Christmas Past named a few of his favorite things from the past Clix year right here! And yesterday, the Ghost of Christmas Present left us his Top Ten Figures from Star Trek: Away Team!!]

Christmas Future 2

So we’re always talking about what we’d like to see Wizkids do with their Marvel or DC licenses, but we never talk about the independent stuff they put out, and where we’d like to see them take those properties.

Well, not anymore! Today is all about what we want to see coming down the pike from Wizkids and their non-Marvel, non-DC releases!

 

Ninja Rap

TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES:

What We Want: 

TMNT: The Movies Clix!!

This one is easy. They’ve almost done everything they can with the animated Turtles Clix, and I’m honestly not sure there’s a ton more to be mined from the comics, either.

But they could, like, TOTALLY squeeze two or three sets from the live-action Turtles movies! Who doesn’t want a vintage Vanilla Ice piece with some sort of “Ninja Rap” Damage Special, or a Megan Fox as April O’Neil figure (it would at least have to be better than her Megan Fox as Lilah from Jonah Hex piece, right?)?

Chances We’ll Actually Get It:

Honestly? Probably not good. From what I understand, this might be a bit of a licensing nightmare. It would be a license of several 20-25 year old properties that were themselves licensed products that were capitalizing on the success of an animated series that was itself licensed from an independent comicandnowmybrainhurts!!

Still, stranger things have happened…

 

DS9 mirror mirror.jpg

STAR TREK:

What We Want: 

Everyone wants original cast movie Clix or TNG clix. That would be fine with me. But I’d love a set that’s focused on all of the “Mirror Universe” characters that have floated in and out of Trek’s continuity!

Whether that means a whole set of Alternate Reality pieces (sort of a Star Trek version of the What If… ? or Elseworlds sets we just got) from throughout Trek’s history, or just a DS9 set with a “Mirror” Sub-Theme, those are the pieces that would have me reserving a Brick at my FLGS.

Chances We’ll Actually Get It:

It’s not impossible, but it’s probably years away. If Star Trek: Away Team sells well, we’ll probably see two or three more sets focused on the Original Cast and the TNG folks before they’d really consider making any DS9 characters (and with them, the DS9 “Mirror” characters).

Still, the fact that the Mirror folks have their own Team Ability is a good sign…

 

Horrorclix.jpg

Heroclix UNDEAD (aka HORRORCLIX):

What We Want: 

Undead was fun, but I want to see the full return of the Horrorclix brand!! I actually think they had the right idea when they started of mixing original properties with specially curated licensed releases, all under the Horroclix name.

Imagine a Horrorclix Buffy set, all designed with modern rules in mind, all Modern Age tournament legal. Or a re-release of a Colossal Cthulu, followed by Gravity Feed set of more Dead Presidents (like Zombie Lincoln).

This would be a great way for Wizkids to hit up popular licensed properties without having to commit to more than one or two sets at a time!

The possibilities are endless!

Chances We’ll Actually Get It:

Pretty dubious. I think Wizkids has become much more cautious when it comes to licensing other properties for Heroclix (which, by the way, isn’t necessarily a bad thing). That said, the idea of, say, going to Target to buy an Alien Queen sort of Raid Scenario for two or more players sounds like a lot of fun to me. But first we need to see if we’ll even be getting more Undead pieces!

 

Okay, that’s all for now folks! Come back and see us tomorrow, when we’ll talk about what properties Wizkids has never Clix’d but should seriously consider. Until then, Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

But THIS… Does Put A Smile On My Face!! (Or, Let’s Talk About the Infinity War Trailer!!)

Thanos Infinity Gauntlet

[EDITOR’S NOTE: We don’t do many trailer reactions on this site, primarily because we’re mostly about gaming in general, and Heroclix specifically. Also, while some folks manage to publish genuinely entertaining reaction videos on YouTube (The Ecomog #StruggleNation guys and Emergency Awesome are some of my personal faves), most are just schlubby guys staring slightly below the camera while shouting “Wow!” and “Oh S—!!” over and over again.

But while we are assembling our Harley Quinn and the Gotham Girls Top Ten (I’ve heard some people call it “Joker’s Wild” with funner Primes and Chases, but really–no, wait, that’s pretty much it), I thought I’d break from tradition and embark on a little story time about why I wanted to talk about this particular trailer, what exactly seems to be going on with the movie’s story, and maybe even why the Colossal Thanos on the Throne of Death is the default masthead for this blog! 

So, without further ado… on with the show!]

Infinity War poster.jpg

Marvel finally dropped a trailer for Infinity War today. This is the movie I’ve been waiting for ever since I was a little kid, and one that I never thought I’d ever get in my lifetime.

I’ve lived in Michigan my whole life. Grew up just outside of Detroit. For most of my childhood my family would drive up to Lexington, Michigan at least once during every  summer month (after school had let out). Lexington was about 90 minutes away from Detroit, and my grandparents had a small cottage there near Lake Huron.

Now Lexington was (and pretty much still is) the epitome of a small, Midwestern town. It had a Main Street, a few restaurants, a General Store (where, after much petulant badgering, my grandmother would break down and buy me DuckTales stickers and baseball cards) and an indoor bazaar/flea market that, at least in my memory, was always filled to the brim with dusty, undiscovered treasures.

My father was never one to pass up a garage sale or a flea market, so whenever he would head into town, my brother and I always got up early to go with him, particularly because every time we went to that indoor market, someone would be selling… comic books.

In 1992, I was 11 years old, and while I had a general idea who Batman, Superman and Spider-Man were, I was really just discovering the broader range of comic book characters that were out there. That was also the time in my life when I had started earning my own money through delivering newspapers and mowing lawns, so it was not uncommon for me to hit the comic stands with $5, $10 or sometimes even $20 (for our younger readers, you’ll have to trust me–this seemed like a small FORTUNE to 11-year-old me!).

Now I always had to examine the covers of all the comics that were for sale, and my gosh, if I saw a cover advertising a guest appearance by another hero, well, that comic was probably going home with me (I mean, what’s better than getting TWO heroes for the price of one comic?!).

Daredevil 306

I think I still have this issue in my basement somewhere. It came out the same month as Infinity War #1, I think. And it had Daredevil AND Spider-Man!! 11-year-old me was most impressed.

Well, later on in the Summer of 1992, I saw this:

Infinity War 1

A double-sized comic that pretty much had ALL the heroes in the MCU. This blew my mind! I eagerly devoured all six issues of Infinity War; then, the following year, I did it all over again with the sequel, Infinity Crusade.

When I got a little older and I could drive myself to the local comic shop on Wednesdays after high school, I was able to track down bits and pieces of Thanos Quest and Infinity Gauntlet (but, frustratingly, never the whole thing–finding those issues, or even a TPB, became sort of my white whale. Especially because this was before eBay and Amazon).

But the ending of Infinity Gauntlet, where Adam Warlock had to sacrifice his peaceful afterlife in the Soul Gem to literally take on the responsibility of the entire universe while Thanos lost universal omnipotence but gained a mantle of inner peace stuck with me.

Infinity Gauntlet ending

I can still quote the last line of Infinity Gauntlet decades later. “Somehow I feel that, in the long run, Thanos of Titan came out ahead in this particular deal.”

[EDITOR’S NOTE: Jim Starlin does not get nearly enough credit for all the concepts and characters he introduced into the Marvel Universe. He has had a brilliant career, but he’s never mentioned in the same conversations as his contemporaries like Alan Moore and Frank Miller. Watchmen and DKR are brilliant, but Starlin did something arguably harder; he told an all-time great story that took place IN CONTINUITY. This is incredibly difficult to do. How many crossovers have come anywhere close to Infinity Gauntlet’s brilliance? Very few… And while we’re at it, when it comes to drawing Thanos, there’s Ron Lim, and then there’s everyone else. Period.]

It was such a powerful ending; I finally realized that sometimes the good guys don’t completely win, and sometimes the bad guys aren’t gonna get punished. And yet, from there, Thanos develops from a villain into more of an anti-hero who is eventually entrusted with the Reality Gem and actually helps save the universe during future Infinity catastrophes (and Keith Giffen even wrote a marvelously fun and complex Thanos 12-issue series back in 2003-2004 that continued this redemption arc in unexpected ways).

Fast forward to 2012. I can’t believe that Marvel movies that don’t have Spider-Man or an ‘X’ in the title are actually succeeding at the box office. My childhood is coming to life before my eyes. “Avengers” hits and its everything everyone wants it to be. It’s fun, it’s exciting, and nothing like it has ever been attempted at the level on which “Avengers” was executed. It’s a gigantic hit.

Also that year, I met a girl. My third date with her also happened to be my birthday. “Avengers” was our first date, and she’d been madly interrogating my friends in order to figure out what she should get me. Then, in front of a bunch of my family members who she’d only just met that night, my girlfriend handed me a gift bag. This is what was inside:

Infinity Gauntlet TPB

We were married in 2015.

Coincidentally, that was also an “Avengers” year.

I relate all this so that you know that when I hit “Play” on YouTube this morning to watch the “Avengers: Infinity War” trailer, I wasn’t just carrying 10 years of MCU movies with me; I was sitting there with memories of some of the happiest times in my life swimming around my head, waiting with giddy anticipation.

So you can probably guess that I liked it.

It could have been two minutes of a static, black screen and I would have called it “boldly understated” or something. But it wasn’t two minutes of a black screen. It was colorful; vibrant; thrilling; scary; nostalgic; bold; smart; new and surprising and familiar, all at the same time.

In two minutes and twenty-four seconds, this trailer brought together virtually every dangling thread from every Marvel movie in history. Somehow the writers have seamlessly blended the storylines of “Infinity Gauntlet” and “Infinity” (the talented Jonathan Hickman’s magnum opus from 2013) not only with each other but also woven them into the altogether different continuity of the MCU. This is such a complicated structural endeavor that it boggles the mind anyone would even attempt such a thing.

And that’s before you remember that Marvel can’t use the Fantastic Four, Galactus or the Silver Surfer (my God, Surfer was probably the fourth or fifth most important character IN Infinity Gauntlet!!) and that they are CHOOSING not to use Adam Warlock until the next Guardians of the Galaxy movie (or, at least, we assume this to be so).

[EDITOR’S NOTE: I feel like this hasn’t been discussed enough. Again, to make this clear… ADAM WARLOCK IS THE #$&^#(! PROTAGONIST OF INFINITY GAUNTLET!! This would be like a producer going up to Peter Jackson in 1997 and saying, “Look, we’re gonna give you a green light on this Lord of the Rings thing, but only if you lose those weird Hobbit characters. Especially that Frodo guy.“]

This should be an impossible task. But then you watch the trailer, and Black Panther says “Get this man a shield!” and Cap steps out of the shadows to help defend Wakanda against an Outrider invasion, and I’m about frothing at the mouth to find out the earliest date I can pre-order tickets for this movie.

It’s like Kevin Feige and the screenwriters had a workaround for everything.

WRITERS: “Uh, Infinity Gauntlet basically starts with Silver Surfer rushing to warn Earth after a run-in with Thanos and crashing into the Sanctum Sanctorum.

Surfer Crashes

FEIGE: “And?”

WRITERS: “Annnd… we can’t use Silver Surfer.”

Doc and Wong

FEIGE: “Great. So, now the Hulk will be the one to crash into the Sanctum.”

WRITERS: “Uh… he’s not even in space.”

FEIGE: “He will be.”

Hulk Sanctum

Kevin Feige is an absolute stone cold gangster. I’m convinced of this. He saw the possibility for this whole cinematic universe when all anyone else saw was B- and C-list characters with no film potential at all. That’s what I love most about the MCU. Feige and his team just plow ahead.

–Don’t have the rights to Spider-Man or the X-Men? Guess what. We’re focusing exclusively on the Avengers. And we’re gonna do that so well that Sony will be begging us to take over Spidey from them.

–Natalie Portman doesn’t want to come back for Thor 3? Great. We’re not gonna set it on Earth anyway. We’re gonna get Tessa Thompson to play a Valkyrie and it’s going to get the best reviews of any of the Thor movies. Bye Felicia.

–Our original stars are now ten years older and want gobs of money? Great. We’re gonna give it to them for now, but we’re also going to create the next generation of heroes on screen to eventually replace them. And the audience is going to f-ing love every minute of it.

I’m amazed at how many times Marvel has reinvented what a “superhero movie” can be.

For all the reasons I just described, I loved, loved LOVED this trailer, and I can’t wait to take my wife to go and see it in a theater.

Look, I haven’t even really touched on the story of “Infinity” and how it relates to this production, but this probably isn’t going to be the last time I talk about this trailer or this movie, either. But I think I’ll leave it right here for now.

Excelsior.