Tag Archives: Star Wars

Four on the Floor #16: Badass Bounty Hunters

The Situation: Let’s face it, some guys are just too tough, crafty, or out-and-out evil for regular law enforcement agencies to take down. That’s why we need bounty hunters. Bounty hunters have been a part of American pop culture since the days of the Old West (if not longer), and they seem quite capable of morphing into pretty much any genre you can think of–westerns, sci-fi, fantasy, mysteries, you name it.

The Criteria: Since bounty hunters are so prevalent in popular culture, there are countless examples that you can choose from. But, since I had to limit myself to four, I decided to pick guys (Domino Harvey came close to making the cut…would that I could pick five) who were obviously doing what they do for a tangible reason–whether it’s money, revenge, freedom, or a combination of one or more–as opposed to characters who claim to be bounty hunters, but end up regulating out of concerns more noble than money or vengeance.

1. Brisco County, Jr.

A Harvard-educated lawyer, Brisco never wanted to follow in his father’s bounty hunting footsteps. That is, until County Sr. is brutally gunned-down by John Bly and his gang. With sidekick Socrates Poole, rival-turned-associate Lord Bowler, and Comet the Wonder Horse, Brisco County, Jr. straps on his dad’s six-shooter and searches the Old West for the men responsible for his father’s death. Oh, there’s a weird golden orb from the future involved, too.

2. Ezekiel Stone

Zeke Stone was a cop. When his wife was raped and the man responsible goes free, Stone murders him in cold blood. Then, wouldn’t ya know, Zeke gets killed and gets sent straight to hell. Fifteen years later, there’s a prison break in the underworld and the Devil makes Stone a deal: return to Earth, track down and return the 113 escaped souls, and earn a second chance at life. Bounty hunting + damned souls = awesome.

3. The Man With No Name

C’mon, it’s Clint. The Man With No Name more or less re-invented the western, as well as cementing the idea of the laconic anti-hero in American culture.

4. Boba Fett

Fett’s like Eastwood’s Man With No Name in a helmet and jet-pack. Forget everything that’s been done to and with this guy since 1983, when he first showed up in Empire Strikes Back, you knew he was a badass. He didn’t speak more than a dozen words in Empire or Return of the Jedi, and he still managed to become one of the most (if not the most) popular characters in the trilogy.

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Four on the Floor #10: Best Pilots on This, or Any, Planet

The Situation: I don’t really like to fly. Unlike most people with a similar distaste for air travel, this has nothing to do with a fear that the plane will crash. Actually, I have complete and total faith in the science of flight, believing that physics will get me where I’m going alive and well. I just don’t like being cooped up in a tiny space for three, four, five, or six hours at a time. But, if any of these four were at the controls, I might re-evaluate my misgivings.

The Criteria: There are a lot of pretty cool pilots floating around the annals of pop culture (stop giggling…I said “ANNALS”). And each and every one of them could have been on this list. But, I had to pick four. And, being the geek that I am, I had to pick these four. That doesn’t mean that I don’t respect what Maverick and Goose did in Top Gun, or that Ted Striker single-handedly landed that 707 in Airplane!, or the flying that Steven Hiller and Russel Casse did in Independence Day.

1. Hoban “Wash” Washburne

He might be a spastic, plastic-dinosaur-loving goofball most of the time, but put Wash behind the controls of Serenity (or anything, for that matter) and he really is “a leaf on the wind.” Wash is always ready to do the right thing, even if it means leaving the safety of the cockpit and shooting a tiny little handgun.  Plus, the fact that he’s married to an Amazon like Zoe gives hope to spastic, plastic-dinosaur-loving goofballs everywhere.

2. Han Solo

Everyone makes a big deal about Luke Skywalker blowing up the Death Star.  But, Han Solo’s flown through an asteroid field, played chicken with Imperial Star Destroyers, and made the Kessel Run in under twelve parsecs, all without the benefit of Luke’s reliance on “hokey religions.”  Given the choice, I’d rather trust my life to Han’s skill and experience than to Luke’s abilities with the Force.

3. H.M. “Howling Mad” Murdock

Since most of the A-Team’s jobs didn’t take place more than a day or two’s drive from Los Angeles, it’s easy to forget that Murdock was a pilot.  In fact, on more than one occasion, Hannibal called him the best chopper pilot in ‘Nam.  Whether he was actually insane, or just really good at faking it, Murdock was an Ace in the air, and it didn’t matter if he was flying a chopper, a biplane, or a Cessna.

4. Kara “Starbuck” Thrace

Sure, she has commitment issues and, probably, a bit of a death wish, but Starbuck is a damned good Viper pilot, and she’s relentless in a dogfight.  Plus, I’m such a sucker for a dame who can out-fight, out-swear, and out-drink any man in the room.  The fact that this dame happens to be a stogie-chomping blonde is a bonus.

Four on the Floor #9: The Best Sidekicks to Have Around When Bad Crap Starts Going Down

The Situation: Not everyone works well as a loner. Humans are, biologically and anthropologically speaking, social animals. That being said, it should come as no surprise that some of the best heroes in fiction, TV, and film have had some pretty sweet sidekicks to back them up. Sidekicks can provide comic relief, emotional support, back-up in a fight, provide a skill set that the hero doesn’t possess, or just be around so the hero isn’t talking to themselves all of the time.

The Criteria: Sidekicks come in a number of sizes, shapes, and colors. This is the one category that I came at with a fairly open mind. The four names that follow are not, by any means, the only sidekicks worthy of being on this list (for example, I didn’t even go near the four Robins and two Kid Flashes), but they are the ones that I felt like celebrating in blog form.

1. Dr. John H. Watson

If he wasn’t the first sidekick, he certainly became the model against which all future sidekicks are compared. I’m talking about the original Watson, not the bumbling oaf who appeared in nearly every filmed version of Sherlock Holmes stories until the glorious Jeremy Brett series. The “real” Watson is no dope, he’s a doctor for fuck’s sake and a soldier. He knows the score, and he’s pretty good with a revolver, too.

2. Bob the Skull

What’s a wizard to do when every piece of technology built after 1950 explodes in his presence? If you’re Harry Dresden, you get a “spirit of the air” that lives in a human skull. Bob is Harry’s lab assistant and his laptop, with access to more arcane and occult information than a 14-year-old Goth’s gym locker. Plus, all it really takes to make Bob happy are a few trashy romance novels and the occasional jaunt outside in the body of Harry’s cat, Mister.

3. The Scoobies

She might be the Chosen One, imbued with super-human strength and fighting skills, but Buffy would have joined her predecessors in the Big Dirt Nap long ago without the aid and support of her friends. The roster may have changed over the years, but the core group–Xander Harris, Willow Rosenberg, and Buffy’s Watcher, Rupert Giles–has always been there to offer support, research the latest Big Bad, or pick up a sword and join the fight against some kind of oozing hell-beast. Like Spike said, Buffy’s different from the other Slayers he’d faced (and killed), she had friends.

4. Chewbacca

Seven feet tall, covered in fur, 100% loyal, hell with a crossbow, and a whiz with a socket wrench. What more could you want in a sidekick and best friend? Sure, Chewie had no problem calling Han out when he was being an ass, but when the chips were down, he’d rip the arms out of the sockets of anyone who tried to mess with his pal.

Four on the Floor #8: The Best Rides That Don’t Exist

The Situation: You need to get from Point A to Point B and, let’s face it, you want to do it in style. Sure, there are plenty of pretty sweet rides out there–personally, I’m partial to Dodge Chargers and Ford Mustangs–but, some of the most kick-ass ways to get around just don’t exist in the real world.

The Criteria: It’s pretty simple: a vehicle that doesn’t exist or an existing vehicle that’s been modified beyond the capabilities of current technology. Which means that, as awesome as the General Lee is, it was still just a regular old ’69 Charger. For my own purposes, I’m also disqualifying the TARDIS because I’ve always felt it was a tad bit more than a regular ship.

1. Doc Brown’s De Lorean (Back to the Future I, II, & III)

I’m too young to remember the original De Lorean, but just the right age to have been obsessed with the time machine that Emmett L. Brown built into one. A regular De Lorean might have been cool, but slap on a flux capacitor, grab some plutonium and get that puppy up to 88 mph and it’s about 85% cooler. It’s a car and a time machine…and it could fly!

2. K.I.T.T. (Knight Rider)

The idea of a talking sports car that fights crime could only have been born in the Eighties, a.k.a. The Era of the Most Awesome Storytelling Ever. As a kid, there was nothing better than the thought that there’s a car out there that could drive itself, Turbo Boost over bad guys, and help you do your math homework.

3. Serenity (Firefly & Serenity)

She might not look like much on the outside–in fact, Serenity kind of looks like a bigger version of the tinfoil ducks that fancy restaurants put your leftovers in–but there’s just something about her. She doesn’t have any weapons, but she’s got heart. And, as spaceships go, she’s the closest you’re going to get to a “home.” Plus, she has a damned cute mechanic.

4. The Millennium Falcon (Star Wars, The Empire Strikes Back, The Return of the Jedi)

Anyone who knows me knows that I’ve had a lifelong love affair with this ship. Not only did the Falcon make the Kessel Run in under 12 parsecs, but she’ll make .5 past lightspeed. She’s the muscle car of sci-fi, with enough firepower and balls to go head-to-head against an entire squadron of TIE fighters or an Imperial Star Destroyer. The fact that the Falcon is held together with spit and good intentions and tends to break-down at the least opportune times just adds to her character.