Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Top 10 Fictional Hexads

So, yeah, I’ve decided to extend my series of lists for small ensembles in fiction, though it’s a bit questionable to still call an ensemble “small” when it has beyond five members.  Anyway, regardless of its validity to be part of that series, this list serves to identify the hexads or sextets or six-member groups in fiction which I found most interesting.

As the main protagonist of the Kung Fu Panda franchise, the martial arts-loving but clumsy Po turns out being the foretold, mythical “Dragon Warrior.”  Though the Furious Five – a quintet of China’s best martial arts masters (based on the Five Animals Southern styles of Chinese martial arts) – initially doubted that he’s the Dragon Warrior, Po earned their respect and friendship by displaying great heart and aptitude.  Thus, once Po finally began comfortably exhibiting the qualities of the Dragon Warrior, the Furious Five eagerly acknowledged him as their master and embraced the role of associates.

Each one is a very capable martial artist, but they are more entertaining and formidable when fighting as a unit under the direction of Po.

Even at a young age, T.J. has displayed great proficiency as a mastermind, constantly rallying his gang of fourth-graders – athletic Vince, tough girl Spinelli, plump Mikey, academic whiz Gretchen, and meek army kid Gus – into various mischievous enterprises for the purpose of surviving through school life and having fun while at it, especially during recess time.

Made up of Namor, Iron Man, Mister Fantastic, Doctor Strange, Black Bolt, and Professor X, the Illuminati was a secret superhero cabal that existed and operated under the radar of the superhero community.  They occasionally met in secret to exchange critical information and, sometimes, manipulated events in the superhero world behind the scenes.   Prior Secret Wars, they even conducted several covert alternate-world-destroying operations in order to save their own.  The Illuminati has ever since been exposed and disbanded.

7.) WILDC.A.T.S.
I’ve actually never read the comics, but I loved the 90’s cartoons (which I understand has some significant differences from the comics) as a kid.  The cartoon lineup consists of Spartan, Zealot, Grifter, Voodoo, Maul, and Warblade.  Void and Jacob Marlowe (Lord Emp) are also in the cartoons, but they serve more of a support and administrative role to the team – similar to what Zordon and Alpha 5 do for the Power Rangers – rather than be on-field participants. 

The animated series only ran for 13 episodes.  But with a kickass theme and enjoyable family-friendly superhero action, it served as a more than ample stand-in before I got to my next X-Men: TAS fix.  Hence, its six-member lineup became almost as memorable to me as the 90’s X-Men.

The original Runaways run had been one of the greatest comic book reads I had during the 2000’s.  Though it seemed to have a teen superhero team setup, it wasn’t the Young Avengers (also a great comic back then) kind of stuff you would expect.  It had the feel of being more of a science fiction drama.  Since its creator is Brian K. Vaughn, the same guy behind the fantastic science fiction drama comics Saga and Paper Girls, that should not come as a surprise.

The Runaways have since expanded their roster, but the original six – the founding members – are the children of the members of “The Pride”, a secret criminal group made up of mob bosses, time-travelers, dark wizards, mad scientists, alien invaders, and telepathic mutants.  Shocked and horrified that their parents are evil, they – Nico Minoru, a magician and the daughter of dark wizards; Alex Wilder, a master strategist and the son of mafia bosses; Karolina Dean, who has the power to fly and manipulate solar light, and the daughter of alien invaders; Molly Hayes, a super-strong and invulnerable mutant, and the daughter of telepathic mutants; Chase Stein, a capable mechanic with flame-manipulating gauntlets, and the son of mad scientists; and Gertrude Yorkes, who has a psychic link with “Old Lace”, a dinosaur, and daughter of time-traveling criminals – decided to band together and to destroy their parents’ criminal hold on Los Angeles.  Their dynamic really makes some exciting comic book storytelling.  Also, one of them is a traitor!

Kwame: “Let our powers combine. Earth!”
Linka: “Wind!”
GI: “Water!”
Ma-Ti: “Heart!”
Captain Planet: “By your powers combined, I am Captain Planet!”

Such is the very memorable sequence in Captain Planet and the Planeteers.  It’s not the greatest of cartoons, and it gets a bit too preachy at times, but a group of multi-national teens with elemental-themed rings that can summon a powerful, wise-cracking environmental warrior is still extremely fun to watch.

When Star-Lord assembled the Guardians of the Galaxy, he acknowledged that his team didn’t really have the kind of power that was capable of taking on galactic threats (but, ironically, that was the charm of the team).  He shared to teammate Cosmo his thoughts of wanting to form a proactive team of powerful superheroes that would address threats before they can put the galaxy in grave danger.

So when Star-Lord seemingly died (he didn’t) and the Guardians of the Galaxy disbanded (temporarily), Cosmo recruits cosmic heavy-hitters Quasar, Silver Surfer, Beta Ray Bill, Gladiator, and Ronan the Accuser to form the “Annihilators”, fulfilling the function that Star-Lord envisioned.

If you have seen the excellent Aladdin: The Animated Series, I think you would have also developed the perception that the eclectic adventure squad of Aladdin, Jasmine, Genie, Carpet, Abu, and Iago can and will prevail – somehow and someway – against any obstacle and adversary.

The most notable sextet in comics is the villainous group known as the “Sinister Six.”  It has undergone several iterations through the years – including a hilarious one led by Boomerang (read Superior Foes of Spider-Man) – but the common theme is that it’s made up of characters from Spider-Man’s rogue gallery.

However, the most iconic version remains the original: Doctor Octopus, Vulture, Mysterio, Electro, Sandman, and Kraven the Hunter.

Is there a six-member ensemble that is as iconic and endearing as what the terrific, unparalleled sitcom Friends had?

Okay, maybe...

Since I already gave the top spot for best fictional fivesome to the original lineup of the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, I initially intended not to include the six-member, Tommy Oliver-led Power Rangers to this list, so that there would be room to feature other ensembles.

However, it can’t be denied that the addition of the Green Ranger (later becoming the White Ranger) brought a significant change to the initial Power Rangers dynamic, which means the resulting new-look, six-man Mighty Morphin Power Rangers lineup deserves to be recognized independently from the original five-man team.

Consider this bonus entry as a tie with the first spot.

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