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Pulling Out the Past: Mechwarrior Dark Age ‘Mechs

A little over a week ago, I hauled a bunch of stuff out of a storage closet in the basement to get at my old Mechwarrior: Dark Age miniatures.

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Based on the state of the plastic bins I had them in, I probably hadn’t had any of these OUT of the bins since 2006 at THE most recent.

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But with a recent re-interest in Battletech, I was eager to get these out and see what ‘Mechs I had beyond the Spider (Dragon’s Blood faction) and the Atlas. (These I absolutely specifically recalled as my favorite/most memorable!) I remember being at a panel at Origins in 2002(?) with a couple friends and getting to see prototypes of these, and it was the Atlas that most impressed me.

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Once the game actually came out, there were four of us in particular getting the game–the two friends I’d gone to the convention with, and another friend we’d made that school year; and it became "tradition" for us all to meet up on Fridays after we got out of class for the week and go to the game store for a booster (or more) and then back to the dorms to play.

I recall the four of us largely "claimed" a faction (mine was Dragon’s Blood) and we’d try to trade favorably to each other to beef up the respective factions, while also maintaining other faction(s).

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I had bins labeled for Dragon’s Blood, Spirit Cats, Bannson’s Raiders, and Misc. So with possibly-faulty memory, I must’ve had the Spirit Cats and Raiders as "secondary" factions. I do recall the Atlas was NOT "my" faction, but as a "unique" and the one that had most ‘sold’ me at all, was an absolute "keeper" for me!

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I also remember one weekend late my senior year coming across a stash of cash I’d tucked into a graphic novel and thought I’d lost…which put me in position to–along with the other guys–splurge big-time on boosters as we all bought about 10 boosters apiece!


Plenty of nostalgia there, combined with having bought the Beginner Box last year, and a few weeks ago hunting down a copy of the main A Game of Armored Combat box, as well as several of the current-edition "print-on-demand" editions of Battletech novels. I completed reading D.R.T. a few days ago…the first actual novel I think I managed to read/complete since sometime in 2019! (A shameful fact given how many books I used to read regularly…albeit less shameful in that at least I’m reading…if only comics!)

Battletech definitely seems to be a new "phase"/mini-obsession for me. And "recent mini-obsessions" is a topic I may cover specifically soon, detailing a bit more…though some may be repetitive of this post.

Time will tell, though!

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I Ain’t Never Hadda Friend Like Him

Virtually every time I see some celebrity’s name “trending”–whether on Facebook or Twitter or where-ever…my first thought usually would be that they’d died. Until recently. Having (finally?) realized that all sorts of things set someone to being a “trending” topic, so I’ve backed off on that.

And then…tonight.

Robin Williams.

Last I’d heard anything, he’d checked into rehab or some such, so I figured he’d checked himself back out, or someone caught some contextless soundbite or quote, or some paparazzi got some extremely unflattering photo that someone had captioned and it’d gone “viral.”

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But to learn that no, he’d died…and apparently self-inflicted…there just ARE no words.

The Genie from Aladdin is one of my favorite Disney characters. That’s certainly got Robin Williams written all over it, so to speak. I’d always thought it fascinating how they imbued the Genie with so much of his personality, and animated stuff that would work for them to get him in to voice the character.

It was only recently that I “discovered” that it was most likely the reverse–that they’d’ve had him in for the role, and animated the character based on him. Which meant this character that’s been such a part of my growing up is far more Robin Williams than not.

aintneverhaddafriendlikehimI thought almost immediately of stuff other than Aladdin with Robin Williams, and recalled commercials I’d seen for Good Morning Vietnam (which I did eventually see years ago). There was Mrs. Doubtfire, and Patch Adams, and I quite appreciated Williams’ appearance on the Highlander tv show.

And somehow, I misplaced Hook until a friend reminded me, and I realized that was in there amidst Mrs. Doubtfire and Patch Adams, though it wasn’t until maybe 7 or 8 years ago that I kind of “realized” it was an “old favorite” and something I really did enjoy quite a lot. I’ve certainly come to appreciate it SO MUCH MORE as an adult than I ever did as a kid.

Most recently I enjoyed seeing him in a new show last Fall, though I didn’t keep up with it (hindsight can be 20/20…)

I’ve been seeing tons of posts on Facebook, but I’ve not clicked any of the links. I’m sharing all I have in this post, because this has hit me personally, stirring up memories, and I’m simply sad at learning he’s gone, if only for the selfish side of what it means to ME.

I never met him, never saw him in person or anything “live,” never knew anything about his family or personal life outside the occasional headline and such about some substance issues or such.

If you’re reading this, chances are you’re reading my blog anyway. I’m not sharing this to “get clicks” or such. Robin Williams’ passing is far more significant than anything else I might’ve posted.

And truly, none of us ever had a friend like him.

Change, potential change…fiction vs. real life

multiverseinfiniteearths One of the great things about comics is the ability to follow these characters through short OR long periods of their lives. We’re always following them through all these huge changes. Loss of loved ones, of jobs, of homes, of lives. They’re in constant upheaval.

People come and go in their lives. Peter loses a wife or a girlfriend or a best friend. Clark faces the fact that a childhood friend wants more of him than he can give. Bruce sees his son grow up and leave his shadow. Hal loses an entire city.  So many others.

But life–real life–doesn’t move so quickly. We can follow a person’s life for years, generations even, in the realm of fiction. "Here comes tomorrow." Stories of time travel–to the past or future. Glimpses of what may be–or what might have been.

Real life–that can only be experienced in real-time. Now-time.

I’ve read comics for most of my life–and all of my adult life.

But for all outward appearances–whether it’s really me, myself…or a front I may (or may not) subconsciously put forth…

There’s no denying the difference, that which is found between fiction and reality.

Sure, one could lose one’s self within the realms of fiction–outright abandoning of reality. Or one can marvel in it, find a great deal within the realms of fiction–and in so doing, learn more about one’s self, that which is truly real.

Nostalgia: Superman, Batman, Avengers, and Thor

Like many things that become a big part of one’s life, there are numerous elements that lead us toward something. We can tell of the same thing with different amounts of detail, leaving some things out or adding more detail, resulting in what–out of context–can seem to be different stories, while really all being parts of the same story.

For me, there were several things that got me into comics, and the roles each played may seem more or less important depending on where in the story we pick up.

There’s “Mr. S” of The Letter People, with his Super Socks that turned him into a “super sonic streak in the sky.” There’s my grandfather. There’s my sister and mom that day some 20+ years ago at the bookstore in the mall. There’s my friend Zack that spring/summer 17 years ago.

But whatever part of the story one gets into, for me it’s my grandfather who directly and indirectly played the largest role–the others were all lead-ups and supports. My grandfather provided the FOUNDATION. And I wonder if that is THE reason I simply like DC characters better than I do Marvel, whatever the great stories from either or other companies.

I remember talking about Superman with my grandfather. I remember all those comics he shared with me. All those visits where I’d get to raid “the comic cabinet” and read whatever looked interesting (mostly Superman or Batman, but there were some other characters…most of whom I didn’t really recognize at the time, but am now QUITE familiar with).

I once noted that he and I had different views on Superman, in particular.  To him, Superman was the primary character, and Clark Kent was “the mask.”  Yet to me–growing up on new comics from 1989-present–Clark Kent was the primary character, and Superman was “the mask.” Yet, we both greatly enjoyed the character, even with our expertise lying in two different versions of the character.

I remember about 5 1/2 years ago reading Superman: Secret Identity by Kurt Busiek when it shipped as single prestige volumes. I read the fourth/final chapter, and couldn’t wait to share this story with him. This was a version of the character–and a great story–that I found to be instantly one of my favorite Superman stories. And it was one that I KNEW my grandfather would enjoy, as well. Unfortunately, I never got a chance to share this story with him–he died maybe a week or two after that final chapter came out. (That, perhaps, is a huge factor in why I so hated the perversion of “Superboy Prime” in Infinite Crisis through to the present…it was a perversion of something that spawned this story.)

Years before all this, when my family visited my grandparents, I remember Grandpa excitedly showing me a new Batman comic.  He was working part-time at that point–I believe as a janitor or some such function at a local K-Mart (this was before I’d even heard of “Wal-Mart,” I’m pretty certain). He’d happened across one of those old 3-packs of “collector’s item comics.”  This one had Batman Beyond #1. (I don’t recall if it was a one-shot or first issue of a mini-series…and I don’t recall if there even WAS an ongoing at any point).

But Grandpa thought this was a fantastic comic. He loved the way it introduced this new character who was THE Batman, and yet had Bruce Wayne–the original Batman–in a mentor role. And the art…he seemed to think that was one of the best parts. The package, the concept…quite the exciting thing.  To me, it wasn’t all that special at the time. But looking back…that was definitely “a moment.” And more recently…it jumps out not just for nostalgia, but as an example of someone who had–maybe “grown up with” isn’t quite the phrase, but to that point “had always known” Batman to be Bruce Wayne–and had NO PROBLEM WHATEVER with accepting a comic showing someone DIFFERENT as the starring Batman.

Grandpa was never a comics academic. He (to my knowledge) never read a magazine about comics, and the only “advance” knowledge he had of any given comic story was what was published as an ad in one of the comics that he bought…or if something made the newspaper (Death of Superman, Broken Batman, etc). He simply enjoyed the stories that he read when he’d buy an issue.

I remember one time that he and my uncle found out about a huge Avengers story. Between the two of them, they got the entirety of Operation: Galactic Storm in singles.  It was years later that I read that story, borrowing their copy of the issues.

And finally (for now)…I remember back in late spring/early summer of 1998 or so, when the new post-Heroes Reborn Thor series made its debut. Grandpa was here visiting for a golf tournament with Dad, and we got to talking about comics, and I showed him these new Thor comics. Now, Grandpa knew Thor–both the version starring in the title during Operation Galactic Storm, as well as the classic. This was a much different take on the character.  But he read it, and enjoyed it.

It was such a cool thing at the time…comics that *I* bought, that were new things to ME…and I got to share them with HIM.

My parents gave me a love of reading. My grandfather provided me foundation of comics my own acquisitions expanded upon.

Here I am 20 years later. A degree in Popular Culture because someone once asked me–in context of discussing college majors–WHAT did I have a PASSION for?  And nearly every Wednesday, I’m at the comic store getting my new comics.

And Wednesday Comics?

I think Grandpa would’ve LOVED it.

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