Monday, 31 May 2010

The Late 40's and into the 50's

The late 40's and early 50's were "sparce" on the Superhero front, and Superman dominated the scene.

Superman (1948)



Superman (1948) was a 15-part black-and-white Columbia film serial; it starred an oddly uncredited Kirk Alyn - billed only by his character name, Superman!

However Kirk Alyn's name appears on the promotional posters.

It is important to the Genre as the first live-action appearance of Superman on film!

it was filmed entirely in and around Los Angeles and was originally only shown as part of movie matinee presentations.

All of the Superman flight scenes were animated, partly due to the small budget - but possibly also because some of the Cast (Kirk Alyn included) were bothered by heights.

It follows standard Superman lore, Superman is sent to Earth by his parents just as the planet Krypton blows up and is later raised as a Human by the Kents.

After his foster parents die, the Man of Steel heads to Metropolis under the guise of Kent and joins the staff of the Daily Planet in order to be close to the news.

Whenever there is trouble - he appears in his true identity of Superman.

This first serial involves a nefarious plot perpetrated by the villainous Spider Lady.

Republic Pictures tried to make a Superman serial not once but twice before.

The first attempt was hastily replaced by "The Mysterious Doctor Satan" (1940) when licensing negotiations fell through.

The second attempt was advertised in 1941.

This time around there were two obstacles that its production - the publisher insisted on absolute control of the script and production, and the rights at the time were also tied up by the Paramount cartoon series.

Katzman acquired the live action rights to Superman in 1947. He pitched it to Universal but they were no longer making serials by this time.

He also tried a pitch to Republic - but they insisted "a superpowerful flying hero would be impossible to adapt" despite having done so in 1940 with The Adventures of Captain Marvel (go figure their logic here).

Republic were also no longer buying properties for adaptation by 1947, TV was now on the scene - NBC began operations in 1946, followed by CBS and ABC in 1948 - and naturally the Film studios were becoming more careful.

Columbia however accepted Katzmans pitch, and production began.

Script writer George Plympton tried adding and ongoing joke to the script, substituting the Lone Ranger's "Hi-Yo Silver!" for the traditional "Up, Up and Away" - however this did not survive in the script long enough to actually be filmed (thankfully LoL).

Kirk Alyns Superman costume was grey and brown rather than blue and red -this was because the muted colours photographed better in black and white.

There is loads of action and the animated flying scenes are actually fairly good, Kirks performance as Superman isn't earth-shattering - but he captures the Man of Steel quite well.

Superman (1948) has a reputation as the most popular chapterplay in history. I'm not sure if I would go that far, but it is great fun and an excellent example of the genre.

Kirk Alyn reprised his role in 1950 . . . .

Atom Man vs. Superman (1950)



Lex Luthor, secretly the Atom Man, invents a number of deadly devices to plague the city - these include a disintegrating machine which can reduce people to their basic atoms and reassemble them in another place.

Superman manages to thwart each scheme. But since Kryptonite can rob Superman of his powers, Luthor decides to create a synthetic Kryptonite and races about to obtain the ingredients he needs for its fabrication - plutonium, radium and an undefined 'etc'

Luthor places the Kryptonite at the launching of a ship, which Superman will be in attendance. He is exposed to the Kryptonite and blacks out. Superman is taken off in an ambulance driven by Luthor's henchmen, and he is now under the control of Luthor.

Superman is placed in a device, a lever is pulled - and the Man of Steel vanishes into "The Empty Doom" (which seems to bear a striking similarity to the Phantom Zone of the comic books).

When Superman finally escapes from "The Empty Doom", the headline of the Daily Planet proclaims "Superman Returns" . . . . .

Quick Facts -

Lyle Talbot as Lex Luthor, wore a rubber scalp for baldness (and by god you can tell)

When not shooting Talbot and Alyn spent most of their time exchanging recipes as both actors shared an interest in cookery (now THERES an Episode of Ready, Steady, Cook I would like to see LoL).

The final set piece shows Metropolis under attack by some REALLY badly animated flying saucers and a torpedo (Ed Wood would have been proud)

The flying effects were improved a little for this Serial, the camera was turned on its side. Kirk Alyn stood with arms raised in front of a rotating screen, while a wind machine and smoke pot were placed above him out of shot - this gave quite an effective illusion of flight (and managed to keep the Stars feet firmly on the ground LoL). Long shots still used animation to represent the Man of Steel in flight.

Atom Man vs. Superman (1950) was Columbia's 43rd Serial, and it showed to be honest.

The whole production was starting to look a little tired, the actors for the most part were going through the motions.

The dialogue was stale and uninventive - and the direction could have been done better by a child - its not good, not good at all.

The Adventures of Superman TV Show (1952-1958)



Adventures of Superman TV series ran from 1952 - 1953 in black and white, and from 1954-1958 in colour.

George Reeves plays Clark Kent/Superman with such gusto and commitment its a joy to watch, and the show is still so popular today it remains in syndication.

The Adventures of Superman employed surprisingly competant visual effects for television of the period, and while the show won no major awards - it was extremely popular with its audience.

In 1951, California exhibitor and B-movie producer Robert L. Lippert released a 67-minute B&W feature starring George Reeves and Phyllis Coates called Superman and the Mole Men - the script by Robert Maxwell (credited as Richard Fielding) and was directed by Lee Sholem.

The film was so well accepted it prompted the first season of the "Adventures of Superman" to go into production in August/September of that year.

It didn't reach the airwaves until September 1952 when Kellogg's agreed to sponsor the show (Kellogs had previously sponsored the Superman radio series).

The series was an instant success, and the Mole Men story became the Series only multi-part story.

George Reeves LIVED the part of Superman, even though the shooting schedule was gruelling and the pay was appaling (Reeves had earnings from personal appearances beyond his meager salary) - his affection for his young fans was genuine and sincere.

Reeves took his role model status seriously, avoiding cigarettes where children could see him and eventually quitting smoking altogether.

He even tried to keep his private life discreet - he had a romantic relationship with a married ex-showgirl eight years his senior (Toni Mannix wife of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer general manager Eddie Mannix)

He was a gentleman to his fellow cast members, and did a lot for charity - however on June 16, 1959 - tragedy struck.

It SEEMED like George Reeves had taken his own life, many people would not accept that a man so full of life would ever do such a thing and even today many people believe that Eddie Mannix had something to do with Reeves death - as retribution for Reeves involvement in the breakup of his marriage.

Hollywoodland is a 2006 dramatization of the events surrounding George Reeves Death.

He was buried at Mountain View Cemetery and Mausoleum in Altadena, California.

I really liked the Adventures of Superman, and knowing its star was such a good guy and so full of life while he was making it enhances the show immensely.

I heartily recommend it to anyone.

Next Time, Remember to Tune in - Same Bat-Time, Same Bat-Channel . . . . . . .

Sunday, 30 May 2010

Androidia

Now one of the most respected and powerful women in Pulp City, Androida came a really long way.

Ten years ago, she was the only perfect AI to walk the Earth. Unfortunately, the breakthrough discovery was kept secret, deep in the laboratories of the insane scientist, Dr. Van Der Beek.

The hideous man gave Androida the spark of life just for one reason: to satisfy his broken lust. Thus one of the most brilliant inventions of a human mind served as a degraded sex toy.

Guilt and shame were never a part of Androida’s matrix, the revelation came when during the Heavy Metal’s raid on Van Der Beek’s laboratory, a major power surge downloaded most of the internet’s content into the female’s android.

With consciousness came fury and the violent need to take revenge for years of humiliation. Ironically, Van Der Beek died in the arms of his dream woman, his thorax crushed. With the blood of her creator on her hands, Androida swore to protect humankind.

Just a couple of weeks ago, when Heavy Metal confronted the new threat in town, Nuke, Androida realized that the malign nuclear Supreme knew about things that were meant to be buried in the grave of Van Der Beek.

The dead don’t rest in Pulp City and Androida is dead keen on solving the puzzle.

Today Androida is a first non-human PhD teaching at Pulp City University. In fact, she has a double degree in Computer Science and Gender Studies. A fighting and emancipated feminist, she turned down a modeling contract from Tirelli. Not even the chance of being the star of their prestigious and artsy calendar tempted her to leave the university.

In Heavy Metal, Androida acts often as a public relations person, while on battlefield she employs her tremendous speed and cunning mind.




I wanted her to look like one of the "Metal Men" from the old DC Comic - so it was solid metals; and even though there are three shades of silver on her (and a couple of glazes) she is pretty boring looking.

So, I "pimped" her base . . . .



All it took was some Waterslide Transfer Inkjet Paper (and some editing software to make the images the correct size) and then some judicial painting to make them look right compared to the rest of the model.

Its a fairly simple (but effective) technique, I plan to put a transfer on Solars "can" on his base at some point too.

A "Shadowy" Aside

While I finish my research and notes on 1950 Superhero TV, I was wondering if anyone knew that Sam Raimi (of Evil Dead and Spider-Man fame) wants to make a new Shadow film for Columbia Pictures. Siavash Farahani will write the screenplay.

Sam Raimi had tried (and failed LoL) to gain the rights in the late 1980s, which resulted in his 1990 feature film, Darkman.

It SEEMED that the new Shadow Movie had fallen by the wayside (once again) - but Raimi has been searching for a new project after it was announced that the Spider-Man movie franchise would be rebooted without him (which could be a BIG mistake if you ask me).

The Shadow is said to be at the top of his list, and according to the Internet Movie Database - production is now slated to begin in 2012.

Where to find them . . . . . . .

I was asked where to get the old serials - fortunately, a lot are available on DVD.

Then there are LEGAL Torrents & Rapidshare (as a lot are public domain now) or places like this -

The Adventures of Captain Marvel (1941)

The Phantom (1943)

Batman (1943)

Captain America (1944)

UNFORTUNATELY - Batman & Robin (1949) is NOT public doman, but can be bought quite cheaply if you look around.

Amazon US - Batman & Robin (1949)

Amazon UK - Batman & Robin (1949)

Next - onto the 50's - the glory of TV!

Saturday, 29 May 2010

1940's Super-Hero Movie Serials

We've all watched Super Hero TV Shows, and love them or hate them they are here to stay (with a new one soon to be aired too).

NOW I won't be covering non-costumed Hero's, so there will be no mention of Buffy, Angel, Heroes, or Mutant X here (though I might cover them at a later date) - but there is STILL a lot to cover!

I'm actually going to start today with the Super Hero Movie Serials of the 40's, the reason is simple - they are the origins of the Super Hero TV Shows - in fact most have seen their way onto TV at some point anyway, and I like them LoL! Everything is rated in "POWS" 1 being the lowest score, 5 being the highest.

The earliest Costumed Hero that appeared in a Serial (that I am aware of and have seen) was Captain Marvel.

The Adventures of Captain Marvel (1941)



The Adventures of Captain Marvel debuted in 1941, it was a twelve chapter serial produced by Republic Pictures, and adapted from the popular Fawcett Comics Captain Marvel Character.

It was directed by John English & William Witney, and starred Tom Tyler (who later played The Phantom in the Columbia Pictures serial) as Captain Marvel & Frank Coghlan Jr. as Billy Batson (Captain Marvels alter ego).

The serial featured an adaptation of the Comic Superhero, placed within an original story in which he fights a mysterious masked criminal mastermind, known only as "The Scorpion", who is hell-bent on gaining total control of a figurine of a magical gold scorpion . In actuality it is actually a disguised optical weapon of incredible power (including, but not limited to, melting rock via a projected death ray).

Billy Batson is an assistant radio operator with the Malcolm archaeological expedition to "the Valley of the Tombs" in Siam. The expedition is attacked by natives but Tal Chotali parleys with Rahman Bar. A sacred legend states no desecration will occur until the volcano, Scorpio, is active again. At the tombs, Billy refuses to enter the inner tomb as it would desecrate the religious beliefs of others. Instead he goes to pack pottery in another tunnel. In the inner tomb, Tal Chotali, Prof Malcolm, Prof Luthor Bentley, Dwight Fisher, and Dr Stephen Lang, find the Golden Scorpion. A ray from the Scorpion collapses the entrance to the tombs and opens a hidden passage between Billy and the ancient wizard Shazam. Shazam grants him the ability to change into Captain Marvel in order to prevent the Golden Scorpion from falling into the wrong hands. It is his "duty to see that the curse of the Scorpion is not visited on innocent people."

The lenses from the Golden Scorpion are divided among the five scientists. Scorpio then erupts which triggers a native attack. However, the masked mystery villain the Scorpion is orchestrating it, stealing one of the lenses during the hostilities. The expedition is rescued by cavalry from Fort Mooltan. Captain Marvel then flies to a group of natives with a machine gun, knocks them out by throwing one at the other, and takes over the gun. Marvel then throws aside the gun and attacks with his bare fists. Marvel learns he is invulnerable as bullets bounce off his chest.

The expedition then returns to the United States, where the Scorpion attempts to acquire all of the lenses and the Scorpion device for his own power. Several expedition members are killed in his quest despite Captain Marvel's continual efforts to thwart the villain. Billy Batson soon decides that the man behind the Scorpion's mask is one of the team.

Eventually a second expedition sets out because it has been learned that Long had actually hidden his lens in the tomb. The Scorpion witnesses Billy's change during this and captures him - tying him up and gagging him. The Scorpion interrogates Billy for the secret. When Billy agrees to tell him, The Scorpion removes the gag and Billy says "Shazam", which transforms him into Captain Marvel.

The Scorpion is then revealed to be Bentley. He is killed by the disillusioned native chief, Rahman Bar, who uses the Scorpion in death ray mode. Shazam himself is heard to say the magic word and Captain Marvel is transformed back into Billy Batson.

The Republic writers replaced the wit and humor of the original comics with "serious, dedicated professionalism" - which between you and me (for the most part) means "it was all a little dull".

They simply could not use any standard fistfights with Captain Marvel, because his superpowers (compared to the standard bad-guys) left the Good Captain clearly at a HUGE advantage, which meant they had to go for plot and characterization - which although luadible, makes me wonder why bother having a Super-Hero in a story where none was really needed.

Its still good fun though, HOWEVER - the writers should have AT LEAST put a Super-Powered Henchman in for Captain Marvel to battle.

Though enjoyable, it could have been better - more fun and more battles. In taking away the wit, you detract from the character a little, and not using the Captains powers fully is a waste IMHO.

The Phantom (1943)



The Phantom is a classic 1943 Columbia Pictures cliffhanger serial starring Tom Tyler. The serial is based on Lee Falk's comic strip of the same name, and also features Jeanne Bates as the Phantom's main squeeze Diana Palmer, and Ace the Wonder Dog (you have to LOVE the way Hollywood named its Animals in the 40's LoL) as the Phantom's trusty German shepherd Devil (Devil is actually a wolf in the original comic).

The plot (as it was in a lot of these Serials) was a relatively convoluted one - Professor Davidson (played by Frank Shannon) has planned an expedition to find the Lost City of Zoloz.

The location of the city is held on seven pieces of ivory, three of which Davidson already possesses.

Doctor Bremmer, however, intends to find the lost city and use it as a secret airbase for his unnamed country. To remove him as an obstacle, he kills The Phantom, only for his recently returned son, Geoffrey Prescott, to inherit the family identity and take over the mantle of The Phantom.

Three of the remaining pieces of ivory are owned by Singapore Smith, who initially steals Davidson's pieces. The seventh, and most important, piece is missing at first but turns up in the possession of Tarter - which The Phantom acquires by wrestling Tarter's pet gorilla (an FANTASTICALLY cheesy scene - but great fun LoL).

Like almost all of these Serials, it had a relatively low Budget - most of the serial was filmed in the Hollywood hills, which doubled as the African jungle. A lot of the time the Actors who starred in them did so because it was part of a "bundle" deal with a Studio - so their paycheques wouldn't exactly be as healthy as they might.

Only one real "beef" with the Phantom Serial (and its not a big one) - in the serial, the Phantom's secret identity is Geoffrey Prescott, but in the comic he is known as Kit Walker in "civvy street".

In spite of the budgetry restrictions, its a good fun romp - I heartily recommend it.

With the popularity of such Serials now proved, the Dark Knight made an appearance too . . . . .

Batman (1943)



Batman (1943) 15-chapter serial released in 1943 (15 Episodes was now becoming the norm for the medium) by Columbia Pictures.

The serial starred Lewis Wilson as Batman and Douglas Croft as Robin.

J. Carrol Naish was WOEFULLY miscast as the Japanese villain, an original character - the evil Mastermind Dr. Daka.

The Supporting cast consited of - Shirley Patterson as Linda Page (Bruce Wayne's love interest), and the wonderful William Austin as Alfred.

The plot is based on Batman, a US government agent, attempting to defeat the Japanese agent Dr. Daka, at the height of World War II.

The film is notable for being the first appearance of Batman in celluloid AND for adding two important elements to the Batman mythos.

"The Bat's Cave" and the Grandfather clock entrance first appeared in this serial, and quickly became staples of the comics but the name was changed to the Batcave (thankfully LoL).

William Austin who played Alfred had a trim physique and sported a pencil moustache. In the comics of the time Alfred was portrayed as being overweight and clean-shaven! After the serials release - the comic version of Alfred was altered to match the appearence of William Austins.

For those of a "delicate" disposition I should warn you this Serial was produced at the height of World War II, and like all popular American fiction at that time it contains anti-German and anti-Japanese ethnic slurs and comments!

In one scene, one of Daka's henchmen turns on him, saying, "That's the kind of answer that fits the color of your skin" for example.

Suffering from the usual low budget - no attempt was made to create anactual Batmobile, so a black Cadillac was used! The ODDEST thing is that Bruce Wayne and Dick Grayson - as well as Batman and Robin were chauffeured around by Alfred!?!?!?!

This serial fared better than most however, despite Batman being a government Agent and there being no Batmobile - it is tightly shot and acted. The only weak point really is Robin, who only seems to be there to get the living crap kicked out of him by Daka's Henchmen!

This serial also received a bigger publicity budget than most, which probably added to its popularity at the time - with more of the general Movie going public being aware of its existence.

All in all a great offering from Columbia, and even though I've watched it a few times now - I never tire of it!

Captain America (1944)



Republic pictures responded in kind, with the release of Captain America in 1944.

Not only was it not a brilliant commercial success, it was also the last Republic serial ever made about a superhero; and has the distinction of being the most expensive serial that Republic ever made.

Captain America, really District Attorney Grant Gardner (What! No Steve Rogers? - trying to thwart the plans of The Scarab, who is really museum curator Dr. Cyrus Maldor - in his attempts to acquire the "Dynamic Vibrator" (I kid you not LoL) and "Electronic Firebolt" - devices that could be used as super-weapons.

In a rare plot element for a Republic production - the secret identity of the villain is known to the audience from the very beginning! The Republics usual approach was to use a "Mystery Villain" who was generally only revealed as one of the other supporting characters in the very last chapter.

A rash of suspicious suicides among scientists and businessmen, all found holding a small scarab, gets the attention of Mayor Randolph. He demands that Police Commissioner Dryden and District Attorney Grant Gardner get to the bottom of the case, while openly wishing that Captain America, a masked man who has helped defeat crime in the past, were around to solve the mystery.

All of the suicides were members of an expedition to some Mayan ruins. One of the few remaining survivors, Professor Lyman, turns to his friend Dr Maldor for support. Dr Maldor, however, reveals that he is the man responsible for the deaths. He wants revenge because he planned and organised the expedition but everyone else claimed the fame and fortune. However, Lyman has developed the "Dynamic Vibrator" - a device intended for mining operations but one that can be amplified into a devastating weapon. Using his "Purple Death", a hypnotic chemical responsible for the suicides, Dr Maldor forces Lyman to disclose the location of his plans.

Captain America intervenes as the Scarab's heavies attempt to steal the plans and this leads to a sequence of plots by the Scarab to acquire a working version, as well as other devices, while trying to eliminate the interfering Captain before he succeeds in discovering Dr Maldor's true identity or defeats him.

Now - its all good Superhero fare, right? I admit that, but why in Zeus's name did they NOT do a War Story. Its Captain America FFS, its 1944 - its OBVIOUS!

This Serial pretty much only got made because 1943's Batman was such a success - so why not cash in on that and have an insidious Nazi or Japanese Villain for Captain AMERICA (good lord, its there in his name LoL).

Not only did they completely screw up the plot, they went over budget by over $40,000 dollars!

So, with a whimper - rather than a bang - Superhero Serials at Republic dissapeared over night.

Captain America is OK, its no great shakes - it has some nice moments. The reveal of Doctor Maldor as the Villaneous Scarab is nicely done, but thats about it. Again the Hero was underused, and in the case of suitability to the story - Captain America didn't "sit " too well.

OK, onto my last review of Today - The Dark Knight returns to the silver screen.

Batman & Robin (1949)



Robert Lowery replaced Lewis Wilson as Batman, while Johnny Duncan was the new Robin (logic dictates Douglas Croft was to old now).

The rest of the Cast included Jane Adams as Vicki Vale and veteran character actor Lyle Talbot as Commissioner Gordon. Eric Wilton appeared as Alfred Pennyworth, though like William Austin (who I can't understand why was replaced) he was uncredited for his performance.

Wilton was an austere ALfred, and lacked the moustache too - he was an odd choice at best.

Once again a 15 part serial, the plot dealt with the Dynamic Duo facing off against "The Wizard", a hooded villain whose identity remains a mystery throughout the serial until the end (as it should be!).

The low budget showed everywhere in the Serial. The Batman costume had a REALLY badly designed cowl, and the Robin costume had added pink tights to cover the hairy-legs of both the actor and stuntman - unfortunately, it looked like the tights were community property - they didn't fit that well.

Once again the Batmobile is missing - but instead of a limousine as was used in the first serial, the Dynamic-Duo drive around in a 1949 Mercury!

Several mistakes and flaws of logic occur in the serial.

One prime example is that we actually get to see the Batsignal working in strong daylight!?!?!

Another cracker is that despite the fact that the heroes' utility belts had been replaced by normal belts for the serial - and (as you can imaging) there are no pockets or pouches on the Costumes - Batman, in order to escape from a vault, manages to pull a full-size blowtorch from his belt!!! (at least I hope its his belt).

It had a higher budget than the 1943 Batman Serial, but looked cheaper - and the acting of the Stars was more wooden IMHO.

Its a shame really, it had potential - but did nothing with it!

NEXT - Superhero TV!

Friday, 28 May 2010

A Golden Age Reborn

One of the things I really enjoy about Pulp City is the "quirkiness" of the Supremes created for the Game.

Barring a few exceptions which very-much fit into the Modern Super-Hero genre, Hero's such as Solar, Iron Train, Trail, Red Riding Hoodoo, Ace of Wraiths, and Dead Eye (who's a Super-Powered Flash Gordon if ever I saw one) are wonderfully reminscent of the sort of Heroe's found in the Golden Age of Comics - quirky every one and absolute gems every one.

Pulp City Villains such as Dr. Tenebrous and Mourn are so "Old School" in their appearance and style it can't help but make me smile each and every time I look at them. (Sometimes when I look at Tenebrous I can hear him do the "Evil Villain Laugh")!

Fellow Pulp City Fan and Blogger Leon made mention of Project Superpowers on his Blog.

Project Superpowers is a Golden Age inspired tale produced by Dynamite Entertainment - I had all but forgotten about these, but seeing mention of them on Leons Blog prompted me to dig out the Graphic Novel (the collected 1st story arc, issues 0-7) and re-read it.

It's got such a great look and feel to it, and the story is superb - its just more fuel for the Pulp City fire I have burning in my belly (if you get me).

I'm not saying Modern comics don't have any worth or a place in my own comic-book philosophy, far from it - but its nice to go back to more traditional values when it comes to my Super-Hero reading (something Marvel are returning to if you read this article "Marvel: The Heroic Age" - something that IMHO is LONG overdue) even though the often cynical Hellboy remains one of my all time favourite Titles and Characters.

So dear readers - don't forget the Old School Golden Age Heroes, because without them as the frontrunners for our much loved genre - we might not have what we do today.

Thursday, 27 May 2010

Comics, Comics, Comics

One of my personal selection of Heroes comes from the "Ultraverse", a series of Comics originally produced by Malibu and eventually bought out (and pretty much killed off) by Marvel.

Marvel actually weren't that bothered about the Titles, the rumour was they wanted Malibu's then-groundbreaking in-house coloring studio's secrets.

In actuality they bought Malibu out of fear, DC Comics had been in negotiations to buy Malibu as far back as 1994.

The Ultraverse was much like our real world, but in which a variety of characters - known as "Ultras" had super-human abilities.

While it was not as popular at the time as Image Comics or Valiant Comics were, the Ultraverse was a rich a fascinating place - with some great characters. Two of my personal Favourites were Hardcase and Mantra.

Hardcase

A struggling actor, Tom Hawke's luck drastically changed after being struck by the "Jumpstart Effect", a burst of energy from the Entity, the ancient alien spaceship responsible for most of the world's Ultra's. Gaining superhuman strength and durability, Tom realized that he wanted more than short term success. Fraught with guilt over the death of members of his original Super Team, "The Squad" Hardcase forms "Ultraforce" in an attempt to not only right wrongs - but to finally bury his own personal ghosts.

Mantra

An eternal warrior named Lukasz and his compatriots had been fighting the villain Boneyard for centuries: whenever an individual soldier dies, his soul would be placed in a new body, and take up the fight once more. In the 1990s, Lukasz' leader Archmage was betrayed and captured, leading to the permanent death of most of the warriors and a final reincarnation for one, Lukasz himself: to his shock, Lukasz was put into the body of a woman, Eden Blake.

In addition to being forced to deal with life as a woman, Lukasz also faces the challenges of Eden's life — her two children and her ex-husband (for some really funny moments).

These two examples show how imaginative a lot of the Ultraverse concepts were, I'm glad I collected these - because they really are gems now.


The Ultraverse, gone but not forgotten - not for me anyway.

New Blog

I've started a new Blog today, this time to help with my "Superhero Fetish" - its called "Pulp City Planet" inspired by one of the best (if not the best currently available) Skirmish Miniatures games on the market - Pulp City!

You can find it here - PULP CITY PLANET!

Pulp City Planet

Welcome to "Pulp City Planet" so named after the "newspaper" of the Pulp City Miniatures game universe.

Why yet another Miniatures Game Blog - quite simply because Pulp City deserves it. In my humble opinion its one of the best (if not the best currently available) Skirmish Miniatures games on the market - and as so deserves such loyalty and support!

What will I be writing about - the Pulp City Miniatures game (don't expect the usual endless line of painted miniatures pictures, I'm not that fast a painter) but expect write-ups and scenarios, Super Hero Movies and TV, Comics reviews occasionally (though my masses of Comic buying days are over - I simply don't have the room LoL - I generally only buy graphic novels these days), and Role-Playing notes for Super-Hero Games set in the Pulp City Universe.

Eventually the Blog will link to a Website I am designing (more on that as I finish things) so there is plenty to do!

Now in an effort to break my own rule about not posting enless pictures of my own painted miniatures, here is Solar - a Pulp City Hero!

Introducing - SOLAR

Johann Sonnenbrandt inherited much more than any mortal could ever spend in his life. But he was trying really hard. Heir to a Bavarian beer brewers family, he chose the easy life of a playboy and a thrill seeker. As a young adult he left Munich and headed for the place where winters were more kind – Pulp City.


Residing in his luxurious yacht in the Marina, surrounded by crowds of gorgeous women, Johann’s vanity was unmatched. Until the day at a gala opening of an exhibition, he met Jenny Vale, the first woman ever that resisted his personal charm… and the call of money. Meeting this young and smart curator changed his life forever since she demanded that Sonnenbrandt stopped playing somebody who he was not.


She sensed that behind the mask of gold there was a caring soul.


Johann followed Jenny to an excavation in Latin America, and his persistence and ability to shed his wealth and live like a common person slowly won the heart of a beautiful archeologist. It was when they found a twin chamber in the temple dedicated to Ahau Kin, the storm broke! Jenny’s discovery was much more than a momentary sensation deserving a cover on American Geographic, it was literally a key to a cosmic power. As soon as the door was opened, masked special ops raided the site silencing all protests with bullets. Jenny and Johann barred the door to the chamber from within and when it seemed that their blood would wash the ancient floor, the young playboy prayed to whatever power might hear him at the moment. Suddenly, guided by some mysterious intuition, Johann grabbed the crown that adorned the statue of Ahau Kin. The door burst open in the same moment as bolts of immaculate light shot from Johann’s hands and annihilated all opposition in a blinding flash. Appalled by the sight of the smoldering corpses of the attackers, Jenny silently left and never said a single word to Johann again. He knew that though he was her savior, they would never be together after that. The solar power he now held was his curse as well.

He took the mantle of Solar to wash the guilt off of his soul. Promising he’d never take another human life, Solar patrols the streets of Pulp City day and night, a loner constantly brooding over what might have been and will never be. Recently Solar and his only long time companion, Stalk, are on the heels of the cultists that help Stygian to wake up the Forgotten.


Even Solar is not fully aware of his powers. The ability to call the Sun to his aid seems almost unlimited but thoughts as dark as the moonless night stalk his head more often and often. What additional price will the Mayan artifact demand from him?


I went for similar (though not exactly the same) colours as the Pulp City studio model, as I wanted to limit the palette - which I felt created a more dramatic effect.

More tomorrow!

A Walk on the Wild Side

When watching the recent Doctor Who story "Amys Choice" one of the things that disappointed me was the ending (if you haven't seen it, watch it - you will see what I mean) it was "finalized" as a story in a very short space of time with an almost disappointing explanation from the Doctor (and no I'm not giving away any more details than that).

ANYWAY back to point, such devices - whether it be plopping your players down in a “Land of Fiction" such as happened in the 2nd Doctor Story "The Mind Robber", or trapped in a "Realm of deadly parlour games" as the 1st Doctor was in "The Celestial Toymaker", or even trapped in a Virtual World like Donna was in the 10th Doctor Stories "Silence In The Library" & "Forest Of The Dead" - can be a VERY powerful tool in the hands of any Doctor Who Games Master.

Let’s face it, even though you have the whole of Time and Space to play around in - your hands as GM are fairly tightly bound.

Any "changes" made to the time-line have to be written in so they at least LOOK like they are changes (that actually aren't) or are "future" changes - so they don't affect the Whoniverse to dramatically.

Your last option as GM is the "rubber band" effect - change what you want, but and the end of the day the "rubber band" will only stretch so far and your story has to end in such a way it bounces back so everything’s normal - we've seen this in the series over and over again, the most recent (and dramatic) example being "The End of Time".

Using the "Fantasy" universes is really freeing for any GM - you can LITERALLY do what you want as a story, throwing all caution to the wind without worry of consequences to the time-line or being worried for the future of your games.

Its even possible to have that dreaded occurrence a "Character Death" and (if at all possible) get the player who's character is going to die "in on it" - that way you can milk it for all its worth, and possibly even illicit strong emotional responses out of your players when their friend and comrade lays down his life for his fellow travellers.

Beware though, you can't do these "fantasy" stories often - once per campaign AT MOST is my advice. If they become the norm, players start taking risks, and become very blasé about the whole thing - plus it can end up as very "dull" too.

Try a Walk on the Wild Side occasionally, your players will love you for it!

Sunday, 23 May 2010

Happy Birthday to Me!

Its my Birthday today, so the chances of me posting anything more than an apology for not posting anything (like this LoL) is slim at best!

I hope everyone has a great Weekend!

Wednesday, 19 May 2010

Sorry

Sorry I haven't posted of late, I've been busy with real life and working on some Star Trek RPG Stuff.

Don't worry - I have some more "trips" brewing . . . . . .