Tag Archives: superheroes

100 – CHECKLIST and CEREBRO

2 Sep

And now we get to the final standard card on the deck. It’s supremely disappointing for this deck to not have the Power Ratings legend, which explained, for example, how many tons someone with 5/7 for Strength could press. These cards were fan favorites in the Series 2 Marvel trading cards, when Power Ratings first debuted. The system remains in use, with minor evolutionary changes, in databases like Marvel.com and the Marvel Wikia.

Instead we get the checklist, which, while not nearly as cool, was still a valuable asset for the obsessive collector.

Let’s take this moment to just take a look at the series in general, specifically who made the list, who didn’t, and what order.

One of the first things to notice is how integral this card series was to complement the X-Men universe relaunch, which at the time included Uncanny X-Men, X-Men, X-Factor, X-Force, Wolverine, and Excalibur. The cards try hard to include exclusives from each of the books, sometimes a little too hard. I’m hard on the Excalibur cards especially, since a few of them lean more on the non-mutant Claremont/Davis collaborations, but other cards don’t age well at all within the mutant continuity, like Shiva from Wolverine #50.

Overall there aren’t obvious omissions on this list. Ones off the top of my head would be Ex-X-Man Sunfire, who had been redesigned by Whilce Portacio at around this time; New Mutant castoff Rictor (who appears in Boom Boom‘s card). Sebastian Shaw appears in the Hellfire Club card but doesn’t get his own. Mysterious Aborigine mutant Gateway was also an integral supporting character in the late-80’s early 90’s X-Men stories.

I‘d already said much about the ordering of the cards, especially earlier in the series. I admired Beast as the leadoff hitter versus the cliche’d Wolverine or Cyclops, but then they hold off on Scott until #17. Jean Grey doesn’t appear until #24, preceded by Meggan, Kylun, and Lockheed, who manages to appear at #10, one spot ahead of Professor X! In fact four of the first 10 cards are Excalibur teammates, which just seems an odd choice.

Meanwhile there’s much controversy with regards to the Power Ratings, many of which seemed arbitrary in assignment. Most notorious is the 1/7 Strength rating for Havok, overpowered by bruisers like Wolfsbane, Siryn, Shadowcat, Boom Boom, and Jubilee (not to be sexist). Professor X, the most powerful mutant mind in the world, doesn’t rate 7/7 for Mental Powers (equal to Storm).

And there were the choices of Power criteria themselves. Whereas the original Marvel card criteria used Strength, Speed, Agility, Stamina, Durability, and Intelligence, the X-Men cards keep only Strength and Intelligence, adding Energy Projection, Mental Powers, and Fighting Ability, leaving characters like Quicksilver with near-flatline ratings. I’d previously advocated combining the Mental Powers and Energy Projection ratings in order to reinsert the Speed Rating.

What about you guys? What were your favorite entries? Which omissions annoy you the most?

DANGER ROOM TEST SEQUENCE COLLAGE

30 Aug

(I’ve been using the term panorama for this piece, but I have a nagging feeling that’s the wrong term… collage maybe?)

Here in its entirety, courtesy of Demon Geek, is the whole Danger Room Test Seqeuence composition that had been comprised of cards 91-99:

To read the capsule reviews of these cards, check out the previous 3 entries:

Looking at all 9 cards together actually looks much better, now that you can see how the various details spill over into each card, making them feel less like individual half-assed cards. For example I never noticed how Wolverine, Cyclops, and Gambit were all attacking the same robot (which Colossus may have thrown at them from the bottom right).

The top three cards are a little more disparate, with Nightcrawler and Archangel not doing much of anything at all. It would’ve been great if Nightcrawler had teleported into his current spot from a previous spot (between Wolverine and Cable, for example), and we saw the bamf explosion from where he disappeared; Meanwhile, Archangel could’ve been unleashing his feather blades, which would’ve nicely crossed over into several cards.

And finally, it’s hard to not notice Storm being the only woman of the nine characters, since Lee seemed to relish drawing women. I wouldn’t even necessarily count Storm as being the most popular female character at the time (Rogue, Jean Grey, and Psylocke could all be in the running), though she can definitely hold her own.

Trivia 1: there are 26 individual female character cards (counting Jean and Dark Phoenix as separate cards), compared to 50 male cards (counting the robots as anthropomorphically male, including Widget, but not counting the Brood), which means proportionally three of these nine cards should’ve been occupied by women.

Trivia 2: If someone were to ask you how many characters are in this composition, the correct answer is ten: Professor X can be seen in the window behind Gambit.

 

86 – STARJAMMERS

12 Aug

Subject: Starjammers
Roster: Corsair (leader), Hepzibah, Raza, Sikorsky, Binary, Ch’od
First Appearance: Uncanny X-Men #107, October 1977

While waiting in line for X-Men: First Class some friends had started a trivia game of naming the roster of an X-team (or related). I won most rounds, but got especially far with Starjammers, of whom most people could only name one member (Corsair). I forgot Raza at the time, and Binary*, who joined the team years later.

Yet another one of the aspects of the X-Books that didn’t jive too well with the civil rights movement thesis, on account of its space opera leanings, the Starjammers are most notable for being led by the previously mentioned Corsair, aka Scott and Alex‘s long-lost dad.

In fact, let’s take a moment to just reflect on this disturbing motif within comics of more-often-than-not “assuming your friends and loved ones are dead and I shouldn’t even bother looking.” This happened a lot in the Claremont (and Byrne) era, during which various members of the team would get separated after some climactic disaster (underground cave-in, big explosion, etc), and the surviving members mourning for all of a few days and then accepting the deaths of their teammates, and without ever mounting an appropriate search and rescue.

Given the tenacity and hardiness of these mutants, one would assume they wouldn’t think twice about, I dunno, spending a few more days digging through the rubble? Meanwhile after the mourning oftentimes they don’t even bother notifying the “deceased” next of kin!

Anyway, Corsair (Christopher Summers) and his wife were abducted by aliens while flying his plane with Scott and Alex onboard. Scott and Alex parachuted off, and the parents were whisked away across the galaxy to become slaves, Corsair’s wife dying in the process. He meanwhile escapes and become a notorious space pirate with an extravagant ship, the Starjammer, going off on Flash Gordon-esque adventures with his teammates.

At no point during his Han Solo tenure did he ever actually return to Earth, despite having easy access back to the planet. His parents (Scott and Alex’s grandparents) were still alive, and he never thought to look his kids up, whom, if he had actually succeeded in his original plan, had parachuted to safety. But no, he decides to foresake the remnants of his dead wife’s memory only to run into Scott and the X-Men while Phoenix and the Shi’ar were harassing each other.

Sadly this manifests itself later on when Scott has few qualms about giving his sick son up to a mysterious woman who (correctly) claims to be from the future, taking this stranger’s word that she will save him. True, she kind of did, but the end result was still Cable and Stryfe. Like father and son (oh, Cable’s son also has daddy issues).

Once again, I digress. With a dynamic but so-so front image (with Lee’s trademark focal point yet again on the leader’s featureless crotch), the card’s back features a large and impressive rendering of Lee’s version of the Starjammer. The layout differs from other “team” cards in that it’s in portrait mode, allowing for a larger second image, but forsaking an X-tra fact (for the first time so far!) as a result.

*Binary being the cosmically-empowered post-Ms.-Marvel-post-Rogue-depowering Carol Danvers.