Monday, March 5, 2012

The Replacement JLA: I Can't Believe It's Not the Justice League

We had another session for our superhero campaign on Sunday. If you'll excuse the digression, I think the thing I like most about gaming with other adults is that the food is a lot better than it is when you're a kid. When I was in high school, I remember going to the A&P and picking out a big bag of whatever chips were cheapest and maybe ordering a pizza later in the day if the session ran on long. Now, part of the fun with having your friends over is cooking up something special to go with the game. Frederick will often cook up something on the grill for us if it's at his place, and though I've never had the knack for that, this time I made pizza soup, homemade garlic bread, and served some appetizers (soft pretzels, jalapeno poppers and mozzarella sticks).

Pizza soup is easy to make. Combine two cans diced tomatoes, two cups broth, dice some red or green peppers, an onion, half a pound of sausage, add a tablespoon of oregano, put it in a crock pot and simmer for seven or eight hours, then serve topped with cheese. I used vegetable broth and Morningstar sausages so Jen would be able to partake.

Frederick was wearing a Bizarro t-shirt, so I changed into my Superman shirt for the game. The game was at my house this week. Jen had made our attic into a guest room and I set up a table up there and I think it worked out pretty well.

We opened the last session with the JLA Watchtower satellite apparently being destroyed.  and between games, our GM had asked us what we wanted to pursue. Casey suggested recruiting a second replacement JLA. I thought it was worth exploring, but I didn't think we'd have much success, because if "Batman" was recruiting people like us, then I thought it was safe to assume that the bottom of the superhero barrel had already been pretty thoroughly scraped.

The session opened at Blink's house, where we were trying to contact other member who might have survived. There were some jokes about, "Hey, Blink, can I use your computer?" and then a cut to a Facebook status, "Dawnfire has checked in at JLA's new headquarters" complete with map.

I called Tim Hunter's dad,  because my character is most worried about Tim.

Me: Hi, is Tim there?
Tim's dad: No, I haven't seen him in a while. Who is this?
Me: Okay, thanks, bye!
Tim's dad: You're the second person to call for hi- *click*
Me: Whoops. (Calls back) We must have gotten disconnected.
Tim's dad: You said goodbye.
Me: Um, that's just slang from this side of the pond.

We talked a little further and learned that the other caller had been looking for Tim and had called just hours ago. Then Ash's phone rang and the man on the other end asked him if he was still alive. After a brief conversation,  Rächen convinced him to destroy the phone because he might be being tracked through the GPS. (Leading to jokes about "Now they're tracking you through your plasma TV! Smash it!")

Our search for heroes led us to the Teen Titans. We were trying to remember where they were headquartered. I thought it was somewhere on the West Coast because one of the episodes for the series dealt with the satellite team, Titans East. (Frederick joked that "Titans South" had a hovercraft up on blocks outside the headquarters.) Now that I can look it up for this writeup, I see that they were all over the place, having had bases in New York, Gotham, New Jersey, Metropolis, San Francisco, and briefly in a space station.

We go to Titans Tower and Beast Boy greets us. We chat a little, he sends out a message and then he turns on a press conference where Supergirl is announcing that the Justice League has been destroyed, but she and the three masked people with her are carrying on the Legacy as "Justice".

We discuss that for a bit, and Alan Scott arrives. There's some more conversation and Blink explains his goal to reform the Justice League. We go to the old HQ in Rhode Island briefly, then Blink and Dawnfire take off to recruit Doctor Light in Japan. She doesn't want to join, but while we're there, we receive word that Superman's Fortress of Solitude is under attack. We couldn't remember if the Fortress was in the Arctic or the Antarctic, but a look at Wikipedia shows that the people who write the comics can't remember either.

So Blink and I took off to defend the Fortress. We get there and lay into the people attacking the place. We're outnumbered, and outclassed. I get the highest initiative and hit one of them, and her counterattack almost takes me out. Blink, who has low toughness, but high parry and dodge, gets tagged right away by a lucky hit and incapacitated. It was like that fight between Batman and Guy Gardner.

The one figure tells me "Kneel before your better" and I recognize Supergirl's voice. You may remember the previous campaign log where I spend a good paragraph crowing about how easy it was to kick Supergirl's ass. This time, not so much.  I'm going to check on Blink, who ported there in his costume of a t-shirt and jeans. I try to apologize and backpedal so I can get to him, but Supergirl is having none of it. She's monologuing and I'm thinking about what I can do, and I was hoping for the cavalry. It arrived in the form a green bubble with the rest of our team inside. Supergirl and her cronies fled, and the door to the Fortress opened and we were guided to the infirmary. Before we went in, I tried to take a peep under the suits with my x-ray vision, but they were lead-lined, which made me wonder if that were some kind of anti-kryptonite measure and if her buddies were kryptonian.

Someone who looked just like Superman in a white robe was there. He turned out to be the Eradicator.  We learn two things, that Supergirl was locked out of the Fortress by Superman when he was still here because she had taken something, and that the the snuggie is based on Kryptonian technology.

We continued our recruitment drive, and the Eradicator joined our little club. We also got Mister Miracle, Big Barda, Arsenal, Green Arrow, Captain Comet, Jade, Black Lightning, Dolphin, Tempest, another Tempest, Catwoman, Elastiwoman and Red Robin. (Since the second Volume of Heroes and Villains isn't out yet, we could generally only recruit heroes whose costumed identities began with the letters A through K.)

I think the hordes of street-level c-listers were probably my least favorite element of the campaign, and I was kind of happy to be rid of them with the apparent destruction of the Watchtower, so I wasn't thrilled that our primary accomplishment for this session was resetting the status quo, but with less interesting c-listers. We lose John Constantine but replace him with some Aquaman supporting characters? Boo! (Though don't take this to mean that I'm not enjoying the game. In any collaborative activity, any given member is not going to be happy with everything that has happened at any given time, so if that's my biggest complaint, I'd say we're doing pretty okay.)

We had some jokes about Catwoman ("Okay, guys, put away the laser pointers.") Frederick misidentified the Doom Patrol as the Suicide Squad, so I broke my beer bottle on the edge of the table and stabbed him in the neck with it. Some mistakes really are unforgivable.

We had a brief debate if we should keep calling ourselves the Justice League or not. I had proposed changing the name since it just seemed to be antagonizing Supergirl, but I backed off from that after we got back from the Fortress.

Moreso than a lot of characters in the DC Universe, there have been many different versions of Supergirl. I think this picture and the caption for Wikipedia's entry on her sum it up nicely.

(from left to right): Original Kara Zor-El, Matrix, Kara in the '70s, Modern Kara, Linda Danvers, Power Girl, and Kara from Crisis on Infinite Earths.

I'm generally favorably disposed towards her. When I think of Supergirl, I imagine the S-shield, blond hair, big blue eyes and that cute little red skirt. I was thinking of Supergirl like this:

when what we got was closer to this:

Since she seems to be moving towards full on supervillain territory (Alan Scott emphasized that she was alien in her upbringing, unlike Superman), and since the Justice League name has meaning, we decided to keep it. Blink called a press conference, Amanda Waller showed up and publicly announced that Project Cadmus fully supported us.

At the end, Blink asked how he had become the leader. I suggested it was because he was the least incompetent of the lot of us, and Jen, who had returned home by then, likened it to the Republican Primary.

A pretty decent session again. It was more about tying up loose ends than moving forward, but I think every campaign needs these occasional housecleaning installments.

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