The Defenders, back in the day, didn’t include Luke Cage and Danny Rand. Dr Strange originally formed the team to defend threats on a grander scale, while Power Man and Iron Fist formed the Heroes for Hire and fought street-level villainy. That all changed in the mid 90’s when Dr Druid took over the Secret Defenders and shuffled the roster. Oddly enough, it also included Drax the Destroyer and USAgent. That lineup was short lived, but Netflix shuffled the deck with their assorted Marvel shows, and the lineup was codified in comic continuity in 2017.
Luke was subjected to assorted unethical experimental treatments in prison, and walked out with unbreakable skin and enhanced strength. A fairly pedestrian power set, the strength (hah!) of the character has always been who he is, rather than what he can do. More grounded that most, Luke’s outlook on life and commitment to doing what’s right rather than what’s expedient (or even what’s legal) has made him one of the more engaging characters in comics today, and even landed him the leadership role in the New Avengers after Captain America was assassinated (he got better…)
Danny’s past is a little more complicated and honestly, doesn’t sit as well with modern audiences as it did in the less-culturally-sensitive 70’s. As great as some of Iron Fist’s arcs have been (especially the Immortal Iron Fist arc from the mid 2000’s that introduced the Seven Cities of Heaven and their champions), the “white saviour” trope is a thing. Danny’s an orphaned millionaire who was raised in the mysterious city of K’un- Lun and succeeded in defeating the dragon Shou-Lao the Undying to become the Iron Fist, a master of martial arts who can channel his chi into his fists to strike with explosive force. It wasn’t until the aforementioned Immortal Iron Fist series that we got to get a real look at -why- K’un-Lun had a ritual challenge that threw their temple students against a dragon, and insight into the champions that came before Danny. I highly recommend the series.
My history with Hawkeye has been somewhat tumultuous. At one point he was the best thing ever. Next, he was so sucky it sucked. Next, loved him. Next, man, he irritated me on so many levels. Of course, such is potentially a concern with any fictional character, depending on who’s doing the writing.
In the comics, Hawkeye has always been something of a cocky hothead, but he’s swiveled from being a leader, someone who can see the potential in someone and who wants to push you to be the best you can be, to being little more than an arrogant asshat who seems to be making it his mission in life to be th ebiggest jerk he can be. I’m looking at you, Force Works era Hawkeye.
Despite starting his career as a villain (an evil carnie, nonetheless), Clint Barton has grown and evolved over the years, but I think my favorite iteration was from the Matt Fraction run from 2012-2015, which above all else humanized Hawkeye. There’s an arc in there where all he’s trying to do is help out the tenants in his building as a slumlord tries to evict them. Like, it’s a multiple issue story, and it’s just excellent reading. We get to see Clint as more than just a dink with a bow, and they do a wonderful job of portraying Clint’s hearing difficulties.
I think this arc went a long way toward informing the character we got in the MCU, where Clint may strictly speaking be the most underpowered Avenger in the movies, but his humanity is also somehow part of what binds the team together.
It’s worth bearing in mind that Hawkeye may lack super strength, flight, and all that jazz, but he’s more than just an exceptionally accurate bowman. He’s often been depicted in the comics training with Captain America himself, and is exceptionally fit, a world class gymnast/acrobat and hand-to-hand combatant.
Given that he doesn’t have a lot of the powers that most of the other Avengers have, I’d posit there’s an argument to be made for Clint being one of top five most capable members on the Avengers roster, simply because he doesn’t have any abilities to rely on. He’s not invulnerable, so he has to know how to take a punch, how to dodge. He’s not super fast or strong, so he has to be an expert in an array of martial techniques just to be able to stand his own.
On the tabletop, Clint comes in at Threat 3, and has one the more sparse cards in the game, but htis is largely due to it being all about the bow.
His basic attack is a range 5, 5 dice Arrow Shot. The usual free basic strike. It’s not a huge amount of power, -but- with Hawkeye switching out arrows from his quiver you get to choose if it’s a physical or energy attack, tailoring your assault to your target’s weakess. On top of that, any Wild results let you incflict Bleeck, Shock, Slow or Poison on the target as well.
For 2 power you can use Hawkeye’s Hook Shot, allowing you to reposition Clint anywhere within range 3 of his current location. To be extra tricky, move him behind a building and then use Trick Shot for 1 more power, to ignore LOS and any cover your opponent may be lurking behind. Note that Trick Shot isn’t an attack in itself, but rather it enhances the next basic Arrow Shot you take, so you still get to choos physical or energy, and potentially inflict a special condition on the target.
Clint’s final ability is Fast Draw. If someone targets Clint from more than range 3 distance, he can spend two power to make an Arrow Shot as a reaction. Note that the trigger is being targeted, so if you have the power to feed the Fast Draw you can potentially mess up the attacker before they even get to roll the attack.
While Clint and Natasha may remember Budapest very differently, there’s no saying you can’t put them through their paces together – especially since they come in a two-pack of models. Swing by your preferred FLGS or online retailer and load your quiver.
Last weekend we didn’t get to have GenCon in the traditional sense, but we did get to have GenCan’t (or GenCon Online, however you choose to refer to it). There was no slowly going deaf and hoarse as you tried to communicate in the vendor or tournament hall, there was no rushing through the doors to get a copy of a limited release game, there was no big fuzzy machine handing out soap and watermelons (yes, that was a thing last year), but I think it’s fair to say that Atomic Mass Games knocked it out of the park, considering the socially distanced limitations they were working with, by presenting a string of spoilers and reveals for models in the pipeline, and it all started with this…
After a full year of “X-Men plz?!?”, well, we’re getting X-Men! The rosters are opening with the leaders of the Blue and Gold teams – Cyclops and Storm – along with the rampaging Canuck Wolverine, and Mama McCoy’s bouncing baby boy, the Beast. With a roster as wide and varied as Xavier’s mutants, I think these are excellent choices to kick the door down with. Storm and Cyclops could each come with a different Leadership ability for their teams, Storm could also be added to the Wakanda affiliation, and both Wolverine and Beast have also been Avengers. There’s some great opportunity for thematic cross-pollination for those of us that love playing affilition-centric teams.
Add to the mix that Beast – sculpted by the inimitable Brian Dugas – comes with an alternate hand that has him holding a book rather than a clenched fist – and all I know is I’m going to have to practice my freehand to replicate a teeny tiny dustjacket!
Where you have X-Men, can the Brotherhood truly be too far behind? Magneto and Mystique have led the Brotherhood at different times, Sabretooth is an obvious counterpart to Wolverine, but I think more than any other character I’m excited for Toad. He’s been an iconic member of the Brotherhood since its inception, and in terms of gameplay, his ability to move opposing characters away from objectives should be downright prodigious. Never mind how fantastic the sculpt looks, and how much I enjoy painting golden yellows 😉
Also of note in this pack is the two bases littered with bent and twisted metal. Mobile obstacles for Magneto to send careening around the table maybe?
The reveals didn’t stop there, of course. That was just the opening salvo.
Hot on the heels of the X-Men we saw teasers and full model shots, of Kingpin, Bullseye, Taskmaster and the Punisher. As Marvel’s New York Underworld unfolded (remember, kids, Punisher’s entry into Marvel comics as as a hitman hired to kill Spider-Man, though I don’t expect him to share any affiliation with Fisk & co. when released) we were also made privy to a brand new terrain pack.
A skid steer, mixer, demountable office, a selection of barriers and barrels make up the Construction Site terrain pack, an excellent complement to your New York themed tabletop.
My main ponderance with this block is just how Bullseye’s unerring accuracy will be reflected on the table. Does he count blanks as hits, perhaps?
Daredevil was next in the queue, sharing this tableau with Dr Strange (who I’m super keen to get my mitts on). While Daredevil doesn’t share the Defenders affiliation (the full roster for which was also spoiled), we did confirm that Luke Cage and Iron Fist are on the way, so fielding the TV incarnation of the team is getting closer and closer to a possibility… but for now, defending reality will do without ol’ Hornhead. With Ghost Rider on the team, battles through the streets of the city may be more in line than across the rooftops of New York.
We’ve known Angela has been in the works for some time – She’s on the Asgard and Guardians of the Galaxy affiliation cards – but it’s fair to say that Asgard’s Assassin will unleash some slicey-dicey pain upon your opponents, despite her ribbon trails offering hugs and kisses to anyone who cares to read them.
With the Asgardian ranks gaining a new model, is it any surprise that Amora the Enchantress was also revealed? Arguably one of Thor’s greatest opponents (along with Loki and Surtur), Enchantress is an exceptionally powerful sorceress and illusionist, more than capable of messing with an entire team of Avengers all on her lonesome. In the absence of Mephisto, Dormammu or Baron Mordo, I’d say the bad guys are getting their own Dr Strange. Of course, he has a much better moustache.
And then there’s Jennifer Walters, the Sensational She-Hulk. One of my favorite Marvel characters, she’s possessed of strength almost on par with her cousin Bruce, but she retains her incredibly sharp legal mind with hulk’d out. There have been entire comic series written about her that had pretty much nothing to do with her strength and invulnerability, and everything about her work as a lawyer. I’m really hoping she gets abilities named things like “Motion to dismiss!” where she throws an opponent away, or “Objection!” where she negates an opponent’s use of a power by leading them in verbal circles until they’re confused, or somesuch.
Add in painting videos, twitch streams discussing Atomic Mass Games’ design process, painting contest and more, and I think that all told it was a very successful GenCan’t for AMG. Here’s looking forward to another fun year… once we can actually get together to play games 😉