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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GL"s often referred to as a big guy.

I have a replica hardcover first edition of 1984 sitting on my shelf so there’s no reason for me not to read it. I did start it once while I was in high school but I made a mistake: I started with the appendix. I had just previously read Dune, a book I didn’t enjoy so much the first time I read it because I had to flip back the the glossary so often. This is a holiday weekend coming up… maybe I’ll finally cross this one off my list.

My first exposure to the GA-GL was probably Jules Feiffer’s The Great Comic Book Heroes, a gift for my 10th birthday. Either that or it was that Murphy Anderson (?) portrait of the JSA, reprinted in one of the JLA 100-Page Super-Spectaculars.

I don’t know about a GL limerick oath, but a favorite Alan Moore “Tales of the GLC” story concerns a blind Green Lantern from a lightless part of the galaxy who couldn’t grasp the concept of either “”green” or “lantern,” and assumed the heroic identity of “F-Sharp Bell.”

In loudest din or hush profound,
My ears catch evil's slightest sound.
Let those who toll out evil's knell
Beware my power, the F-Sharp Bell!

For more GL oaths, see here: http://greenlantern.wikia.com/wiki/Lantern_Oaths_(Disambiguation)

I always liked the F-Sharp Bell story.  What an imagination that man has!

Let's finish yours up...

There once was a blue guy from Oa
Signed me to the Green Lantern Coa
If evil thou da’st
Then your ass is grass
My power ring is the lawn moa

Jeff of Earth-J said:

Let's finish yours up...

There once was a blue guy from Oa
Signed me to the Green Lantern Coa
If evil thou da’st
Then your ass is grass
My power ring is the lawn moa

OK, you made me laugh out loud with that one.

Real Name: Unknown

Aliases/Other Names: The Doctor, John Smith, The Oncoming Storm

First Appearance: "An Unearthly Child", November 1963

Occupations: Wanderer, meddler, scientific adviser to UNIT*, President of the High Council of the Time Lords, warrior, shop assistant

Bases of Operations: The TARDIS**, UNIT HQ

Place of Birth: Somewhere near the planet Karn

Group Affiliations: The Prydonian Chapter, UNIT

Friends/Allies: The TARDIS, Numerous traveling companions and other friends, UNIT, Torchwood (Cardiff), the Paternoster Gang

Enemies: The Master, the Daleks, Davros, the Cybermen, the Rani, the Black Guardian, numerous others

Height: Varies

Weight: Varies

Eye Color: Varies

Hair Color: Varies

Strength:  Within normal human range, though typically somewhat stronger than his appearance would indicate

Speed: Within normal human range

Intelligence: Super-Genius

Energy-Manipulation Ability: None

Magic-Manipulation Ability: None

Special Abilities:  Limited telepathy, super-human resistance and endurance, regenerative ability, extensive knowledge of temporal physics and science in general, able to combine wildly-disparate technologies, extensive knowledge of universal history and culture, able to understand most languages

Special Weapons/Equipment:  The TARDIS, a dimensionally-transcendental, sentient timeship. The sonic screwdriver, a hand-held device capable of a wide range of effects***.  It is ineffective against wood.

History:  For reasons as yet unknown, the Doctor stole a TARDIS and fled his home planet Gallifrey.  He has wandered spacetime ever since (generally with one or more companions)

Why He's a Favorite:   I remember first watching  Doctor Who while I was in elementary school, when I was a little kid. My local PBS station - WBGH, Channel 2 - began showing episodes from the Jon Pertwee/Third Doctor era. This would've been sometime in the mid-1970's. I didn't become a huge fan instantly, I think for two reasons:

1)I didn't cotton to Pertwee at first, for some reason. I'm not sure I could say why - I perceived him as being too stern, maybe. It seems funny to me now, because I think he's great as the Doctor and doesn't seem at all "stern", but you see stuff differently when you're a little kid, I guess.

2)The first stories I saw were from the "UNIT Era", and were mostly set on Earth in the present day. Now, I was a huge time travel buff when I was a little kid, and wasn't thrilled with the idea of a show about a time traveler who hardly ever traveled in time.

In time, however, Channel 2 started showing the early Tom Baker/ Fourth Doctor stories. (Either I missed Jon Pertwee's last year's stories, or they never showed them - I know I never saw them until several years later.) The combination of Tom Baker's Fourth Doctor and Elisabeth Sladen's Sarah Jane Smith - that is what made me a life-long Doctor Who fan, and I dare say that's true of a lot of other Doctor Who fans my age. After all these years Baker/Sladen is still my favorite Doctor/Companion combo. I don't think it's just chance that of all of the companions from the old show, Sarah Jane is the one they brought back for the new show, or that they made the Sarah Jane Adventures instead of, say, The Vicki Adventures or The Tegan Adventures.

At any rate, I watched quite happily as Channel 2 re-ran the Fourth Doctor's stories over and over. It was also during this period that I began to collect the novelizations of the various old Doctor Who stories, the vast majority of them written by Terrance Dicks - I think I still have read more books by Terrance Dicks than by any other single author.

In the 1980's, we got cable. For some reason, our cable system carried the New Hampshire PBS station - WENH, Channel 11. They were showing the Peter Davison/Fifth Doctor stories, and in time they showed the Colin Baker/Sixth Doctor and Sylvester McCoy/Seventh Doctor stories, as well as the surviving William Hartnell/First Doctor and Patrick Troughton/Second Doctor episodes Between Channel 2 and Channel 11, I was glutted with Doctor Who - I probably got to see those old stories more often than people in Britain did, since I'm of the understanding that Britain was not prone to re-running things endlessly, the way U.S. television did.

Eventually, however, the show ended, almost all of the old stories were novelized.  There were new adventures published, many by writers associated with the show, others by up-and-comers - including one by a young fellow named "Russell T. Davies" - by a company called "Virgin" (They of the infamous ad slogan "I'm a Virgin Doctor Who Reader"), but It seemed unlikely at the time that there would ever be any new televised Doctor Who ever again.

As it turns out, however, there was a TV movie made in 1996 - broadcast on FOX in the U.S. and featuring Paul McGann's Eighth Doctor. I found it quite promising, but nothing seemed to come of it. There were more novels, now published by BBC Books, but it seemed like televised Doctor Who was finally a thing of the past.

But, to my surprise, it wasn't. Early in the Twenty-First Century, I began to hear rumblings that the BBC was bringing the show back, under the direction of a fellow whose name I dimly recognized - one Russell T. Davies. Like any good fanboy, I was extremely skeptical about what I saw and heard regarding the new show and Christopher Eccleston's Ninth Doctor, but when I saw it was pleasantly surprised. I give RTD credit - I haven't always been pleased with everything he's done with the new show , but overall he's done a remarkable job of reviving an old favorite, keeping what was good about the old show, and adding new things to the on-going mythology of Doctor Who.

The show progressed through David Tennant's Tenth Doctor, Matt Smith's Eleventh Doctor and on to Peter Capaldi's Twelfth Doctor, and the transition to new show runner Stephen Moffat. The show goes on, having recently celebrated its fiftieth anniversary.

So, overall, what are the key elements that I enjoy about the show?

1)Mobility: The fact that the Doctor can, in theory, go anywhere in time and space is a big draw for me. Just about any kind of story can be told.

2)The TARDIS: It may seem funny, but the fact that the Doctor's TARDIS is old and creaky and doesn't always work right is a big draw for me. Since I was a little kid, rickety old vehicles have fascinated me more than shiny new ones. If you'd've given me a choice between the Clampetts' truck and Maxwell Smart's sports car, I'd've taken the truck for sure.

3)Regeneration: The fact that the Doctor periodically becomes someone else has always intrigued me. It also helps keep the show fresh.

It's a funny thing - I was born in 1963, and the old show started a few months later. I've been a fan of Doctor Who for most of my life, and I hope to  continue a fan for the rest of my life, as well!

*Stands for "United Nations Intelligence Taskforce"

**Stands for "Time And Relative Dimension In Space"

***I.E., whatever this week's writer needs it to be capable of.

I don't think it's just chance that of all of the companions from the old show, Sarah Jane is the one they brought back for the new show, or that they made the Sarah Jane Adventures instead of, say, The Vicki Adventures or The Tegan Adventures.

I'd pay good cash money to see an episode of The Tegan Adventures!

Just look at that picture. the number of the three previous Doctors may be in question, but how can Peter Capaldi not be the Thirteenth Doctor? I started watching DW only about six years ago, but I like a show with a lot of [readily available] episodes to sink my teeth [and eyes and brain] into.

Another alias: Sigma Theta!

Forgot about that one.

Real Name: The United States of America

Aliases/Other Names: America, Alfred F. Jones*

First Appearance:  Hetalia: Axis Powers "Prologue", by Hidekaz Himaruya.

Base of Operations: The USA.

Place of Birth: North America.

Group Affiliations**: (WWII) The Allied Forces, (Present) The Group of Eight

Friends/Allies:  (WWII) The Allied Forces (Britain/England***, China, France, Russia), (Present) Britain (older brother), Canada (brother), Japan, Tony****

Enemies: (WWII) The Axis (Germany, Italy, Japan), (Present) Cuba, Russia, the Pictonians

Height: 177 cm

Weight: Unknown

Eye Color: Blue

Hair Color: Blond

Strength: Super-human

Speed: Above average human

Intelligence: Varied. America is extremely inventive and clever, but lacks discretion, and has poor interpersonal skills.

Energy-Manipulation Abilities: None.

Magic-Manipulation Abilities: None

Special Abilities: Super-human strength and endurance.

Special Weapons/Equipment: None

History: The child that would become America was originally spotted roaming wild by Finland and Netherlands. Britain and France fought for custody of the child, with Britain winning out.  As a young man, America fought for and won his independence from Britain, although the two eventually reconciled.  America fought alongside Britain and France in the First World War, and assumed leadership of the Allied Forces in the Second. Since then, America has played a leading  role in world affairs, often coming into conflict with Russia.

Why He's a Favorite:  In Hetalia, incarnations of the nations and regions of the interact with one another as though they were manga/anime characters.  While there is a fair amount of history in the story, historical accuracy is typically subordinated to the need for the characters to behave like typical manga/anime characters. The characters tend to behave according to the stereotypes other nations (especially the Japanese) have of them. For example, Germany is obsessed with rules and order, France is vain and effete, Sweden is dour and taciturn and so on. (Interestingly, Japan is portrayed as something of a squirrelly shut-in, who lets other countries use him as a doormat.)

America is good-natured and amiable, but arrogant beyond belief. He assumes that other countries should accept him as the leader, and has an almost pathological need to be "the hero" in any situation. He tends to laugh boisterously for no apparent reason.  He eats large amounts of food (though at the same time being obsessed about his weight) and has a tendency to talk with his mouth full. He also likes to eat foods that are colors that do not exist in nature.  In the present day, his two real friends are said to be Britain (who views America as a somewhat annoying younger brother) and Japan (America and Japan are shown to share an obsession with each other's culture). America's brother Canada has a problematic relationship with him, as he feels overshadowed by him, and hates it when people confuse him with America. America's main rival in the present day is Russia, with whom he shares a long-term adversarial relationship.

I find Hetalia to be consistently entertaining. I enjoy the humor, and I especially like seeing how the Japanese view us, and other countries. Plus, the show is fun, in and of itself.

*This name (as well as the other "human" names for Hetalia characters is never used in the manga or anime. It is my understanding that these names were initially fan creations that eventually gained a sort of quasi-canonicity. In this case, "Alfred" is said to come from "Alfred E. Neuman", "F" is said to come from "John F. Kennedy", and "Jones" from its status as a common Americana surname, although the character Indiana Jones may have had some influence there, as well.

**Hetalia covers most of human history at some point or another. Therefore, affiliations and alliances tend to shift over time. Note that I am only listing here the affiliations and alliances that have been mentions within the story itself.

***The character called "Britain"  in the English dub is called "England" in the original.

****Tony is a grey alien who lives with America, and communicates almost exclusively in f-bombs. He is intended to represent American fascination with UFOs and space in general.

Real Name: Bender Bending Rodriguez Sr.

Aliases/Other Names: Bending Unit 22, Super King, Serial Number 2716057

First Appearance: Futurama "Space Pilot 3000"

Occupations: Bending unit, assistant sales manager, criminal, folksinger, chef, super-hero

Bases of Operations: Planet Express Building, Robot Arms Apartments (both in New New York City)

Place of Manufacture: Tijuana, Mexico

Group Affiliations: Planet Express, New Justice Team

Friends/Allies: Philip J. Fry, Turanga Leela, Amy Wong, others

Enemies: Numerous

Height: 5'8" (6'2" including antenna)

Weight: Uncertain (it has been given as 525 pounds and as two tons)

Eye Color: Black

Hair Color: None

Strength: Super-human

Speed: Above average

Intelligence: Difficult to quantify, since he's not human. At the very least, above average.

Energy-Manipulation Ability: None

Magic-Manipulation Ability: None

Special Abilities/Equipment: Can bend almost any object. Able to remotely operate his limbs even when they are detached from his body. Highly resilient. Can store improbably large objects in his chest cavity.

History: Bender was manufactured  in Tijuana in 2996. He worked as a bending unit until the year 3000, when he discovered that the girders he had been bending were used in the construction of suicide booths. Despondent, he decided to make use of suicide booth, It was when doing so that he met Philip J. Fry, who would become his new best friend. Ensuing events led to Bender becoming the assistant sales manager for the Planet Express delivery service, where he has worked ever since.  Bender has one known son, Bender Jr. (known as "Ben"), the result of a brief liaison with a drinks machine.

Why He's a Favorite: Futurama is, in my opinion, very probably the funniest sci-fi parody ever made, and Bender is my favorite character on the show.  Brilliantly brought to life by the extremely funny John DiMaggio, Bender is cheerfully immoral and self-indulgent, with a (very) deeply buried conscience that surfaces just often enough to take some of the curse of off his otherwise completely selfish behavior.  As a side note, if you ever watch the show on DVD, the commentary tracks are well worth a listen. They're often as funny as the shows themselves, especially the ones featuring DiMaggio and Billy West.

Real Name: Ayumu Kasuga

Aliases/Other Names: Osaka

First Appearance: Azumanga Daioh, by Kiyohiko Azuma

Occupation: Student

Base of Operations: Unnamed high school, Tokyo, Japan

Place of Birth: Wakayama, Japan

Group Affiliations: "the usual six" *, the Bonkuras**

Friends/Allies: Chiyo "Chiyo-chan" Mihama, Koyomi "Yomi" Mizuhara, Tomo Takino, Sakaki, Kagura, Kaorin, Chihiro, Minamo "Nyamo" Kurosawa, Yukari Tanizaki

Enemies: Mister Kimura (See Note)

Height: 165 cm (5' 1")

Weight: Unknown

Eye Color: Brown

Hair Color: Brown

Strength: Below average

Speed: Below average

Intelligence: (See Special Abilities)

Energy Manipulation Ability: None

Magic Manipulation Ability: None

Special Abilities:  While Osaka isn't stupid per se, she tends to find if difficult to concentrate, particularly in academic situations. She does, however, excel at certain types of unconventional thinking, and is good at certain types of wordplay. On one occasion, she easily solved a series of riddles that stumped Chiyo-chan.

Special Weapons/Equipment: None

History: Ayumu Kasuga was born in Wakayama and grew up in Osaka. As a teenager, she moved to Tokyo. She began attending high school, where she met Chiyo Mihama and the other girls who would become her best friends. she was given the nickname "Osaka" by Tomo Takino, and was generally known by that name afterwards.

Note: Azumanga Daioh focuses on the high school years of six young Tokyo residents. The main character is Chiyo-chan, a ten year old child prodigy who was bumped up five grades, so that she is now a first year is high school***,  She is befriended by Osaka, quiet, self-conscious Sakaki, bookish meganekko Yomi, hyperactive prankster Tomo and amiable jockette Kagura.  Their teachers include the childish, self-absorbed English teacher Yukari, and the level-headed gym teacher Nyamo.

The main secondary student character is Kaorin, a girl who has a huge, occasionally borderline stalkerish crush on the apparently oblivious Sakaki.  Kaorin herself is the object of the unwanted attentions of the  Japanese classics teacher, Mister Kimura.

Mister Kimura is for me the one problematic character in the story, the one thing about Azumanga Daioh that would make me cautious about who I recommended it to.   Kimura has an unhealthy interest in teenage girls, even announcing in class one day that the reason he's a teacher is that he likes checking them out.  At one point he skips a class of his own so that he can watch the girls have swim class. When Nyamo makes him leave, he stands outside the gate, weeping.  Kimura is particularly obsessed with Kaorin, to the point where his attentions cause her obvious emotional distress. **** 

I find this character extremely jarring, not just because he's extremely creepy and unpleasant, but also because to me, he doesn't fit in well with the rest of the story.  In general, Azumanga Daioh is a fairly light-hearted, gentle story. It's well-written and fun, and not very serious. Nothing really bad happens, the biggest drama is towards the end when the girls have to try to get into college.  Apart from Kaorin's unrequited interest in Sakaki, there's no romance in the story, to the point where Osaka calls attention to the fact that none of them have any boyfriends.  So, I find it especially jarring when Kimura shows up and starts sexually harassing them.To my mind, it just doesn't fit in well with the rest of the story as I understand it, to the point where I start to wonder whether it represents a cultural difference, and this sort of thing is just  considered amusing in Japan.

Why She's a Favorite:  I've always had a fondness for "oddball" characters that are played against type.  In Japan, the stereotype of Osakans is that they are quick, feisty, sharp-talkers, always on the look-out for a angle to work. The fact that gentle, goofy Osaka plays against these expectations is a big part of what drives her character, and what makes her actions amusing. Also, I can certainly identify with a character who has trouble staying focused, and who doesn't think the way everyone else does.

*Not an official group name, this is used once to refer to the group comprised of Osaka and her closest school friends, Chiyo-chan, Sakaki, Yomi, Tomo and Kagura.

**This name is derived from a Japanese word meaning "someone who isn't too sharp".  The group consists of Osaka, Tomo and Kagura.

***Schooling in Japan tends to follow a 6-3-3 pattern - that is, six years of elementary school, three years of middle school, and three years of high school.  Thus, a high school first year is the age of what in the US would be a sophomore. From what I've read, a promotion such as Chiyo-chan's would never actually happen in real life, no  matter how smart she was. Still, it's by no means the weirdest thing that a manga or anime has asked me to accept.

***As to why the girls never try to take any kind of action against Kimura, I'm not sure.  Yukari and Nyamo are both shown to be aware of his behavior. The only thing I can say is that from what I've read, teachers in Japan have a good deal more authority over students than American teachers do,  and that perhaps because of this, students would be much less likely to speak out against them. I'm really not sure.

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