Saturday, January 21, 2012

Discuss: Iconic Weapons

Of the three characters pictured, who has the most iconic weapon? Which is more closely associated with its master, and which character is more differently portrayed without it (please discount the "Don Blake 60-second rule")? Which do you like better?

For a broader version of this discussion, check out Karen's Open Forum from about a year ago.


Dougie said...

Some of my favourites:

The Batarang
The Penguin's umbrella-gun
The Mega-Rod
The Emerald Eye of Ekron and the Atomic Axe.

The Mandarin's rings
The Ebony Blade
Captain Britain's quarterstaff

Edo Bosnar said...

Can we only choose among the three pictured here, or pick others? I'd go with Batman's utility belt - and especially its use in the TV show. It includes a spray-can of "Bat shark repellent," which is the epitome of awesome...

Doug said...

Hi, Edo -- happy weekend!

Yeah, for this go-round I was wanting to narrow it to just the three characters/weapons pictured. I guess for me, among all of the characters who wield some sort of fighting tool, these three men are almost synonymous with their weapons -- hence the question targeting them without their respective weapons.

Karen's Open Forum of a year ago was more open-ended. I was thinking yesterday about Cap's shield and how it's such a part of him. Then that got me to thinking about Thor and Mjolnir. You know, if you dwell on it just a bit, isn't "worthiness" a tying thread between all three characters?


Dougie said...

I tried to post some of my favourites earlier but they weren't the pictured ones. Ah, well.

Stephen T. Harper said...

For "which is most associated with its master" I'd go with Cap and the shield because of the the three choices, the shield is the only weapon that doesn't "make" the hero. Anyone can pick up that shield, but that won't make you Captain America.

That is also true of pre-curse Thor, of course, but not of Don Blake or any other "worthy" sort who may come along.

For Green Lantern, the ring is pretty much everything. I mean, if you as "who is Captain America?" though there have been others, most people would say Steve Rogers. But I don't know if Hal Jordan would necessarily be most people's first response for GL. I think of Jon Stewart on the Justice League cartoon first. At least, that's the GL I prefer. Unlike Thor and Cap, Hal Jordan was portrayed too inconsistently from era to era. I never related to him as a character.

What is the "Don Blake 60 second rule?"

Inkstained Wretch said...

I would have to say Thor's hammer. It is the only one that is absolutely essential.

Cap's shield is important but he is still Cap without it. And there are plenty of patriotic-themed who don't have a shield.

Ditto for Green Lantern. It doesn't have to be a ring. The hero could have gauntlets like Captain Marvel or a gem like the Squadron Supreme's Dr. Spectrum. And some variations on Green Lantern didn't even have a ring, like Jade from Infinity Inc.

Thor on the other hand has to have the hammer. Without it he is just another strong guy. With it, he is a true Norse god. And any old weapon would not do. A sword would look strange for example.

So, there you have it: Thor

Doug said...

Stephen --

My Don Blake reference was to the time in Marvel history when Thor reverted to his mortal alter ego when apart from his hammer. I wanted folks to consider Thor as Thor, and the importance of Mjolnir to him as a heroic being.

Thanks for stopping by today --


Anonymous said...

Tony Stark's Red and Gold armor, from the Bob Layton era. It was basically a big utility belt.

The LSH Flight Ring. At first it was a way for all of them to fly. But later it became a symbol.A few times it was even a weapon.

Brainiac 5 shield belt. Its been around forever. It was weaponized a few times too.

ChrisPV said...

Cap's shield, because I think it really sums him up. He goes into battle with a defensive weapon, but constantly makes it work as an offensive one too. How much easier would it be for Cap to just carry a gun? But he doesn't.

I see that as a sign of his core principles: I defend people. I step into the line of fire so that the weak don't have to take it. I am going to plant myself between the innocent and those who prey on them and I will not be moved. I'm not going to set out to kill my enemies, I'm not out to end anyone. But, if you make me, I will turn this immovable object into an irresistible force and I will lay you out.

I think it's got so much more symbolic power than the others. There's a reason why Cap's shield is the big symbol of freedom in all of Marvel's dystopian futures. It's just shorthand. One of the things in Siege that I thought unabashedly worked was Norman Osborn in his fake Iron Man suit being told to look behind him by his minions. He does, and we get four glorious panels of the shield getting bigger in the reflection on Norman's faceplate. When that shield comes flying into combat, it's the writer telling you that the cavalry's here, the villains need be afraid, and the dying stops now.

I'm a big Cap fan. Does it show?

Rip Jagger said...

I'd have to say that the character most linked to his weapon is Green Lantern. Without that ring, he's just a brave guy.

But Cap remains Cap, and can still kick your behind.

Thor's hammer is important, but again he's more than capable of havoc without it.

Rip Off

Gray said...

Gotta agree with Rip on this one, Green Lantern without his extraterrestrial jewelry is just a cocky test pilot. Cap could beat you with a hubcap, a lazy susan, or a garbage can lid. THOR, super strong, invulnerable, and nobody has better hair right? : )

Stephen T. Harper said...

@ChrisPV. That was one of the coolest comments I think I've ever seen on any blog. Love that.

Redartz said...

Well said, Chris! Captain America is a symbol, and his shield itself becomes symbolic of the symbol.

david_b said...

Uber-Dittos on ChrisPV's comments.

Cap was ALWAYS my favorite hero growing up (re: previous BAB column on MSH cartoons in the 60s..), and you summed it up perfectly. When you saw that shield alone crash through a window, or foil some evil-doer's plans, you know you were in for an explosive and fun battle.


Anonymous said...

Of these three, I’d go for Thor’s hammer. It is intrinsically connected to him. Cap is not made Captain America by the possession of his shield, but whoever holds this hammer... Also, can you really say that his original shield (you know, the one that is, well, shield shaped) is less iconic? OK, it got a lot less airplay, but is there actually something about the roundness of Cap’s shield that delivers more iconic-ness?

Having said that, I am genuinely shocked see that the number one contender is not even mentioned. What am I talking about? I’ve got one word for you, Doug: >snikt<

And the fact that you ALL know exactly what that means, tells you it’s waaaaay iconic.


ChrisPV said...

Thanks for the kind words, all.

I do want to chime in again re:Richard's "snikt." I don't really consider the claws all that iconic. They're just sort of...there. The character they're attached too is a bit overexposed, but I don't know if that in and of itself makes them an icon. The shield, the hammer, or the ring all have a certain emotional punch with their mere presence. Wolvie's claws just mean someone gonna get messed up. As usual. In short? My opinion is that the claws are less iconic than they are ubiquitous. We all recognize them, sure, but that doesn't give them the same weight. Just my two cents.

Anonymous said...

Hi Chris – I really enjoyed your comments above and I felt you raised the bar on this whole discussion. Very, very perceptive original and interesting. Your 2 cents has a quite value, I’d say.

I think that you and I are actually agreeing about Wolvie’s fingernails and the contradiction is that I’ve mashed together what are actually two different questions. Or maybe Doug has: “who has the most iconic weapon? Which is more closely associated with its master” ......these two questions may actually be polar opposites because the more closely associated the artefact is with its master, the less iconic it is in and of itself (i.e. it draws its iconic status solely from its master rather than having it unto itself).

So in terms of the how iconic they are full stop, the ring, hammer & shield do trump the claws, but the fact that those items have, as you say, a certain emotional punch with their mere presence, indicates that they have a life of their own. I agree with you that without Logan attached to them, Wolvie’s claws mean little, but that surely demonstrates that they are actually more closely associated with their master than the other items.

(Basically, I blame Doug, is what I’m saying).


ChrisPV said...


As long as we're all in agreement that it's all Doug's fault. ;)

I see your point here. Well said. I tend to think of stuff like Wolvie's claws as a prop. It's sort of like how in Star Wars all of the TIE Fighters are props. The Millennium Falcon is iconic. They may be cool, but you could replace them with anything else and get a similar effect. Basically, would Wolvie be any different at all if he just packed a couple of katana?

And thanks for the compliment. It's easy to come up with that kind of character stuff with Jack Kirby creations. I think it just comes built in. Ask me about Darkseid's skirt and go-go boots sometime.

Doug said...

In regard to Wolverine, I think we often forget that his mutant powers are his tracking abilities and more importantly his healing factor. The claws are artificial, so Chris's point is well taken.

Richard raises an interesting point about Cap's original shield. That's funny, because I consider that just a nostalgic part of his past -- for me the round shield is indeed iconic, and Chris has aptly stated why.

Mjolnir, at least in the Bronze Age, seemed to morph into whatever sort of weapon Thor needed -- by that I mean that it was a propeller for his flight, a battering ram, a projectile, and more often than not an energy channel. Nonetheless, it remained by his side and I simply don't ever think of him without the hammer.

Ditto for Hal Jordan, or any other Green Lantern for that matter. But I think others have stated that the Corps perhaps diminishes the ring's iconic status -- in this case the weapon certainly makes the man. In the former two cases, at least in my mind, the weapon and the man share some sort of symbiotic relationship.

And that, is my two cents.

And whatever I'm being blamed for, I'll gladly take it,as this has turned into a solid discussion. Admittedly, it took awhile for people to get down to the nitty gritty of the day's poser, but I'm glad that you did. And by the way, for the issues that have been raised apart from Thor, Cap, and GL, since the link to Karen's post is right here visible (at least for the next few days until this drops off the front page), it would certainly be welcomed for any and all to jump back to that post and make comments.


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