To: Luke
From: Owen
Re: Dr. Who

This might sound extremely late to the party, but I finally got around to buying City of Heroes. Remember, I have a Mac, and NCSoft just put out the port for this back in January. Believe it or not, I've had my eye on that game for so long, I remember Crecente playing it and raving about it when it came out back in 2004, and knowing I had a lifetime supply of superheroes waiting to save Paragon City.

Creating my first character - Johnny Hawkk - brought me back to my apotheosis as a pre-teen geek. Man, did I love comic books. Ask my parents - ask my Dad. In 1986, out of the blue, he got a fat manila envelope from Marvel Comics dumped on his desk at work. I had secretly written Jim Shooter, Marvel's editor-in-chief, appealing to him to convince my father to let me sink all of my paperboy money into 15 different subscriptions, a request Dad had earlier vetoed. Shooter wrote my father a personal letter, making a candid, honest case that comic books may not be great literature, but they can foster a love of reading and writing. Inside the package were two dozen of the latest issues, plus the first Spider-Man graphic novel. Some New Universe titles, too. I know everyone thinks their days were the best, but man, Marvel in the 1980s was its own era.

That Christmas, Mom and Dad gave me the Marvel Super-Heroes role playing game. And I went bananas creating my own universe of super beings. I got pretty good at randomly rolling up powers and somehow making them fit into a theme. And some of the names, you know, I thought they were pretty slick. Maybe they aren't taken by now on City of Heroes. There was U-Man, a Sub-Mariner analog; Mister Shifter was the Reed Richards contortionist; the Human Hologram was a guy who could phase through solid objects and fire laser bolts.

The flagship guy, my favorite, was sort of like the Human Top/Whirlwind (My Tales to Astonish collection was, and remains, a save-it-from-a-burning-house possession). My character's name was Gyro. Small town North Carolina is not known for its Greek delis, so I didn't realize the superstitious, cowardly criminals Gyro battled would most likely confuse him for a sandwich of lamb, tomato, onion and tzatziki served on flatbread. Especially when I gave him a sidekick named Baba Ghanoush.

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