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Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Where do they get those wonderful toys?: 18 obscenely wealthy comic-book and cartoon characters

1. Bruce Wayne

The "gentlemen adventurer" has been a staple of pulp fiction since the penny-dreadful tales of Spring-Heeled Jack, but the introduction of Batman and his alter ego Bruce Wayne in 1939 helped codify the concept of the crime-fighting billionaire. A tragic figure, Wayne battles the denizens of the underworld as a way of exacting revenge for the murder of his parents when he was just a boy. He's also a playboy and a philanthropist, wooing glamour girls under the guise of a grinning dim-bulb, and giving away millions to the needy under the auspices of the Wayne Foundation. And yes, he dedicates a good portion of his fortune to weapons, vehicles, costumes, and the banks of computers in his underground lair. In the 1989 movie Batman, The Joker asks, "Where does he get those wonderful toys?" Answer: He pays for them, jack.

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2. Danny Rand

Another crime-fighter scarred by tragedy and financed by piles of dough, Danny Rand (a.k.a. Iron Fist) spends his days running a gigantic corporation and his nights kung-fu fighting, sometimes in partnership with Luke "Power Man" Cage. Rand inherited his wealth after his parents died when his father's business partner betrayed them all during a trip to the mystical city of K'un L'un. Fortunately, K'un L'un also happens to be the world's premier source for the iron-fist abilities that allow Rand to focus his chi on ass-kicking, a skill upon which no one can place a price.

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3. Hunter Rose

The portrait of prodigy Hunter Rose that writer-artist Matt Wagner draws in Grendel: Devil By The Deed is one of the insufferably cultured, urbane socialite—a wealthy novelist sipping wine in the plush study of his mansion. Who just so happens to moonlight as the kingpin of a criminal empire. It's all a front for Rose's true identity, of course: The archetypal, eternally reincarnated antihero known as Grendel. With so many guises-within-guises, however, the smug, sly, vicious Rose is almost a subversion of the Bruce Wayne-style millionaire-turned-superhero.

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4. Scrooge McDuck

You don't become the richest duck in Duckburg by spending lavishly, and indeed, what sets Donald Duck's rich Uncle Scrooge apart from nearly every other cartoon fat cat is his miserliness. McDuck's property is dominated by an enormous money bin, with various gauges to determine just how full or (relatively) depleted his coffers are. When the pile starts to shrink, McDuck grabs Donald, Huey, Dewey, and Louie and goes adventuring, looking for gold, oil, or whatever commodity will coax his fellow ducks to quack, "Put it on my bill!" No pun intended.

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5. Veronica Lodge

It seems like a no-brainer for Archie Andrews. His sometime-girlfriend Betty Cooper is generous, athletic, smart, skilled in the kitchen, drop-dead gorgeous, and totally devoted to him. So why does he spend so much time pining for the vain, selfish, clumsy, clueless Veronica Lodge? Could it be that she's the richest girl in town? When you're a middle-class jerk with barely enough scratch to keep your jalopy street-legal, and you meet a gal with so much green that she wears a new outfit practically every hour, you can't help but think, "I want in." You'll even let her peck away at the organ in your crummy garage band, provided that she and her irascible pop keep ponying up for ski vacations and catered pool parties. We aren't saying Archie is a gold digger, but… well, maybe we are.

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6. Lex Luthor

Over the first five decades of Superman stories, Lex Luthor was a run-of-the-mill criminal mastermind who spent most of his time in prison, coming up with elaborate schemes to make money, destroy his arch-nemesis, and conquer the world. In 1986, when writer-artist John Byrne helped revamp the Superman line of comics, he reconceived Luthor as more of a white-collar criminal, using his genius to amass wealth (and, ahem, to try and destroy Superman) rather than resorting to out-and-out theft. This version of Luthor has remained the dominant one in the DC Universe ever since, in spite of episodes of cloning, presidential runs, and the occasional farcical trial. Though he's the featured player in Superman's gallery of rogues, Luthor is really a lot like Bruce Wayne: another filthy-rich orphan who buys the technology he needs to live out his obsessive power fantasies.

7. Charles Montgomery Burns

Speaking of obsessive power fantasies, The Simpsons' ultra-rich Monty Burns sometimes seems to exist just so the show's writers can come up with fun new ways for him to take evil advantage of his billions. Whether it's releasing his attack hounds on anyone who bores or irritates him, ordering The Rolling Stones killed, breeding flying attack monkeys, or building a huge device to block out the sun so more residents of Springfield will use the electricity generated by his nuclear power plant, he's all about abusing the power that comes with wealth. Homer Simpson, trying to prove a point about greed: "Let me ask you something. Does your money make you happy?" Burns: "Yes!" Homer: "Okay, bad example."

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8. Steve Dayton

Most billionaire superheroes consider costumed adventuring a higher calling, and think of their fortunes as just a convenient way to finance their mission. Not so Steve Dayton, the fifth richest man in the DC Universe. Obsessed with winning the hand of Rita Farr—The Doom Patrol's Elasti-Girl—Dayton used his wealth to construct a helmet that boosted his brainpower, turning him into the psychokinetic do-gooder Mento. He then married Farr, adopted teenage Doom Patroller Beast Boy, and ensconced them both in a mega-mansion roughly the size of a Las Vegas casino. Later, Elasti-Girl died, Dayton went nuts, Beast Boy changed his name a couple of times, Dayton became a crime lord for a while, a new Elasti-Girl arrived from a parallel dimension, and so on and so on. All of which proves that no matter how much money you have, if you're a minor DC character, nothing can buy your way out of convoluted continuity reboots.

9. Tony Stark

How many $100 million suits of armor has Tony Stark totaled during his tenure as Iron Man? How many has he built for his pal Rhodey? What does the upkeep cost on Avengers Mansion? How many times has that particular piece of property been destroyed and rebuilt? If little boys and girls all over the country see the Iron Man movie this summer and want to grow up to be weapons manufacturers, who can blame them? That's a gig that apparently pays handsomely.

More: Inventory, Feature

10. Daddy Warbucks

As the life and legacy of Tony Stark has proven, it's okay to be a war profiteer if you use that money to do good. Oliver Warbucks operates on a smaller scale—he's used his cash to help bail out one trouble-prone little girl over and over again. After taking in (but not adopting) Little Orphan Annie, Warbucks served as the deus ex machina in her stories for decades, swooping in at the last minute to spread some dough around and save the day. Never one for playboy idleness, Warbucks worked hard for his war-bucks, traveling the world and burning the midnight oil to make sure his munitions plants were cranking out enough bombs to meet the demand. His long absences left Annie plenty of time and space to screw things up royally, but his dedication also assured that there'd be plenty of blood money left in the till to patch everything up.

11. Rollo/Wilbur Van Snobbe

Call it Veronica's Law: Every benign, youth-oriented comic book or comic strip requires at least one resident rich kid. Nancy has Rollo, a cheerful little bow-tied boy who considers the business angle of every decision he makes, right down to picking an afternoon snack. Little Lulu has Wilbur Van Snobbe, a mean-spirited little prick who uses his money and servants to play tricks on the neighborhood kids. Do you have an idea for a cartoon starring a cute little kid character? Don't forget to throw in a junior moneybags. In fact, that isn't a bad idea for a name: Junior Moneybags. Quick! Trademark it!

12. Richie Rich

In the Casper/Wendy/Little Dot universe, the requisite miniature swell is Richie Rich, who proved so popular after his early guest appearances that he became the leading man of his own Harvey Comics magazine and cartoon series. Though he's basically heroic, Richie's shtick is that he's so loaded, he can't properly comprehend what it's like not to have money to burn—literally. Richie drives cars shaped like money, lives in a house packed with money, and even walks on carpets patterned after money. Unlike with other comically wealthy, kid-friendly characters, money for Richie Rich isn't just a resource, it's a theme.

13. Wilson Fisk

Better known as the Kingpin, Wilson Fisk is a walking vision of wealth's ability to corrupt. A man who's used his tremendous intelligence only to serve himself, Fisk has long bedeviled New York's superheroes, particularly Spider-Man and Daredevil. Wealthy beyond measure, and surprisingly agile for a man of his, um, carriage, Fisk uses money as a superpower. If a thing—or, just as often, a person—can be bought, he can use it for his own ends. His greatest weakness: Integrity, whether in heroes or journalists unwilling to grant him his fig leaf of respectability. His other weakness: his frequently ailing wife Vanessa, a reminder of more innocent times, even if she's no angel when able to leave her sickbed.

14. Adrian Veidt

Authentic superpowers are all but impossible to come by in Alan Moore's gritty "superheroes in real life" series Watchmen, so his costumed and caped crusaders have to base their shticks around entirely mundane abilities: Nite Owl is a talented tinkerer, Rorschach and The Comedian are exceptionally mean sons of bitches, the Silk Spectre looks good in tights and a leotard, and Ozymandius—a.k.a. Adrian Veidt, is a genius. ("The smartest man on the cinder," The Comedian calls him, when predicting the imminent nuclear catastrophe that will render his intelligence moot.) Turns out that being smart trumps being mean, pretty, or mechanically gifted—while his fellow hero wannabes are living in run-down apartments and saving people from tenement fires, Ozymandius is giving away his parents' vast fortune and earning one of his own, to prove himself. In short order, he founds an Alexander The Great-like financial mega-empire, builds himself a polar Fortress Of Solitude full of high-tech gear, hires the world's greatest artists and scientists for creepy secret projects, and buys himself a bevy of disposable servants. Some might say he's just trying to live out the last days of Earth in style, but Ozymandius is more the type to buy his way out of Armageddon.

15. H.R. Costigan

Even though Jaime Hernandez's contributions to his and his brothers' Love And Rockets series lean toward naturalistic stories about ex-punkers struggling with the onset of middle age, he's also strongly influenced by adventure comics and kiddie comics, and elements of both have crept into his work from time to time. When Hernandez's heroine Maggie was jetting around the world as a high-tech mechanic, she frequently got embroiled in the nefarious business schemes of H.R. Costigan, a devil-horned magnate who owns multiple mansions and has his fingers in many pies. Eventually, Costigan married Maggie's delusional friend Beatriz (a.k.a. Penny Century), and promised to make her into a superhero. Alas, he failed and eventually died, leaving Penny plenty of cash to allay her disappointment.

16. Darcy Parker

Terry Moore's long-running indie series Strangers In Paradise started out as a sort of domestic comedy centering on good-girl art and a lot of yelling, but it quickly morphed into a thriller pitting one of the protagonists against a figure from her past: Darcy Parker, a scheming, powerful, seductive woman rich enough to own her very own crime syndicate. (Her character page on Moore's SIP website sums it up neatly: "Occupation: Billionaire.") It was sometimes hard to believe how a couple of relatively ordinary starcrossed lovers managed to evade or escape a woman with a pocketful of politicians, a stable full of highly trained prostitute-spies, and half of America's economy in her ample purse, but Darcy's schemes did manage to provide a constant distraction from the overplayed will-they-or-won't-they central romance.

17. Charles Xavier

For a rich kid, Charles Xavier turned out pretty good: After inheriting a mansion and a sprawling estate from his wealthy scientist father, Xavier—no slouch in the egghead department himself—devoted his smarts, superpowers, and considerable resources to helping his fellow mutants. Under the guise of a prep school named The Xavier Institute For Higher Learning, Xavier's X-Mansion became the training ground and home base for the X-Men. Still, high-tech home improvements like Cerebro and The Danger Room must have put a large dent in Xavier's hefty inheritance. Wonder what he charges for tuition?

18. Oliver Queen

DC's bow-wielding vigilante Green Arrow—secret identity: Oliver Queen—always seemed to have roots in the Robin Hood mythos. But in the early '70s, the writer-artist team of Denny O'Neil and Neal Adams decided to get a bit more literal with the influence. The pair took Queen's fortune away, and the former billionaire playboy was suddenly shafted by all the social and economic ills of the Nixon era. Scruffy, streetwise, and even a bit leftist, Queen teamed up with the straitlaced Green Lantern for a short run that helped revolutionize superhero comics in the '70s—and made it, for the first time, kind of disgusting for a superhero to be rich.

Original here

Read an Extended Version of Wired's Interview With Ron Moore


Battlestar Galactica re-creator Ron Moore
Photo: Frank Ockenfels

Wired: What were your hopes and thoughts for doing the show? Did you execute them?

Moore: Before the miniseries started, when I was really thinking about the project, pitching it — before I was even writing it — it was really about capturing a certain mood, a certain vibe for the show, that I didn't think anybody had done. I was really in love with this idea of doing a sort of documentary style, making it much more naturalistic than science fiction is usually presented. And I was looking for something that was neither Star Wars-Star Trek, which I categorized in my head as a sort of the romantic side, or Blade Runner-Matrix, the cyberpunk side. I wanted a third kind of category to put the show in.

I wanted something that would be different. I really wanted it to be grounded, I really wanted it to be political, to sort of comment on society in a much more aggressive way than the work I had been doing on Trek and the other pieces.

And to a large extent, I would say, yeah, we did accomplish that. I feel good about that. I remember when I watched the miniseries for the first time, even when I got the first box of dailies, I was really surprised that it was what I hoped it would be, that we captured that mood. That we plowed this new row, I was really thrilled with that. And then we set about more fully realizing it, broadening it and expanding it, deepening the story, but the minis really got to where I wanted to go.

Wired: Did you have a notion for what you wanted those politics to be, or did you know you just wanted it to be—

Moore: I just knew that I wanted it to be political. I knew I wanted to really get under the skin of a lot of things that at Trek you sort of dealt with but in very safe ways, in my opinion. We dealt with a lot of issues and concepts that we also deal with in Galactica, but it always felt like there was an easy moral answer by the end of the episode, and if it was ambiguous in the end it was a safe ambiguous way, and the good guys couldn't get roughed up that much, they just couldn't be that bad. They weren't human beings on some level. They weren't quite fully realized human beings.

I wanted this show to be more political in the sense that watching these characters grapple with these ideas and concepts would be controversial and difficult, and that it would spark debate and [that] you should not always agree with what your heroes were doing. Sometimes you'd be unclear whose side you were really on in the debates, and I wanted it to be more complicated and complex, much like the world we really live in.

Wired: OK, I can hear myself nerding out already, but: Dealing with the patriarchal captains that Trek had, that Galactica does, too, you find yourself in a much more complicated relationship with these surrogate fathers on Galactica. How do you maintain the character as being that father figure even though You're going to think He's wrong more often or disagree with him? [Captain] Picard sort of becomes easy. He's going to step in at the end and tell you what to think, pat you on the head.

Moore: Yeah, it's a different notion. I tried to deal with it where Adama was patriarchal in the family sense, He's the father figure of the cast and father figure of the show, but that from the beginning they call him the Old Man. They respect him and like him, and they all have affection for him on the ship, but plenty of people disagree with him, and not everybody thinks he walks on water. There's sort of a respect and distance, and as you got further into the show, you could see that he was a deeply flawed man, a man who just fell into this position.

Moore: One of the things I liked about the way we reconceived the show was just by saying that this wasn't one of the best ships in the fleet, that this was the— Enterprise is the best ship in the fleet. Even in the old Galactica series, the Galactica was a special ship. But if you tell stories about the elite or the best of the best, it always sort of throws you into this: They have to be really good, they have to be smarter than the average bear, they have to be paragons on some level to achieve this heroic status. By saying the ship was going into retirement, that they were all kind of castoffs and knuckleheads and people that other ships didn't want, and [that] Adamas going into retirement too and didn't make admiral and has a bad relationship with his son, [and that] He's divorced, [has] lost one son in an accident he still can't grapple with, and tolerates an alcoholic as his first officer, He's already a deeply flawed man.

Now, take the deeply flawed man and put him in the position where the fate of humanity rests on his shoulders and to me that's an interesting show. Suddenly, I'm engaged with him as a patriarchal figure because fathers are just flawed beings. You know, they're all deeply flawed people, like we all are, and it resonates more for me.

Wired: That is so different than what the original show did. Did you feel that you had any responsibility to the fans of the old show? I know there was a lot of interaction with them, especially because of what Richard Hatch was doing at the time, but I mean as you were putting together your version, did you have that in mind?

Moore: I felt a responsibility to the show, I felt a responsibility to still make it Battlestar Galactica, but by my lights, by how I interpreted things. I wasn't going to throw everything out, right? I looked at the show carefully, and I maintained the elements that I thought worked. Adama is the father figure. His son is the lead fighter pilot. His son is friends with this rogue character, Starbuck. The Cylons wipe out the 12 colonies. They're looking for Earth. They come from a place called Kobol. His first officer is Colonel Tigh. I tried to maintain a lot of the superstructure.

What I felt an obligation to really honor was the premise of the origin. My take on the old was that they had a great idea, a great premise for a series, [but one] that could not be executed in that time and place — on ABC in 1978. They had to essentially make it cheesy fun. It had to be a combination of Star Trek and Star Wars every week. Every week they had to do that planet-of-the-week type episode — where they come across some civilization where they all wear metal cowboy hats and it's Shane. Then they have guys in fighter craft flying around like Luke Skywalker fighting Cylons, and between the two you couldn't really do what the show was really about.

The show was about an apocalypse. The show opens with a genocide, an apocalyptic destruction of 12, count em, 12 planets. Billions of human lives are lost. The survivors heroically run away, fleeing an implacable enemy that is determined to destroy them no matter what, and they're looking for a mythical place called Earth.

And the first place they go is the casino planet.

And therein lies the contradiction and the problem with the show. They were unable to square that circle. There was no way in that era of television that they could really play the premise. It's a dark premise. It's a disturbing premise. It's a frightening premise. There was no way in those days they could play it.

I felt my obligation on some level was to do the show they shouldve made, the show that really honors the idea of what the show was about — this is a truer version of Battlestar Galactica in some ways than the original.

Wired: But you could say that about redoing any of those shows. I'll pick on Knight Rider, right? You could totally sit down and have that thought. I'm not necessarily asking you to comment specifically about that show, but it's like, OK, there's this scary undercover organization that goes and picks out a half-dead cop, rebuilds his face so he looks like the son of the guy who runs the thing, gives him the worlds most powerful artificial intelligence —

Moore: Is that the backstory to Knight Rider? Really?

Wired: Yeah.

Moore: Oh, wow. I didn't remember that.

Wired: We've been watching it on YouTube in the office, mostly for the theme song. It wasn't just that they didn't have the balls to do it. It was like, do people really want to —

Moore: Well, yeah. Be careful what you create. If that's your backstory and then you don't take it seriously, the audience won't take it seriously. And then what are you engaging in? Then it really does tip over into camp very quickly, and it's hard to sustain camp week to week. I'm trying to think of a successful campy series that just went on week after week, that played it in that key. Maybe A-Team. You could probably make that argument that A-Team was very campy and fun and pretty successful, and yet at it's heart it's a vigilante show, that they have machine guns that never seem to hit anybody ever.

Wired: But a lot of the '80s shows — post-Galactica shows — any of the Stephen J. Cannell cop shows in a way were like that.

Moore: Yeah, I'm trying to remember — what are those shows, really?

Wired: Magnum P.I. , Riptide

Moore: But that's different. That's P.I. — that's private investigator. You have a lot more leeway with that genre than sci-fi, because there are so many colors, from Sam Spade to Magnum. Some of them are a wink and a nod more than others.

But yeah, you can say strip it down to these dark premises and wonder if audiences are going to follow you there. that's a legitimate question, a question the network asked us over and over again the first season. They were very concerned about how dark the show was. They literally thought that no one would watch the series after the first episode, 33. There was a point where they didn't want us to air 33 as the first episode.

Wired: Really?

Moore: They were, like, so scared of it. That was a whole big fight, and they eventually backed down, but there was a brief period where they talked about not airing them in order. They did one of the infamous controlled tests of the miniseries just before the mini went on the air — like four weeks before we aired or something, one of those marketing testing focus group things. They watched the series. It was one of the worst rated ever.

The company that did it sent back this cover page report that just said, nobody likes any of these characters, we see no reason this should ever become a series, there's no identification with any of it, it's too dark, it's too scary. And the network, all the blood drained from their face when they heard that, because it was too late. Fortunately, it was too late. The show was done, locked, in the can. I think we edited back, we cut out a couple more shots of gore here and there to throw them a bone, but it was way too late in the process to make any serious adjustments. It went to air with this sense of fatalism on the part of the network that, well, were boned here, they're going to hate it, it's too dark. Then they were shocked when the numbers were so good. It really shocked them. It made them reevaluate.

It's like money versus content. They were like, this show shouldn't work. The testing said it won't. But it's all those stories. Seinfeld had one of the worst testings in history. too.

Wired: Although, you did a thing that the Star Trek shows don't do and that Seinfeld didn't do either. You were there from the start. It didn't take you the first two seasons to ramp up to three quality seasons.

Moore: Yeah, it's interesting. Some shows hit it out of the gate, and other shows need time to build. The original Star Trek series hit it out of the gate. The first season is really good, very, very good.

Wired: Yes.

Moore: The third season is not so good. Any real fan of the old show, and there still are a few of us around, will tell you that the third season of the original series is the one that everyone makes fun of, that lives in pop culture.

Wired: Spock's Brain.

Moore: Spock's Brain, and Kirk's big belly, and you know —

Wired: Space hippies.

Moore: Whereas all the subsequent Star Trek series were good by the third season. They needed those first two years to find their feet.

Wired: So, you described yourself as a fan of the original Star Trek series. Were you a geek as a kid? Is this the stuff that you did for fun?

Moore: I grew up in an interesting environment. I grew up in a small town called Chowchilla, California, which was about 4,500 people, and the way I grew up was in a town that was small enough where I could be a member of the marching band and the quarterback of the football team. I could love Star Trek and still be accepted as one of the jocks. I could really live in both worlds because everybody kind of did. It was just small enough.

I grew up with a big interest in a lot of nerdy stuff, but it didn't marginalize me in my peer group, and I was involved in a lot of other things, too. So it was sort of surprising to me when I left that environment and went into the big outside world, and people were like, marching band is like the geekiest of the geek, and I'm like, Well, really, because it wasn't in my town. And, you know, You're a Star Trek fan? Oh my god, You're such a nerd. I'm like, Well, but I was the quarterback!

Wired: You should have led with that.

Moore: Yeah, you find out you have to lead with that. You find out, oh, I have to tell you this. So yeah, I still love a lot of that stuff, but just never grew up with the self-image and the inferiority complex that seems to go with everyone elses experiences of loving this material, of being that kid in the class that everyone made fun of. I just never thought of myself that way.

Wired: There's a lot of religion on the show. Are you religious?

Moore: I was raised Catholic, and I'm a recovering Catholic now. I became interested in various Eastern religions, and now I've sort of settled into somewhat of an agnosticism and sort of a general interest in the subject. I think in the show I felt it was a part that was really noticeably missing from the Star Trek universe. Gene Roddenberry felt very strongly that by the 23rd and 24th centuries that all the major religions had vanished and it was all regarded as superstition. That was his view of the future. I just never quite bought that. I thought, that's part of who we are, it's part of what it is to be human, to seek to answer the questions of: Is this all that I am? Is there nothing more? What happens after you die? It didn't seem like that was going to go away.

So I sort of felt its absence in the Star Trek universe, and then felt like that was something I would really portray in Galactica. And then as the Cylons became human-looking, when we decided that they would look like us, it just raised a whole host of issues that went in this direction: How they thought of themselves, why they wanted to kill humanity, that they saw themselves as humanity's children but felt they could never really come into their own until they had killed their parents. Already You're dealing with these metaphysical and physical arenas.

And then there was that moment in the miniseries where I just saw on the page that had Number Six say "God is love" to Baltar and one network executive just seized on it and said that's a great thing, I'm just shocked, you should play more of that. I just took the chance and went with it — decided that that was going to be a big part of the show, and the show just lent itself to it. The Greco-Roman names established in the original, Apollo and Athena, all these characters and references to astrology and all that, I just felt like, that's an easy step from there to say that the colonies are polytheistic. And making the Cylons monotheistic played into my own love of history and the idea of monotheism driving out paganism in Europe and Western civilization — I liked that. I liked having our heroes be on the other side of that equation.

Moore: And OK, religion is a fascinating topic and you can deal with it more aggressively and interestingly in science fiction than you can doing it in a contemporary show. Every contemporary show that tries to do it gets screamed off the air, everybody screams and complains. The Book of Daniel, the one with the pill-popping priest — oh my god, you would have thought that the world was ending because you can't write in that environment, you can't be creative. It becomes a stupid political argument with the networks and stupid advertisers and interest groups.

Wired: Or it's Touched by an Angel.

Moore: Yeah, then you have to go so, like, inoffensive and soft that it just becomes pap, and who wants to write that? In sci-fi, you get a pass. You can play with these things and get into them because everyone agrees it's not truly Christianity and it's not really Islam and it's not really all the things were all so freaked out about. Even though it is.

Wired: Your writing process — which you've been polite enough to record as a podcast —

Moore: ...and which I'm way behind on.

Wired: There's so much formalism in the way you put together the episodes. Does that help or hinder that creative process of finding things on the page?

Moore: It helps, but you have to sort of have a structure to work from. What those years at Trek really instilled in me was a great sense of structure and story. The writers would sit in rooms with big white dry erase boards for hours, days on end, and we broke stories down in minute detail: Teaser. Beat 1. Exterior space. Enterprise in orbit. Beat 2. Interior, bridge. Picard, Data, Riker, Troi at their positions. An exercise is going on. Data notices something. We would break them down, scene by scene, almost to dialog levels. We'd spend hours doing it, rearranging them, reshuffling, writing again. You do that process for years on end and it builds in a sense of story, so I have a muscle memory of story that I can kind of stroke through quickly in the room, but the basics are there.

It's like studying the classics. You build this foundation of formalism and then you understand the rules, and now you understand how to break all the rules and still tell a coherent story, and you can come at them from different directions and realize there are things people say that's just crap. People will tell you, oh, the hero has to be active, you have to make your hero active all the time. Well, no you don't. Anybody ever see Casablanca? Rick is the most reactive, non-proactive character in the history of film. He doesn't do anything in that movie until the end, and You're riveted by it.

Wired: He does let them play "La Marseilles."

Moore: He does let them play.

Wired: On that tip then, What's the worst corner you and the team have written yourselves into, and how'd you get out?

Moore: Some of that were doing right now as we wrap up the show. Now it's like, OK, what does that mean exactly? Now that we've gotten to that point, OK, what does that mean? And, you know, how could they be the final four Cylons? How does downloading work? There are a lot of those kinds of questions that we struggled with and felt like, wow, how do we get out of this? And usually our season cliffhangers painted us into pretty good little corners.

Wired: I'm delighted to hear that.

Moore: Oh, yeah. And that's part of the fun of the show to me. It's dangerous, it's scary, we don't always make it. But I like that. It's what keeps it interesting, seeing what you can pull off and challenging yourself. What do we do with this? Where is this going to go? You jump ahead a year in time and decide You're just going to live with that. I didn't really know what the rest of that season was going to be, and that's a pretty big corner. There's no going back, you couldn't do, oh, it's all a dream.

OK, now we've reshuffled all these characters and lives and where do we go?

Wired: Do you have favorite episodes? Least favorite episode?

Moore: I love 33 still. It's a really interesting episode. The structure was non-traditional. I thought it was a great way to open the series. It raised the bar on the miniseries in a lot of ways. I like the fact that we didn't just pick them up sailing through space, they've been OK for 10 days, and then oh, no the Cylons are coming again. I liked that there was a breathless quality to it, and it was filmed really well, good performances.

And then the jump ahead a year in time (Lay Down Your Burdens) is one of my favorite moments.

Black Market still is a very disappointing episode for me. The episode where Billy dies is disappointing and doesn't quite work. Some things just didn't pan out.

Wired: Do you feel any connection to, or responsibility for, some of the other long-arc science fiction popular on the air now? Like Lost and Heroes?

Moore: Oh, not really. I just assumed that people have always liked serialized storytelling. They weren't quite applying it to this genre so much. I never thought about it like that — that we bore any responsibility for people doing that as well.

Wired: I ask because I know that things on television generally come in waves, so, like, in some seasons everyone has a lot of Westerns or private detectives.

Moore: Yeah, I think Lost bears more of the responsibility for that than we do. It's the difference between cable and network. They're just a bigger pop culture phenomenon, and the fact that they hooked a big audience into a long-range arc like that makes everybody else sit up and take notice. The fact we did it on Sci Fi Channel, people were appreciative and we got a lot of critical acclaim, but it wasn't getting the big dollars. When you get the big dollars, everyone starts paying attention.

Wired: What do you watch for pleasure?

Moore: I watch a lot of Seinfeld. I'm trying to think of what I have TiVo'd. I watch The Colbert Report, a lot of news programming. Charlie Rose. I got into Breaking Bad. That is a really challenging, interesting show. I watch Robot Chicken, which I think is one of the best comedy shows in the last 10 years.

Wired: It's safe to say they love you, too.

Moore: I was very surprised. I didn't even know my guys were doing that episode last season. I just was watching my Robot Chicken, and all of a sudden all my actors showed up. I called them up, I was like, what the fuck? No one told me! What's this, you guys?

I used to really like The Boondocks. That was very daring.

Wired: You mentioned TiVo. Do you think you benefited from DVD box sets, TiVo timeshifting, the ability for people to go watch all of season one?

Moore: Absolutely. It's a totally different world, and it plays to our audience. The fans of this genre traditionally lead all these technologies. The early adopters, the people who are very facile with computers and tech, and they will find the show in all these different formats. It absolutely has helped us.

Wired: Even being able to tell the non-fans, look, just go get the box set?

Moore: It's great. That phenomenon has definitely occurred, too, where people who would not sample the show, who wouldn't tune into something on Sci Fi Channel, much less called Battlestar Galactica, people would then press on them a DVD. They became fans. That happened a lot. People just put it on their iTunes. I bemoan the loss of NBC Universals relationship with iTunes for this show.

Wired: What's the deal with Caprica? What's the schedule now?

Moore: It's busy. Caprica is going. We're in pre-production. We have a director. They're starting to cast right now.

Wired: Are you going to show-run?

Moore: Well, it's just a pilot for now. There's no order for a series, so there's nothing to show-run. There's just a pilot to produce, and I'm one of the producers. The script has been written for two years, so there's not a lot of heavy lifting on the page.

Virtuality is a pilot that's been ordered by Fox Broadcasting and that Mike Taylor and I wrote. Were prepping that as we speak as well. We don't know where it's going to shoot, but it'll probably start shooting in July. And that's a two-hour, and well see when and if they order it to series.

Wired: It looked like Caprica wasn't going to get a green light.

Moore: Oh, I'd given up on it. I'd frankly just given up on it. It was on the back burner. They never said definitively no. They just said, well, not now. And they kept saying, well, not now. You just give up at a certain point. And I was sure it was never going to happen. And then during the writers strike I literally read it in TV Guide that they were doing it. Somebody said, did you see the mention in TV Guide? They're talking about Caprica.

I was like, OK.

Wired: Do you think NBC Universal, Sci Fi Channel were happy with the ratings-to-money-to-time ratio on Galactica?

Moore: I think it would depend on who you ask. If you talked to the money people, to the bean-counting contingent, they would probably say no. They would probably say it's a very expensive show that never got huge ratings, and that's the bottom line. I think that the creative execs, the marketing people would say it was definitely worth it in that it got so much attention for Sci Fi. I won't say it put them on the map, but it certainly boosted their profile. It became a show they were proud of, that garnered a lot of awards, and that allowed them to seek other talent to come work at their network.

Even the bean counters, if you wrestled them to the ground and got them to speak the truth, would have to admit that the show, like every other show, will definitely earn money. They all earn profit. DVD sales on this show are huge, internationals are very strong, and the library value of this show is tremendous. It will be around for a long time. They all foresee using it, leasing multiples, any format that comes along they'll be putting Battlestar Galactica on it. They will make money on the show.

Wired: And they can run it five nights a week.

Moore: They'll run it forever. It'll be downloadable, streaming. DVDs will die eventually, but there will always be some way you can get this show, and there will always be some way NBC Universal will make money from it.

Wired: You've been committed to those other forms, too. Webisodes, the blog, the podcasts. What's the importance of those?

Moore: Now I think they're almost expected. Now they're part of what it is to do a television show, especially in this genre. This genres fans are very connected to their computers, to all these multiple platforms, and they look for it. They're there to be served, so why wouldn't you serve them? We're planning webisodes for this season. My podcasting will continue, albeit depending on how quick I am about it, it'll happen. The blog is more — I don't know what to do about the blog. I go back to the blog. I created my own blog. I do it in bursts, and then I fall away from it. I find myself without a lot to say sometimes, and that's a fatal flaw in the blogosphere evidently. You're supposed to say something whether it's of value or not.

Wired: The fatal flaw is that people do it anyway.

Moore: Yeah, I just don't have a lot to say. I don't have a topic for a blog, so I don't write one till I think of something or the mood hits me. But I think it's great that these things are all out there and available, and certainly any project I do from now on will take advantage of these platforms.

Wired: Because you build loyalty?

Moore: Yeah, it increases the base. People that love your show want to expect more of it. Here's a way to expect more of it. Why wouldn't you provide that to them? it's up to the people in the black building to figure out how to monetize it. Here's a viewer who tunes into the show once a week for an hour, and now I have the ability to bring that viewer to a Web site for multiple hours beyond a single viewing, involve them in the show in many different ways. You guys figure it out. Sell something to this person. Put advertising in front of this person. Offer them other things to buy, expose them to other shows. That's not my problem. I'm just providing them a bigger window into the universe they already love.

Wired: Do you like interacting with fans?

Moore: I do, I enjoy it. I like it. I have enough of the fan in me to appreciate what it is to be a fan — to want to get closer and understand how the sausage is made, to narrow more details of whos in the united federation of planets and where Kirk was born. I get all that, and if I have those answers, I'm happy to provide them. I enjoy what I do. I get a kick out of it, I think it's fun, and I like sharing with the people who are interested. You just keep the rest of it at bay.

The danger is that you start reading those boards too closely and you get too wrapped up in the critics of the show and youll start going, god, the show sucks. You just sort of not fall into shit like that. No one in the writers room really says, well, I was reading on the boards, and they don't like x, y, and z, so we shouldn't do that. That's happened once or twice and it's usually like stampeded to death, like, oh really, they don't like it when we do that? Well that's what were doing. We kind of go the other way. Oh, that'll piss them off? Well let's really piss them off. This'll really piss them off, that'll drive them insane. They'll say, oh, there's this guy who really hates the show, and all he talks about is how much he hates Starbuck. Oh, yeah? OK. Let's do a Starbuck episode.

Wired: Yeah, but tell the truth: When you do the big space battles that just means were bound for an episode of two characters trapped in a turbolift down the line, right?

Moore: Pretty much, yeah. It's still television. You still have to do all that shit.

Wired: You just directed. What was that like?

Moore: It was tremendous. It was an amazing experience. I approached it with a fair degree of fear, like, wow, I've never done this, do I know what I'm doing? Will I look like an idiot? And I just tried it. But I have a cast and a crew that made it easy for me, and I enjoyed it, and I directed something that I'd written. It was a thing I'd never done, which is, you write a script and you play the movie in your head as you write it. At least I do. And one of the first things you have to lose in this business is that movie, because it's never going to be that way. You write the scene and envision them coming in camera left and sit down on this line, and then you watch the dailies and they come in camera right and stand through the whole thing. You just have to let go of that. You're handing your script over to other people who interpret it and realize it, and when you're directing, you can realize that. You can make the film I'm trying to make in my head. And yet you're still free to play around with it and the actors bring stuff and change stuff, and there are still surprises. But you can actually create what it is you're trying to achieve. That was great. I really enjoyed it, it didn't freak me out. I was calm. I made my days. I saved money.

I liked it. I liked being the guy who had to answer all the questions. I liked people coming up constantly and asking, should it be this or should it be that? It's that. Should we go here or there? Go there. Why are we doing this? This is why were doing this. What does this line mean? This is what the line means. Do you need coverage on this guy? No, I don't need coverage. I liked that. It was energizing and fun.

My son came with me. He's 9, and he sat on the set next to me for, like, four days and I couldn't pry him off that set. He sat there with his headphones and just lived in it, loved it, and I could kind of see the show through his eyes, and it was precious.

Senior editor Adam Rogers (adam_rogers@wired.com) wrote about Cirque du Soleil in issue 15.06.

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Rock pioneer Bo Diddley dies at age 79

Legendary singer passes away from heart failure at his home in Florida

Julie Jacobson / AP file
Bo Diddley performs during the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony in New York in 2005.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Bo Diddley, a founding father of rock ’n’ roll whose distinctive “shave and a haircut, two bits” rhythm and innovative guitar effects inspired legions of other musicians, died Monday after months of ill health. He was 79.

Diddley died of heart failure at his home in Archer, Fla., spokeswoman Susan Clary said. He had suffered a heart attack in August, three months after suffering a stroke while touring in Iowa. Doctors said the stroke affected his ability to speak, and he had returned to Florida to continue rehabilitation.

The legendary singer and performer, known for his homemade square guitar, dark glasses and black hat, was an inductee into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, had a star on Hollywood’s Walk of Fame, and received a lifetime achievement award in 1999 at the Grammy Awards. In recent years he also played for the elder President Bush and President Clinton.

Diddley appreciated the honors he received, “but it didn’t put no figures in my checkbook.”

“If you ain’t got no money, ain’t nobody calls you honey,” he quipped.

Introducing Bo
The name Bo Diddley came from other youngsters when he was growing up in Chicago, he said in a 1999 interview.

“I don’t know where the kids got it, but the kids in grammar school gave me that name,” he said, adding that he liked it so it became his stage name. Other times, he gave somewhat differing stories on where he got the name. Some experts believe a possible source for the name is a one-string instrument used in traditional blues music called a diddley bow.

Image: Bo Diddley, B.B. King
Richard Drew / AP file
Blues legend B.B. King, left, performs with Bo Diddley at the second anniversary celebration of B.B. King's Blues Club and Grill in New York in June, 2002.

His first single, “Bo Diddley,” introduced record buyers in 1955 to his signature rhythm: bomp ba-bomp bomp, bomp bomp, often summarized as “shave and a haircut, two bits.” The B side, “I’m a Man,” with its slightly humorous take on macho pride, also became a rock standard.

The company that issued his early songs was Chess-Checkers records, the storied Chicago-based labels that also recorded Chuck Berry and other stars.

Howard Kramer, assistant curator of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, said in 2006 that Diddley’s Chess recordings “stand among the best singular recordings of the 20th century.”

Diddley’s other major songs included, “Say Man,” “You Can’t Judge a Book by Its Cover,” “Shave and a Haircut,” “Uncle John,” “Who Do You Love?” and “The Mule.”

Spreading influence
Diddley’s influence was felt on both sides of the Atlantic. Buddy Holly borrowed the bomp ba-bomp bomp, bomp bomp rhythm for his song “Not Fade Away.”

The Rolling Stones’ bluesy remake of that Holly song gave them their first chart single in the United States, in 1964. The following year, another British band, the Yardbirds, had a Top 20 hit in the U.S. with their version of “I’m a Man.”

Video
Bo Diddley dies
June 2: "The Father of Rock and Roll" Bo Diddley dies at age 79. NBC's Chris Clackum reports.

NBC News Channel

Diddley was also one of the pioneers of the electric guitar, adding reverb and tremelo effects. He even rigged some of his guitars himself.

“He treats it like it was a drum, very rhythmic,” E. Michael Harrington, professor of music theory and composition at Belmont University in Nashville, Tenn., said in 2006.

Many other artists, including the Who, Bruce Springsteen and Elvis Costello copied aspects of Diddley’s style.

Growing up, Diddley said he had no musical idols, and he wasn’t entirely pleased that others drew on his innovations.

“I don’t like to copy anybody. Everybody tries to do what I do, update it,” he said. “I don’t have any idols I copied after.”

“They copied everything I did, upgraded it, messed it up. It seems to me that nobody can come up with their own thing, they have to put a little bit of Bo Diddley there,” he said.

‘I never got paid’
Despite his success, Diddley claimed he only received a small portion of the money he made during his career. Partly as a result, he continued to tour and record music until his stroke. Between tours, he made his home near Gainesville in north Florida.

“Seventy ain’t nothing but a damn number,” he told The Associated Press in 1999. “I’m writing and creating new stuff and putting together new different things. Trying to stay out there and roll with the punches. I ain’t quit yet.”

Diddley, like other artists of his generations, was paid a flat fee for his recordings and said he received no royalty payments on record sales. He also said he was never paid for many of his performances.

“I am owed. I’ve never got paid,” he said. “A dude with a pencil is worse than a cat with a machine gun.”

In the early 1950s, Diddley said, disc jockeys called his type of music, “Jungle Music.” It was Cleveland disc jockey Alan Freed who is credited with inventing the term “rock ’n’ roll.”

Diddley said Freed was talking about him, when he introduced him, saying, “Here is a man with an original sound, who is going to rock and roll you right out of your seat.”

Diddley won attention from a new generation in 1989 when he took part in the “Bo Knows” ad campaign for Nike, built around football and baseball star Bo Jackson. Commenting on Jackson’s guitar skills, Diddley says to him, “Bo, you don’t know diddly.”

“I never could figure out what it had to do with shoes, but it worked,” Diddley said. “I got into a lot of new front rooms on the tube.”

Born as Ellas Bates on Dec. 30, 1928, in McComb, Miss., Diddley was later adopted by his mother’s cousin and took on the name Ellis McDaniel, which his wife always called him.

When he was 5, his family moved to Chicago, where he learned the violin at the Ebenezer Baptist Church. He learned guitar at 10 and entertained passers-by on street corners.

By his early teens, Diddley was playing Chicago’s Maxwell Street.

“I came out of school and made something out of myself. I am known all over the globe, all over the world. There are guys who have done a lot of things that don’t have the same impact that I had,” he said.

© 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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Boston Needed Lead Singer, Found One Online

Tommy DeCarlo of Charlotte, N.C., dreamed of becoming a rock star, listening to his favorite band's albums and memorizing their songs.

Tommy DiCarlo is the new singer for his favorite band Boston.

"A Boston song would come on and I'd get fired up and I'd start singing it," said DeCarlo, 43, a father of two kids -- Talia, 19, and Tommy Jr., 17.

But dreams didn't pay the bills, so DeCarlo worked as a credit manager at a Home Depot store in Charlotte to support his.

Still, he never gave up singing along to his Boston CDs, and his daughter Talia took notice. She posted a MySpace page of DeCarlo singing karaoke to Boston songs after the band's lead singer, Brad Delp, committed suicide in March 2007. And, in an instant, DeCarlo's whole world turned upside down.

"I wanted to share [the karaoke] with ... other Boston fans," he said.

DeCarlo had to sing with the karaoke track because he had sold his keyboard in 2006, using the extra cash to buy Christmas presents for his children.

Meanwhile, up in Boston, members of the real band were struggling to continue playing as the coped with Delp's suicide.

"My wife was at her computer playing our tunes, and I asked whether it was us playing live," Boston founder Tom Scholz told USA Today. "She said, 'It's some guy in North Carolina singing your songs.' I said, 'I know Brad's voice, and that's Brad.'"

Still, a skeptical Scholz was intrigued.

"In order to believe it, I had to plug the computer into the big speakers so I could listen to the background music and see if it was the band," Scholz told ABC News. "And I realized it wasn't the band, it was a karaoke track. Somebody was singing to it, and it wasn't Brad."

So the band decided to give DeCarlo a shot -- as their new lead singer.

"I was like, 'Wow!'" DeCarlo told "Good Morning America." "I remember calling my wife and kids in the bedroom and I said, 'Look at this e-mail!' I couldn't believe it."

"I was like, 'Oh my goodness, I can't believe this is happening," said Talia DeCarlo. "It was crazy."

DeCarlo made his debut onstage at a tribute concert to Brad Delp last August. It was the first time he sang with a band in his entire life.

"Even at the tribute, I heard a few people say it was a little eerie to hear Tommy sing, because it sounded like Brad up there," Scholz said.

Tommy DeCarlo
Tommy DeCarlo performs with the legendary rock band Boston after being plucked from obscurity to be the group's new lead singer.
(ABC News)

"My hope is to carry on what Brad meant," DeCarlo said.

DeCarlo and the rest of Boston will begin their summer tour on June 6, 2008, in Thunber Bay, Ontario, Canada.

And the keyboard that DeCarlo sold two years ago, trying to make ends meet? Yamaha is endorcing DeCarlo and shipping him a brand-new synthesizer. He is scheduled to receive it the day before he and the band leave for their tour.

Boston got lucky finding "somebody who is good at something, who loved it and all of a sudden, all the connections got made," Boston founder Scholz said. He added: "Thank God!" For DeCarlo, his ultimate "dream job" has become an unbelievable reality. "A lot of folks have said, 'Wow! You're living a dream.'"

DeCarlo laughed, "I've never dreamed this big. ... Never in a million years I thought this could happen."

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7 Super Heroes We Can Live Without

by Larson Hill

Before we roll out our list of super heroes we "can't" live without, there are a few out there in comic book/animated land that we'll never yearn to see, even if they do end up coming back in some form or another. For every badass super hero that's been created, even more forgettable heroes have been forced into existence as super-filler. Whether they're just downright lame or hokey, they're out there. Whether they're dead, gone, or cancelled, they might be back. Although we here at The Deadbolt love a wide range of leading heroes and supporting characters, the super hero universe is becoming even more crowded a mutant cesspool now that Hollywood has finally realized their potential as bonafide box-office protagonists.

Although we respect the creative brain power it takes to bring any character to life with a rich, rewarding, and complex back story, there are some we just haven't been able to buy into. Here's a look at 7 Super Heroes We Can Live Without:

#7 - Robin:

You can't have a "do without" list without mentioning Robin, Batman's longstanding and trusty sidekick. That's the problem - the word sidekick. To a large degree, sidekicks often make their stronger, more super counterparts weaker. How strong and super is Batman as a hero when he needs Robin to bail him out? Think about it. The coolest thing about the early Robin character was actor Burt Ward who played him in the classic 1966 TV series. But that was 42 years ago and the classic Robin character hasn't been cool (or relevant) since. Seriously, what purpose does Robin serve other than pointing the way to the Batcave? Sure, he's always been a second set of eyes to peripheral happenings and lends a hand in tough battles, but, like we said, many sidekicks often make their stronger, more super counterparts weaker. The coolest incarnation was the transformation of Robin into Nightwing, who at one time actually served as Batman when Bruce Wayne got sick. Now that's a super hero. When Dick Grayson decided to move on from the "Robin" moniker to find his own independence as Nightwing, it was the best move he ever made.

#6 - The Wonder Twins:

Two sibling super heroes who needed each other to activate their powers? For a villain, they're easy prey. Why not just pull an Indy Jones and shoot them both with a gun. Although the Wonder Twins, Zan and Jayna, were revamped into deeper, edgier, less cartoony heroes with better back stories in the 1990s, it's hard to call them cool super heroes. We did like their Extreme Justice reincarnation, but they've always been lightweight characters. Would anyone really miss the Wonder Twins if they were gone forever? Originating from the Super Friends Universe, the first Zan could turn into anything water based - glacier, water, mist, etc - while Jayna could transform into a variety of animals, real or mythological. Taking the sidekick element one step further, the Twins also had their own trusty pal in a blue space monkey named Gleek, who could help them unite their powers if they weren't close to each other. We haven't seen Zan and Jayna in years, and we're not missing them either.

#5 - Dazzler:

Take any American Idol wannabe, any young and fit female auditioning for "So You Think You Can Dance?", any American Gladiator wannabe, or any young vixen in search of celebrity and you have Dazzler (aka Alison Blaire). The fact that Dazzler survived the Disco craze of the late '70s where she first tried to make her mark as a singer is truly amazing. That very well might be her crowning achievement as a super heroine. Although Dazzler is a knockout of a mutant who can convert sonic vibrations into white light and use it to defeat the forces of evil, she's never felt like a bonafide super hero. How can you take any super hero seriously when they're wearing roller skates? While we respect her legacy within the X-men universe, Dazzler just hasn't been able to "dazzle" us over the years. Trust us, the world doesn't need an American Idol super hero on rollerblades. And, despite efforts to make her more alternatively edgy with a punk revamp, she's still the same old Dazzler from her Disco days.

#4 - Matter Eater Lad:

Poor Matter Eater Lad, if only he had a cooler name and real super power. It's not the fact that Matter Eater Lad (aka Tenzil Kem) comes from a Legion of Super Heroes era that younger fans can't relate to that we have a problem with; it's the fact that he's got THE worst name in the history of the super hero universe. It's kind of along the same lines as if Batman was really named "Bat Inhabitor Man". It has similar phonetic awkwardness. The little known "matter" of fact about Tenzil Kem is that he's responsible for saving the world more than once, which does make him a legitimate hero. Although Matter Eater Lad can chomp his way out of almost anything, which does give him a few more super options than some higher profile badass heroes when caught in a jam, it's still hard to take him seriously. A guy that can eat through almost any substance seems more like sideshow act from the Jim Rose Circus than a super hero.

#3 - Hoppy the Marvel Bunny:

Yep, he's a pink rabbit in a Shazam suit. Hoppy was spun off into his own comic from the Shazam world way back in the 1940s and was part of the Funny Animals series of the day. It's clear Hoppy was nothing more than a fun character geared toward kids. But weren't kids the ones who were already reading comic books anyway? Obviously 2-year old comic book geeks of the ‘40s needed something colorful to look at while their older brothers read the real comics. Any sympathy we had for the character went out the window when we learned Hoppy the Marvel Bunny was renamed to "Happy the Magic Bunny". Sounds more like an imaginary character you'd see inside a Chill Tent at Lollapalooza. He's basically Shazam with big feet, buckteeth, and floppy ears. We know there's a Shazam movie in the works, but if it does get off the ground and Hoppy makes an appearance in the film to battle Carrot Top, that'll be our cue to flee the theater.

#2 - Squirrel Girl:

If you can believe it, the mutant Squirrel Girl and her rodent allies actually kicked Dr. Doom's butt, beat Deadpool, even Mandarin. She's also Iron Man's friend, too. But much like Happy the Magic Bunny and Shazam, if we see Squirrel Girl in Iron Man 2, we're outta there. Sure she can whip some evil ass, but she's a buck-toothed mutant squirrel for crying out loud. A squirrel! Tony Stark and Iron Man, now that's cool. Did we say she's a squirrel? Although we can buy into the concept that Squirrel Girl understands the language of squirrels, the notion that squirrels can understand her when she speaks English simply takes her to Snagglepuss, Hanna-Barbera territory. If that's not enough, Squirrel Girl also carries snacks/friendly rewards in "nut sacks" on her utility belt, which takes her into Ron Jeremy territory. Please!

#1 - Captain Planet and the Planeteers:

Despite the admirable environmentally friendly ideals that Captain Planet and the Planeteers stand for, they've done a god-awful job of protecting the planet. Although Captain Planet and his environmentally friendly compatriots were created in 1990 by Ted Turner to defend the Earth from destructive human activity and help in the aftermath of natural disaster, they've gotten their asses handed to them in recent years. Since humans have been hell bent on destroying their existence on Earth, producing more pollution by the year and raping the planet of just about everything living and organic, it's clear Turner underestimated the super power of the people. The funny thing is: since the Earth gave the Planeteers their powers, and Captain Planet consists of their collective forces, you could say the Earth has done a horrible job of protecting itself. Where were the Planeteers during Hurricane Katrina? We don't have a problem with the morality of Captain Planet and the Planteers and their environmentally friendly messages, but they're caught in the middle of a contradictory battle that they'll never win.

-- Larson Hill

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