Tuesday, April 22, 2014

R.I.P. LA Lakers 2013-2014


Kobe's reaction perfectly embodied the sentiments of Lakerdom.
As I write this, the NBA playoffs has started.  And for the first time in nine years – and just the second time in my tenure as a basketball/NBA/LALakers fan – my beloved Lakers are not in the playoff picture.  They finished this season with an abysmal 27–55 record – the worst in franchise history!

Last season was my most disappointing as a Laker fan, but though I am not expecting much from the Laker team this year – thus, the disappointment is still lesser than last season’s (because the lesser the expectations, the lesser the disappointments) – this development still left a bad taste to me.  As someone who is used to see the Lakers’ being “invincible” no matter what, seeing them to end this season in such an awful state is kind of a shock.   

The start of the season was actually pretty optimistic, even though Kobe wasn’t able to play yet.  The Lakers were hovering along .500.  They win some and lose some.  And during those wins… wow… the Lakers were a lot of fun to watch.  They had an awesome eclectic rotation of players and the minutes were distributed evenly.  Nobody was getting more than 20 minutes.  But everyone made sure that every minute of their playing time counts.  Everybody contributed.  Everybody played with energy.  Hence, the box score of the Lakers were often looking like this:

Therefore, they had an unpredictable team identity and game style.  They were not title contenders, but they were surely entertaining at least.     

Then the injuries happened.  Every single one in the roster has been in one point sidelined due to injury. This resulted in significantly depleting the team’s depth.  Mike D’Antoni seems to have been made the scapegoat for this, that the up-tempo pace he insisted the Lakers to play on led to these injuries. 

Yep, it was this bad.
Of course, the blame is not at all completely on Mike D’Antoni.  The injuries and the Lakers’ worst season record ever – I won’t put all of these on him.  In fact, under D’Antoni, I’ve never had the feeling that this weakened lottery-bound Lakers team underperformed.  Really.  It seems to me that D’Antoni made the best out of the situation at hand and the resources he has been provided.  This Laker team under D’Antoni never gave up.  The injury plagued, depth-lacking Lakers played hard even though they were outmatched and losing.  Even when the Lakers were already rapidly sliding in the playoff race and then, eventually, virtually out of playoff contention already, I never found the perception that this Lakers team slacked off and just took it lying down, considering that as such situation, business-wise, it is preferred to “tank” – to intentionally lose as much as possible – so the team would have more chance of receiving a higher drafting position during the lottery.  And I can find something to be proud about in that.  You can never accuse my Lakers of tanking this season.  (Even if they did, Mitch Kupchack and Mike D’Antoni did it in the most subtle way possible – masking the tanking by making an appearance of “not tanking”: up-tempo pace = injuries; injuries = depth-depleted Lakers; depth-depleted Lakers = weakened Lakers; weakened Lakers = awful season record; awful season record = high draft pick position.  And with the Lakers already weakened and set to lose, the “playing hard” aspect of the team, having no significant effect on the ending result whatsoever, serves as a perfect smokescreen of the Lakers’ shrewd tanking strategy.  If that’s true, that is equally impressive.)

Nonetheless, though this season’s appalling outcome is not completely Mike D’Antoni’s fault, it still happened under his watch.  As the leader, he’s accountable.  And I think it unlikely he’ll be back as coach next season.  I want a new coach.  But I’m not at all for replacing D’Antoni just for the sake of replacing him.  If there are no better options available (and don’t tell me everyone is better than D’Antoni.  I don’t buy that), it’s prudent to keep D’Antoni at the helm for a little longer. 

So, the 2013-2014 NBA season is done for me as a Laker fan (but as an NBA fan, I’m still enjoying the playoffs.  I really want the Indiana Pacers to win the title, but that seems unlikely).  There could be a silver lining in all of this.  But we’ll only be able to really see it when we’re already looking back at this particular moment of Laker history, enjoying the success we’re having then and realize that that wouldn’t be possible if not for this. 

Until then and forever, proud to be...


Some random musings:
• I hope the Lakers’ pick will turn out to be an awesome franchise player. 
• I hope Kobe will still be able to play in an elite level in his return.
• I hope Pau returns to the Lakers.  For a reasonable contract, of course.  He might be no longer playing in a “best finesse big man” level, but I think he can still contribute.  Maybe.  Hmmm.  Okay, I admit, I want him back primarily because I’m greatly fond of the guy (might write something about him in the near future, before or during the off-season)
Pau doesn't look soft in black at all.
• My most favorite Laker thing this past season: the “HOLLYWOOD NIGHTS” BLACK ALTERNATE JERSEY!  It looks so awesomely bad-ass!  That is something I’ve been wanting for the Lakers to have for a long time.  It’s kind of a bummer though that this fan milestone had to come in the Lakers’ worst season ever.    
• My second most favorite Laker thing this past season:
Swaggy P!
Nick Young is no Kobe Bryant, nor a star-caliber player.  I’ve never cared much for Young before, but by becoming a Laker, I get to really observe him.  And I get to like the guy’s game.  He has his flaws.  But I would love to have him back next season (at a reasonable contract) as Kobe’s back-up.   Again, he’s far from being Kobe, but there are parallels.  He is utterly fearless in shooting the ball.  He is never intimidated by any opponent he matches against; even if it’s someone like LeBron James, he won’t back down.  And he can be a showboat enough to get the crowd on their feet.  A player like that coming off the bench, with the energy he’ll provide, would be an asset.  Sure, there will be times he might take to many bad shots and harm his team; he’s a scorer-type after all.  But that’s a risk I’m willing to take.  For me, with regards to Young, the pros outweigh the cons.     
• Paul George was the one I was originally hoping the Lakers will pursue.  Too bad that is nigh impossible to happen anymore after he signed that extension with Indiana.  I guess I’ll go with Kevin Love (the consensus among Laker fans) then.  (And I won’t mind LeBron.)      
• Jim Buss promises he’ll step down if the Lakers aren’t contenders within the next three years.  We’ll see.  Lakerdom is impatient.  We need another championship… fast!

Kobe should get at least one more before retiring

04-20-14 Worship Service

Some songs during our worship service last April 20, which was an Easter Sunday...



Saturday, April 19, 2014

RE: Superior Spider-Man Part 7 (Or "Final Evaluation: 'Superior' Has Been Fun Overall but the En- OH, SWEET MOTHER OF ZEUS, SPIDER-VERSE IS HAPPENING!!!")


Finally, it’s over.  As promised, I will make one final evaluation of Superior Spider-Man

I actually don’t have much to say.  It was a passable finale.  But that’s it: it was just passable.  It merely sufficed, but it’s hardly a glorious ending.   It seemed dumb, rushed, and underwhelming. 

Look, I hated the SpOck concept much because the sly ploys and lying from Dan Slott and Co. instilled in me the idea that it was going to be a very long status quo; if so, this would dilute and smear the awesome quintessence of Spider-Man.  But despite my apathy for it, I also enjoy and acknowledge its originality, good entertainment value, and action-packed pace.  In that sense, Superior Spider-Man is actually quite kickass.  Heck, it was engaging enough to compel me to write lengthily about it in six (five, if you don’t count the first one since that was a piece prior Superior Spider-Man’s actual run that argued it was a terrible idea) different occasions prior to this one.  With that into consideration, I expected nothing less than a conclusion that is at least as exciting and enjoyable as it has been from the start.   

I was expecting the means of Peter Parker’s return to be more creative and mindblowing.  I was expecting the final confrontation with Green Goblin to be more dramatic and grinding.  I was even expecting for Otto to go out in a blaze of glory.   That in that final battle, the two of them would work together – with Otto’s tactical efficiency and Peter’s heroic instincts and resolute courage – in one body as Spider-Man against Green Goblin and his minions.   Then in the end, Otto will provide some form of “preparing” for Peter for the life he had left him.
Still, Otto's end had been a powerful, redemptive moment
The beginning part of Superior Spider-Man was very intriguing (mostly because of its novelty) and engaging, but the ending part was merely satisfactory.   So if I have to grade it, with the beginning and ending parts as the spectrum – the former getting an A- and the latter getting a B – then, my overall grade for Superior Spider-Man is a B+.        

With my anger for it gone (since it ended with Peter back), I can say comfortably that the entire Superior Spider-Man run had been pretty fun and a good addition to the Spider-Man mythos.  It was a brilliant and original concept to do.  It kept me absorbed, that even though I hated it, I was still immensely entertained by and drawn to it – the “love-hate” feeling I had for SpOck has been a unique experience.

Now, onwards to the new era of Spider-Man – can’t wait for Amazing Spider-Man #1

Some random musings:

• My favorite moment in the finale was this:
I missed the natural wisecracking of Peter a lot, hence, that was a very thrilling moment for me.  Spidey’s effortless comeback, the Green Goblin’s immediate recognition of his identity due to the joke, and after not witnessing Spidey’s trademark smartassery for a long time, totally made me laugh out loud.

• The last issue had to rely on a degree of inconsistency and dumbness on many details to make the storyline and conclusion stick.  It left a slight feeling of annoyance in me.   

• So Otto decided to remove every trace of his memory – hence, his entire consciousness – from the mind of Peter Parker by the same process he did in eradicating Peter Parker’s consciousness in Superior Spider-Man #9.   So if the consciousness of Peter Parker could come back from something like that, isn’t it reasonable to assume that Otto’s consciousness can actually come back as well? 

• Or is it a different matter this time with Otto?  In the case of Peter, it seems that his consciousness could have anchored itself to the memories of Peter Parker that Otto still retained post-Superior #9 (since those memories were already accessed by Otto prior to the “Parker-ectomy” done on Superior Spider-Man #9).   On the other hand, in the case of Otto, every trace of his memories are erased from Peter’s mind, so Otto’s consciousness has no memory to anchor itself to, as Peter’s did.   So could this have been really permanent this time around? 

• The mechanics of this mind swap is kind of messy.  In December 2012’s Amazing Spider-Man #700, it is clear that Peter Parker’s consciousness died in Otto’s body but was able to transfer all his memories to Otto who was in his body.  Then why was Peter Parker’s consciousness still living on by Superior Spider-Man #1?  The only logical explanation I can think of is that when Peter (dying in Otto’s body) uploaded his memories to Otto (who was in Peter’s body), it was done in a “copy-paste” manner.  Hence, there became two Peter Parker “files” – the “original file” lay dying in Otto’s body, and the “copied file” was integrated back to Peter Parker’s physical brain.  Hence, the Peter Parker we have now is the “copied file.”  If you think of it that way, the whole “mind swap” looked kind of stupid. But, hey, stupider things have happened before to Spider-Man.  Remember in “The Other” arc wherein Peter Parker mutated into a giant spider-mom, and then eventually gave birth to himself?  That was way stupider.         

• The plot and resolution of Superior Spider-Man #31 are in some ways parallel to the conclusion of “Spider-Island”: New York getting overrun by the bad guys and good guys fighting them off; the use of an antidote; Spider-Man teaming up with another Spider-Man; and mini-bots being instrumental in saving the day.       

• I love how Spidey employed mini spider-bots.  I’ve always pushed for their utilization.  I hope that mini spider-bots will be a common element in Spidey’s repertoire.

• And I hope Peter decides to keep a couple of Otto’s cool gadgetries.  I really loved SpOck’s cybernetic goggles and the retractable mechanical spider-limbs on his back.

• Per Original Sin, Marvel’s next mega comicbook event:
In Spider-Man, readers will learn a second person was bitten by the radioactive spider which gave Peter Parker his powers.
At first, I thought it was going to be connected to the ending of 2012’s Spider-Men and that this second person bitten will turn out to be the Miles Morales of Earth-616.  But the teaser art for Amazing Spider-Man #1 shows otherwise, for the second person bitten was a female.   Also, if I remember it correctly, during an interview regarding the Amazing relaunch, Slott mentioned of this, and hinted that this second person bitten had chosen a life of villainy.    Earth-616 Miles Morales turning out to be a villain would have been an interesting development.  

• I think it’s safe to claim that 2014 is a big Spidey year.  There’s the upcoming movie.  There’s the end of Superior Spider-Man and the Amazing Spider-Man relaunch.  The Amazing Spider-Man: Family Business graphic novel has been pretty awesome – a page-turner of a thrilling plot and of gorgeous art.  Then we’ll have a reunion of “The Amazing Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends” trio in Amazing X-Men #7 (I would love a regular series to happen).     But the best of all is the upcoming major Spidey storyline that will start in November…

The concept of different Spider-Men from different realities teaming up is nothing new.  This was done already in the last arc of the Amazing Spider-Man animated TV series and in the Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions videogame.   But “Spider-Verse” is obviously going to be a thousand times more epic than those things, for Slott and Marvel promise that “EVERY SPIDER-MAN EVER” will be featured in this event! 

Every version of Spider-Man. 

Every Spider-Man of every universe.  

EVERY. SPIDER-MAN. EVER. 

Let that sink in.   

I don’t know if “Spider-Verse” can indeed deliver what is promised.  There are probably several thousands of Spider-Men featured in comicbook medium alone.  And Slott implied that those from other media – like the Spidey from the Ultimate Spider-Man animated series – will be part of it as well.  Moreover, there will also be new Spider-Men making their debuts in “Spider-Verse.” 

Wow.  That’s a lot of Spider-Men.  It will take some epic, innovative narrative for this to work.  Of course, the possibility of “Spider-Verse” turning out a dud is there.  A storyline premise with this magnitude will always have the risk of being a disappointment present.   But at this point, regardless of how it will ultimately turn out, the mere fact that an epic concept like “Spider-Verse” is happening could be considered a triumph already; it’s enough to bring my excitement counter to OVER 9000!!!

Monday, April 14, 2014

Top 10 Fictional Characters That Have Super-Speed


Yes, the number one is the Flash.   And that is not really much of a spoiler since, just like my list on superheroes with powered armors, it is quite obvious where this list is going.  Nonetheless, a question remains which “Flash” is number one?

Before we proceed, let me also point out that the characters evaluated for this list are those characters that have “super speed” as their primary or sole superpower and NOT as a mere offshoot of another base power (for instance, in lightning or electric powered characters, they obtain “super speed” by transforming into electrical energy, allowing their movements to be lightning fast) or is merely one of their various powers (e.g. Superman).  

10.) SPEEDY GONZALES

The Mexican stereotyping of this character might be borderline racist to some, but I find him a delightful character.  Aside from his super-speed – being “The Fastest Mouse in all of Mexico” –  he also possesses the same quality of cleverness for outsmarting antagonists as other Looney Tunes protagonists, Bugs Bunny and Road Runner.

9.) FLASH (JAY GARRICK)

Jay Garrick was the very first “Flash.”  He gained his super-speed and super-fast reflexes after supposedly inhaling “heavy” water vapors while falling asleep in the laboratory he’s working in (don’t ask me how that worked).  He then donned a red-shirt with a lightning bolt on it and a winged WWI helmet (as reference to the super-fast Roman god, Mercury) to fight crime.

This Flash, along with the other superheroes of the Golden Age, was supposed to exist in a different universe from the main DC universe.  Then in 1985, DC Comics decided to merge those universes into one.  Hence, from that point on, the original Flash now shared a reality with the more popular modern Flash.   Since Jay was from the WWII era, he was a very old man already at that point.  But he was still able to remain active as a superhero because of some magical anti-aging treatments.  So by the time the 2000’s arrived, Jay’s chronological age is around 90 already, but he still appeared to be a very fit 50 year-old.  I find the idea of a super-fast aged superhero awesome.        

In DC’s New 52, Jay Garrick is re-interpreted as the Flash of Earth 2, who gained his super-speed powers from the god Mercury himself. 

8.) SPEED DEMON

I never cared much for this Spidey villain before.   Then came the brilliant and very funny Superior Foes of Spider-Man (arguably one of the best ongoing comicbook titles at the present).    Just like his teammates in the new Sinister Six (actually, a group of C-list villains that just adopted the name, and nowhere as dangerous as those previous Sinister Sixes), because of the book’s cleverly good writing, Speed Demon was given more personality (though by making him appear less menacing but more pathetic); he’s portrayed as a cowardly crook, which makes his power invaluable for running away.   

7.) DASH

Dash Parr is the son of Bob Parr (a.k.a. Mr. Incredible) and Helen Parr (a.k.a. Elastigirl).  Because of his superhero parentage, Dash was born with the power of super-speed. Still a juvenile, he is cocky and reckless; nonetheless, he has several times provided key heroic moments.      

6.) YORUICHI SHIHŌIN

This might be a violation of the requirements I’ve mentioned at the beginning to qualify for this list, since, being a former Gotei 13 captain, Yoruichi possesses all of the Shinigami combat skills and abilities. However, having the reputation as the “Goddess of Flash”, Yoruichi’s most notable characteristic is as a Hohō (step method) and Shunpo (flash step) expert; in fact, no one can ever match her in terms of Shinigami fast movement techniques.  Thus, she is most identified with her super-speed (and by turning into a cat).  She is so fast that it appears that she can be in several places at once.  We have never seen her use her Zanpakutō yet, but given that her high proficiency in hand-to-hand combat and her super-speed already make a lethal combination, there seems no need for her to use it. 

5.) ROAD RUNNER

The super-fast Road Runner, with his trademark “Beep! Beep!”, is one of Looney Tunes most iconic characters.  He is constantly duking it out with Wile E. Coyote, who is out to make a meal out of him.  While Wile makes use of Rube Goldberg-like contraptions (acquired from Acme Corporation) or formulates absurd plans to catch the Road Runner, the latter, however, always gets away because of his super-speed, cleverness, and plain “good guys’ luck.”  This results to Wile often falling prey to his own trap.  Those Road Runner vs. Wile E. Coyote duels were awesomely hilarious.
 
Interesting trivia: in real life, road runners are fast, but coyotes are actually faster.

4.) SONIC THE HEDGEHOG

Sonic is one of the most iconic and most successful video game characters ever.  But he has also made the jump to comics and TV, increasing his popularity.  This blue hedgehog is known to leave behind an image of “blue streak” when running because of his supersonic speed.  Being true to his hedgehog nature, Sonic can roll himself into a ball for defense or increasing his attack power by spinning rapidly while in this ball position.  His speed and power also increases exponentially whenever he has his hands on a power-up ring.  

Sonic is always ready to defend the weak from oppression and is extremely loyal to his friends.  He is quite witty and sarcastic, which he often makes use in making fun of his enemies.  Sonic also has the tendency to be quick-tempered and impatient, probably because of being used to moving in a fast pace.   

3.) FLASH (BARRY ALLEN)

The forensic scientist Barry Allen gained his super-speed by getting hit by a lightning and being dosed with chemicals (again, don’t ask me how that worked).  As a result of the accident, Barry found himself with the ability to move in super-speeds.  Ignorant non-comic book fans often wonder why is the Flash around in the Justice League when Superman already has super-speed as one of his powers, making the Flash redundant and worthless next to Superman.  The Flash is not just merely about having super-fast movement.  He has complete molecular control of his body.  His body can heal at high speeds. His perceptions also increase whenever he’s moving at high speeds, meaning he can notice details and process it even if he’s moving at a fast rate.  He can think as fast as he moves.  He can “vibrate” his composition which allows him to phase through solid objects.  He can create powerful wind vortexes by rotating his body or limbs rapidly.  He can run so fast that he can transform himself into energy, time travel, and alter reality.   

In 1985, during the “Crisis of Infinite Earths” event, Barry Allen made the ultimate sacrifice to save the multiverse.  For many years, Barry remained dead.  Then in 2008, he returned.  He is now the main Flash once again.     

2.) QUICKSILVER

Pietro Maximoff a.k.a. Quicksilver is Marvel’s answer to DC’s the Flash (though the former is notably less powerful than the latter).  He has the mutant ability to move and think in extreme speeds.  Formerly a villain and a member of the “Brotherhood of Evil Mutants”, Pietro has long reformed, become a superhero, and a member of X-Factor and the Avengers (I’m glad he’s in the next movie). 

Quicksilver possesses a rude, arrogant, and impatient personality – a result of his super-fast perception, making the world around him seemingly moving in slow motion and he is continually waiting for it to catch up.  

Recently, in the “Avengers vs. X-Men” storyline, I love the part where in one moment Quicksilver was just watching on TV the Avengers’ initial clash with the X-Men in Utopia, then in the next moment, he’s already at the place at the side of the Avengers and punching Magneto on the jaw.  

1.) FLASH (WALLY WEST)

Wally West is the best Flash ever. Not only that, but he’s also the greatest speedster in fiction.

Wally West, as Kid Flash, was formerly the teenage sidekick of Barry Allen.  After Barry’s death, Wally took up the mantle of “Flash” to himself.  And as Flash, Wally was able to surpass his predecessor.  I think Wally West (and Carol Danvers, if we consider her a sidekick) is the only comicbook character to do that – a sidekick that took up his mentor’s superhero mantle and become more popular and successful than him. 

How can I say that Wally is better than his mentor, Barry Allen?  There is a reason that it took 23 years before Barry returned again.  In the comic book industry where death is never permanent, a popular character will never stay dead long enough to become a status quo.  Barry Allen stayed dead because Wally West as Flash sufficed and was awesome enough.  Wally’s struggles and eventual success to live up to Barry’s legacy put an unparalleled depth to the character.  For a lot of us, Wally West is the Flash.  We grew up with Wally as Flash and got use to it (Barry was four years dead already when I was born).  We watched the Justice League animated series, arguably the best depiction of the Justice League ever, and we had Wally, not Barry, and we loved Wally there.  So Wally was loved in both the comics and the animated series.  He was never lacking as the Flash; he has even become more popular than Barry.  There was never a massive cry for Barry to return.  His ultimate sacrifice in “Crisis of the Infinite Earths” already defined him as a character, a fitting end to a true hero; I even think it cheapens the impact of that sacrifice if he would be brought back.  

There was never a reason to bring back Barry, identify him as the Flash again, and sideline Wally.  It won’t make sense.  So why did that happen then?  The only answer I can think of why Barry Allen was returned as the Flash was because Geoff Johns is obsessed with the Silver Age and has the delusion that he is righting a universal wrong by making Barry the main Flash again.  And DC was stupid enough to let him do exactly that.        

DC could have had something special here: the greatest character development of a sidekick taking up the mantle of his mentor.  Bucky Barnes becoming Captain America and Dick Grayson becoming Batman have been awesome, but they never truly surpassed their predecessors.  Only Wally West has ever done that.  But, now, by making Barry Allen the main Flash again, it negates everything DC has established in Wally West before.  What a waste.       

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Kingdom Quest


Just like last year, we made a video of our renditions of this year's VBS (the theme is "Kingdom Quest") songs as reference for those who joined the VBS teacher's seminar that our church hosted.


Also, here is the footage of our performance during the seminar last April 12:


Performances in Mission Trip '14

Last March 24 to 25, Joy Church went on a mission trip (the last mission trip was three years ago) to Sorok Uni Village, which is located in San Antonio, Quezon.  For two days, we had some music clinics and counseling during the daytime; then during the nights, we had evangelistic concerts.  Below are some footage of our performances during the evangelistic concerts:

Saturday, April 05, 2014

Top 10 Fictional Characters That Have Fire Powers


Among all elemental powers, fire is arguably the most common in fiction.  There are thousands of fictional characters that possess fire-related powers, but there are only room for ten for this list.  These are my ten picks on who are the best fire-powered characters in fiction. 

10.) FIRESTAR

Her fire powers are actually unimpressively generic.  She is a mutant that can generate fire due to her mutant ability of manipulating microwave radiation.  She can hurl fireballs and create flames.  She can cover herself with fire.  She can fly (I don’t know how that works, but a lot of fire-powered characters can fly just because.  You know.  Fire.  Uh-oh.  Or I’m looking at this wrong; her ability to fly could be a separate mutant power of hers.)  Still, I am fond of her despite the common nature of her power.  It’s because I was greatly fond of Spider-Man & His Amazing Friends.  I loved that show, and that’s actually where Firestar got her start – not in the comics.  She became popular enough, eventually made the jump to comics, and, since then, she has been an X-Man, an Avenger, and my most favorite purely fire-powered female character.           

9.) TASUKI

Fushigi Yuugi’s Tasuki is the fifth of the Seven Celestial Warriors of Suzaku, and one of the two that survived till the end (three survivors, if you count Tamahome’s reincarnation).  What is so cool about Tasuki is his weapon: a giant fan named “the Tessen.”  This fan can shoot out fire.  Initially, Tasuki was not so adept in wielding this powerful weapon as he aims recklessly with it, sometimes setting allies on fire along with the targeted enemy, or even completely missing the enemy and hitting his ally instead.  Eventually, Tasuki was able to master how to shoot out fire efficiently with his fan.  

8.) WHEELER

Wheeler is one of the Planeteers, the teenagers entrusted by Gaia with power elemental rings that can control or manipulate the elements and also summon the superhero Captain Planet whenever they combine their powers.  Wheeler’s ring gives him the power of Fire.  With this ring, he can generate flames and shoot out laser-like fire force. 

Among all Planeteers, Wheeler is the one with the most flaws (maybe because of his tough upbringing) – he’s a bit of a jerk, quick with his tongue, impulsive, and, usually, he’s the least knowledgeable in the group – making him the Planeteer with the most personality, thus, the most likable.  Really, the other Planeteers are kind of bland.    

7.) GHOST RIDER

 
There are other supernatural powers that came when Johnny Blaze (a.k.a. Ghost Rider) was possessed by the demonic power of Zarathos – like superhuman strength, stamina, and durability; regenerative healing factor; wielding of power mystical chains; and causing anybody who looks into his eyes to eternally see and feel all the pains he has ever inflicted – but the most notable power of all is the control of hellfire.  Ghost Rider’s hellfire power is immensely powerful and he can channel this in a variety of ways, including making a wall of fire, using it as projectiles that incinerate everything on its path, and summoning a supernatural motorcycle (which is also covered with hellfire).   Awesome. 

6.) PORTGAS D. ACE

Ace is the biological son of the late Pirate King, Gol D. Roger.  However, Ace didn’t acknowledge this fact; he only recognized Whitebeard, who was Roger’s rival, as father.  Ace is also Monkey D. Luffy’s adopted older brother.  Though they are not really related by blood, the two of them maintained a very close bond with each other. 

By eating the “Mera Mera no Mi” Devil Fruit, Ace gained the Logia-type ability of transforming himself into fire and controlling the flames that he produce.  This ability made Ace immensely powerful.  His main manner of projecting fire is by punching out lines of intense flames, earning him the reputation of “Fire Fist Ace.” 

Being a fan-favorite, Ace’s death during the “Battle of Marinefold” arc is probably the most emotional and shocking moment ever in One Piece

5.) RECCA HANABISHI

Right from his childhood, Recca was very engrossed with ninjas.   Unbeknownst to him, he’s actually one, for he’s a time-displaced descendant of the leading line of fire-casters of the Hokage ninja clan.  Because of his lineage, Recca has the power to create fire. 

At first, the style of his fire-casting was limited to surrounding his fist with fire, increasing its attack strength, and by shooting out fire from his hand like a flamethrower.   Later on, he discovered that he can call on the Eight Flame Dragons and borrow their powers.  Each flame dragon has a respective form and ability.  Recca would one at a time “earn” their powers through the progress of the story; whenever he obtains a dragon, a tattoo shows up on his arm. 

The dragons and their respective form are as follows, in order of Recca’s acquisition:
1. Saiha – fire blade
2. Nadare – fire balls
3. Homura – a whip made of fire
4. Setsuna – whoever looks at Setsuna’s eyes would instantaneously be set afire
5. Madoka – barriers created by fireballs
6.  Rui – illusion; the flame would take the form of whatever Recca imagines it to be
7. Kokū – shoots out a powerful fire beam that vaporizes everything it hits
8. Resshin – transforms a dead person into a living flame (similar to what Kurei can do)

4.) KUREI MORI

 
Kurei is part of my list for top 10 anime antagonists (he’s number 10); I already discussed of him there.  Here’s an excerpt, explaining why I like Kurei more than Recca as a flame caster:
“I actually find Kurei’s flame more fascinating than Recca’s.  Kurei’s takes the form of a phoenix, which is able to absorb souls and make them his flame as what he has done with his lover Kurenai and his ally Jisho.” 

Moreover, he’s also quite ruthless.   Hence, he’s more able to utilize his flame to be more destructive than what Recca can possibly can. 

3.) HUMAN TORCH

There are the two Human Torches, the Fantastic Four’s Johnny Storm and the android Jim Hammond.  Either of them will do for this third spot (but as an overall fictional character, I like Johnny more), since the manifestation of their fire powers are closely similar anyway.  They have different origins, and the sources of their fire powers are different, but their fire-based powers are virtually alike: they can cover their bodies with flames, fly, and project and manipulate fire.   

2.) ROY MUSTANG

Lt. Colonel (later a Colonel through most of the story, and eventual Brigaider-General in the end) Roy Mustang was the one that recruited Edward Elric, the title character of Full Metal Alchemist, to join the military and serve as a state alchemist. 

Known as the “Flame Alchemist”, Mustang is one of the military’s most powerful and most legendary state alchemists.   He makes use of a set of custom-made gloves that are made of "pyrotex/ignition cloth" and embroidered with special flame alchemy Transmutation Circles.  Whenever Roy snaps his fingers, the glove creates a spark and it allows him to manipulate the oxygen in the air to become extremely volatile, hence, the spark will rapidly bloom into flames which he can utilize to ignite a target or create an explosion.

In the outside, Mustang seems to be the type of person that is superficial, arrogant, egoistic, and sarcastic (however, whenever he’s obnoxious, it seems to me that he does it in a non-annoying way; he never appeared unlikable).   He’s always eager for promotions, dreaming of becoming the Fuhrer someday.  He’s also an incorrigible womanizer. 

But in spite of all these appearance of shallowness, this is not at all Mustang’s complete personality; there is still more to him.  He is actually caring to his friends and subordinates, and does everything in his power to protect their well-being, though he hides this behind a mask of narcissism and sarcasm.  Moreover, he also uses his superficial side as a façade, especially to those who do not know him so that they will underestimate him, to hide his brilliant strategic mind, his manipulative scheming, and/or his proficiency in various military functions.  

The mechanics of his fire powers, his depth and personality, and his bad-ass name (“Roy Mustang” is arguably one of the best names I’ve encountered, not only in anime, but in entire fiction) makes Colonel Mustang an awesome fictional character. 

1.) NATSU DRAGNEEL

In all the fire-powered fictional characters I’ve encountered, there is nobody that is as interesting as Natsu in wielding this elemental power.  Though he is not yet an S-class mage, Natsu is arguably one of the most powerful members of Fairy Tail.  He’s tough and very skillful in physical combat, but his superiority and destructiveness as a fighter is magnified a hundredfold because of his Fire Dragon Slayer Magic.  With this kind of magic, Natsu has mastery of fire and heat.  He can manifest and utilize fire in various forms, which includes but are not limited to: breathing out fires (this being his trademark attack, which is called “Fire Dragon’s Roar”); shooting out flames from his hands; engulfing his hands and feet with fire to increase the damage of his punches and kicks; and creating fiery explosions.   He can also make himself and his magic stronger by eating fire, his power exponentially increasing with the amount or potency of the flame he is consuming; hence, the term “fight fire with fire” won’t work on Natsu.   Furthermore, the more Natsu is enraged, the stronger he becomes.  Lastly, Natsu’s personality is very much “blazing” in its own sense – a perfect complement to his powers – since he could probably be Fairy Tail’s most feisty and tenacious member, which means he never gives up and he exerts his best effort in every fight and challenge he faces.  

Friday, April 04, 2014

Can "Creative Liberties" Be Done on Bible Stories?



I am all for Hollywood making movies out of Bible stories.  However, with Noah and Son of God, I am extremely disappointed on how much of the movies’ respective plots and narratives appallingly distorted the Bible stories they were based from.  I wish they were never made in the first place. 

The Bible is not just an ordinary book.  It is the Word of God – worthy to be revered as much as humanly possible.  

Therefore, Bible stories are not just stories.  They are not mere historical narratives.  For while the Bible tells the biographies of many great men like Noah, Abraham, Moses, David, and Daniel, there is a bigger story behind them all – the story of God.  God is the main protagonist.  Through the epic stories of Noah, Abraham, Moses, and David, we get to know God more and develop a deeper understanding of and relationship with Him.   

Therefore, you can’t just simply fantasize the story of Noah like what you can with a historical figure like Abraham Lincoln.  You can re-invent Honest Abe into a vampire hunter, but it is not right to re-invent Noah into a tortured presider of human extinction.  Moreover, as much as it’s the fashion now to make movies of gritty re-inventions of fairy tales (Jack the Giant Slayer, Snow White and the Huntsman, Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters, etc.), the story of Noah is not at all a fairy tale, despite of what atheist’s think of it.  You can’t do the “gritty reinvention” treatment on Noah’s story, because, again, the story is not about Noah alone, but God’s also.  If you fictionalize Noah’s story, you also fictionalize the God of his story, and that will be blasphemy.    
     
But, again, I support Bible stories being depicted in media of entertainment – comics, novels, movies, cartoons, and in TV (they might be used to lead unbelievers to God).  Now, I understand that there is a need for “creative liberties” to “fill in the blanks” of the Bible stories and to “spice them up” – expanding them and making them more appealing.  However, I also understand that there is a danger to that, considering that the Bible is not intended for entertainment in the first place (Again, it is the Word of God; its purpose is light-years away from being just for superficial entertainment). 

There are passages in the Bible that warn us about adding or subtracting details from Scripture.  But I think this does not apply on putting additional details or artistic speculations that are trivial and wholesome in the narrative of a Bible story being depicted through an entertainment medium.   As long as the whole essence of the Bible story remains intact – that the “creative liberties” won’t twist it – I think that would be okay.  (I could be wrong, of course.  I could change my whole stand on this as I grow “spiritually wiser”, but as of right now, this is my perception of the matter.)       

These were done on the animated TV series Super Book and Flying House; the Manga Messiah comicbook; the reinterpretation of the story of Hosea and Gomer in Marion Wyse’s romantic novel, Hosea & Gomer; and even the movie, Passion of the Christ.  Example, in Flying House, the show provides backstories on those nameless people that Jesus had encountered and interacted with in his ministry, like the individuals that he had healed.  Those fictional additions didn’t twist the Biblical facts and message of the story at all, these were kept intact; instead, the impact of Jesus’ encounters with these nameless Bible characters was enhanced because they were made more engaging by their fictional backstories, which provided them personalities and depth. 

“Creative liberties” or “artistic license” are acceptable if and only if they don’t undermine, change, or abandon the Biblical message of the story; and when there are no omissions or revisions done – for the sake of storytelling convenience – of names, dialogues, chronology, and other details that are explicitly provided by the Scriptures. 

Son of God (no matter how feel-good it was) and Noah, however, violated the standards for acceptability that I’ve mentioned above.  Therefore, these films are heretical and blasphemous.  To those who are planning to watch something “religious” this upcoming holy week, don’t fool yourself that you are doing something spiritual by watching these “religious” movies. 

The best place for getting Bible stories is always, well, its source material, the Bible itself. It probably might not be as entertaining as a movie, but with the help of the Holy Spirit, you’ll find that the Bible can be more thrilling than any movie ever. Why? As I’ve mentioned about a couple of times before, the Bible is ultimately all about God – the most exciting thing there is!

Monday, March 31, 2014

Top 20 Female Characters in Fiction


Like other facets of life, fiction is pretty much dominated by men (this is not at all a chauvinistic opinion but is an objective reality).  Truly, as far as most iconic and coolest fictional characters are concerned, fictional male characters dominates female characters in quantity and, arguably, quality.  For every one notable and impressive fictional female character, there are twenty male characters.  Just check out my lists for fictional characters – a considerable majority of them are males.     

Nonetheless, awesome fictional female characters do exist.  So to tie-up with women’s month (March), I decided to let the fictional female characters shine by listing my most favorite 20 female characters in fiction.

But before we go on, here are some notes:
  • Let me first present the Honorable Mentions – characters considered but weren’t able to make the cut – in no particular order: Catwoman (DC Comics), Erza Scarlet (Fairy Tail), Beatrix Kiddo (Kill Bill), Jasmine (Disney’s Aladdin), Julie “the Cat” Gaffney (The Mighty Ducks), Android 18 (Dragon Ball Z), Alice (Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland), Jo March (Little Women), Kate Becket (Castle), Faa Mulan (Disney’s Mulan), Nikita (Nikita), Nico Robin (One Piece), She-Hulk (Marvel Comics),  Batgirl/Oracle (DC Comics), Invisible Woman (Fantastic Four, Marvel Comics), Lois Lane (Smallville), Chloe Sullivan (Smallville), Lana Lang (Smallville), Sarah Kerrigan (Starcraft), Supergirl (DC Comics), Ripley (Alien franchise), Trinity (Matrix trilogy), Princess Lea (Star Wars), Lola Bunny (Space Jam, Looney Tunes), Mary Jane Watson (Marvel Comics, Spider-Man-verse), Arwen (LOTR), Galadriel (LOTR), and Naomi Armitage (Armitage movies)
  • Considering the amount of popular female anime characters, I was legitimately surprised that no female anime characters cracked the top 20.  Erza Scarlet, Nico Robin, Android 18, and Naomi Armitage were the four female anime characters that I’ve considered; hence, they are my four most favorite female characters in anime/manga.  On the other hand, none of them are part of my list for most favorite anime characters who are all male (however, Android 18 is among my most favorite cyborgs, Armitage is one of my most favorite androids, and Erza is one of my most favorite swordsmen in fiction).   I guess interesting these four female anime characters might be, they didn’t really have enough compelling appeal to match up with Western female characters.     
  • Lois Lane is one of the most famous non-superhero characters in superhero mythology.  Nonetheless, in my opinion, the greatest Lois Lane portrayal ever was done by Erica Durance in the TV series, Smallville.  It was Erica Durance’s Lois Lane that was considered for this list and not the actual comicbook character.  Smallville’s Lana Lang and Chloe Sulliven were also considered.  Yep, I love them Smallville girls.    
  • Alice, of Lewis Caroll’s “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland”, was the first literary charater I’ve ever loved. 
  • Arwen > Galadriel.  I’ve always held that opinion.

Let’s proceed… 

20.) M

There have been countless Bond Girls in the 007 franchise’s 50 year history.  But the most fascinating of all female characters from the Bondverse is not a Bond Girl at all, but Judi Dench’s M.  In the James Bond books, M – the head of MI-6 – has always been a male.  So the choice of Judi Dench to play M in Goldeneye was fresh and progressive.  With seven Bond movies, this female M proved to be the greatest M in Bond history.  She’s a true hardass head-spook – smart, resolute, bold, sensible, knowledgeable of the spy game, and knows what buttons to push with the generally unruly 007.         

19.) ELSA

Elsa is a recent character, and she has charmed me greatly to replace Jasmine as my most favorite Disney princess.  She has awesome ice powers, the essence of her character’s princess is not rooted on finding a prince, and she probably sang the most powerful animated feature anthem ever -- what’s not to love? 

18.) THE POWERPUFF GIRLS

Blossom, Bubbles, and Buttercup are a package and can’t really be separated.  Just having one is incomplete.  Hence, these three will only occupy one spot.  

The Powerpuff Girls are awesome.  You have to watch their well-written show to really appreciate them.  In a nutshell, they are supposed to be the perfect girls made from “sugar, spice, and everything nice” that gained superpowers (and maybe life?) due to “Chemical X” (yah, it’s an insane origin.  But there’s a lot of insanity and quirkiness in this show.  Again, you have to watch it to really appreciate it).  The Powerpuff Girls have to balance kindergarten and superheroing – fighting crime and monsters, or saving Townsville from any crisis – before their bedtime.        

17.) MYSTIQUE

It was only when making this list that I realized that Mystique is my most favorite female comicbook supervillain.  Though she has been part of the X-Men at some point(s), Mystique has been recognized as a supervillain through most of comic book history.  

She is cunning, sharp, and very observant; a capable schemer; very knowledgeable in weapons, computers, and tech; has proficient fighting skills; and is fluent in several languages.    Moreover, her mutant ability is copying a person’s appearance flawlessly – a power that she masterfully utilizes.  From these characteristics, Mystique is easily identifiable as a very deadly foe.   
  
16.) KIMBERLY HART A.K.A. THE PINK RANGER

There have been many pink rangers but the first and arguably most popular is Kimberly.  She’s my favorite female ranger ever in both Power Rangers and Super Sentai franchises.  Back in the 90’s, probably every boy of my generation that got hooked with the Power Rangers had a crush on Kim.      

15.) BELLATRIX LESTRANGE

While reading the Harry Potter books, this character never really struck me as awesome.  Then I watched the movies and saw Helena Bonham Carter bring this character to life – and she was splendid.  Ms. Carter’s Bellatrix Lestrange is probably the best thing that ever came out of the Harry Potter movies.  

Voldemort might be sinister, but I find him lacking, clichéd, and overrated.  He seems to me another megalomaniacal, narcissistic villain obsessed in destroying his archnemesis (i.e. Harry Potter) and ruling the world.  Bellatrix Lestrange, however, is just purely insane evil – in a Joker sort of way.  She doesn’t have any further ambition but merely takes delight in killing and causing mayhem.  The reason she hangs around Voldemort is because it is the best position where she can do exactly those things she enjoy.  As a villain, I found her more interesting and deeper than Voldemort.           

14.) EMMA FROST

I am part of the faction that finds Emma Frost a lot more interesting than Jean Grey as Cyclops’ partner.   Emma’s evolution from a major X-Men supervillain into becoming one of the team’s most essential members makes her a well-developed character.   She has an interesting personality and a massive sex appeal, which is only rivaled by her immense telephatic powers (at the present though, post-AvX, Emma’s powers are fluctuating due to her contact with and separation from the Phoenix).     

13.) WONDER WOMAN

With Batman and Superman, Wonder Woman completes DC Comics’ “Trinity.”  I’m impressed how Wonder Woman – a female superhero in a culture dominated by male – has become one of the most iconic superheroes in history.  If you list down the top 20 superheroes – in terms of popularity and cultural impact – Wonder Woman will probably be the only woman in the list, and she’ll be lying along the top 10 at least!   

Wonder Woman, being an Amazon and rooted in Greek mythology, is a pure, hard-boiled warrior.  She has a warrior philosophy, a warrior code, and possesses warrior fighting skills.   She will never back down a battle and has no trouble of going all out (unlike Superman, who only applies a fraction of his power to avoid killing and collateral damages).  Unlike Batman and Superman who will never kill, Wonder Woman has no reluctance in killing when necessary.  

I also like her trademark weapon, the Lasso of Truth, which can compel everyone to speak only truth when being questioned.  And I also like how she would deflect bullets and other projectiles by the use of her bracelets.  

12.) NANCY DREW

I grew up reading Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys.  But though my preference was more on the Hardy Boys books, I am well convinced that Nancy Drew is equal to two Hardy Boys.  As a teenage detective, Nancy is brave and smart; capable of solving her cases without the help of a partner.  The Hardy Boys, on the other hand, always have each other to rely on.  Nancy doesn’t have that benefit; still, she succeeds as much as the Hardies.  That’s one reason why Nancy is one of my top 10 most favorite detectives in fiction.

11.) TANYA

I extremely love Red Alert 2.  And I love the Allied’s Tanya.  Yes, she’s a generic sexy, badass “G.I. Jane” character.  But she still charmed me a lot.  As a unit, Tanya is a big asset – she is hardy, and can easily blow up ships and structures.  Her crazy laughter and “Shake it, baby!” catchphrase in the battlefield tells you that she is ready and thrilled for combat.  And I find her cooler than Lara Croft with regards to wielding handguns.   

10.) KATNISS EVERDEEN

J-Law’s Katniss (since I’ve only seen the movies; never read the books yet) could be the most striking fictional character I’ve only encountered recently.  She is not your archetypal heroine that requires romance.  Yes, she was in a “love triangle”, but that was merely incidental.  She was not really concerned with romance.  She has no room for it.  She’s too busy trying to survive each step of the way.  

As a survivalist, Katniss is smart, skillful, resourceful, and tenacious.  Though she is kind and avoids conflict as much as possible, her intense survival instincts will naturally kick in whenever she is put in a stressful survival situation, like in the Hunger Games, thus, she can be manipulative and ruthless if needed.  Furthermore, she is also a competent archer.        

However, make no mistake, Katniss is indeed adept in self-preservation but she’s not necessarily self-preserving.  She does prioritize the survival of her loved ones over her own.  
     
9.) CAPTAIN MARVEL

Carol Danvers a.k.a. Captain Marvel (formerly Ms. Marvel) is one of the most powerful heroes in the Marvel Universe.  This is a character that can go head-to-head with heavy guns like Thor and Hulk.  

I love how she was able to be her own character; becoming independent from and flourished more than the male superhero – the original Captain Marvel – she was initially based from.  In fact, she’s probably the only female counterpart of an established male superhero that became more successful than the male superhero she was spun-off from.   Cool characters Supergirl and Batgirl might have become, they have never surpassed Superman and Batman at all.   Carol Danvers as Ms. Marvel was able to do that, and now it’s pretty awesome that she’s the one carrying the “Captain Marvel” mantel now.  She showed us that, of course, a woman can be “Captain.”

Captain Marvel has a long way to go in becoming Marvel Comic’s Wonder Woman.  But I’m rooting for her to be just that – be an icon for Marvel Comics as much as Wonder Woman is with DC Comics.  And I believe that a live-action movie can propel her closer to that status.   Come on, Marvel Studios, make it happen!        

8.) BLACK WIDOW

Black Widow is technically not a superheroine.  She is a spook – a super-spy.  A non-superhero that is part of the superhero team, Avengers.  This is a big reason why she’s a very interesting character.    

She has no superpowers, but Black Widow remains one of the deadliest Avengers there are.  She is highly intelligent and multi-talented in spook field craft.  She is an equipped assassin and an extremely proficient combatant.  Moreover, for though the presumption is “Avengers don’t kill”, but because of her background, Black Widow is one of the handful Avengers that are comfortable in killing when necessary.  

Being played by Scar-Jo in live-action also significantly helped in increasing Black Widow’s standing. 

7.) STORM

For many years, the X-Man Storm has been my most favorite female character from Marvel Comics.  She is a legitimate badass and leader (Heck, she even beat Cyclops in a duel one time for the X-Men’s leadership!).  But what appealed to me most about her is, of course, her powers.  Her ability to manipulate and control weather easily makes her one of the most powerful superheroes in Marvel.   

6.) XENA

When I was a kid, I immensely enjoyed watching Xena: Warrior Princess.  For a long time, Xena was my most favorite fictional female character.  In fact, there was a span during those TV watching days in which Xena could be my most favorite character to watch in TV – surpassing Hercules, in which whose show Xena’s show spun-off from (those two shows were my favorites back then).

I can remember that there were four things that fascinated me most about Xena: 1.) she was a hot heroine, and an awesomely formidable and acrobatic warrior; 2.) she used to be a ruthless warlord, changed her ways, and became a champion for those that can’t defend themselves; 3.) her Indian-like war yell; and 4.) her trademark weapon, the Chakram.    

5.) CARMEN SANDIEGO

I like to think of Carmen Sandiego as the first girl I’ve ever chased. LOL.

When I was a kid, I played “Where on Earth is Carmen Sandiego?” and its sequels.  The gameplay of the Carmen Sandiego games require you to track down a syndicate of thieves across the world or time or the galaxy (depending on the game), catch them, and put them in prison.  Carmen Sandiego is the ringleader of these thieves and she would turn up eventually in one of the game’s rounds.  

From the start, there is a certain kind of allure about the whole thing with Carmen.  The intellectual exercises and training that I’ve obtained from hunting Carmen Sandiego charmed me into liking her as a fictional character.

4.) KUMIKO “YANKUMI” YAMAGUCHI

The Gokusen manga/anime never caught my fascination.  The live-action TV series, however, I found delightfully enjoyable.  One of the major reasons I grew fond of the show is because the lead character, Yankumi (played by Yukie Nakama), is probably the most attractive TV heroine I’ve ever encountered.  

But beyond her appealing physical appearance, I also find her character depth appealing.  You can’t help but admire her dedication as a teacher.  She dearly loves her students despite their problematic and delinquent natures.  While others look down on them as hopeless cases with no futures, Yankumi never loses faith in them.  Her students would initially mistrust, disrespect, and disregard her, but her sincerity and tenacity would eventually win them over.  She is bubbly and optimistic, with her enthusiasm often a source of annoyance to her students.  She wants her students to succeed, and exerting great energy and effort, she makes sure that her students would see this and do their best to strive for it.  

Her admirable qualities as a teacher alone should be enough to make her an awesome fictional character. But she’s more than that.  Behind her quirky and adorable physical appearance, she is actually a boss of a yakuza clan.  She is a formidable combatant with terrifying fighting skills (although the Gokusen Live! fight scenes are actually pretty clumsy).  She does her best to keep this aspect of her life a secret, but she is very much ready to fight to defend or save her students from trouble.            

3.) KIM POSSIBLE

During my late childhood and early teenage years, Kim Possible was one of my most favorite shows.  The show is about a teenage girl named Kim Possible who goes on crime-fighting and espionage-type missions as a hobby/part-time job.  Being a teenager, Kim also has to deal with teenage girl concerns like school, cheerleading, reputation, and boys – these teenage struggles serve as subplots.  It was a very entertaining animated series.  Each episode was delightful and humorous, and the show had several fun and engaging characters, the best among the lot is, of course, the titular Kim Possible.    

In some ways, Kim Possible is a parody of the “secret-agent”-type fictional character.  Still, Kim is an extremely captivating and kick-ass character.  She is very athletic and agile, smart and level-headed, can think fast on her feet, and very skilled in close-combat.  She’s so cool.  I also find her catchphrase, “What’s the sitch?”, pretty hip.  

2.) VERONICA MARS

I’ve only first encountered Veronica Mars and her show just last year.  I got intrigued after fans raised $2 million dollars in merely ten hours to make a Veronica Mars movie possible, so I checked out the show.  From episode one, I was totally hooked by the premise of the show and the charm of Veronica Mars, and ended up watching the entire three seasons – prepping myself for the movie (I’ve just recently seen it, and it was awesome).  I was very impressed.  

To me, Veronica Mars is like a combination of Nancy Drew and Buffy Summers.  She is an awesome fictional character.  Working as a PI, Veronica displays the investigative and deductive talents as well as the doggedness required for the work.  She is inquisitive; stubborn; bold; and very smart and witty.  She is a quick thinker and mentally composed; she can improvise or devise plans promptly on her feet, for the purpose of advancing her investigations or for getting out of trouble.  She is ready to employ daring and deceptive methods as long as it will get her results. 

Not only is Veronica a tough and intelligent gumshoe, but she also possesses an enjoyable gift of gab, sarcasm, and smart-assery.  She utilizes her quick thinking, not only for improvising during her investigation, but also in effortlessly making comebacks.  She has a sharp and smooth tongue, a talent that enables her to talk through anything and always having the last word.  I think the only character that can match Veronica’s wit is Buffy Summers.          
  
1.) BUFFY SUMMERS

Since I was in my late childhood, Buffy has been my most favorite female character, not only on TV, but in entire fiction.  I haven’t encountered any female character that can match the awesomeness of Buffy the Vampire Slayer yet.

As the fated Slayer, Buffy is well-equipped in clashing with vampires and other evils.  Buffy is well-trained in armed and unarmed combat.  She also possesses superhuman physical attributes, supernaturally potent instincts, and a healing factor (i.e. the bodily ability to repair physical damages quickly).  

Regardless of the strength and threat level of her opponent, Buffy will fight him or her the same way: display a confident and unwavering mind-set, be sarcastic and mocking, and just kick ass.  She never wavers, no matter how big the challenge thrown at her is.

When she briefly died, the epithet on her gravestone perfectly summed her up: “Beloved sister.  Devoted friend.  She saved the world.  A lot.”     

Last but not the least, she also ranks high in the hotness meter – a big plus.