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).  


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.


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. 


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.      


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. 


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.


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.   


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.     


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.  


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. 


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.           


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.  


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.    


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. 


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


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)


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. 


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.   


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. 


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? 


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.        


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.   

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.      


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.           


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).     


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.  


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.   


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.  

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!        


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. 


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.    


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.


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.            


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.  


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.          

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.          

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Top 10 Traveling Parties in Fiction

In fiction, the most romantically thrilling stories are those involving journeys – such as quests and exploring or trekking through unknown lands.  Aside from being rich of mystery and adventure, what makes such stories of journeys exciting is the assortment of travelers that banded together to go on the journey, since, more often than not, the journey is more fascinating if it’s being undergone by a group rather than an individual. 

Here are my choices of the most interesting traveling parties that are involve in some form of adventurous journey – quest, exploration, voyage, expedition, and the like.

10.) KING ARTHUR & THE KNIGHTS OF THE ROUND TABLE (Monthy Python and the Holy Grail)

There are a few journeys in fiction that can rival the hilarious insanity of this satirizing of Arthurian legend.  The depiction of King Arthur and his knights in this movie had been extremely amusing.  This traveling party deserves a spot on this list for their hilarious “horse-riding” throughout their quest: they would mime as if they were galloping on a horse while their porters trotted behind them thumping coconut shells together to simulate hoof sounds.      

9.) LITTLEFOOT & FRIENDS (The Land Before Time)

Almost every Land Before Time movie involves Littlefoot, Cera, Ducky, Petrie, and Spike travelling somewhere.  But the most dramatic adventure that this group of juvenile dinosaurs had will always be their first.  It was a pretty moving journey (from a very touching movie); I was still a toddler when I’ve first seen the movie (in Betamax, I think), but up till now, I can still remember the emotional investment that the toddler me has put into it while watching them journeying towards their families. 

8.) A “PARTY” OF “PLAYER CHARACTERS” (Dungeons and Dragons)

I never get the chance to play the D&D board game (it would have been awesome if they made an epic PC game based on this premise and property), but from what I understand, the experience was pretty fun and engaging.  Players get to role-play “player characters” and form “parties” and complete “adventures” and “campaigns.”  Yep, that sounds fun and engaging indeed.

There was also a TV show based on the premise of the game.  The party consists of friends, aged between 8 to 15, that have been magically transported to the realm of D&D after taking a roller coaster ride.  Upon arrival, they were given “player character” weapons and identities – Ranger, Barbarian, Magician, Thief, Cavalier, and Acrobat – by the Dungeon Master.  Their main journey revolves around finding a way home, but at the same time, helping folks and fighting the evil they encounter along the way.   

7.) THE ARGONAUTS (Jason and the Argonauts)

One of the most enduring tales of journey is that of Jason and his Argonauts’ quest for the Golden Fleece.  This tale originates from Greek mythology, but my definite understanding of the story was from the 1963 movie.  This was my first encounter of the concept of warriors/sailors voyaging on a ship, having episodic adventures along their way, and it mightily appealed to me. 

I liked the Argonauts (being dubbed as such for their ship’s name was “Argo”, after its builder, Argus) for they were supposed to be a group of elite, badass heroes.  Even the strong-man Hercules was a member of the Argonauts.  They seek glory and adventure, and believe they will obtain them by accompanying Jason. 


“Space: the final frontier. These are the voyages of the starship Enterprise. Its five-year mission: to explore strange new worlds, to seek out new life and new civilizations, to boldly go where no man has gone before.”

That’s the original tagline of Star Trek.  As far as “star-faring” journeys are concerned, the original TV series could be the most well-known (as for the movie reboot, the journey has just started in Into Darkness).  That’s why it’s called Star Trek in the first place.  The characters of this show – the crew of the USS Enterprise – would turn out as one of the most beloved and iconic ensembles of characters in fiction. 


The Hobbit, the prequel to the epic Lord of the Rings, depicted one of the most legendary fantasy journeys ever.  This journey was undertaken by an expedition composed of a wizard, a hobbit, and 13 dwarves, whose purpose is to reclaim the dwarves’ mountain kingdom and its immense treasury from the dragon Smaug.  It was during this journey that the hobbit Bilbo “re-discovered” the One Ring, which would be the central plot device in LOTR.   

4.) KA-TET OF 19 (The Dark Tower)

At first, Roland Deschain’s ka-tet (meaning a band bonded by “ka” or destiny or fate) has no formal name.  But along their journey, they observed that the number “19” was recurring everywhere.  They realized that the path they are on was under the “ka of 19”, and Jake (if I remembered right) suggested calling their ka-tet the “ka-tet of 19.”    

This band of travelers was assembled by Roland, the last Gunslinger, midway his journey towards the Dark Tower to accompany him.  They were individuals from different 20th century periods from our world, and were struggling from some form of misery (e.g. drug addiction, split personality disorder) and only found “relief” when they joined Roland.  Along the way, Roland would train them the gunslinger way and they would eventually become talented and capable gunslingers themselves.   

Deep inside, Roland is sadly aware that his companions will be mere “expendables” for his journey; that in the end, he will be the only one remaining standing before the Dark Tower.  In some ways, his companions know this, too, but are still willing to press on, for they, like Roland, are also compelled by ka and the Dark Tower to do so.    

3.) SANZO’S PARTY (Gensomaden Saiyuki)

Made up of the coolest foursome in fiction, Genjyo Sanzo, Son Goku, Cho Hakkai, and Sha Gojyo were tasked to journey westwards to retrieve the stolen Holy Sutra, which is a catalyst for reviving a powerful demon.   I really mean what I said about this four being the coolest foursome in fiction.  Not even the Fantastic Four, awesome superhero team they might be, can match the kickassery and charisma of these four.  No matter how disadvantageous or tough the battles they face during their travels, they always win in a cool and badass style.  Their mode of transportation is a mini dragon that can transform into a jeep; that’s another reason why they are an awesome travelling group. 

2.) THE FELLOWSHIP OF THE RING (Lord of the Rings)

The purpose of the fellowship is to accompany and protect the ring-bearer, Frodo, in his quest of disposing Sauron’s ring into Mt. Doom.   Though they failed in doing so – leaving Frodo and Sam to complete the mission – and disbanding just merely a third into Lord of the Rings, the Fellowship had made enough impact to become a favorite of mine. With sword, bow and arrow, axe, and magic – they were a collection of formidable warriors who were capable of taking on multitudes of enemies at one time.    


The Straw Hat Pirates are one of the most awesome ensembles or teams in fiction.  They are in constant adventuring, with the intention of finding the titular “One Piece” someday and of together accomplishing their dreams.   Each of them has different goals and dreams in life but essentially believe that by helping their captain, Monkey D. Luffy, achieve his own dream of becoming pirate king, they are set to achieve their own dreams along the way.  They are a diverse bunch with different skills and personalities, who are fantastic in their respective roles in the crew.  Most importantly, despite the petty comical arguments that sometimes erupt among them, they maintain a strong bond of belongingness and friendship with each other.

Honorable Mentions: The expedition to Atlantis (Atlantis: The Lost Empire); Phileas Fogg, Passepartout, and Aouda (Around the World in 80 days); the crew of the “Dawn Treader” (The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader); Dorothy and friends (The Wizard of Oz); Christiana, her sons, Mercy, and the other pilgrims (The Pilgrim’s Progress)