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A Be-deviling Question

June 11, 2007

C, through Miss S, asked me the following: What is your favorite fictional character and why?

Now, a normal fellow would have thought briefly and said something like “Superman” and left it at that. Alas, I am not he. This question has been rattling around in my brain for DAYS. It is, therefore, best left not unattended. So….my LIST. Yeah, it’s not just one…so what?

Not in any order.

1. Half-Cock Jack, King of the Vagabonds from The Baroque Cycle by Neal Stephenson: Jack is a true picaresque hero. In every sense of the word. He is also visited, often, by the imp of the perverse. I adore him.

2. William Munny from Unforgiven: William is a killer. A man who understands what it means. Sad and alone. Perhaps my fave Clint character.

3. The Ayatollah of Rock and Rolla, The Warrior of the Wasteland, Lord Humongous from The Road Warrior: A business man who happens to be a giant bodybuilder with a mask and a crew of gay/bi/other killers. Cooler than Mad Max could ever hope to be.

4. Batman from The Dark Knight Returns: Batman at 55+. The last superhero. The man who kicked Superman’s ass. Driven, clearly a bit unhinged, dangerous. (admittedly, this is probably my favorite…)

5. Raven from Snowcrash by Neal Stephenson: A very big Aleut. Raven hunts with glass knives and spears, has declared his person a sovereign nation, and carries a nuke in the sidecar of his motorcycle that will go off if his brain waves cease. Hilarious, over the top.

6. Fezzik from The Princess Bride: Andre the Giant as the most gentle giant ever. ‘Nuff Said.

7. Ric Flair: The “limousine ridin’, jet flyin’, kiss stealin’, wheelin’ deelin’ Son of a gun.” Ric Flair is a meta character. Even his character is not a character. Or he is always his character. Or never. Or both. And Richard Morgan Fliehr has done this every day for over 30 years. Mega Meta.

8. Everett from O Brother, Where Art Thou: George Clooney as “the smart one.” And a lover of a good pomade. “Pete, the personal rancor reflected in that remark I don’t intend to dignify with comment. But I would like to address your general attitude of hopeless negativism. Consider the lilies of the goddamn field or… hell! Take at look at Delmar here as your paradigm of hope.”

9. Hrothgar, King of the Danes from Beowulf: Fictional? Perhaps. King of the Danes? Perhaps. A placeholder for a real person? Who knows. Hrothgar is the old, once powerful King that young Beowulf saves from Grendel and his Mother.

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8 Comments leave one →
  1. Chris Gray permalink
    June 11, 2007 11:21 am

    Here is my list:

    1. Darth Vader (Star Wars)-

    One of my favorite bad guys ever until the whole “Luke I am your father” thing. He seemed so evil and so powerful. I know there have been several people in my life I wanted to force choke.

    2. Mike O’Neal (Legacy of the Aldenata by John Ringo)

    Mike O’Neal almost single-handedly defeats the Posleen Invaders in John Ringo’s “Legacy of the Aldenata” series, one of my favorite alien invasion stories. He commands a group of infantry in powersuits, which I am dying to have.

    3. Bili the Axe (Horseclans by Robert Adams)

    As a kid growing up, I read and reread the Horseclans series by Robert Adams so many times I can’t remember. One of my favorite characters was Bili the Axe. Unfortunately, I can’t use an axe in battle because I don’t have the physique so my admiration can only be through reading about him.

    4. John Thomas Rourke (Survivalist by Jerry Ahern)

    Another of my favorite books growing up was the “Survivalist” series by Jerry Ahern. Rourke is an ex-CIA operative who fights the Russians after WWIII while trying to save his family in my favorite post-apocalyptic series.

    5. Green Lantern

    I really started to like the Green Lantern after seeing the Justice League series on the Cartoon Network. I always thought that he was just as powerful as other heroes but doesn’t get any of the glory. Come on, there have been like 10 Superman movies or TV shows but all the Green Lantern gets are TV shows where he has the share the spotlight. He just doesn’t get the respect of other comic book heroes. After there have been 3 Blade Movies, the Green Lantern deserves at least 1.

    6. Sherlock Holmes

    Uses his mind instead of his brawn, gotta be admired for that.

    7. Luke Skywalker

    Growing up, one of my biggest quandaries was whether I wanted to be more like Luke Skywalker or Han Solo. I eventually settled on Luke because of the whole Force thing and because he got to wear a cool black outfit in ROTJ.

    8. Rand al’Thor

    Rand is the central character of the Wheel of Time series by Robert Jordan, my newest favorite fantasy series. I like him because he can channel the One Power and is dating 3 women while trying to save the world from the Dark One.

    9. Major Kusanagi

    Hero of the Ghost in the Shell movie and TV series. She’s a cyborg who can kick ass while looking hot. Her battle with the robot tank at the end of the GITS movie is one of my all-time favorites.

    10. Godzilla

    He’s mean, he’s green, and he’s got atomic breath.

  2. Scoobs permalink
    June 11, 2007 12:07 pm

    Victor must be normal – I believe he picked Superman. I’m not 100% sure since I couldn;t really hear him.

  3. Miss S permalink
    June 11, 2007 2:59 pm

    Holy Cow! You really did think of this! Nice list!

  4. Chris Gray permalink
    June 11, 2007 4:40 pm

    I think my list is better since I have 10 and I have Godzilla who could eat of your characters.

  5. hrothgarrr permalink*
    June 11, 2007 5:41 pm

    I’d call Raven/Godzilla a push. 🙂

  6. David permalink
    June 12, 2007 8:16 am

    I use numbers but these aren’t in order.

    1. Sherlock Holmes is also a very Greek hero with flaws. His gift is his burden which seems very modern and accessible to me. But he’s clearly gifted and has a strong moral compass which connects him to a more noble past.

    2. Samwise Gamgee knows who he is and instead of that limiting him it strengthens him. He stands in opposition to all that I personally object to in modern culture. He finds his supreme joy in the pouring out of himself for others.

    3. Paul Atreides, not for the first book where he becomes a Messiah basically to save his life and his mothers and later continues the charade to get revenge. But the Paul of the next two books who recognizes that he became the enemy and admits to himself that he hasn’t the courage to right the wrongs of his life. Instead he embraces that which he destroyed and fights his own legacy even to his death. As the Preacher he embodies the struggle between cynicism and hope for all of us who see a small light at the end of a very dark tunnel.

    4. Don Quixote. I can only say this. It’s our world that’s insane. Don Quixote is the only one of us who is sane.

    5. Puddleglum from Narnia taught me to be a romantic. He answers the Witch of the Underworld when she tries to corrupt him into thinking that all he knows is her dark world, that he would rather believe that the Sun and Narnia exist and be wrong than believe this dark world was all that there was and be right.

    You are welcomed to perform psychoanalysis on that one if you’d like, but I think it’s rather transparent of me.

  7. hrothgarrr permalink*
    June 12, 2007 8:19 am

    Samwise very nearly makes me list as well, David. Although the book Sam is quite a bit different from the film Sam, they both represent loyalty and sacrifice and belief. Amongst all the great warriors, wizards, and kings…Sam always believes. And loves.

  8. June 15, 2007 7:28 am

    Alan’s Ten favorite fictional characters in (approximate) order from ten to one:

    10. Rufus, in James Baldwin’s “Another Country” I am the only writer I know who reads James Baldwin anymore. His prose in all its exactitude is somehow a bit stiff, and his bitterness extreme, but this character, a gay, black, jazz drummer, who’s deep sensitivity and tortured sexuality leads him to be a violent, mysogenistic suicide. A character to beautiful not to be destroyed by the world as it really is. He is never fully in the world that is destroying him.

    9. Alex, in “A Clockwork Orange”. He is violent, hateable, despicable, and acting out forces he doesn’t understand. And you still somehow like him. He is both what you would hate to be, and somehow you still envy him his freedom and the ecstasy of his violence. He seems more of an American anti-hero than a Brit. And ultimately, he somehow comes through the other end with his arms and legs on straight. Even as a clockwork orange, he is more human, more animal, in his inhumanity than any other character I can think of.

    8. The Kid, the unnamed narrator in Cormac McCarthy’s “Blood Meridian.” He is an aloof observer of the murderous band of Indian killers he is apart of, but is still a part of the violence, rape, torture and hell. And he survies. He looks satan in the eye and is not destroyed, but he is consumed. And he never even gets a name (a little trick I nicked for my novel.)

    7. George in Stienbeck’s “Of Mice and Men.” He enters one of those moments that one would hope never to have to endure. To save his one and only friend from the torture a situation he would not be able to understand, he has to kill him. He both saves and murders him. He does the right thing by murdering his friend. And to me sort of says that sometimes you have to murder what you love.

    6. Nick Carroway, the narrator of “The Great Gatsby.” He is outside the world he is observing, but is sucked into it and understands it far deeper than any involved. He feels he is the only one who cares, but still can do nothing to change what he is observing.

    5. Humbert Humbert, in Lolita. The less said about this the better.

    4. MacMurphy in “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest”. What I like about him is his gruff and rough power and sense of fun. He’s been compared to the native American Trickster. Even in situations where he is manipulating and using people, is also giving them something back. He’s making sure everyone has a good time. He gave people a sense of dignity, even if they were losing to him in poker, simply because they were in the game. And he is not in complete control of his violent side, and makes no apologies for it. (I also love Chief.)

    3. Jim, Mr’s Watson’s runaway slave in “Huckleberry Finn.” Though Huck receives most of the attention in the novel, the entire novel revolves around Jim, were it not for Jim, it would only be another boy’s adventure story like Tom Sawyer. What I find touching about Jim is his silence, and his patience with Huck. Huck always seems to make Jim appear kind of dumb, but I don’t buy it for a minute. When Jim sees that Huck is struggling with whether or not to turn him in, he doesn’t beg, he doesn’t turn on Huck, he praises Huck as his true blue friend, the only friend poor old Jim ever had. This has the effect of not only putting the child Huck in touch with the grown up humanity of their situation, but also teaches Huck something and shows Huck who he really is. And then the anguish of moment on the raft when they realize that they’ve missed the turn off to Cairo, and freedom, in the fog, is one of the most unforgettable moments in American Literature. The dignity of Jim brings tears to my eyes.

    2. Masuji Ono, the narrator of Kasuo Ishiguro’s novel, “Artist of the Floating World”. A talented artist who suffered for his art then was seduced by the Japanese Imperialist movement and saw his art used for a war effort that ultimately lead to the destruction of his beloved country. He is now an old man and is haunted by paranoia, seeing his own exaggerated guilt in the eyes of all around him. I’ve read this book three times and find it deeply touching.

    1. Fuckhead, the otherwise unnamed narrator of Denis Johnson’s book of poetic minimalistic short-stories, “Jesus’ Son”. I’ve read this book eight or nine times. He is a drugged-out wannabe saint, who gets his name because everything he touches turns to shit. Amid the surreal drugs and violence of his life, when everyone dear to him dies, he is left living, and can’t understand why. My favorite story in the book is “Emergency.”

    OK, and here’s the ones that narrowly got edged out of the top ten: Holden Caufiled in “The Cather in the Rye”: Duh; The Monster in Shelley’s Frankenstien, Heathcliff in Wuthering Heights, and Ishmael in Moby-Dick, who has got to be the freakiest, fruitiest, A.D.D, brilliant, losers in the history of literature. And Spiderman. Rorsarch in “The Watchmen”. Batman, too. OK, I notice that there are no female characters on this list. Hmmm, gonna have to think about that.

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