Of Battles and Biographies

Posted by Anika

It is a perfect day for an outdoor wedding. The skies are clear and the garden full of super-powered friends of both the bride and the groom. The wedding was rushed into and there are not just jitters but legitimate doubts on both sides, but the sun is shining and the bride is beautiful as she walks down the aisle. Then, suddenly, everything falls apart, a battle breaks out, and the day becomes memorable for a reason unrelated to ceremony, though steeped in love.

This could be the plot for Teen Titans #100 which features the ill-fated wedding of Dick Grayson (Nightwing) and Koriand’r (Starfire), or Uncanny X-Men #426 which features the equally ill-fated wedding of Alex Summers (Havok) and Lorna Dane (Polaris) — but in point of fact it is the plot for Battle of the Wedding Disasters, a Heroclix scenario I play with my husband, which features both.

The teams are evenly matched. The game is played in points, each team adding up to an agreed-upon number, usually somewhere between 200 and 500, but up to 1000 or more. On the DC side, Nightwing and Starfire are joined by the rest of the Titans and Dick’s mentor Bruce Wayne (Batman). For Marvel, the extended Summers family and Lorna’s questionable relations Magneto, The Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver support the wedding couple. This leads to an exciting match up between two speedsters, The Flash and Quicksilver, and pits the dark magics of Raven against the chaos magics of The Scarlet Witch. Batman and Nightwing jump into the bushes, effectively becoming invisible, and only Polaris or Magneto can hit them without risking their close-combat advantage. The brides are evenly matched, each doing four damage to their opponents in one hit. Starfire’s aggressive starbolts take out Havok; Polaris responds with a magnetic pulse wave that knocks out Nightwing. The Titans gang up on Magneto, taking out the most powerful figure in play. Emma Frost attempts to win Beast Boy to her side with mind control while Jean Grey hangs back playing medic and wonders why Emma was invited to this wedding anyway. Hours into play, both Polaris and Starfire are nearing their last click of life and are down to just one supporter on each side: Batman, still in hiding, and Cable, who is tough to down. With Batman’s help to make Cable vulnerable Starfire knocks him out. DC now has the advantage both in mechanics and points, but if Polaris makes her hit she can take out Starfire and win the scenario (knock out the wedding couple) if not the game. The future happiness of the couples now hinges on one roll of the dice.

There are two main types of people who play Heroclix: the Lovers and the Fighters. Fighters are primarily gamers. They also play Horror Clix, Warhammer, and Halo Action Clix and when they create their team the goal is to win. They don’t necessarily know the characters’ back stories. They don’t really care about the characters’ back stories. What matters is the abilities and how to use them. Fighters don’t collect characters, they collect figures.

Lovers are primarily comic book fans. They collect their favorite characters in order to play their own perfect team of X-Men, Avengers, or Masters of Evil, or, better yet, mix and match across industry lines because a team up of Cassandra Cain and Laura Kinney would make the world a brighter place. Or contrarily to pit the titans of Marvel and DC against each other – how many comic fans have always wanted to see a cage match between Batman and Wolverine? Well, what if Batgirl offered to coach Logan and Metal-Manipulator Polaris fell under the spell of Bruce Wayne – would the outcome change? The possibilities are endless and to the Lovers it is more about the story than the game. Lovers are competitive, they like to win, but they are in the game for the characters. I fall into this category. In my collection I have every figure of my most favorite characters and I do not have any character I don’t have some affection for. I prefer to play scenarios like “Battle of the Wedding Disasters” over straight battles.

In the summer of 2003 I started playing Heroclix. At the time I had not read a comic in about five years. Growing up I’d always read my brothers’ comics and while I meant to keep up with my favorite titles when I went to university, eventually they were budgeted out. I graduated, entered the workforce, married, had a child and bought a house. I was a grown up and I thought comic books were my past. Then one night my husband’s gaming group brought over examples of a new tabletop strategy game: Heroclix. I paid little attention to their explanation of the rules but I was enamored of Logan.

That summer my husband started playing competitively. At first I simply collected the figures but I would accompany Christian to the venues – various comic book stores. He would play for an hour or more so I started browsing. One comic caught my eye and dragged me back into comic book fandom: New X-Men #148. I’d little idea what was going on in X-canon at the time, hadn’t read a word of Morrison’s lauded and controversial run, but here was a comic featuring Logan and Jean Grey alone on an asteroid hurtling into the sun. And years after I’d given up on comic books almost entirely it was as if they’d written an issue specifically for me. I started following both the X-Men and the Avengers comics and in addition to collecting, I started competing in Heroclix. I like Heroclix because I love comics but I only remembered I love comics because I was introduced to Heroclix.

The world of comic book fandom has opened up in recent years. With the renewed success of the movie franchises, the rise of video game tie-ins, and the boom in community that grew out of the internet, comic book fans new and old have more outlets available to them. Sometimes there are grumbles from the oldest fans, but anything that draws enthusiasm to comics is good for the industry. The company behind Heroclix now includes cards with each figure. The card not only details the character’s abilities, but gives a brief biography and indicates a comic book issue that defines the hero. Now even Fighters can learn who the characters are.

Meanwhile, back at the wedding, Polaris’ last ditch effort succeeds and Starfire is out of the game. Still at full power and still basically invisible, Batman has the odds on his side and Polaris surrenders. The game can be said to be a draw, but for us it wasn’t about the points or the outcome. It was about how the game went and therefore how the story went, it was about the characters and the moments. That’s why I play Heroclix and that’s why I read comics.

A few of my favorite clix:
Battle of the Wedding Disasters

Custom Marvel Girl; Custom White Phoenix

My Dream Team

Anthem, Batman, Polaris, Iron Man, Ms. Marvel, Cyclops, Jean Grey, Hawkeye

Custom Polaris; Custom Anthem

My Wolverine Collection

Custom Iron Man and Custom Captain America

The Stepford Cuckoos (Limited Edition Esme in front)

Duo Figure Batman and Superman

All custom clix by my husband, Christian (christian_milik@yahoo.com).

  • Caroline

    Battle of the Wedding Disasters. . .I do so love the way your mind works.

    BTW, I appreciate Jean hanging back and playing medic. Because it’s patently obvious, during the ‘real’ Havok/Polaris wedding disaster, she totally could have stepped in and Phoenixed everybody until they behaved. But she kinda thought the Summers boys had it coming.

    I’m just saying.

    Love your pics — ohh, Anthem.

  • Anika

    I completely agree with that analysis of the situation. (As a telekinetic and a medic Jean is often one of the most useful members of a team by points. But I just throw her on all my teams because she’s Jean!)

    Ohh, Anthem indeed. I’d love to see them come out with an official figure for him but I cannot imagine it would be better than this one.

  • Caroline

    Is Jean really a medic or did Heroclix add that? I mostly recall her looking on concernedly while Logan used this claws to cut a bomb out of Scott’s chest —

    *sighs dreamily*

  • Anika

    Hahaha, I have those scans at home. Well. She’s a medic in the movies and in Ultimate X-Men. She sometimes fixes things psychically (like Emma in NXM or the whole Phoenix mythos is partially about ‘fixing’ things). The ability is actually called ‘Support’ so maybe it is meant to represent her role as the cheerleader/helper?

  • Twyst

    Oh noes! I cannot start collecting these little guys, i just cannot! I have always seen them in the store, and loved the different versions of the characters, and their detail and such, but have always said ‘not for me’. This is starting to sway me, and i already buy into too much of marvel’s marketing… but they are so appealing! NOoOOoO.

  • We value the blog post.Many thanks. Awesome.

  • Hysteria

    Polaris’s wedding was the best wedding we got out of some (not many) wedding party.