This weekend I picked up the fourth and final book in Green Ronin Publishing's Mutants and Masterminds 3rd Edition powered, DC Adventures Role Playing Game, thereby completing my collection of it and all things both DC and RPG related.
As I noted briefly in a previous post, this is not only the end of this particular line of superhero role playing products but in some ways, a beautiful and useful last will and testament to the pre-New 52 DC Comics universe.
Foregoing a direct attempt to define and detail a specific point in DC Comics seventy-seven year publishing history, Green Ronin set about describing the iconic and rarely changing elements of their characters, their worlds and their mythologies.
While the majority of the information is presented as close to the "current" incarnation of the DC Universe as possible as of 2010-2011*, many of the specifics of long standing characters are easily understandable to the reader even if they haven't seen the character in many years. In addition, a number of side bars and boxes explain some of the changes that have been applied throughout different incarnations (it is also in the background and flavor text for appropriate individuals).
While I did notice an error here and there, a few characters didn't make the cut and I would've loved a four book series just on the Legion of Superheroes, I think they did a great job. Really. That's big praise coming from me. Trust me.
Kudos Green Ronin. I tip my hat to you.
I starting reading the final book Saturday night but with being so busy with the Learning Center Sunday, I haven't finished it just yet. I intend to read Book 4 completely once, all the way through, and then go back over certain key points that interest me. Afterwards I will probably reread the entire series.
The 'Universe Book' details all aspects of the DC multiverse, from the Infinite Earths to Jack Kirby's Fourth World of the New Gods and onward into the past, the 'present' and the future. Detailed descriptions of the ficitional cities and countries that make up DC's "Earth Zero", or New Earth, which is essentially the world that replaced the erased parallel Earths at the end of the first Crisis (Crisis on Infinite Earths). In addition, the New Earth described appears to incorporate the Earth that followed Infinite Crisis. We also get the planets of the galaxy, the powers known as The Endless and all the cool legends created and complied over the course of seven decades of comic book creativity.
Reading through it, I am simultaneously inspired and saddened beyond measure. Alright, beyond easy measure.
As I peruse the pages of this powerful and poignant publication, I am struck solidly with the knowledge that I remember it all. Taking in this text in not so much a learning experience as a refresher course. This is my childhood, my high school and college years (minus a gap in the 90's). This data is not just stats and images. This was a part of my life from the time I was very young.
I had an older female cousin who read comics and among her favorites were Archie, Casper and Hot Stuff and The Legion of Superheroes. My uncle worked for a newspaper and magazine distributor who distributed, among other things, Mad Magazine and DC Comics. My favorite superhero was Green Lantern, partially because my father was a police officer.
This is all different now. Not only is my life quite different of course but the comics I read, the histories I know, the information in this book are different now. I hold in my hand over seventy years of professional work that someone two years ago determined doesn't matter. It didn't happen. It's not the first time either but it is so radically different in some instances this time around and, in my humble opinion, so poorly executed, that I long for the stories this book, this RPG book, is telling me. That is, reminding me of.
The wheels are spinning in my cape crusading brain, you can be sure of that. Ideas leap off the page at me at every turn. Each familiar face is a brand new challenge waiting to be sprung on my players, beings far less informed about this particular universe than I.
I've always wanted to update Time Commander. I've got a great idea for a plot with him and...Hmmm, Yellow Martians. Almost forgot about them and their connection to...Wow. St. Roch is a fantastic and different modern city setting. Perhaps I could...Ah yes, the Silent Knight. Always liked his look. Ooh! Ultra The Multi-Alien!
Where to begin...
*DC Comics was founded in 1934, originally holding the name National Allied Publications. It's publishing history therefore dates back 79 years, not 77 as I indicate above. I used the span of 77 years however because in 2011, DC altered its continuity to that of the 'New 52', which I do not enjoy. The DC Adventures RPG by Green Ronin only covers the characters, elements and history of the DC Comics universe up to 2011 and contains no New 52 information (although some of the images are from the time when the change over was first made).
Other related posts in the past on this subject that you might find interesting include:
Crisis on Infinite Crises
DC Adventures - Who's Who
DC Adventures - Identity Crisis Part 1
DC Adventures - Identity Crisis Part 2
DC Reboots Its Universe Again...Again.
The Original Universe
Where Legends Live
One final note...
In a recent and really interesting post on his blog, Zak Smith wrote...
"Like all RPGs and few horror stories, the characters are criminals. They break and flee the law."
The line fits perfectly with the post he made about a very particular style of weird horror noir. As is sometimes the case with me, I just have to totally disagree with the first part. Most RPGs. Popular RPGs even. Not my RPGs. At least not the best ones I've run and played.