I never heard, or even knew of, the Solomon Grundy nursery rhyme as a child. I think perhaps this is a more common nursery rhyme overseas than here in the States. It wasn’t until I got older, fell in love with Celtic music and started listening to the Pogues that I heard it for the first time, at the very, very end of Billy’s Bones.
As a comic book fan, though, I knew who Solomon Grundy was very early on. The guy was in the Legion of Doom on Superfriends (a cartoon that absolutely does NOT hold up). Later, I remember seeing a Bernie Wrightson portfolio with a couple of plates depicting Solomon Grundy, but that was about the extent of my exposure to him.
Now, of course, EVERYONE knows that Solomon Grundy was born on a Monday… et cetera, et cetera. He was a significant character on TV’s Gotham, and I remember cackling with glee the first time I realized that…
…Butch’s real name turned out to be Cyrus Gold.
Anyway…Grundy has about 12 different origin stories (look it up if you don’t believe me), but a common thread throughout all of them was that he was once a man named Cyrus Gold, who was murdered and dumped in Slaughter Swamp, the location of which changes but is usually outside of Gotham City. Something in the water reanimates him, so he is basically an indestructible zombie. He’s super strong (he can go toe-to-toe with Superman), nigh-invulnerable and impossible to permanently put down. He doesn’t have to breathe and he doesn’t bleed. He’s also usually, but not always, really dumb.
He started out as a villain for Alan Scott, the original Green Lantern, but now he’s more of a Batman villain. The thing is, I can’t figure out why he’s a villain at all. Most villains have schemes and plans, things they wish to accomplish. Grundy just usually shows up and fights whoever happens to be around until he gets beat up or killed. Then he rises again some time later and starts all over. Not really a “big picture” kind of guy.
I bought this Knight Models Solomon Grundy because it’s AWESOME, and the Heroclix Grundy looks laughably small next to him.
I primed him black and drybrushed some Citadel Celestra Grey on him to pick out the details. Then I painted his skin using Citadel’s Rakarth Flesh, followed by a wash of Agrax Earthshade, then highlighted with Flayed One Flesh and finally, Pallid Wych Flesh. For the suit, I did a thin layer of Coat D’Arms Deadly NIghtshade, followed by an even lighter coat of Army Painter Dark Sky. This covered the Celestra Grey and provided some nice highlights to the clothing. His shirt was based in Citadel Tau Light Ochre, washed with Agrax Earthshade and highlighted up to Dorn Yellow. I used GW’s Stirland Mud to texture the base and stuck an old Armorcast broken tombstone on it before flocking the whole thing.
And that was the end of Solomon Grundy, and of Supers Month here at Dead Dick’s Tavern.
I must thank my friend Carrion Crow for coming up with Forgotten Heroes. It is a challenge in more ways than one. For example, last year I converted my very own Wundarr the Aquarian, who I consider to be one of the worst Marvel characters ever. Even though my results weren’t great, I was pretty proud of myself for converting such a terrible character. The Aquarian was met with much amusement, and I thought I would never find another character so lame.
Until now, that is. May I present: La Bandera!
Some background. Once upon a time, Wolverine (along with the rest of the X-Men) was supposed to be dead, so he ditched the superhero life to open a bar in seedy Madripoor. He took the identity of “Patch” (Logan with an eyepatch, get it?) which shouldn’t have fooled anyone with vision better than Mr. Magoo, considering he kept popping his claws all the time. To make matters worse, Wolverine soon started dressing up as fucking WOLVERINE, and everyone sat around scratching their heads at the strange short guy in the Wolverine costume. No one seemed able to put two and two together and come up with “Hey…that guy is Wolverine.”
Anyway, at one point, Wolverine travels to the South American dictatorship Tierra Verde, hot on the trail of Roughhouse, a Madripoor-based bad guy he beat the shit out of a few times. Roughhouse was kidnapped by a guy named Geist, who was a Nazi “scientist” who was working for Caridad, the mustachioed dictator of Tierra Verde. Geist was experimenting on people in the hope of creating a superhero for Tierra Verde at Caridad’s request.
Sigh. Enter La Bandera, a teenage girl who was born in Cuba to Castro revolutionary parents, who then moved to Miami, where her father became a drug addict and died of a drug overdose. When she got to be a teenager, she manifested her mutant power, inspiration. She can influence the emotions of others, so she used this to inspire the common folk to fight drug dealers in Miami. Oh, and she can also shoot power blasts through a stick she carries, but these seem to be dependent on how may people she is currently inspiring. When their morale tanks, she loses this ability.
Yawn. Moving on, La Bandera pissed off the Kingpin, because her rabble-rousing started fucking with his bottom line: his Miami drug profits. So he hired Tiger Shark to kill her. But before Tiger Shark could, she traced the drugs to Tierra Verde, and traveled there to inspire the populace to overthrow their evil dictator, Caridad. Wolverine saved her from Tiger Shark, who was in the process of removing La Bandera’s head from her shoulders. Then he saved her from Geist, who, in addition to a Nazi scientist and expert barber, turned out to be a giant, evil fungus. Then they overthrew the dictator together and saved Roughhouse.
This all took a very long seven issues of Wolverine. There was more to the story (Caridad suffers from migraines and his ex-wife, a nun named “Sister Salvation”, is the only one who can soothe his pain) but just forget it. If you’ve never heard of La Bandera, you have missed nothing. But the reason is because she, and the story she rode in on, sucks out loud.
La Bandera is one of those annoying, purposeless characters that festooned the X-books throughout the late eighties and nineties. She’s a stereotype (a Cuban-born revolutionary), but at least we are spared the “Claremont-ization” of her speech patterns (a la Black Tom Cassidy, Colossus, Nightcrawler, Moira MacTaggart, Gambit and countless others…) because she was created by Archie Goodwin, not Chris Claremont; but although there’s nary a “Madre de Dios!” to be found, she’s still pretty damn lame.
Perfect for Forgotten Heroes. Although her national allegiance isn’t clear, she’s definitely a patriotic character, as she inspires feelings of nationalism in others. so, she’s kind of a patriotic everyman. And she has a colorful costume. That’s about all I got.
As my base figure, I used a Heroclix Nikki. I have no idea who the hell Nikki is, but she’s apparently affiliated with the Defenders. She’ll do.
I removed her from her dial and took her arm off at the shoulder. I considered just clipping off the gun, but her arms are so thin I was worried about attaching a staff to both sides of her hand. So I opted to just remove the hand and replace it with this GW skink spear hand. I removed the spear head and hoped no one would notice that La Bandera has a freakishly-large right hand, and that it only has three fingers.
Then I started applying green stuff and magic sculpt to build up her poofy sleeves. Although I suck at sculpting, I took my time. I built it up in several sessions rather than trying to get it all done at once.
Finally, I sculpted her mask and her flowing belt and mask ties. This took a while. I rolled out the magic sculpt in a long ribbon, flattened it out, twisted it and let it dry. Then I clipped it and super-glued it to the miniature. A final dab of putty secured both belt and mask tie in place.
Finally, all that was left was to paint her. You may notice that my paint job doesn’t match the artwork above. That’s because throughout that excruciating seven-issue run, La Bandera’s costume lacked a consistent color scheme, which may have been a printing error, or may have just been indicative of how much anyone working on her story gave a fuck. I went with the one that was shown the most. I’m not happy with her mask. Perhaps I should have just painted her face instead of sculpting a mask, as it looks a little weird. But I take comfort in the fact that although I’m probably one of the only people in the world with a La Bandera miniature, I will, in all likelihood, never have to use her in a game.
Unless she teams up with the Aquarian. Damn. Now I’m thinking about it.
That brings my Forgotten Heroes submissions to an end for this year. I really wanted to do General Glory from the post-Legends JLI, but I didn’t have the time. Maybe next year, although I’m pretty sure the Crow will have a new challenge by then…
A local comic shop had a pretty spectacular sale on gaming items recently, and I was pleasantly surprised to see they had a few of the original metal Knight Models Batman figures on the shelf. I couldn’t resist picking up a few (at a deep discount), and so I present…Clayface!
At last count, there are about 72 different Clayfaces running around the DC universe. (I may be off by one or two, but suffice it to say there are a lot.) The original was Basil Karlo, a B-list actor who went crazy when he learned he wasn’t going to be in a remake of a horror film he starred in, so he wore a mask and tried to kill all the other actors who starred in the remake. The second Clayface was Matt Hagen, an Indiana Jones-type adventurer who was exposed to some kind of weird protoplasm that made him malleable and able to assume any form. The third Clayface was a guy named Preston Payne, whose touch dissolves flesh, so naturally he goes crazy and falls in love with a mannequin. The rest of the Clayfaces don’t matter. Trust me. They just don’t fucking matter.
My favorite version of Clayface is from the Batman Animated Series. That Clayface was based a combination of the first and second Clayface, i.e. he was Matt Hagen, who was a great actor who became disfigured in a car crash. He began using an experimental, protoplasmic face cream developed by Roland Daggett, an unscrupulous big-pharma type who used Hagen to commit crimes in exchange for more of the cream (kinda like a heroin dealer, or so I’ve heard). Finally, Daggett’s men poured a ton of the protoplasmic cream on Hagen, thinking it would kill him. Instead, it turned him into Clayface. (This version of Clayface was also voiced by Ron Perlman, which pretty much ensures he’s the coolest version of Clayface that was, is, or will ever be.)
As far as the miniature itself: it’s BIG. And metal, and all stretched out in a lunge, which means he’s unbalanced. I immediately tossed the ridiculous 40mm slotta base he came with and rebased him on a 40mm MDF base. Unfortunately, that was too small and the model kept tipping over. So, I based the 40mm base on a 60 mm base for stability. Then I set about painting him.
There’s really not a lot to this model, paint-wise. Aside from his face, he’s all brown. I used various brown paints and washes to make him look as he does, which is pretty much like a turd. I considered applying some gloss varnish to make him look like wet clay, but decided not to.
To give you an idea of how big he is, here is the Knight Models Clayface next to a Heroclix Clayface.
And here he is next to a Heroclix R’as al Ghul. (Weird that I don’t have a repainted ‘Clix Batman yet.) The KM version seems much more true to scale when compared to a normal-sized human (R’as). As with Killer Croc, the ‘Clix version looks kind of puny by comparison.
I have other Knight Models to paint, and I am still laboring away on another Forgotten Heroes entry before month’s end. Returning to true Piper form, I will be submitting another hero who absolutely should be forgotten.
It’s June, which means it’s time for Forgotten Heroes. This year is a bit different from what has come before. This year, the theme is “Patriot Games”; all submissions must be “patriotically” themed, i.e. wearing a costume that reflects their country of origin.
With that in mind, I have decided to make a miniature for my favorite Street Fighter, Zangief.
From the Street Fighter Wiki: Zangief , also known as the “Red Cyclone”… is a national Russian hero who is always seen fighting for the glory of his country. Zangief is a massive fighter, weighing 400 lbs and standing slightly over 7 feet tall, placing him among…the tallest characters in the entire Street Fighter roster…Zangief has been portrayed with a beard and a mohawk, along with a uniquely-shaped formation of chest hair on his torso and on his shins. His massive frame is almost entirely covered in scars from his bouts with brown bears in the barren and remote area of Siberia.
Yeah, that’s right. When not utterly crushing his enemies, Zangief wrestles bears. For fun.
Zangief doesn’t have a patriotic costume, opting instead for wrestling tights. BUT, anyone with even a passing familiarity with Zangief knows he’s from Russia. Plus, his wrestling moves all have Russian names, like “Borscht Dynamite” and “Siberian Express”. I guess this is cheating a little, but I’m going for the spirit, if not the letter, of the rules.
Zangief’s first appearance was in the classic Capcom arcade game, Street Fighter II: The World Warriors (1991). Since then, he’s been a playable character in 14 other fighting games, and even showed up in the Street Fighter anime cartoons and movies, the (horrible) Van Damme Street Fighter movie, as well as a cameo in Wreck-It Ralph. He’s also made it into various Street Fighter comics (published by Malibu and Udon).
Zangief is a bit different than your typical fireball-throwing street fighter. For one thing, he’s slow. He likes to get up close and personal, grabbing his opponents and administering his signature move, the Spinning Pile-Driver (seen above). Once he gets close, you’ll wish he wasn’t. Zangief does the most damage of any fighter by far.
Zangief’s far from forgotten, and he’s technically not a “hero”. But he’ll always be my hero. The Red Cyclone taught me all I know about fighting. Just last week I head-butted a guy and gave him a spinning pile driver (again, see above) just because he fucking annoyed me. He’ll know better next time, once he gets out of traction.
There has been a miniature of Zangief issued already for the Heroclix Street Fighter line. But as you can see, it really sucks. So I decided to make my own.
I started with a Heroclix Blockbuster miniature, from the Uncanny X-Men series. He’s big, and he has wristbands and boots like Zangief. They’re not perfect swaps, but they’re certainly close enough.
After I removed him from his base dial, I did a quick application of some green stuff and magic sculpt. I was able to sculpt his mohawk, beard, chest hair and his (really fucking weird) shin hair. I’m no Dick Garrison, but I can handle sculpting messy body hair and a mohawk. (I still wish I could sculpt better.)
Here’s what he looks like. I’m mostly happy with him, but it’s easy to see his beard and chest hair and think it’s just a huge beard. I sculpted a square-ish beard rather than a pointy one (Zangief’s beard changes depending on who draws him). I think if I had sculpted a pointed beard (or just got a ‘Clix Zangief and did a head swap) it would make it easier to differentiate between beard and chest hair, but who cares? (I do.)
Here’s the Red Cyclone about to deliver a Soviet beatdown to E. Honda (Hasslefree’s Tetsuhara)…
…and here he is, about to ruin Ryu’s day (Heroclix Ryu).
MUSCLE POWER! Horosho!
I’m going to try to get another Forgotten Heroes submission in by the end of the month, but I’m not sure I’ll be able to pull it off as it requires much more sculpting. Other than that, I have decided that June is Superhero month here at Dead Dick’s Tavern. In addition to Forgotten Heroes, I’m going to paint my steadily-increasing collection of Knight Models and repaint more Heroclix!