Where strange fact and stranger fiction collide
I have already expressed my love for the number two guy. The character in the story that is almost as, if not more, interesting than the primary character, but gets much less coverage. I am going to share three more characters that I wish had more time in the limelight, but first let’s talk about two characters who did get more screen time and they showed that they could handle spotlight.
Faith Lehane first appeared in season three of Buffy the vampire Slayer. She however didn’t even get a last name until Joss Whedon wrote her back story for the pen and paper Buffy RPG. (Some stories say her surname was generated for the video game Chaos Bleeds). Unlike the relatively pure Buffy, Faith the Slayer has tattoos, smokes, and engages in one night stands. She also accidentally kills a man when she thinks he is a vampire. Instead of coming clean and admitting to what she did, she blames it on Buffy. This leads her down a dark path that eventually leads to jail. She gives herself an early release when Wesley asks her for her help saving the world.
She is absent for most of the series either in a coma, in prison or on the run from the law. But she does show up for the final few episode as well as several episodes of the series Angel. But in addition to this she has made appearances in games, books and comics. In the Buffy comic books she has become kind of a slayer social worker helping slayers who have made mistakes like her’s. Faith also has had a twenty-five issue comic book, Faith and Angel. This gives the dark slayer a chance to shine, even if she is sharing the spotlight with a non-sparkling vampire. It allows her to grow and mature. The series allows her to redeem herself, but the more time she gets to shine, the more she becomes a hero.
On Dr. Who captain Jack Harkness didn’t even get official companion status, he was relegated to the role of quasi-companion. We first see him in London during World War Two, impersonating an American pilot, while trying to run a scan on his ex-employers the Time Agents (Originally The Time Agency was a throw away McGruffin in a Tom Baker era script.) Eventually with Rose becomes the ‘time-goddess’, she not only brings him back to life, after he is killed by Daleks, she makes him immortal. In Torchwood he is the team leader dashingly saving the world with his old time Webley No. 2, pistol.
A lot of people like Jack better in Dr. Who than in his own show. Torchwood is defiantly much darker and edgier. Also though he is the main character the first two seasons Torchwood is defiantly an ensemble show, where he shares the screen with his team. Some people feel the show focused too deeply on his omni-sexuality. And yes this does play heavily. But we also discover his history with the Torchwood organization throughout time, his relationship with his daughter and brother. As well as his history with the other members of the team. In all I liked getting to know him better.
Col. Gathers is a combo of Nick Fury and Hunter S Thompson. Everything goes better when you have a Dr. Hunter S. Thompson clone thrown in, just look at Doonesbury and Transmepolitan. In The Venture Brothers he leads the secret spy organization OSI and is Brock Sampson’s mentor. He is so hard core that he had a sex change just to infiltrate a team of female assassins. OK, well he kind of like that part of his life, but he did infiltrate a team of female assassins
Honestly there are a whole lot of characters form the Venture Brothers I would like to see more of. Byron Orpheus, 21, Master Billy Quizboy. There really are some awesome characters. Hunter stands out among these though. VB has some great dialog, and Hunter has his share of cool lines. Like when he and Brock where discussing on whether or not killing a female vampire would violate their no killing women rule. He concludes that they are fair game as undead but they are also fictitious, even though they are real in the Venture Bro universe. Or who can forget lines like “Don’t eat that it’s C-4.” Or “There is no good news just bad news and weird news.”
Now would be a perfect time for a political thriller satire. With captain America: The Winter Solider being closer to Three Days of the Condor than the Avengers, thrillers are back in vogue. And a Hunter Gathers mini-series or special would already have a built in fan base. Sure it would include a cameo with from “The Swedish Murder Machine.” Throw in Shore Leave, Head Shot and Amber Gold, But Col. Gathers would be the star. I think it is time to get the kids out of the pool and bring back Adult Swim.
I am not a big Nick Cage fan. He doesn’t bother me but the only things that made me say “way to go Niki-boy” are his role in Kick Ass as Big Daddy, and a blink and you’ll miss it role of Fu Man Chu in the Grind House, faux-commercial for Werewolf Women of the SS. So let’s just say I didn’t see Drive Angry for Nicholas cage. In fact the reason I saw it was I was moving out of town and want to do something with a friend before I left. And Cage, did another of his usual phone in performances. But I did enjoy William Fichtner as the Accountant.
The premise of the movie is that Hell is basically a prison where sinners go after they die. When one escapes like Nicholas Cage’s. John Milton, the Accountant is sent after them to retrieve them. He is basically a demon/angel of death/bounty hunter. He is called the Accountant because good and evil mean nothing to him, they are just numbers on a page, and when the numbers get to a certain set amount he goes out and does his thing. Merciless to the point of sadistic he see himself as just doing his job.
But he is not a character without humor. Like when he drives a tanker of propane into a police barricade while getting down disco classic “That’s the way I like it.” Or when he comes across a cultist who was trying to sacrifice a child to the devil. “Satan is simply the warden of a very large prison. Quiet man actually, thoughtful and he’s well read. And I happen to know the idea of sacrificing children in his honor annoys him greatly.”
There was talk about an Accountant movie. But since Drive Angry made so little money I doubt that will happen. But it defiantly has potential. Not just one Nichols cage escaping from hell but a whole rouges gallery of villains that need to be brought back. With the Account in his suit running over the escaped fallen in his ’57 Cadillac that would be cooler than any ten Cage movies.
The Next Wave Team.
I have stated that I prefer indy comics over the big two. Well if all of Marvel Comics were like Next Wave I would be their most loyal fan. Comic book genius Warren Ellis took four of Marvel C-listers threw in one of his own creations and made a super team that is a loving tribute to comic book teams and also a stark searing deconstruction of the genre. Officially Marvel’s head Joe Quesada banned this team to another un-official universe. Slowly but surely other writers brought them back in their Next Wave incarnations, till they even ended up in the Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe.
The plot is that the H.A.T.E. (Highest Anti-terrorist Effort) a front company for the evil Beyond Corporation hired the heroes to be part of the Next Wave team a private security force. Member Tabby Smith stole their corporate strategy and figured out that their employers were evil. So they stole a high tech vehicle and set off to make America safe by beating people up. Now I get that some purest out there may not like that their favorite C-team players are being missed with, but Marvel has kind of retconed (One of the few retcons I actually like) where they say that Next Wave team member’s memory and behavior may have been altered by H.A.T.E. mind control.
So let’s meet the team.
Monica Rambeau, was once the leader of the Avengers. Yes, that Avengers. Most comic book geeks never knew that the Avengers were once led by a black woman. That is why Ellis chose her. As Mrs. Marvel/Photon, she led the team when they battled the X-Man. Though being made of energy she lost her powers when crashed into the ocean and shorted out. Eventually she got her powers back but not her leadership role in the Avengers. Since Next Wave she has appeared, in the Marvel version of Sex and the City, Marvel Divas and as a member of the Initiative, wearing her Next Wave trench coat. Trench coats are signs that you are awesome in Next Wave.
Elsa Blodestone, is the daughter of Ulysses Bloodstone the M.U.’s resident monster hunter form the 60’s and 70’s. Before Ellis got his hands on her she was a blonde Buffy the Vampire Slayer clone. Warren gave her a complete makeover. Dying her hair red, making her English, gave her a healthy dose of snark and a life full of emotional trauma having to fight off monsters as a child. Elsa is my favorite tram member, she walks the tight rope between class and cynicism and lives to make things explode by kicking them. (This is not one of her powers, she just found out many of H.A.T.E.’s biological weapons explode if you kick them hard enough.) In the twelve issue run Elsa is the only one who demonstrates any kind of character development, Ellis apologized that he made a character grow and mature and promised never to do this again in the series. Since Next Wave she has kept the red hair, English accent, and the trench cost and is training new supers in England. But has also teamed up with Marvel stalwarts Wolverine and Missy Knight in missions centered on the occult. Although Elsa made an appearance in alternative Iron Man dimension as a blonde Archeologist who sells Tony a relic that turns out to be the bones of a dragon.
Tabatha Smith had one of the lamest nicknames in all of X-men history, Boom Boom. Her explosive powers were not bad, kind of like Jubilee’s fireworks power but more lethal. Ellis made her a cop hatting kleptomaniac. But then again that is how they learned about H.A.T.E evil business plan. A mind controling baddie tries to use his power on her but fails because she is too much of an airhead. Of all the Next Wavers she is probably the one who has had the most screen time since the series ended. She has gone back to calling herself Boom Boom and has pretty much gone back to her pre-Next Wave persona.
Aaron Stack or Machine Man was created by comic book master Jack Kirby, for the 2001: Space Odyssey comic book title. He is the only survivor of a series of robots and has become sentient. Originally he was helpful and friendly, but Ellis has made him feel superior to the ‘fleshy ones’ as he calls humans, so he treats them with disdain. He is also an alcoholic. I am not sure how that works with a robot, maybe I should ask Bender form Futuerama. He now works for SHIELD and is pretty much who he was in Next Wave, maybe toned down a bit but he is defiantly there for comic relief. Shield even gave him a Life Model Decoy of Monica Rambeau programed to tell him how sexy he is and to cry, as a recruitment bonus.
The Captain, went by the name captain XXXX (Insert dirty word of your choice here) until Captain America beat the XXXX out of him for defaming all super heroes with the word captain in their name. The Captain, got his Superman like powers from aliens who were experimenting on humans to make the race better. Unfortunately he beat the aliens to death because he thought that they were leprechauns and that if you repeatedly hit leprechauns in the head their heads turns to pot of gold, yes he was drunk at the time. The Captain was the only character created just for Next Wave, and his only appearance since then has been in a promotional poster for Marvel’s Initiative (Well he was in Marvel Zombeis and a Heroclix pack)
So now that you have met them I hope you see their potential. Sure they did get on the verge of silly, but I would love to see a reunion in the mainstream Marvel Universe or maybe a new team in the Ultimate Universe. (As far as I know only Machine Man is in U.U.) Or hey if Disney is just handing out Phase One movies then how about A Next Wave movie. Again I agree that the silly aspects need to be toned down, but replace silly with comedy add a dose of action and a new team going against a evil corp would fit in nicely with all the other Marvel movies.