EDIT (2015-09-07): Fixing some broken links, spell-checking, and adding clix-dials for both the “Original human Torch” and his sidekick “Toro”. That’s all.
Marvel’s original “Human Torch”, an android from Marvel Comics #1, 1939. Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Human_Torch_(android)
Got to thinking about “him” last evening. My mind was skipping from Jurassic Park/Jurassic World, mulling over genetic engineering in sci-fi. Thought about the 1982 movie version of Philip K. Dick’s 1968 novel Do Androids Dream of Electic Sheep?, the movie Blade Runner. In the movie, they are genetically engineered, growth-accelerated, memory-implanted and skills-programmed “replicants”, but in the novel, they are androids. Dictionary.com defines “android” as “an automaton in the form of a human being.”
In parsing out the differences between “android” and “just a robot”, and mulling over this year’s “artificial intelligence goes awry” sci-fi movie selection — Avengers: Age of Ultron; Terminator: Genysis; CHAPPiE; Ex Machina — wound up here — //en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robot — which then led me here — https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/R.U.R. — which got me thinking to Marvel’s “android ‘Human Torch'”.
In a lot of ways, the android that would adopt the name “Jim Hammond” was one of Marvel’s first forays into the “monster-as-hero/anti-hero”. Now, the Wikipedia articles are pretty “jumbled”. The “fictional biography” sections of these entries for superheroes is usually a mess, because they try to provide a “continuous narrative” for characters that the companies constantly tweak or overhaul the “backstories” for.
All I can discern from multiple articles is that the original android “Human Torch” was an experiment in “artificial life” by Professor Phineas T. Horton, using “Horton Cells”, a kind of “synthetic cell”. However that would work. [The “Horton Cells” appear to be a retroactive continuity tweak from the 1980’s appearances.] So, the “android” H.T. seems closer to the “replicant” idea than the “metal and plastic robot with a human-looking veneer” (like, say, from the movie Westworld). [EDIT: Helpful links on the history and science of RNA and DNA: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/body/journey-into-human-dna.html and http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/body/cracking-the-code-of-life.html ]
Ended up skipping from tangent to tangent. The whole “Horton Cells” thing got me back to thinking about Marvel’s other contribution to the superhero genre, Captain America, the “super-soldier serum enhanced patriot”. Which also got me thinking about genetic research itself. Sample articles: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/evolution/before-watson-crick.html — and — http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/tech/rosalind-franklin-legacy.html
Eventually, came full circle back to Avengers: Age of Ultron. In the comics, the Vision is the result of a partial rebuilding and reconfiguration of the remains of the WWII android “Human Torch” by Dr. Hank Pym’s renegade robot, Ultron. In the “Marvel Cinematic Universe”, Tony Start and Bruce Banner’s renegade experiment in A.I. defense programming creates the Vision using Dr. Helen Cho’s synthetic tissue process (“Horton Cells”?), vibranium, the alien Mind Stone, and his own A.I.
What does any of this have to do with The Game of HeroClix? Nothing. Just went down a rabbit hole that eventually reminded me, “Hey, we have a version of the “Jim Hammond” android Human Torch in clix, don’t we? Yeah, that one from SECRET INVASION !”
Which isn’t a bad version. “Workable”, but “showing its age” in game design terms. (Which in HeroClix, is kinda the equivalent of “dog years”.) After seeing not only the excellent new dial for the NICK FURY, AGENT OF S.H.I.E.L.D.A set’s *other Marvel monster-as-hero/anti-hero from WWII era comics* — Namor, the Sub-Mariner — but also its fantastic sculpt, I couldn’t help but think “Jim Hammond” could use a sculpt that’s just as cool, and an updated Invaders-level dial to go with it.
(I’ll try to post the dial during my lunch break today, maybe along with some more ideas.)
EDIT: Aaaaand! I was chasing that rabbit because I was wondering about how Phineas T. Horton, Dr. Helen Cho, and “synthetic life form technology” could be part of TV’s “Agent’s of S.H.I.E.L.D.” story lines in the coming season. (Fanboy dreams.)
EDIT (2015-09-07): Pics!
This version of the original “Human Troch” is “aging gracefully”.
A few years ago, the definition for the Smoke Cloud standard power changed from 4 squares of hindering to 6. I kinda object to the correction of this special power definition to Toro; the original specified 4, not 6. I would have prefered language to the effect of “at least 4” instead. It would have allowed a “situational power bump” by allowing Toro to “snake” his SC hindering terrain markers around more than one opposing character, methinks.