This Week’s Sermon - “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year”
September 5, 2006
“It’s the hap-happiest season of all,
With those holiday greetings and gay happy meetings,
When friends come to call,
It’s the hap- happiest season of all”
Andy Williams, “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year”
No, it’s not the thought of the upcoming snowy winter days now that fall is around the corner or even the beginning of the school year that has me humming this little ditty over and over in my noggin. It’s the return of a column favorite of mine.
Last year, I had a jonesin’ for combining one of my long-time passions, comic books, with another albeit more recent one, fantasy football. And before your ask - Yes, I don’t really have a life but I’ve already come to terms with that fact so let’s move on.
Now, last year, I was huge and offered a team that crossed all publishing companies; both big and relatively small. This year, things will be a little different. I wanted to scale down a bit and focus in on only one company’s cast of characters. But the hard choice was which one I wanted to choose for this year.
I was initially leaning towards DC since I grew up on most of their stuff until I hit my early teens. I’ve always thought that DC had the more top-line heroes and villains. But when you think about it, DC’s high character depth is somewhat limited. I mean, outside of even the second tier people like Nightwing, Tempest, Deadshot, Black Manta, and Blockbuster, you really have to think, which sometimes I’m not a fan of doing as my column proves.
Next, I looked at Image’s roster. And while they initially started out as a super-hero company (does anyone remember “Brigade” – I try not to and yet, I still do. Thanks Marat), they went away from it for some time and only are just now coming back to it. And plus, in the early days, most of the characters were just bad rip-offs of characters and/or ideas that existed in the Big Two (outside of a couple characters like Spawn and Savage Dragon).
You know which one was left – The House of Ideas, otherwise known as Marvel. It was my teenage years when I first started reading titles like “Uncanny X-Men”, “Avengers”, “Ghost Rider”, “Fantastic Four” and the rest that the House that Stan, Steve, Jack and the best Bullpen around built. And yet with that history, I haven’t been as loyal to them as I have DC. I can’t explain why. The reason could’ve been as simplistic like when I first started back reading comics, Marvel was in the middle of a creative dearth. Or it could just have been Bill Jemas’ fault.
Because my knowledge of Marvel is somewhat limited to be generous, I was still on the fence on using them for this year’s draft. Then, “Civil War” happened. Then the shipping delays followed and my decision was made for me. I had to come to Marvel’s rescue; if for no other reason than to give the Zombies a reason to talk about something other than a calendar.
Alright, I’ve explained enough. Here’s the PftL Fantasy Superhero Draft Rules and Guidelines for 2006:
- Teams can only consist of six members (known as “The Legion of Super-Heroes Decree” – basically, if you have to ask for a group roll call every time a crisis arises, you should definitely consider scaling back your team.)
- You can only use characters that exist solely within the Marvel Universe. That means no Ultimate, MAX, Marvel 2099, Epic, or Icon titles, people. Not that I’m knocking those other imprints but I’m a purist at heart. Also, since there is only one company, you can draft heroes and villains. I’ll even allow you to designate the time-period for the character. Say for instance that you would like to use Yellowjacket back when he was first introduced a bad-ass in Avengers #59 instead of when he was a nutjob in the mid 80’s. Yes, yes, I am the most gracious commissioner that you will ever know in your lifetime.
- Be realistic in making your picks. For your set of reference, “realistic” is defined as trying to create a team that doesn’t have too many of the company’s most powerful or even iconic figures. If I can be brutally honest with you for a sec, it’s too easy to cherry pick those tried-and-true characters like Spider-Man, Iron Man, Wolverine, and Captain America to be on your team. When you come right down to it, any comic featuring said type of super-heroes would make for a boring read, in my humble opinion (and no, that’s not a veiled reference to “New Avengers”. Why would you ask?). Also, don’t forget that as part of the “realism” (if such a word can be used in the context of “drafting” super-heroes), you must recognize that there would be other “owners” that would be participating in said draft. So if you select Captain America in the Round One, there would be a sure bet that Iron Man wouldn’t last to your next selection in Round Two.
- A team leader must be specified within in your picks. A superhero team must have a leader or they would just be called the Great Lakes Avengers. But having too many leaders is probably not a good idea either since
- And the best thing about this draft – there’s no real way to keep score outside of creating some sort of HeroClix/Magic: The Gathering-style scoring system. And if you’re into that kinda stuff, you would be pasty, afraid of bright lights, and forever locked away in your mother’s basement playing and not expanding your mind by reading this column.
As always, have fun with the draft and try to be as original as you see fit. Believe me when I say that most of the fun about fantasy games is not in the winning per se but in the drafting. Also, the bragging rights and money comes in a very close second.
The team that I would draft would be called The Twin Cities Replacements:
1. Captain Marvel (Genis-Vell) – Team Captain
I want to say that this selection is for the character that was inexistence during the initial Peter David/CrissCross run before U-Decide turned the test tube baby of Mar-Vell turned loony. Prior that that fateful debacle by Jemas, Genis-Vell was like a guy who was trying to find his way as a superhero but had all of the powers cosmic that his father possessed. Later in the run, he began to display some leadership skills albeit through the assistance of the guy who he was bonded to - Rick Jones, the permanent whipping boy of Marvel U. Get this, not only is Jones responsible for Bruce Banner turning into the Hulk but he had to sacrifice himself just so reality wouldn’t implode on itself. If that wasn’t enough, his wife at the time, Marlo, almost did a Ross Geller to him – with Moondragon. When your wife comes close to changing teams with a six-foot bald headed psionic woman, you’ve got to wonder what more could the writers at Marvel do to him other than change him into a Giant Turtle? This selection of Captain Marvel would be the one with Jones bonded to him and I would make him the team captain since two heads, even if one is as messed up as Rick Jones’ is, has to be better than one.
2. Captain America (Isaiah Bradley)
Now, he’s more known for his grandson, The Patriot, but other than The Truth: Red, White & Black mini, what is known about Isiah’s time as Captain America. While he may not be as polished as Steve Rogers could be at the same time in his career, Bradley would have the super-solider serum in his system, almost the same equipment, and he looked pretty bad ass in the revised uni. My only reservation with this selection is that he more than likely would have a hard time taking orders from Genis-Vell but I’m willing to take that risk.
3. Joseph (Magneto Clone)
While I wanted to get a villain that was formerly a hero with this pick, I just couldn’t find one that I liked. That is until I remember a lame X-Men storyline that had a Magneto-clone called Joseph and I figured that was good enough. Joseph is like getting all the magnetic powers of Magnus Lehnsherr but without the baggage. And as cool as Magneto could be, he wouldn’t play second fiddle to anyone, he would be a disruptive force within the team and he would only do things that would benefit him unlike Joseph who would do anything that would be asked of him; kinda like the lovesick and desperate Ericka on “Big Brother All-Stars”. Except that Joseph wouldn’t walk around the team HQ with a pillow under his shirt and saying that Mike Boogie will be the father of the child. Hey, Ericka, if a nickname like “Boogie” for a guy in his mid-30s doesn’t tell you to stay away, girl, you deserve what you get.
4. Marvel Girl (Rachel Summers)
If you want a good telepath on your team, you’ve got to go the best of the best as far as breeding grounds, which is up in Westchester, NY at the Xavier Institute for Higher Learning. I figured that most of the real good ones like Professor X, Jean Grey, and Psylocke would’ve been taken by now. So, the offspring of an alternate timeline version of Scott Summers and Jean Grey can most definitely fit the slot. Plus, she still has the link to Phoenix Force, so she can be a heavy hitter in case the team needs her.
5. Ant-Man (Scott Lang)
A size changer is almost like a speedster in the regards that they can be found everywhere. Their powers are good for espionage and surprise attacks so getting one would be a good selection at the five spot. Luckily, for me, that in the Marvel Universe, Pym Particles rule so you can find more than a few heroes that fit this requirement. And at pick #5, Pym and his wife have probably left the board so I’ll go for the guy who replaced Pym in the Ant-Man suit and who is presently taking a dirt nap. Before he was axed, Scott Lang was a decent third tier superhero; a little bit bland but he was a good teammate. It’s just too bad that he didn’t get the same treatment that Luke Cage got with the whole Avengers reboot. But, on the bright side, he got some from Jessica Jones before he kicked the bucket. If you’re going to go out, at least he got to hit it before he could quit it. (Really, I’ve been watching too many episodes of “Big Brother”.)
6. Scarlet Spider (Ben Reilly)
I decided to save this last pick for the most infamous replacement in all of Marvel lore. Everyone remembers certain landmarks in Spider-Man history – how he got his powers, the death of Gwen Stacy, and the Black Symbiote Costume. But if you mention the name Ben Reilly to a Spider fan, you would think that all of those pale in comparison to the outrage that the whole Spider-Clone saga gets. Sure, the plot was flawed in everyway and the series has been identified as a case study in what not to do with one of the most iconic characters in comics. I mean, the clone could do the same things as Peter Parker and his powers were even better when you consider that Venom had no effect on his spider-sense. But now, he’s known for giving his new Spidey costume to Spider-Girl. Even still, while the Ben Reilly/Scarlet Spider name can bring up the most hatred and venomous words from the diehards fanboys, I still like the style and look of the only ghetto Spider-Man. I may be the only one but I think that Ghetto Spidey looks way better than the new Iron Spidey that out there presently, which in a few years will probably make its way to the MC2 universe.
So, there’s my team. Do you think that you have it in you to do better? So good that you can actually win something? Well - do ya, punk? Then what are you waiting for? Start drafting. Here’s the legal mumbo jumbo:
The Preachin’ from the Longbox Fantasy Superhero Team Contest Rules:
- Follow the PftL Fantasy Superhero Guidelines that were stated previously in this column.
- Create your own team and submit your Marvel-flavored superhero lineup along with your physical mailing address to The 2006 PftL Draft HQ. (You can just send your superhero list only or you can add your reasoning as I have above. Although from what was submitted last time, the reasoning brings that much more to the table, if you know what I’m saying.)
- Contest deadline is September 30th, 2006 at 11:59.59 PM PST. Only two entries per person. The winner will be notified by Sunday, October 1st, 2006. The winner’s name will be included with the October 2nd edition of “Preachin’ from the Longbox”. Anyone is eligible to enter this contest (including the boss). The winner will be determined by a panel of one (yours truly) by reviewing the entry’s originality, overall team build and variety of characters used.
The winner will receive the following haphazard cavalcade of prizes:
- One (1) Micronauts Acroyear Figure (Devil’s Due Publishing Exclusive)
- One (1) Sky Strike Batman Figure
- One (1) Gen13 Fairchild Figure (Another Universe.com Exclusive)
- Issues #1-4 of Micronauts (Image) plus ’02 Micronauts Convention Special & Micronauts Mini-poster
- One (1) Batman: Dark Legends TPB
- One (1) Batman/Deadman HC by James Robinson and John Estes
- One (1) Savage Dragon: A Force To Be Reckoned With HC 1st Printing Signed & Numbered Edition (#550/1000)
- Assorted Posters from the PftL Climate-Controlled Prize Vault
(Damn, that’s a ton of stuff…)
As was the case last year, the October 2nd column will be one that is totally devoted to the entries that I would consider have some merit or are just too funny for me not to include. So, send early and send often. Actually, only send two but in my household, more than once for me is considered often.
And in case you missed it last time, here’s the link that will take you to the Preachin’ from the Longbox archives. As the saying goes, “If you haven’t read it, it’s new to you.”
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A breaking PftL Update
I just got this email on Labor Day morning and thought that I would pass it along. ACTOR - A Commitment To Our Roots, a non-profit organization that helps out comic creators from days past with medicals bills and with some financial support in an aspect that could be considered almost like a pension. It’s a very noble cause and I try to support these causes since these guys are not benefitting from any type of ownership of the characters that they helped to create.
Well, it seems that ACTOR has decided to change their name to The Hero Initiative. While the loss of a cool acronym may affect the group’s identity initially, the change needs to happen since the organization’s golas are to help comics professionals, not those crazy Scientologists masked as Hollywood thespians. (Or as Mel ”A Few Too Many” Gibson would call them… Ah well, nevermind.) Personally, I would compare this change somewhat similar to a change that happened in one of my fantasy football leagues - the name maybe new but the mission is still the same. Okay, maybe they’re not totally compatible but you get the picture.
I’m off the Longbox this week. I’ll leave with the images of new logos for The Hero Initiative. Remember, don’t forget to keep your bags and boards together and your continuity straight. Until next time…
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