I have to admit, this week’s edition is a bit self-indulgent. And not because I think I’m so clever and I can’t wait to tell you about it!* Alas, today’s trip down memory lane is mostly due to sheer laziness. I don’t need to research this week’s topic! Or re-research it. There are no comics to read! Or scan! It’s just me, my horribly organized files and my memory. YAY!
Judging from the title, some of you may have already guessed what the hell it is I’m talking about. Good for you. For those that have no idea, allow me to explain. Way back when we introduced the Kree affiliation in the Heralds of Galactus expansion, most people had no idea who the E-F-F they were, save for the diehard Avengers fans like myself and a few others on Realms. The way we Vs. flavor “artists” usually handle this is through the prodigious use of flavor text. Since this was my first set, and the inclusion of the Kree was my idea, the responsibility of explaining just who the hell the Kree were fell on my massively capable shoulders.
Now, there were two ways to approach this epic task. 1) You could write a bunch of boring one or two sentence “origin blurbs” for each character and non-character card. Or, 2) You could write a bunch of witty one-liners. I guess there’s actually three choices, since you could do a combination of the two… which is what we usually do. BORING. And now, I have to make another confession: writing the one-liners is way easier than writing the origin blurbs. If you scan the Marvel sets that followed MHG, you’ll find that we used the one-liners tons more often than the origin blurbs. The secret IS out. I’ve unmasked myself! Look, they’re just more fun to write, plus it lets you put in cool Easter Eggs, like the flavor text for the 7-drop Punisher from Marvel Legends.
Come-ON! That’s from like the greatest Chuck Norris movie of all-time!
Back on topic: Method 1 is boring and Method 2 is lazy. Method 3 is what we always do, so… what about Method 4?
In a nutshell: No factual character history. No witty dialogue or banter. No Easter Eggs. Just make it up from scratch.
Once I realized that it was actually OK to just “make it up”, it was extremely liberating. Is this cheating? Not really. It’s being creative, damn it! The way I figured, it was better to write something original and memorable that conveyed through subtext (I mean, not in this poem, but you get the idea) the flavor of the given character, non-character or team than to paraphrase some piece of research (WIKIPEDIA!!!) in an unoriginal and boring way. Can we agree on that? Good. I thought so. Otherwise, I’d have to stop typing right this instant.
After minutes and minutes of hard, hard, hard thinking, I came up with the following poem to be placed on five separate cards– Ronan the Accuser, Kree Public Accusers, Kree Commandos, Kree Soldiers and the location, Hala:
Our Purpose, Empires to Pave
Our Ambition, Races to Enslave
Sons of Pama and Kree-Lar, We are Kree.
Our Policy, Planets to Devastate
Our Design, Systems to Subjugate
Descendants to the Stars, We are Kree.
Our Future, Universes to Posses
Our Fate, Dimensions to Oppress
Race Supreme, We are Kree.
Your Doom, Utter Annihilation
My Destiny, Eternal Veneration
Loyal Servant, I am Kree.
Take Heed, Enemies of Our Fatherland
You will never stay our hand
Unyielding Will, We are Kree.
What’s that? Where did those first two stanzas come from?
Why, that’s the flavor text for the Kree Commandos and Kree Soldiers cards, silly boys. Why were they cut? It was deemed that there was already too much text on those cards, so the flavor was left off. This happens quite often, but it was the only time that I actually cared. I mean, I spent a lot of time on this damn thing. And now, finally, after years of quiet anguish, I’ve brought them to you, the people… my loving fans.**
Now that you’ve finally read the original poem in its entirety, does it change your feelings about the Kree one way or the other? Yeah, me neither. I just needed to get that out of my system… my OCD was acting up. With that finished, we can talk about some other design elements, like art descriptions and card development.
Conveying the flavor of a team always starts with the art. For the Kree, I was going for this militaristic/fascist/Nazi type feel, and of course, Yip would then follow through on that idea by designing a play pattern to match the art and the flavor of these little pink and blue aliens. Here’s a bit of what I gave him to work with:
Ronan the Accuser
Location: The Planet Hala– the capital city Kree-Lar, the center of the Kree Empire– the Citadel of Judgment– the Citadel’s architecture is Kirby-esque, with rounded edges and funky symbols etched on the walls.
Action: Ronan the Accuser stands on a balcony atop the Citadel of Judgment. Ronan stands with one hand behind his back, and the other holding the massive Universal Weapon (his hammer). He stands tall but his head is slightly down-turned. His shoulders are broad and imposing, giving us the sense that the weight of the empire is on his shoulders. His expression is serious with no hint of emotion.
Focus: Ronan the Accuser
Keywords: Imposing, Judgment
References: Fantastic Four Vol.3 #13-14
Setting: Hala (Kree Homeworld)
Action: Ariel Shot: We’re looking down at the technologically beautiful cityscape of Hala. The Architecture is Kirby-esque. The Kree are a militaristic society, so the foreground should include epic monuments dedicated to famous war heroes.
Focus: The Monuments
Keywords: Technological Sophistication
References: Operation Galactic Storm
…and then came design. We started work on this set in late September/early October. By Late November, this is what Ronan The Accuser, Starforce looked like:
ATK: 9 / DEF: 9
TEXT: When comes into play, name a character. Characters with the chosen name cannot use payment powers or be exhausted to pay costs.
Um… wow. I guess Hump decided that the world wasn’t ready for this kind of 5-drop yet. By early December, Yip had added Cosmic and a lot more text:
ATK: 9 / DEF: 9
TEXT: When comes into play, name a character. Cosmic: Characters with the chosen name cannot use payment powers or be exhausted to pay costs. Whenever becomes stunned, you may return him to his owner’s hand.
Ok, so this guy got the major nerf by adding the Cosmic keyword. Still seems pretty riddick. By early January, Ronan had begun his final transformation…
ATK: 8 / DEF: 7
TEXT: Press. When comes into play, each player cannot play plot twists or flip locations from their resource row this turn.
Except he had Press!!! Ah, what could have been? Imagine actually playing Ronan in a Kree deck… anyway, from there, he quickly morphed into the 4-drop that currently inhabits such decks as SKRULLS, SKRULLS, SKRULLS!!! and “Joe Boo” Endgame Stall.
That’s it for this week’s Origin Stories, thanks for reading. If you’re looking for some great Kree stories… sorry, there really aren’t any. Hah, I kid. I believe they traded Avengers: Operation Galactic Storm last year or the year before and the Live Kree Or Die 4-parter should be in one of those Kurt Busiek Avengers Assemble hardcovers. Which one? No clue. Check out Amazon.com, maybe they can help you. I’ve done enough. Jeez, I wrote you a whole fricking poem, ya’ douchebags!
Alright, check back next Wednesday and maybe I’ll have something cool to say about the good Dr. Doom. And: keep checking VsSystem.com for Marvel Universe Preview updates and join me there Friday for the Negative Zone Team Preview.
* Well, obviously there’s some of that. I am a very, very arrogant man.
**SHUT UP! You know you love me, girl!