Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Head's Geek Credentials 3

I know I said that this was a 2 part post, but hell, it's my blog so I can change my mind if I want.

Actually due to The Irredeemable Shag (from The Fire and Water Podcast and Firestorm Fan that I've mentioned previously in my blogs), I decided to add this third part.
He's recently released a new podcast reviewing the old DC Heroes roleplaying game (see: ) which made me fondly remember my role-playing days.  So I decided to share my Role-playing origins and backgrounds.

So, without further ado, on to...

Head's Geek Credentials 3
Role-playing with Head

First, for those that are looking at me puzzled, let me briefly explain role-playing games.

Role-playing games are when a bunch of friends get together to play a "board game".  Except there's no board.
All you need for role-playing is some paper, pens or pencils, dice and the most important thing... Imagination!
Keep in mind that during this post, I'm referring to what's known as tabletop role-playing, compared to the other type of role-playing, what's known as LARP (Live Action Role Playing).  In LARP, you actually get up and act out parts.  More like drama class for you and your friends (keeping in mind that I've never done any actual LARPing, cuz I'm too damn lazy.  8) ehehehh).

The most popular and well known role-playing game would have to be Dungeons and Dragons (also known as D&D).  Dungeons and Dragons came in to being, back in 1974.  For more information on D&D, check out the Wikipage for D&D.

But I digress.... let's get back to my discussion of role-playing and role-playing games.

As with most of the world, my first introduction to role-playing was indeed D&D.  I first remember it when I was in 6th or 7th grade.  Some of the "nerds" at my Jr. High would sit around under the trees on the benches playing it.  There was a group of 5 of them.  It seemed interesting and I always wanted to learn to play, but I wasn't "smart" enough or "geeky" enough to join them.  So my mom ended up getting me the basic set (I believe it was the 1983 Basic set) and a copy of some of the other books (like Monster Manual, the DM Guide, and Players Guide).

Dungeons and Dragon Basic Rules

Me and my friends started playing a little D&D here and there.  Also, in 1983/84 when I was in 8th grade, I had two periods of English (it may have been English/Reading or something).  I was doing so well in the class (my Reading scores tested first or second year college level at this point), that my mother (who was the Teacher's Aide for the Special Ed class) talked to my English teacher (Mr. Bean) about me coming to her classroom for one period so I can do a little D&D role-playing with some of her students (as a reward for when they did well).

After that I played D&D more and more infrequently (mostly as most of my friends weren't just that in to it).  At the tail end of 1984, beginning of 1985, me and my best friend (Dean Cole) created our own role-playing game.  The Adventures of Breakin' and Poppin'.  Yes, we created a role-playing game where you could be a break dancer (as we were both in to rap music at the time and Dee would do some breakin' and poppin' ).  Sadly, as a rotund, uncoordinated, young man, I couldn't break nor pop very well.  But with this game, I finally could!

For awhile after that (the next year or two), me and my friends would play this game.  It may be my faulty memory or simple nostalgia, but I seemed to remember really enjoying this game. Me and Dean had typed the game up on a typewriter I had got for Christmas in 1984.  We made our own rules (based loosely on D&D's rules), characters, equipment, and a list of moves you could use.  We even created a mini-adventure.

LOL... looking back I remember that game very fondly.  That was fun times.  I wish I could find one of my copies of it.

Eventually that game was left by the way side.  For the next few years I didn't do much role-playing.  Read my comics, did a little rapping, and lived my life.

Then in the late 80's (I forget when exactly), I was at my LCS (local comicbook shop) (Cop-A-Comics in Merced, CA (which I mentioned in an earlier post)).  On the wall he had DC Heroes 1st Edition (the Titanscentric box edition).  Remembering D&D and how fun it was, I had to buy it.  Again, while I didn't have people to play with, it still excited me to have it.

My next foray in to role-playing, didn't go very far.  In 1989, I moved to Merced with some friends (Dean (which I've mentioned previously), Ray Hatley, and Jake Miller).  While living up there, somewhere (may have been at Hobby Castle which used to be in Merced), I found a posting on a bulletin board about RPers looking for more players.  I gave them a call and one afternoon, I rode my bike to Atwater (about 5-10 miles away).  There I created a character for a role-playing game called Champions.  By the time we were all done creating characters, it was late, so we called it a night.  Due to my work schedule and it being so far away, I never got back over to play any more (told you, it didn't go very far).

In mid 1990, I found myself back in Chowchilla, living with some friends (one of them being Dean again).  One of our friends that was ALWAYS hanging out at our house (Bop aka Billy Tevnan), was also in to comics.  So one day I pulled my DC role-playing game and talked several of them in to playing with me.  Also somewhere along the way (I forget where and when) I also ended up with the Batman Roleplaying Game, the 2nd edition of the DC RPG and some supplemental material.  So, for the next year or two (until we all moved out), every so often, we'd get together and play superheroes (this was until about late 91, early 92 or so).

One of the best subplots we had that I remember to this day was when Dean approached me about doing a subplot where his character is kidnapped and replaced with a Durlan (an alien shapeshifter).  So we ran that subplot and for the next (I think) couple of months, Dean played his character as a Durlan impersonating his character (if I recall correctly his character's name was Sampson aka Dave Glass).
With my crappy memory, I about forgot the subplot (as it didn't come up for awhile).  Then one day, an NPC (a resurrected Barry Allen, before DC brought him back) was arguing with one of the characters (Bop's character).  Suddenly, Sampson grabbed Barry (I had him going by the name Mercury at this point), by the back of the head and slammed him in to the monitor banks (Sampson had some speed and super strength).  He then took out a couple of the other players, before taking off, launching in to the resolution of the subplot (bringing it forward as the main plot).  That was fun.  LOL

Then around 1993 (or so), I met a guy who became one of my best friends and brought me back in to role-playing.  His name is Scott Kessler.  We met at our local comic shop.  We met when we were both in the store buying our books.  I was talking to Lonnie (the owner) about a rumor I had heard that he was closing up shop.  He assured me that the rumors weren't true and he wasn't closing anytime soon (and he was around for the next 15 years or so until him and his wife passed away).

When I left the store, I decided to walk down Main St to meet up with where my wife (well, now my ex-wife) was at.  At the same time, Scott was leaving.  We happened to be walking the same way, so we started talking.  Scott told me that he had heard the same rumor, and he too was glad that it wasn't true.  We talked about a bit comics, then the subject of role-playing came up.  He mentioned that him and his friend do some role-playing and that I should join them.

So we got together (me, Scott and his friend Terry Richards) and started roleplaying (which we did almost once a week for like the next 5 years or so).  We played until Scott and Terry ended up moving away.

Here are the games we played or books I've bought to play (and never got around to playing):
Heroes Unlimited (I love this game)
Hong Kong Action Theatre (my buddy Scott actually wrote and had some material published for this game).
Vampire The Masquerade (a White Wolf game)
Heroes & Heroines
In Nomine (bought the books and never got around to playing)
Wraith: The Oblivion
Blue Planet (Again, bought the game and never got a chance to play)
Legacy: War of the Ages (a Highlander based game, without being Highlander)
Star Wars (I had a lot of books for this one, which I ended up giving to my buddy Scott after he moved to Missouri)
Conspiracy X (an X-Files type game).


And that basically ended my role-playing (more or less).  Me and some friends started to play D&D, but a couple of the guys moved away after one or two sessions.
My son's friend came over and we played a White Wolf game one time (I think it was Hunter: The Reckoning).

And that's basically it.  I'm hoping at some point to do some more role-playing.... We'll have to wait and see.

Well, that should do it for Part Three of my Geek Credentials.  I hope you enjoyed reading my history.

Please feel free to leave comments below.

"I'm attacking the darkness!"

"Roll the dice to see if I'm getting drunk!"

"Okay, but if there's are any girls there, I wanna DO them!"


Saturday, September 7, 2013

Head's Geek Credentials 2

...And now back to our show.

Head's Geek Credentials 2
Head's Favorite Superheroes:

To finish off the About Head section of my blog (for now), here are my top Superhero picks.

a) Firestorm and The Atom (Ray Palmer) - Tied for number one.
Firestorm - My first experience with Firestorm was probably the Superfriends cartoon of the early/mid 80's.  Even then, I thought he was pretty cool.  I then came across him in back issues of old JLA (Justice League of America) comics from the late 70's, early-mid 80's.  Something about the dual nature of Firestorm intrigued me.  For those that don't know, the early Firestorm was made up of two dudes.  Ronald Raymond (a high school jock) and Professor Martin Stein (a Nobel Prize-winning physicist).

In Firestorm, The Nuclear Man #1 (from 1978), young Ronnie Raymond joins a nuclear protest movement (to win the affections of a young lady (named Doreen Day)).  He breaks in to a nuclear power plant with the group only to learn that their goal is to cause the plant to explode (to show how bad nuclear power is).  When Ronnie hears this, he attempts to stop them, but is knocked out by the leader for his troubles.  Seeing the trouble on the monitors, Professor Stein rushes to where the bad guys are and threatens to call the cops if they don't leave immediately.  Knocking Stein unconscious (seems to be a pattern with these yahoos), they leave the two next to the bomb.  Ronnie (the young buck he is) awakens and tries to drag the unconscious Stein away, but alas he's not quick enough, as the bomb goes off, fusing the two together.  Ronnie being the controlling body and Martin Stein the disembodied voice that guides young Ronnie.  Firestorm's first series only ran 5 issues before dying in the DC Implosion.

In 1982 (after a stint in a back up feature in Flash and appearances in JLA) Firestorm is graced with a second series (which lasted a full 100 issues, plus several annuals).  In this second series, Ronnie and Martin will go on to have great adventures for the next several years until around Nov of 1987, when the "Firestorm Matrix" changes with the addition of Russian Mikhail "Pozhar" Arkadin.  This is known amongst fans as the "Blank Slate Era" as a amnesiac Professor Stein is in control of the Firestorm body with Ronnie and Mikhail being the disembodied voices.  Firestorm is then in constant flux for the next couple of years, becoming an Elemental and eventually kicking Mikhail and Ronnie out of the matrix, leaving Martin Stein as Firestorm, the Fire Elemental (in the last issue of his series #100).

Firestorm goes through several more changes, but as I see this is starting to turn in to a Firestorm-centric post, I'll leave off there.  Maybe in the future, I'll cover him more in depth.  Also, for more Firestorm goodness, check out the Firestorm Fan site (  The site is ran by a cat name Shag (aka Shagg aka Shaggg) who also has an awesome Firestorm podcast (The Fire and Water Podcast... the Water part is Aquamancentric).   Due to Firestorm's latest series being cancelled, currently Shag is reviewing the 2nd Firestorm series (from the 80's).  I think Shag is doing a fantastic job reviewing this wonderful series.  I encourage anyone interested in learning more about this era of Firestorm to check out the Fire and Water Podcast.

Firestorm and The Atom

The Atom - Over the years there have been several heroes using the name The Atom:  Al Pratt (the original), Paul Hoben, Adam Cray, Ryan Choi, and Rhonda Pineda.  But my favorite Atom of all is the 2nd one.  The Silver Age Atom.  Dr. Raymond Palmer, Phd.
Ray Palmer debuted as The Atom in Showcase #34 (back in 1961).  Ray Palmer used a fragment of a white dwarf star to miniaturize himself and become the hero known as The Atom.  Ray can shrink himself down to subatomic levels and uses his powers and intelligence to fight crime (mostly in his home city of Ivy Town (somewhere in New England)).  He ran in his own series from '62-'69 (the last year sharing the title with Hawkman).

I discovered The Atom while he appeared in the JLA.  The first solo stories I read was a mini series in the mid-80's called The Sword of the Atom.  Then in '88, he got his own series once again called The Power of the Atom (which only ran for about a year and a half).

Again, The Atom is another character I may go in to more detail on later.  For now, let's move on to...

b) Hawk and Dove - I haven't read much of the Hank and Don Hall appearances, just a few here and there.  Though I've recently acquired a handful of  their older issues, which I'm going to read through.  But the Hawk and Dove I read and am familiar with, is the Hank Hall and Dawn Granger version.  Hawk (Hank Hall) is an avatar for Chaos and prefers to settle things with his fists.  Dove (both Don Hall and Dawn Granger) is the avatar for Order and prefers to think things through.  Hank and Dawn (and Don) transform in to their alter-egos when danger is near by.  The original Dove (Don Hall, Hank's brother) died during the Crisis on Infinite Earths, while saving a kid from a collapsing building.  Dawn Granger appeared several years later (in real time) in the new Hawk and Dove mini-series.  Here we find out (via flashback), that at the same time Don died, Dawn received her powers.  The mini-series gets these two heroes together as a team, which then leads in to a wonderful (in my opinion) series, which ran 28 issues.
I believe this series ran in to issues (again, it's been over 20 years since they came out) when DC decided to make Hawk the big bad villain Monarch of the series Armageddon 2001, instead of Captain Adam (as fans guessed ahead of time).  Again, that last sentence is what I've heard from others, nothing from DC directly, so it could be inaccurate.

Anywho... definitely a must read (in Head's opinion) (even though, I believe, Rob Liefield supplied the art for the mini-series.).

Hawk and Dove
(Hank Hall and Dawn Granger)

c) Blue Beetle and Booster Gold (Ted Kord version of Beetle) - Blue Beetle and Booster Gold.  The ole Blue and Gold.  They each started off in their own series (bought by DC from another company).  Eventually the two wound up in the Giffen/DeMantis Justice League comic.  Their wacky hijinks quickly rocketed them to the top of my favorite list (even though DC has killed off Ted in favor of their more PC version Jaime Reyes).  Not sure which of Blue and Gold I like better, but they're both pretty damn awesome.

 Booster Gold and Blue Beetle
(aka Blue and Gold)

d) The Flash (either Barry or Wallly) - When I started reading the Flash, I started in the low teens of Wally's series (the third Flash).  But from the old Superfriends tv show and JLA comics, I knew the prior Flash (the second one) was Barry Allen.  So once I got collecting comics, I went back and bought back issues of Barry's series.  It appears that about 2 years before the end of his comic (and he goes off to die in the Crisis (Spoilers sweetie)), Barry Allen (aka The Flash) killed Professor Zoom (aka Reverse Flash) to protect Barry Allen's fiance (Fiona Webb, whom Zoom was attempting to kill on Barry's and Fiona's wedding day).  Knowing that they were going to end his series, the last two years of his book consisted of his trial for killing Reverse Flash.  In issue 350 (the last issue), Barry finally (after being found Not Guilty) went off in to the future to live with his previously deceased ex-wife (Iris Allen) (that in itself is a long story).

Anyway... long story shor... well, not short... but not quite as long, the Barry Allen Flash is in one of my top spots.

Reverse Flash and The Flash

e) Animal Man - I always liked Animal Man (the few appearances I saw him with the Forgotten Heroes, usually in a Superman comic), but he definitely moved in to one of my top spots after Grant Morrison's run on Animal Man (which first appeared in Sept of 1988).  If you haven't read it yet, go find his run and read it (I believe it's available in trades).  This series explored Buddy's family life while trying to cope with being a super-hero.

Animal Man

f) Green Lantern (Kyle followed by Hal) - My first Green Lantern was of course Hal Jordan.  I watched him on the Superfriends and when I started reading comics, he was Green Lantern (with John Stewart and Guy Gardner as back up roles).  But the Green Lantern I like best, is Kyle Rayner, who flew on to the scene in 1994 after Hal went apeshit crazy and tried to remake the universe after his hometown of Coast City was wiped out.

Kyle Rayner - Green Lantern

- Head