Wednesday, September 30, 2015

31 Days of Scans - 5 Character Dream Team

I said last December I wanted to do a few of those "League of Extraordinary Gentlemen" rosters this year, and thus far, I haven't. Because I decided to wait and kick it off with this one. As usual, these can be difficult, because there are so many options. Which is why I have to restrict myself in some ways, or I'll never make a decision. This time around, I opted for characters created outside Marvel and DC. So, same rules apply as the last time, only there'll be no Mastermind, since it states 5 characters only.

The Leader: Brian Clevinger and Scott Wegener's Atomic Robo. For the purposes of this exercise, Robo is in his normal body. However, I'm not sure precisely when I'm taking him from. It might be simpler, in terms of getting the team together, to take him from the 1940s (for reasons that will become clear shortly). But if I take '70s Robo, we get possible Carl Sagan appearances and Robo wears a Gilligan hat sometimes. If I take current day Robo, we get the benefit of considerable experience and greater scientific knowledge in our Robo. With the present day, it's easy enough for Dr. Dinosaur's Time Bomb to throw Robo to the '40s, or perhaps another universe. There were his multiple run-ins with the Shadow from Beyond Time, or Tesla's device that opens a doorway to the vampire dimension (which Majestic-12 later got its hands on). Or something else we haven't seen yet. The options are there, and really, any Robo will be good.

So Robo is going to be the leader, but he's also going to be the brains of the outfit, at least as far as science goes. In more criminal areas, there are at least 2 characters on this team more experienced. However, given the nature of the world some of these characters inhabit, Robo is going to run up against some things he is going to have difficulty squaring with his views on how things work. Magic for one, time travel for another. One of the things I greatly enjoy about Atomic Robo is when he gets exasperated with stupidity or nonsense and resorts to sarcasm. Probably because that is how I respond to stupidity and nonsense. I expect this team to exasperate and confound Robo repeatedly. And everyone is a strong personality in their own way, so keeping them together is going to be a challenge. Especially because, in a crisis, Robo seems inclined to try and do everything himself and keep his Action Scientists at a safe distance. Understandable, since he's bulletproof and they aren't, but I doubt this crew will be as accepting. But he'll bring lightning guns, and lightning guns heal all wounds. With horrible burns, but still.

The Man with a Boat: Doug TenNapel's Earthworm Jim. This one is fudging it a bit since, a) Jim was originally a video game character, and b) the comics he did appear in were published by Marvel. But once again, Blog Commissioner allows it (all those illegal payoffs, er, paid off). Jim may or may not have a boat, but he does have a rocket large enough to carry a couple of passengers, and capable of traveling to other star systems. Close enough. (Note: One could substitute the Tick, and it would largely achieve the same effect, but I prefer Jim and it's my team, so nyeah.)

Jim operates in a sort of Silver Age world (which is why I can't be sure he doesn't have a Worm-Boat. He had a Worm-Cycle in the cartoon). Heroes keep their word, and triumph because they believe in things greater than themselves, like honor, or true love. Things that ought to be bizarre are treated as largely unremarkable. Radiation gives you super-powers, not cancer (though the powers are more likely to be funny than useful, as the need for jokes requires). Problems can be solved with science that makes not the slightest bit of sense. In a lot of ways, putting Jim on this team is a way to torment Robo with a heroic version of Dr. Dinosaur. There are going to be times Jim will suggest a completely idiotic solution to a problem (like dressing up as waiters to fool pursuing henchcats into eating explosives dressed up as seafood), and in the time it takes Robo to start listing all the ways that's nonsense, it'll work.

Of course other times, the nonsense solution won't work at all, because it's nonsense. In that event, Jim can just fall back on blasting things. Robo should at least appreciate having another person on the team who solves many of their problems with combinations of shooting, jumping, and hitting.

The Rogue: Colleen Coover and Paul Tobin's Bandette. This could put Bandette out of her depth, which by itself might make it worthwhile. Robo and Jim have both dealt with threats that could have ended existence. Then again, Bandette quite likes the world, because it has so many things for her to take from people, she'd be quite willing to help. Neither of the first two characters are all that great at stealth. But they are both fairly upright guys, so I wonder how much friction there would be about her stealing. Because it's a certainty if they storm the combined lair of Helsingard and Professor Monkey-for-a-Head and she sees a painting she likes, she'll take it. I'm pretty sure she can talk circles around Jim at will, which won't stop him from pleading she abandon her life of crime, and when that fails, probably trying to haul her off to jail.

Robo's going to be a harder sell. But Robo has worked with governments in the past, even though he doesn't trust their motives, because he fears how much worse they'll make things if he leaves them to clean it up themselves. So working with a thief who is more than happy to assist the police in bringing down other, more serious, criminals might be something he can live with. Until it puts the whole team in the crosshairs of someone better left alone. . .

I expect Bandette to enjoy the experience immensely. She's going to have an opportunity to steal things no one else from her world might ever have a chance to even see. She has the chance to become the greatest thief in the entire multiverse, which is the kind of challenge she'd love.

The Muscle: Dave Stevens' Rocketeer. Making Cliff the Muscle is a bit of a joke. If this were the old JLI, Robo would be J'onn, and Bandette would probably be Ted (she's too clever to be Booster). I'm not sure who Jim is, maybe the Big Red Cheese? He has that sort of upright, honest outlook, albeit a little more wacky than Billy. Cliff would be Guy, shooting off his mouth and getting punched in it. I fully expect him to be knocked unconscious within 5 minutes of this group being put together (and I expect Bandette to borrow the rocket pack about 5 seconds later).

Still, Cliff is generally an upright guy despite his temper, and he's more than willing to put his neck on the line. He has a little experience with super-science, so he ought to take a liking to the lightning guns at the very least. I do expect a giant talking worm to shock him (Bandette would probably just respond with some variant of how marvelous it is to meet a giant worm, and set about charming the pants off Jim. Even if she were flustered, she wouldn't show it). Cliff is probably the one who is going to struggle the most to prove his value, so he's going to overreach, make mistakes, try to butt into things that he should have stayed out of.

Also, if you think that Betty will team-up with Bandette at some point, probably to get their hands on some important classified documents, you're absolutely right. Betty's stubborn and enthusiastic nature ought to play well off Bandette's more playful outlook. There will also almost certainly be a team-up between Bandette's dog Pimento, and Butchie, that bulldog that hangs around the diner Cliff eats at most of the time. Hell, we have the possibility of an Atomic Robo/Doc Savage team-up, since the Doc is the one who designed the rocket pack. Hmm, could we tie that into Robo's Flying She-Devils of the Pacific mini-series? Rival jetpack designs, or the She-Devils could have improved on the Doc's design. Basically, my reason for possibly having '40s Robo is to say he and Cliff already inhabit the same universe. Their worlds can at least sort of coexist.

The Woman of Mystery: John Ostrander and Tim Truman's GrimJack. I know you're thinking John Gaunt isn't a woman, and you'd be correct. However, it was established that - spoiler for 25+ year old comic! - having rejected Heaven to save his best friend, Gaunt's fate was tied to the city of Cynosure, and he's doomed to be reborn until the city is destroyed. At least some of the future incarnations we saw in the double-page splash that explained this were female. It could be one of those GrimJacks. A good writer could do something with a character who is a woman currently, and has grown up as a woman, but also remembers past lives as a man just as vividly, and how they choose to identify themselves in light of that. I have no idea, frankly, how GrimJack would approach it, though I expect there'd be an adjustment period when he recalls his past lives and handles it badly. You need someone who isn't me writing this thing for that, but the potential is there.

Setting that aside, GrimJack brings a lot of experience to the table. Even if were aren't using a reincarnation (in which case he has multiple lifetimes), he has decades of conflict in his life. Robo's been alive for awhile, but he's lived comfortably enough he could spend time going to school, running a company, developing entirely new disciplines of science. Gaunt had to spend almost his entire life struggling to survive. Grows up in the shittiest part of Cynosure, the Pit. Gets sent to the Arena to fight for his life for the amusement of the upper class while still a kid. Gets out as a teen, finds a little love and peace in a pocket dimension, then returns home and finds himself in a battle against the literal forces of Hell. Survives that, joins a bounty group called the Lawkillers. Survives that, joins the Transdimensional Police, then the Cadre as an assassin, then becomes a freelance mercenary. He lives and thrives in a city that is constantly changing in size, shape, and population, where the physical laws that govern one street corner may have no bearing around the next block, and that too, is constantly changing. He's pissed off innumerable people, from politicians to bounty hunters to gods. Even if he did catch a bullet eventually, he made past 50 in a profession where a lot of people would be lucky to reach half that. He knows how to survive, is what I'm saying.

It's that knowledge I think the team really needs. Robo can be deceptive, but for him, that means he plays bullet magnet while someone else sets things in motion. Cliff is a generally lousy fighter, and not much good at making plans, and abandons the ones he does make at the drop of a hat. Bandette is sneaky, but tends to let fights drag out because she's having fun. As for Jim, well, despite his great big muscles and his really big ray gun, Jim is still an earthworm, which means he is pretty dumb. Gaunt fights dirty, using any edge he can get. Any weapon, any bit of his surroundings, any distraction, any moment of weakness in his opponent, GrimJack takes advantage of it. He wouldn't have lived as long as he did if he hadn't. Plus, he's getting old, and with the aches and pains, it's just better to end fights quicker sometimes, you know?

Also, I'm curious how he'd respond to Robo. Gaunt had a rule about not allowing Tourbots in his bar (those are ways for people to cheaply travel the city while sitting safely in a chair in an office somewhere, by placing their consciousness in a rolling trashcan), and once of his worst foes was Kalibos, an artificial intelligence that merged science with magic, and kills people to wear their skins so he can roam the city doing as he pleases (sowing discord and chaos as the ultimate expression of his freedom). So GrimJack might have some problems with artificial intelligence. Until Robo helps him put Kalibos down once and for all. Gaunt is, again in JLI terms, Batman, which is not something I'm hugely happy about given my frequent antipathy towards the Bat, but I don't see a better comparison. I do think that, once he got to know them, he'd develop moderately warm feelings. Jim might remind him of his friend Judah the Hammer, Cliff's a young hothead GJ would probably try to keep from getting his head blown off (that said, GrimJack is the one I expect to put out Cliff's lights in the first 5 minutes). I think he'd have to respect Bandette's skill (there will NOT be any romantic relationship between those two. however. Bandette is not spinning the wheel of likely death all his girlfriends have).

As for how you get them all together, rough draft, assuming Robo and Cliff occupy the same universe. There's a mishap with the portal, only they're thrown somewhere other than the vampire dimension, probably Cynosure (or the vampire dimension went into phase with Cynosure and they survived it long enough to emerge into the city, probably joining whatever forces from the city are keeping the vampires from overrunning the susceptible dimensions). At the same time, Bandette's world came into phase, and through some circumstances, she's come into possession of the Manx Cat. Maybe someone from Cynosure came to Paris and found her, and offered her the job. When the Cat gets stolen, GrimJack is the one who always gets dragged in to retrieve it. Which sets off a chase through the city, and Cliff, observing the chase, tries to help Bandette. Which doesn't go well, so Robo jumps in (literally), and GrimJack brings out the heavy artillery. Bandette probably hangs around to watch, or recognizes she has no idea where home is at this stage, and at some point, Robo falls into a section of the city where technology doesn't function, which hopefully slows things down enough nobody gets killed. As for Jim, I expect him to abruptly arrive after an incident involving him trying to make root beer in his garage for a box social he invited his rogues gallery to. He shouldn't have accepted a golf club from Psycrow to stir the mixture doing a thunderstorm. They could potentially end up in a section where technology can develop low-level sentience, in which case his suit would go out of control, and the whole group has to try and contain it, destroy it, or get it to a different area where it'll revert to normal.

Robo ponders the choices that have brought him to this place in "Why Atomic Robo Hates Dr. Dinosaur", by Brian Clevinger (writer), Scott Wegener (artist), Ronda Patterson (colorist), and Jeff Powell (letterer). Commandeering a giant hamster to stop a shotgun wedding is just another day in the life in Earthworm Jim #2, by Dan Slott (plot), John Lewandowski (script), Barry Crain (pencils), Sam DeLa Rosa (inker), UL Higgins (pencils), Ed Laz (colorist). Bandette is living the dream in Bandette #3, by Paul Tobin (writer), Colleen Coover (artist), Ryan Jurgensen (digital production), and Irina Beffa (design). Cliff is more confident than he ought to be in Rocketeer, Chapter 4 (I couldn't figure out which comic specifically it would be in), by Dave Stevens (writer and artist), Laura Martin (colorist), and Carrie Spiegle (letterer). GrimJack's stint as a dentist ended swiftly amid complaints about his primitive working conditions in GrimJack #1, by John Ostrander (writer), Tim Truman (artist), Janice Cohen (colorist), and John Workman (letterer).

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