Thursday, March 28, 2013

Cool Customers

Karen: Most of us seem to like the "cool" hero -the one who is never rattled, who keeps calm and collected and always in control. He (or she) always seems a step ahead of everyone else and sometimes comes across as cold or calculating. When this cool cat does have an outburst, you know it's something to behold!There are plenty of examples in comics, TV, and film. Feel free to discuss some of your favorites.


david_b said...

Two big television favorites come to mind..:

Ficus (Richard Kelton) from 'Quark' and Det. Arthur Dietrich (Steve Landesberg) from 'Barney Miller'; both these guys, especially Dietrich always had that sly humor when they're done baffling you with science. Cracks me up every time.

A third all-time fav is Russell Johnson, yes 'the Professor'. A few years back I found his website and ordered a personally autographed photo from him. It arrived, signed to me, including some latin (untranslated..) which I later looked up to mean 'From Life springs Knowledge'. I thought that was the coolest gesture, so I wrote him later around Thanksgiving that year, thanking him for such a cool autograph and sharing with him I worked for this nation's veterans and am a vet myself. He immediately emailed back (calling me 'sir' because of my rank...) and thanked me for my service, mentioning he was a B-52 navigator flying combat missions over Germany back in WWII. It was SO surreal having him call me 'Sir', but that's military folk for ya.

Such a wonderful gentleman.

Edo Bosnar said...

Vision and Spock esp. are good choices, but since this is open to TV shows as well, one that immediately came to mind is (and I think our regulars from the UK will appreciate this) Jeeves, Bertie Wooster's valet in Wodehouse's (very, very funny) original novels and in the (absolutely hilarious) TV series "Jeeves and Wooster" (as played with aplomb by Stephen Fry, opposite Hugh Laurie's Wooster). Jeeves is the ultimate cool customer: he knows everything (and I mean everything), remains unfazed by any mess Wooster gets himself into, he's always at least a step ahead of everybody else (and about 10 steps ahead of Wooster) and, when needed, is always able to quickly devise some kind of subtle scheme to set matters right.

Bruce said...

You've already listed him, but I can't imagine a cooler customer than the Dark Knight himself.

My favorite example is "Death Strikes at Midnight and Three," the classic illustrated prose story by Denny O'Neill & Marshall Rogers. The murderer in the story is supremely confident can outwit Batman. His confidence slowly unravels throughout the story, as Batman proves unflappable.

The story ends with the once-arrogant villain quivering before a stone-faced Batman: "Instead he struggled to control an urge to beg. To whimper. To crawl."

Doug said...

Yeah, today's "I'M THE G**-D***ED BATMAN!!" really isn't a cool customer, is he?

David, love the television suggestions you made. Guys like that aren't "straight men", but are just as necessary for comedy in an ensemble cast.


humanbelly said...

Well, it may be a choice that not everyone recognizes. . . but they simply don't come more coolly-unflappable as Lord Vetinari-- "The Patrician" in Terry Pratchett's Discworld.

And hey, do you think Mr.Data from STNG would fall under this heading?

There are really sort of two different types under this heading, aren't there? There's the "absolutely on top of his game" person, like Batman, Jeeves, and the Professor. And then there's the "detached, observant non-human", like Vision, Spock, and Data.


Doug said...

HB --

You go on commenting-vacation over the past week or so, or what?


Inkstained Wretch said...

Mr. Fantastic would seem to me to fall into this category. No matter what craziness befell the Fantastic Four, you could always count on him to view the situation from a detached, purely scientific perspective.

I remember in particular during the Byrne run's microverse storyline how he escaped from the Psycho-Man's glass cage and turned the tables on him -- as the bad guy was torturing his wife! You'd think that would have set him off, but no. And his cool reaction was what helped him to figure out a way to escape in the first place.

Anonymous said...

Hi Edo – good call on Jeeves. There were several good interpretations of that character previously, but Fry & Laurie really re-set the bar, and not by ‘making it their own’ either, they played it in a way that surely no Wodehouse fan could object to.

Cool customers....well, the Beast, not the later furry wisecracker, but Hank as originally written, analysing everything with 12 syllable words as he swung from the chandeliers.

Doc Doom.....the one hand, a raving psychopath, but a pretty cool customer under fire.

The Mad Thinker. Less mad, more thinking?

Deathlok was pretty hard to rattle. In one sense, anyway.

Captain Marvel. He always seemed to find cosmic awareness very soothing, although I’m sure it would have scared the bejesus out of me!

Doc Strange....well, he’d have to be, right?

Tony Stark, 19th heart attack, to paraphrase the Stones.

Warlock, not so much face-down-in-his-own-blood, as Starlin had him, but in the original Roy Thomas messianic mode.

The Surfer. When he wasn’t fighting demons, aliens and bouncing off his personal goldfish bowl, he mostly lay around on asteroids contemplating.

Iron Fist & Shang Chi. Their interior monologues calmly describing the situation, the room and reflecting on the nature of the world and man (as they smashed people’s teeth in).

Galactus. Considering what he did for a living, he always seemed pretty sanguine about it.

Actually, all those cosmic guys like Immortus and the Grand Master never seemed to break into much of sweat even with all of time & space on the line.

Hogun the Grim. Clue in the name, really.

But I think the prize goes to Mantis.... “this one has noticed that you are bleeding profusely from many wounds, Swordsman. I suspect your death to be imminent. Still, turned out nice again”


Doc Savage said...

I always enjoyed Spock and Ilya Kuryakin.

William said...

My favorite is Sherlock Holmes (the original cool customer). A logical thinker who displays little emotion and is always one step ahead of everyone else, (especially his opponents). I believe he is the template for characters like Spock and Data from Star Trek. As well Batman.

Another favorite of mine was Lieutenant Columbo. He came off as a disheveled bumbler, but that was mostly a ruse to disarm his quarry. Underneath he was totally in control and had an unmatched brilliance for deductive reasoning. A great character.

Pat Henry said...

Is it open to women?

Mrs. Peel.

david_b said...

Y'know, speaking of our favorite Vulcan, Mr. Nimoy just turned 82 this week.

Hope I'm as cool as he is at that age, as this video clearly demonstrates..:


Doug said...

I'm working on Monday's X-Men post right now. Charles Xavier is generally a cool customer.


humanbelly said...

Ha! Well Doug, thanks for noticin', eh?

Nah, not an intentional vacation-- just loading-in a difficult set for the past week and a half. . . and then any other idle time has been taken up trying to hastily memorize lines for a couple of Chekhov one-acts I've gotten myself into (w/ questionable success thus far. . .oy). It's astonishing how much more slowly the aging brain accomplishes this than it did 10 or 15 years ago. . .


Garett said...

Haha! Great video David!

I'd go with Mr. Spock, as it was always a powerful scene when he let loose with emotion, whether it was anger or sadness or love. Plus he was cool when he was a cool customer as well, so always a compelling character.

Chasing Amazing said...

Certainly Jim Starlin's original Thanos is as about as cool and unattached as it gets. I mean, he is a nihilist and all that.

Anonymous said...

Lurker here....

I prefer a good ole Rigellian Recorder. No matter how desperate the situation they are always there with an interrogative.
.... Except Recorder #417 who accompanied Hercules into the Andromeda galaxy. He was a bitch.

Also.... Off topic....
I was reading this page a couple of weeks ago about the first recruits in groups. Namely the kooky quartet and Nighthawk in the Defenders. It reminded me that I bought about a dozen old Defenders in Texas from a 25 cent box, because the were drawn by Keith Giffen ( huge fan) ... But I never got around to reading them.
So I dig them out and start reading.....
I get through half of them and open the next one and...
BAM!!! ... splash page signed by Keith Giffen!!!

So thank you BAB!

William said...

Hey David B, that was a pretty funny video.

But here is Mr. Nimoy in an even funnier one (unintentionally) where he's not such a cool customer.

Anonymous said...

James Bond, Simon Templar, Emma Peel, John Steed, and Mr. Waverly (the director of U.N.C.L.E.). Of course, they were all British, the kind of people who refer to World War Two as "the late unpleasantness." I almost considered Sheldon Cooper, but he actually does get rattled at times, often over trivia. My all-time favorite, though, has to be Daria Morgendorffer.

Doc Savage said...

I rather prefer characters who DO get rattled and lose their cool: Spider-Man, Hawkeye, Quicksilver, Ben Grimm, Johnny Storm, Luke Cage, (early) Firestorm (no idea how he may have changed since then), Cyborg, Changeling, Vibe (yes, enjoyed the much-maligned Vibe), and the like.

Doc Savage said...

Imagine all those hotheads on one team...!

Anonymous said...

My two picks would be Sherlock Holmes and Mr. Spock - whether fighting to the death with professor Moriarty over the Reichenbach Falls or dodging Romulan disruptors, these two gentlemen always appeared cool as a cucumber. So cool you wonder if they are really human beneath their icy demeanor!

Other honourable mentions : Luna Lovegood & Professor Snape from the Harry Potter movies, Cyclops of the X-men, Dr Strange, the Vision from the Avengers, most butlers (Batman's Alfred, Jarvis from the Avengers), Han Solo from Star Wars, Dr Hannibal Lecter. Hmm, I'm sure there are many more I missed out, but that's all that come to mind!

- Mike 'tries to be cool every now and then' from Trinidad & Tobago.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, Matt, it would be fun to do a discussion on hotheads!

- Mike 'bring on the fiery tempered characters' from Trinidad & Tobago.

Rip Jagger said...

Someone above already mentioned a fave of mine, the implacable Hogun the Grim.

Surrounded by the festive Volstagg and the grinning Fandrall, the icy glare of Hogun was refreshing.

I was reminded of the Warriors Three when watching the Clive Owen King Arthur flick.

Those Sarmatian Knights of the Round Table in that movie have that vibe, and Hogun role was shared by a few of them, most specifically Ray Stevenson's Dagonet and Mads Mikkleson's Tristan.

The foolish ones, the dashing ones, and the serious ones all blended neatly.

Good stuff!

Rip Off

Edo Bosnar said...

We're probably venturing off-topic here, but interesting that you mentioned that King Arthur movie, Rip. Not only do I agree with you about the Warriors 3 vibe of some of the characterizations, I also thought that was a just a really fun movie.

Okay, back to cool customers: Anjelica Huston's character in Ice Pirates (another fun movie - very silly, yes, but fun nonetheless).

Humanbelly said...

Hmm- we're definitely shy on females in this topic, aren't we?

How about 7-of-9 from STVoyager? Yes?
Boy, can I even come up with another one that exhibits that cool, near-iconic level of unflappable-ness and detachment?

Searching. . . searching. . .


Edo Bosnar said...

HB, you're right about Seven (and since I'm such a fan of Voyager I can't believe she slipped my mind). I liked that episode in which Q's mischievous son made her body suit disappear, but she pretty much ignored him and just kept working at her console, so he had her clothing reappear and moved on...

As for other women who fit the bill, I guess Moondragon counts, despite her boundless arrogance.
Another that comes to mind, to some extent, is Morticia Addams, and, in a bit of a similar vein, Frasier's wife in Cheers (what was her name? Lilith?)

david_b said...

Lilith indeed..

Begging everyone's forgiveness.., I was remiss in not mentioning one of my all-time favorite shows (which I dropped a comment on months ago..).

SGT Joe Friday from 'Dragnet'. Both him and Gannon were pretty 'unflappable' as we say, but hey, 'He wrote the book, baby'..

Also, honorable mention goes to the beloved 'Cornfed' from the too-short '90s 'Duckman', who always channeled Jack Webb to a tee.

humanbelly said...

Oh, GREAT call on Friday/Gannon, davidB. The late-60's run of that show airs quite a bit on one of our local broadcast HD channels, and I've developed an enormous new-found respect for & appreciation of it. Jack Webb's portrayal was definitely not unemotional-- it's simply that he never, ever lost control of that seen-it-all veneer. The most he'd give in to would be a (usually terrifying) deeply intense, righteous, rapid-fire tirade in an effort to get through to a recalcitrant perp. Harry Morgan's (man, he only died a year or so ago!) Bill Gannon is often unbelievably funny as his complete personal loopiness is totally masked (and at odds) with just about the most deadpan delivery anyone could ever muster.

HB (closet fanboy, yes)

david_b said...

Thanks HB, two great speeches for the jury's consideration..:

Humanbelly said...

Thanks david-b-- fine examples, both of those. Jack Webb was truly the master of this whole under-play genre that, quite frankly, he himself was largely responsible for creating. It's there from the earliest days of Dragnet's radio run, even.

Man, the RABID and vindictive response/feedback on that second clip from the pro-marijuana/LSD crowd certainly is eyebrow-raising!


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