Reviewing Arkham Knight's story (SPOILERS)

Well, with my having finally gotten and beaten a video game I’ve been waiting over a year for and have been anxiously awaiting every step of the way, (as my many Arkham Knight-centric blogs up to this point show clearly), it’s only right that I give a detailed review of everything the game includes and everything I like about it (along with everything I didn’t like). So, here goes nothing. As was the case with my Mortal Kombat X review, this one will be divided into the following sub-categories: Story, Characters, Setting, Graphics, and Gameplay, in that order. Only this time, because I have so much to say and I was dissatisfied with the length of my original review, I thought I'd make each portion of my review it's own separate blog, starting with the story. So here goes.

And yes, there will absolutely be spoilers here. If you don't want any spoilers, stop reading right now. You've been warned.

Opening with the Joker’s cremation and also a playing of the classic song “I’ve Got You Under My Skin”, Arkham Knight’s main story picks up 9 months after that opening, with a Gotham that swiftly becomes overrun by goons, Scarecrow, and the titular villain and his army of cocky mercenaries. Gotham’s innocent civilians are evacuated (and a good thing too, considering me in the Batmobile would probably end up killing more people than Scarecrow ever could), and the three islands of Gotham become one massive playground for criminals. The seeming similarity to Arkham City with that last one (which some of the thugs themselves lampshade) is quickly deflected with a story that features good variety in it’s tasks for Batman and also becomes very much psychological horror as things progress (a no-brainer for a Scarecrow story). And of course, side-quests galore to give Batman other stuff to do in-between trying to best the twin menaces of Scarecrow and Arkahm Knight.

Concerning the main story, there is a mystery at the heart of it (Arkham Knight’s identity and reason for his hatred of Batman) but also other developments that carry with them questions, such as the Joker-ized individuals who are kept in quarantine by Batman after being transformed by Joker’s infected blood (a rather nice story thread/twist that ties the game closely to the Joker and Titan-centric events of the previous games). I should probably mention that I did suspect Batman was the last Joker, but the reveal still worked even though I could sort of see it coming.

There’s also a very big development concerning the Joker himself, who is definitely dead (as that opening scene drives home), but nevertheless reemerges after Batman is gassed with Fear Toxin as the physical manifestation of all of Batman’s insecurities, fears, and shames. I actually found this to be a good idea, because it allowed them to use the Joker while still keeping him dead, and it also contributes to the aforementioned psychological horror in the story in a way that makes perfect sense. It also happens to echo the plot for an abandoned Batman movie, namely “Batman Triumphant”, a sequel to Batman and Robin that was never made due to that film’s being so terrible, but having a premise pretty much identical to the one here: Scarecrow is the main villain and Batman after getting doused by his Fear Gas sees the taunting image of the late Joker. Difference is, where Schumaker would have inevitably botched a good story like that, Arkham Knight nails it and does it very well.

Besides Batman’s pursuit of the Scarecrow and Arkham Knight and the Joker hallucination taunting him every step of the way, there’s a lot of other highlights in the main story, which is again, commendably varied in the things Batman has to do and the places he has to go, ranging from ACE Chemicals to the tunnels beneath Gotham to (one of my personal favorites) Airships. Some of the better narrative developments include the tragic falling out between Batman and James Gordon and their subsequent reconciliation (complete with Gordon revealing that he knows who Batman is), Batman teaming up with Poison Ivy against the common enemies of Scarecrow and Arkham Knight (which ends in a very tragic and emotionally satisfying manner), and Harley Quinn’s attempt to let the Joker wannabes loose in the name of her ongoing obsession with him, followed by the rather violent turn that last one takes.

The main story itself feels longer than the story of previous entries, but maybe that’s just my imagination. Regardless, the main story still moves along pretty nicely despite the length, with things steadily escalating as events progress. It’s also kind of sad to see Batman’s alliances start to break down one by one, first with James Gordon turning against him, then the loss of Oracle, and then his willingness to lie to Robin concerning Oracle’s apparent death. Catwoman and Nightwing, while both willing to work with Batman, also both profess a desire to keep their distance from him, and even Azrael’s earnest desire to succeed Batman proves to be all for nought. Between it all, it seems almost like a running theme in the main story that Batman is doomed to end up alone in his efforts.

Except for Alfred. Good old Alfred’s always on his side. And Lucius Fox too.

Sadly, as excellent as the main story is overall, it is ultimately left crippled by the big reveal regarding Arkham Knight’s identity, which is nothing short of a total letdown. Now, I will admit, it was a pretty cool visual, seeing Red Hood’s helmet on Arkham Knight’s body, but that’s ultimately the only good thing I can say about this. Jason Todd is the Arkahm Knight. Really? What was the point in concealing this character’s identity? What was the point in having the Arkham Knight identity in the first place? This would be like having a Spider-Man story featuring a resourceful, intellectually brilliant, and devious figure conspiring against our wallcrawling hero, only to end with the reveal that it’s Green Goblin or Doctor Octopus, or to have the same with Daredevil and it ends with the reveal that it’s Kingpin. I mean really? Again, what was the point in having the mystery, if the culprit turns out to be the obvious candidate? What makes the whole thing worse is that 1) this means Rocksteady lied to us when they said Arkham Knight was an original character, and 2) it’s also complete mischaracterization where Jason Todd is concerned.

Jason Todd, in both the comics and the animated movie, doesn’t want to destroy Gotham. Quite the contrary, he sees himself as the person who will save Gotham in a way that Batman never could or would by killing the criminals in it. But he doesn’t want Gotham destroyed or it’s innocent inhabitants hurt. That’s not who he is. So having Jason as a lunatic who’s thrown his lot in with the Scarecrow and is helping him in his mad plan to destroy Gotham via Fear Gas misses the whole point of the character. And finally, it makes the whole mystery of the game feel like one big waste of time. Really, if they’d wanted to use Jason Todd, they should have just had him be Red Hood from the get-go and not even bother with the Arkham Knight identity. Sure, all of the fans know who Red Hood is, but Batman wouldn’t. You could still have the same story, without needlessly leading the players along. So yeah, this is a major, major problem with the game’s story, and where it not for the rest of the main story and the sidequests being so well-done, I’d have given the Story portion of this game an F just for that. There really is no excuse for this massive disappointment, especially when the mystery of Arkham Knight’s identity was not just a major part of the main story, it was also heavily talked about in the months leading up to the game’s release. What a disappointment.

Fortunately, where the Main Story has that major flaw to it, the sidequests on the whole are significantly better, having the same level of variety as the main story and not just because each one involves different villains. Whether it’s steadily dismantling the Arkham Knight force’s various deployments, towers, and checkpoints (something that for me is always satisfying), or tracking down Man-Bat through the skies of Gotham, or racing after Firefly, or performing Forensic analysis of murder victims to identify them, or working with Catwoman (and the Batmobile) to solve the Riddler’s demented puzzles and mind games, the side-quests each feel fairly distinct and fun. In addition, the fact that here you actually get to deliver captured and defeated supervillains to the GCPD where they then get locked up in cells really adds to the Comic Book feel of the game. It also just adds to the sense of accomplishment, knowing you’re locking these guys up one by one. If I had any one problem with the sidequests, it’s that some of them feel a bit on the short side, but overall, I think the sidequests were very well done, and really give Batman a lot more to do aside from his lengthy pursuit of Scarecrow and Arkham Knight.

The main story on the whole can really only be described by me as a very, very dark roller coaster ride of ever-messed up twists and turns, and it’s a story that more than earns it’s M rating. It is in the climax at Arkham Asylum (yep, we end where we began) that the dark tone reaches a crescendo, delving deep into Batman’s tormented mind still haunted by the Joker for a truly twisted experience. However, because the theme at the heart of Batman is turning tragedy into triumph, Batman manages to turn the tables on both Joker’s ghost and Scarecrow in a way that is so unbelievably satisfying it manages to redeem the letdown concerning Arkham Knight’s reveal and get the grade back up to the A- it deserves..right before other stuff lowers the grade again. But still. It was epic.

And then we come to the real ending, which entails "The Knightfall Protocol". Because of it’s being restricted to those who got 100% completion (more on that later), I fled to Youtube to get the full ending, and will give my thoughts on it here:

To be honest, the follow-up didn't do it for me as much. The very end scene comes off as too ambiguous, too out of the blue, and too “WTF?” for my tastes. I’d have much preferred an ending that tied up the loose ends that are left, well, loose. Really, the only thing I liked about the Knightfall Protocol bit was seeing Gordon as mayor and that’s it. I’d have definitely done it differently myself. But, Gotham City Stories will be covering what happens to Catwoman, Robin, and Nightwing afterwards, so I suppose I will get some closure we’re they’re concerned. I’ll just have to wait for it.

In all, Arkham Knight’s main story is fantastic, and it’s sidequests on the whole more of the same. The Arkham Knight reveal being a letdown and Knightfall Protocol doing nothing for me at the end both knock some of the wind out of the story's sails, but not enough to sink it outright. The story is still phenomenally dark, emotional, and more satisfying than not. And for me, that’s deserving of a good grade.

FINAL GRADE: B+ for Main Story, A- for Side-Quests

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Mortal Kombat X Review

Well, my 20th Birthday’s come and gone, and what better way to celebrate my being 20 now than with my 20th Blog Post? Thus, I thought I’d do just that, and also take the time to review one of my Birthday presents. Now, it’s been a very, very, very long time since I’ve reviewed most anything in great detail on this website, and I almost never (if not never period) do formal video game reviews. But, it can’t hurt to polish my abilities where that’s concerned, considering I fully intend to write a review for Arkham Knight when that game (finally) comes out. Thus, here’s my review for the latest Mortal Kombat game. Please note that, as I believe in being thorough over being concise, this is a pretty long review, so be prepared to see a lot of writing. And, as another warning, this review does contain SPOILERS. So if you haven’t yet played MKX and/or the game’s Story Mode, read at your own risk.

The review will be divided into the following sub-categories: Story, Characters, Setting, Graphics, and Gameplay. Let’s start with that first one…

Story:

Picking up not that long after the end of MK9 and it’s needlessly and gratuitously killing off as many good hero characters from that franchise as it could, MKX’s story is a little bit more streamlined and simplified compared to the more convoluted tale of the previous game. Ironic, considering this game takes place over a greater period of time and actually has flashbacks at different points. But even so, the story is simpler on the whole, and that’s probably a good thing…for the most part. Elements of the tale might come off as clichéd, or even hackneyed to some (the rookies having to learn to work together effectively, the newer generation saving members of the older one, etc.) but overall, I think the story was serviceable, and it’s not like storytelling is what the franchise is legendary for anyway.

One major gripe that I do have though is the fate of Liu Kang, Kitana, and Kung Lao. In all other game modes, they are shown as still being alive and in the case of the two Shaolin, now being the age you’d expect them to be (certainly, they’ve aged much more visibly than Johnny Cage and Sonya Blade have). And yet, for all of that, in the game’s story proper they are Revenants from beginning to end, and even more distressingly, seem destined to stay that way forever thanks to Quan Chi’s dying a little too early (though I must admit, his death at Scorpion’s hands was still satisfying and well-done, as was Sonya’s beating the living crap out of him earlier on). As someone who actually likes Kitana a lot in particular, this is disappointing. I kind of wanted Kitana, Liu Kang, and Kung Lao to return to their mortal forms and age the way their default character models have, but instead they seem cursed to be Revenants forever. Nuts to that.

I also kind of wish that Kotal Kahn’s relations with Earthrealm had been better handled, but that and the above gripe aside, the story is still decent, and again, overall simpler and easier to follow than the MK9 story. And I have to say, disappointed as I was to see Kitana and Liu Kang remain villains, I suppose making them the new rulers of the Neatherrealm as a kind of twisted spin on their sometimes status as a couple isn’t the worst thing to do (especially since Liu Kang’s Dark Emperor costume in particular is kind of cool, and Kitana’s Empress costume ain’t bad either). And not to mention, that the twist ending regarding Raiden’s accidentally turning himself evil courtesy of absorbing too much of Shinnok’s energy was a solid enough one, and I do kind of like Raiden’s bad guy costume in addition. So at least the tease for the inevitable MK XI was a good one.

FINAL GRADE: B-

Characters:

Lot to go over here, but regarding how each character plays, I will be saving that for the gameplay portion of the review. No, this is for the other aspects of the characters.

I’m not gonna lie: Mortal Kombat’s diverse, colorful, and pseudo-superhero assortment of characters is the main reason I’m into the franchise (as opposed to say, the buckets of gore that draw most other people in). Therefore, a case could be made that a Mortal Kombat game would only be as good as the characters in it. So how does this game, that brings in so many newbies, fare? Let’s start by taking a look at those newcomers:

The “second generation” of Cassie Cage, Kung Jin, Jacqui Briggs, and Takeda Takahashi were actually a solid quartet, and I like how each of them represents a different one of the main groups in the MK universe, with the only thing that team’s missing being a Lin Kuei cyborg (though I’d have also settled for Frost, who makes a brief cameo in the game proper). The group had decent enough interactions with one another, and all of them were well-voiced and cool. I appreciate the game’s trying to take a stab (no pun intended) at romance with Takeda and Jacqui, but also keeping it restrained. Kung Jin as the franchise’s first gay character (which has been confirmed), is also laudable, and all of them have pretty cool designs to go along with their solid personalities and voice acting, though the one thing I will say to the contrary on that is that I kind of wish Cassie looked more like her voice actress, which would entail among other things giving her her dad’s hair color. But, I guess they wanted her to look exactly like her mother. As to the inevitable question of which one is my favorite, that would unambiguously be Takeda, by way of his being a badass ninja in a cool armored suit, with retractable bladed whips that come out of his wrists, and in my favorite of his three variations, a pair of what are basically lightsabers. So yeah. Wise-cracking armored ninja with bladed whips and lightsabers. What’s not to love?

As for the other newcomers, I found Kotal Kahn to be decent as a more mild (at least in relation to Shao Kahn) ruler of Outworld without being a straight up good guy, as I feel it would have been too easy to just make Shao Kahn’s successor his complete moral opposite. It rings a bit more true with me that instead Shao Kahn’s successor is shown to be, while not the monster and madman that Shao Kahn was, still not the nicest of folks. Though I suspect I may also be a bit biased in my opinion of the Kahn due to my love for Phil LaMarr’s voice acting.

Kotal Kahn’s collection of goons includes both returning faces (the villainous ninjas Reptile and Ermac), and more newcomers in the form of Erron Black (my personal favorite of the flunkies owing to his deadpan tone and cool Western gunslinger image), D’vorah (who I was neutral about overall), and Ferra/Torr, who I view as a creative concept for a fighting game character but personality-wise consider funny only in small doses, as Ferra’s way of speaking wears thin if you have to listen to it for too long. Honestly, I think Takeda’s describing them as “The Idiot Twins” isn’t too far off. But fortunately, Ermac remains as cool as ever, and Reptile's not bad either.

More disappointing is, as I mentioned earlier, the handling of Kitana, Liu Kang, and Kung Lao (though I did like how Kitana could use Jade’s weapons along with her own), and by extension all of the other good heroes from MK9 who are now little more than zombie thugs (though once again, there is one positive, namely evil Smoke now calling himself “Enenra”). Also disappointing is how my favorite villain in the franchise, Sektor, was killed off-screen and only shows up as a severed head (also in turn robbing me of my chance to have a lightsaber/pulse blade duel between him and Takeda). To any fans of Baraka out there, I also extend my sympathies, as things end pretty dang badly for the Tarkatan General. Youch.

But, overall, I think the roster of playable characters is a very well done one, with a good amount of variety and also being a good size overall. What really makes this part of the game even better though, are the character dialogue exchanges that occur before any given battle. Similar to the clash quotes from Injustice Gods Among Us, only a little longer, and happening at the start of the fight. But where in Injustice not everyone had a unique to thing to say to everyone else, in MKX, every character has something unique to say to every other character, which really goes a long way towards making every fight feel unique and fun. That, and some of the exchanges are just hilarious. Some of my personal favorites involve Kitana, Takeda, Jax, Kung Jin, and Johnny Cage, though the other characters have plenty of good ones too. The things characters will say if they face a copy of themselves also tend to be pretty amusing.

Finally, on the matter of DLC characters, I chose to pass on getting Jason Voorhes due to his lack of good dialogue exchanges with the other characters (their lines with him are by and large pretty generic), but Goro and Tanya are a different story. I like the latter’s being voiced by Jennifer Hale, who does a good job of making her voice less recognizable for the most part. She is also an occasional foe in the Story Mode along with her fellow evil Edenian Rain, though he disappointingly is just an NPC. Whether or not he will be future DLC is thus far unknown, but here’s hoping, as the purple ninja happens to be a favorite of mine.

Time must also be taken to talk about the different character costumes. The default looks by and large are quite good, and though it’s annoying how many hoops you have to jump through to get most of the alternate looks (more on that later), just about every outfit has at least some merits to it, and I like the general variety of them. As it stands, the Poster Boy Scorpion and my girl Kitana have the largest number of good alternate looks in my opinion.

Ultimately, as I said at the beginning, the characters are the big reason why I like and care about Mortal Kombat at all, and where this game is concerned, said characters are done justice barring only a handful of mild disappointments. Fingers crossed for Rain (and maybe even Sareena and the hitherto absent Cyrax) as future DLC.

FINAL GRADE: A-

Setting:

Besides characters, another place where the game really does shine is the variety in fight locations. Rather than feature the arenas with multiple locations like in IGAU (an awesome feature, by the way), MKX just goes for single arena maps, but the level of detail put into them makes them quite the sights to behold. Each one comes out looking great thanks to the graphics that will be discussed more below, and the variety of them further enhances the feeling of uniqueness to any given fight. From the snowy forest to the outside of Raiden’s temple that’s got a pretty intense rain-storm to the sun-soaked Outworld Market/gates that look almost like a more gritty and adult Agrabah, you can’t say that they didn’t put some thought into the arenas. My personal favorite of the lot is difficult to say, but I might just say the beautiful looking rainforest setting, though that aforementioned Outworld Market was also a good one in my mind, as was the ruined and abandoned city with the downed gunship in the background and the mystical chamber where the final battle in both Story Mode and the Arcade ladders takes place.

FINAL GRADE: A

Graphics and Visuals:

A lot of the success of both the characters and the environments is owing to the excellent graphics, which are, if not vastly or overwhelmingly superior to the graphics of the previous game, still a marked improvement and really do a lot to show off both the detail of the environments and of course also the absolutely brutal and grisly detail of the ever-messed up X-Ray attacks and Fatalities. Also praise-worthy about the graphics is the cutscenes, which feature a lot of character action not controlled by the player that, I have to say, looks pretty darn good animation wise. Honestly, with just a bit more of it replacing the actual gameplay, you could have a pretty good CG animated action movie here, albeit one I would never, ever show to anyone under 16.

When it comes to the shocking violence the franchise is both infamous and worshipped for, this entry’s got it. Cutscenes feature heads flying, impalements, a few poor bastards getting ripped apart and/or bisected, and two different MK villains getting two different nasty deaths from D’vorah (again, Baraka fans have my sympathies). All of this is to say nothing for the Fatalities, which are as twisted and macabre as ever. And for any Mortal Kombat fanatic, that’s your money’s worth.

FINAL GRADE: A

Gameplay:

The gameplay overall is tight and well done, with each character having a bevy of impressive (and brutal) attacks, with different Character Variations ensuring that there is even more variety than before, as you can now choose how exactly you want your chosen fighter to be. Myself, I found that for most of the characters all of their variations have some appeal/merit, both aesthetically and with what abilities they add, though I would be lying if I said I didn’t prefer some over others. Regardless, I enjoyed the inclusion of different character variations and on the whole enjoyed what each character had to offer combat-wise. As of this writing I have only played as some of the cast, but I find each of them to be fairly easy to control and use. However, I will say that the characters don’t always respond to the commands that they’re given, even when I input the correct buttons. Now, this is likely owing more to my own noob status and ineptness as a fighting game player, but even so, it did drag down the experience just a little bit. Not too much though. On the whole I definitely had fun beating the crap out of my various opponents, and have enjoyed most every character I've played as. I fully expect to enjoy playing as the rest of the cast just as much, except for maybe Ferra/Torr.

Fans of fatalities should take heart: not only are they back gorier than ever, but they are also now far, far easier to perform, at least the ones I've used anyways. In addition, depending on what faction you choose in the “Faction Wars”, you get a different assortment of “Faction Kills” that entail summoning your chosen allies to kill your defeated opponent for you. So yeah. If you love fatalities, then this game delivers and then some.

A brief word about X-Ray attacks: with they’re being easy to use, connecting more often than not, and doing a large amount of damage, X-Ray attacks are a total godsend for a noob like me. The one exception though, I’m sorry to say, is my favorite’s X-Ray attack. Not only can Takeda’s X-Ray attack only be initiated when he’s airborne, it is also almost impossible to connect with. Seriously, 8-9 out of every 10 times I tried to use it, I failed. Pretty annoying.

Minor quibbles like that above one aside, though the combat in Mortal Kombat X is top-notch and every bit as brutal, bloody, and off-the-rails as any entry in the series ought to be. Time must also be taken to talk about the various game modes: the Living Towers changing regularly is a great idea because it keeps players invested and ensures that they’ll come back to this game over and over to see what new challenges are on hand for them to tackle. The large number of different modes one can play in is also praise worthy, ranging from traditional one-on-ones that are made not so traditional thanks to various modifiers, and the “Test Your Might” mini-game that is easily my single least favorite thing about the whole game. I didn’t even get the Revenant Sub-Zero skin I was supposed to unlock by beating it.

Which brings me to another minor quibble concerning the gameplay: unlocking the costumes. Basically, if you’re looking for cool alternate looks for the characters, I suggest you buy some DLC or else go to the Krypt (more on that later). The Revenant skins that have to be unlocked via various challenges are basically made unobtainable due to how you have to complete these ridiculously challenging tasks to get them, and the fact that even when I did complete the designated challenge I didn’t get my prize really makes the whole thing a complete rip-off. You’re better off ignoring the whole business and just sticking with the default looks or again, the ones unlocked via either DLC or purchased at the Krypt.

Speaking of the Krypt, I’m a little bummed that not everything in it is available from the start, but I suppose that was kind of the point; it gives you incentive to buy everything in it. In fairness, I did enjoy more than just the costumes; the character concept art was fun to unlock because each bit of it gave insight into the developer’s rationale for different character designs. As someone who appreciates that sort of thing, I liked unlocking that. And, there is a kind of fun in opening random graves in the Krypt, like they’re packs of cards and you don’t know what you’re going to get. The overall design of the Krypt in this game was also much better, even if navigating through it felt a lot more awkward this time around.

Finally, I’d like to take the time to note how in this MK game you can actually have single fights against the CPU. In MK9 and MK Vs DCU, you couldn’t do that. You could only have single fights with another player, which was too bad for someone like me who had no player 2 on hand. MKX though has a bit more common sense behind it, and allows players to fight a computer controlled foe in a single fight. It may seem like such a simple and little thing, but it was a simple and little thing that the previous MK game (and the one before that, even) didn’t have, so it’s presence here is noteworthy and praiseworthy.

Overall, I judge the various aspects of the gameplay to be a somewhat mixed bag, but definitely with more good than bad. Combat is good, the Krypt is fairly well done this time around, and the variety of different challenges is appreciated, even if Test Your Might sucks.

FINAL GRADE: A-

Overall:

While I had a few gripes with the game here and there, mostly concerning the story and various things about the gameplay I found annoying rather than fun, to focus on that would be to miss the forest for the trees. On the whole, Mortal Kombat X is an exemplary fighting game and one of the best of it’s kind I’ve ever seen, right up there with it’s predecessor, Injustice Gods Among Us, Marvel Vs. Capcom 3, and the two most recent Soul Calibur games. And honestly, it does some things better than it’s predecessor, which is also noteworthy. In short, Neatherrealm studios have crafted another winner that’s a nice blend of old and new.

FINAL GRADE: A-

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Arkham Knight-The dos and don'ts

Arkham Knight is now only 20 days away, and to mark this milestone (and highlight my ongoing obsession with the game), I decided to do another blog post about it. This one is not a prediction of what costumes or villains will be included, but more a case of things I hope the game does, and things I really, really, don't want it to do. And I'm going to alternate between them, being a pattern of one "Do", one "Don't", and then back again. So to start...

Do: Creativity with Scarecrow's Nightmare Sequences

Apologies for the crappy quality of the picture, but it was the best I could find on this site.

Anyway, I think most of us can agree that the "Nightmare Sequences" in Arkham Asylum were one of the highlights of that game, and that it was precisely because of them that Scarecrow's depiction in Arkham Asylum was so popular. And it's because of that in turn (along with his absence from Arkham City), that he's getting such a big return to the spotlight here. Now, trailers have already confirmed that the Nightmare Sequences will be coming back along with the Scarecrow himself, and with that in mind, I want to see some creativity. I want to see some variety in how they're done.

Just as there were different things about the three nightmares in Arkham Asylum to make them each feel distinct, I want to see the same thing here. Perhaps a kind of "Christmas Carol" type deal, in that the first nightmare shows the biggest ghosts of Batman's past haunting him (death of Jason Todd, Barbara being shot, Joker's death, etc.), the second shows Batman's fears in the present (that he's getting too old, that Arkham Knight and Scarecrow really are winning, etc.) and finally one that shows a twisted take on a future where Batman has died/failed and Gotham has fallen into ruin, complete with his allies dead or dying and accusing him of failing. I just feel that something that macabre and disturbing and surreal would really work and not only highlight the threat Scarecrow represents to Batman's mind and body both, but also make a returning high point of the first game feel fresh and new. And, with the graphics having gotten a tremendous overhaul, skimping on visuals would just be inexcusable. So all in all, I'm glad that the Nightmare Sequences are confirmed to come back, but I want them to come back in a way that makes them still feel fresh and (disturbingly) effective.

Don't: Wuss out concerning the Joker

Yes, we all love the Arkham take on the Joker. Yes, he's Batman's arch-enemy and a good villain. But, Rocksteady killing him off at the end of Arkham City was done because it represented a radical change to the status quo that the comics would never have allowed. And thus if the Joker is brought back, that big, shocking twist is undone and rendered pretty much just a cheap stunt, rather than allowing Rocksteady to take advantage of the creative liberties it's been given. It would also be anti-climactic to bring Joker back in addition, and would take away from the villains who are supposed to be taking center-stage now that Joker is no longer able to do so. Yes, I had just gotten through saying above that I would like it if maybe Scarecrow's Nightmare scenes included references to things involving the Joker, but that does not actually necessitate showing him, much less reviving him in the game's main story. We could just hear his disembodied laugh in the nightmare sequence involving the past, and/or pre-recorded lines from Arkham City when Joker dies. But Joker doesn't need to make a physical appearance.

Rocksteady has confirmed that Joker's not coming back, and his body was cremated in tie-in comics to drive this home. But, the insane number of conspiracy theories and the massive amount of denial online is to me very telling, and so I hope that Rocksteady has not, in fact, just been pulling our leg and that those conspiracy theories ultimately become exactly that. Joker's a good villain, but the Arkhamverse version had his time in the spotlight. It's time to let the other villains step up to plate.

Do: Continue Catwoman's Character Development

Catwoman's shift from criminal to Anti-Hero was foreshadowed (and in my mind, initiated), in Arkham City when she chooses to save Batman's life at the cost of her payday, and by extension, helped save all of Gotham City. Judging by her being playable once again and now actively aiding Batman in combat, it seems like her transformation to Anti-Hero is ongoing. If so, I approve. I want to see the end to that particular character journey, and I want it to be a satisfying end. Obviously, that carries with it the hope that she and Batman will finally get together and become a couple, but honestly I really just want to see Catwoman's transformation into an Anti-Hero reach it's completion, and thus finish what was started in Arkham City. Instead of...

Don't: Get cold feet concerning the above

...just having her backslide and go right back to being a complete criminal, or else have an inconclusive end to her character arc. The latter might work depending on how well done it is (though would still be disappointing), but the former would just be totally unsatisfying, not to mention make me feel like I wasted the time I've invested into her story. When a character's going through Character Development, backsliding is something you almost never want to do, because it feels cheap and also makes everything that happened up to that point feel like a complete waste of time. So, as much as Catwoman is more recognized as a villain than a hero, I'd rather Rocksteady not use that as an excuse to have Catwoman just backslide and end up right back where her story began. If they're willing to kill off the Joker, then I don't think Catwoman's successfully becoming (and staying) an Anti-Hero is too much of a stretch or break from the mythology.

Do: Solo Challenge Mode maps for Catwoman, Nightwing, and Robin, as well as new (and fun) Campaigns

I think this one's already been confirmed (solo Challenge Mode stuff for Red Hood and Harley's been confirmed, at any rate), but just so I'm on record: I want Nightwing, Robin, and Catwoman to be playable in Challenge Mode and to be able to have their solo runs the same way Batman, Harley, and Red Hood will. Again, I think it's been confirmed. But another thing I would like would be a return of the Campaigns, and hopefully this time maybe giving some of them a bit of a story. After all, Arkham City DLC featured a Black Mask campaign that entailed recapturing the escaped supervillain and Arkham Origins had a Challenge Mode DLC that showed some of Bruce Wayne's martial arts training, so why not go farther and have the Campaigns in Arkham Knight have more well fleshed out mini-stories that function as kind of "day in the life" type adventures for the heroes? They could even take place at different points in Arkham Batman's history, giving us an idea of some of the other, smaller adventures he's gone on over the course of his career. Just a thought.

Don't: Augmented Reality Training

Much as I adored Arkham City, one of the very few things about the game that just didn't do it for me was the Augmented Reality Training stuff. While I would hardly go ballistic if it made a return, I can also safely say that I would not miss it one bit if it were to not come back. More Challenge Mode stuff with my above suggestion>>>>>Augmented Reality Training.

Do: Effective newcomers to the Rogues Gallery and accompanying boss battles

There has been nary a game in the Arkham series that has not introduced new characters, including the Arkham Origins and Arkham Origins: Blackgate prequels that Rocksteady has been distancing themselves from. So, it stands to reason that the Arkham Knight is probably not going to be the only newcomer in this installment, and honestly, that would be just as well. So long as the inclusions feel well done (see below), I wouldn't mind seeing some newcomers. For a full list of such characters, along with my rationale for how and why they could and should show up, see my previous Blog post on Arkham Knight villains.

And, of course, if we're going to introduce new villains, then giving them satisfying and well-done boss battles is a must, something that Arkham Origins for all of it's being bashed did very well. I hope to see the boss fights in Arkham Knight, for both returning foes and any newcomers they introduce, be similarly well-done.

Don't: Shoe-horn Mr. Freeze, or anyone else

For this one, I ought to stress what I mean. By "shoe-horn", I mean include a character just for the sake of including them without actually giving them even so much as a decent or meaningful side-quest or even a boss fight. With Mr. Freeze in particular, a sidequest in Arkham City ends with Batman successfully reuniting Freeze with his wife and even urging him to save her and then abandon his life of crime on the grounds that he's better than that. That to me is such a perfect ending to Mr. Freeze's story in the Arkham games that I feel like there's really no reason to ruin it, and certainly not for the sake of arbitrarily dragging him into the third and final installment. Yes, the boss fight with Mr. Freeze in Arkham City was fun, and his Arkham Origins DLC was one of the high points of that game, but this doesn't necessarily mean that we have to bring him back for another game if it feels forced or unnecessary.

To clarify, I would not be averse to Mr. Freeze showing up, but I would rather it be done with care, not just a lazy "It didn't work out with Nora, so now I'm a vengeful villain again" kind of thing. Perhaps it could involve Mr. Freeze hitting a break-through with a cure for Nora's illness, but then something happens that endangers it and forces Batman to step in and save the day, perhaps even teaming up with Freeze? Just a thought. And for those who think the notion of a Batman/Freeze team-up is ridiculous, remember that they did it in Arkham City, and it's still better than a certain other take on Mr. Freeze from a certain film.

All in all, I think that if they're going to bring Mr. Freeze (or any other villain that's return hasn't yet been confirmed), back for the finale, it needs to feel like a meaningful inclusion, especially since to do otherwise in Mr. Freeze's case would be to sabotage a good end to his character arc.

Do: Bring back some Arkham/Gotham lore

One of the nice things about both the original Arkham Asylum game and also Arkham Origins were these sidequests that went into the lives of some pre-Batman Gothamites, and the history of them and what they left behind (Amadeus Arkham and Cyrus Pinkney, respectively). I actually kind of like this, because it helps add to the history of Gotham City and really fleshes it out and makes it feel like a more interesting place. For Arkham Knight, I think it would be cool to go back to that, perhaps with another series of journal entries to find, or a brief visit to the ruins of the now abandoned Arkham Asylum. References to other Gothamites of the past, such as Martin "Mad Dog" Hawkins or Bruce's own ancestor Solomon Wayne, would also not be unwelcome, and could perhaps serve as the basis of it's own sidequest (a lunatic trying to recreate Mad Dog's crimes, for instance).

And of course, with the potential for more world-building Gotham lore comes the possibility of at least hinting to the Court of Owls, which would make for a fun Easter Egg, if nothing else. Speaking of which, Rocksteady has confirmed there will be a lot of those in the game, so why not take advantage and have some of them be to the various movers and shakers of Gotham's pre-Batman past?

Don't: Forget about Hush

The reveal that Hush had stolen Bruce Wayne's identity in Arkham City and then flies the coop before Batman can so much as lay a finger on him was basically guaranteeing that Hush would come back as a villain in the sequel right? Right...? Right. So, if Rocksteady doesn't follow through on that, and Hush is nowhere to be found, that would be very disappointing, and also make the reveal in Arkham City nothing more than a tease, which would also be bad. So, with all that in mind, Hush had better show up in Arkham Knight and not just get swept under the rug. And, if he does show up, his having stolen Bruce Wayne's identity needs to be addressed and factor in somehow.

Do: Be creative with Arkham Knight's identity

I think it's been confirmed that the Arkham Knight's backstory will be revealed in the tie-in comics, but I assume that it will also be revealed to the players of the game proper, so that people like me who haven't read the comics won't get cheated out of the big reveal. As to what that reveal could be, I want Rocksteady to adhere to their assurance that this is an original character (see below), but also put some thought into it. A random person who's parents were killed by the Joker would be a bit on the lazy side, whereas say, a former security guard of Arkham who transformed into a brutal, militaristic Anti-Batman due to recognizing the inadequacy of how Gotham (and Batman) deals with criminals would be a bit better, or perhaps instead the idea put forth in a supposed plot leak; that Arkham Knight is a kind of mish-mash of Terry McGinnis and Damian Wayne with a pinch of Jason Todd thrown in for good measure. A sort of "composite character".

Finally, another rumor that surfaced a while back, that the Arkham Knight is in fact a woman in disguise, would also be a nice twist, one akin to the twist seen in the excellent animated movie, Batman: Mask of the Phantasm.

Don't: Cheat concerning the Arkham Knight's identity

This is basically a direct counter to the above. It's one thing to make Arkham Knight a composite character of sorts, who combines elements of a few pre-existing characters. It is quite another thing to just make it say, Jason Todd in a different costume. Especially since that would come off as Rocksteady pulling a fast one on us. It is technically a loop-hole being exploited, but it would still feel remarkably cheap if it was only an original character in terms of identity and not the person carrying it. No, for the man (or woman) behind the Arkham Knight's helmet, I want it to be someone we haven't seen before, even though that can for me be a character who resembles other, pre-existing ones.

Do: End it well...

Speculation abound that Batman won't live to see the end of his own video game. Myself, I believe that that could work if it's done right, and that in turn leads to my main point: I want the ending to be the kind of satisfying finale the series deserves. It needs to have some level of emotion to it, it needs to have some level of closure, and it needs to feel like some legitimate thought went into it. Whether this means Batman ends his story with a tombstone over his head or Catwoman and him enjoying retirement and/or marriage together I don't know, but it needs to be something that carries some kind of emotional punch. If a happy ending, then it won't take much to convince someone that Batman's earned it. If Batman dies, then it had best be a suitably epic death that also, ideally, involves heroic sacrifice, since that is to a certain extent what Batman's entire life has been about. And yet another thing that must be done if Batman dies is to emphasize that his allies will keep fighting where he left off, and in turn likely have (probably Nightwing) step forward as a new Batman. This will emphasize that, Bruce Wayne may be dead, but Batman the Dark Knight is an ideal not so easily killed.

Other possibilities for satisfying happy endings besides the Batman/Catwoman bit (or perhaps accompanying it), would include fast-forwarding in time to show one of the following: an elderly Bruce Wayne relaxing in his study and at peace along with preferably his loyal dog Ace, Bruce Wayne giving guidance to a newer Batman in a now more Oracle like position (could be Dick, Tim, or Terry), or perhaps even the "Earth 2" route of an older Bruce Wayne and Selina Kyle with their daughter Helena. Point is, there's a lot of different ways the ending can go, and with that in mind, there's really no excuse for the final don't:

Don't: ...not cheaply

By "cheaply", I mean something along the lines of Batman having an unsatisfying death that feels forced or phoned in and done just for the sake of killing him off, or alternatively an ending that doesn't tie up anywhere near enough loose ends, doesn't give enough closure, and just overall feels too open-ended and inconclusive. I understand that for some, a "The Adventure Continues" type ending may be right up their alley, but myself, I would like something a bit more creative than that, or at the very least, a "The Adventure Continues" type ending that actually makes it feel like things will be different for Batman and his family going forwards. But honestly, considering what's being shown in the Arkham Knight tie-in comic regarding Bruce feeling that he's getting into his twilight years as Batman and thus wants to leave behind a greater lasting impression, I don't really feel like having him just continue on indefinitely as Batman without incident is really the ending that's warranted here. No, I think I want a "The Dark Knight Rises" type ending to this game's story, not a "The Dark Knight Strikes Again" one.

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New villains for Arkham Knight

With Arkham Knight now exactly 40 days away, I decided to do another Arkham Knight related blog (and yes, I really can't wait for the game).

With one of the parts of Arkham Knight's Season Pass making mention of, and I quote: "legendary supervillains invading Gotham City", I thought it only right to take the time to speculate on what possible villains might be showing up in both that, and also the other DLC in the Season Pass. But let's start with the candidates for "The Season of Infamy":

Calendar Man:

This one is a possibility simply because of the title of the DLC: The season of infamy. As we know, Calendar Man is all about doing crimes on specific dates and holidays, so it's possible that the title is a twisted reference to the phrase "Tis the season". Of course, Arkham Origins took place on Christmas, but Rocksteady's been distancing themselves from that prequel. It's quite possible that Calendar Man could still take center-stage in a DLC side-story. Especially since the Arkham re-imagining of one of the most universally mocked and panned Batman villains ever was fairly well-received by players. Having him be the main villain of a story would give Rocksteady the chance to really show us just how much of a monster he is without relying on him just telling us of his misdeeds. Here, we would get showing instead of telling.

Lex Luthor:

The three reasons I think Luthor is a possibility are as follows:

  1. Lex Luthor has actually antagonized Batman before. In the New Earth continuity he framed Batman for murder and cost him a whole year of his life by forcing him to be on the run until he could clear his name. Luthor also at one point tried to renovate Gotham City following the "No Man's Land" disaster, which also put him at odds with Bruce Wayne and his alter-ego.
  2. The Season Pass details specify that Gotham is "invaded". This would suggest that it's someone who's from "out of town" because after all, bad as they are, Batman's Rogues Gallery are not really "invaders", because they live in Gotham. So the description of the DLC suggests it is a villain not native to Gotham that is attacking it from the outside rather from within. Furthermore, the DLC also says "legendary supervillains" and it's hard to get more legendary then Superman's arch-nemesis. This also leads me to reason number 3...
  3. Superman is rumored to make a brief appearance in Arkham Knight, which would establish that he exists in the Arkhamverse. If he can show up, why can't Lex?

Deadshot:

I could be wrong, but I think Deadshot's appearing in Arkham Knight has already been confirmed. Nevertheless, his getting a more substantial role in a DLC side-story is possible. And he does kind of fit the "invade" bit because Deadshot is not as rooted in Gotham City as many of Batman's other main foes, instead being a bit more "mobile", per his status as an Assassin-For-Hire. Of course at the same time, Deadshot doesn't exactly have the manpower with which to stage "an invasion", and that's not really his MO anyway. So this one is a slight possibility, but not as much of one in my mind.

The League of Assassins:

They've already shown up in Arkham City along with their leaders, and given that for that world's Ras al Ghul death is really just a minor and temporary inconvenience, I don't see why he can't be brought back again and then have a full-blown League invasion of Gotham City as a DLC story. It would make for a pretty epic DLC story too, which is not something you often see. And again, the fact that the League are not native to Gotham would fit the "invaded" bit of the description, and Ras al Ghul fits the "legendary" part pretty neatly as one of Batman's top foes. This could also be a great opportunity to bring in other League-affiliated villains, such as David Cain, Bronze Tiger, Lady Shiva (even if she already appeared in Origins), and (though they're not exclusively Batman villains) Cheshire and Merlyn. And of course, Talia could conceivably come back too the same way Ras could: via that ever-pesky Lazarus Pit.

The Court of Owls:

I'm not gonna lie, this one's mostly wishful thinking. Given how recently they came out and how much of an involved backstory they've got, it's unlikely the Court will show up as even villains in a DLC. But I would also argue it's not entirely out of the question, and let's be honest: it would be really, really awesome to see. With the excellent graphics being what they are, the Talons in particular would look awesome, and it would be interesting to see how Rocksteady would handle the twisted Labyrinth concept. As for the "invaded" part, while the Court is also native to Gotham City, they have the manpower and resources to launch a greater kind of offensive on Gotham as a whole then what Batman's villains are usually able to bring to bear. Not to mention that waging war on Gotham City is exactly what the Court did in both the comic story they first appeared in and also an animated movie featuring them (Batman Vs. Robin). So again, it's unlikely, but not impossible. And as I've already said, I would love to see it. Maybe even have some extra Challenge Maps that show off Court of Owls environments like the aforementioned Labyrinth to go along with it.

Owlman

Either alone, or with the Court of Owls, I feel that Owlman is a possibility. Maybe not a strong one, but still a possibility in the end. Consider that with Arkham Knight there seems to be a recurring motif of family, with Barbara and Jim, Batman and his proteges, and also Batman and his late father, with the first Arkham Knight trailer released featuring the reading of Thomas Wayne's will and some parting words to his son. So having Owlman as a sort of villainous twist on that family motif is a possibility, especially when he shares a name with Bruce's father. The presence of Arkham Knight as a deliberate Anti-Batman makes this one and the below one perhaps less likely as candidates, but I still feel like either or both of them has a shot. On that note...

Prometheus

Prometheus was confirmed to exist in the Arkhamverse as early as the very first game in the series, so including him in the final chapter would not only be possible, it would be fitting. And, as another Batman villain who's not really native or exclusive to Gotham City, he could conceivably fit the "invaded" part of Season of Infamy's description. I'd also argue he makes sense for the title too, considering how much of a twisted mirror image of Batman he is. Hopefully, any invasion Prometheus cooks up won't involve anything akin to what he did in the disastrous Cry for Justice story, but at the same time, I wouldn't put it past Prometheus to try and cause his share of chaos in the name of tearing down the "justice" he so despises. He would also likely try and target the GCPD due to his psychotic hatred of the police. In all, I think Prometheus has got as good a shot as any of appearing in the Season of Infamy DLC, and I know I for one would like to see him. He's a cool villain, and a fight between him and Batman in the Arkham games would be awesome. Not to mention that including him could also allow for a possible reference to the Justice League, who Prometheus is as much an enemy of as a collective as he is to Batman specifically.

So, we've got the candidates for the "Season of Infamy" DLC out of the way. But who might be taking center stage in other parts of the DLC? For the Batgirl DLC, I'm thinking it actually won't be the Joker, since despite all the conspiracy theories and denial out there, Rocksteady has made it pretty clear that the Joker in the Arkhamverse is well and truly gone, and I doubt they would even want to bring him back for a "Killing Joke" type flashback story. So who else could conceivably show up as the main foe in Batgirl's DLC? Well...

James Gordon Jr.

The absolutely twisted son of James Gordon who is basically Barbara's personal Joker (or Cain and Abel if you want another analogy), James Gordon Jr. would also make sense because of the title: "A Matter of Family". James Gordon Jr. is Barbara's brother after all, so that would count. And again, in lieu of the Joker and a reference to "The Killing Joke", this seems like the most likely choice due to how he is both 1) A primary enemy for his sister and 2) Because it fits the title of the DLC. So for me, this is the one I feel very strongly is the main villain. Though there are some other possibilities, such as...

Firefly

One of Firefly's first appearances in the Post-Crisis continuity was in "Batgirl: Year One", so having him be the main villain of a Batgirl-centric DLC is certainly possible. Not to mention that Firefly's already been confirmed for the game's main story, but whether that hurts or helps his chances I can't say. What I can say is that the boss fight with Firefly in Origins was a good one, and either with Batgirl or Batman, I hope his boss fight in Arkham Knight is similarly well done.

So those are my two main ideas for who the main villain of the Batgirl DLC is. And it's always possible that they'd just throw a curveball and have her fight Great White Shark or something. But as for the Gotham City Stories DLC, I think that there will be multiple villains there, and that it will differ for each of the heroes. For Robin, I'm thinking...

Lynx

Lynx was an enemy of Tim Drake in the comics, so it's only right that she be the main villain of a Tim Drake-centric DLC story. And you can't say she's too minor a character to include either, because Rocksteady has shown multiple times that they know their Batman lore. The "All who follow you" trailer actually has very early on a brief visual reference to Doctor Phosphorus. If they know who Doctor Phosphorus is and are willing to make reference to him, then I think they should be willing to at least consider using Lynx.

And then for Catwoman, I'm putting my money on...

Black Mask

He did appear in Arkham Origins, but again, Rocksteady's really distancing themselves from that game. He also made basically a cameo in Arkham City, but nothing substantial there. Arkham Knight is really where Black Mask can take center-stage in some of the DLC as the terrifying gangster and psychopath that he is in the comics. We all know what Catwoman did to him in the comics, and even if Rocksteady doesn't choose to adapt from that story directly, there could still be some allusions to it. But having Catwoman be put through the ringer by Black Mask to the point that she maybe goes too far to take him down (or else have it be an option like the one Catwoman is given at one point in Arkham City) could make for a good, dark story that fits well with the overall grimness of the game.

And lastly, with Nightwing I'm thinking it might be...

Blockbuster

No real surprises here. Blockbuster is one of Nightwing's main enemies after all, so if Nightwing was going to get a specific foe to take on in a DLC side story, it might as well be him. Not to mention that, as Blockbuster is actually from Bludhaven and not Gotham, he could also fit the "Season of Infamy" description regarding how Gotham is being "invaded by legendary supervillains". Granted, I wouldn't exactly describe Blockbuster as "legendary", but still. This is a character who could conceivably fit as either a villain for that part of the DLC, or for the "Gotham City Stories" part.

Azrael:

Azrael's confirmed to appear in the primary story, but his exact role's not clear. Going by what the folks at Rocksteady say in their first "Insider" video however, it seems that Azrael is getting the feeling that he needs to step up and succeed Batman as Gotham's protector on the grounds that the city needs a new, "better" one. Whether this means Azrael will become an enemy during the main story or not I can't say, but I will say that Azrael's trying to succeed Batman as Gotham's protector might come to a head not in the primary story, but in the "Gotham City Stories" DLC. Assuming that Batman does indeed die during the main story, and Gotham City Stories is at least partly about the members of his family trying to pick up where he left off, Azrael may then step in as "competition", forcing the Batman Family to work together to take him down and show that they are the worthy successors and not him. This could also mean that after Robin, Catwoman, and Nightwing's individual side-stories are concluded, they could all converge on Azrael as they work together to beat him. Just an idea. However, I think another possibility to this effect is...

Red Hood (Jason Todd)

Yes, yes, I know, he's playable via a Pre-Order bonus (one that I got, I might add), but that does not mean that Jason can't also appear as a villain in the Gotham City Stories DLC. After all, Joker was playable in Arkham Asylum's Challenge Maps on the Playstation, that didn't make him any less an enemy to Batman in the game's main story. So it is to me feasible that, if not Azrael trying to step in and forcefully take the mantle of Gotham's protector for himself, then Jason Todd is also a viable candidate. It could also mean we might get a Nightwing and/or Robin Vs. Red Hood matchup, and that would be pretty fun to see. It would also be interesting to see if Rocksteady has Red Hood use the same moves he uses as a playable character against the good guys, allowing players to know what it's like to both fight as Red Hood and also against him.

And who knows? Maybe Azrael and Red Hood will team up as a sort of dark mirror image of the Batman Family, especially since Azrael's also got a Red Hood (I'm here all week). Joking aside though, I think that could also (maybe) happen, and if it does, they might add a third person to their group so as to match the trio of Robin, Catwoman, and Nightwing, and that third person would be...

Huntress (Helena Bertinelli)

Her existence in the Arkhamverse was confirmed in Batman Arkham City during dialogue between Viki Vale and Quincy Sharp, but we've yet to see her. Since Arkham Knight's supposed to be the grand finale, you have to figure that, if it's going to end soon, now's as good a time as any to finally show us Huntress. And given her reputation for brutality and the fact that she has blood on her hands, I wouldn't find it entirely implausible that she choose Red Hood and Azrael over Batman's more morally upright disciples. And again, that would make it a nice 3 Vs. 3 fight. And that would be something to see.

And that's all of my ideas for what villains might be appearing in the various Arkham Knight DLC that the Season Pass will include. Do you think my predictions are at all on point, or do you think I'm missing some big ones? Share your thoughts.

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Batman Arkham Knight Costume Predictions

So, with Batman Arkham Knight a little over a month away, I figured now was a good time to start making predictions. More specifically, what alternate costumes will we be getting?

Considering Arkham City and Arkham Origins both had their share of alternate costumes, it's safe to assume we'll be getting quite a few in the final chapter, and even better, we'll be able to wear them right away according to Rocksteady:

So, with that in mind, what costumes will be most likely to appear? Which of the many, many alternate outfits Batman has gotten over the years show up in the game, and for that matter, alternate outfits for Robin, Catwoman, and Nightwing? (Which have also been confirmed). This is me trying to answer that question.

Personally, the costumes I think are mostly likely to appear are:

Batman:

Classic/Silver Age: This one's really just a no-brainer. Batman's been wearing the classic gray with blue boots, gloves, mask, cape, and tights since the Silver Age, and it's carried over well into the character's New Earth history. For many, this is the iconic Batman look. Not to mention it's appeared as an alternate costume in other Batman games before, so really, I think this one's a pretty safe bet. Even if the Adam West Batman costume that's already been confirmed does look like it.

Arkham Asylum/Arkham City: Another guarantee as far as I'm concerned. This was Batman's outfit in the two previous installments in the trilogy, so it's coming back for Part III as an alternate costume seems like a no-brainer. I'm fully expecting this one to show up again, and if it doesn't, I will be legitimately surprised.

Injustice Gods Among Us: The Arkham Asylum/City costume was available in Injustice Gods Among Us as an alternate look, so why not go in the opposite direction? Batman's Injustice costume is pretty awesome, and again, the fact that this was done in the reverse means seeing this costume in Arkham Knight would not be totally implausible.

Red Son: It's one of the more well-known Elseworlds stories featuring Batman, and in fairness, it's a pretty dang cool outfit. While the Gotham City in Arkham Knight is not quite as "cold" as it was in Arkham Origins and Arkham City, it would still be a cool costume to wear, and I don't see it's appearing in previous Arkham games as hurting it's changes too badly.

Green Lantern Batman: Cool, different, and visually stunning (especially if they decide to have a glowing green energy field around him), this is a natural choice for an alternate costume. Especially since we've already gotten a Sinestro Corps costume in previous Arkham games. And it's not like this costume was around for any shorter a period of time. Really, I just think this is a good costume choice. It's being too minor is also not an issue either, since minor costumes have shown up in the Arkham games before. I don't see why this one couldn't happen.

Black Lantern Batman: Another Lantern costume, and one that has already appeared in Injustice Gods Among Us. Not seeing why it can't show up in Arkham Knight. It's simple to do, looks cool, and it's something different. Seems like a logical inclusion to me.

Sinestro Corps Batman: This one's shown up before, but that doesn't mean it can't show up again. While three different Lantern costumes all in one game may be unlikely, I still wouldn't be averse to all of them showing up. The black and gold looks cool, and fear is of course Batman's weapon of choice. It's also the main villain of the game's MO, so between those two things this is an appropriate costume for the game.

Vampire Batman: Considering how well-known an Elseworlds story this one is, I'm kind of surprised the Arkham games haven't used this one before. But hey, first time for everything, right? Really, Batman as a vampire is a concept that's always made a certain kind of sense, and getting to play as him in a video game would be pretty awesome. Those glowing red eyes and extra long bat ears would be sufficiently creepy.

Dark Knight Returns Anti-Superman Armor: As the above picture clearly shows, Batman's going to be wearing this armor in the upcoming Batman v. Superman movie, so why not let him wear it in Arkham Knight as well? While fighting Superman in the game's probably not going to happen, that doesn't mean Batman can't still get the opportunity to take this armor for a spin. It's a cool look, and it's also one of the more well-known Elseworlds versions of Batman. We've already seen his TDKR costume, but this is one we still haven't seen in the games yet. Arkham Knight has a perfect opportunity to rectify that.

Batman Beyond: Obviously, it would be Bruce and not Terry wearing the suit, but it's just such an awesome Batman costume that it warrants appearing. Sure, it's already appeared in both Arkham City and Arkham Origins, but if anything, it's clear and enduring popularity just justifies including it one last time. It's a fan-favorite, and it should get to be in Part III of the Arkham trilogy.

Batman of Zur-En-Arrh: This is just one of those crazy, weird, and "out-there" alternate costumes, but also one that is still known among most Batman fanatics and I think it's inclusion would be appreciated. This costume has already appeared in Lego Batman 3, so why can't it get a chance to appear in Arkham Knight? Sure, a lot of people would say it's a kooky look, but I actually think the purple/red color scheme is pretty awesome. A more colorful Batman to beat up criminals as. And you can't say it's too "out there" either, since again, the Arkham games have included obscure Batman costumes before. And is it really any less goofy than the Adam West Batman outfit that's already been confirmed?

Thomas Wayne Batman: Another simple, but effective alternate look for Batman that's fairly well-known at this point. It already featured in Arkham Origins, and with good reason: It's awesome. If not the look pictured above, Thomas Wayne's other Batman costume from Flashpoint will likely be showing up instead. Personally, I'd prefer this one, but either way, I think it's a safe bet that one of Thomas Wayne Batman's costumes will be showing up, especially when one remembers the "Father to Son" trailer that suggests that Batman may be thinking more about his father in this entry.

Owlman: Okay, so this one's maybe more wishful thinking, but you can't say it's got no shot of appearing. It's something different to be sure, and it would be fun to wreck criminals as Owlman. Not to mention pit one Anti-Batman against another in the form of an Owlman Vs. Arkham Knight throwdown. Maybe not as likely to appear as some of the others here, but you never know for sure.

Gaslight Batman: Another more well-known Elseworlds story with Batman in it, especially thanks to Infinite Crisis: Fight for the Multiverse. This costume has shown up once before, but only in Arkham Origins, and only in it's multiplayer mode I believe. Getting to see it in the final installment of the Arkham trilogy would be a nice treat, and one that could well happen. Again, it's one of the more well-known alternate looks for Batman now, and video game players in particular will be more likely to be familiar with it thanks to Infinite Crisis. That, and the juxtaposition of steam-punk/Victorian Era Batman and a very hi-tech (almost near-future) Gotham City would be kind of cool.

Speeding Bullets Batman: A Batman who is actually also the Kal-El of that world, which is a fun twist. That, and the costume is a cool one with it's full-face covering mask and Bat symbol that's shaped more like Superman's "S" Shield. I think this one's got a solid shot because it's a Batman costume that has never shown up in an Arkham game before, and thus I think would be more likely to show up in Arkham Knight. Some costumes from previous games will (hopefully) return, as many of my predictions here shows, but I also think it's safe to assume that Arkham Knight will also have some newcomers that haven't been seen before, and this is as good a one as any.

Robin:

Arkham City Costume: Like with Batman, having Tim's previous default look in the series return in Arkham Knight as an alternate is just a no-brainer. Especially since this look seemed to be popular too. Not much else to say here.

Red Robin (Pre-New 52): This is another look from Arkham City that I think stands a very real chance of coming back. It's an awesome costume, and it's one of Tim Drake's few major, alternate looks. Really, I don't think much more justification than that needs to be given. And if one Red Robin costume is good, why not have...

Red Robin (New 52): Tim's New 52 costume is pure awesome, and if the previous Red Robin costume doesn't show up, I think this one almost certainly will. The wings can be like a cape when not gliding, as pictured above, and then whenever he glides he can unleash those awesome wings. Seems like an obvious choice. And it would also be nice to play as Tim with hair again. Not seeing why this one can't or won't happen, especially when Batman's New 52 costume has showed up in the Arkham games before.

Burt Ward Robin: It's with this one that I am at serious risk of losing my credibility, I recognize that. But just consider: Adam West's Batman costume has been confirmed for the game, so is it really that much of a stretch to think that Robin might also get his look from that show, corny as it is? Just saying. I think it's a possibility. And it's being Dick Grayson instead of Tim Drake doesn't mean much, because Flashpoint Batman is Thomas Wayne and not Bruce Wayne, and it was still an alternate costume for Bruce Wayne Batman. Really, I think this look showing up is possible.

Tim's Classic Robin Costumes: Both the red and black and red and green costumes stand a very good chance of showing up, I think. They are Tim Robin's classic looks after all, and Batman's classic looks have been depicted in the Arkham series before. Now that Robin's getting a larger role, I think it's safe to say that these can and likely will show up.

Thrillkiller: As I've said many times above, the Arkham games are not afraid of including little-known costumes and outfits from Elseworlds, and this fits the bill. It's different looking but still distinctly Robin, and it would be interesting and cool to see it in the game. Of all the different Elseworlds Robin costumes there are (not that there are many to begin with), this seems to me like one of the ones most likely to appear. Along with...

Robin 3000: Another minor Elseworlds story, but it does have one of the more distinct alternate Robin costumes out there. It's a cool look, and I think that it's got about as good a shot of showing up as Thrillkiller Robin does. It depends on how deep into DC's history Rocksteady's willing to go, but I think they've long since proven that they're willing to dig pretty darn deep.

Catwoman:

Knightfall/1990s Purple Costume: Catwoman's skintight black leather catsuit may be her most widely recognized and iconic look these days (and also my personal favorite), but for most of her character history this was not so. In the 1990s, this costume reigned supreme, and it's still the preferred look for her for a lot of fans to this very day. It's got enough notoriety and a following that it was included as an alternate look in Infinite Crisis (pictured above), so I don't see why it can't be in Arkham Knight as well. It's a solid look (even if it's not my favorite), and again, it's popular and well-known. Really, much like Batman's classic blue and gray, this one just makes sense as far as alternate costumes go.

Golden Age/Silver Age Catwoman: Another one of her more iconic and distinct outfits. Yeah, most people don't take it seriously anymore, but it is iconic, and purely based on that I think it's got a good chance. As I said right above, Batman's Silver Age costume has shown up in the Arkham games previously and likely will again, so why can't Catwoman get her Silver Age look?

Arkham City, Armored Edition: Much like how Batman and Robin's costumes from previous Arkham games are almost guaranteed to return, so too do I think this one's got a good shot at coming back, especially since Batman's Arkham Knight default costume looks a bit like his Armored Edition costume. Not to mention that those of us who never played the mobile version of Arkham City lost out on the chance to wear this costume. But if it returns in Arkham Knight, console gamers can finally get the chance to take it for a spin. Just seems like a logical choice to me.

Injustice Gods Among Us: Has a shot for the same reasons as Batman's IGAU costume. My hopes for this one are particularly high, as this along with her Arkham City costume is one of my very favorite of Catwoman's many looks.

Julie Newmar Catwoman: Same reasons as Burt Ward Robin. If Adam West Batman is getting his chance in the video game spotlight, then surely the sultry (and revered) Julie Newmar take on Catwoman can get a chance as well?

Nightwing:

Arkham City Costume: Likely to return for the same reasons Arkham City Batman and Robin are almost guaranteed to return.

Classic Black and Blue: Yes, it looks very similar to the costume he's got by default, and also the above Arkham City costume, but there is the slight difference of the bird image on the front, and really, it's just iconic. It's for many people Nightwing's definitive look, and I feel that that alone gives it a good chance of showing up.

1990s Glider Suit: A classic Nightwing costume showing up is almost certainly going to happen, and if forced to choose between this and his horrendous Disco look from the 1970s, I suspect they will probably be more likely to go with this one. And we did already get Azrael's Batman costume as an alternate skin, and that debuted at around the same time this look did. So who knows? Maybe it will show up. It certainly stands a decent chance. But probably not quite as good a chance as...

New 52: The red variant of Nightwing's iconic black and blue is such an easy alternate look that it's hard to see Rocksteady not going for it. Especially when it's one of Nightwing's more major and well-known alternate looks as well. Really, I just see this as a natural choice.

Agent Grayson: Dick Grayson's look ever since he got tortured right out of his Nightwing role, a decision I was overall not in favor of. However, it's an alternate look that's something different, and is also minor enough that it shows off knowledge, but major enough that any serious Batman fan will recognize it. A bit more bland then Dick's other outfits, but even so, I can see this being an alternate costume for him all the same.

Injustice Gods Among Us: Another slight variation of Nightwing's classic black and blue, and having pretty much the same likelihood of showing up as Batman and Catwoman's IGAU costumes. Not much else to say here.

Renegade: Another good alternate costume choice due to 1) Looking cool, 2) Being something different, and 3) Showing off good knowledge of Nightwing's character history. Really, I don't know what else you need besides that.

So, that's all my predictions. Do you think they're reasonable? Did I miss any looks that you think have a good chance of showing up, or where some of my predictions perhaps too out of left field?

Also note, this is supposed to be educated guesses, not so much deciding what outfits I'd most want to see (although, the two things aren't necessarily mutually exclusive!)

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Sora Bulq Respect Thread

Sora Bulq is a Dark Jedi from the Legends continuity who is unfortunately in running for the absolute most ruthlessly and consistently lowballed Star Wars characters I've ever seen, and for no reason more substantial than his being a Dark Jedi instead of a full Sith. This is too bad, especially considering Sora is actually an incredibly skilled lightsaber duelist in his own right, and one who absolutely deserves a Respect Thread.

So, with that in mind...

Respect Sora Bulq:

"Twisted my mind?! He opened it! After defeating me on Bakura, Dooku tended to my wounds and reasoned with me! He showed me the anger at the core of my being—and made me acknowledge its power!"

Accolades:

Sora Bulq has trained many Jedi:

"Many, many Jedi has he trained. Great his influence is."

-Yoda, "Star Wars Jedi: Mace Windu"

"As a lightsaber instructor at the Temple, Sora has trained and influenced many, many Jedi."

-Mace Windu, "Jedi Vs. Sith-The Essential Chronology to the Force"

Sora Bulq is one of the greatest lightsaber instructors the Jedi Order "had ever known", also perfecting various forms of lightsaber combat:

Credit goes to Intrepid for the databank quote

Sora Bulq helped Quinlan Vos "regain his focus with a lightsaber". He also taught him some of Vaapad in the process:

"When Quinlan Vos had to be retrained after the events that left his memory impaired, it was Sora who helped Quinlan regain his focus with a lightsaber. But on recent mission to Lianna, Masters Tholme, Yoda, and I learned that Sora had taught Quinlan a maneuver from a Form VII variation known as Vaapad."

-Mace Windu, "Jedi Vs. Sith-The Essential Chronology to the Force"

Sora Bulq knows Vaapad, an incredibly dangerous form that is a variant of Juyo. To give an idea of how dangerous Juyo is to both learn and master:

"Form VII, also called Juyo, is the most difficult and demanding of all forms. Only high-level masters of multiple forms can achieve and control this discipline, which can lead to fantastic power and skill. Form VII employs bold, direct movements, more open and kinetic than Form V, but not so elaborate in appearance as the acrobatic Form IV. Unlike Form V, Form VII requires greater energy because the focus is wielded more broadly, and draws upon a deeper well of emotion; while the outward bearing of a Form VII practitioner is one of calm, the inner pressure verges on explosion. And unlike the graceful, linked movement sequences of Form IV, Form VII tactics overwhelm opponents with seemingly unconnected staccato sequences. This combination of traits makes Form VII highly unpredictable in battle."

"Because so few have achieved the necessary mastery to advance to Form VII, this discipline can only be regarded as under development by a select few, and forbidden to all others"

Taken from Jedi Vs. Sith-The Essential Chronology to the Force

And now, to give one an understanding of what Vaapad specifically entails:

"To use Vaapad, a Jedi must give himself over to the thrill of battle, enjoying the fight and the satisfaction of winning. A Jedi must also accept and embrace the fury of his opponent. This transforms a Jedi into half of a superconducting loop, the other half being the power of darkness, which passes in and out of the Jedi without touching him."

"Vaapad is more then a fighting style. It is a state of mind, a path that leads through the penumbra of the Dark Side."

"It is also not meant for any Jedi without my approval."

-Mace Windu, "Jedi Vs. Sith-The Essential Chronology to the Force"

Sora and Mace Windu worked on Vaapad together:

Now, Mace does also say:

"I know now that it was a mistake to expose Sora Bulq to Vaapad, and hope the mistake will not extend to Quinlan"

-Taken from Jedi Vs. Sith-The Essential Chronology to the Force

There seems to be a contradiction between statements, but there actually isn't. All this shows is that Mace conceived of the initial idea of Vaapad, but he and Sora expanded on it together. So Sora was still involved in the creation of the form and thus would know it extremely well.

Combat Skill:

Versus Mace Windu:

Owing both to intrinsic skill and to knowing Mace Windu's very specific fighting style like the back of his hand (due to having mastered it himself), Sora is able to successfully duel Mace Windu to a stand-still. Yes, Mace beats him, but not, you'll notice, by virtue of being a better swordsman. Rather, he wins via a Force Push:

Apologies for the way the scans are posted. Comicvine's new rules and all. I can't post full pages in the necessary numbers anymore, so I have to do it this way. Hope it's still possible to tell what's happening. For reference, the order of scans is from left to right in rows.

Versus Tholme, round 1:

Is overwhelming Master Tholme, and correctly points out that Tholme can't beat him. Tholme agrees, and so chooses escape as an alternative:

Versus Tholme, Round 2:

And for those who think the above proves nothing, here is definitive proof that Sora is indeed well above Tholme's class on the account of stomping him:

Versus a Force-Rage Quinlan Vos

With perhaps the added advantage of knowing how Vos would fight due to having been the one to retrain him, Sora pretty swiftly overwhelms a Quinlan Vos who's in a Force Rage and dies due to making a bad execution move because he (falsely) assumes Vos is down for the count:

And proof that Vos was in fact in a Force Rage at the time:

Also, proof that Vos was in the midst of conquering his inner demons during the fight:

I understand that the text isn't really readable, so here is a transcript:

  • (Deep within Quinlan's heart, his mind, where the darkest shadows lie)
  • Quinlan Vos: No! I deny you!
  • Dark Vos: Why? The second Sith you have sought has always lain just beneath the surface...I am your Dark Side...
  • Aayla's Voice: Quinlan...Quin...remember. I promised...when all seemed dark...that I would be a light for you...as you were for me. Remember...
  • Quinlan Vos: Get away Aayla! This is not your fight! It's mine alone! I have walked this path myself. I have created this thing, and now it is up to me to finish it!
  • Aayla: You shut us out, Quin. Tholme...and me. The creature you face cannot be killed, cannot be denied. You are bound to it because it is a part of you. Let go of your anger! It will drown you!
  • Quinlan Vos: You're wrong! I can do this! I can set things right!
  • Aayla: You guard a secret that no longer matters. You are not alone, Quin. No Jedi is ever alone. This is the core of you. This is the truth of you. You are made of light. We are all made of light. The light is greater than the anger of the Darkness, Quin. I know...because you told me that long ago...master.

And lo and behold, after being told this and getting his head back in the game, he's able to take advantage of Sora's making a bad execution move to cheap-shot him and kill him.

Force Power:

Not generally Sora's thing, but he has unleashed at least one Force Push that was sufficient to blast back Mace Windu:

Credit for the scans goes to Silver, ShootingNova, i_like_swords, and Aurbere.

12 Comments

Top 35 Female Characters (My picks)

Who doesn't love strong, sexy, kick-butt women? I know I for one like them quite a bit. It's always a good thing to have good, well-written females out there in fiction as it is a good thing to have positive female role models in reality, and for me personally, the following are my absolute favorites. I expect to catch some serious flak for some of my choices and also for not including some other fan-favorites, to say nothing for who I rank ahead of whom. But, everyone's got their own preferences and tastes, and these are mine. I hope anyone who sees this will agree with at least some of my choices. And any disagreements people do have, try to keep it respectful, 'kay? I'm not asking that people love my list or to agree with every single choice, but I don't want a bunch of "Your list sucks!" or "You're an idiot!", or something similar to that. Basically, keep it civil (and yes, even on the internet, you can do that).

The list is in ascending order, and for fun, most of the images are gifs (which I've recently grown quite fond of).

35. Elizabeth "Lizzie" Bennet (Pride and Prejudice)

Surprising choice to start off the list with, no? I definitely could have, if I wanted to, had this spot be filled by any one of a number of awesome superheroines that I would have loved to include on this list, but despite the name of this site I do actually like things other than Comic Books, and that includes some classic literature. Lizzie's story is sufficiently well-written that it (and she) stand out. It also happens to be one of the most iconic romance stories of all time, and with good reason; it's very well-written and the 1995 adaptation that the above gif is from is the best one.

In all honesty, Lizzie's basically her world's equivalent to a feminist considering how unafraid she is to speak her mind, especially against those of higher status who always seem out to derisively dismiss her or put her down based on her "inferior" position. She is also, of course, very witty and, as her father puts it: "has something more of a quickness, then her sisters". She's pretty too, as no doubt Mr. Darcy would attest.

34. Caitlin Snow (CW's The Flash)

Who would have thought I'd end up liking so much a character depiction that is really just "in name only"? Maybe because, in Caitlin's case, that's an improvement. Instead of the sadistic, child-killing monster (and that's not hyperbole, she kills an innocent family before becoming Killer Frost) that we get in DC's New 52 continuity, the Caitlin Snow here is almost the total opposite. While outwardly cold and by her own admission "guarded", she comes to warm up considerably, and ultimately proves to be as much Cisco Ramone's comedic equal as she does his intellectual one. Honestly, I think I actually tend to prefer Caitlin's brand of humor (not that I don't also love Cisco), and her grieving the loss and then unwanted transformation of her fiancee (here much more amiable than he generally is in the comics), really helps to humanize her and make her very sympathetic. And, to top it all off, she's also straight-up gorgeous, easily rivaling Iris and Nyssa as the most attractive female character in the Arrow/Flash continuity (or at least I think so). So in all, a fine ally for CW's take on the Flash, and just good as a friend. And I will admit, that I do kind of wish "Snowbarry" as it's called happened, but oh well. She's still a good character either way, and I lament her inevitable transformation into the villainous Killer Frost. Nuts to that.

33. Black Widow (Marvel Comics)

While I do definitely find the Black Widow fanwanking I've seen very, very annoying (especially for the MCU version pictured above), this does not mean that Widow herself is a bad character. Quite the contrary, the uncompromising and deadly superheroine and secret agent who has become pretty much the poster girl for "Sexy secret agent femme fatale in black" is definitely a cool character. I suppose one could make a case for the Baroness being as much a face for the archetype I just described, but I prefer Black Widow on the account of her not being a sadistic and evil terrorist.

Featuring a sordid and dark but also interesting backstory, and also managing to win (or else steal) the hearts of quite a few men in the Marvel Universe (Daredevil and Hawkeye to name just two), Black Widow's also a skilled fighter and markswoman and between it all has more than just good looks to recommend herself. And again, while I don't like the fanwanking, I do still think that the Scarlett Johansson take on the character is a good one, portraying her as still a troubled soul, but with a bit more of a sense of humor than what her 616 counterpart is usually want to show. Oh, and Black Widow's a ballerina too. Talk about being a woman of many talents, right?

32. Batgirl III/Black Bat (DC Comics) and Gamora (Marvel Comics) (Tie)

Cassandra Cain and Gamora are here for the very simple but valid reason of both being a total badass. That's just all there is to it. As the absolute most skilled hand-to-hand fighters in DC and Marvel respectively, these two ladies pretty much forces of nature from a combat standpoint. How else do you explain such accomplishments as beating Lady Shiva twice and managing to top your own mentor (Batman!) in hand-to-hand, and for Gamora having so many hand-to-hand and physical showings she is not only Marvel's top martial artist, but also "The Most Dangerous Woman in the Galaxy". Not too shabby all in all.

Aside from their sheer badassery though, both are also kind of tragic characters, being the children (or, to be technical, foster child in Gamora's case) of merciless villains who were anything but kind and considerate parents, and as such both have some...issues, Cassandra especially.

As for Gamora, while I didn't appreciate how horrifically nerfed she was in the MCU, I do still think that Zoe Saldana did a good job with the role and helped make the MCU's Gamora a good character in spite of the awful, awful nerfing.

31. Leslie Tompkins (Gotham)

No Gif for this one. Pity.

I've got nothing against the mainstream version of Leslie (well, actually, that's not entirely true. There is one moment with her that I find appalling on her part), but I kind of like the Gotham version of the character more, and not she's because she's pretty. She helps Gordon and Bullock with some of their cases, and not only that, but she is also a lot more casual, easygoing, laid-back, and ultimately "Closer to Earth" than the two main heroes of the show, which is good because it serves as a kind of refreshing foil to Gordon and especially Bullock's more troubled characters. Basically, Leslie proves that even in Gotham City, a hero need not be dour and screwed up. She is also a WAY better love interest for Gordon then the absolutely horrible Barbara Keane (one of my least favorite female characters ever), and also gets serious extra points for, in the Season 1 finale, getting to beat up Barbara in self-defense when that kook tries to kill her, even straight up punching her. So yeah. Go Leslie.

30. Kitana and Jade (Mortal Kombat, Tie)

These two lovely ladies of Mortal Kombat fame happen to be my two favorite female characters in the series, and not just because of their hotness (though that is certainly a big reason). For Jade, I like how she was characterized in MK9, being portrayed as loyal to Kitana and also confident without (to me) coming off as too arrogant or haughty. She also just has some sweet weapons in the form of her glaive and that glowing purple staff that reminds me just a bit of a lightsaber.

For Kitana, the bladed fans are cool, and I also like her backstory as a Princess forced to serve an evil Emperor that she ultimately rebels against. I also have to give her points for being over 10,000 years old and still going strong. Come MK 10, she gets the opportunity to wield Jade's weapons in tandem with her own (win!) and also has some of the better dialogue exchanges in the game, particularly some amusing ones with Johnny Cage and a harsh but funny one with Kung Lao. And ultimately, princesses who can fight and kick butt tend to trump the ones who can't in my book, so there's also that.

29. Samara (Mass Effect)

As the above Gif demonstrates clearly, Samara is a pretty powerful Biotic in her own right, rivaled in this respect only by her daughter Morinth and the convict Jack (more on the former later). Aside from her incredible power, Samara is also a tireless crusader against any and all perceived injustice and immorality, but personality-wise is not an annoying or holier-than-thou zealot. Rather, she is serene, graceful, and respectful at almost all times, having a calm tone even when angry or distraught (though then at least she usually still shows anguish in her voice). So, powerful and moral. Already we're off to a good start, and we haven't even mentioned her beauty. For a being over 900 years old, Samara still looks very beautiful, no less than her fellow (and much younger) Asari Liara. She also has a much sexier outfit on the account of the form-fitting red with the heels and V-neck. So in aesthetics she also impresses.

But what really cements Samara's position as one of the best, is not just her interesting and well-written moral outlook, her incredible Biotic power, and her hotness, but also her very tragic and sympathetic past, being the mother of a sadistic monster that she tasks herself with stopping no matter what. As if that wasn't tragic enough, she can also come to have feelings for Shepard but chooses not to act on them (talk about strong-willed, no other female in the Galaxy can resist him it seems). So bound is she to her code, for better and for worse, that she is unwilling to allow herself even that measure of happiness. So yeah. A pretty sad character all in all, and then manages to get even sadder still when one of the two daughters she had that was not evil dies, and Samara intends to kill herself to keep from killing her last daughter if not stopped. So yeah. All around a very good and interesting (and very compellingly sad) character, and no question, one of the very best party members in the whole Mass Effect trilogy.

28. Kasumi Goto (Mass Effect)

And here's another of my favorite Mass Effect ladies, in the above gif mocking the ever-moronic Citadel Council, which also highlights one of my principal reasons for liking Kasumi: she's funny. Having a good sense of humor and levity even in fairly dark and seemingly bleak situations, Kasumi shows that not every one of Shepard's crew have to be grim, dour, and serious. Of course, Kasumi's being a text-book case of the "lovable rogue" archetype probably has something to do with this. That's also a character archetype that I (and many others besides) have a certain amount of fondness for, so that's another point in her favor. Her ability to temporarily make herself invisible is also a pretty nifty power and ability if I do say so myself, and I also like her overall outfit design, which does indeed harken to both cat burglars and also ninjas. Her alternate outfit (shown above), gives her the usually spiff black and red color scheme to boot.

Oh, and on top of all of the above, Kasumi also has fun shipping Shepard with various other party members. Not as much as others, unfortunately, but she usually has something nice to say about whoever Shepard chooses as their lover (in my Shepard's case, Miranda), and I like that because it feels like more often than not, Shepard's love life is totally ignored by everybody else. It's nice to have at least one character who acknowledges it (and approves!)

So yeah. Funny, optimistic, cheerful, and a lovable rogue with some neat tricks. Not sure what's to dislike about her.

27. Minerva McGonagall (Harry Potter)

While I normally prefer female characters who have that winning combination of beauty, brains, badassery, and being on the side of right, one need not necessarily have the first one to be a great character. Case in point, Head of Gryffindor House and Transfiguration professor Minerva McGonagall. Outwardly stern and no-nonsense but ultimately fair and moral when all is said and done, McGonagall was also brilliantly portrayed by Maggie Smith, who made the character her own. And also, anyone who can lay a verbal smackdown on the ever-hatable Dolores Umbridge gets my vote hands down. And for those who want an example of that, I give you this:

"He has achieved high marks in all his Defense Against the Dark Arts tests..."

"I'm terribly sorry to contradict you, Minerva, but as you will see from my note, Harry has been achieving very poor results in his classes with me..."

"I should have made my meaning plainer," said Professor McGonagall, turning at last to look Umbridge directly in the eyes. "He has achieved high marks in all Defense Against the Dark Arts tests set by a competent teacher."

-Taken from Harry Potter: And the Order of the Phoenix

Yeah. That alone gets her a spot here, and frankly, I sort of wish I could rank her even higher up.

26. Oracle (DC Comics)

Sadly, there was no Gif of Oracle to be had. For many, Barbara Gordon is surpassed only by Wonder Woman as the premiere DC Superheroine (many, I suspect, would rank her even higher). So her being #24 would likely come off as sacrilegious to some. But I personally regard this as a fair placing for her, since there were so many other characters I just couldn't put before her. But this doesn't mean that Oracle doesn't deserve a place on the Top 30. And yes, I specify Oracle and not Batgirl, because as the latter she's just one of many female members of the Batman Family to wear a cape and cowl, but as Oracle her role is more unique. It also shows a great deal of personal strength for her as a person that she could be so badly victimized and hurt by a monster only to refuse to submit, and instead find some other way to make herself vital to Batman's crusade. And of course, she founded her own superhero team that is sometimes at odds with Batman and other times among his allies. Whether acting on her own volition or helping other heroes she's close to, Oracle is possessed of a sharp mind and technical expertise that allows her to best foes in a way other than punching them. So yeah. Great character.

25. Arwen and Luthien (Tolkein's Mythos, Tie)

Two Elven beauties from Tolkein's world who are tied because of their near-identical stories. Stories that have that "Interspecies Romance" appeal, but also a kind of bittersweetness. As Luthien and Arwen are of a race that does not die of natural causes, it makes their romances with mortal men doomed to, as Elrond puts it: "Face the bitterness of mortality". But it also (to me) highlights the crux of a valuable and precious relationship and also just life itself: the fact that it doesn't last forever. Without death, life cannot be fully appreciated. And I feel that, in the end, that's the message one can take away from the stories of these two female Elves, both of whom ultimately choose to follow their hearts and marry the men they love, even though they know it will one day have a tragic end. But the happiness before that makes it all worth it.

Oh, and then there's the fact that one (in the movie) swept the Nazgul away via flood while the other stole from Morgoth, who is Tolkein's equivalent to Satan. She could also send Sauron packing. So there's more to them then just their (very) good looks.

24. Psylocke (Marvel Comics)

Okay, so Psylocke's backstory is the very definition of an inconsistent, convoluted mess. But, to offset that, she's a sexy purple clad (and purple haired) ninja with awesome telekinetic and telepathic powers, the ability to create a Psy-Blade (which to me is a lot like a lightsaber katana), and to top it all off martial arts skills sufficient to hold her own against Daredevil. So yeah. Not seeing what's not to love about all of that. There's also her romance with Angel (Warren Worthington III), which like the romances with Arwen and Luthien is ultimately a tragic one. For different reasons granted, but even so. The way it's portrayed in Rick Remender's Uncanny X-Force is particularly sad, especially the way the Archangel Saga comes to an end. Her sexual tension with Fantomex was also interesting to me. So in short, Psylocke is both a lover and a fighter, and that's usually a winning combination with me.

23. Black Canary (DC Comics)

While I've never gotten on the "Black Canary can beat Batman in hand-to-hand" bandwagon, I do still freely acknowledge that her fighting skills are very much within his range, and frankly, that's more than enough to make her a badass in my book. She also has wit sufficient to match her primary love interest Green Arrow (a relationship I tend to like quite a bit), and was as much an inspiration for Barbara Gordon's superhero career as Batman himself was. It could perhaps be said that if Oracle is the main brain of the Birds of Prey, Black Canary is the primary fighting force. Strong, tough-as-nails, but also possessed of the compassionate side that is only fitting for a true superhero, Black Canary's a fan-favorite, and really, it isn't hard to see why. And about that sonic scream? When Black Canary's willing to use it, it causes some damn serious damage (I'm talking about destroying buildings, namely). Not bad.

22. Ms. Marvel I/Captain Marvel IV (Marvel Comics)

Ms. Marvel is a badass. That's really all there is to it. Being very aware of this, Marvel has over the last decade or so been going out of the way to turn Carol into almost their Wonder Woman. And overall, I'd say they've been fairly successful. Carol Danvers is a military/government superhero who's actually likable (her stint as a Pro-Registration enforcer notwithstanding), and is also fairly powerful in her own right. Her costume is also one of the better female superhero costumes in my mind, and so is her current Captain Marvel costume. Yep, Carol's currently the (I think), fourth Captain Marvel, and every bit as cool for it. And let's not forget to mention her depiction in Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes, where as voiced by Jennifer Hale she easily one of the best cartoon females ever. Again, just a total badass, as among other things her fight with Ronan shows pretty clearly. I particularly love when she takes him down, in the process pointing out how she and him have one thing in common: they're not one for surrendering.

21. Quorra (Tron: Legacy)

I have to say, Tron: Legacy was pretty awesome. It proved to be a bit polarizing with critics and audiences, but it's definitely still gotten a following, one that I'm a part of. Still waiting on a sequel for it that we're supposedly getting ("supposedly" being the key word). But out of all the characters in the film, I have to say that the two I liked the best were the ever-badass Rinzler, and Quorra.

Aside from being incredibly attractive (and wearing a nice black leather outfit with glowing blue lines), Quorra is also the juxtaposition of a skilled warrior mixed with a wide-eyed innocent. Said archetype tends to be one I have mixed feelings about. When it works, (as it does with Quorra), it works well. When it doesn't, it can lead to a pretty annoying character.

But myself, I did not find Quorra to be annoying. I found her innocence and earnest desire to learn more about the world beyond the Grid endearing rather than irritating, and she also has the somewhat sad backstory of being the very last of her kind. And, for those who don't like token romances, take heart: Quorra and Sam's mutual attraction is there, but very subtle. Clearly, they are saving the majority of the romance for the sequel that is (again) supposedly coming.

Oh, and, in addition to everything else, Quorra also has a sword that looks a bit like a cross between a katana and a lightsaber. And as I've already made clear with Psylocke, that's always a cool weapon.

20. Storm (Marvel Comics)

It's a sad fact that while Black superheroes are nowhere near the scarce sight Race Police often make them out to be, female Black superheroes unfortunately remain rare. But at least we have one very, very good one with the long-time X-Woman (and long-time fan-favorite), Storm.

Storm's gone through a few different characterizations over the years, but myself, I prefer the way she was in her early years as the sort of "naive newcomer", who's incredible power (and also fighting and thieving skills) stood in direct contrast to her very gentle, graceful, and overall innocent personality. Definitely far preferable to the obnoxious, abrasive, and overly confrontational b*** on wheels that she was in the 1980s, which also saw her sporting that terrible mohawk hairstyle. But thankfully, Storm eventually transitioned back to a more graceful and likable kind of character, but no longer quite as innocent or naive. She eventually married Black Panther, which I personally was not a fan of, but I suppose it is nice to see Storm as royalty once more.

Pictured above is the Halle Barry version of Storm, who I actually do like. A lot of people think it was a poor casting choice, but I personally think that Halle Barry did a good job playing a graceful and civil yet also powerful and resolute version of Storm who believes in Xavier's dream no matter how cynical things get. I didn't like her as much in X-Men 3 granted, but that was a bad movie overall. She came back strong in Days of Future Past, even if her role was overall minimal (unfortunately).

Still, overall, Storm is a fine character with some pretty awesome superpowers, and so long as she's not in her mohawk-wearing punk phase, is definitely one of my favorites.

19. Rogue (Marvel Comics)

Rogue is my very favorite X-Woman, and that's owing mostly to the tragic tale that the character is fairly well-known for. Like a female Edward Scissorhands, she is unable to touch that which she loves and cares about without hurting it, and it's hard not to feel bad for someone in that kind of situation. Especially when Rogue herself does frequently become tragically self-loathing and ashamed of herself for who she is.

However, it's not all gloom for Rogue, since her powers do allow her to (if only temporarily), wield the powers of other superhumans she touches. Pretty sweet ability if I do say so myself, even if again, it comes at a terrible cost. While I do not like Rogue's romance with Gambit (mostly because I'm not a Gambit fan), I do very much like her romance with Iceman in the X-Men movies, and lamented it's being derailed in X-Men 3 (one of that film's many bad calls). But as that and the above gif show, I do also like the movie version of Rogue. Sure, she's not possessed of the combative power that her 616 version has, but the tragedy and sadness of the character is well-maintained, and I also (again) liked her romance with Iceman. They even found a clever way of giving her her iconic "skunk stripe", which I do admit to being a fan of. That, and I honestly think the actress who portrays Rogue looks kind of cute in the X-Men films.

Finally, Rogue has the distinction of changing costumes even more often than the average X-Woman, and honestly, I think most of them are actually pretty good, my personal favorites being her classic green and yellow with a brown coat and also her more recent green and white costumes. So yeah. One more point in her favor.

18. Esmeralda (Hunchback of Notre Dame, 1996 version)

For more reasons than one, Hunchback of Notre Dame is, along with The Lion King one of my very favorite non-Pixar Disney films, owing to among other things it's darker tone, excellent songs, and also it's leading lady, who has the distinction of being my favorite Disney heroine.

Not quite one of the Disney Princesses in the traditional sense (and indeed not as much of a poster-child for Disney either), Esmeralda's still pretty darn hot, and benefits from being drawn a bit more..."adult", then many other Disney heroines. However, it's not just her beauty that makes her a favorite (considerable as that is), it's also her compassion and kindness to the point of a kind of saintly sort of selflessness. This is best shown in the song "God Help the Outcasts" (itself a well done song), and really drives home that she's got as much beauty on the inside as she does the outside. Furthermore, the fact that she is shown to be a bit skeptical regarding religious faith but is still very much moral, stands in direct contrast to the religious fanaticism and sociopathic disregard for life that is shown by Frollo. So she is ultimately a foil for the villain who develops a non-too-healthy obsession with her (an obsession a lot of people, creepily enough, misinterpret in the worst way, sometimes deliberately so).

She also, in a pinch, can handle herself when trouble comes her way, even if the soldiers that get sicced on her seem to have some serious mental impairments. And I also thought that Demi Moore (an actress who has unfortunately been saddled with more than her share of bad films), did a good job voicing the character. And of course, let's not forget the scene where she basically pole-dances (what? What do you mean it's for kids?)

17. Wyldstyle/Lucy (The Lego Movie)

I'm going to freely admit without any shame whatsoever that The Lego Movie is one of my favorite movies of all time. And, with that in mind, it's not surprise that I took to it's leading lady.

Wyldstyle is awesome, being almost a LEGO expy of Trinity from The Matrix except frankly more well-done. Elizabeth Banks does a great job voicing the character and giving her at times confidence and sass, emotional vulnerability, and exasperation with Emmet's slow-wittedness, the latter of which leads to some pretty amusing interactions and scenes. My favorite of those in particular is probably Emmet's being so infatuated with Wyldstyle that when she's trying to explain something important to him he just hears her saying "blah, blah, blah". However, Wyldstyle's skill as a Master Builder is clear, and she represents in many ways the mindset of them as a whole: fiercely independent for both better and also for worse, and going from being unimpressed with Emmet to recognizing him as a true hero. Speaking of which, Wyldstyle gets her chance to be exactly that (something she'd always wanted), when she rallies the other Minifigures to fight back against President Business. This also, by the way leads to this great line:

"Today will not be known as Taco Tuesday...it will be known, as 'Freedom Friday!' (Beat) But still on a Tuesday!"

Another personal favorite of mine is the running gag regarding her name and how it leaves other characters mystified, along with Vitruvius' amusingly pointing out that this isn't the first time Lucy's changed her name either. But aside from being funny, this also shows a clear insecurity that she has that helps humanize her and flesh her out. Not bad for a small piece of plastic.

16. Elektra (Marvel Comics) and Karai (2012 TMNT Series) (Tie)

Two very troubled Kunoichi who's tragic tales (along with beauty and badass martial arts skills), caught my fancy. And thus I had them tied for this spot.

For Elektra, she manages to easily rival her long-estranged lover Daredevil as not just a hand-to-hand fighter (indeed, Elektra has the habit of beating him soundly), but also in respects to just how dang screwed up her backstory and life are. Like a warped mirror image of Daredevil, the loss of Elektra's father inspired her to seek martial arts training and to become a warrior to ease the pain in her heart. However, where Daredevil came to supplement his training with a desire for justice that would make his father proud, Elektra embraced murder and bloodshed in the tragically and hopelessly deluded belief that it could ease the pain in her heart. Elektra's tragic tale then comes to an especially tragic end when she's murdered by Bullseye and dies in the arms of the man she hurt both emotionally and physically so, so many times.

But then Elektra came back, in one of the few comic book character resurrections I wholeheartedly support. However, because Comic Book characters can never get a happy ending, Elektra's second chance at life has proven no less fraught with tragedy and death than her first one, and she remains a cold-hearted killer that still flirts with villainy as often as she does heroism (though at least now she tries to walk that road too). And her fighting skills, man her fighting skills. Again, this is someone who made making Daredevil look like an amateur almost a hobby, and other foes she's bested include such names as Wolverine, Taskmaster, Cape Crow, and even her one-time killer Bullseye (and that was when she was drugged, among other things). So yeah. Elektra's a badass, and also one of the most tortured and troubled characters in comic books I've seen that isn't purely villainous. A woman who seems destined to be forever surrounded by death and bloodshed no matter how hard she tries to avoid it.

As for Karai, I am thinking specifically of the 2012 version, who is well voiced by Kelly Hu and has a character arc that, while more kid-friendly than the stuff Elektra's been through, has still been pretty rough all in all. The fact that she's been lied to her whole life after being taken from her real parents, set against her real father and his sons, kept prisoner after learning the truth, mutated into a snake monster and in the process reduced to a more feral and animalistic state of mind, and going by upcoming episodes (MAJOR SPOILERS) destined to become brainwashed by Shredder and let loose on the Turtles once again, it's clear this poor girl can never catch a break.

Merciless character journey aside, Karai had some good banter with Leonardo in her first appearance, regularly demonstrated sound fighting abilities that were no less than what the Turtles displayed (as evidenced by her fighting evenly with Leonardo and on one occasion Raphael at different intervals), and also just had a very good character design, even if the one half black, one half blonde hair maybe looks a little weird. She gets in some good snark here and there too, and between it all, kind of reminds me almost of Catwoman, especially in respects to her relationship with Leonardo. Whether or not Karai will get a long overdue happy ending after all the crap she's suffered remains to be seen, but here's hoping.

15. Spider-Woman (Marvel Comics)

I will not spend too much time going on about Spider-Woman's current costume except to say that I hate it with a passion. Moving on.

You know, I generally don't like characters who are what I call "opposite gender knock-offs" of pre-existing characters. But I do like a few of them, and Spider-Woman is one of those few. The main reason for this is because, despite the name, she really doesn't have that much in common with my favorite superhero. Yes, they're both Spider-Totems. Yes, they've worked together before and are on a first name basis. But, let's look at some other things...

Costumes: Different (and no, them both wearing red is not enough to say they have very similar looks).

Backstories: Completely different. Jess' original backstory had more in common with Captain America then it did with Spider-Man (Fish out of Temporal Water, namely)

Powers: I don't see Spider-Man flying via glider wings or shooting venom blasts out of his hands, nor have I ever seen Jessica display a Spider-Sense or use webbing.

Personalities: Also different. While I wouldn't go as far as to say that Jessica's totally humorless, she is still definitely more serious, reserved, and stoic then Spider-Man is usually want to be. So yet another instance in which they are different.

So yeah. Spider-Woman she may be called, but ultimately, Jessica Drew is very much her own woman and not just a lazy female knock-off of Spider-Man, and I really do prefer that. Granted, if she had been more like Spider-Man and perhaps even been related to him in the vein of Spider-Girl, I might not have necessarily minded that. But even so, I like that Jessica can convincingly stand separate from her male counterpart, and how she's really more a part of the Avengers corner of the Marvel Universe then she is Spider-Man's. That said, I would be lying if I said I wouldn't want to see at least one story where the two Spider-People are an item, or alternatively her and Ben Reilly if they ever bring the latter back (which will probably be around the time pigs take to the air on wings, but still). And, though it kind of goes without saying, Jessica Drew also benefits from being seriously hot.

14. Invisible Woman (Marvel Comics)

Considering she's both the heart and soul of the Fantastic Four and also it's most powerful member, this shouldn't be surprising. Sue's a great character, who's going from a pretty shallow Damsel-In-Distress with an "I broke a nail" personality to one of Marvel's premiere female superheroes. I sort of like to view Invisible Woman's positive character development and transformation as serving as an analogue to the progression of feminism (something that is still, as most feminists of any denomination will tell you, unfinished business). Invisible Woman is also, among her other credentials: a scientist like her husband, a strong-willed wife who briefly left her husband when he decided to stay on the fascist boat with Iron Jerk, a caring (and fiercely protective) mother of two, a Poor Man's Green Lantern on the account of her ability to create constructs in addition to force fields, and a capable leader or alternatively second-in-command. So yeah. Invisible Woman can do an awful lot, and, to borrow a line I heard elsewhere that I agree with wholeheartedly: "The only thing transparent about Susan Storm are her powers".

13. Eowyn (The Lord of the Rings)

Honestly, that above Gif should be all the justification you need right there, but I'll give more anyways:

The fact that before she did the above, she actually managed to contend with the Witch-King in a duel despite being obviously afraid of him (that shows true courage)

The fact that before that she both decapitated his Fell Beast and (in the movie) took down a Mumakil much more quickly and easily than Legolas did.

The fact that she says one of the most true statements in the LotR trilogy: "The woman of this land learned ago, that those without swords can still die upon them."

So yeah. Eowyn's pretty badass. And while her attraction to Aragorn was ultimately unrequited, she did manage to find happiness with Faramir, who himself could have definitely used some after losing his brother and nearly being killed by his bats*** crazy father (who then dies as well). It's just a pity that Eowyn didn't get to participate in the final battle at the Black Gates. I suspect that had she, she would have impressed just as much. Who knows? Maybe she could have killed one or two more of the Nazgul while she was at it.

12. Hermione Granger (Harry Potter)

It's been a while since I've been seriously in to Harry Potter, but I do still enjoy and like the franchise all the same. Perhaps not as passionately as before, but still. And of course, Hermione Granger is the Harry Potter series' premiere female character, and extremely popular in her own right. Hailing from a non-magical family (that she is ultimately and tragically forced to sever her ties with to protect), Hermione doesn't let that hinder her, and instead embraces the Wizarding World by having book smarts sufficient to put her two male friends to shame. Not only is she the unambiguous brains of the outfit, she also tends to be the one to inject common sense into her two closest friends whenever they get too pig-headed, and also tends to be the most amusingly sarcastic and deadpan of the bunch (a quality she shares with my other favorite Harry Potter female McGonagall).

Though initially a stickler for the rules, she becomes pretty willing to break them whenever necessary, and is also pretty darn resourceful when it comes to helping her friends (such as how she dealt with Umbridge in Order of the Phoenix). Her love-hate relationship with Ron that eventually sees the former win out is also a pretty well-done love story, and the very simple fact is, without her, both Ron and Harry would be long dead several times over. But then, that's what friends are for, isn't it?

11. Batwoman (DC Comics)

Again, I'm usually not into Opposite-Gender Knock-Offs, but Batwoman is another exception to the rule, because well....she's a badass. And her costume is awesome (looks a lot like Batman Beyond's costume). And she's also an unfortunately uncommon example of a homosexual superhero that actually feels well-done (unlike, say, Northstar), and is also Jewish as it turns out, which gets extra points with me on the account of my own Jewish background and faith. So all in all a great superhero and character, one who's managed to carry her own book pretty well since the New 52 started up, where so many other books got the axe (including among others, Demon Knights, one I'm particularly sore about). Personally, I'm still waiting for the story where she and Catwoman have a romantic or at least flirtatious encounter. I can't be the only one who thinks it would be awesome.

Really do wonder why the artists these days always make her complexion so ghostly white though. It's kind of creepy to be honest.

10. Zatanna (DC Comics)

And now we're at the Top 10, starting with Zatanna.

I've said this before elsewhere, but I'll say it again here: there's just no beating a sexy magician. Or, I suppose technically there is, since there are eight other spots on the Top 30 after this one, but still. And not only is Zatanna the quintessential sexy magician and my personal favorite example of the "Hot Witch" archetype, she's also incredibly powerful on the account of (at least in mainstream continuity), being able to do almost anything and everything she wants just by saying it backwards. I suppose you could liken her to a plot device, but she's still a pretty cool one all in all. An expert in not just some seriously powerful magic but also traditional "Stage Magic" that she enhances with her powers. A performer by nature, Zatanna is also friendly, easygoing, laid-back, casual, and is generally one for having a good time. Seems like a pretty nice personality to me. Sure, she erased her childhood's friend's memories, but to her credit she did feel bad about that and the two eventually made nice in the end (as true friends do). While I'm not sure I would necessarily like seeing Zatanna and Batman as a couple (I'm far too much of a Bruce/Selina shipper for that), I'd also probably say I'd prefer her as a love interest for the Dark Knight then Talia al Ghul, Viki Vale, or worse, any of Bruce's (many) throwaway love interests. So there is that.

But Zatanna need not have a boyfriend to be interesting. Paul Dini in particular seems to share that sentiment based on the very apparent crush he has on the character that saw him write her frequently and even give her her own series (but then when your wife is a stage magician who dresses almost exactly like Zatanna, it's not hard to see why this is). And generally sweet and pleasant as she is, Zatanna's backstory does have some tragic stuff with her lost father, who she's actually had to see die more than once. So yeah. It's not all sunshine and rainbows for the Mistress of Magic, but from a writing standpoint that's probably for the best. All in all, I like Zatanna. But again, it's hard to beat a sexy magician, especially one as hot, powerful, and also as nice and compassionate as she is.

9. Toph (Avatar: The Last Airbender)

Well, as the above gif pretty clearly demonstrates, Toph can kick some serious butt. Her claim of being the greatest Earthbender in the world also has weight, and if nothing else, she does rank among the absolute best. That, and as both a little girl and an old woman in Legend of Korra, she's funny. A lot of this is owing to how comically tough-as-nails and blunt she can be, and also how she's just so not sentimental, in contrast to the way that Aang and Katara sometimes get. Her particular approach to training first Aang and later Korra is quite amusing, as are her nicknames for Katara ("Sugar-Queen" being my favorite). And not to mention, this is the girl who discovered metalbending, and in so doing overcame what had long been every Earthbender's biggest weakness. Even her being a rich person's rebellious kid has an interesting wrinkle to it, in that Toph actually does know how to be a proper lady and show etiquette...she just chooses not to because she finds it more fun that way. And considering how lovable she is with her general personality, it's hard to disagree with that assessment. Overall, Toph is my favorite female character from the original Avatar show by a significant margin, and is actually my second favorite female from the overall franchise. Who's number one you ask? Just keep reading and you'll see.

8. Agent Carter (Marvel Cinematic Universe)

I know Peggy Carter is also a character in 616, but for me personally, I am specifically drawn to her MCU incarnation, where she is played brilliantly by Hayley Atwell. Now, I liked Peggy enough in Captain America: The First Avenger, but that wasn't what caused her to rank so high up. No, that would be the Agent Carter mini-series, which tragically did not get the ratings it deserved (but thankfully got renewed for a second season anyway).

Peggy is awesome. She's a pretty brunette with a sexy British accent and a tough-as-nails and sarcastic but also still compassionate and noble personality that is so well fleshed out in her mini-series. Peggy is so well humanized in it as a person who actually does have a bit of a life beyond her being, well, an Agent, and she's also an empowered female in a misogynistic world without it coming off as too heavy-handed. She can be bitter at times, but never unsympathetically so, and her sarcasm does get pretty funny too. I also like how she is depicted as being in mourning for her love without being weak, and concerning her non-romantic relationships with men who respect her (tragically in short supply), she has excellent, excellent chemistry with Edwin Jarvis.

Not only is she beautiful, empowered, and amusingly sarcastic, but Peggy's also pretty darn badass. For someone living in a Superhero world who's not one herself, this is someone who could among other things fight evenly with a trained killer on top of a moving vehicle with a shot leg, and then fall off the vehicle and go tumbling along a concrete road...and get up afterwards and run away. With a shot leg. Seriously. Talk about your endurance. For another example of that, Peggy later takes multiple swings from a baseball bat without much in the way of injury (something people in real life just don't do), and what makes it even more astonishing was that these were swings from a baseball bat coming from someone strong enough to effortlessly break a grown man's neck, meaning the swings are coming even harder. And still Peggy fights. Talk about being a tough customer.

I think I've summed it up quite nicely. MCU Peggy Carter kicks some serious, serious butt, and I anxiously await the second season of Agent Carter.

7. Wonder Woman (DC Comics)

This one's a no-brainer. So much so that her being just shy of the Top 5 would likely come off as complete sacrilege to most. But being just shy of the Top 5 is still pretty impressive in my book, and really, there's a lot to love about Wonder Woman that goes beyond the (pun intended) godly sex appeal and also costume that is simultaneously memetic, revered, and reviled depending on who you ask (myself, I lean towards the former two).

Incredibly powerful (as in, often played up as being in Superman's ballpark kind of powerful), deeply immersed in the ever-interesting (and marketable) Greek Myths, and also being when necessary a highly skilled fighter, tireless and fearless warrior, and in a pinch, a good leader, Wonder Woman's got a lot going for her. That, and she's also just so iconic as the first major female superhero and for a lot of people, the first. She also happens to be my favorite female superhero ever (or at least, favorite comic book character that is consistently a superhero), and so between it all it's not hard to see why I and many others adore her so much.

One aspect where Diana has been a lot less lucky in is love, but this actually does add a tragic element to the character, and that's not necessarily a bad thing. I don't love her relationship with Superman to be honest, but her attraction to Batman in the DCAU was interesting (and amusing at times). Finally, while I kind of wish they'd gone with a God other than Zeus for her father in the New 52 (Ares perhaps?), making Diana a literal child of the Gods is a good move in my book, since she's already as I said deeply immersed in Greek Mythology. Why not go all the way?

And finally, to top off all the reasons why I love Wonder Woman, she's an Amazon who is (at least when written by someone other than Frank Miller) not a bloodthirsty, man-hating psychopath who views the male sex as the spawn of the devil, but instead believes that the males of Earth can be made better than they are and shown a better way. What's not to love about that?

6. Meetra Surik, the Jedi Exile (Star Wars, Legends Continuity)

As a huge Star Wars fan and in particular a fan of the Old Republic Era, I have good reason to love the Jedi Exile of KotoR II fame. That game also happens to be one of my very favorite video games (Star Wars or otherwise), of all time and Meetra is it's protagonist. One who you can choose to make either good, evil, or perhaps somewhere in-between the two (though canonically, she's Light Side and I do prefer that anyways).

Ultimately, Meetra has some traits in common with the protagonist of KotoR 1, Revan (who is also my favorite Star Wars character and second favorite fictional character behind Spider-Man), but is also different enough to stand on her own. This means she has the best of both worlds: enough in common with a major favorite of mine to make things I love about him apply to her, but also enough that is exclusive to her to make her stand out. More specifically, Meetra's story is one of redemption, but of a different sort than Revan. Where Revan forgot who he was and thus became a different person than the Sith Lord he'd been before, Meetra never forgets the blood she shed at Malachor V, and for the longest time, is unable to forgive herself. But with help from a mysterious old woman who starts as a friend and ends as a foe, Meetra not only regains her lost connection to the Force, she expands on it like never before and becomes a powerful Force user to rival Revan (or at least, Revan before his peak). And she does also come to at least partly forgive herself for what she did and turn into an almost saintly character who is determined to do as much good as she can, even in the face of her mentor's cynicism/nihilism. She also gathers to her other lost and tortured souls and turns many of them into full-fledged Jedi with whom the task of rebuilding the Jedi Order lies with. And, she ultimately takes down every last member of the Sith Triumvirate, and a hell of lot besides. So between all of those reasons, and also how she is one of the very, very few canonically female protagonists of any given Star Wars game, Meetra Surik gets my vote.

5. Yennefer (The Witcher)

No Gif for this one, but honestly, I think the awesome picture above more than does her justice.

I've only recently developed a serious interest in the very dark, very violent, and very morally gray world of the Witcher, with those above things often keeping me away from the series up until the more accessible Witcher 3 caught my attention. And along with the third entry, Yennefer caught my attention as well.

Where to begin? The magical power? The interesting backstory and well done romance story she is part of? Her sexy accent? Her wit? Her incredible beauty? All of these are certainly valid reasons, so let's start with the premise of the character: a quarter-Elf who is actually in her late nineties and later around 100 as the Witcher series progresses (though in the Video Game continuity she is absent until Part III). Implied in the books to have been born ugly and giving herself incredible beauty with magic, there is an air of tragedy to the character, which is highlighted by how she and her lover Geralt have been kept separate for so long, and how they've been getting together and splitting up and then getting together again. Normally, I hate love stories like that, but what I like about this one is the great sense of loyalty Geralt feels towards Yennefer, and his determination to be with her no matter what. However, what makes the story even better (and elevates it to one of my favorite romances ever), is in how Yennefer feels that Geralt's wish that they always be together actually does more harm than good, in that it makes her doubt the sincerity of their love. She wants them to be together, but only if it is their choice, not the magic of a Djinn. Thus, Yennefer seeks to undo the wish, leading to (assuming the player makes this choice) an incredibly sweet moment where Geralt and Yennefer both realize that their love remains every bit as strong and real as it was before.

So, aside from that excellent and complicated romance story she's a part of, what else does Yennefer have to her name? Well, her magic power for one, which gives her a few different nifty tricks and abilities to make use of, also allowing her to be the spells to Geralt's swords, so to speak. She also has a good capacity for wit as well, not being afraid to trade banter (and the occasional light mockery) with Geralt and poke fun at him, but never too maliciously. On top of those reasons, Yennefer also has a pretty sexy voice, a dignified English accent that the voice actress manages very well.

And of course, how can I sing Yennefer's praises, without mentioning the beauty she is renowned for in-universe? Generally, the black haired beauties (especially in Fantasy) are utter monsters; sadistic and evil femme fatales who's only beauty is on the outside. Yennefer's no saint (no one in the Witcher is), but she's hardly a monster, and especially when compared to other characters in the series. More to the point, Yennefer is truly beautiful, and her reputation for it is very well earned. She also plays it up nicely with her stylish black and white clothing that includes some nice fur, as well as black leather gloves, pants, and heeled boots. So obviously yes, Yennefer rocks on that front too.

Really, I'm not sure what else there needs to be said. I've developed a greater appreciation for the Witcher series of late (at least the third entry anyways), and Yennefer's a large part of the reason for that. So between that and everything else I've said, Yennefer gets my vote for the first lady in the Top 5.

4. Princess Leia (Star Wars)

Anyone who knows me well enough should know that I am very much a Star Wars fan (several of my Avatars alone demonstrate this, to say nothing for everything else). So with that in mind, is it any wonder that I'm also a huge fan of the premiere Star Wars female?

The thing about Leia is that not only is she a fantastic heroine in her own right, but she also set the precedent for numerous other strong women in Star Wars to follow. Even so though, the first remains the best.

Possessed of an amount of Force potential equal to that of her brother and father, and coming to realize a good portion of it in the Legends continuity, Leia grew into an incredibly powerful Jedi, but before that she was still awesome as one of the champions of the Rebel Alliance, a crack shot with a blaster who per canon sources (and feats) almost never misses, a princess who took charge of her own rescue mission, and the woman who could both trade one-liners and snark with the sarcastic and outwardly cynical Han Solo, and also kill Jabba the Hutt. And she did the latter in a golden bikini too. Not bad.

In the end, Leia remains my favorite female Star Wars character, my favorite princess, and really just an overall favorite in general.

3. Asami Sato (The Legend of Korra)

Talk about your characters who don't get their dues.

Stuck in a really, really, awful love triangle that for me ranks among the absolute worst of it's kind, emotionally mistreated by the man she gave her heart to free of charge and also betrayed her own father to stand alongside, and then oftentimes reduced to little more than a bit role in her show (barring a few brief turns in the spotlight here and there), Asami really did end up needing a heck of a lot more love than she got. Really, she was basically the show's whipping girl.

Now of course, this begs the obvious question: if she was so often relegated to a minor role and before that a love triangle that feels like it wandered out of a Soap Opera (or Twilight), why does she rank so high?

For starters, there's the fact that she's my type. She's incredibly beautiful on both the outside (for my money the most attractive female character in the entire mythos by a significant margin), and also the inside (being by far the most consistently nice, friendly, pleasant, and amiable member of the cast). Not only does she have an excellent combination of outer beauty and inner beauty, she is also intelligent and competent, being a skilled hand-to-hand fighter who actually did consistently better against Equalist Chi-Blockers then most Benders did (to be fair, she did have that sweet electrified gauntlet, but that's just one more plus for her), and also having mechanical expertise inherited from her father, allowing her to both drive just about any and all vehicles in the Avatar world, and also repair and maintain them. And, her black satomobile that she used as Team Avatar's personal car in Season 1 was definitely one very stylish ride.

Her fashion sense too is also noteworthy, my personal favorite being her awesome biker/combat outfit that she wore when either driving vehicles, fighting, or both. I also like her preference for black and red, as those are my two favorite colors. Not only that, but between her black and red color scheme, being a black-haired beauty, and also being really rich, you'd think she'd be a typical archetypal femme fatale of the heartless and evil sociopath variety who's only beauty is on the outside (kind of like Baroness and Xenia Onatopp, among others).

But this then is the other main reason why Asami is not just my third favorite female character ever, but also my favorite female from her franchise: because she appears to adhere to an archetype that I hate (the sexy but evil dark haired beauty, namely), and goes in the completely opposite direction as (again), one of the absolute nicest characters in the franchise and certainly in her particular show, especially when compared to the way Korra was for the first one and a half seasons, and the way Mako was for most of Book 1. That Mako ended his relationship with Asami in a poorly (and hastily) written fashion to be with someone who proved to be a rather unpleasant and verbally abusive partner and nowhere near as kind as Asami was, makes him in no uncertain terms a complete idiot. Again, nigh incomparable beauty on both the outside and the inside, brains, combat skill, a talent for vehicles and machinery, a good fashion sense, rich and being a character who gives the finger to one of my least favorite archetypes ever. Doesn't get much better than that.

2. Female Paragon Shepard and Miranda Lawson (Mass Effect, Tie)

The two best women of the Mass Effect trilogy manage to tie for the number 2 spot. But why are these two ladies the best out of a series that has a lot of good female characters?

For Female Shepard (at least the Paragon version), the reasons for her high ranking are very simple and as follows: as a female version of Commander Shepard, she has all of the awesomeness and pure badassery of the Male Shepard, only female. So really, all that is great about Male Shepard applies to her. She also benefits from good voice acting from Jennifer Hale, so really, Paragon FemShep's placement is a no-brainer. That you can influence how she looks is just one more plus, especially when she frankly has better customization options than Male Shepard. And, for all her being so thin physique-wise, instead of getting crushed by others, she crushes them. Awesome.

For Miranda, I honestly find that she and Yennefer from the Witcher actually have a few things in common, and that it is many of these common traits and characteristics that make me love both characters. Unfortunately, Miranda's probably one of the most unfairly and widely reviled and bashed characters in the franchise, with most other members of the ME fandom being content to treat her like the Anti-Christ. Myself, I love her for the following, simple reasons: Beauty, Brains, Badassery, and a hidden heart of gold.

The Beauty part is obvious. Her sexiness and hotness are such that she actually gets flak for it (which makes no sense). Me though, I appreciate both her lovely low-cut catsuit and also her very pretty face that comes from her voice actor, the very attractive Yvonne Strahovski. I also like how they made her a brunette, since I do tend to have that preference.

As for brains and badassery, she was the head of the Lazarus Project that brought back Commander Shepard back from the dead and in so doing gave the trilogy's hero(ine) a second chance at life and the opportunity to stop the Reapers for good. Shepard owes their very life to her. She's also a woman of tastes and culture, liking classical music and clearly favoring the sophisticated over the, well...unsophisticated. Some use this to claim she's arrogant, a rather ludicrous claim that can be easily demolished by the following lines:

"Everyone of your accomplishments is due to your skills...the only things I can take credit for are my mistakes."

"The difference between you and me is, you were great before we brought you back...I'm great because of it."

(In response to Shepard's noting that Miranda sounds like she was designed to be perfect): "Maybe, but I'm not. I'm still human, Shepard. I make mistakes like everyone else. And when I do, the consequences are severe."

So, in addition to being smart and sexy, she's also modest to a fault. Yet another good quality (if not also unfortunately taken too far due to her self-loathing, but this can be rectified by Shepard showing her care).

As for badassery, she lists her combat qualifications early on, and while a bit more fragile than some of Shepard's other crew-mates, she is still capable of holding her own in a fight, and in fact all of her special abilities are geared towards offense (including Overload for synthetic foes, and Biotic Warp for organics).

Lastly, we have that hidden heart of gold I mentioned earlier. Despite most members of the fandom's claims to the contrary, Miranda is not only not as arrogant or mean as she appears early in her debut game, but she is also not a monster simply for working for Cerberus. Not only does she never do a single evil thing (and no, executing a traitor who tried to kill her and wanting to interrogate someone without ever once suggesting she was planning to use torture are not evil acts), quite the contrary, she repeatedly expresses clear moral standards with her...

  1. Condoning Tali's voiced desire to punish the racist Volus Kor Tun for his treatment of the Quarian Lia'vael ("Juvenile, but certainly deserved")
  2. Her agreeing (at least to Shepard) that what was done to Jack and the other children tortured by Cerberus was without question a mistake.
  3. Her objecting to the pointless abuse and torture of an inmate that a Purgatory prison guard indulges in.
  4. If allowed to interrogate Veetor expresses the belief that she saved his life (thus showing she cared about him to some extent)
  5. Warns the cocky young punk on Omega who's life Shepard can save via Paragon Interrupt that he'll need more than knowing how to use a gun if he wants to survive.
  6. Along with other party members, warns against letting the delusional Volus Niftu Cal participate in a fight due to how he would be unable to do so.
  7. Admits that she "always regretted" considering putting a control chip in Shepard's head when "rebuilding" him/her and her guilt over it only gets worse as time goes by, to the point that she pretty much begs for forgiveness.
  8. Warning innocents across the Galaxy to stay away from her father's false sanctuary that already made husks out of at least hundreds and as many as millions of innocent people, including children. She even said "once I saw what this place really was, I couldn't just walk away".

These do not sound like the thoughts and actions of a cold and calculating, mass murdering monster, and instead reinforce my belief that Miranda is NOT evil, especially since some of these happen earlier in the game, thus jettisoning the "she's bad pre-Character Development" argument.

Miranda is also very warm, polite, and pleasant when speaking to Shepard on the Normandy, and so long as she is shown civility in turn she continues to give it. She doesn't fail to praise Shepard's successes and accomplishments (even when she is colder to him/her, she admits that she has respect for their abilities), and she also has a genuine and earnest desire to see humanity succeed that is not twisted and perverted by xenophobia the way it is with most Cerberus members (and in fact Miranda laments this). Ultimately, like Jacob Taylor and Kelly Chambers, she is one of the few members of Cerberus with moral principles and standards, and that to me is an interesting character premise. Of course, I do also love how Miranda finally gets her eyes opened to the evil of Cerberus and resigns, further proof that she is nowhere near the heartless monster most members of the fandom believe her to be.

So to sum it up again: Beauty, brains, badassery, and a hidden heart of gold, plus a good character premise, good character development, and a very tragic past with a pure evil father that (to me) makes her easy to sympathize with. What more can you ask for? If I had to pick two women to save me from a bunch of giant robot squids shooting lasers, I'd definitely choose Paragon FemShep and Miranda.

1. Catwoman (DC Comics) and Black Cat (Marvel Comics) (Tie)

Tied on the account of their many similarities and they're being basically cross-company equivalents to one another. Considering that Spider-Man and Batman are my two very favorite superheroes, it is perhaps no surprise that I took to the very best of the two's (many) lovers. Where the various "civilian love interests" as I call them often come off as little more than a near interchangeable and repetitive lot of bland throwaway characters who tend to come and go without leaving much of an impression, and after a while all start to feel more or less the same, Catwoman and Black Cat tend to come off as much more exciting and interesting.

For one, superhero love interests nearly always trump the more mundane and bland civilian ones that seem to be so much in vogue, and they also have the added benefit of feeling like they're a lot closer to their respective partner in status than a civilian lover would be. And aside from their incredible hotness and sexiness (well enhanced by their choice of dress), they are also confident, talented, playful, and as their often very good banter and flirting with Spidey and Bats clearly shows, witty and funny in an often sarcastic, sassy, and/or deadpan sort of way.

Now, the exact nature of these women's relationships with Spider-Man and Batman and how close or not close they are does change depending on the writer and also specific versions, but whenever the two pairs of characters are shown to be romantic and intimate rather than merely enemies with a bit of superficial flirting here and there, I tend to find said romantic relationships very interesting. The fact that these two are criminals, but of a more mild and tame sort than psychopaths like Joker and Green Goblin, ensures that the heroes are morally conflicted about whether or not they should give into their attraction to these more gray characters. And of course, that statement also implies it's the more gray iterations of the two, as opposed to the more unambiguously villainous depictions of the characters that I tend to not like as much.

No, I prefer Selina and Felicia when they're either Anti-Heroes and Spider-Man and Batman's partners in every sense of the word, or alternatively gray characters who sometimes help, sometimes hinder. But I don't like among other things the psychotic, bloodthirsty, and horribly mischaracterized and mis-written version of Black Cat running around in current comics that now comes off as just another revenge-obsessed Spider-Man villain (because he never has enough of those) and is indulging in behavior that even Black Cat at her previous worst never came close to so much as attempting. And no, the explanation for why doesn't work. She's forgiven Spider-Man for misunderstandings that got her arrested before (and during the same writer's run, no less), so the fact that she's not doing it here and is also going as far as she is, is mischaracterization of the worst sort.

But, while poor Black Cat has now been derailed horribly as a character (to the point that I fear it may very well be irreversible at this point), I can at least fondly remember the way she used to be, and also how she (thankfully) is in some alternate depictions.

Special mention should also be given to some of the better other-media depictions of the two. For Catwoman, all respect to Michelle Pfiffer and especially Anne Hathaway's takes on the character, but for me, Catwoman's Arkhamverse depiction is by far her best, perfectly capturing all that I adore about the character, and giving her a voice actress that did a stellar job capturing a sultry and confident Catwoman. For Black Cat, her portrayal in the Spectacular Spider-Man cartoon was my favorite, where Tricia Heifer really made her (often amusingly and sometimes hilariously) flirty and sultry in her interactions with Spider-Man. And you have to admit, she'd probably do well with the role in live action as well.

Ultimately, Catwoman and Black Cat are super-sexy, super-witty, funny in an often sarcastic sort of way, confident without being haughty or insufferable (at least when written well), can hold their own in a fight (which is often more than can be said for the likes of Mary Jane and Viki Vale), and are the very best women to capture my favorite superheroes' hearts. What more can you ask for?

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Top 10 Lightsaber Duelists (Legends Continuity)

This is a concept that originated with @shootingnova where I will be ranking the best lightsaber duelists in descending order, and also providing arguments for why they should fit. Now, of course, this list is not a statement of fact with the exception of some characters who are factually stated to be among the best. That said, I will be arguing with evidence, so that will hopefully give my verdicts more weight. Now I stress that these lists will be divided between Sith and Jedi, and that they pertain to lightsaber skill only. Things like Force power and physical stats don't factor in, except when they are contextually important to character victories (which will in turn likely cause those same characters to rank lower).

Update: Due to so many characters sharing one tier/spot (especially where the Jedi are concerned), I decided to alter the set-up of this list a bit. Also added some character images to brighten it up a bit.

With that, out of the way, let's begin:

Sith:

1. Darth Sidious: This should be obvious. Besides it's being pretty much canon fact, the evidence speaks for itself: stalemating Yoda, stalemating a voraciously amped Mace Windu, curbstomping Kit Fisto, casually besting Darth Maul and Savage Opress at the same time when obviously toying with them, besting DE Luke, etc. etc. Palpatine is also cited to know all of the different lightsaber styles, which is a requirement of his chosen form (Juyo) anyways. Further indication of his skill can be seen in how he trained Maul to be the excellent swordsman that he is, so that alone would indicate that he knows his stuff. And also all of his feats above, those too.

2. Darth Caedus: Really, his fighting against Legacy Era Luke alone is a clear indicator of skill. True, he has some low showings here and there, but they're exactly that: low showings (and honestly, his fight against Jaina's not that much of a strike against him, when one considers all of the context surrounding that fight). Fighting against Luke is proof enough that Caedus is one of the best of the best in Sith lightsaber duelists.

3. Darth Tyranus/Count Dooku: Considering the sheer volume of feats he has, most of which against opponents with feats of their own, this should be obvious. Factually beating Mace Windu at least once, fighting evenly with him on another occasion, defeating General Grievous, repeatedly defeating Asajj Ventress before and after she improved, repeatedly beating Obi-Wan, repeatedly beating/stalemating CW Anakin, fighting evenly with RotS Obi-Wan, giving RotS Anakin a good fight, beating Sora Bulq and Thome together, fending off Ventress and two Nightsisters with lightsabers while drugged and blinded, etc. Really, Dooku's list is astonishing and exceptional both. Again, not just the large number of opponents he's beaten or stalemated, but how nearly all of them have feats of their own makes it even more impressive, and should leave little doubt in anyone's mind that Dooku is among the best.

4. Post ANH-Vader/Dark Side Anakin (Tie): Each iteration of Vader is as skilled as the other. DS Anakin was stalemated by Obi-Wan yes, but because of context. Prior to his duel with Obi-Wan, Anakin casually bested Cin Drallig while both distracted and handicapped, killed Serra Keto, and killed most of the other Jedi in the Temple besides. All of his pre-DS showings would also remain valid. As for Vader, he too has bested featless/bottom-tier characters, such as Sa Cuis, and characters who were good by reputation (The Dark Woman and Roan Shyre). In addition, the fact that he is an improved version of a Vader who already showed he could have an extended fight with an amped TPM Darth Maul, an incredible dueling feat. And that was before Vader's prime. Vader at his peak (which is RotJ) was able to duel evenly with his son, who himself had improved significantly from his TESB iteration. Now before people say "But Anakin beat Dooku!", that was owing to advantages over the Count that neither Anakin nor Vader would necessarily have against other opponents. Their skill levels are right below Dooku's but close enough so that their skills in conjunction with their advantages would grant them the win (and did in Anakin's case). But in terms of raw skill, Vader and DS Anakin are marginally below Dooku.

5. ANH Darth Vader/TPM Darth Maul/CW Darth Maul/Lumiya the Dark Lady (Tie):

  • ANH Vader and TPM Maul: A Vader who was pretty much his ANH iteration being able to last an incredible length of time against an amped Darth Maul (albeit taking a few hits here and there) should be proof enough of how close in skill Maul and pre-prime Vader are. Yes, Maul won the duel in the end, but again, he was amped to a much greater extent than Vader was, and yet Vader still gave him a very long, drawn-out duel, to the point that even the watching Dark Side acolytes conceded that the duel was closer than they thought it would be. And their other feats support their being close to one another. Maul killed Qui-Gon and was beating Anoon Bondara to the point that he threw the fight, Vader killed the Dark Woman and Roan Shyre, and of course fought evenly with Ben Kenobi. Maul's killed bottom-tier Jedi, Vader's done the same, as well as killing Sa Cuis, who's no better or worse. Both have fought evenly with a version of Obi-Wan not yet in their prime (before it in CW Obi-Wan's case, after it in ANH Obi-Wan's case). Not really seeing much disparity here.
  • CW Maul: People sometimes assume that CW Maul is better than TPM Maul, but that's really only true in respects to Force Power. TPM Maul is actually more agile, at least compared to CW Maul with his "chicken legs". Concerning everything else, especially dueling skill, there isn't much disparity. Killing Qui-Gon is comparable to dueling evenly with CW Obi-Wan, and all of Maul's other victories are against bottom-tier Jedi of about the same level of unimpressiveness, save for Anoon Badara, who Maul was beating prior to TPM, and another Jedi good by reputation named Jun-Fan, who Maul slew during the Clone Wars. Again, not seeing much disparity here. Both versions of Maul are equally skilled, and Pre-TESB Vader is comparable to both of them.
  • Lumiya: She was able to soundly beat RotJ Luke when he was unfamiliar with her Light Whip, and even after he became familiar with it Lumiya was still able to give him a good fight, which shows very clearly a high level of skill.

6. Darth Plagueis/Darth Tenebrous/Tulak Hord (Tie): With these characters, it's less tangible feats that make them good and more other things.

  • Plagueis: He did beat Darth Venamis, which is noteworthy because Venamis was in essence Plagueis' doppelganger. Like Plagueis he had been trained by Tenebrous and had been taught to fight in the very same way. So it says a lot about Plagueis' ability to adapt that he could still overcome Venamis in combat, and fairly soundly at that. Furthermore, he possessed a wealth of knowledge on dueling skill and it can also be inferred from his training Palpatine to be the absolute best lightsaber duelist in the history of the Order that he is himself skilled.
  • Tenebrous: He ought to be roughly equal to Plagueis since he was also heavily implied to be superior to Venamis and also trained Plagueis to be the good lightsaber duelist that he is. There is also his being stated by Plagueis/the narrator of the novel to have "loved saber dueling" and thus gone out of his way to excel in it (whereas Plagueis conversely, hated dueling). That Tenebrous would also have access to a fair wealth of knowledge (including in saber dueling) would make his being a good lightsaber duelist likely.
  • Tulak Hord: For the Sith who was, along with Ajunta Pall and Freedon Nadd one of the very first Sith to wield a lightsaber, Kreia (in a statement that's authenticity has been confirmed by lead writer of KotoR II Chris Avellone) said that if either she or Meetra Surik (albeit Meetra not at her peak) were to face a master of Tulak Hord's time and skill in lightsaber combat, she would find that she and Kreia would be "but children playing with toys" in comparison. Now, pre-prime Meetra and Kreia not exactly being lightsaber aficionados keeps this accolade from making Tulak and his fellow Ancient Sith the absolute best of the best, but it is still a good accolade, since it suggests he would be able to curbstomp duelists of Kreia and pre-prime Meetra's level, and very few lightsaber duels are ever a straight up curbstomp (even many of Maul and Vader's featless victims, for instance, put up a bit of a fight). So the accolade is, while often overblown, still a good indicator of substantial skill. As far as I'm concerned, all three of these duelists are right below Maul, Lumiya, and ANH Vader in skill, being inferior only by a tiny margin.

7. Ajunta Pall/Freedon Nadd (Tie): Placed here (and right below the above characters in skill) because the accolade given to Tulak would also logically apply to these characters as well, since they're from around the same time as Tulak Hord and both used a lightsaber in addition to other weapons. It would also apply to Naga Sadow, Marka Ragnos, and Ludo Kressh, but as none of them actually used lightsabers, they don't make this list. Their intrinsic skill level should still be about here or the next tier up though.

8. Darth Krayt: With Krayt, he could not only go through Imperial Knights with total ease, he also stalemated a Cade Skywalker who was in a Force Rage, and Force Rage Cade both one-shotted Darth Talon and bested Darth Nihl, so Krayt being here seems right to me.

9. Exar Kun/Ulic Qel-Droma/Darth Malgus/The Emperor's Wrath (Tie):

  • Exar and Ulic: Considering that Kun and Qel-Droma had an hour-long stalemate and also that Kun sensed Qel-Droma as a rival (though it may have been rival in respects to Force Power), the two's being equals in dueling should be self-evident.
  • Malgus: His slaying the likes of Kao Cen Darach and Ven Zallow (the former done before his prime) are comparable to Kun's killing Vodo Siossk Baas. Outside of these victories, Malgus also twice beat Satele (albeit iterations of Satele before her prime), but it's not as though anyone else Kun and Qel-Droma beat in dueling were terribly impressive either. Furthermore, Kun's attacking his victims with a hitherto unseen weapon likely contributed to the ease of his victories, whereas Malgus and Qel-Droma attained victories over featless opponents without any such advantage. So ultimately, Malgus is comparable to the Tales of the Jedi Sith pair.
  • The Emperor's Wrath: Beating Darth Baras (or at least stalemating Baras long enough for him to be drained of his Force power) is actually a good feat in and of itself, as Baras fought evenly with Angral, who himself has some mild feats. That he tired Baras out would seem to invalidate the showing, but he tired Baras out in respects to Force power, not dueling skill. Not only that but the sheer number of opponents the Wrath beat elsewhere is also noteworthy. And given the Wrath (and Sith Warriors in general) predilection for saber dueling, it's safe to assume that, N-Canon game mechanics aside, the Wrath's many victories were still largely owing to saber skill and not Force power. What's also noteworthy is that the Emperor's Wrath beat many of their opponents while still relatively inexperienced.

10. Savage Opress: Even granting that a lot of Savage's success was owing to superior strength rather than superior dueling skill, he's still not totally inept in this regard. While his stalemating Anakin and Obi-Wan at once was him in a Force Rage and thus not indicative of his standard level of skill, he was earlier able to kill a Jedi without a lightsaber (using a vibroaxe instead), which makes the otherwise strength-reliant victory more impressive. He also dueled evenly with Plo Koon before resorting to superior strength to rip off his breather mask. I'd still place Savage below Plo on the account of the latter's fight with Ventress, but Savage's showing is still decent. He also held his own against Adi Gallia (who briefly contended with General Grievous) before once more using superior strength to pull a win. So, definitely reliant (perhaps too reliant) on strength, but still a credible lightsaber wielder.

Honorable Mentions:

  • Darth Venamis (Not pictured): Was able to give Darth Plagueis a fight, and was trained by Darth Tenebrous in such a way that he was more or less Plagueis' doppelganger, so he ought to be worth mentioning based on that.
  • Darth Revan: Prior to reaching this point in his life, he slew Mandalore the Ultimate (who one-shotted Jedi Malak), and is responsible for the loss of Malak's jaw. However, how close or not close a duel the latter was (assuming there even was a duel at all) is ambiguous.
  • Lord Kallig: As either Darth Nox or Darth Imperius he/she has some lightsaber fights here and there, but they obviously rely much more heavily on Force power, and their only dueling victories are almost entirely against fodder anyway.
  • Darth Bane: At his peak, he was challenging Zannah when bloodlusted, with her only barely keeping him at bay. This would also be an improved version of the Bane who gave Kas'im (a duelist good by reputation and technical skill) a solid fight, meaning Bane at his peak would likely be above Kas'im.
  • Darth Zannah: Besides one or two victories over bottom-tier Jedi, she also held her own against a bloodlusted Darth Bane, which is a solid showing.
  • Kas'im (Not pictured): Sirak and the other students at the Academy on Korriban were in awe of his skill, and his knowing every single lightsaber form denotes not just technical knowledge and skill but also versatility. He also managed to overwhelm/beat Darth Bane, albeit Bane many years before his prime. Still good though. May just break onto the Top 10 list.

Jedi:

1. NJO Luke Skywalker: While this iteration of Luke was mostly fighting Yuuzhan Vong and not lightsaber duelists, he is a superior version of New Republic Era Luke, who showed he could contend with Palpatine at his peak. So going by that, it's safe to infer that Luke at his peak would have improved in lightsaber dueling, and should be more comparable to Palpatine. And that's more than enough to reach the number one spot.

2. Yoda/Amped Mace Windu (Tie): Both fought evenly with Darth Sidious, and Yoda actually disarmed him in the RotS junior novelization, so the two's being this high up should be obvious.

3. New Republic Era Luke Skywalker: Again, NR-Era Luke was able to contend with Palpatine, but of course he lost. Still, the fact that he could contend with him for any length of time (and honestly gave a better performance than Kit Fisto did), and also that he would likely be a slightly more skilled version of his already formidable RotJ iteration, means NR Luke ought to rank about here.

4. RotJ Luke Skywalker/Mace Windu (Tie): Mace Windu has already fought evenly with Dooku, and they are considered equals and rivals. That Mace has fought evenly with someone Dooku beat with difficulty due to knowing how he would fight (Grievous) further points in the direction of them being equals. What has Luke done to put himself on the same par as Mace? Simple: fighting evenly with his father when the latter was at his peak and when Luke didn't even want to fight his father. And in fact, Luke got the upper hand at different points in their duel, and Vader was fearful that Luke could actually beat him. Yes, Dooku is a better swordsman than Vader, but only marginally, and in any event, fighting evenly with Vader when not wanting to fight him and going by other evidence likely being marginally above him, is just as good as being a perfect equal to a slightly better duelist. So near as I can tell, Luke as of this point is just as good as Mace. Beating Lumiya with difficulty should also be comparable to beating Asajj Ventress, and keeping back Flint when not wanting to fight him should be comparable to handling Quinlan Vos when not even trying. If Luke is below Mace, it's only by the very slimmest of margins.

5. RotS Anakin Skywalker: Anakin at this point was able to beat Count Dooku of course, albeit owing partly to the advantages of Djem So and superior strength. Still, those bits of context hardly invalidate the feat outright, and it does suggest that Anakin's base skill at this point in time is almost equal to Dooku, since those few advantages tipped the scale enough to allow him to win. That he's an improved version of the Anakin who's already achieved a string of victories would also be worth noting.

6. Kit Fisto/Agen Kolar/Saesee Tiin/Legacy-Era Jaina Solo/RotS Obi-Wan Kenobi (Tie):

  • Jaina: Kyp and Jaina fought evenly with each-other, so we know they're about on the same level, though not necessarily perfect equals. Jaina also has a very erratic fighting style that is atypical of most Jedi and thus could give her an edge over most Jedi in a duel. She was able to (albeit with assistance from Luke and later her opponent being injured) hold her own against Darth Caedus, and even if we write that off as a low showing for Caedus, fighting evenly with Warmaster Tsavong Lah while immobilized and soundly trouncing amped Dark Siders are good showings in their own right, and should make Jaina (and by extension Kyp) comparable to...
  • Kit Fisto: Casually scrapped a trio of magnaguards and was beating General Grievous. Even granting that Shii-Cho factored into these accomplishments, some intrinsic skill had to be present as well. He is also recognized, along with Agen and Tiin (who will be discussed shortly), one of the best lightsaber duelists the Jedi Order ever produced. Quite the accolade.
  • RotS Obi-Wan: Like Kit, he also beat/stalemated General Grievous on the account of his lightsaber form giving him an advantage and in fact did better against Asajj Ventress than Kit Fisto has (again though, Shii-Cho factors in, this time as a disadvantage). RotS Obi-Wan could also duel fairly evenly with Count Dooku, who beat him by superior Force power, not superior dueling skill (though he does have that, just not to a gross degree).
  • Saesee Tiin: To compare to Obi-Wan's above showings, Saesee Tiin stalemated Mace Windu, showing he's right below him in skill, and Agen Kolar curbstomped Quinlan Vos about as effortlessly as Mace Windu did, which suggests a comparable level of skill. And again, Agen Kolar and Saesee Tiin are both also considered two of the absolute best lightsaber duelists the Jedi Order ever produced. So in all, Agen, Saesee, and Obi-Wan should all be about equal, and also in turn equal to the other two Jedi on this tier.

7. Eeth Koth/Kyp Durron (Tie): Kyp Durron's being here has already been kind of explained on the account of his stalemating Jaina, albeit Jaina not yet in her prime, but at the same time Kyp may or may not have been holding back. He also has victories against other opponents (such as Vong warriors). With Eeth Koth though a lot of people will likely be scratching their heads wondering why he of all people makes it this far up. The reason for it is his successfully stalemating General Grievous. Yes, Grievous is better (as suggested by how he was steadily forcing Eeth Koth back), but the difference in skill is marginal, not exponential. And being able to hold out against Grievous is a good showing. As to the inevitable "but that was TCW Grievous, and he sucks!", this is only true in respects to physicals. TCW Grievous' dueling skills are really not inconsistent with other iterations of him barring one low showing against Ahsoka Tano and that's it. Other than that, none of TCW Grievous' duels are inconsistent with the way he's been depicted elsewhere. So Eeth Koth's holding out against him is a fair showing. He's smack-dab in-between the characters right above and right below, being very close in skill to all of them.

8. ANH Obi-Wan/CW Obi-Wan/CW Anakin/Plo Koon/Ki-Adi-Mundi/NJO Kyle Katarn/The Hero of Tython/TESB Luke (Tie):

  • TCW Anakin and Obi-Wan: Most tend to assume Anakin to be a better swordsman than Obi-Wan, and if we're talking about the AotC or RotS iterations, this assumption would be correct. However, looking at their respective showings, the Clone Wars iterations of Anakin and Obi-Wan seem to be about even. Both have had similar success against Asajj Ventress, and their duels outside of their fights with Ventress are also comparable. Obi-Wan's stalemated Darth Maul repeatedly, Anakin's stalemated a slightly better duelist (Count Dooku) with a Djem So advantage. Obi-Wan's beaten Savage Opress, Anakin before reaching this level of skill stalemated Nejaa Halcyon and slew numerous Dark Acolytes. Not seeing a whole lot of disparity here. Yes, Anakin is better than Obi-Wan if we look at either their AotC or RotS iterations, but Anakin and Obi-Wan c. the middle of the Clone Wars are equals going by the evidence.
  • Plo Koon: Plo has stalematedAsajj Ventress just as Obi-Wan and Anakin have, which indicates a similar level of skill. He only lost to Savage Opress due to the latter's ripping off his breather mask, a strength dependent victory rather than a skill dependent one. Prior to Savage resorting to superior strength, Plo was keeping him at bay. So Plo should be comparable to TCW Obi-Wan and Anakin as a duelist.
  • Ki-Adi-Mundi: Briefly contended with General Grievous despite extremely negative circumstances (fatigued, had not faced anything like Grievous and his erratic fighting style before, had a form disadvantage). Had it been a fresh Mundi who was more acquainted with GG's fighting style, Mundi would have done even better, which should put him at around Obi-Wan, Anakin, and Plo's level.
  • NJO Kyle: I'm mostly going with the notion that he would have improved form his New Republic era iteration, who achieved a string of victories against various bottom-tier characters, several of whom he bested years before his prime. So an improved version of that Kyle should be comparable to the other characters here.
  • The Hero of Tython: He/she gets a spot here because of the sheer number of bottom-tier/slightly-above-bottom tier characters that they beat, some of whom they beat while still relatively inexperienced (including when wielding a training lightsaber rather than proper one).
  • ANH Obi-Wan and TESB Luke: The former fought evenly with Darth Vader while the latter contended with a better Darth Vader for an extended period and even managed to land a glancing blow on him. That should easily make him comparable to a version of Obi-Wan who stalemated a slightly inferior swordsman and a version of Anakin who stalemated a slightly better swordsman with a form advantage.

9. Qui-Gon/Luminara Unduli/Barriss Offee/AotC Anakin/Nejaa Halcyon/NR-Era Kyle Katarn/Mara Jade/Saba Sebatyne (Tie): Basically, to sum it up quickly:

  • Qui-Gon: Beat Anoon Bondara and gave a slightly injured Darth Maul a good fight two times.
  • Luminara: Gave Ventress a good fight, and actually lasted a little longer against her than Qui-Gon did against Maul. Tempted to rank her higher up.
  • Barriss: Gave TCW Anakin a good fight and beat Ahsoka
  • AotC Anakin and Nejaa: Stalemated each-other repeatedly, with Anakin also pressing Dooku despite losing (though Djem So did factor in), fought evenly with a pre-prime Asajj Ventress (who also contended with Dooku), and slew various Dark Acolytes, including Count Dooku's doppelganger and a pair of Dark Acolytes that attacked him at once.
  • NR Kyle: All the Dark Jedi he beat, several of whom were taken out before he had reached his prime, either overall or for this version of him. He also killed multiple Shadowtroopers, who, while not skilled duelists at all, did have Cortosis armor that would have made them more resistant to lightsaber strikes.
  • Mara: Her beating Vong becomes more impressive when one remembers when she beat an esteemed Vong warrior under negative circumstances (had never encountered a Vong before and was also injured). She also beat Alema Rar.
  • Saba: Kept at bay an enraged Kenth Hamner when not actually wanting to fight him, and beat him on multiple occasions prior, showing she's pretty clearly superior to him. And Kenth is not a fodder character, having himself bested Yuuzhan Vong warriors.

10. Aayla Secura/Corran Horn/Ven Zallow (Tie): Rounding up the Top 10 on the account of...

  • Aayla: Beating Aurra Sing (albeit with difficulty), and fighting evenly with Quinlan Vos even when he had the advantage of knowing how she would fight due to being her former master.
  • Corran Horn: He's admitted to being below Mara Jade before, making his placement here logical. For feats he's beaten the Yuuzhan Vong commander Shedao Shai. For my money, not too far below the characters in the number 9 spot.
  • Ven Zallow: He gave Darth Malgus a good, drawn out fight while also killing Sith Warriors that ran at him during the duel on the side. Malgus also considered him to be the only Jedi in the temple worthy of his attention.

Honorable Mentions:

  • Quinlan Vos: Bested some fodder characters here and there (Tol Skorr and Kadrian Sey namely). Also fought evenly with both Aayla Secura and Tholme on different occasions, though in both cases there was the fact that Vos and his opponent would have been intimately familiar with one another's fighting styles due to Tholme training Vos and Vos training Aayla.
  • Anoon Bondara: Mostly good by reputation, but he did hold out against Darth Maul for a while, albeit being on the defensive for most of it.
  • Vodo-Siossk Baas: While the comparisons to Yoda are laughably (and I mean laughably) overblown, Vodo did train Kun to be the excellent lightsaber duelist that he is, and it can be inferred from that (as well as his being able to successfully use a stick in place of a lightsaber) that he is himself somewhat skilled. That he could also with this stick contend with Kun even when Kun was using a weapon he'd never seen before (a double-bladed lightsaber) is also a clear indicator of skill.
  • Meetra Surik: Most of the characters Meetra bet were pretty much fodder, but but as the old saying goes, "a little's better than none". Besides that, Meetra also has some technical knowledge/skill on the account of knowing multiple lightsaber forms.
  • The Dark Woman: While she got overwhelmed by pre-prime Vader in saber combat pretty quickly, that was a Dark Woman who was very old and almost assuredly past her prime. Furthermore, Vader had a tremendous strength advantage. It can be assumed that a Dark Woman still in her prime would have done better. She also trained Ki-Adi-Mundi to be the duelist he is/was, and it can be inferred from that she is herself somewhat skilled (at least when again, it's her in her prime).
  • Satele Shan: Twice contended with Darth Malgus, including when both were before their prime. She did also clash blades with Darth Baras, but the exchange was too brief to count for much. She did also contend with Revan at his peak in saber combat, though she was amped by her Battle Meditation at the time.
  • Kao Cen Darach: Not only bested Darth Vindican, but showed some technical knowledge/skill due to being able to effectively dual wield a double-bladed lightsaber in a tandem with a regular one.
  • Revan: Per Drew Karpyshyn Revan prefers Force combat over saber dueling (and looking at his concrete feats this is true). However, despite this, and also the fact that Revan's overall skill level is extremely vague and difficult to pin down due to the ambiguous circumstances of many of his victories, he did at least manage to beat Mandalore the Ultimate years before his prime (and Mandalore one-shotted Jedi Malak), slew amped Royal Guards, and was able to at least duel evenly with an amped Darth Malak, though how much or how little of his victory over Malak was owing to superior dueling skill is unclear. But he had his lightsaber drawn come the battle, so it can be assumed that he could at least defend himself from Amped Malak's attacks. Besides that, there is also his fight with Bastila, which I would argue was probably mostly a lightsaber duel, for the following reasons: the fight takes place on a fairly narrow catwalk, and it begins with Revan and Bastila in close proximity to each-other, meaning it is very unlikely to me that they would not resort immediately to lightsaber combat. And the fact is, saber combat or no, Revan was able to keep back an amped (and steadily more enraged) Bastila at bay when not even wanting to fight her (as he was trying to redeem her the whole time). If we interpret this as being mostly a lightsaber duel, then it's a strong indicator of skill, especially since he had also by then fought through a large number of other foes. Now I will concede that it's not definitive that it was mostly a lightsaber duel, but there is some evidence to suggest that it might have been. And if it was, then it is a very good indicator of skill, enough to even make me consider having Revan break into the top 10.
  • Cin Drallig: Honestly, I'm reluctant to even list him as this. Sure, sources have put him above Shaak Ti, but that's not actually saying much, and his remarkably poor performance against a very handicapped (and distracted) Anakin shows clear as day that he's not THAT great a duelist, and really nowhere close to the level of skill that is often attributed to him.
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Kao Cen Darach and Ven Zallow Respect Thread

The two Jedi who debuted in the cinematic trailers for Star Wars: The Old Republic made a bit of an impression despite their all-too brief turns in the spotlight. They're at this point two of my favorite minor Jedi, and I thought I'd do a shared Respect Thread for them. Not to mention that this is my first ever Star Wars Respect Thread. Hooray for me.

Respect Kao Cen Darach

"Master Kao was the most principled Jedi I have ever met, staunchly opposed to the dark side of the Force in all its forms."

Combat Skill

Defeats Darth Vindican in saber combat before then briefly contending with Darth Malgus. Though he loses to Malgus, he still managed to keep him back for a time, and it's worth noting that at this point Kao Cen Darach was fatigued, and also that Darth Malgus may have been in a Force Rage, which would have enhanced his fighting potency.

What is also of note here is that he dual wields his lightsaber with Satele Shan's doublesaber. This is impressive due to how double-bladed lightsabers are traditionally harder to master:

It requires a firm stance and a two-handed grip. Novices are likely to injure themselves while training, which will expose the flaws in their techniques.

-The Book of Sith

Traditionally used only as a training device, the double-ended saber can be much more dangerous to its wielder than an enemy.

-Star Wars Episode I: The Visual Dictionary

Wielding double bladed lightsabers is incredibly dangerous, and unskilled Sith have ended their own lives-and the lives of those around them,-when attempting to use such a weapon before their training is complete.

-Star Wars the Old Republic Encyclopedia

So Kao Cen Darach's being able to dual wield one in tandem with a regular lightsaber, and to do so effectively enough to beat a Sith in combat while also fending off another one, is a clear display of at least technical skill, but likely also non-technical skill as well due to the fact that he did beat Vindican.

Telekinesis

Telekinesis is a basic Force power enabling Force users to alter and manipulate objects and beings around them with the power of their mind.

Kao Cen Darach utilizes Lightsaber Throw, a move that requires some level of TK control to be able to do:

Kao Cen Darach unleashes a Force Push powerful enough to send Darth Vindican flying several feet, essentially rag-dolling him:

What makes this more impressive is that Vindican is not complete fodder. His Force Barrier was such that it shrugged off a direct hit from a rocket fired at him by Jace Malcom:

And yet, despite the strength of his Force Barrier, Vindican was still sent flying by Kao Cen Darach's force push.

For another good TK feat, Kao Cen Darach lets out a Force Wave powerful enough to force back both Darth Vindican (who again, has a solid force barrier), and Darth Malgus:

Lastly, while fatigued, Kao Cen Darach pretty casually lifted and hurled two large bits of metal at Darth Malgus, followed by his lifting and hurling a much larger metal object:

Lightning Deflection

Kao Cen Darach is able to block and then redirect a blast of force lightning fired at him by Darth Vindican, sending the lightning into Malgus:

"Go Satele. You must walk a different path"

Respect Ven Zallow

Combat Skill

Contends with Darth Malgus, despite ultimately falling against him. Ignore the sub-titles.

During the fight, he effortlessly cuts down two Sith grunts:

And before that, another:

Zallow for his part, moved towards Malgus. A Sith Warrior bounded at Zallow from his left, but Zallow leapt over the Sith's blade, spun, slashed, and cut down the Sith.

-Deceived

Prior to engaging Malgus, Zallow kills a few other Sith goons:

Malgus finally spotted Master Zallow ten paces away, whirling, spinning, his green blade a blur of precision and speed. One Sith Warrior fell to him, then another.

-Deceived

Accolades

Malgus considered Zallow the "only Jedi present to be worthy of his attention":

Malgus knew the battle had turned, that it would soon be over. He glanced around, still seeking Zallow, the only opponent on the field worthy of his attention.

-Deceived

Agility:

Evades lightsaber strikes from Darth Malgus:

Leaps into the air to avoid Malgus' Lightsaber Throw:

Avoids Malgus as he comes down at him with the intent to impale him upon his lightsaber before then leaping high into the air and then landing gracefully:

Durability:

Ven Zallow takes being kicked by Darth Malgus hard enough to send him flying. He recovers in mid-air, lands, and cuts down two Sith, as shown in one of the above Gifs:

Ven Zallow takes being force pushed so hard he goes smashing through stone. He doesn't seem all that perturbed by this, considering he evades Malgus, leaps into the air, and then re-engages him.

Strength:

Was able to match Malgus in strength, even when both were using the Force to enhance their strength in an attempt to physically overwhelm each other:

Their blades sizzling in opposition, each used the Force to press against the strength of the other, but neither had an obvious advantage. Malgus shouted rage into Zallow's face. Only a furrowed brow and the tight line of his mouth betrayed the tension behind Zallow's otherwise tranquil expression.

-Deceived

Just in case anyone was doubting Malgus' own strength, and why matching him in strength is impressive, I direct you to this:

http://www.comicvine.com/profile/shootingnova/blog/darth-malgus-respect-thread/97516/

Hit Malgus so hard he bloodied him, and this is someone who endured a point-blank grenade blast on Alderaan, and before that a missile explosion to the face. Now granted, it is stated that Malgus didn't actually feel any pain, but even so, Zallow's ability to both knock out a tooth and bloody Malgus a bit is still decent:

Lunging forward, Zallow slashed crosswise, Malgus parried, and Zallow slammed the hilt of his saber into the side of Malgus' jaw. A tooth dislodged and his respirator was knocked askew. Malgus tasted blood.

-Deceived

Telekinesis

Telekinesis is a basic Force power enabling Force users to alter and manipulate objects and beings around them with the power of their mind.

Ven Zallow soundly trounces Lord Adraas via a Force Blast:

Lord Adraas landed before him, trying to take Malgus' kill for himself. Adraas ducked low and slashed at Zallow's knees. Zallow leapt over the blow and unleashed a blast of energy that sent Adraas skidding on his backside across the hall.

-Deceived

Ven Zallow one-shots Eleena via Force Push:

"May the Force be with you all"

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Raimiverse Goblin Respect Thread (Complete!)

After doing a respect thread for the two main movie Spider-Men, I thought I’d do a respect thread for the Sam Raimi depictions of the Osborn boys, Norman and Harry. I’m not doing a respect thread for DeHaan’s Green Goblin until when or if he gets more feats in the sequels. His being on screen for about five minutes and having only about a minute’s worth of combat showings just does not justify a respect thread. So therefore this one will be dedicated solely to the goblins of the Sam Raimi films.

Respect Raimiverse Green Goblin

“I chose my path, you chose the way of the hero. And they found you amusing for a while, the people of this city. But the one thing they love more than a hero, is to see a hero fail, fall, die trying. In spite of everything you’ve done for them, eventually they will hate you.”

No sooner does Norman first acquire his new powers does he at 0:11 throw Mendel Stromm with enough force to send him smashing through a wall of glass. Stromm continues to go sailing through the air before landing into a metal object of some kind. This kills him. So Norman has already shown himself to be strong enough to one-shot normal humans.

(For the video above, you'll need to see on Youtube directly)

At 0:44-0:46, one of his glider's missiles shows itself to be powerful enough to one-shot a prototype exosuit being built for the military. The people behind the exo-suit boasted that it packed "a lot of firepower", but clearly it's armor was not enough to keep from being one-shotted by Green Goblin's glider missiles. Following this, he then blows up the bunker and kills everyone inside it via another missile from his glider at 0:48-0:51.

Beginning at 0:54, he first displays the destructive power of his pumpkin bombs, with just one of them being sufficient to blow out all of the windows beneath the balcony Mary Jane, Harry, and others were standing on. It's unclear just how much other damage the pumpkin bomb did, but a second one thrown at about the one-minute mark manages to destabilize the balcony. At 1:40 he throws another pumpkin bomb that, rather than be explosive in nature, turns at least half-a-dozen people caught in it's blast radius to skeletons that then crumble away.

At 1:54, he takes a swinging double-kick from Spider-Man that knock him off his glider and then causes him to fall off it and down to the ground below, with only a tent to cushion his fall. He gets back up without any trouble at all.

From 2:23-2:28 he tears through a group of police officers, pretty much one-shotting them. Notably, with the last one he punches a sort of cracking sound can be heard, suggesting he may have broken the man's neck just by punching him.

At 2:29, he catches a punch from the superhuman Spider-Man, and then responds by kicking him so hard he sends him flying back several feet and through at least three tables. Spider-Man's being sent flying is finally stopped by slamming into a lamppost with enough force to cause it to fall down.

From about 2:42-2:48, Green Goblin's glider is revealed to feature yet another weapon, namely built-in machine guns. He ends his machine gun barrage by firing another rocket from his glider that Spider-Man manages to evade.

At 3:08 or so, Green Goblin flies into Spider-Man and grabs him before slamming him into a large window with enough force to shatter the glass. From 3:11-3:14 he smashes Spider-Man's head through the partially broken window, including slamming him through some metal hard enough to break it, before Spider-Man starts fighting back. Green Goblin holds him off long enough to force him off his glider. Shortly after this, Spider-Man is able to blind Green Goblin with webbing and then damage his glider, forcing him to retreat.

At 0:31, Green Goblin smashes right through a wall to gain entrance into the Daily Bugle (notably being totally uninjured by this), and then shows sufficient strength to effortlessly lift Jameson up with one arm at 0:36. At about 1:00, he busts out some knock-out gas built into his wrist armor with which he KOs Spider-Man (funny how he neglects to ever use it in later fights).

At 1:47, he punches Spider-Man in the face so hard he sends him flying backwards several feet (and also smashing through a wooden door). From there, Green Goblin unveils a third kind of pumpkin bomb in his arsenal: one that turns into a flurry of razor-bats. The fight that follows sees Green Goblin and Spider-Man once again fighting each-other to a stand-still, with Green Goblin at 2:35 taking a punch from Spider-Man so hard it knocks him into the air, followed shortly thereafter by a kick that hits him so hard it sends him flying several feet (this is at 2:38-2:40). Green Goblin gets back up from this and is not rendered unconscious.

At 0:12, he blows away the wall and window of Aunt May's bedroom, granting him access. Presumably this was done via either a missile or a pumpkin bomb, and given the destructive power of the former, it's more likely it was the latter (as a missile probably would have just blown the whole house up.)

At 0:14, he fires another missile from his glider, one that blows up the small building that it strikes, and then the fires of this explosion grow so big and rage so fiercely they cause cars on the bridge to lose control. From 0:34 to 0:40, additional destruction follows, either from the one or missile or a second one. Either way, among the damage caused is the cable-car's cable snaps. The Green Goblin then shows himself to be able to lift Mary Jane up with one arm and hold onto the cable-car via it's severed cable with his other arm, holding both indefinitely (45 seconds to be exact) before choosing to let go of both. He does not appear to be at all physically taxed by these showings of strength (0:43-0:55 and 1:16-2:01).

For starters, one of his "basic" pumpkin bombs is shown to be powerful enough to send Spider-Man flying through the air (and then a brick wall), and clearly injuring him (he's bloodied, for one). From 0:34-1:16 he proceeds to ROFLstomp the injured Spider-Man, who can't even touch him and can barely avoid his blows. He multiple times hits Spider-Man so hard he knocks him into the air, and at 0:55 he leaps into the air and intercepts Spider-Man as he attempts to web-swing out of the way, knocking him back to the ground. From 1:03-1:08, Green Goblin effortlessly tears through a web-net made by Spider-Man, and it ought to be pointed out that Spider-Man's webbing has tensile strength comparable to that of the kinds of cables used in bridge building. For a full list of showings for Spider-Man's webbing, refer to my Raimiverse Spider-Man respect thread found here:

http://www.comicvine.com/profile/shroudofsorrow/blog/raimiverse-spider-man-respect-thread

After threatening Spider-Man (and busting out a polearm in the process), Green Goblin takes being hurled through the air by Spider-Man and then slamming into a brick wall at 2:00-2:01. Spider-Man then brings a brick wall down on top of Green Goblin, who emerges from it injured but still conscious (2:09-2:25). Spider-Man then punches Green Goblin as he swings towards him, also smashing him through wood, before then slamming him into a brick wall (2:27-2:29). Still conscious after this, Green Goblin then gets punched by Spider-Man five times, four of which were to the face. While this is enough to make Green Goblin cry uncle (and thus makes it a win for Spider-Man), it should be pointed out that even after all of the other punishment he took Green Goblin still had durability enough to remain conscious after getting four punches to the face from a very angry Spider-Man.

Lastly, from 3:17-3:24, Green Goblin shows that he can control his glider remotely via his wrist-armor, and can summon it to him and also have it zoom forward at a target.

So to sum it up:

Strength

  • Threw a man with enough force to send him flying through the air and also glass, killing him.
  • One-shotted normal humans he fought, including (possibly) breaking one man's neck with his punch.
  • Catching a punch from the superhuman Spider-Man.
  • Kicking Spider-Man so hard he sent him flying a very far distance. Later achieved similar results by kicking him. Also sent Spider-Man flying with some of his blows in their final fight as well.
  • Matched Spider-Man in combat.
  • Smashed through a wall (with assistance from his glider).
  • Could effortlessly lift up J Jonah Jameson with one arm.
  • Held onto a cable-car by it's severed cable with one arm indefinitely, while also holding onto Mary Jane with his other arm.

Durability

  • Regularly took hits from the superhuman Spider-Man, including in their second fight hits that sent him into the air, and then in their third fight four punches to the head in rapid succession from an angry Spider-Man (and that was after receiving other injuries).
  • Took being sent through the air by Spider-Man, as well as being smashed through wood and having a brick wall dropped on top of him. Remained conscious after all of this, and then the aforementioned punches after that.

Pumpkin Bombs

  • Basic Pumpkin Bombs, which could obliterate the wall and window to Aunt May's bedroom, destabilize a balcony, and bloody the superhuman Spider-Man (and send him flying through the air and a brick wall both).
  • Pumpkin Bomb that can break apart into multiple razor-bats (five to be exact). These razor-bats could not only cut and injure Spider-Man, but also had a recoil, meaning that dodging them once does not guarantee one safety unless they can dodge the recoil as well.
  • A kind of "super" Pumpkin Bomb that could turn half-a-dozen people into skeletons that then crumbled away. The flash of the bomb along with it's vaporizing effect suggests a possible nuclear weapon of some sort.

Glider and other gadgets

  • Had built-in blades, machine guns, and missiles powerful enough to one-shot an exo-suit with flight and "serious firepower", blow up an entire military bunker, and blow up a small, one story building and send up fires so big and powerful they caused cars on the nearby bridge to swerve out of control.
  • Polearm weapon of some sort that's crackling effect when it activates means it may have been electrified, though this is unknown for certain. Either way, a polearm is a polearm.
  • Knock-out gas built into wrist-armor, along with a means of controlling his glider remotely.

“You’ve spun your last web Spider-Man. Had you not been so selfish you’re little girlfriend’s death would have been quick and painless, but now that you’ve really pissed me off, I’m gonna finish her, nice and slow. MJ and I? We’re gonna have one HELL OF A TIME!

Respect New Goblin:

"You knew this was coming, Pete."

Okay, so his being able to sneak up on Peter is PIS in view of the latter's spider-sense, but the fight itself is legit. To start, the simple fact that Harry can trade blows with Peter/Spider-Man in melee combat and before that restrain him temporarily is an indicator of superhuman strength. Along with this, Harry displays pop-out blades attached to one of his gloves (0:18) that are able to cut (and hurt) Spider-Man/Peter, who's durability showings are considerable (see my Respect Thread for him for proof). He cuts Peter successfully at 0:19.

From 0:23-0:32 (almost ten seconds) Harry is shot at by web bullets fired at him by Peter. Harry seems to evade most of them and pretty much tanks the others. He then via his arm-blades cuts through Spider-Man's web-line at 0:33.

At 0:37 he hits Peter with his sky-stick so hard he sends him flying through the air before then slamming into the side of a brick wall with enough force to leave a good-sized crater in it.

From 0:55-0:56, he punches the crater Peter was in so hard he sends up a cloud of dust and loose bits of stone, also not injuring his own hand in the least. At 1:04 he straight up rips off a huge chunk of the brick wall (with a height and width that is easily much bigger than a grown man, and probably two grown men), and also does this with only one arm. With a single punch at 1:14 he pulverizes the wall chunk, turning it into a shower of smaller stones. He displays yet more strength feats at 1:18-1:20, twice hitting Peter so hard he sends him flying through the air.

At 1:25, he grabs Peter by the leg and goes on a joyride with him in tow, holding him with only one arm by nothing more than his leg. After slamming him into walls for a while, he throws him at about 1:32, hurling Peter with such force that he goes flying through the air before then smashing through two windows.

From about 1:42/1:43-1:46 he restrains Peter, only letting go when Peter first blinds him with webbing and then elbows him in the face, a blow Harry tanks. At roughly 2:03, he again hits Peter with enough force to send him flying through the air, this time via his glider. Beginning at roughly 2:12, New Goblin's glider not only shows itself to go fast enough to keep up with Peter on foot, it also easily goes through a large number of metal poles like they're hollow bamboo sticks, cutting through all of them.

At 2:29, New Goblin shows that his glider can change it's position so as to allow him to fly through a narrow space. At 2:32, he shows sufficient reflexes to avoid and duck under obstacles as they come his way. At 2:41, New Goblin busts out a nifty sword that gives of a burst of green when Harry plunges it into the ground. It's unclear whether this was a protective "field" around the sword to make it harder to destroy, or if it was just the sword being destroyed. Myself, I lean more towards the former idea.

At the three minute mark New Goblin reveals he has the same "pumpkin bombs that turn into razorbats" that his father used in Spider-Man 1. Notably, these razor-bats are shown to be able to effortlessly go right through metal (3:06-3:07). At about 3:09-3:10 they seem to hit and injure Peter, which is consistent with their being able to injure him in Spider-Man 1 when Green Goblin used them.

From 3:17-3:20, New Goblin dodges the razor-bats that have been tricked to fly towards him. One of them actually embeds itself in his chest at 3:20-3:21, but his costume is durable enough that the razor-bat doesn't pierce it and New Goblin yanks it out.

From 3:38-3:39 their's a massive explosion, presumably caused by one razor-bat colliding with another, or else with Harry (if the latter, this suggests they were programmed to explode upon reaching a living target). Either way, New Goblin flies right through the fiery explosion not the least bit perturbed, suggesting his costume is fire-proof (though it is odd that his hair is also unaffected).

The head concussion he suffers at 3:44, followed by plummeting and then hitting a garbage bin before then tumbling along the ground is able to put him out of commission,which seems rather odd in view of how many hits to the face he took from Peter in his two fights with him while remaining conscious. Chalk that up to inconsistency I suppose.

Once again, there's the fact that Harry takes multiple hits from Peter throughout, but also other injuries besides. These include:

  • Getting kicked so hard he goes slamming into a wall (0:59-1:01)
  • Getting kicked so hard he gets knocked back a fair distance before then smashing through a nearby window and tumbling along the ground. (1:27-1:30)
  • Getting thrown into the air and then slamming his forehead on part of the wooden balcony rails and then falling onto a wooden table hard enough to destroy it (1:47-1:50). This also, by the way, makes Harry's earlier being KO'ed by a similar injury in the first fight even more inconsistent, even granting that here it's wood instead of metal. But still. Between this and all of the punches he takes from Peter, the way in which he was KO'ed in the first fight doesn't make much sense.
  • Being smashed through yet another large glass window at about 1:56-1:57.
  • Being hit right in the head by his metal-busting glider at about 2:18, followed by being sent flying through the air and then smashing into a set of glass shelves holding pumpkin bombs and then finally falling to the ground (2:18-2:21).
  • A pumpkin bomb blowing up in his face (3:04-3:06). This manages to knock him out (and also scar him and blind him in one eye), but most normal people who suffered an injury like that would be dead or else missing a good part of their face. Not to mention that this was after Harry had taken all of the other injuries beforehand.

Besides his endurance feats and the return of both his arm blades and sword (the latter of which shows itself capable of cutting through metal cables with ease at 2:03-2:04), there's also some strength feats here as well, namely:

  • Harry's being able to engage Peter in a grapple that he maintains successfully from 1:05 to about 1:10 or so, meaning he held it for five seconds.
  • At 1:16-1:19 he kicks Peter so hard he knocks him back a fair distance and also causes him to go sliding over a nearby table.
  • At about 1:40 he tackles Peter, and while Peter quickly throws him off, Harry does show sufficient agility to dodge some of Peter's punches (1:42-1:44)

One last thing to note is that Harry's Sky-Stick one again shows it's metal-busting capabilities when it goes haywire and starts flying through the goblin lair erratically, causing a bunch of damage to the surrounding area (2:08-2:13)

After calling off his feud with Peter due to what is in no uncertain terms bad writing, Harry arrives just in time to bail Spider-Man out by hurling a pumpkin bomb at giant Sandman. This pumpkin bomb's explosion is so powerful it blows away a good portion of Sandman's head. (1:27-1:37). The fact that it took about seven seconds for the bomb to detonate suggests that this more powerful explosion required a brief charge-up time.

At 1:49-1:54, in yet another display of the sky-stick's striking power, Harry hits Venom so hard he sends him flying several feet and also smashing through metal and concrete. This even seems to very briefly KO him.

From 2:33-2:39, New Goblin's glider reveals yet another weapon inserted into it: a flamethrower that turns one of Giant Sandman's arms into glass. New Goblin then at 2:41-2:43 hits the glass arm so hard with his sky-stick that he obliterates it in just one hit. Even granting that glass is fragile, the sheer size of the arm means New Goblin's one-shotting it is still impressive.

From 3:37-3:42, New Goblin is not only able to avoid Giant Sandman on his sky-stick, he also flies fast enough to avoid his grasp twice. From 3:52-3:56 he avoids Giant Sandman's attacks yet again.

Right at the beginning of the video he ducks under another attack from Giant Sandman. After playing keep-away for a little while longer, New Goblin busts out a pair of missiles that are enough to finally bring Giant Sandman down (0:27-0:47)

At 1:52-1:53, New Goblin's razor-bats make a come-back, slashing through Venom's arms and actually parting the symbiote for a brief moment.

At 1:57 he easily goes through a mess of Venom's webbing, which was strong enough to temporarily restrain Spider-Man multiple times (albeit in this case an injured and somewhat weakened Spider-Man, but still). At 1:58 his sky-stick pops out some side-blades that Venom dodges.

At 2:01-2:06, New Goblin takes another head concussion followed by falling and landing on a bunch of metal rods, and then falling again and landing on the concrete ground. He is only very, very briefly KO'ed by this, and it is yet more proof that his being stopped the way he was in his first fight with Peter is PIS.

What does manage to do Harry in is being run through by his own glider's blades at 2:25, followed by smashing into a box and then falling from a great height. While these injuries mortally wound him, I should point out that he did not die until after both the fight between Spider-Man and Venom (itself lasting over a minute) and then making amends with Peter and MJ. So even after all of these injuries it still took him several minutes to die. His death is also a good showing for his glider's blades, since they pierced his suit and flesh when one of his metal-busting razor-bats could not.

So to sum it up:

Strength:

  • Repeatedly traded blows with Peter/Spider-Man
  • Held a grapple against Peter for about five seconds
  • With one punch hit the crater Peter had made out of a brick wall so hard he sent up a cloud of dust and small debris.
  • With one arm ripped off a huge chunk of a brick wall, and then with one punch obliterated that wall chunk into a shower of dust and smaller stones.
  • Could hold onto Peter by the foot with just one arm
  • Hurled Peter with enough force to send him through the air and smashing through two windows.
  • Kicking Peter so hard he sent him sailing through the air and also sliding along a table.

Durability:

  • Repeatedly took hits from Peter/Spider-Man, as well as in the first fight surviving slamming his head into a metal pipe and then plummeting before hitting a garbage bin and tumbling along the ground. And in view of his other durability showings, his being KO'ed by this is PIS.
  • In his second fight with Peter, he (in order): took getting kicked so hard he went slamming into a wall, took getting kicked so hard he got knocked back a fair distance before then smashing through a nearby window and tumbling along the ground, took getting thrown in the air and then slamming his forehead on part of the wooden balcony rails of his mansion and then after that falling onto a wooden table hard enough to destroy it, took being smashed through another glass window, took being hit right in the head by his metal-busting glider followed by being sent flying through the air and then smashing into a set of glass shelves holding pumpkin bombs and then finally falling to the ground, and lastly a pumpkin bomb blowing up right in his face. And all of this was in addition to taking punches from an angry, morals off Peter.
  • Took another head concussion followed by falling and landing on a bunch of metal rods, and then falling again and landing on the concrete ground. He is only very, very briefly KO'ed by this, if at all.
  • It took being stabbed by his own glider blades followed by falling from a great height to mortally wound him, and even then it still took him several minutes to die.

Glider/Sky-Stick:

  • Fast enough to both keep pace with Spider-Man/Peter and also evade Giant Sandman's attacks.
  • Could change positions so as to be able to fly through narrow spaces.
  • Featured pop-out side-blades good enough to get past both New Goblin's razor-bat and fire-proof costume and also his superhuman durability, as well as a flamethrower and missiles, two of the latter being enough to bring down Giant Sandman.
  • The Sky-Stick itself was repeatedly shown to be tough enough to go through metal like nothing, hit Peter/Spider-Man so hard so as to send him flying through the air (and Harry too for that matter), one-shot Giant Sandman's entire arm after it was turned to glass, and hit Venom so hard he was sent flying several feet, smashing through concrete and metal, and even being temporarily KO'ed.

Other Gadgets and Weapons:

  • Pop-out arm blades capable of effortlessly cutting through Spider-Man's webbing and also injuring Peter with a single slash.
  • Sword that could effortlessly cut through metal cables
  • Razor-bats that could effortlessly go through metal, explode either upon striking one another or hitting a designated living target, and cut through Venom's symbiote.
  • Pumpkin Bombs that, after a seven-second charge up time could blow away a good portion of Giant Sandman's head. Another one also took out Harry himself, scarring him and blinding him in one eye.

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