Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Classic Enemies: Last, But Not Least

It seems like only yesterday I was making fun of The Ultimates, but now we find ourselves at the end.  Let's do it.

Utility, another George MacDonald villain, is our final bad guy.  He's a walking Focus Limitation.  His entire schtick is that he's convinced he's smarter than everyone else, and therefore, better than them -- superheroes included.  Given his overconfidence and poor social skills, he's practically the Sheldon Cooper of the supervillain set.

In many respects, he's Foxbat without the crazy.  All of Utility's equipment is more utilitarian, seemingly made up of "off-the-shelf" technology (for values of "off-the-shelf" found in a superhero universe, anyway).

I'll admit, I'm not usually too fond of characters that follow the "normal guy buys a bunch of military-grade stuff and is instantly able to go toe-to-toe with superhumans" schtick, but I do have a soft spot for Utility, if only because of the original Mark Williams illo for him in Enemies.

 I'm a total sucker for illustrations that double as schematics.  I loved all the engineering style drawings of tech in The Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe, and I can't resist a schematic of Batman's utility belt or a cross-section of the Baxter Building.  So that drawing of Utility, listing out his foci sucked me in right away.

I also dig the fact that, judging from his name (William Chow), he's Asian-American, but he doesn't fall into the generic martial artist trap.  I mean, he is a martial artist, but it's not his primary thing.  It's just another aspect of his off-the-shelf style.

In Classic Enemies, he got a bit of an upgrade in the form of a Gadget Pool (something not invented when he first saw print).  It's a reasonable upgrade that turns him from an interesting mercenary villain into a proper threat, provided he has time to prepare.  I've used him in virtually every campaign, most recently in my last 5e game, where a very prepared Utility managed to take down about 800 points worth of novice superheroes by knowing what he was facing and preparing accordingly.  In that, he's a great character to use to teach heroes teamwork and preparedness of their own.

 And, with that, we're done with Classic Enemies.

I started this project over two months ago (back on April 3rd).  I needed something to channel my thinking about gaming because I had to stop playing with my Tuesday night crew.  By my count, this is the thirty fourth and final character piece, though I may do one or two little follow-ups.  In the past two months, I've messed around with the format, shared my thoughts here, on Google+, Facebook, and RPGnet, spawning some really terrific conversation and an actual Hero System discussion spin-off thread over on the Purple Place.  I've received comments and compliments from the creators of a number of these characters, and re-thought my own opinions of a few of them.  It's been good therapy for me, and reminded me of why I played virtually nothing but Champions for nearly two decades.

I've already decided to continue blogging my read-throughs of classic Champions material.  The next is going to be a short one, then I may try tackling one of the bigger sourcebooks.  We'll see.  For now, I hope you've enjoyed this as much as I've enjoyed doing it.


  1. I have enjoyed your write-ups very much, Theron. I look forward to reading future blog posts. If it isn't a violation of privacy, I'd love to read some of the comments you received from the actual creators of the villains you've blogged about.

  2. I've enjoyed them as well. I've read them all, even if I haven't commented much. It was a nice stroll down memory lane for me. :)

  3. Great series.

    I'd love to see more, no matter the sourcebook. Hell, even European Enemies.

  4. It's been a great run that I've really enjoyed. I'll cast my vote for Kingdom of Champions, just because they are so funky.

  5. Really enjoyable series, fantastic to look at how the villians have changed. I also enjoy your comments, it is always interesting to hear how other people use villains. Keep it up!