The Flood – Halo’s Unstoppable Infection

Picture this…

You enlisted in the United Nations Space Command. You wanted to do your part and help to protect humanity against enemies both foreign and domestic. You went through boot camp with hundreds of other aspiring young marines like yourself and formed some good friendships along the way. 

Near the end of your stint in training, it came over the comms, humanity was not alone in the universe. Harvest, one of the outermost colonies Earth had established in the Milky Way, was under attack. Not from insurgents or splinter factions, from an unknown alien enemy calling themselves “The Covenant”. What followed was something you hadn’t in your wildest dreams ever thought would come to pass.

A war spanning nearly 27 years in length against an enemy that was vastly technologically superior and resolute in their beliefs. There was a glimmer of hope, The SPARTAN-IIs. They helped to stem the tide, but there were too few of them to make a real impact. Finally the Covenant found Reach, the Human military stronghold housing nearly the entirety of the UNSC armed forces. They attacked without mercy and with overwhelming force. The ship you were assigned to, The Pillar of Autumn, fled the battle carrying, what was believed to be, the last SPARTAN-II and made a blind jump through hyperspace. When the ship emerged out of hyperspace the Covenant were not far behind, but there was an object positioned in geosynchronous orbit around a gas giant, the Halo ring. Having escaped certain death at Reach and not wanting to die in the cold vacuum of space, your Captain decides to abandon the ship and land on the ring. 

It’s a rich lush world full of plants, running, water and unknown ancient alien tech. 

One day, a comms tech overhears the Covenant talking about a weapon they discovered buried in the ring; something that could wipe them out. Not wanting this weapon to fall into the Covenant’s hands, your captain hand picks a squad to storm the bunker, retrieve the weapon and bring it back. As they storm the bunker they find a mass of dead Covenant and a single locked door. The squad brute forces their way through the door and unknowingly unleashes The Flood on the galaxy.

The Flood sweep across the Halo ring killing everything in their path, Human and Covenant alike. You watch as your friends are lost underneath a swarm of infection forms and slowly begin mutating into flood themselves.  This isn’t what you signed up for… even with the Master Chief, there is no escaping this. 

Your magazine runs dry and you draw your sidearm. There’s only a few of you left, your backs against the wall waiting for Echo 419 to brave the airspace to evac your squad. There is no end to the Flood. For every single one you kill, a hundred more take their place. You watch as your squad are overrun, you fire your pistol until it runs dry as well, you load your last mag and begin counting the shots squeezing off rounds until there’s only one left in the chamber. Your squad’s bodies begin to move and thrash around as they mutate and begin reanimating as part of the Flood’s endless wave. You turn the sidearm and place the end of the barrel against your temple, this isn’t what you signed up for… you never signed up for this nightmare…

Anyone who has played any of the main trilogy of Halo games knows full well who the Flood are and what they can do. But not everyone knows their origin and how they nearly conquered the galaxy long ago during the time of the Forerunners.

HISTORY

Despite what the Halo games have led us to believe, the Forerunners were not the most technologically advanced species in the Milky Way galaxy, The Precursors actually held that title for millions of years. The Precursors actually created the Forerunners and assisted them in their advancement to space faring species. When the Forerunners attempted to take the ‘Mantle’ from the Precursors, the Forerunners were deemed unworthy. This caused a great war between the Precursors and Ancient Forerunners that resulted in the Precursors being expelled from the Milky Way galaxy all together.

‘The Mantle’, or as it is referred to in the games, “The Mantle of Responsibility”, refers to the belief that the most technologically advanced species was charged with the protection of all other life in the galaxy. With the Precursors having been expelled by the Forerunners  from the galaxy, the Forerunners assumed the mantle and set to work, work which lasted thousands of years. 

Outside of the Milky Way, some of the remaining Precursors entered stasis while others decided that dying was a better end. Those that died eventually dissolved into a dust that was stored in cylinders. Ancient space faring Humanity found these cylinders and opened them. The dust entered the humans’ bodies and began to mutate them from the inside out, eventually giving birth to the first Flood forms and proto-Gravemind. Initially the Flood attacked Humanity but the collective memories of the Precursors deemed Humanity worthy of the mantle and thus, the Flood ceased their attacks, instead moving to attack the Forerunners in the Milky Way. Humanity still fleeing the Flood’s advance, entered the Milky Way ahead of them and began attacking the Forerunners in hopes of breaking through and putting more distance between themselves and the Flood. 

Unbeknownst to the Human fleet, a large portion of them had been infected with the Precursor dust. 

Around roughly 98,379 BCE, The Flood arrived in the Milky Way.  Utilizing captured non military vessels, the Flood managed to bypass the Forerunner defense fleets and land on Forerunner worlds. As the infection took hold on the Forerunner planets, the collective intelligence of all biomass the infection assimilated was provided to the Proto-Gravemind.

After over 300 years of war, the Forerunners began to realize that their extinction was a real possibility. While the Forerunners would win every engagement against the Flood, they were unable to halt the spread of the infection. Eventually resorting to detonating the stars of entire systems to stop large infestations.

The Forerunners began saving and cataloging species to make sure the Flood would not destroy them. One such example was ancient humans. The Forerunners took specimens from ancient space faring humans and after some light modifications, seeded the planet we know as Earth with a new wave of humanity. Some specimens were kept and stored alongside various alien species, such as Elites and even some flood samples in their vaults on the Shield Worlds. After the initial contact, the Forerunner-Flood War entered into a stalemate for several hundred years.

During the stalemate, the Forerunners constructed many different AI to assist in the construction of solutions and deployment of their navy to combat the infection. One of the AIs that was created by the Forerunners was known as 05-032 Mendicant Bias. Mendicant was tasked with interrogation of the captured Proto-Gravemind to determine if the Flood could be reasoned with. The Proto-Gravemind identified itself as the last Precursor when it was interrogated by Mendicant, stating that the Flood was the last salvo in the Precursor-Forerunner war and that they would end the Forerunner race. As the interrogations continued, the Proto-Gravemind began to question Mendicant’s masters until it ultimately swayed Mendicant into believing that the time of the Forerunners was over. This came to be known as ‘The Logic Plague’ which affected not just AI but some of the Forerunner race as well. Mendicant allied with the Flood against the Forerunners sparking the beginning of the end of the war.

As the Forerunners scrambled to fight not just the Flood but now their rampant AI as well, a meeting was called to discuss how to proceed. The Diadect advocated for militaristic action against the Flood. To do this, he would need to compose some of the newly settled humans and turn them into his Knights (of Halo 4 & 5 fame); meanwhile, the master builder proposed the construction of more Shield Worlds and the Halo array. The assembly approved of the master builder’s plan and the Diadect was turned down; though, he would attempt to go behind the assembly’s back and make more knights, he was ultimately stopped and imprisoned in the Cryptum you find him in at the beginning of Halo 4.

As the Flood continued through the galaxy, the Forerunners ran out of options and the Librarian was unable to determine a cure for the infection. Ultimately, the Forerunners activated the Halo Array. The array functioned as it was meant to, killing all living beings with a sufficient biomass for infection. This in turn stopped the Flood and killed off all but the samples the Forerunners had kept in vaults on each Halo ring and on the Ark.

The activation of the array destroyed all Precursor and Forerunner tech that was not protected by either a shield world or a Halo ring. The Flood was starved out with the Proto-Gravemind dying as well. Eventually automated Key ships began ferrying the samples the Forerunners had stored in their vaults to new planets so life could once again foster in the Milky Way without the problem of the Flood.

This is where we start the Halo series. Thousands of years have passed and the Flood have laid dormant in their vaults on Halo.

Precursor

BIOLOGY

The Flood is a parasitic species of extragalagtic origin which is very virulent in its natural state, its Latin name is Inferi Redivivus which translates to “The Dead Reincarnated”. It can only be classified as an anomaly as it does not follow any known structure of function or organization. It represents the unstoppable force of nature and cannot be contained by conventional means.  As the infection takes hold, the parasite forces the host biomass through several stages of “evolution” until it achieves a massive biological breakdown in the host. Once this breakdown occurs then the infection can really take hold and work its magic. While the Flood infection is able to reproduce A-sexually without the use of a host, this is normally seen as a last ditch effort and is only really possible for “Pure Flood Forms”. The Flood has survived for as long as it has by the use of Lysogenic Replication. This is a process wherein the viral cells infiltrate and corrupt the healthy cells infecting them with their own genetic code. This allows the viral cells to mutate the healthy cells into new viral cells to infect other healthy cells. This process occurs until all healthy cells have been turned. 

The infection absorbs all biomass indiscriminately with only a very few species proving to be immune from the infection, Hunters and Drones have been shown to be immune to the infection for various reasons. One of the Forerunner’s plans, before the activation of the Halo array, was to utilize the Lekgolo worms that make up hunter colonies to consume the Flood biomass. While it proved effective in isolated cases, it was unable to be deployed on a large scale and the Forerunners were forced abandoned this plan. 

Flood infected Brute

The Flood are able to infect any organism with a biomass that is sufficient to house their infection, though, they do tend to prefer organisms with large brain capacity. This helps to accelerate the formation of the Gravemind to control the infection. Since the Flood’s Gravemind intelligence is only as smart as the organisms consumed by the infection, the more intelligent a species is, the more dangerous the infection can be. Having developed in severe conditions, the Flood infection is very resistant. It can survive on all known habitable worlds, temperatures ranging from 75 – +53 degrees Celsius, and can even survive underwater for a short time. 

As the Flood assume control of an area, they begin to alter their environment to promote further growth and incubation. They will begin attaching themselves to walls to create pods for breeding the infected virus as well an expelling spores into the air. If left alone for a long enough time and with enough raw biomass to work with, the Flood is able to completely turn a location into a Hive which can house a Gravemind or an entire army of forms (as seen with High Charity following Halo 2). The Flood infection tends to thrive in humid & lush environments which is why during the campaign of Halo 2, the “Quarantine Zone” used to contain the Flood infection is desolate, cold and snow covered.

NEUROLOGY/PHYSIOLOGY

Infection Form

The small bulbous squid looking “infection forms” are the Flood’s basic infectious hosts. They move across the ground looking for dead or wounded biomass with a sufficient sentience that they can add to the collective. Possessing several long tendrils they attack and overwhelm the host before using the tendrils to enter the host and find it’s spinal cord. The infection form then syncs it’s own nerve signal to that of the host and kills the host. From there it assumes control of the host and infects its brain wiping all personal memories. Some information such as combat techniques and technical intelligence is kept by the Flood and added to the Gravemind intelligence.  This process is so complete that despite a few small lingering memories, the host is now completely subservient to the Gravemind. It’s only purpose to infect new hosts and protect the Gravemind.  

There is another tactic used by the Flood to obtain specific information from a new host. This is the tactic that was used on Captain Jacob Keyes during the campaign of Halo: Combat Evolved. Rather than brute forcing their way into a hosts mind, they ‘burrow’ and slowly take over their memories and thoughts until they obtain the specific information that’s sought. In Captain Keye’s case, the Flood were looking for a starship to take them away from the Halo ring (Installation 04) or to show them the location of the ‘new and rich feeding ground’ (Earth). While Keyes fought them for as long as he could, eventually he was taken by the infection and the Flood gained the information they were after. 

A Gravemind is able to override the primal/basic instincts of the Flood and coordinate them into an effective force once enough biomass and intelligence has been obtained through infection.  A Gravemind is also able to control the actions of each individual infected host and even use their vocal chords to communicate with other species.

Gravemind concept art

While the neurological infection and assimilation is the same regardless of species, the physiological mutations are species specific. “Higher evolution hosts” such as humans, elites, and forerunners are used as a means of combat and thus their mutations generally result in “combat forms”. These forms retain the basic profile of the host species while still being significantly mutated. Most common mutations are: corrupted organ systems, decayed body cavities, internal organs displaced and decaying outer skin. The nature of these mutations render high powered ammunition, such as sniper rifles, largely ineffective and allows a combat form to remain functional even after being decapitated or maimed. Combat forms also generate large tentacles from their extremities and central core. These tentacles are used as melee weapons and can sometimes contain bony protrusions for added damage. 

COUNTERMEASURES 

As it stands in the Halo universe, there are no known countermeasures to the Flood infection. Once an infection takes hold of a host there is no way to stop the infection from spreading and there is no known method to reverse the effects of an infection. Flamethrowers are effective in destroying the infection before it attaches to a host, but the most effective form of controlling the Flood is isolating the infection and starving it out. 

Certain neurological disorders that affect the neural frequencies of the hosts have proven to render individuals immune to Flood infection. One such disorder is Boren’s Syndrome. This condition which is caused by radiological exposure creates electrical anomalies in the nervous system which the Flood cannot mimic. Sergeant Avery Johnson is the only known individual with Boren’s Syndrome to have come into contact with a flood infection. While he was attacked and was attempted to be assimilated into the Flood, he survived. He does have some Flood DNA in his system but it is unable to mutate him; however, it did gift him with some advanced healing capabilities.

All known Flood forms

There you have it, the unstoppable infection that is the Flood. It’s rather reassuring that this is a fictional virus and not something we’re dealing with right now.  I have spent hundreds if not thousands of hours playing various Halo games and can say that I am terrified of the Flood. It’s something that I hope we would never have to deal with… ever.

Until next time!

Advertisements

Modern Villains & The Complexity They Represent

2018 has been an amazing year for movies. No contest. One of the greatest things that came around this year in particular is that the villains being chosen for movies are not the classic villain. While some do have a “Take over the world because I want to” vibe to them, most of them are compelling and interesting characters. They represent an alternative way of thinking and while they might choose the wrong path they aren’t necessarily wrong. Let’s look at some of the great villains from movies this year. 

THANOS

The biggest movie event of the year, and probably the last 20, was Avengers: Infinity War that premiered on April 27, 2018. The last 10 years of Marvel films have been building up to this event and it paid off (for the most part) extremely well. The big bad in this movie was the Mad Titan Thanos, but this Thanos was MUCH different from his comic book counter part. In Marvel Comics, Thanos is evil for the sake of it. He doesn’t have any real ulterior motivations other than wanting to be reunited with Lady Death, whom he has fallen in love with. Thanos thought that if he could prove to her that he deserved her love she would admit that she belonged with him and they would finally be united in love. Yes, comic Thanos wants to bang a busty skeleton and that is why he kills half the universe. While this does work to make a great villain to have the Avengers go up against, the maniacal overlord trope has been used and abused so many times in film that something else needed to be done, enter the Russo brothers.  

Until they directed Captain America: The Winter Soldier, the Russo’s main directing credit came from the paintball episodes of Community. With their success at crafting (arguably) the best Marvel movie to date, Kevin Feige gave them the reigns to bring Thanos to the big screen. The Russos dove into their work and brought us a mad titan that you could sympathize with. In the MCU, Thanos begins his quest to get power sure, but having the power wasn’t his goal it was a means to an end, he wants to bring the universe back into balance. His main argument is that he is the only one who can see that eventually life will cease to exist if left to prosper unchecked. We find out that this is what led to the downfall and extinction of his home planet. He states that the universe only has a finite number of resources and that those resources are being used at an alarming rate. So, to ensure the longevity of life, a culling must take place. 50% of the entire universe, chosen indiscriminately to ensure fairness, needs to die to ensure life continues.  This draws an interesting parallel to our own planet where we are using resources at an increasingly fast pace and Global Warming will become inevitable in less than 50 years unless we do something about it. The redeeming quality of Thanos, is that he knows he is also part of the problem and he is willing to sacrifice himself if it means the universe spins on. 

KILLMONGER

On February 16, 2018, we were introduced to the nation of Wakanda through Ryan Coogler’s epic film Black Panther. Having been introduced to T’Challa in Captain America: Civil War, his solo film was where Black Panther was really allowed to shine. Part of what made the movie so great was its compelling villain, Eric “Killmonger” Stevens also known as N’Jadaka. Now Killmonger spent the first good portion of the movie manipulating his way into Wakanda proper before executing his plan. He attempted and succeeded in a coup of the throne by exploiting his right to challenge the king to one on one combat for the throne. While he missed the official day where all the tribes were permitted to present a challenger, his cousin T’Challa accepted his challenge. Killmonger was a vicious fighter and had been trained by the CIA to work as a black ops member to destabilize foreign governments. He racked up over 2,200 confirmed kills and decorated his body with ceremonial “crocodile” markings for each life he took. When Killmonger defeated his cousin and assumed the throne his first act after ingesting the heart shaped herb for himself was to burn the garden where it was grown. His second order was to arm the “Dogs of War” Wakanda had stationed around the globe so they could arm the disenfranchised descendants of the African people to take control. Having grown up in the slums of Oakland California after his father, prince N’Jobu was killed by the king T’Chaka for betraying the people of Wakanda, Killmonger knew the conditions his people’s descendants were living in. Wanting to end the subjugation of his people he believed that the only way to accomplish this task was to create a series of coups around the globe and arm the revolutionaries with Wakandan tech, which is way more advanced than the rest of the world.

His belief in the ability and requirement of the Wakandan nation to end their ruse of appearing as a third world country and assume their rightful place as rulers of the world, caused a shift in the people of Wakanda. While some like the Border Tribe allied with Killmonger, most didn’t agree with his way of thinking. When T’Challa returned and took his throne back, he agreed that it was time for Wakanda to step out of the shadows and take a more active role in the affairs of the world. In the end, Killmonger was right even if he went about it the wrong way, and his people took their place as major players in the affairs of the world. 

GRINDELWALD

Say what you will about the second installment of the Fantastic Beasts franchise, Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald, but the villain Gellert Grindelwald, played by the great Johnny Depp, stands as one villain you can’t help but sympathize with.

SPOILERS AHEAD!!!

The movie starts nearly immediately after the first one ended, I believe there has been a few months of time that passed but nothing has really changed. We start with the American Ministry of Magic holding Grindelwald in a cell before the British ministry representatives arrive to transport him to Europe for his crimes. They never specify what his crimes are but it appears he is like most of the mafia bosses in history, linked to many crimes without direct evidence to place him there. While his followers do utilize the unforgivable curses to their full extent and with wanton disregard for the muggle population, Grindelwald doesn’t use any of the curses himself. It also appears in the film that in certain circumstances, the 1920’s Ministry of Magic condoned Aurors utilizing the killing curse to stop large threats to the Wizarding World.  Now none of this really has anything to do with Grindelwald but it is important to know because of how the movie plays out. The reason that you sympathize with Grindelwald comes at the climax of the film. Grindelwald is hosting a massive congregation of witches and wizards from across Europe in order to recruit them to his side. While most people think Grindelwald is just a Voldemort analogue, they could not be more wrong. While Voldemort wanted to extinguish muggles and all muggleborns because he viewed them as dirty or unclean, Grindelwald wants to control them.  He understands that in the beginning there will be death and that is the price they must pay for their ultimate goal which is harmony through wizard rule. Now while this definitely sounds “Take over the world villainy”, give me a moment to explain…

The movie takes place in the 1920’s which comes on the tail of the ending of the First World War. Now we learn that the wizarding world didn’t take part in the war in any capacity but countless witches and wizards were killed because of it through collateral damage. Grindelwald provides a vision to his congregation at the end of the film that predicts WWII and the dropping of the atomic bomb. He goes on to say, that if left to their own devices, muggles could destroy the planet within the next 20 years and calls for witches and wizards from all countries to ally with him to bring the muggle world to order to stop unnecessary death.  This causes a lot of the congregation to ally with him and chant his name in unison, which is something he relishes in. It’s obvious Grindelwald is an egomaniac, but being an egomaniac doesn’t mean he was wrong in his beliefs. 

There you go, three fine examples of how modern films are moving away from traditional villainy and giving us more complex villains. As I’ve said before, while some of them went about it the wrong way, none of them were wrong in what they thought.  See you next time!

Fortress Vader – Its True Purpose

Mustafar is a planet that every Star Wars fan will know well. Not only is it the location of Vader’s fortress, but it’s also the planet in which Anakin Skywalker was fully lost to the Dark Side and battled his former master and best friend, Obi Wan Kenobi. After the battle of the heroes in Revenge of the Sith, Anakin was left to die on the planet by Obi-Wan who fled with Padme and the two droids back to friendly space. Unknown to Obi-Wan at the time, Anakin managed to survive and was repaired using cybernetics by his new master Sheev Palpatine aka Darth Sidious.

Due to his severe injuries suffered while battling Obi Wan, Anakin lives in a constant state of pain which helps to amplify his Sith powers. While his suit allows him to move around and interact with others, prolonged use of the suit can be excruciating  on him. Due to this fact, he is required to regularly remove the suit and submerge himself in a Bacta tank to relieve some of the pain. While Vader could create a space anywhere to be treated in the Bacta tank he has constructed many fortresses and palaces throughout the Expanded Universe and the new Disney canon to do just that.

Prior to the new Disney Canon, the fortress was originally an old Sith temple that Vader restored and occupied for several years during the Galactic Civil War. With the new Canon, the origins of the fortress have been expanded on and deliver a much greater explanation as to its creation.

NEW CANON

During the time of the Inquisitors and the hunt for any Rogue Jedi, Vader was chasing two Inquisitors that had gone rogue from the Empire. As the chase continued across Couruscant Vader eventually captured and dispatched the two rogue Inquisitors earning him the Emperor’s praise. For his services to the Empire, Darth Sidious offered Vader to build himself a fortress on any planet that he wanted. Sidious had expected Vader to take his seat of power in a central area to exert maximum influence over the Empire; however, Vader chose to build his fortress on the planet Mustafar, the site of his greatest defeat. Knowing that this planet was crucial in Vader’s connection to the Dark Side, Sidious agreed and dispatched Vader along with Colonel Alva Brenne and Lieutenant Roggo to commence construction. Sidious also sent along the possessed mask of the Sith Lord Momin, a sculptor and art lover.

DARTH MOMIN

Momin

Darth Momin was a Sith Lord and sculptor who lived during the hundred year darkness and was killed roughly 1032 BBY (Before the Battle of Yavin). Momin was able to sculpt using his mind and the force from a young age; though, his creations earned him the scorn of many. Eventually, he was imprisoned for some of his designs where he remained for several years until Darth Shaa freed him and took him as her apprentice. Lady Shaa began training Momin in the ways of the dark side where he excelled and his pride grew. Believing himself to be second to nobody, Momin murdered Lady Shaa during a training session and declared himself a Dark Lord of the Sith. Now uninhibited by his old master, Momin was free to design to his heart’s content, which he did and eventually developed a super weapon.  Momin’s superweapon was powerful enough to turn a thriving metropolis to ash, but that wasn’t enough for him. Momin resolved to pour the Force into his weapon and then the expressions of his victims would be frozen in time by the force for all of eternity. Momin maneuvered his super weapon over a city and began the process of destroying the city and freezing it in time. Unable to allow this to occur, several Jedi stormed Momin’s weapon which in turn disrupted his concentration. In the end the Jedi disabled the weapon and Momin’s body was incinerated leaving his spirit trapped in his mask which the Jedi stored in their secret vault in the archives.

It was in this vault that Momin’s spirit lingered for nearly a thousand years before being discovered by Darth Sidious following Darth Vader’s defeat of Jedi Master Jocasta Nu.

MOMIN REBORN

When Vader’s construction party arrived on the planet, Vader decided to build his structure over top of an ancient Sith cave. The same cave where he had bled the Kyber Crystal of Jedi Master Kirak Infil’a in his quest to create his own crimson Sith blade. Vader once again entered the cave to meditate and commune with the force only to be interrupted by Brenne who had a proposed blue print for Vader’s fortress. Vader rejected the idea and Brenne returned to the ship where Roggo and Darth Momin’s mask lay waiting.

As Brenne returned to the ship the Spirit of Darth Momin that was possessing his mask made its move. Exerting its control over the Dark Side, Momin killed Brenne and possessed the body of Roggo. Finally having an actual body after several generations, Momin used Roggo’s body to design the fortress that Vader would eventually build.

Vader and Momin

Vader returned to the ship after his meditation to discover the colonel murdered and Momin having possessed Roggo’s body. Vader proceeded to murder the possessed Roggo and took Momin’s mask back to the cave where he had forged his lightsaber. It was in this cave that Momin tried to possess Vader and showed him his story and deemed his superweapon a failure. During the attempted possession, some native Mustafarians attacked Vader while he was meditating in the cave. Vader managed to defeat them with Momin’s mask possessing one of them in turn, this granted Momin a new body without costing the Empire another officer.

In his new body, Momin stated that his new design would act as a sort of tuning fork to the dark side and could open up a doorway to the Force allowing Vader to finally meet his long lost love, Padme, once more. While Momin believed that this would excite Vader, he was met with skepticism and threats. Vader stated that Sidious had already lied to him about this type of thing and that, if Momin failed to deliver, he would kill him without hesitation.

Roughly around 5 BBY the fortress was completed. The central tower and it’s tuning forks were made out of pure obsidian mined from the planet and the outer pieces were made of a Doonium Alloy.

Between 2 BBY and 0 BBY, a Rebel Alliance Strike team infiltrated the fortress to attempt to discover Imperial secrets. They discovered a proto-saber being constructed by Vader. The proto-saber was of a unique design featuring a cross-guard (as made famous by Kylo Ren) but without the two vents. Instead it had two prongs that ran up from the base and when ignited, white energy would light up the space between the prongs. The pilot of the Rebel strike Force, Athnex, attempted to scan the saber in order to take it back to the Alliance but never finished his scan. Vader arrived, having been alerted to the Rebels, and pulled  Athnex through the air toward him stabbing him through the back with his lightsaber. As the other Rebels attempted to flee, Vader began cutting them down. K2SO crashed a shuttle into the fortress and began firing a weapon at Vader to allow the rebels time to escape.

darth_vaders_castle

In 0BBY, Director Orson Krennic arrived at the fortress to consult Vader on his plans with the Death Star.

In the expanded universe, Vader not only had his fortress on Mustafar but also had a palace on Coruscant in the Diplomatic District near the Senate and Bast Castle on the planet Vjun. Vader later abandoned his castle on Vjun to provide it as headquarters for the Dark Side Elite. The Dark Side Elite were a band of seven dark Jedi that were established by Darth Sidious in the Expanded Universe following his return using clone bodies.

 

There you have it! The real purpose for Vader’s fortress on Mustafar! Not just badass looking but so he can finally be reunited with the love of his life. See you next time!

My Top 10 Favourite Heroes/Anti-Heroes

This week for my blog post, I decided to do a list of my top 10 favourite heroes from DC and Marvel combined. It’s not going to be a secret that you’re going to see a lot of anti-heroes on this list, given how much I love them, but there will be some clean cut heroes on here too. I should preface this by saying that this list is my own opinion and can fluctuate from time to time.

So let’s dive in starting at the bottom and work our way to the top.

#10. Captain America

Cap

Steven Grant Rogers was born in Manhattan, New York on July 4, 1920, to his parents Sarah and Joseph Rogers. He grew up a frail young man during the depression with his father dying during his childhood and his mother dying of pneumonia during his teen years. He attempted to enlist during the WWII draft but was denied due to his size and medical ailments. He was eventually chosen for the “Operation: Rebirth” the Super Soldier project headed by Dr. Erskine where he became Captain America. Captain America was responsible for helping to turn the tide of the war in the favour of the allies before he was tragically lost somewhere over the arctic. He lay frozen in ice for over 70 years before being discovered and thawed by the Avengers. Captain America has gone on to head the Avengers for decades and remains as their most constant member.

Why Captain America?

Chris Evans said it best when asked during an interview for the original Avengers as to why he chose to play him, he said” He’s the epitome of who you wish you could be. He’s good for the sake of being good”. We’re just going to ignore Hydra Cap and that Secret Empire garbage for a moment (like seriously? why?) and focus on what Evans said. He is the epitome of who you wish you could be. Captain America is one of he few heroes who has remained largely incorruptible during his comic run, and that is something we as people aspire to. Everyone is good, the choices you make dictate how the world sees you, and Captain America always makes the right choice. He might not always end up on the side of the law (Civil War anyone?), but he is always on the right side. This quality is something that everyone strives towards and gives them an objective to maintain which is something that is needed by a lot of people. But not only is he good for the sake of being good, he also has an ability to inspire. Captain America always believes in the best in everybody and he uses this belief in the people to inspire them to be the best version of themselves. During the Original Infinity War comic, he stood up to Thanos, in Captain America: The Winter Soldier he convinced hundreds if not thousands of SHIELD agents to stand up for what was right and to fight against the Hydra agents that had infiltrated their organization and in Disney’s Avengers Assemble his stand against Thanos and the Black Order convinced the entire population of New York to rally behind him and the Avengers to buy the time needed to win. No matter who you are, there is no denying that Captain America deserves a spot on everybody’s top 10 list.

#9 – The Flash

wp-1455385093781-461x700

Bartholomew Henry Allen “Barry Allen” was born in Fallville Iowa to his parents Henry and Nora Allen. Barry was actually one of twins born to the Allens but his brother was whisked away and given to another family, the Thawnes, who’s child had died during childbirth. The Allens were told that the second baby had been born still and that Barry himself was lucky to be alive. When Barry was a young boy his mother was murdered in their home and his father was framed for the murder. Henry Allen was convicted of life in Iron Heights Prison and Barry struggled without any parental figures in his life. He eventually developed an aptitude for the sciences and went to school for Forensic Science. He graduated and earned himself a job at the Central City Police Department in the Forensics lab. He was working late one night when a lightning bolt struck him after he had tripped and been covered in a cocktail of chemicals. This provided Barry with super speed and allowed him to become the superhero known as the Flash. The Flash has been a mainstay in the Justice League lineup for decades and is one of the voices of reason during the League’s debates.

Why The Flash?

Like Captain America, Barry has one underlying quality, the ability to make you believe in hope. No matter how bad things seem to get, Barry will always be able to get you to believe in not only yourself, but the others around you and trust that together you will find a way to succeed. It’s this ability that earned him a spot as a deputized member of the Blue Lantern Corps during the Blackest Night story arc. When the Black Lantern Corps took over the Earth and resurrected all the dead heroes, the live remaining heroes were vastly outnumbered and fighting a losing battle. It took the combined might of all the Lantern corps and having each of their rings deputize a new hero to even hope of turning the tide.Barry was inducted into the Blue Lantern Corps for his embodiment of hope and he used that power to help the other heroes believe in themselves. Barry has also been responsible for one of the greatest story arcs in the past 30 years… Flashpoint. This was literally the tale of how not to mess with the timeline. He changed one little thing, he saved his mom, and it brought the world to the brink of annihilation. It also is worth noting that he is the most underplayed hero in all of DC comics. He can time travel with ease, run faster than people can process a thought, and even outran death and existence. He’s seriously OP.

#8 – Green Arrow

Green-Arrow-Rebirth-Comic-Ending-Review

Oliver Jonas Queen was born to his parents, Moira and Robert Queen. He was a natural archer from a young age practicing frequently with his bow and arrow. When he killed his first animal, Ollie was briefly traumatized by what he had done forgoing his archery for quite some time. When he was on vacation with his parents on a safari adventure, he witnessed his parents get mauled to death by lions. He was raised by his uncle and eventually inherited his family’s company, Queen Industries. Unable to accept his responsibility not only to his family’s legacy but his City as a whole, he became a thrill seeking party boy. One day while on his yacht, he fell over the side of the boat and washed up on the shore of a deserted island. While on the island Oliver honed his hunting and marksmanship skills using a bow he had been holding when he fell over the side of his yacht. China White, a ruthless drug smuggler was using the island to grow and distribute her heroin around the globe. Oliver witnessed the slave labour being used by White to produce her drugs and resolved to shut the operation down. After dismantling her entire operation on the island, Oliver used their radio to signal the authorities and arrange rescue for himself and all the workers. He returned to Seattle as a renewed man and began his crusade to fight for the little guy and the disenfranchised.

Why Green Arrow?

There’s no way to sugar coat it, Oliver Queen was a dick. He was. But through his own personal tragedy and his crucible on the island, he emerged as the hero that Seattle and himself needed. He had the life most people dream of, a literal unlimited bank account, supermodels hanging off his arm, and the ability to do whatever he wanted whenever he wanted. It takes a lot to take someone like that and forge them into the hero he is today and that’s why I like him so much. He was a fallible rich playboy who almost paid the ultimate price but he got a second lease on life and decided to do more than drink himself to death. Not only is he a great hero, but he also is one of the most left leaning heroes and that adds a great mix to the line-up. He not only fights to protect his City as Green Arrow but he actually got himself elected mayor to help everyone in his hometown lead a better life. He  also lost all his money and was forced to live in a downtrodden tenement building for quite some time, which also helped to provide him with a new perspective on his life and the way he lived. Plus.. I mean come on… epic goatee.

#7 – Daredevil

e651e5ee559b21b4427086192fc55706

Matthew Michael Murdock was born in Hell’s Kitchen, New York City to his father Jack “Battlin'” Murdock. Matt was raised by his father for his entire life never knowing who is mother was. His father was a struggling boxer and was paid by a gangster known as “The Fixer” to throw some fights for bigger pay days. One day, Matt was walking down the street and saw an old blind man step out into the road in front of a speeding truck. Matt grabbed the old man pulling him to safety and the truck swerved, losing a canister of the radioactive liquid it was carrying. The canister broke on the ground and sprayed Matt in the eyes effectively blinding him. While he was blinded, it also provided Matt with heightened other senses and a form of echolocation enabling him to see without his eyes. When his father is murdered by the Fixer and his goons, Matt dons a costume made out of his father’s old boxing gear and nearly beats the Fixer to death. Realizing it’s not what his father or his faith would allow, Matt let the Fixer live and called the authorities. He went to law school where he met his best friend Franklin “Foggy” Nelson, with whom he opened a law firm. By day he defends the people of Hell’s Kitchen as Matt Murdock Attorney at Law and by night, he defends the people of Hell’s Kitchen as Daredevil the Man Without Fear.

Why Daredevil?

Matt Murdock is one of the few superheroes that has a disability and that makes him top tier in my books. Not only does he have a disability, but he is also a deeply conflicted individual. Matt is one of the most devout Catholics in all of comics, Marvel and DC included. For someone as devout as he is, dressing up in a red devil costume and beating on criminals seems like something way out in left field. To balance his lives, Matt regularly attends confession and seeks guidance from his local priest whenever he can. Not only is Matt one of the most conflicted characters, but he is one of the most human, in that he makes mistakes… plenty of mistakes. You could argue that every character is human and makes mistakes, but for the likes of Superman, Captain America, Wonder Woman or even Iron Man; their mistakes are few and far between. Matt follows his heart more often than his head and that has gotten him into some deep water over the course of his comic run. One of the best runs in all of Marvel came from Frank Miller’s run on Daredevil with the Born Again story line. Matt has his identity sold to the Kingpin by his junkie ex girlfriend Karen Page, and has his life turned upside down. He loses everything: his firm, his money, his friends, his home and sinks into a deep depression. The run truly shows how hard some people who suffer from depression need to fight everyday to get out of bed. I highly recommend reading it!

#6 – Punisher

Punisher 1

Born Francis Castiglione to his Sicilian Immigrant parents in Queens New York, Frank had a very uneventful childhood. In his teen years he studied briefly at the seminary before leaving to marry his girlfriend Maria who was pregnant with their first child. He eventually enlisted in the Marine Corps where he rose to the rank of Captain. Through his tours of service, he was assigned a Native American scout named Phan Bighawk, who taught Frank about guerilla warfare and how to effectively survive in the wilderness. During his third tour, Frank legally changed his name from Castiglione to Castle. While on leave after his third tour, he took his family on a picnic in the park which would prove to be a fatal mistake. When the Castles accidentally stumbled onto a mob hit, the mobsters murdered Frank’s wife and children in front of him and thought they had killed Frank as well. Frank recovered from his wounds and vowed to spend the rest of his life waging a one man war against crime and the organized families around the world. He has been waging his war ever since and has come into conflict with the Avengers and multiple heroes on different occasions. For the most part, the Avengers let him be as he never causes collateral damage and only kills criminals.

Why The Punisher?

The Punisher is one of my favourites for one simple reason, he represents the farthest someone can go before they cross the line between Anti-Hero and Villain. Not only that, but he represents how the justice system isn’t always perfect. Granted that while he is a vicious operative, he also has a strict code. A prime example of this code was shown during the Civil War comic arc when Spider-Man is nearly murdered by Jack O’ Lantern and The Jester. Despite being ordered to bring him in alive, the two villains decided to beat him bloody before murdering him, Punisher stopped that. He shot both villains in the back of the head and then brought Spider-Man to Captain America’s bunker demanding medical attention for the young hero. When he sees two villains attempting to side with Captain America and the Anti-Registration forces, he shoots them in front of Cap and his entire team. Cap goes ballistic and begins savagely beating Frank; but the thing is, Frank never fights back. He never once raised his hand or tried to defend himself, even when Cap shouted for him to. Frank simply took the beating and said “No, not against you”. His reverence for Captain America is linked to his fierce loyalty to his military training. During the Punisher: War Zone story arc, after defeating all of the Avengers with non lethal tactics, Cap arrives and demands that Frank stand down; Frank immediately discards his weapon, drops to his knees with his hands on his head and says “Yes, sir”. The thing that probably makes The Punisher such an attractive character is that he has no powers, he is just a man that used the tools and training at his disposal to make a difference in the world. Sometimes he might need a definite course correction, but he sees the world in a different way than most and sometimes his brand of frontier justice, is exactly what is needed.

#5 – Ghost Rider

John_Blaze_(Earth-1610)_001

Johnathon “Johnny” Blaze was born to his parents Barton Blaze and Naomi Kale who were performer’s at Quentin Carnival. His mother left his father when he was young, taking his two younger siblings with her. Johnny and his father remained as a stunt act alongside Craig “Crash” Simpson. Johnny’s father died shortly after his wife left with their children, leaving Johnny an orphan. Craig and his wife took pity on Johnny and adopted him into their family. Johnny and Roxanne, Craig’s daughter, grew very close and became inseparable. Eventually Crash developed cancer and began to deteriorate rapidly. Johnny, seeking not to lose another father figure, turned to the occult. Johnny found a spell that would allow him to summon Satan himself, but in reality it summoned the arch-demon Mephistocles “Mephisto”. Mephisto cured Crash’s cancer, though Crash died immediately after performing a stunt. When Mephisto came to collect Johnny’s soul, he was driven away by Roxanne and her love for Johnny. Johnny eventually would turn into the Ghost Rider after being bonded with the demon Zarathos. Johnny changes every night into the Ghost Rider and would hunt evil wherever he saw it, damning the evil doers to the depths of Hell.

Why Ghost Rider?

Ghost Rider is in the top 5 for one reason, just because your powers come from a dark place, doesn’t mean that’s what you have to use them for. Johnny got his powers from being bonded with a demon after selling his soul to an arch-demon. Granted, he did some dark things, but he did them for the right reasons. He had watched his biological father die, he repressed the memory of his mother leaving with his siblings, and his adoptive father was dying of cancer; he was done losing people and would do whatever he could to stop that from happening. Despite his efforts, Crash died and Johnny nearly lost his soul.  It was Roxanne’s love for him that ended up saving his life and helping to forge the Ghost Rider into the hero he was. Traditionally, the Ghost Rider is a mindless bounty hunter in the employ of the Devil to track down problematic individuals and send their souls to Hell. Due to Johnny retaining his soul, he was able to battle the demon he was bonded with and this allowed him to retain control over himself. Not only is Johnny one of the best Anti-heroes in all of Marvel comics, but he’s also one of the most powerful having battled World War Hulk to a standstill, plus… he just looks badass!

#4 – Spider-Man

Spider-MAn

Peter Benjamin Parker was born in Queens to CIA operatives Richard and Mary Parker. Peter was orphaned at a young age when the Red Skull had an operative named “The Finisher” murder Richard and Mary in a plane crash while also framing them for treason. Peter went to live with his Aunt May and Uncle Ben who raised him for most of his life. Peter became an honours student in science at his high school, but was bullied by the high school start football player Eugene “Flash” Thompson. One day while on a school field trip, Peter was bitten by a spider that had been irradiated by a particle accelerator canon. This spider bite, changed Peter’s DNA giving him spider-like powers. He used these powers to fight anonymously in an underground wrestling ring to earn some extra money. One night after he got stiffed on his money, Peter let a thief who had stolen money from the wrestling boss go free stating that it wasn’t his problem. For several days Peter continued to wrestle under the alias of Spider-Man, until he arrived home to find his Uncle Ben had been murdered and the police had cornered the assailant in a warehouse. Peter rushed there using his new powers to discover the man who had murdered his uncle was the thief he had let go. Peter vowed from that day on, to use his abilities to help people and become the hero he knew he could be.

Why Spider-Man?

Peter Parker represents the inner child that we all have still inside of us. He is the youngest Avenger and he believes in the good of people. Like the Flash, Peter has a way of inspiring others to be the best version of themselves. When Peter’s world came crashing down after his uncle’s murder, he took the pain and sadness he felt and used it to turn himself into a hero. He wasn’t perfect, by far. He stumbled, he fell, but once he got the hang of things he became one of the greatest heroes of all time. In the Ultimate Marvel Universe, Peter Parker Spider-Man is regarded as the greatest hero the world ever had, and that’s taking into account Captain America and Iron Man and Thor. Mostly Peter is on this list because of the fact that he never quits and despite being a kid with amazing spider powers, he still suffers all the problems regular teens and 20 something do: being broke, having a crush, failing a class, etc.. His costume is also one of the most iconic suits in all of comics.One of the main reasons peter wears a mask, as quoted by Stan Lee, was so his opponents couldn’t see when he was afraid. Peter embodies the statement of “With great power, comes great responsibility”, he constantly tries to be the man his uncle knew he would be and he tries to help everyone as best he can. Peter is the ultimate good guy, and his comic history has shown that when everything is going to crap, you can always count on Spider-Man to lighten to mood and provide you hope.

#3 – Deadpool

Wade

Wade Winston Wilson was born to his parents in Canada, but not much is known of his childhood. Wade himself has stated three different stories for how he grew up, all that is clear is that he left his home at a young age and enlisted in the armed forces. He enlisted in the American army where he was sent to Special Operations training camp, which he failed out of due to his inability to follow orders he believed conflicted with his moral code. He also spent some time working for the CIA on a blacklist team carrying out missions all over the world. Wade was then diagnosed with over 30 inoperable cancerous tumors. He declined chemo not wanting to prolong his suffering and moved back to Canada. When he returned to Canada he was contacted by Department K, a secret branch of the Canadian government, and asked to join the Weapon X project. It was in this project that Wade received his healing factor courtesy of fellow Department K agent, Wolverine. Dr. Killbrew and his assistant Ajax, tortured Wade and several other “rejects” from various superhero programs placing them in a “Deadpool” the bet on when they would die. Wade eventually broke out of the center with his powers fully manifested and began his life as a mercenary for hire taking the code name of Deadpool.

Why Deadpool?

Deadpool is one of my favourite heroes for two reasons… one, his humour is hilarious, and two, he’s Canadian! Not only is he Canadian, but he is also played PERFECTLY by Ryan Reynolds. Those two points aside, Wade is so high on this list because of a couple of things. The first is his unwavering moral code, as shown in X-Force. When the team was tasked with killing Apocalypse, nobody batted an eye; when Apocalypse was reincarnated into the body of an 8 year old boy named Evan, Wade said no. Wade admits that he isn’t a hero, knows that he can never measure up to people like Captain America or Spider-Man but he absolutely refuses to kill a kid, no matter the cost. Wade did not have a very good childhood, and he is a firm believer that your destiny is not decided for you, that your actions dictate who you are. He brought this out in this comic run when because of his belief in Evan, Evan stayed on the good path and even ended up going to Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters. He also showed this quality in Deadpool 2 with Russel (Firefist). Cable was convinced Russel would go bad and nothing could change it, but Wade believed that if he could help  Russell to learn to forgive and let Karma take it’s course he could change the future, and Wade was right. Another and perhaps the actual top reason he’s so high on this list is because despite everything he’s done, deep down he’s a good person. He’s not a hero, far from it; but, he is a good person who wants to do the right thing. Captain America has been Wade’s idol ever since he was a young boy, no matter what he did he wanted to be like his hero and still strives to earn Captain America’s trust to this day. Not only is Deadpool a good person deep down, but his antics are just awesome!

#2 – Moon Knight

Moon_Knight_Head

Marc Spector was  born in Chicago Illinois to his Rabbi father and deeply Jewish mother. Marc did not have the best childhood. He would constantly get into fights to which his father was not happy with and took it upon himself to discipline Marc as he saw fit. The tension between Marc and his father got so bad that at the young age of 16 Marc left home, lied about his age and enlisted in the Marines. He fought through several campaigns with the Marines before being recruited into a CIA Blacklist team. After spending several years working for the CIA, Spector left and began a life as a mercenary. It was during his mercenary career he met lifelong friend Jean Paul “Frenchie” Duchamp. While working as a mercenary his boss heard of riches in an Egyptian tomb and attacked the dig site taking everyone hostage. Marc didn’t agree with his actions and challenged him to one on one combat. Marc lost the fight. Bushman (his boss) made off with all the riches and left Marc and the excavation team to die in the desert. The diggers took Marc’s body to the base of the statue of Khonshu where Marc died. As he was crossing to the other side, the Egyptian God Khonshu offered Marc a second chance at life if he became the moon God’s Avatar on the earth. Marc accepted the God’s offer and woke up as the Moon’s Knight. He returned to the USA where he invested his earnings he had amassed during his mercenary career garnering himself quite the substantial fortune. Marc adopted several identities to help keep his true identity a secret, Steven Grant billionaire entrepreneur, and Jake Lockley NY cab driver. This strain on his already fragile mind as well as the influence from Khonshu caused Marc to have a mental break and develop Dissociative Identity Disorder/Multiple Personality Disorder. Marc condition is so advanced that his mind will seamlessly switch to whichever persona/identity is best suited for the task at hand.

Why Moon Knight?

Again, like Daredevil, Moon Knight is a hero with a disability. While Daredevil’s disability is obvious as he can’t see with his eyes, Moon Knight’s is inside of his mind and that’s something you don’t see a lot in comics; a hero who battles with their own psyche as much as with villains. The thing that interests me about Moon Knight so much is that he himself knows there’s something wrong but he isn’t sure what it is. He has all of these identities in his mind for different purposes but he doesn’t see anything wrong when he just flips between one or the other. He knows that he has D.I.D/M.P.D. but he has refused to seek treatment as it doesn’t impair his daily life. One thing that really makes Moon Knight pop as a favourite is that he doesn’t try to hide. Most heroes that operate at night time wear colours that can blend into the darkness of their surroundings, not Moon Knight, he wears white. When he was asked about it he said that he “wants them (bad guys) to see him coming because when they see white, their hands shake so bad they couldn’t hit the moon.” Mostly, the thing that makes Moon Knight top in my books is his brutality. Being a heavyweight boxer in the Marines and proficient with most firearms and martial arts weapons, he has no shortage of butt kicking gear. Not only does he have no shortage of gear, but during the Civil War event he also went a little… overboard. While most the heroes were concentrated on stopping each other, Marc let his inner animal out on the crooks and villains of his city. He would viciously beat them to “mark his territory” and anyone he took down, he would brand with a crescent moon on their forehead. Not a nice brand like Batman from B vs. S, no, he would carve the crescent into their forehead… marking them as someone that is on his “list” and ruining their criminal reputations. Moon Knight also understands, like some of the other on this list, that while you should try and save everyone, some people need to be stopped permanently for the greater good.

#1 – Batman

3992118-3428764860-30774

Everybody knows Batman’s story, but for those who might need a refresher….

Bruce Wayne was born into the Wayne family and was set to inherit his family’s company from his father when the time came. When he was 8 years old, Bruce Wayne, and his parents, Thomas and Martha Wayne, left the monarch theatre after a showing the the Mark of Zorro late at night. To save time, they decided to cut down an alley (Park Row), Joe Chill was waiting in that alley and held the Waynes up for Thomas’ wallet and Martha’s pearl necklace. Chill ended up shooting Thomas and Martha dead in the alley and fleeing into the night leaving Bruce to watch over his dead parents until help arrived. Bruce refused to believe it was a random act of violence and spent the next several years looking for some conspiracy that would explain his parents hadn’t died for nothing. When no conspiracy could be found, Bruce resolved that his own fear was a contributing factor in his parents death and resolved to never be afraid again. He traveled the world educating himself in every science and martial art known to man as well as becoming extremely proficient in detective skills. He was gone for over 8 years on his quest for knowledge. When he returned to Gotham he crafted the identity of the Batman, a symbol who could use fear to strike at the criminals in his City to make sure that crime did not go unpunished. Bruce utilized the Batman to combat threats both big and small in his City to ensure that no other child’s parents were taken by a random act of violence.

Why Batman?

It’s no secret that I love Batman and for a myriad of reasons, but the most prevalent one is that he’s just a man. In a world of literal Gods, superpowered aliens, demons from other dimensions and Lords of magic, Batman hold his own.  Not only does he hold his own, he commands the respect of all these beings. Bruce Wayne represents the peak of human conditioning, not just physicality but emotionally and mentally. He is the representation of what a person could achieve with 100% determination to their goal and this something we can all admire. His unwavering dedication to his goal is inspirational and has made him a symbol the world over. Not only is he just a man, but he makes mistakes and those mistakes have consequences. His most obvious mistake is his allowing the Joker to stay alive. Granted, he can’t kill the Joker without becoming like the Joker and the Joker can’t kill him because then he will lose the only person who matters/can keep up with him, but this tit for tat that they have going on has real consequences for hundreds if not thousands of people. Red Hood/Jason Todd brought this fact up during the Under the Red Hood arc. He raises the point that if Batman had just killed the Joker for the things he did all those years ago, he wouldn’t have been beaten and murdered, Barbara wouldn’t be paralyzed, and graveyards of victims would still be alive. Bruce for all of his hate towards the Joker, says probably one of the most human things he could, he tells him that while he wants to kill Joker for what he’s done, if he does go there, he will never come back. This statement shows how fragile Batman’s moral code and sanity are. He has drawn a line for himself and sticks to that line, because knows that if he ever crossed it, even for someone who deserved it like the Joker, he would never be able to go back. He nearly crossed the line once during the Hush story line. In this arc, Joker had apparently murdered Bruce’s longtime friend Tommy Elliot. When Batman found the Joker over Tommy’s body holding a gun, he flew into a rage and began beating the Joker citing all the horrible things he did as his reason for finally ending him. The only thing that stopped him was Jim Gordon telling him that if he killed the Joker he was no better than him and that Jim would be forced to bring the Batman in for the murder. While Batman might “work alone” his allies are the ones who help to keep him straight, like Jim Gordon did in Hush; and ironically, they’re also the ones best equipped to reign him in or take him down if he ever goes rogue. With everything that Batman is, the most important piece is that he’s a symbol, a symbol for justice, a symbol for fear, and most importantly a symbol that anybody can be a hero.

 

There you have it, my Top 10 favourite Superheroes/Anti-Heroes! Agree or not, drop a comment! See you next time!

Scariest Place in the Star Wars Universe

I love Star Wars, I have ever since I was a kid and saw the original trilogy on VHS for the first time with my grandma who was just as much a Sci-Fi nerd as myself. But one thing that really grips me about the Star Wars universe is the MASSIVE expanded universe that goes with it. Don’t get me wrong, I love the Skywalker saga and all the stories it entails; however, you also have to look at it as one family’s drama has been mucking up the galaxy for EVERYONE for like 150 years… Even with all the drama that the Skywalkers and their descendants have cause, it’s still nothing compared to the massive Jedi/Sith war that spanned off and on for thousands of years or the Mandalorian Wars that spanned hundreds of years.  These wars are responsible for the scariest place in the Star Wars universe… Malachor V ( aka Malachor, Hell) How does Malachor rank higher than the likes of Korriban or even Dathomir? Read on…

While Korriban was the birthplace of the Sith and home to many torture chambers used by the Sith on captive Jedi; it was completely destroyed and turned into a tomb world when the Sith lost the war against the Jedi. Completely devoid of life, it remains as a constant reminder of where the Sith came from and the atrocities they used to commit in the name of the Dark Side.

Dathomir is a mysterious planet that is home of the Night Sisters, a dark and powerful coven of magic/force users that provided Darth Maul to Siddious as an apprentice. Dathomir played a large part in the later seasons of the Clone Wars TV show and helped to resurrect one of the GREATEST villains in Star Wars, Darth Maul. The site of many battles and wars, Dathomir remains as a dark mysterious planet even after the eradication of the Night Sisters by Darth Sidious and General Grievous.

These two planets pale in comparison to the horrors that occurred and remain on Malachor…

MalachorVIntact

HISTORY

CANON

Malachor V has been the center-point of many wars throughout the Star Wars timeline, but the most prevalent, which earned it the name “Hell”, occurred during the Sith/ Jedi war.

Before the Jedi/Sith war, there was the Hundred-Year darkness, this was a time before the Sith had officially formed and were beginning to separate from the Jedi Order. For thousands of years, the Jedi were the only force users in the galaxy, until one rogue Jedi believed that the path to true power came from the use of Bogan (the Dark Side). The Jedi High Council did not know how to deal with someone who rejected their ways so completely and cast the rogue Jedi out of the order, but this only gained him some followers who sympathized with his belief in the path to power. His followers left with him and traveled to the ancient Sith world of Malachor V to continue their pursuit of ultimate power and the Dark Side of the Force, the exiled Jedi adopted the name of the Sith and the Sith Order was born.

For hundreds of years the Sith expanded into the galaxy, conquering worlds and enslaving entire planets to work in their Empire and fuel their war machine. This rapid expansion and conflicting ideologies brought them into conflict with the Jedi and the Old Republic. As the Sith expanded so did their number of warriors that were trained in the art of lightsaber combat and dark side force powers. The Republic and the Jedi council agreed that the Sith needed to be stopped and so a force of Jedi were dispatched to the planet of Malachor V to end the threat.  The Jedi Knights attacked the planet en mass and drove the Sith back to their temple which also housed their superweapon. As the Sith were being overwhelmed the Jedi grew over zealous and pushed harder into the temple, as a last ditch effort the Sith activated their weapon.

Sith-Temple-Super-Weapon

The superweapon that was housed under the temple was one of planetary proportions. Capable of petrifying all life on a planet it was activated and targeted at Malachor. Mid-combat, Jedi and Sith alike were petrified and killed by the weapon. Their bodies remaining frozen in their petrified state for thousands of years as a reminder of the conflict and what it could cause.

Great_Scourge_of_Malachor_aftermath

While Darth Sidious was training Maul to become his apprentice, he brought Maul to Malachor to have him “breathe in the ashes of his predecessors”. As Maul breathed in the air of Malachor and the ashes of the fallen Sith, he had visions of legions of Sith dying at the hands of Jedi knights furthering his hatred for all the Jedi.

The planet remained undisturbed for several years until in 3BBY (Before the Battle of Yavin) Ezra Bridger, Kanan Jarrus and Ahsoka Tano discovered the petrified remains of the Sith and Jedi. As they examined the bodies, Ezra discovered a green cross-guard lightsaber which he activated briefly before it shorted out in his hand. When he asked Ahsoka if the Jedi had won, she remembered her teachings as a young Padawan in the Jedi temple and told Ezra that neither side had won the battle.

*Kylo Ren’s cross-guard lightsaber is said to be inspired from a design he found on Malachor*

LEGENDS

The Legends backstory to Malachor V is much different than the Canon but it still ends roughly the same way, death and destruction. As opposed to the destruction being caused during the Jedi/Sith War, it was destroyed during the final stages of the Mandalorian Wars.

The Ancient Sith order known as The True Sith used Malachor as a stronghold during their first great expansion, even going so far as to build an Academy on its surface due to it’s connection to the Dark Side. As The True Sith fell to infighting and disintegrated, the Sith abandoned the planet and their Academy as they retreated further back into the Unknown Regions. The Sith Empire, led by Darth Vitiate, reclaimed the planet for many years before an uprising by Dakar Sol took it from his grasp. Vitiate was the last remnant of the True Sith and a being of immense dark power. Able to imbue his essence and force abilities into other living beings by possessing them, he led the Sith Empire for over 1,500 years before his eventual defeat.

Centuries after the defeat of Vitiate is when the destruction of Malachor V occurred during the final stages of the Mandalorian Wars.  Despite the many other species and cultures that allied with the Mandalorians during the war, Mandalore the Ultimate (leader of the Mandalorian people during the war), restricted the planet of Malachor V to the people of Mandalore.  It was at Malchor V that Jedi General Revan launched his final attack that would seal the victory for the Jedi and the Old Republic.

MtheUvsRevan

At the time of this battle, some of the other Jedi and the Republic soldiers were beginning to question Revan’s alliance to the Light Side, so Revan used this to his advantage. Composing his massive attack fleet of those questioning his loyalty he sent them into the Malachor system. Knowing the target would be too good for the Mandalorians to pass up, he waited. When the battle was joined, Revan rushed to the Mandalorian flagship and killed Mandalore the Ultimate, effectively ending the War by cutting the head off the snake. As the Republic/Jedi forces and the Mandalorians continued to clash both on Malachor and in the system surrounding it, the Jedi General Meetra Surik, began to realize they were going to lose as the Mandalorians were too many. As the battle raged the Republic forces managed to take the complex which housed the Mandalorian superweapon, the Mass Shadow Generator. Seeing the Mandalorian forces were about to retake the complex, and have a straight shot at Revan’s back, Meetra ordered the activation of the superweapon believing it to kill everyone outside of the complex. The weapon activated immediately and caused Malachor V’s gravity to massively increase instantly crushing everyone on the surface and pulling ships from in space surrounding the planet to the surface. The planet was changed from a lush inhabitable planet to a barren jagged wasteland in an instant with reports of republic ships being pulled to miles below the surface due to the increased gravity. In one foul swoop, Revan had managed to eliminate those questioning his allegiance and win the war for the Republic. It is unclear how, but Meetra Surik was able to survive the weapon activating despite being on the surface. Surik fled the system and went into exile earning her the title of Jedi Exile.

Malachor

Revan and Malak would then: go into the Unknown Regions, become corrupted by the Sith, return to known space and wage a war on the Republic in the name of the Sith, Break the hold from the Sith in the Unknown Regions and resolve to take the Republic for themselves and adopt the titles of Dark Lords of the Sith. During the Jedi Civil War, Darth Revan would use the untouched Trayus Academy, located on the surface of Malachor V and placed their by the True Sith millennia before, to convert captured Jedi to the Dark Side.

Following the end of the Civil War, Revan’s old master, Jedi Master Kreia journeyed to Malachor to discover what had caused her apprentice to fall to the Dark Side, it was on Malachor V that she was corrupted by the Dark Side and took the name of Darth Traya. She trained two apprentices in the Dark Side, Darth Sion and Darth Nihilus, the latter of which was also called the “Force Vampire” and the “Lord of Hunger”. These three Sith would go on to form the Sith Triumvirate which reigned for several years. Traya was eventually overthrown by her apprentices, stripped of her power and banished from Malachor.

In 3951 BBY, Meetra Surik was contacted by Kreia to help destroy the Sith academy on Malachor and allowing Kreia revenge on her former apprentices. Surik battled Darth Nihilus and defeated him before assaulting the Academy by herself. She defeated the Sith at the Academy on Malachor finally silencing the dark energies that resonated through the Force from that planet. As Surik fled the planet, the creator of the Mass Shadow Generator activated the weapon once more using a remote and the planet collapsed in upon itself exploding and forming an asteroid field full of chunks of the planet and pieces of ships from both the Republic and Mandalorian fleets. This area of space became a veritable graveyard floating in the black, a constant reminder of the life lost and atrocities committed on the planet.

Malachor asteroid field

There you have it, the scariest place in the Star Wars universe! I honestly prefer the canon version of the story more than the Legends, but the Legends one has Revan so…. ya…. Let me know what you think the scariest place in the Star Wars Universe is! See you next time!

 

Rocksteady’s Arkham Series – The Best Superhero Games Ever Made

It’s been just under three years since Arkham Knight, the final chapter in Rocksteady’s award winning series was released, and it has left me wanting. The series started with the amazing Arkham Asylum for the Playstation 3 and the Xbox 360, which centered around Batman trying to re-take Arkham Asylum after Joker had taken control.  The second game Arkham City took place several years after the first one when the city of Gotham had walled off a large section of the waterfront and dubbed it Arkham City; this game also released for the Playstation 3 and the Xbox 360 but near the end of their run. The final installment came with the releases of the Xbox One and the Playstation 4, Arkham Knight. This final installment centered around Batman as he attempts to foil the plans of Scarecrow who has rallied his enemies together to destroy Gotham and kill Batman once and for all.

Before we dive into why these games are so amazing let’s get a rundown of the plot for each one…

Arkham Series

*This post will contain massive spoilers for the Arkham series of games. Though they have been out for at least three years now, so I don’t feel guilty about the spoilers*

ARKHAM ASYLUM

The game begins with Batman capturing Joker after a very botched attempt at assaulting City Hall. When Batman drops Joker off on Arkham Island, he questions as to why the Joker allowed himself to be captured so easily. With the help of Harley Quinn and some corrupt guards, Joker breaks out of his restraints and begins his rampage through the prison with Batman hot on his tail. Joker calls in bomb threats at various locations across Gotham stating he will blow the bombs if anyone steps foot on the island, forcing Batman to bring the entire island to order by himself. Joker releases various members of Batman’s rogues gallery  including: Bane, Killer Croc, Scarecrow, Poison Ivy, and Mr. Zsasz before disappearing saying he was preparing his “party”. Batman defeats and captures each of these Rogues as his idea of Joker’s plan remains a mystery. After discovering a secret production facility for a drug called “Titan”, which was developed by a doctor on staff named Penelope Young; Batman discovers that Joker has secretly been funding her research to gain the formula in order to make an army of superpowered henchmen. When Young refused to turn the formula over to Mr. White (the alias Joker was using to fund her research), Joker was forced to return to Arkham to extract the formula from her himself.

Joker eventually obtains batches of the completed Titan formula and kills Dr. Young in the process, forcing Batman to seek help from Poison Ivy to create an antidote. Ivy explains that the spore necessary to counteract the Titan agent is found solely in Killer Croc’s lair deep in the Asylum. After obtaining the spores and defeating Croc, Batman ventures to one of his satellite Bat caves, which is located on Arkham Island, to manufacture an antidote. Ivy attacks with her mutated plants and Batman is forced to fight her, eventually winning and destroying the plants responsible for manufacturing Titan.  Joker announces his party is ready to accept guests and when Batman arrives, he discovers the Joker has captured Jim Gordon and intends to inject him with Titan. Batman jumps in front of Gordon taking the dart filled with Titan and saving Jim. As Batman resists the change, Joker grows angry and overdoses on Titan turning into a giant monster. Batman defeats Joker and brings the asylum to order. In the post credit scene, Scarecrow is seen floating away on a container of Titan into the Gotham harbor.

ARKHAM CITY

This game picks up several years after the conclusion of Arkham Asylum, Bruce Wayne arrives at a press conference in front of the gates of Arkham City to protest its creation. He is ambushed by TYGER guards and the press conference is cut short as he, along with Jack Ryder, are imprisoned in Arkham City. Hugo Strange, the Warden of Arkham City, explains to Bruce that he knows he is Batman but will keep the information to himself for the time being. Bruce defeats the Penguin and some thugs before climbing to the top of the ACE Chemicals building and retrieving his Batsuit which was air dropped via the Batwing. As he dons the Batsuit, Strange comes over the PA system in Arkham City and says “Protocol 10 will commence in 10 hours”.

Bruce deduces that if anyone knows what’s going on in Arkham City it would be Catwoman, but he overheard some TYGER guards saying she has been captured by Two-Face. He saves Catwoman from the clutches of Two Face and then stops Joker from killing her with mechanical sniper rifle apparatus. He tracks Joker to the Sionis Steel Mill and infiltrates the mill to find him. In his pursuit of the Joker he saves several doctors that tell him the Joker is unwell and was forcing them to try and save his life. Batman discovers the Joker’s lair and is knocked unconscious by Harley Quinn. He wakes up to find Joker transfusing some of his blood into Batman afflicting him with the same degenerative disease Joker has. Joker is suffering from massive cellular degradation as a result of the Titan serum he took on the island to kill Batman. He also tells Batman that he has been shipping his blood to hospitals in the area for weeks infecting as many people as possible in hopes that this would force Batman to find a cure. Batman questions him asking if this is “Protocol 10” to which Joker replies that he has no idea what Batman is talking about.

Arkham-Games

As he exits the Mill, Batman seeks out Mr. Freeze who has been imprisoned in Arkham City as well. He tracks Freeze to the old GCPD building where Freeze has set up his own lab. As he infiltrates the building it has become apparent that Penguin has kidnapped Freeze for his own entertainment. Batman arrives at the old museum which Penguin is using as his hideout and discovers Freeze and his suit, but Freeze’s gun is missing. As Batman sets out to find Freeze’s gun, Freeze himself returns to his lab to begin work on a cure. Batman confronts Penguin who is using Freeze’s gun and defeats him but in his anger Penguin detonates the floor of his lounge causing Batman to fall into a chamber that houses Solomon Grundy. Batman defeats Grundy and returns Freeze’s tech to him at the old GCPD. Freeze tells Batman that he has managed to create a cure but due to its instability it is rendered useless. Batman hypothesizes that Ra’s Al Ghul’s restorative properties in his blood would render the cure stable and sets off to find him by tracking one of his operatives. He does battle with both Ra’s and his daughter Talia before obtaining the blood sample he needs to complete the cure. As Freeze finalizes the cure he battles Batman to find the location of his wife, believing Batman to know where she is. After Batman defeats him, they open the safe to find that Harley Quinn has stolen the cure. Batman returns to the Mill and finds a Joker that has been fully restored who tries to kill him.

As they fight, Strange activates Protocol 10 which is revealed to be the eradication of Arkham City to destroy the criminal element of Gotham. Talia arrives and offers Joker the use of the Lazarus pit in order to save Batman’s life, Joker accepts and leaves Batman in the wreckage of the steel mill. Batman wants to pursue Talia to save her from her eventual betrayal by the Joker, but Alfred and Oracle refuse, stating that Batman is needed to save the people of Arkham City. Batman scales Wonder Tower (the tower at the center of Arkham City that doubles as Strange’s headquarters) and confronts Strange. When Ra’s Al Ghul reveals himself to be the mastermind behind Arkham City, he kills Strange for his failure. Ra’s and Batman battle once again, with Ra’s being beaten again. To avoid the dishonour of being captured alive, Ra’s commits suicide and Batman is contacted by Joker to come alone to Monarch theater or he will kill Talia. When Batman arrives Talia confesses she stole the cure from Harley and stabs Joker through the chest. She is then shot by another Joker still dying from the disease. The impaled Joker is revealed to be Clayface who tries to kill Batman before being defeated using Freeze-tech. Batman drinks some of the cure leaving enough for someone else and destroys the Lazarus pit located beneath the theater before Joker is able to use it. Joker stabs Batman in the side causing Batman to drop the vial of cure, which smashes on the ground. As Joker slowly succumbs to the disease Batman admits that despite everything Joker has done and everyone he has killed and injured, he still would’ve saved him. Joker dies laughing at a joke that only he understands, leaving Batman alone in the destroyed theater. Batman carries Joker’s body out of Arkham City and places it on the hood of a police cruiser before disappearing into the night without a word.

ARKHAM ORIGINS

While not produced by Rocksteady, Arkham Origins is still part of the Arkham story line taking place 5 years before the events of Arkham Asylum. It centers around Black Mask putting out a hit on Batman on Christmas Eve for 50 million dollars. This attracts several well known Rogues to Gotham in order to collect the bounty, the Rogues include: Deathstroke, Deadshot, Bane, Copperhead, Killer Croc, Firefly, Electrocutioner, and Lady Shiva. Throughout the night Batman confronts and defeats several of the Rogues until eventually it’s revealed that Joker was the mastermind behind the entire thing. Bane learns Batman’s secret identity and nearly kills Alfred by assaulting and wrecking the Batcave. This also marks the point in Batman’s career where he realized he was unable to do the work by himself. Though initially against him, Captain Gordon eventually comes around and helps Batman when Joker takes control of Blackgate prison. Batman and the police work together to bring the prison back to order with Batman being forced to stop Bane’s heart and then restart it again to save the Joker. Bane suffers amnesia after his near death experience securing Batman’s secret identity and infuriating Joker. Batman apprehends Joker rather than killing him and leaves him to be found by the Gotham Police Force and Captain Gordon. This marks the beginning of the professional relationship between Gordon and Batman as well as the rivalry between Joker and Batman. Gordon is promoted to Commissioner for his part in securing the prison, but he keeps Batman’s involvement a secret. During the credits there’s a radio interview with Gotham mayor, Quincy Sharp, where he states he intends to re-open Arkham Asylum to help with some of the more dangerous criminals.

Arkham Origins

ARKHAM KNIGHT

The third (technically fourth) and final entry in Rocksteady’s award winning series is Arkham Knight. The Halloween following the events in Arkham City, the Scarecrow enacts his plan to destroy Gotham City and kill the Bat for good. He has developed a new fear toxin that he tests on a diner full of innocent people and broadcasts it all over Gotham. He allows the people of Gotham 12 hours to evacuate the city before he will disperse the toxin. With the city deserted except for Batman and his allies along with a few remaining Police Officers, the criminals of the city run rampant. Batman tracks Scarecrow to Chinatown and finds an imprisoned Poison Ivy who refused to go along with Scarecrow and the other Rogues’ plot for Gotham. Batman frees Ivy who says that she will be taken in willingly to protect her from Scarecrow.After taking Ivy to the GCPD, Batman meets Oracle at the clock tower where, with her help, he pinpoints the location of Scarecrow’s toxin production facility as Ace Chemicals. When Batman assaults the plant he is confronted by the Arkham Knight and his well armed militia. Scarecrow converted Ace Chemicals into a toxin bomb, with a potential blast radius of the entire Eastern seaboard of the United States, and told Batman that he had captured Oracle from the Clock Tower before fleeing from the facility with the help of the Knight. Batman renders the bomb useless but not before being exposed to a large dose of the fear toxin. Due to the remaining Joker infused blood in his system and the massive dose of toxin, Batman begins hallucinating the Joker throughout the City and interacting with him. As explained before, during the events of Arkham City, Batman is infected by Joker’s poisoned blood. Along with Batman, who has hidden his infection form the others, 4 other patients were poisoned with the blood before all of the infected blood had been accounted for. The infected patients are slowly mutating and turning into the Joker with the eventual endgame being multiple Jokers running around Gotham.  It’s later shown that Robin has all the other victims in a containment ward underneath Panasa Studios where he’s working on a cure.

Arkham KNight

As Batman escapes the destroyed plant he speaks to Commissioner letting Gordon know that Oracle had been kidnapped by Scarecrow. Gordon is angered that Barbara stayed in Gotham to help Batman, and goes off on his own to hunt down Scarecrow. Batman discovers that Scarecrow had manipulated Simon Stagg, a wealthy businessman, to force him to create and deploy the Cloudburst. The Cloudburst, allowed for the Fear Toxin to be massively dispersed into the air which would coat the entire planet in a matter of weeks. Stagg owns and operates his company out of two docked Airships tethered in the Financial District of Gotham City. As Batman assaults these airships he is forced to battle the Knight’s private militia which have taken control of the tethered stations. Eventually Batman once again confronts Scarecrow only to be once again dosed with a massive amount of Fear Toxin. This new dose allows the Joker to temporarily assume control of Batman’s mind and body. As Batman fights to regain control of his body, the Arkham Knight and Scarecrow steal the Cloudburst right out from under his nose. Once he recovers, Batman tracks Scarecrow to his hideout in Chinatown and arrives to find Oracle trapped in a hermetically sealed chamber. Before he can rescue her the chamber is filled with fear toxin and Oracle seemingly commits suicide out of fear.

Harley Quinn seizes control of the Panasa Studios cave, and releases the Jokerized patients into the studio in an attempt to free them. Batman and Robin must work together along with one of the remaining patients Henry Adams, who assists them from the containment ward. As Batman and Robin capture all the patients and Quinn herself, they return to the ward to find that Henry has killed all the other patients. Henry then kills himself stating that Batman will become the perfect Joker. As Robin turns to see Batman’s eyes glowing green, he attempts to subdue and imprison Batman in one of the research chambers in the ward. Batman easily counters Robin and imprisons him in the ward stating that he will not stop until the Scarecrow has been apprehended.  Elsewhere in Gotham, the Knight activates the Cloudburst and blankets the entire City of Gotham in Fear Toxin. Batman manages to destroy the Cloudburst and convinces the captured Ivy to utilize a giant tree hidden beneath Gotham to filter out the Toxin from the air to save the City. Ivy manages to save the City, but the strain of the effort causes her death. Batman manages to track the Knight to a construction site in the Financial District where the Knight has taken the captured Commissioner Gordon. Batman arrives to rescue Gordon and confronts the Knight who reveals himself to be Jason Todd. Jason Todd was the second Robin who was seemingly murdered by the Joker many years ago in an attempt to break the Bat. It’s later revealed that the Joker didn’t murder Todd right away, but actually tortured him for months effectively shattering Todd’s psyche and deeply traumatizing him. Todd, blaming Batman for his torture and subsequent near death experience, allied with Scarecrow in an effort to make Bruce feel the pain and helplessness he felt at the hands of the Joker all those years ago. As Batman attempts to reason with Todd and even offer to help him recover from what happened to him Todd refuses and escapes. Batman frees the Commissioner and the both of them head up to the roof to confront Scarecrow. Scarecrow is revealed to have Oracle alive and well, her previous suicide being a hallucination produced by the Fear toxin and Joker control, which allows Batman and the Commissioner the ability to save her. As Batman saves Oracle, Scarecrow captures Commissioner Gordon and escapes. Batman and Oracle return to the GCPD which is then assaulted by the militia forces of the Arkham Knight. Batman fends off the attack on the GCPD but in the fray, Scarecrow uses the distraction to overwhelm and kidnap Robin as well.

Arkham City Combat

Scarecrow offers to release Gordon and Robin unharmed if Batman surrenders to him without a fight. Believing that his surrender is the only way to ensure everyone’s safety, Batman surrenders. He is knocked out and taken to the ruins of Arkham Asylum, where it all began, and is strapped to a table before having his identity revealed on live television. Scarecrow then injects Batman with another massive dose of Fear Toxin which allows the Joker to fight for control over Batman’s mind and body. As the two battle inside Batman’s mind, Joker recounts all the horrible things he did in an effort to knock Batman off balance allowing the Joker to take control. Bruce not only resists, but manages to find the one thing Joker is afraid of most in the world, being forgotten. He battles the Joker in his mind, eventually winning and locking him away in his deep psyche to be forgotten for the rest of time. As Scarecrow watches Bruce fight through the Toxin he grows enraged that Batman keeps finding a way to win and attempts to inject him again. Jason Todd, now going by his alias of Red Hood, arrives at the broken down asylum and frees Batman who then injects Scarecrow with his own Fear Toxin.

Batman then finishes cleaning up the City and ensuring it’s safe for the citizens to return. Once he has cleaned up the City and captured all his Rogues, he activates the “Knightfall Protocol”. As he arrives back at Wayne Manor, the paparazzi are all around the property and shouting questions at him from beyond the fence line. Batman walks inside the manor and as the door shuts, the house explodes and is engulfed in flames, presumably killing Bruce and Alfred. In the epilogue, James Gordon, now Mayor of Gotham, is rushing over to the church so he can attend the wedding of his daughter, Barbara/Oracle to Robin/Tim Drake. Elsewhere in the City a young couple and their son cut through a back alley to avoid the rain and are accosted by some muggers. Before the muggers can get away with any goods, they’re assaulted by a silhouette that resembles a nightmarish Batman.

WHAT MAKES THEM AMAZING

I will be the first to say, most superhero games are shit. Seriously, just garbage. Every now and then you will get some good nuggets like Marvel Ultimate Alliance or Spider-Man: Web of Shadows; but for the most part, they tend to be lackluster. The main problem with superhero games is that they always tend to be tied to some other  film or television property which severely inhibits the stories that can be told. The tie in games for various movies work well enough to bolster sales and ride the coat tail of the movie’s success, but they lack all substance themselves. Rocksteady changed that formula.

The big change that Rocksteady had was they brought in renowned comic book writer Paul Dini to craft a 100% original tale that would take place in their universe. Drawing heavy inspiration from several of his other works, Dini delivered a dark and gritty story that focused on the Batman himself and how close he is to teetering on the edge. It wasn’t until the final game Arkham Knight, that we really got to see what a Batman looks like as he slowly loses control of everything around him. There are several quotes from DC Comics that detail Bruce Wayne/Batman’s obsessive need to control everything he can. Dini took this obsessive trait and showed us exactly what it would look like to watch a man who the rest of the world thinks has all the answers, struggle to maintain his grip on a reality that is slowly slipping through his grasp. It was a stark contrast to the invincible superhero most people know. He doubts himself, he makes mistakes, he questions his crusade, and he even loses in the end; all these things happen over the span of three games and really show just how human Batman really is.

Arkham Counter

The story isn’t the only part of the series that really drove it home for most fans, it was the gameplay. You can make a game with an amazing story, that really captures everything you need it to, but if the gameplay can’t hold up to the demands the story needs, you’ll end up with a product that doesn’t sell. Rocksteady wanted to focus on the aspects of Batman’s character that make him so terrifying like his combat skills, detective work, and stealth. They derived to show the game from Batman’s point of view while still making the NPC’s react to your actions and not feel like you were some all powerful invincible being.  Entering a room with 10 enemies is a challenge because, as I said before, they react to your actions. Take one out and let another see you? They’ll group together and operate as a team making it harder to catch them off guard. They will also work to remove your advantages like destroying vents with grenades or destroying gargoyles making you stay on the ground. This coupled with the amazing combat mechanic gave us a series which delivered two games noted as Game of the Year. The combat mechanic utilizes counter attacks along with gadgets to string together combos that allow for easier taking down of enemies. As the difficulties increase for the story the combat becomes harder and you lose the visible notifier to hit the counter button. One of the best aspects to the games though, is the Detective vision. This is a vision mode which you can toggle at any point which highlights enemies and interactive objects in the environment. It adds a whole new level to planning out your moves to remove a group of enemies from a room or trying to figure your way out of some tough spots. It also is used during the moments of the game where to progress the story you must use your detective skills to follow the evidence and draw conclusions.

 

Rocksteady’s Arkham series delivered a full and immersive story that has really only been seen from AAA game studios. They brought us a full cohesive narrative with accompanying gameplay that helped to restore faith in the superhero game genre. Batman has been one of the easiest heroes to make games for based on his style and skills. There have been many attempts to make a great Batman game but none of them have been able to compare to Rocksteady’s series. I personally loved the entire series and own all the games on both the Xbox 360 and the redux versions for the Xbox One. I have logged more hours into this series than I have probably logged into Skyrim which puts into perspective the replayability of the series. There have been rumours that Rocksteady has been working on another superhero game but so far it has been kept under a tight lock as to who it will feature, but the most popular theory is either Superman or Green Arrow. There was also another rumour that a further game would be added to the Arkham series taking place before Arkham City but after Arkham Asylum. It was to feature the dynamic duo with Robin being a 100% playable character. Nothing much has been said on this front and the rumour mill has recently dies down on anything remotely related to this “new Arkham Game”. I know that while I don’t think this series needs another installment, if they did release another game, I would FOR SURE be one of the first people to pick it up. I would highly recommend that anyone who enjoys adventure games with a great story checkout this series; you don’t even have to be a Batman fan to like the game, Rocksteady does a great job of explaining everything so that even someone who has no knowledge of Batman or his history can follow the story. That being said, they do jam pack the game full of Easter eggs and little nods so that even a seasoned fan of the Bat, like myself, still finds awesome little nods to several other characters throughout the series. I would give this game series a rating of 9.0/10 for all the reasons listed above and for the amount of fun you will have while playing, as I said before, I highly recommend this series!

maxresdefault

Most Underrated Heroes Vol.10 – Aquaman

This month for my underrated hero inclusion, I decided to focus on a hero that was hated by many for decades; only to recently, receive some love from the same fans, that hero is Aquaman. Now almost everyone is familiar with Aquaman for either the mockery meme that circled the internet for years, or for Jason Momoa’s portrayal of the Atlantean king in Justice League. Aquaman was a founding member of the Justice League and first appeared in More Fun Comics #73 in November of 1941. He was created by artist Paul Norris and DC Editor and writer, Mort Weisinger.  Aquaman has been a staple in DC comics since his first inclusion in the Justice League of America and has gone on to share in some of the greatest arcs in the past 40 years, Flashpoint Paradox, Throne of Atlantis, and New 52 Justice League Origin to name a few.

Momoa Aquaman

The next installment in the floundering DCEU, is Aquaman in December of this year. Momoa will reprise his role as the Atlantean King for the first solo live action portrayal of Aquaman. The film will center around him accepting his role as king of Atlantis, as well as his conflicts with Black Manta, and his half-brother Orm aka Ocean Master. James Wan, known primarily for his horror directing career, has helmed the project and I for one, think he can really bring the darkness and mystery that comes with Atlantis.

First thing’s first, let’s get a rundown of Aquaman…

HISTORY

Aquaman has had a couple of different origins throughout his publication history. His first origin stated that he was the Half- Human Half-Atlantean son of Tom Curry of Amnesty Bay and the exiled Queen Atlanna of Atlantis. His mother died when he was young and he was raised by his father away from the ocean until he was a teen and learned the truth of his heritage.

During the Crisis On Infinite Earths story arc, which rebooted most of the known DC Comics universe, we were given his new origin.

Aquaman BM

Given the name Orin at birth by his mother, he was the heir to the Atlantean royal family. The Queen who had been unable to conceive a child with her husband King Trevis, had a dream during which she was impregnated by the immortal wizard Atlan (just go with it). During the dream Atlan predicted of Orin’s future, stating she would bear another son because the two must continuously struggle over the throne of Atlantis. After Orin’s birth, King Trevis immediately knew he wasn’t his son, due to his blond hair.

Blond Hair among Atlanteans was considered to be a bad omen as it was believed anyone with blond hair carried the Curse of Kordax. Kordax was a warmonger who nearly destroyed the entire population of Atlantis early in their history, he was the only Atlantean to have blond hair, and thus every child with blond hair is believed to be corrupted by his essence.

Back to Aquaman… Unable to admit that their child could carry the Curse of Kordax, Orin was left to die in Mercy Reef, where his ability to communicate with sea life caused him to be raised by Dolphins (again… just go with it). The King and Queen announced there had been a miscarriage and had another son named Orm, who would eventually become the villain Ocean Master. Orin swan with this pod of dolphins for several years with his “adoptive mother” Porm taking care of him. When humans killed his adoptive brother Drin (a dolphin) Orin left the pod to be on his own. He was found by a lighthouse keeper Tom Curry, who took the boy in and named him Arthur Curry. Upon Tom Curry’s death, Arthur spent some time in Alaska where he fell in love with an Eskimo girl named Kako. They would conceive a son named Koryak, unknown to Arthur for many years. He traveled the world doing good deeds, and even helped Flash in a battle with the Trickster. During the press conference following the Trickster’s capture, Flash called Arthur “Aquaman” and the name stuck.  Orin decided to return to Atlantis to find his birth mother and was arrested by the Atlantean guard and thrown in the Aquarium prison. It was here that he met and befriended Vulko, a scientist who knew of Arthur’s true heritage and claim to the Throne. Vulko taught Arthur to read and speak Atlantean during their captivity. When Arthur learned of his birth mother, the Queen’s death, he escaped the prison and returned to the surface. Not long after that he received word that Vulko had led a revolution in Atlantis and seized control of the throne for Arthur claiming his lineage as his right.

I Am Your King

This origin was later retconned following the story arc Infinite Crisis, to the original tale of him being born of the Queen and Tom Curry.

As the new ruler of Atlantis, Arthur took in a young boy named Garth, who was abandoned as a child by a group of Atlanteans called the Idylists, making him the first Aqualad. This young Atlantean would go on to share in plenty of adventures with Aquaman until his death at the hands of the reanimated zombified heroes in Blackest Night.

Aquaman met and fell in love with a fellow Atlantean named Mera, who he eventually married. She remains as one of his closest advisors and his Queen. Together they conceived a son, though his time on earth was short.

One the biggest tragedies for Aquaman was the death of his natural son, Arthur Curry Jr.. Black Manta (Aquaman’s arch-Nemesis) teamed up with some other villains to coordinate attacks against Aquaman to scatter his mind and leave him vulnerable. While Aquaman was fending off various attacks a diplomatic coup left him branded as an outsider and had a kill order put on him should he ever return to Atlantis. Through a very complicated series of events, Black Manta was able to kidnap Aquababy (Arthur Curry Jr.) and trap Aqualad and Aquaman in a death match arena, forcing them to fight to the death to save Aquababy from drowning (full blood Atlanteans drown in open air like fish). While the two eventually managed to breakout of the arena they were too late to save Aquababy. This broke the family apart causing Mera to resent Arthur for failing to save their son. Arthur and Mera were forced to ally with each other and fight against Ocean Master and a robot he had been controlling, which brought Mera’s feelings of love for Arthur back to the surface.

Fast forward several years past the Crisis on Infinite Earths and we arrive at the point where Aquaman loses his hand. After deciding to begin chronicling his adventures as a history of himself, he discovers that Ocean Master is indeed his half brother. This causes Arthur to spiral into a deep depression which Garth is eventually able to break him out of. One of Aquaman’s foes, Charybdis, planted a trap to capture Aquaman using an underwater radiation leak as bait. When Aquaman and Aqualad fall for the bait, Charybdis springs the trap capturing them. Eventually the two Atlanteans manage to escape and join battle with Charybdis. Charybdis manages to overpower Aquaman and holds his hand in a pool filled with piranhas that devour Aquaman’s left hand. Despite losing his hand, Aquaman manages to fight Charybdis and toss him into the pool, where he is devoured by the piranhas. Aquaman returns to Atlantis and retreats into the Aquacave where he remains for months until he emerges with a harpoon attached to his arm where his hand used to be.

Aquaman_0014

During Infinite Crisis everything changes for Aquaman. The Secret Society of Supervillains staged an attack on Sub Diego (yes… I said Sub Diego), causing Aquaman’s allies and fellow Atlanteans to rally together to fend off the attack. The Spectre has allied with the Society and during the battle, he destroys all of Atlantis with a single blow. The destruction of their home forces thousands of Atlantean refugees to flee to Sub Diego which is under the political control of Black Manta. Aquaman falls once again into a deep depression and mourns his people. The bodies of Vulko and Koryak (Aquaman’s son from Kako) are discovered in the wreckage of Atlantis, which causes Arthur to sink further into his depressive state. When Aquaman is sighted in the Battle of Metropolis fighting Bane and Headhunter, Manta abandons his political position in Sub Diego to strike at Aquaman when he is weakest. Aquaman loses it. He viciously beats Manta, destroys the Manta sub and leaves Black Manta to die in a frenzy of sharks.

In order to try and restore his home and save the refugees at the behest of Aquagirl, Arthur makes a deal with the Sea Gods. The Gods offer him immense power but it will cause him to become the vessel for something “strange, dark and terrible”. Aquaman accepts without hesitation and his mind and body warp, changing him into the Dweller of the Depths.

DEATH

A relative of Arthur’s adoptive father Tom Curry makes his way to Atlantis, revealing he received similar powers to that of Arthur through his own father’s genetic experimentation on him. This relative known as Arthur Joseph Curry (eventually taking the name of Joseph Curry) then meets the Dweller of the Depths who, mistaking his own memories as a prophecy, encourages him to become the new Aquaman. In order to teach him about heroism, the Dweller encourage the new Aquaman to travel the Atlantic Ocean and bring it to order. Fearing the Dweller’s power and his growing influence the “Order of the Thorny Crown” (the ruling political party in Atlantis and Sub Diego) order that the Dweller be killed to preserve their people. Using magic and the body of a fallen Atlantean, The Pardoner (a sort of mad scientist type) creates an assassin and names it, Narwhal, arming it with a harpoon and sending it after the Dweller. After getting past the remaining Atlantean army, and beating the new Aquaman in single combat, Narwhal proceeds to murder the Dweller by stabbing him through the chest with his harpoon. It is heavily implied that Narwhal is actually the re-animated body of Koryak that was brainwashed into killing his own father.

During the funeral for Arthur the entire Justice League of America attends the service and pays their respects to the fallen king. Due to the unknown power of the Dweller, several League members express concerns over whether or not Arthur could revive himself and continue as the Dweller. At the conclusion of the ceremony, Arthur’s body dissolves into water.

RESURRECTION

During the Blackest Night story arc Arthur is one of the first heroes reanimated by the power rings from the Black Lantern Corps. Following the defeat of Nekron and the expulsion of the Black Lantern Rings, the White Power Battery resurrected 12 people for an unknown purpose, one of them, was Arthur Curry the original Aquaman.

Black LAntern Aquaman

During the Brightest Day arc, Aquaman and Mera reconcile at Amnesty Bay and take on some Somalian Pirates where Arthur learns he retained his Black Lantern ability to command dead sea life.  Mera’s twin sister, Siren, attacks them with a death squad of exiled Atlanteans from Xebel (the Bermuda Triangle), the penal colony for exiled separatist Atlantenas. It is revealed that Mera’s original mission was to assassinate Arthur but she ended up falling in love with him and was unable to carry out her mission. The White Lantern speaks to Arthur and encourages him to find Jackson Hyde, not knowing who Jackson was or why he needed to find him, he resolves to set out to search for this mysterious person.  Before he can leave, Mera explains she knows who Jackson is, and states that he is Black Manta’s son. Arthur and Mera find Jackson, discovering him to be part Atlantean and able to use magic to create hard water constructs like Mera. Arthur urges Jackson, to help him and Mera to save the people of the surface from the impending invasion by the exiles from Xebel. Jackson discovers a suit of armour that allows him to focus and channel his powers and agrees to help Arthur and Mera.

When the battle commences the exiles of Xebel are caught between the Atlantean army and Arthur’s undead sea creatured in the ocean, and Arthur, Jackson and Mera on the land. Black Manta, who saw news coverage of the previous battle between Aquaman and the death squad, murders the entire restaurant he is working in and resolves to finally kill his nemesis. Manta joins the battle and sides the Siren and the Xebel soldiers, cutting off Arthur’s left hand once again. Mera, utilizing all of her strength is able to generate a massive tidal wave that sweeps the Xebel soldiers and Manta back into the Bermuda triangle where Jackson utilizes his new powers to restore the barrier (it had been broken during Blackest Night) imprisoning the Xebel soldiers and Black Manta in the Bermuda Triangle.

Aquaman vs. Black Manta

Arthur is teleported away and is revealed to be one of the elementals of the Earth needed to battle Nekron once more. He, along with the other elementals merge together in a megazord-like body to combat Swamp Thing, who has been tainted by the power of Nekron (again… just go with it. Not DC Comics’ finest hour…). Once they finally expel Nekron from Swamp Thing, Arthur is fully restored to life, losing his Black Lantern abilities and regaining his normal powers and his hand is replaced by the White Power Battery.

POWERS & ABILITIES

Like all other Atlanteans, Aquaman  has some truly remarkable abilities.

  • Atlantean Biology Adaptation – Under water breathing, adaptable to immense pressures, superhuman speed, superhuman endurance, superhuman agility, but cannot spend long outside of water. Aquaman is of royal blood and as such is able to spend extended periods outside of water and his regular Atlantean abilities are even greater than that of a regular Atlantean.
  • Amphibious Nature – Allows Aquaman to breathe in water and on land.
  • Enhanced Vision – Able to see at the incredible depths in the ocean where not even light penetrates. This also gives him superhuman vision on the surface.
  • Enhanced Hearing
  • Enhanced Sense of Smell
  • Superhuman Durability
  • Energy/Heat Resistance – Able to withstand energy and heat blasts from Black Manta, Amazo, and OMAC.
  • Superhuman Reflexes
  • Marine Telepathy – Able to mentally dominate marine wildlife to obey his commands. Through the use of the “Clear”, he is able to communicate with all sea life around the globe regardless of proximity. His ability to command sea life has been known to supersede the animals will of self-preservation.

In addition to all these powers Aquaman is also a master swimmer and due to his Atlantean physiology is able to swim at super speeds. He is an expert combatant, an expert tactician, and an accomplished diplomat.

Aquaman_0013

His main weapon in addition to his physical abilities is his Trident. Aquaman has used two different tridents over his comic career, the Trident of Neptune and the Trident of Poseidon. Both tridents offer full control over the oceans and the ability to project lightning and arcane blasts. The wielder is also able to use the Tridents to command a vicious species of monster from the deep ocean called, The Trench. Both tridents are one of the few items fabricated on Earth that can pierce Kryptonian skin.

WHY THEY’RE UNDERRATED

I’m going to start this off by saying that up until the New 52, I was right on board with the shit on Aquaman train. I never picked up a comic or cared about him as a character because of all the ridiculous memes and that abysmal cartoon where he rode a giant sea horse. BUT… once I read the New 52 Justice League and saw how badass they made him, I was hooked. He was a brawler who was able to go toe to toe with Superman and the rest of the League. During the Throne of Atlantis story arc, he actually took on the entire League single handedly and slapped them around like rag dolls. Literally. By himself, took on the League and won. Granted it was only the core 7 members, but still, that’s a huge feat on its own.

Aquaman Batman

Aquaman vs Jusice League

Geoff Johns did an amazing job re-imagining the character to make him more contemporary and bring his power set up to super status. Not only that, but I thoroughly loved the portrayal that Jason Momoa gave us in Justice League. That movie has a LOT of issues, but one of the standout roles for me was Momoa’s Aquaman. He made him into a more gruff and kind of “bro” style hero, while still exhibiting an air of regality. While they did nerf his powers and abilities a little bit, he still was able to throw down when it was needed. I am fairly excited for the movie coming out in December of this year. Not only do we get more Momoa Aquaman, but it’s also going to introduce Black Manta played by Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Ocean Master/Orm played by Patrick Wilson, and Vulko played by Willem Dafoe. Patrick Wilson was amazing as Nite-Owl II in Watchmen and I’m very interested to see what Yahya Abdul-Mateen II can do as Black Manta. I’ve only seen Yahya Abdul-Mateen II in comedic roles up until this point, so i’m very excited to see how his portrayal of Black Manta will go. Not only am I excited for the cast, but Director James Wan is known for his horror films and I’m curious to see how he will handle Atlantis and all it’s wonders.

Aquaman and Mera

Bottom line, I was wrong about Aquaman. Up until the release of the New 52 you could ask any of my friends, and they would tell you that I would rag on Aquaman all the time. I would cite the photo of him trapped by a plastic six pack holder or just end up calling him useless and saying he’ll get trapped by a fishnet before he could help at all in a fight. I’m not sure how most comic fans have not noticed how awesome he is, but I just assume it has to do with the same preconceived notions I had about him as well. I hope this movie helps to serve as the revitalization that the DCEU needs so desperately but if it doesn’t…Aquaman will still hold a spot as one of the most underrated heroes in DC comics.