A Guide to the Baron's Favorite Fictional Characters (SPOILERS)

(Hamlet of Earth-1948)

Real name: Hamlet, son of Hamlet

Aliases/Other Names: None,.

First Appearance: The Tragedy of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark

Occupations: Prince of Denmark, student, avenger

Bases of Operations: Elsinore Castle, the University of Wittenberg

Place of Birth: Elsinore Castle, Denmark

Group Affiliation: Royal House of Denmark

Friends/Allies: Horatio, Marcellus, Barnardo

Enemies: Claudius, Polonius, Laertes

Height: Varies*

Weight: Varies*

Eye Color: Varies*

Hair Color: Varies*

Strength: Above average human

Speed: Above average human

Intelligence: Genius level human

Energy-Manipulation Ability: None

Magic-Manipulation Ability: None

Special Abilities: Excellent swordsman, skilled forger, gifted actor

Special Weapons/Equipment: None.


History: Hearing of his father's death, Prince Hamlet of Denmark returns home from Wittenberg, only to find that his uncle Claudius has assumed the throne and married Hamlet's mother, Gertrude. Already suspicious, Hamlet is visited by a spirit purporting to be that of his father, which asserts that the elder Hamlet was murdered by Claudius. Feigning madness, Prince Hamlet, with his friend Horatio's help, schemes to trap Claudius into a public admission of guilt, which would allow Hamlet to avenge his father and assume the throne of Denmark. Claudius, aware of the threat that Hamlet poses to him, plots to find a way to eliminate Hamlet. Thus begins a game of trap and counter-trap, resulting in the deaths of almost everyone involved, leaving only Horatio behind to watch as young Fortinbras, Prince of Norway, assumes the throne of Denmark.

Why He's a Favorite: Hamlet is the protagonist of my favorite Shakespeare play. I own eight different versions of the play of on DVD, and I enjoy watching them all.  there's just something that I find enthralling about the play, and it's always interesting to see how various actors interpret the part, and how different directors choose to film the story. I enjoy the cat and mouse between Hamlet and Claudius, and Hamlet's interaction with the not-as-clever-as-he-thinks-he-is Polonius. I find it interesting that the only character who seems to be able to match Hamlet's at wordplay is the First Gravedigger. Anyway, you can find way more of what I think about Hamlet here.



*Depending upon who's playing him

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I have only three different versions (and I blush to admit I have never even seen the Olivier version).

Real Name: Winston Smith

Aliases/Other Names: 6079 Smith W

First Appearance: 1984, by George Orwell

Occupations: Records editor, rebel

Bases of Operations: Victory Mansions, The Ministry of Truth (both in London)

Place of Birth: London, Airstrip One

Group Affiliations: The Outer Party, the Ministry of Truth, the Brotherhood*

Friends/Allies: Julia

Enemies: The Ingsoc Party, O'Brien, Mister Charrington

Height: Unknown

Weight: Unknown.  The little information given suggests that Winston was underweight.

Eye Color: Unknown

Hair Color: Fair

Strength: Below average human

Speed: Below average human

Intelligence: Above average human

Energy-Manipulation Ability: None

Magic-Manipulation Ability: None

Special Abilities: A gifted writer, master of Newspeak

Special Weapons/Equipment: None

History: Winston lived in Oceania, a totalitarian super-state ruled by the Ingsoc Party, one of three such states dominating his world. Winston was employed in the Ministry of Truth, constantly re-writing historical records so that they confirmed the current Party line. Winston, along with his young lover, Julia, attempted to rebel against Party control, but were soon detected and taken into custody by the Thought Police and taken to the the Ministry of Love, where they were tortured and brainwashed to bring their thinking back into line with Party orthodoxy.

Why He's a Favorite:  1984, by George Orwell, was one of those books that I first read in high schoool, and which I still re-read regularly more than 30 years later. It was always my favorite of the two great dystopias that I read back in those days, beating out Brave New World by Aldous Huxley by a large margin.

The protagonist of Orwell's book is one Winston Smith, a drone in the Ministry of Truth (i.e., the propaganda ministry) who spends hs life re-writing history for a totalitarian government.

It's hard to recall my reasons for liking the book when I was a kid - I imagine it was the odd setting, the heavily-detailed fictional world that Orwell created, and the idea of a guy caught up in a situation that he wanted to escape from but couldn't.

If I had a criticism of the book when I was a kid, it was that I didn't think a government like the one Orwell described could exist in the real world - or last for long if it did. I had a pretty strong faith when I was young that tyrants would always be overthrown, and that nothing devised by human beings could possibly last forever, and tyrannical governments, no matter how powerful, would always either collapse or evolve into something else in the end. I still pretty much believe that, it's just that now I'm not so sure that the fallen tyrant will always be replaced by someone better.

Of course, when I read it now, I don't imagine that Orwell was saying "The future will be exactly like this", so much as he was saying "The future may well be something like this". He wasn't writing a prophecy so much as a warning


Nowadays, I wonder how Orwell would re-write the book if he were still around today. (Or if he would!) These days, we have surveillance technology that Orwell never dreamed of - "Big Brother" could watch us much less obtrusively if he wanted to.

It also seems to me that Orwell's book doesn't concern itself with the environment - I don't know that anyone did, in his day, at least not the way we do now. The Oceanic government was pretty rigid - one wonders how it would it deal with a situation in which circumstances arose that it couldn't "doublethink"its way out of - global warming or the oil running out, for example - things that could only be dealt with by a real change in their way of operating.

Much of the book is taken up with Winston's "conversations" with O'Brien, the party official who is trying to break Winston's brain. A film was made of the book in 1984 (of course), featuring John Hurt as Winston and Richard Burton as O'Brien. I like the film alot, and to a certain extent, Hurt and Burton's voices are what I "hear" when I re-read these sections now. One of the things O'Brien asserts is that everyone can be broken eventually. I don't believe this - maybe it's wishful thinking, but I think that there are some people who can't be broken, people that you could kill, but could never make them what you wanted them to be against their will.

It's a funny thing, but the one way this book has directly affected my actually behavior in life, is that it's the reason I've never bought a lottery ticket. The following passage had a profound affect on me when I was a kid:

"They were talking about the Lottery. Winston looked back when he had gone thirty metres. They were still arguing, with vivid, passionate faces. The Lottery, with its weekly pay-out of enormous prizes, was the one public event to which the proles paid serious attention. It was probable that there were some millions of proles for whom the Lottery was the principal if not the only reason for remaining alive. It was their delight, their folly, their anodyne, their intellectual stimulant. Where the Lottery was concerned, even people who could barely read and write seemed capable of intricate calculations and staggering feats of memory. There was a whole tribe of men who made a living simply by selling systems, forecasts, and lucky amulets. Winston had nothing to do with the running of the Lottery, which was managed by the Ministry of Plenty, but he was aware (indeed everyone in the party was aware) that the prizes were largely imaginary. Only small sums were actually paid out, the winners of the big prizes being non-existent persons. In the absence of any real intercommunication between one part of Oceania and another, this was not difficult to arrange."


To this day, I still think of the lottery as a sort of secret tax on stupid poor people. Just my opinion, mind you, but that's how I feel.

There are several scenes in the book where Winston takes lunch in the cafeteria where he works. Sometimes when I'm in the cafeteria where I work, I wonder what Winston would make of it all - people ignoring the telescreens, sitting alone if they want, reading whatever they want, many of them openly disparaging the government. I wonder how he'd feel if he were suddenly plopped down into our world. I remember reading in the old days about people that defected to the U.S. from the Soviet Union (in the old days) or North Korea who found it hard to adjust to life in a "free" society. .

*actually a fictional organization



Jeff of Earth-J said:

I have only three different versions (and I blush to admit I have never even seen the Olivier version).

The Olivier version is good, but it's not my favorite. I like the Branagh version best, but it's also the longest, so you need to set aside a big block of time to watch it.

I blush to admit I have not read 1984. (I fear this discussion is going to become a list of my shortcomings.) I had a friend back in St. Louis who kept trying to get me to watch the movie, but I refused to see it until I had read the book. Sometimes I don’t mind seeing the movie first, but if I have any interest in reading the book at all (which I do… someday… eventually), I don’t want to go into it with any preconceived notions from the movie version. My favorite dystopian novel [that I first read in high school] is A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess (although I did see the movie first in this case).



Jeff of Earth-J said:

I blush to admit I have not read 1984

What? Dude, you should sue your high school!

More seriously, you should definitely read it ASAP. It's as relevant now as the day it was first published.

Burgess' book is good, too. If you're a fan of dystopias (Dystopii? Dystopiae?), you may also want to try We, by Yevgeny Zamyatin, and The Iron Heel, by Jack London.

I thought 1984 was the best of the famous dystopia novels of my youth* by a large margin, too. And yes, it's relevant. When Congress passes a bill it calls "The Forest Preservation Act" whose purpose is  to open formerly protected old-growth forests to logging (this actually happened), it is the very definition of "Orwellian," which comes from 1984. A lot of our political terminology comes from 1984, because it was amazingly prescient. And remember: We have always been at war with Oceania.

And yes, the Hurt movie is awesome.

* These were 1984, Brave New World, Fahrenheit 451, A Clockwork Orange, Lord of the Flies and Animal Farm. All of them, except Clockwork, were required reading my my high school English classes. I don't remember anything at all about Brave New World, so it evidently didn't leave much of an impression on me. (Or maybe I read the Cliff Notes.)

Jeff of Earth-J said:

I blush to admit I have not read 1984. (I fear this discussion is going to become a list of my shortcomings.) I had a friend back in St. Louis who kept trying to get me to watch the movie, but I refused to see it until I had read the book. Sometimes I don’t mind seeing the movie first, but if I have any interest in reading the book at all (which I do… someday… eventually), I don’t want to go into it with any preconceived notions from the movie version. My favorite dystopian novel [that I first read in high school] is A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess (although I did see the movie first in this case).

I would much rather see the movie before I read the book, since there is usually so much more to get out of the book. I swear I have a friend who will speed read a book right before a movie comes out just to go on and on about how the book was better.

Cap, I liked 1984 alright, but I was a bigger fan of Fahrenheit 451, Lord of the Flies, and Animal Farm. I think 1984 was a bit too depressing even for a dystopian book for me.

Real Name: Alan Wellington Scott

Aliases/Other Names: The Green Lantern, Sentinel, the White King

First Appearance: All-American Comics #16 (July 1940), created by Martin Nodell

Occupations: Engineer, businessman, super-hero

Bases of Operations: Gotham City, New York City

Place of Birth: Unknown

Group Affiliations: The Justice Society of America, the All-Star Squadron, Checkmate

Friends/Allies: Molly Mayne (The Harlequin, wife), Jennie-Lynn Hayden (Jade, daughter), Todd Rice (Obsidian, son), Jay Garrick (The Flash), Doiby Dickles, the other JSAers, on good terms with most other super-heroes

Enemies: Vandal Savage (Vandar Adg), the Gambler (Steven Sharpe III), Solomon Grundy, the Sportsmaster (Crusher Crock), the Icicle (Joar Mahkent)

Height: 5' 11"

Weight: 190 pounds

Eye Color: Blue

Hair Color: Blond

Strength: Average human

Speed: Average human

Intelligence: Above average human

Energy-Manipulation Ability: (See "Special Weapons/Equipment")

Magic-Manipulation Ability: (See "Special Weapons/Equipment")

Special Abilities: None

Special Weapons/Equipment: Possesses magical power ring capable of using Starheart energy to product any effect he can imagine, through sheer will power.  The ring is ineffective against wood, and must be periodically re-charged form his lantern-shaped power battery.

History:  When Alan Scott was involved in a railroad accident, an ancient magical artifact which had been re-shaped into a green railroad lantern revealed itself its true nature to him and granted him access to its power, commanding to re-shape some of its flame into a ring of power. Scott used this ring to become the super-heroic Green Lantern.A founding member of the Justice Society of America, he fought crime on his own and alongside other super-heroes for decades before meeting his apparent demise in 2011 while battling the villainous D'Arken.

Why He's a Favorite:  The first DC Comics I ever read were some of those old giant-sized reprints, mostly of Golden Age comics, that they put out back in the 70's. I'm probably one of the few people of my generation who was exposed to the Golden Age versions of these characters before he saw the Silver Age versions. One of these books was a reprint of All-Star Comics #3, the first JSA story, and amongst the characters therein was the Golden Age Green Lantern. Eventually, I started reading the current DC books and encountered the other Green Lanterns that existed. I enjoyed the adventures of Hal Jordan and the other members of the Corps, but even still, and down unto the current day, Alan Scott was and is my favorite Green Lantern.

"Why?", I imagine I hear you ask.

"Several reasons!", I imagine myself replying.

One: His costume. I've always had a fondness for Golden Age costumes, clunky though they could be, and I've always found Alan Scott's outfit to be one of the most visually striking. No, it's not as sleek as Hal Jordan's, and probably wouldn't work for an intergalactic police force, but it works for a lone mystery man. So, there's not a lot of green in it - so what?

Two: He wears his ring on his left hand. This hasn't always been done consistently, but it typically was so. To me as a little kid, the fact that he wore his ring on his left hand meant that he was a southpaw like me, and I grew up in an era where us left-handers were sometimes picked on for it, so it was cool to see a hero I thought of as left-handed.

Three: His cool ring oath:

...and I shall shed my light over dark evil.
For the dark things cannot stand the light,
The light of the Green Lantern!


Much better than the nursery rhyme they eventually replaced it with! (Say, as an aside, has there ever been a Green Lantern who used a limerick as a ring oath? "There once was a blue guy from Oa...")

Four: He fought Solomon Grundy a lot. Big, hostile zombie. Gotta love big hostile zombies as your baddies.

Five: He's an older hero who's been around awhile. And that's not just because I'm now an older guy who's been around awhile myself. Even when I was a little kid, I liked the idea of older heroes, the experienced guys who could show the younger heroes a thing or two. Also, he's one of the few Golden Age heroes where it makes sense that he's still around today. Hey, he's got a magic ring - for all we know, he doesn't ever have to be any older than he wants to be. For Wildcat, they had to invent that nonsense of him having nine lives, which has always struck as exceeding lame.

Six: Speaking of Wildcat - Alan Scott has inspired other heroes. Ted Grant became Wildcat after coming across a Green Lantern comic, how cool is that?

Seven: He's got an odd weakness. Yeah, it's kind of lame, but on the other hand, it does mean that he could conceivably be beaten by a guy with a pointed stick, and being an old Python fan, I can never be too unhappy about that.

Eight: He's buddies with the Golden Age Flash, another old favorite of mine. I always liked the Green Lantern/Flash friendships, and liked when it carried over to Barry Allen and Hal Jordan, and to a lesser extent to Kyle Rayner and Wally West.

Well, there's still a lot more I could say, but I don't want to go on all day.  Suffice to say, Green Lantern Alan Scott is a favorite character of mine who's been in many of my favorite DC Comics stories.

My introduction to GA GL was "Crisis on Earth-One!" and he was kinda cool. I've always had a soft spot for him. The thing is, DC never seemed to know what to do with him. Every change they made (presumably to differentiate him as much as possible from Hal Jordan), it was awful. Sentinel? Blargh! Dressing in a giant lantern? Blargh again!

I did like that he was the (apparently only) Green Lantern in Kingdom Come. I'm not sure what the Green Knight motif was about, but it looked neat.

I always figured that the Golden Age Green Lantern was a tall, barrel-chested guy over 6 feet and 200 lbs. He's one of my favorite JSAers.

There was also a sadness about him as he never married, at least as far as we knew in the Silver and Bronze Ages.

As for battling Solomon Grundy, I'm not sure if his ring boosted his strength but it probably helped him hit harder!

I never thought of him as being that big. Maybe because I'm 6'5" myself, GL always looked to be about average height to me, taller than some JSAers maybe, but not that tall. I've no idea who determines these heights and weights, or how. Those are just the numbers I found in a "character guide.

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