Friday, February 26, 2016

Earth 10: Rogues Gallery 4, Firestorm

Firestorm’s Rogues Gallery is interesting the same way that Vigilante’s is – the new character bares so little background resemblance to the original that it’s hard to find links between them, but this one is even worse because we don’t even have the same motif as he is magic rather than science, Asian rather than American. Some of them are well worth saving.

Killer Frost

She’s the Firestorm villain as far as I’m concerned, so we need some version of her. This version of the ice maiden is Lila Shen, a young alchemist who had hoped to be Jai Bai’s pupil, but he saw an unredeemable emptiness in her soul. When she discovered that Bai had taken on Johnny in some capacity she set her mind on vengeance, creating the alchemical potions that unleashed that void within her, allowing her to generate endless amounts of cold and snow. (I’m not 100% sold on this because the Killer Frost origin of ‘hero rejected woman’s advances so she becomes an ice princess’ is a little too on the nose; must think on this more)

Bountiful Harvest

Bai’s actual assistant before he started the path to his ascension, Chang Fuhua left his master under good graces, but shortly thereafter was captured and brainwashed by Kobra and trained to mastery of kung fu skills. Fuhua was the leader of the assault that Johnny interrupted, where he and a cadre of Kobra’s brainwashed to mindlessness thugs were merged together into a single being. Since only Fuhua had any identity left those bodies have conformed to his features and personality, letting him split himself into multiple people, each possessing superior physical abilities and martial arts skills. Firestorm has used his purifying flame to break Kobra’s brainwashing once, but it didn’t stick. What Firestorm does not know is that the original Fuhau is directly in Kobra’s custody, where he can reverse Bai’s efforts to save him – this is a long term plot thread in the series. (This is obviously the new Multiplex, but I refuse to use that name as it’s dorky; anyway Bountiful Harvest hits the same notes as being the former partner turned enemy with duplication powers.)

The Hyena

A talking animal of the Chinese tradition, the Hyena is able to shift back and forth between hyena and various human forms, which can be either solid shape-shifting or illusions overlapping her shape, whichever works better (she can also create illusionary surroundings). She is able to speak in anyone’s voice in any shape she takes, and her voice can be extremely hypnotic and persuasive. She is a trickster first and foremost, pushing people to do foolish or unwise things, but she occasionally has flashes of mad passion – be it anger or ‘true love’ – that drive her to darker criminal behavior. Her nature shape is abnormally powerful for an animal her size, making her a credible threat to a  martial artist of Johnny’s caliber. In her first appearance she was romancing a friend of Johnny’s, and she’s more of a Johnny Lo villain than a Master Bai one.

David Lo Pan

Due to a licensing agreement with John Carpenter DC is able to use all of the characters from the classic Big Trouble in Little China, which means that David Lo Pan, the Three Storms, the Wing Kong and the Lords of Death. Johnny Lo actually has a history of fighting with the Lords of Death gang pre-Firestorm, and Master Bai is an old ally of Egg Chen. What more needs to be said? OK a little more, but these guys make great wixua villains and capture the furious martial arts energy that often infuses the Firestorm series.