Dedicated to the definitive superhero non-team.


Monday, October 21, 2013

Mind Games

A story idea originally kept on hold for a possible fill-in issue of Volume 2 of the Defenders eventually saw the light of day as Defenders: From the Marvel Vault (September 2011).

A curse from the magician Yandroth seemed to transplant the minds of four college students into the bodies of Sub-Mariner, Silver Surfer, Hulk, and Dr. Strange. Making reference to dungeon-crawls and random-encounter tables, the four suspected they were playing a surreal game and that the Defenders were their avatars.

While inhabiting the physical selves of the Defenders, each of the four experienced situations that tugged at the emotions.

  • Sub-Mariner (Jerry) reunited with his lost love Dorma on a version of the Earth where the surface world was submerged underwater.
  • Silver Surfer (Tyler) reunited with romantic interest Shalla-Bal while retaining the power to explore the cosmos.
  • Hulk (Ramona Fischer) discovered that the Abomination and other long-time enemies now wanted to be Hulk's friend.
  • Dr. Strange (Morgan Nicholls) felt the wisdom of eternity.

The foursome deduced that they were in fact trapped in a dream-like reality, and Dr. Strange finally returned things to normal with these magic words:

Winds of Watcomb,
embrave you this power,
Sweep through the cosmos,
where'er life doth flower!
Find you the kinsmen of
these that did roam.
Then loft up their fellows, and transport them … home!

Kurt Busiek wrote this story "Mind Games" more-or-less from a plot by Fabian Nicieza.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Creative Conjuring

A magazine article in Dragon #100 discussed three categories of energy that fueled magical powers within the Marvel Super Heroes role-playing game.

  • Personal energies allow magicians to cast illusions or use psionics, such as telepathy, astral projection, and mental attacks.
  • Universal energies are necessary to fire magic bolts, transform one object into another, dispel magic, or acquire knowledge through divination.
  • Dimensional energies come into play when summoning otherworldly creatures, creating objects out of nothing, or raising the dead.

This magical taxonomy wasn't explicit within the comics. For example, Dr. Strange might invoke the name of Dormammu or other extra-dimensional beings when wielding magic that the game described as using Personal or Universal energies instead of Dimensional energies.

To prevent sorcerers from becoming disproportionately more powerful than other heroes in the game, the article set parameters around the number of magical powers they could wield within each of the three categories.

This image of Dr. Strange appeared with the article "Creative Conjuring" by Eric Walker in Dragon #100 (August 1985).

Monday, October 7, 2013

Nebulon: By Popular Demand

"The MARVEL-Phile" column in Dragon magazine complemented the Marvel Super Heroes role-playing game from the 1980s by providing ability ranks and power descriptions for comic book heroes and villains. Dragon #163 included a game conversion for Nebulon, a quintessential foe of the Defenders.

The well-researched column noted how Nebulon jumped from a modest Popularity score to Monstrous worldwide popularity as head of the Celestial Mind Control Movement).

The section on Nebulon's powers detailed the game mechanics that might cause the shape-shifting Nebulon to revert back into his six-tentacled true form.

Lastly, the section on the character's history alerted readers that including Nebulon in a game adventure would require explaining how the would-be world conquerer survived his apparent death (Avengers Annual #11).

The above image of Nebulon appeared in Dragon #163 (November 1990). That issue also provided game information about the villain Solarr, a member of the Emissaries of Evil from Defenders #42-43.

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