Thursday, December 6, 2012


On November 30th at 11:59 PST the long running, highly successful MMORPG, City Of Heroes closed it’s doors and the lights went out for a legion of superheroes as the servers went off line. Paragon City went dark, not with a bang but with a key stroke. Since it’s inception in 2004 the critically acclaimed COH was home to many thousands of our fellow dreamers who’s great desire was to be a superhero.

And who among us hasn’t had that dream? I, myself am a legendary (in my own mind) figure in DC Universe Online! Marvel is set to release it’s own MMO and of course there is the long running Champions Online. There are literally millions of people, from the very young to the very old living out their own Superhero fantasy.
The desire to BE Superman resonates pretty deeply.

City of Heroes was not killed by apathy or a lack of ideas on the parts of players and developers. It was struck down after eight years by a villain more rancorous than The Red Skull, more insidious than Lex Luthor, more implacable than Galactus…yes…COH was defeated by the one unstoppable evil in all the multiverses….
Corporate restructuring.

There was no final great battle. No time for a proper send off for it’s huge player base. Just a player generated vigil and last one out turn off the lights.
I hope to see many of those players pop up on DCUO or marvel, or Champions. But I suspect that for a great number of my fellow virtual Superheroes there will be no replacing COH.

But the dream lives. And that got me to thinking. Superhero RPGS go back pretty far. Before computers and D&D dice. I was playing Superhero MMO’s back in the 1960’s. of course back then we had a different word for it. We called it… playing. And you had to actually (ugh!) be WITH the people you were playing with. It was analog…it was IN YOUR FACE…and a hell of a lot of fun.

Back in my ancestral land of Brooklyn , in the kingdom of 102nd Street and Flatlands Avenue during the summers of 1964-1968 the Legion Of Superheroes was alive and well and fighting the forces of evil…

Evil being Alan Baxter and his pimple faced organization known only as THRUSH (stolen liberally from The Man From U.N.C.L.E.) . Alan and his minions of terror were assigned their roles due to the fact that they lived around the block from my own virtuous crew!
I of course was Superboy. This was not because I was the strongest, fastest or best looking kid. (Though I humbly must admit to all of those virtues). It was because my cousin Cindy (the toughest kid on the block) was Supergirl and would pound anyone who wouldn’t let me be Superboy.

Eddie Shanker who was well known in the neighborhood for his chemistry set was Element Lad. Eddie could take any two chemicals and make something foul smelling enough to make a skunk puke. Eddie was very popular. The last I heard of Eddie he was working in the Department of Sanitation. Something poetic about that!

Of course there was yucky Margaret who got to be Saturn Girl because it was either that of Phantom Girl and Margaret liked astronomy. (Yucky Margaret also introduced most of the boys in the neighborhood to the wonder of girls by the time we turned 15 and by which time she was far less yucky. She still gets Christmas cards from most of us to this day).

Rounding out our intrepid band was Weird Victor. Victor was weird because his mother was his barber and always cut his bangs at a 45 degree angle. He was also weird because he would eat anything. Not just the usual bugs and dirt. We ALL did that. Weird Victor actually LIKED (yuck) FRIED LIVER! Naturally he was Matter Eater Lad. Only Matter Eater Lad could eat liver and live! That stuff had a smell that would do Eddie Shanker proud! Whilst Victor later solved his hair problem he never got over his unnatural love for fried liver and onions. We tried intervention and even Kentucky Fried Chicken to no avail. It was our greatest failure.

Of course we never actually FOUGHT with the pimply forces of Thrush. Our encounters consisted largely of one group chasing the other through alleys and back yards. When we finally cornered one another Alan would jut his chin and shout out a hearty…HA!
Which I would trump with an even heartier …ha…HA!

Pretty rough stuff I can tell you. But we were a tough breed. Our battles were the stuff of legend. And even though pimply Alan is now, and has been for many years FATHER Alan, part of me is convinced that it’s just a front. That he is biding his time until he can make the forces of Thrush rise again.

Well Father Alan, bring it on. You will find The Legion waiting…right after the AARP meeting.

That’s 30!


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