Last week, I went over our next Challenge format: The BOO Battle Box, where Darby and I will be putting together 300 custom cards to build a Battle Box out of. Battle Box is a great format, and I think that this will give Darby and myself something to channel our creative energy into while everyone is busy doing other things this year.
Today, we’ll be looking at the first theme I have been considering for my half of the Battle Box: Comic book superheroes and villains. Today, we’ll be looking at my Justice League animated ideas. Let’s jump right in!
Unlike a normal BOO Draft, where you only get to create 45 total cards (or three packs’ worth), what we have planned this year is much more ambitious. Our starting numbers for the BOO Battle Box are to shoot for 320 cards, giving us a large enough box of cards that every game we play with it will be different and exciting. Since we are each coming up with 160 cards, this gives each of us lots of room to come up with a large theme and flesh it out if we want to.
For me, this is a great thing, since there has been quite a few themes that I’ve been wanting to do ever since we started making custom cards, and this gives me the opportunity to do some of those themes. Let’s take a look at the first major theme that I’ve been looking at doing!
COMIC BOOK SUPERHEROES:
Ever since I was a little kid, I’ve been a huge comic book fan, and I’ve always loved the various superheroes like Superman, Batman, Spider-Man, and so on. Since we’ve started doing these custom MTG cards, one thought I’ve always had is that making a custom MTG set for comic book superheroes would be awesome, and it’s always been in my plans to do so at some point.
The BOO Draft III last year gave me the opportunity to finally turn some of these superheroes into MTG cards, as I came up with a create card for the movie Batman, the X-Men, Wolverine, and more. These cards were awesome to finally see in play, and just whetted my appetite to make more.
So, where would I go with a superhero-themed bunch of custom cards?
THE JUSTICE LEAGUE ANIMATED SERIES:
One of my favorite animated series that I’ve ever had the pleasure of watching is the original Batman animated series, which lead into the Justice League animated series. Set up by the visionary Paul Dini, this was a groundbreaking animated series, which managed to have an overarching narrative between all its shows, great stories, fantastic characters, and was just a great show overall. I knew going into this Battle Box that if I was going to make MTG versions of superheroes, that the DC animated universe would be a great place to start.
I knew going into this that if I was to go with Justice League as a theme, that I’d only be going with the first two seasons. After that, Justice League morphed into Justice League Unlimited, a show with far, far more heroes than was ever necessary for one show. I did enjoy seeing such lesser known heroes as Hawk and Dove, Vigilante, and Red Tornado actually get some airtime, but it watered down the show for me.
Here are some cards that I’ve come up with thus far in my initial brainstorming that goes with the Justice League cartoon:
No discussion of superheroes is complete without one of the originals, the alien Superman. Superman was the hero that led to the coining of the term “superhero”, and was one of the first to have super powers. As a kid, I loved Superman, though I will admit that his appeal has greatly lessened over the years. The issue I have with Superman is that he’s so powerful as a character, that it’s very hard to write a good story featuring him.
As such a powerful character, I knew that I’d want the Superman MTG card to be equally powerful. He has a plethora of abilities, including flying, haste, and indestructibility to represent his powers of super strength, flight, and super speed; I’ve also given him a huge pinging ability to represent his heat vision, and a Spy Network-like ability to represent his X-ray vision.
The Superman card is super powerful, and would be extremely hard for opponents to stop, just like the Superman character. The closest Magic analog is the original Akroma, Angel of Wrath, who was an absolute powerhouse of a Magic card, that was just chock full of powerful abilities and was a great way to finish opponents. I’d expect Superman to be the same kind of finisher in the custom Battle Box, and this is a good way to start the Justice League custom cards.
The second of DC Comics’ big three characters is Batman, who is arguably one of the most popular superheroes of all time. Unlike Superman, who is an alien that has a collection of fantastic superpowers, part of Batman’s popularity stems from the fact that he’s just a normal guy (anyone could end up being Batman, if they had ninja training, and tons of money to buy fantastic gadgets).
This version of Batman as a MTG card is identical to the one I came up with for BOO III; he gets better for each Equipment card attached to him, which circles back to Batman’s affinity for various gadgets. First strike represents his prowess in combat, and intimidate represents how scared most villains are of him. Finally, his single anti-creature Humility ability shows his ability to outwit any foe, something Batman is known for in comics.
Batman would also be a potent creature (and notably, is a great answer to an opposing Superman, who may be otherwise very hard to deal with). I like my take on Batman as a MTG card (which is why this has been a potential card in several of my BOO sets over the last few years). I think the BOO Battle Box is an excellent place for this version of Batman, and I think his ability to neuter any creature would make him a useful addition to counter any overpowered creature that Darby or I might come up with.
If Justice League is what I end up going with as a theme, it’s worth noting that having Batman means that I can also make lots of different Equipment cards, like his ubiquitous Batarang, giving me lots of potential Equipment to work with.
The final member of DC Comics’ big three superheroes is the Amazon Wonder Woman, who is basically a lower-powered version of Superman. Wonder Woman can fly, is super strong, and mostly invulnerable, and is notable for having a lot of awful villains, like The Cheetah. My card version of Wonder Woman represents her powers as I see them. She flies, she’s a huge creature, and she can neutralize opposing creatures with her Lasso of Truth.
As with Superman, Wonder Woman would be a very strong creature for the Battle Box, and I’ve even put together a Lasso Equipment as well. If Justice League ends up being my theme, I like my version of Wonder Woman, and I think she’d end up doing really well as a custom MTG card.
Martian Manhunter is a strange character, and one that I haven’t always liked. The Manhunter is another alien, and has super strength, flight powers, phasing abilities, a shapeshifting ability, and mind reading powers as well (he’s quite powerful). The Manhunter is a tragic character, since his entire people died, and he has been the backbone of many different iterations of the Justice League. He also likes Oreos.
My version of the Manhunter can change shape, since he is a powerful shapeshifter, but he also has the useful Telepathy ability to represent his mind reading. Going into this Battle Box brainstorming, I was uncertain how useful his shapeshifting ability will be, since he starts as a large enough creature as is… if needs be though, he can always become a creature in someone’s hand that is even more powerful. The Manhunter can become unblockable to represent his phasing powers; this should be a tremendous way to end games, as his 5 power will let you kill opponents in four hits.
This card is quite powerful, and would be extremely good in the Battle Box. I like his combination of powers, and I think I did a good job of representing him well here.
Green Lantern is a strange one, and I really wasn’t sure what to do with him. He’s a human that has been given a supremely powerful Power Ring, which basically lets him fly, breathe in space, and create any kind of object he can think of out of light for brief periods of time (normally sports equipment or objects to hit villains with).
What I’ve come up with for him is a potent defensive and offensive threat, one that lets you ping off creatures, or put Equipment tokens into play attached to your creatures to buff them for the turn. He should be a very interesting way to boost your creatures during combat, or in response to a burn spell, or whenever. Because he has vigilance, he can even buff himself if needs be, making him a useful, possibly 6-power attacker.
I like the version of Green Lantern I’ve come up with, and I think he’ll play very well (and be a combat nightmare).
The Flash is an interesting character, and one of those superheroes who is almost too powerful. Flash has super-speed, making it very hard for any villain to get the drop of him. In the Justice League cartoon, Flash is the most immature of the League, and often runs his mouth at heroes and villains alike in any episode he’s in.
Of all the cards I designed for this, Flash was the easiest. He has the awesome Unhinged ability super haste to show off his super speed (from the awesome card Rocket-Powered Turbo Slug), provoke to represent his immature trash talking, and a hard-to-block ability, to represent how hard it is for villains to stop him. Provoke and his “can’t block” ability are an interesting pair of abilities to have on the same creature, and make it quite hard for an opponent to double-block him effectively.
I think Flash would be a simple and excellent card, a very hard-to-predict combat trick, and should be quite fun to play and challenging to play against.
The final member of the cartoon Justice League is Hawkgirl, another alien who doesn’t technically have any powers (she has bird wings, and an electric mace that she hits people with). She is the love interest of Green Lantern, and eventually becomes one of the focal points of the show.
As a card, I’ve made Hawkgirl the smallest of the League to show that she doesn’t really have any superhuman powers other than flight. However, her Mace buffs her to the point that she can hammer even large creatures to death, or she can attack for four in the air, making her a much more potent threat.
As repeatable removal and a creature that can make herself (or another creature) bigger with her Mace, Hawkgirl should be pretty useful. She’s very mana intensive, so she’s not insanely powerful, but she should be quite good.
Conclusion: So that’s a quick look into my brainstorming for a potential Justice League cartoon-themed set’s main characters. There are other heroes and villains that would make an appearance if I was to go with this as my theme (the water-themed Aquaman, who is an antihero in the cartoon, as well as villains like Lex Luthor, Brainiac, and The Joker).
Having said that, here’s a quick look at Batman’s major nemesis, The Joker:
Is this the theme (or one of the themes) that I will end up going with? Stay tuned to find out!