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November 09, 2008


Pat Curley

Interesting concept; it would explain why these gadget guys haven't gotten rich with their inventions that have obvious commercial applications. I remember in the "Bat-baby" story, the ray that turned Batman into a toddler had a "flaw" in it that meant Batman was still mentally an adult. Never mind that people would be lining up to use a machine that reversed their aging but left them with their memories and acquired knowledge.

John Nowak

Yeah, the gadgeteers are typically the death of any sensible continuity.

Although I have to admit, I love the idea of trying to make it make sense, maybe with a "Cheap, fast, good -- pick two" paradigm.

So, basically, the Iron Man suit is twitchy, hell to maintain, and an utter hangar queen. It's a constantly evolving research platform. Only Tony Stark can actually run the thing.

The War Machine is slightly less capable than Iron Man, but still harder to maintain than a fleet of SR-71s. SHIELD can deploy a small team, but that's about it.

Guardian is the production version. It's much less capable than either Iron Man or War Machine, but it's also far more reliable.


I like the "gadget master" concept! What's additionally amusing to me about it is that it matches real life. Often, when skeptics disassemble a purported Perpetual Motion Machine or some other sort of miracle gadget, the innards are some ridiculous assemblage of parts that just *looks* all science-y to the curious but clueless rube.

Iron Man and other "powered armor" guys are slightly different, IMO, because the technology's *sort of* plausible, and real-life R&D is actually done on (sort of) Iron Man suits. But, yeah, Iron Man's armor is a high-maintenance thing that a genius is constantly tinkering with, while never writing anything down....

Mark Engblom

"But, yeah, Iron Man's armor is a high-maintenance thing that a genius is constantly tinkering with, while never writing anything down...."

I just find it amusing thinking about the possibility of Iron-Man's armor being, essentially, a nonsensical concoction that a psionically-powered Tony Stark makes work through sheer force of will. All of it: flying, repulsor rays, invulnerability...all telekinetic-based mutant powers.

Not that I'm advocating for that at all...it's just kinda fun to turn the whole thing on its head, you know? It reminds me a bit of when John Byrne maintained that a good chunk of Superman's powers would probably be psionic in nature, especially his flying and lifting abilities. For example, lifting a building up by its corner would actually shatter the entire structure, so Byrne maintained that Superman had some kind of psionic-based force that somehow kept it all intact. Most of Byrne's theories were worked out using an ersatz-Superman Marvel character named The Gladiator, but he definitely hinted at the psionic angle after taking over the Superman titles in 1986 (such as Superman musing that huge, heavy objects seem to become lighter when he's flying).


I was trying to think where else I'd seen this concept before... in the City of Heroes MMORPG. (SPOILERS!)

The Clockwork King is a particularly baffling archvillain. Never himself seen, he has an endless army of "clockwork" robots cobbled together from scrap metal and gears. For the most part, the clockwork robots aren't as overtly villainous as some. They're mostly a nuisance, stealing metal of all sorts from wherever they can find it... then using it to build more scrap-metal robots.

As the hero, you're on their case, finding all sorts of strange anomalies. After you foil their plans a few times, they seem to take it personally, expressing their not-especially-robotic hatred for you! And when you bring in the remains of robots for analysis, you're basically told "There's no logical way you could build a working robot from this junk." No obvious power source, no computing power....

Eventually, you learn the secret - the Clockwork King is an immensely powerful but insane psychic (or more precisely, a powerful disembodied brain) who builds and operates the huge Clockwork army through the force of his mind.

Mark Engblom

Cool! Yeah, you're right...there's definitely some overlap there between Wild Cards and City of Heroes.


That immediately reminded me of Excalibur #1 (regular series), when Tweedledum (or whoever) builds Widget; who works even though his 'internal circuitry' includes an apple core, a key, and half a can of baked beans.


Actually, there was an old fanzine called "Omniverse" in the early 80's that Mark Gruenwald used to write for that first expounded as to the whole "Supes as Super psychic" sort of thing. Everything he can do is a function of his psychic abilities, explaining how he can hear things faster than sound can travel, be SO invulnerable yet not weigh a jillion pounds,etc.


Actually, this "theory" resembles the way magic works in the Mage the Ascension roleplaying game. Technomancers can work miracles through acts of will (in "reality") although they filter their abilities through the use of advanced technology.

The difference is that after a time, and given sufficient dissemination to the public, the device might actually work for all.

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