FGC #600 Marvel vs. Capcom 2: New Age of Heroes: Part 4

They shall take me for a rideMarvel vs. Capcom 2: New Age of Heroes is an amazing, once in a lifetime game that brings together over 50 characters from wildly disparate worlds and franchises. So, in an effort to pay tribute to one of the games I believe to be the greatest of all time, please enjoy day four of a five-day, 100% complete, generally alphabetical look at every fighter in Marvel vs. Capcom 2. Today, we’re going to go down the rabbit hole with…

Betsy “Psylocke” Braddock

This is for Ms. Marvel…. Look, even I have limits.

We’re on day four here, and we’re at something like 15,700 words all about this nonsense, and… Gah, Psylocke. I really want every entry in this #600 to get to some “core” of a featured character. I mean, look at the crazy depth of the Marvel vs. Capcom 2 roster! It has at least one character that was five decades old when he appeared in the game, and he could fight a sentient, newborn cactus. That’s huge! That’s bigger than Mario! And the fact that it is unlikely we will see such a game again without excessive marketing department input or a bunch of weirdos meme-voting Deadpool’s companion unicorn into the proceedings is significant. We are never going to have Marvel vs. Capcom 2 again, as it was a perfect time capsule of an epoch before videogames and comics were the exclusive domain of commercial monopolies. Say what you will about the presence of Marrow or Ruby Heart, but there is no way we are seeing one of them take up a valuable “slot” again when Thanos’s latest rival is available.

But Psylocke? Even though Betsy Braddock has been kicking around comics since 1976, the “core” of this character is… It is impenetrable. You get any deeper than the surface level of Psylocke, and things get muddled at best, and downright racist at worst. I don’t want to write about how Marvel Comics had an incredibly ridiculous Asian fetish back in [insert any year since 1976], and damn near everything about that comes off as racist as hell if you examine it for more than three seconds! I just want to write about wacky mutants fighting equally wacky computer game dudes.

But, I suppose I have to see this project through to its end, so, with that in mind…

Psylocke was born Elizabeth Braddock, the mutant younger sister of Captain Britain, Sir James Braddock. She had several adventures with the X-Men as a telepathic, purple-haired supermodel with a tendency to attack her opponents via butterfly motif. In 1989, things got weird when Betsy was… urgh… okay… so originally “Psylocke” was given “new eyes” by Mojo (we will get to Spiral tomorrow), and… like… that made her Asian? But then that was misinterpreted by the next writer, so it was established that she was not just given some kind of eye surgery, but had her brain scooped out and implanted into an Asian woman that was incidentally a badass ninja assassin. And this explained why previously fairly chill Betsy suddenly could do backflips around the universe while wielding a katana that was a projection of the focused totality of her psychic powers. And, in time, there had to be an explanation on who the woman Psylocke was before she was Psylocke, so Kwannon was retconned, and now there was the eternal story hook of Psylocke being returned to a revived form of her old body, or Kwannon coming back for revenge, or… Gah!

It’s too much! In an effort to “correct” the uncomfortably racist plot of “someone made Betsy generically Asian”, an entirely new, marginally less racist story had to be created. And it is the story of a wealthy white woman stealing and tangentially killing an Asian woman. And Marvel’s staff has literally stated that it was meant to be temporary, but everybody liked Jim Lee drawing an Asian lady in a swimsuit. And damned if “Kwannon’s body” wasn’t plastered over every comic book cover, trading card, and even videogame from the 90’s until the end of time. Psylocke is even unnaturally “jiggly” in her Capcom appearances! This was a sold few years before Dead or Alive! And you don’t see Wolverine employing real-time sprite physics! All to feature a “stolen” body!

Argh! I just want to fight with the pretty ninja lady! But you jerks made it all terrible!

If you’re curious, in the current comics status quo, Betsy is back to being original Betsy, and Kwannon has reclaimed her original body (more or less) that is totally not being randomly killed by Mr. Sinister on an irregular basis. This seems like an effort to make the character(s) less problematic, but the fact that it took about forty years to get there is… a little disheartening.

And don’t get me started on all the times the writers “threatened” to bring back OG Betsy like it was the worst thing that could happen…

Anna Marie aka Rogue

Feel the MojoChrist on a cracker, Rogue is next after Psylocke? Dammit! I do not want to examine that “Southern Belle” dynamic here. Yes, she is flirty as hell but equally chaste because her power kills potential suitors. Can we look at something else? Something more fun?

Oh! Let’s play with names!

Anna Marie was named Rogue in her original, English appearance. This made a certain kind of sense, as this was the era of short, punchy X-Names (see also Kitty Pryde’s original “Sprite” moniker), and Rogue was a bad guy. “Rogue” sounds appropriately villainous and worked well with her makeshift (evil) family consisting of Mystique and Destiny. When she switched sides, the Rogue title got to stick around, because she was not particularly trusted by her former enemies, and “Rogue” immediately told a new reader that they might have to be guarded around this strange woman that seems to be pestering Wolverine’s inner monologue. By the time Rogue was being accepted by everyone from Scott Summers to Captain America, the name had already been well and truly established, and Rogue wasn’t going anywhere. And that’s great! Because Rogue is a cool, immediately understandable name. Go for the gold, Rogue!

But Rogue doesn’t necessarily translate well. Technically, the first definition for “rogue” is “vagrant, tramp”. That is not very nice! And while the generally “mischievous person” description fits Rogue from inception to current incarnation (she married the Cajun sensation, and only occasionally kills him), other definitions of rogue (like “a horse inclined to shirk”) do not suit her. You just can’t get the same kind of punchy explanation that rogue holds in the English language. So, in an effort to find the same spirit across the globe, Rogue has acquired the most aliases across other regions of any X-Men.

Picara is her name in Spain, and that seems like the best fit, as “Picara” has the same “adventurer” definition as Rogue. Similarly, we’ve got Шельма in Russian, and that basically translates to “rascal” (and “Руж” for some animated appearances, which gives her the same name as a Sonic the Hedgehog bat girl). Hungary gets “Vadóc” which gives us something like “madcap” (though with an association with the color red). “Malicia” lives in Marvel-France. That suits her perfectly for her initial appearances, but “Bad Girl” does not work so well when she is leading the X-Avengers Unity Team (though you could make the same argument about Rogue…). “Vampira” in Portugal and “Parasit” in Denmark both seem to allude to Rogue’s life-sucking powers. And, most interestingly, we have “Titania” in Latin America, which works well for both a prominent female mutant (as a reference to the Queen of the Fae, Titania), and a woman who frequently has the strength (and brashness) of a titan.

And then there is Poland. Poland gets “Ruda”. That just means redhead. Like, ya know, Rogue has red hair.

Except she doesn’t, you danged Poles! You see that white streak? It has been there from the beginning! And the whole thing is more of an auburn-brown, anyway! Polish Creative Team, did… did you think her name was “Rouge”? Guys, do we have to review our French again?

Roll

The moon casts no light of its own, it only reflects the sun. What we refer to as moonlight is nothing more than recycled sunlight. However, in seeing the “light of the moon”, we know just how brightly the sun shines.

Mega Man was previously a cleaning robot named Rock. When Rock saw his robot brothers kidnapped by Dr. Wily, he asked his creator, Dr. Light, to transform him into a super fighting robot. This granted Rock a shiny new helmet and arm cannon, and set him off into an endless battle as the unstoppable Mega Man. Mega Man utilized not only his own arsenal, but adapted the weapons of his opponents to subdue his rivals and, eventually, Dr. Wily. While Dr. Wily dispatched new and fresh robots to menace Mega on a nigh-annual basis, Mega Man was always up to the task, and wasted no time in conquering every badbot from Centaur Man to Yellow Devil. While the official end to these Robot Wars may never be known, it is firmly established that every time Dr. Wily rose with a new nuisance, there was Mega Man there to meet the challenge.

And then there’s Roll.

Roll is a cleaning robot eternally known as simply Roll. When she saw her “robot brothers” kidnapped by Dr. Wily, Roll did nothing. When Rock became Mega Man and was set off to battle, Roll did nothing. When Mega Man fought for ever lasting peace over and over again, Roll stayed home. Maybe she cleaned? We do not know, as people do not make videogames about cleaning robots (sorry, Chibi Robo). Mega Man has never stopped fighting for the greater good, and Roll has never left the house.

The leads us to one unmistakable conclusion: Rock is an amazingly unique robot. He is the only robot in the history of his universe to actively choose to become something different, and to then use that “difference” to save and preserve humanity. No other bot has made that choice. Roll has never made that choice, and she is practically Rock’s biological twin. Rock is a wholly unique creature in his epoch, and the existence of a twin sister that stays home and choses to not help in any way beyond her design is proof of Rock’s individuality.

… Or Dr. Light really needed a maintenance robot, and wasn’t going to modify his entire cleaning staff. Rock can go out and play, but Roll has to stay home. That laundry isn’t going to wash itself!

Ruby Heart

BEHOLD!If Marvel vs. Capcom 2 has a plot, then Ruby Heart is its main character. Ruby is a pirate captain that has a particular interest in magical talismans. When she seeks the mythical Armor of Erosion, the world is endangered by its awakening, and she must steer her flying, dimension-hopping ship to collect the greatest heroes multiple worlds have ever known. Unfortunately, when you put 56 superheroes and villains on the same boat, exactly seven skirmishes break out, and teams of three have to battle it out to see who will earn the ultimate honor of banishing Abyss to the… uh… dark place.

However, if you are just trying Marvel vs. Capcom 2 in the arcade, you may not notice Ruby Heart’s connection to the plot. Yes, she is on the marquee, but so are Marrow and Morrigan, and they never helped anybody. Beyond that, there is no attract mode plot spiel as part of MvC2’s idle reel, and there is no “character intro” for every boot. We don’t even know Ruby Heart’s blood type! And, without individualized endings, Ruby Heart’s only real contribution to the finale is a frame or two of Ruby contemplating Abyss’s Orb, and then tossing it into the sea. Does that make her the main character? No! It just means she was somehow involved in the final battle, and ultimately decided that the final boss did not match any of her previously acquired gigantic spheres. Happens to the best of us.

And then, despite being the star of one of the most popular fighting games of all time, Ruby Heart never appeared in another videogame as anything more than a trading card. She is a freaking pirate that lives for magical artifacts zooming around in a flying ship that transcends time and space, but nobody could find a place for her. She could have her own JRPG! Or an action game! Or reboot the Darkstalkers franchise! Or battle every last dude in Skies of Arcadia! Whatever! She’s a magical pirate! You can bring her back in gorram Resident Evil for all I care, Capcom! Do something with this leading lady!

She was even supposed to lead a cruddy mobile game by the name of Dai Koukai Frontier, but Capcom couldn’t get that off the ground! Somebody give the poor pirate a break! I would be willing to accept a hidden opponent in Monster Hunter at this point!

Ryu

Get that green rangerThis is peak character design.

The reality is that no one was trying to make the ur-fighting game protagonist when Street Fighter premiered in 1987. Ryu is little more than a dude in a gi, and, were he unveiled today, many would deride his “character design” as little more than a Google Image Search. Complete with his kicky blackbelt, there is seemingly nothing about Ryu that is unique in his first appearance. He is just a man that likes to fight.

And this is brilliant, because that is all he needs to be.

As this point, Ryu has cameoed in so many different games, there is an entire Twitter account dedicated to finding any creature living, dead, or digital’s “Ryu Number”. Whether you are Mario or Abraham Lincoln, you are just a few degrees away from being in a videogame with Ryu. And why wouldn’t Ryu appear in so many games? The dude lives to fight! You got a crime lord threatening your town? Ryu will fight them. Interdimensional, world-devouring menace to the galaxy? Ryu has fought a couple of those. A dinosaur? Ryu has punched an entire encyclopedia’s worth of creatures. And Ryu has fought all of these rivals, foes, and werewolves happily, because Ryu likes to fight.

And that’s why Ryu’s greatest strength is not his Dragon Punch, but his love of the fight. One way or another, Ryu was created for a fight-based medium, and, thus, there is always a place for Ryu. It does not have to be a good, bad, or card-based fight, if there is a “battle”, Ryu has an excuse to be there. It does not make sense for a Tekken star to fight divorced from a myriad of daddy issues, and a Soulcalibur protagonist takes time off when a haunted sword is not involved. But Ryu? Ryu makes sense in every crossover, because if there is something to punch, he is there. Hell, you could even put him in a dedicated puzzle game (Puzzle Fighter is clearly a fighting game, duh), and claim the karate man is trying to train his mind as well as his body. Ryu works in literally every possible videogame situation.

So, yes, Ryu is just a generic karate man. But he is a generic karate man than can slot in everywhere. And that is astounding.

Victor “Sabretooth” Creed

Get that LadyMarvel vs. Capcom 2 Sabretooth is basically the entire reason the 90’s version of the Versus series is so special.

First of all, let’s be clear on one thing: Sabretooth could easily be the most “phoned-in” character on the roster. If you have an X-Men game, you are going to have Wolverine. And if you have Wolverine, you will eventually acknowledge his most iconic rival, Sabretooth. Sabretooth is consistently the funhouse mirror version of Wolverine: same general powers, but a little taller, a lot meaner, and a man who kills because he enjoys it. Wolverine is begrudgingly Wolverine, and he is a hero for it. Sabretooth loves being Sabretooth, and that makes him a villain that even some supervillains will not defend (literally in court!). And that “evil reflection” factor makes Sabretooth the ideal “mirror” fighter: just take all of Wolverine’s moves, make his sprite taller, reduce his speed, increase his power, and knock off for lunch.

But Sabretooth is his own mutant in his premiere in X-Men vs. Street Fighter. And, what’s more, Sabretooth has his own projectile attack. How does Sabretooth pull that off when he has all the range-limited powers of Wolverine? Simple! He brought his administrative assistant to the fight.

Screw Sabretooth, we’re talking about Birdy.

YEAH BOSS

Birdy was a telepath and Sabretooth’s (business) partner. She had mutant psychic powers, and could telepathically suppress Sabretooth’s most painful memories, thus making the feral Sabretooth marginally more focused and friendly. However, we must emphasize that everything about Birdy is past tense, as Birdy was killed by Sabretooth’s son, Graydon Creed. How long did Birdy last? Well, she was introduced in the March 1992 issue of X-Men, and was murdered in Sabretooth #4, releasing November of 1993. She existed for about twenty months. To compare this to how relative time passes in other mediums, this means she basically survived until just before the opening credits. If Birdy were in an episode of Law & Order, she’d be the body.

Yet here she is, immortalized initially in a videogame from 1996 (three years after her death), and then reappearing in a game that marked the turn of the millennium. For better or worse, Birdy is going to be around from now until every last Dreamcast game shuffles off the digital coil.

And that’s comics, baby.

Marvel wants to have one, solid continuity that stretches back to when Smilin’ Stan Lee was first strapping on suspenders? Fine. But that also means that every dark age is going to be part of a “complete” understanding of a franchise. Sure, those X-Men comics are great right now, but if you want the full story, you’re going to have to pour over years of comics featuring Adam the X-Treme, Onslaught, and that time when every third character was obsessed with Dazzler. You’re going to have to read through the repeated attempts to give Wolverine a teenage girl sidekick before they finally decided to just make Wolverine into his own teenage girl sidekick (with boot claws!). You are going to have to deal with that one time a villain turned all of New York City into a concentration camp, and then you were supposed to find him sympathetic a month later. Comics have good times and bad times, and anyone that has ever picked up a “classic” trade paperback has encountered that weird moment when it had to be said, “Wait. Why is this X-Men comic talking about Hawkeye for an entire issue?” It turns out there was a crossover. It was in space. It was probably part of a big marketing push. In 1983.

And Birdy perfectly encapsulates this fairly unique feeling. She is not a featured character. She is little more than a “move” for Sabretooth. An “assist” in a game that features over 170 other assist options. But she is named. She is memorable. She is there. And if this character that existed for a relative twenty seconds in comic continuity confuses you, well, go check a wiki. Go start a GeoCities fan page. Do whatever you gotta do to reckon with Birdy.

Sabretooth brought six-years-in-the-grave Birdy to this fight, and that might be the most honestly Marvel thing in all of Marvel vs. Capcom 2.

Sakura Kasugano

The fighterDoes Sakura have a goldarned chance?

Sakura was introduced in Street Fighter Alpha 2 as Ryu’s biggest fan. She was a simple high school student until she saw the fighting champion we all know and love, and she decided that she was going to follow in Ryu’s hurricane-kicking footsteps. Thus, she devised a “version” of all of Ryu’s signature moves all on her own, and entered the loosely-defined tournament of Street Fighter Alpha in an effort to impress her idol. Ryu, ever the magnanimous sort, has been impressed by Sakura’s determination and skill on occasion, and now Sakura shows up for nearly every Street Fighter event for reasons that we are moderately certain are not magical girl fetish related.

And, as of Street Fighter 5, it appears two paths have been created for Sakura. Many of the earlier Street Fighter games used endings and character interactions to note how impressive Sakura must be, and “if she only applied herself”, she would be the strongest woman on the fighting streets. Conversely, Street Fighter 5 portrays Sakura as someone who enjoys fighting, but, as she is experiencing something of a college malaise, is considering where her life is going. Ryu is an impressive champion of ki… but he is also a hobo who survives out of a duffel bag. That’s no way to live! Sakura is considering having a family, and you can’t hug your children with dragon-punching arms.

And, man, do both of those possible futures suck.

Sakura is a “prodigy” character. While the likes of Ryu or Ken have been training since they were teenagers, they are both established adults by the time they are throwing down with sumo wrestlers and evil dictators. Sakura has been hurling fireballs since before she learned quadratic equations, and literally saving full-blown adults from their evil selves while she was at it. This creates the obvious parallel that, by the time she is her idol’s age, she must surpass him, and be… I don’t know… trading blows with, like, an actual tiger that punches. Or… something. Point is that Sakura can already take out a Blanka, and Guile could barely pull that off before his buddy got offed. This all leads to an obvious “so much potential” ending that could see Sakura as the World Warrior of the next generation.

But… that’s not Sakura. Say what you will about SF5’s pivot for Sakura to even thinking about becoming a happy homemaker, but there is a nugget of truth there. Sakura is happy. Beyond her obvious prowess in shoe removal, her defining trait is that she is optimistic. In Street Fighter Alpha, she pulls Ryu back from the brink not through punches, but hope. She happened to find herself in a very violent hobby, but knocking people out of consciousness is not who she is. She is someone who could grow up to punch out wannabe gods, yes, but her character is a lot more likely to love ‘em to death. And that does not jibe with “the strongest person in the world”. Sakura settling down and starting a family? It sucks to see a character in the game literally want to get out of the game, but it tracks for someone that has been defined by their optimism and empathy. She’s a lover, not a fighter.

Mind you, this is all moot, because we are never going to see a Street Fighter generation that moves forward more than a couple of months. They tried it with Street Fighter 3, and it killed the entire franchise for eleven years. Sakura being the final boss of Street Fighter 9 is all but a pipe dream, and even worrying about such an outcome akin to her Marvel vs. Street Fighter “joke ending” seems like a waste.

…Unless someone wants to make her, like, an ultimate Zen fighter, ala Oro. That would be cool…

Sentinel

GIANT ROBOTLet’s be clear here: Sentinel is how racism works.

In an effort to make this article as perfect as possible (or just to consistently spell “Kwannon” correctly), I performed a lot of research on every character involved in Marvel vs. Capcom 2. And you know who had the most appearances in Marvel videogames? Wolverine Sentinel. It isn’t always just one particular model of sentinel, and sometimes “it” is a boss or an entire army, but Sentinel seems to find the time to show up for nearly every X-adventure, and a few generic Marvel jaunts completely devoid of Cyclops, too. And, whether they have lasers or flying booties or just the ability to punch marginally hard, they are always antagonists, and they always explode but good after a few too many whacks to the metal. Sentinels are extremely variable, but they are always recognizable as sentinels, and they are always available for a level or seventeen.

They are the ideal antagonist. Sentinels are racist robots.

Generic “mooks” show up all across media in practically anything with a bad guy. The Power Rangers fight putties, the Ninja Turtles fight foot clan ninja/robots, and the Care Bears fought malevolent shadow monsters (oh, also, Kingdom Hearts). But do all these henchmen have a common goal? Yes, but it is the flimsiest of excuses: they fight for the bad guys because they are bad guys! Sometimes there is the explanation of a curse or decent dental plan or something, but, nine times out of ten, they are just generically created generic guys that are there for generic fights. Gotta do something until the big boss shows up. In a way, the sentinels of X-Men comics are exactly the same: they are just there so the X-Men can go nuts with their powers until the real villain shows up, and suddenly everyone cowers and forgets they had pioneered tele-decapitating a few moments earlier.

But the sentinels do have a purpose! They are racist! They hate all mutants just for existing, and have all kinds of goofy powers that allow them to recognize mutants on sight and neutralize them. They are overt racism transformed into robots of various sizes. And the X-Men (and you) can beat them up with a clear conscious!

And that is the point. Those previously mentioned mooks all exist simply to be pummeled. No child has ever sat down, watched an episode of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and then exclaimed, “My favorite character is Foot Soldier #541!” They are all there to be nothing. They are to be despised and defeated by the heroes. But the sentinels are on another level, because they are not only opponents, but racist opponents. There will be no sympathy for bad guys that are literally programmed to be murderously prejudiced.

And, man, do we all want to believe sentinels exist.

Racism does not work like that. People do not identify their bigotry by shooting lasers and wearing purple helmets. And, even when people are obviously, overtly prejudiced, it is never okay to use your soul sword to hit them until they explode. Actual racism cannot be solved with a punch or adamantium claw, and identifying an “opponent” as racist is never going to be as easy as seeing a bunch of soldiers exiting the mouth and/or chest of a giant robot. A sentinel is a fantasy creature, and so is the mythical creature that truly means, “I’m not racist, but…”

But it is fun to believe that we can stop racism by exploding racist robots, so these sentinels are going to be appearing in games as long as there are X-Men to punch them.

Servbot

Love these little dudesServbots are diminutive robots created and maintained by Tron Bonne in the far-flung future of the Mega Man Universe. Before Mega Man first crash landed on Kattelox Island in Mega Man Legends (1), Tron and her Servbots had already had multiple adventures, and they had been through thick and thin in their general pursuit of wealth and fame. Servbots are small and childish, but are dedicated, strong, and skilled enough to accomplish major tasks like boulder-lifting or distance sniping. They also inexplicably have a sense of taste and smell, and enjoy eating curry.

Also inexplicable: Tron Bonne built 40 Servbots. But there are 41 Servbots serving on her ship.

The 41st Servbot appears in The Misadventures of Tron Bonne. It was, in reality, an early shot at DLC, as he was only obtainable by playing a demo disc that came with (Japanese) Playstation Magazine (#114, if you’re curious). He has a blue head part (preventing him from wearing a red head part, which would make him a favorite), and has the canonical description of “Appeared one day; no one knows where he came from or who he is.”

And that is horrifying.

I cannot imagine it. I have a blog. Many of the posts are sequentially numbered (you’re reading #600 right now, remember?). I cannot fathom what I would do if I woke up tomorrow, and there was an entire entry that I had never written. It could be good, bad, or indifferent, but it would be inexorably scary. Can you imagine creating something of your own, and then there is a duplicate palling around that you never saw before? And it somehow has a personality all its own? Sure, it might save you some time, but it would also mean living through a John Carpenter movie.

But there is a possible answer to Tron Bonne’s question of where this 41st Servbot came from: the Servbots are reproducing. They are building more. When no one is watching the Servbots, they are literally multiplying their numbers.

Mega Man Legends 2 confirms there are 41 Servbots, as a wee Servbot sends a letter to MegaMan asking him to become Servbot #42. They are recruiting. They are proliferating.

There is no Mega Man Legends 3. There is no “final” future for the Mega Man franchise. It is because we know the culmination of Dr. Light’s legacy, and it is a world that is only Servbots.

Servbots are legion.

Shuma-Gorath

Pinball time!In 1972, Roy Thomas read an H.P. Lovecraft novel (or at least a description thereof) and created his own “Old One” for the Marvel universe: Shuma-Gorath. Nowadays, there has been much discussion about Lovecraft, ancient chaos gods, and the connection between beastly descriptions and outright racism. Granted, much of this discussion has been the result of a HBO show, but, whatever the origin, it is worth considering. H.P. Lovecraft was writing horror that has endured for a century, but, take a peek beyond the metaphor, and all you will find is a pile of hate for them new-fangled immigants takin’ our jerbs. And, once you are past that, you find that all that is left is a… fear of squids? Are octopus scary? Should… should we classify Splatoon as a horror game?

Shuma-Gorath is heavily inspired by Lovecraft and his head monster, Cthulhu. Ol’ S-G even had a bit of a good run in his early days, as he was responsible for killing Dr. Strange’s favorite Ancient One, and all of his backstory seems to indicate he literally ruled Earth for a good millennia or so. And he fought Conan the Barbarian at least once! That’s always a good time! Shuma-Gorath’s height of power seemed to also occur about a decade ago (our time), where he and the other “Many-Angled Ones” conquered an entire Marvel Universe, converted it into “The Cancerverse”, and came pretty close to conquering all of space and time through arcane rituals/The Hulk. Unfortunately (or fortunately for all of reality), the Guardians of the Galaxy and Thanos were able to put the kibosh on that one, and Shuma-Gorath had to slink back into the shadows.

And since then… Well… Shuma has not been having a good time. Is Shuma-Gorath a threat to all of reality? Certainly! But his recent “invasions” have positioned him as a literal, capital-G God that is repeatedly defeated by the likes of Spider Hero (who is just Wesley Snipes in disguise). Or there was that time he got chumped by Mephisto, and attacked The Avengers while clearly drunk. And then he was defeated by Groot. You know, Groot? The tree? Shuma-Gorath was defeated by determined topiary. In short, Shuma-Gorath may have been the biggest of bads in Dr. Strange’s rogue’s gallery at one time, but he has been an absolute jabroni for the last few years. The Great Old One is an easy target.

So, uh, Howard? It is official: squids aren’t scary.

Kenuichio “Silver Samurai” Harada

Watch the swordA few bizarre facts about Silver Samurai:

· Silver Samurai’s real name is Kenuichio Harada. “Kenuichio” is in no way an actual Japanese name, or… anything. Despite this, the name has stuck through to the present day, though it does get changed to something more reasonable in Japanese localizations.

· Despite the previous fact having Chris Claremont written all over it, Silver Samurai was created by Steve Gerber and Bob Brown. Steve Gerber is also responsible for Howe’ard the D’oock (see? You can’t just “localize” names willy nilly).

· Silver Samurai was introduced as a rival for Daredevil when he was going through one of his “fight every ninja” periods. He only really became a rival for Wolverine and the X-Men when Logan tried to marry his sister.

· Now that was all Chris Claremont, by the way.

· Worth noting that Silver Samurai’s sister, the Scarlet Samurai, Mariko Yashida, once chose to stay in Hell (literal Hell, not a metaphor), because she could not conceive of finding something new to live for on Earth. She, naturally, was resurrected a few years later anyway.

· Back to Silver Samurai, because everyone in Japan knows everybody, he is the cousin of X-Men ally Sunfire (and his sister Sunpyre, of course). He also teamed up with Big Hero Six back in the 90’s before it was cool.

· Oh, but speaking of Hell again, Silver Samurai died right around when Red Right Hand sent Wolverine to Hell (again). In an effort to intimidate Wolverine, Silver Samurai, who happened to be friends with Wolvy that week, was chopped to pieces by Satan’s Soulcutter. Because the Soulcutter cuts the soul (oh, I just got that), Silver Samurai could never be resurrected.

· Silver Samurai was recently resurrected by The Five of Krakoa. He currently has a part time job overseeing gladiatorial combat.

· Silver Samurai’s official mutant power is that he can generate a powerful “tachyon field” through any object, though traditionally just uses his sword for this purpose. This is very reminiscent of Gambit’s power/playing card reliance. Here’s a tip, Ken, do not ever try to be like Gambit.

· Silver Samurai did have an additional “power” in the form of a ring that is “the core of a teleportation matrix” and granted teleportation powers. He obtained this during Marvel Team-Up #74, when he stole it from John Belushi while backstage at Saturday Night Live. Spider-Man was there.

· Because of the Marvel sliding scale of time, when this ring origin was next noted in continuity, Silver Samurai had now stolen the ring from Chris Farley. This is because comics are, and continue to be, awesome.

Next time on FGC #600 Marvel vs. Capcom 2: Part 5: We will squeeze Sailor Moon into this roster if it kills every last Wolverine!

2 Responses »

  1. “it is the story of a wealthy white woman stealing and tangentially killing an Asian woman.”

    Wrong! This is such an innacurate and misogynistic take. This was the story of a woman being abducted, violated, raped and forcibly put into someone else’s body against her will by men (Asian men at that, both fictional – The Hand, Matsuo – and real – Jim Lee). This narrative that Betsy stole Kwannon’s body is so misogynistic it hurts.

    • Fair enough. Betsy is definitely a victim in this. But the overarching story of it is still that, end of the day (for a lot of decades), Betsy has a new body, and Kwannon is dead.

      From a meta perspective, the character of Betsy B. gains an advantage in popularity for being a swimsuit-clad ninja over her former “body”, and it is all thanks to what was Kwannon’s body. Betsy the person suffered, but the character of Betsy did nothing but benefit from the “upgrade” that came at the loss of an Asian woman. Betsy would have had the same chance as being a playable character in X-Men: Children of the Atom (and then eventual MvC titles) as Jean Grey or Prof. X if she stayed her old self. But I don’t see the name “Kwannon” on the character select roster.

      Betsy did not actively steal anything from Kwannon, but this does seem to be a sort of cultural appropriation where “white” is benefiting over Asian, even if it was 100% instigated by men.

      I suppose, to be clear, I am blaming any and all men involved in this decision and plotline. Betsy the character did nothing wrong, and I apologize for making it sound like I was blaming a woman that was tortured.

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