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Old 09-23-2023, 05:18 PM   #1
David Johnston2
 
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Default Characters from Superhero Games Who Need Better Names

Dr. Drugs (Bad Medicine for Drugs). To be fair, just because that's the name on his character sheet doesn't mean anyone actually calls Oliver Stottlemeyer Jr. "Dr. Drugs". Although he can manifest powers by popping his designer drugs, he has no costume or alternate ID. The kind of people he hangs out with are more likely to just call him "Doc" or Oliver, or Junior. Even so if he is to have a supernym, I'd be going with "Doctor Feelgood"

Temper (Crisis at Crusader Citadel). To be sure, as the most useless member of the Crushers Thomas Perry may not deserve a good name, but Riot is still a better name for a guy whose only power is to make everyone around him uncontrollably violent.

The Buzzard (Most Wanted, Volume 1) Supposedly Lt. Vincent Cooper took on his pseudonym for two reasons. The first is that he'd just stolen a winged flying harness that was exactly like the one that Marvel Comics's Vulture uses and the second is that in his career as a corrupt narcotics cop, Cooper had been nicknamed dirty buzzard for his habit of stealing from drug dealers.

I see two problems with this. The first is that it seems unwise to adopt a nickname you already have as the tag you'll secretly use when committing crimes. The second is "what kind of urban drug dealer calls anyone a buzzard"? Same goes for a urban cop using it.

I get it, it's a little on the nose to give your Vulture knock-off the exact same name, but how about Black Vulture? Carrion Crow?

The Agrarian (Crooks!). Charlie Cartwright adopted his pseudonym because he was a superstrong farm boy, and as a black man "Farm Boy" was off the table. But...how about Haymaker?

Tele-Fist (Super Scum) Bert Larson gets his name from his improbably extendible cyborg arms. But I note that he is never without a guitar he plays poorly. Be honest now, was his first name "Telecaster" and you were worried about using a trademarked name?

Last edited by David Johnston2; 09-23-2023 at 05:30 PM.
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Old 10-01-2023, 08:31 AM   #2
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Default Re: Characters from Superhero Games Who Need Better Names

I'd probably just go with Crow for Buzzard. Maybe he went by Carrion Crow at first, and it's been shortened.

If the farmer goes by Haymaker, it'll be about three seconds before he gets tagged with Hayseed. If I was making the character from scratch, I'd make his signature move a kind of earthquake smash and call him Groundbreaker.
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Old 10-01-2023, 08:39 AM   #3
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Default Re: Characters from Superhero Games Who Need Better Names

Most superhero names are problematic. Realistically, most superheroes shouldn't be able to give themselves k3wl names that everybody obediently repeats. Most likely, anyone with a secret identity is going to be named by whatever journalists start calling them, or in this day and age, what social media calls them. But because thematic naming is a thing in comics, new superheroes always go through some scene where someone wonders "What's he called?" and the superhero gets a dramatic frame to quip their chosen name. The asker, suitably impressed, duly spreads that name to everybody, and alternative nicknames never show up unless you're a villain.

Or else the superhero doesn't name himself, but someone impressed with him will, after an encounter, say something like "That guy was a real so-and-so. Hey... 'So-and-so'!" And again, everybody just accepts it.
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Old 10-01-2023, 11:00 AM   #4
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Default Re: Characters from Superhero Games Who Need Better Names

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Most superhero names are problematic. Realistically, most superheroes shouldn't be able to give themselves k3wl names that everybody obediently repeats. Most likely, anyone with a secret identity is going to be named by whatever journalists start calling them, or in this day and age, what social media calls them. But because thematic naming is a thing in comics, new superheroes always go through some scene where someone wonders "What's he called?" and the superhero gets a dramatic frame to quip their chosen name. The asker, suitably impressed, duly spreads that name to everybody, and alternative nicknames never show up unless you're a villain.

Or else the superhero doesn't name himself, but someone impressed with him will, after an encounter, say something like "That guy was a real so-and-so. Hey... 'So-and-so'!" And again, everybody just accepts it.
Yeah, but that falls under the category of 'futile deconstruction'. There are a whole bunch of genre conventions in superhero comics and movies (but esp. comics) that are utterly unrealistic, yet also utterly necessary for the genre to function at all. Comic book time is the biggest one, but there are others, like the naming convention you mention.

Occasionally somebody successfully subverts such conventions, to a limited degree. Lee and Kirby did it with Marvel back in the 60s, making the stories more 'teen targeted', with slightly more adult themes and more flawed characters.

But there is a fairly hard limit to how subversive the superhero genre can be and work. That's one reason I never was all that impressed with the Watchmen comic.
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Old 10-01-2023, 01:28 PM   #5
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Default Re: Characters from Superhero Games Who Need Better Names

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Or else the superhero doesn't name himself, but someone impressed with him will, after an encounter, say something like "That guy was a real so-and-so. Hey... 'So-and-so'!" And again, everybody just accepts it.
That's in-canon how Superman got his moniker - headlines in the Daily Planet about this "super man" who kept saving the day.
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Old 10-01-2023, 03:58 PM   #6
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Default Re: Characters from Superhero Games Who Need Better Names

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Most likely, anyone with a secret identity is going to be named by whatever journalists start calling them, or in this day and age, what social media calls them.
Related. Worm played with this a bit - the main character never came up with a name for herself, and eventually she wound up labeled Skitter (her power was the ability to control insects) by a hero group she clashed with. I don't think supers getting to name themselves is that ridiculous of a convention, but they'll typically want to announce their name rather early and in easily-spread fashion, otherwise they'd likely end up named by the public instead.
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Old 10-01-2023, 06:22 PM   #7
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Default Re: Characters from Superhero Games Who Need Better Names

This was, I believe, the original idea of Doctor Who. It's not that the character would go around saying "I'm the Doctor!" He just was never named in our hearing, and new people would hear him called "Doctor" and so just call him "Doctor," like a name-meme. When the Monk was introduced, they did this with him too, and they kept doing this with all Time Lords up, I think, until Omega (presuming that Omega wasn't a title too). Certainly, by the time of "The Deadly Assassin," Time Lords were getting names, but even then Time Lords who recognize the Doctor just call him "you" at first. Basically, everyone around him calls him the Doctor, but he never actually introduced himself that way. (This was eventually abandoned. Moffat took it one step further and claimed that he was called the Doctor because he was a healer of the universe.)

Players of Time Lords in RPGs always try to give their Time Lord characters mysterious or evocative titles without names, but they always come off as rather cringey. I always recommend that the Time Lord simply not be named, as if it just always happens that stating his or her name isn't convenient right now, and NPCs tend to drop it and just call the character by some description, or title if the character actually has one. (But if your Time Lord is just a mechanic, don't go claiming that "The Mechanic" is your title. It's just a description of what you do, much like the Doctor has been called "the old man" a lot, without it being his name.) I can suggest the same for superhero games, unless you can come up with a superhero name that would plausibly be repeated by others.

This is played with in Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure, where the name "Rufus" is information picked up through a causal loop; Rufus never actually names himself or denies that his name is Rufus. (It is also one of the most subtle time travel details about the movie.) The sequel, of course, confirmed clearly that his name really is Rufus, abandoning the joke.

The trope is mentioned a lot in the movie Mystery Men, where the characters sometimes find each other's superhero names cringey or pointless, and there's even a moment at the end where a reporter describes them as "mystery men," and one of them does the "Wait! That's it!" thing, which ends with him saying "We are the Super Squad!" The filmmakers totally understood the ridiculous superhero naming thing.
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Old 10-01-2023, 07:11 PM   #8
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Default Re: Characters from Superhero Games Who Need Better Names

I would note that, as a name granted by a reporter with a story to sell, Dr Drugs is a perfectly fine supervillain name.
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Old 10-01-2023, 08:58 PM   #9
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Default Re: Characters from Superhero Games Who Need Better Names

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Most superhero names are problematic. Realistically, most superheroes shouldn't be able to give themselves k3wl names that everybody obediently repeats..
There's some major exceptions to this principle. What else are you going to call "Spiderman"? There's that spider theme on his costume and he does whatever a spider can (except bite people and inject dissolving juice).

"Hawkman" is about as obvious and Batman brands so aggressively with bat symbols and motifs that it's pretty obvious what to call him.

It's a fairly common phenomenon with animal-themed characters who have simple names (The Rhino, The scorpion and so on) but it doesn't often stretch beyond them. Thor, the Invisible Girl, maybe the Human Torch but obviously not Mr Fantastic. Then you start wondering why "Plastic Man" isn't called "Rubberman" and you'll run out of those obvious exceptions tot he rule eventually.
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Old 10-01-2023, 10:36 PM   #10
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Default Re: Characters from Superhero Games Who Need Better Names

It amused me when Champions lampshaded this; in the first couple of editions of Villains, there was Deathsinger and his group, who frankly performed a lot like Team Rocket in Pokemon, villains who keep turning up but are very hard to take seriously as villains. Then in the third he rebrands as Requiem, and suddenly he and his team are not a joke at all.
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