Marvel Legends: Infinite Series Guardians of the Galaxy Assortment Star-Lord

Star Lord 01            I’ll freely admit, I’m kind of new at this thing, so folks, please bear with me. We’re hoping to create weekly content at the site and that content will be at least tangentially related to the upcoming games. The first launch, “Space Bootleggers”, is all about smuggling things in space, so I figured I’d review an action figure of pop culture’s big new outer space scoundrel: Star-Lord. While he may be the hot new thing, he’s still got a long history (that you can read about in his entry in the Scoundrel Round-Up…haha, cross-promotion) and honestly, he’s a pretty great action figure.

For those of you not familiar with Star-Lord from The Guardians of the Galaxy, I’ll throw out a brief bio. The movie stayed pretty true to the most recent life story of Peter Jason Quill as we know him. Peter Quill was a regular Earth kid until his deadbeat space dad decided he wanted custody and grabbed him after his mother died. However, Peter thought he dad was kind of a tool so decided to roam space as a bit of a rogue. He’s rocked a lot of different looks over the years, some good and some not so good. Star-Lord’s current comic look is the same thing he wore in the movies, so the nice thing is that the Marvel Legends: Guardians of the Galaxy series Star-Lord figure can pull double duty as both a comic-based figure and a movie-based figure. There are some collectors that only collect figures that look like the characters from the comic books so it’s nice that Marvel decided the redesign Star-Lord got for the movie was good enough to pull it over to the comics. You can see him dressed like this in the current Guardians of the Galaxy comic book series as well as his solo book, Legendary Star-Lord. I haven’t followed the Guardians book that much, but I did enjoy Legendary Star-Lord, though full disclosure, I haven’t picked it up in a while because Marvel decided to do a weird crossover between the Guardians of the Galaxy and the X-Men that just seemed like more story than I wanted to invest in.

Star Lord 02The Marvel Legends line (now run by Hasbro though originally brought into being by the folks at Toy Biz before they closed their doors) is a great line. It expertly walks the line between high-end collectors’ market action figures and fun toys. The line itself usually relies pretty heavily on parts reuse, but Hasbro also knows when it’s a good time to invest in all new parts. Star-Lord benefits from this and gets an entirely newly sculpted figure. Like a collectors’ market figure, Star-Lord is exceptionally well-detailed. This is especially noticeable on his fancy space pants and his space duster. Star-Lord is rocking some knee-high boots with small rockets on them to allow him additional freedom of movement in outer space. The boot jets are very nicely molded, though I do wish they were accessory pieces rather than sculpted elements. Both in the movie and the comics, Star-Lord could change the angle of the rockets and I think that would have been a nice element for the action figure to have as well. At a distance, Star-Lord’s pants look pretty generic, but up close, you can see all sorts of screen accurate details. I’m not sure why those details are there aside from making them look less like Earth-pants, but Star-Lord had them in the movie so they’re brought over to the figure as well. Star-Lord’s chest is pretty basic. While he may have fancy space pants, Star-Lord decided less is more when it comes to shirts and is wearing a pretty generic t-shirt. Thanks to his fancy jacket, though, you don’t have to worry about him being too boring. Star-Lord’s arms are designed to look like the jacket arms but the rest of the jacket is a piece that is worn over the rest of the figure. It adds some necessary bulk to the figure while at the same time allowing him as much range of motion as possible. The jacket really makes this figure. There are all sorts of screen-accurate details here and it fits Star-Lord excellently. The jacket piece is also made of soft enough material that it can be moved out of the way to allow him to get into a wide variety of poses. This can’t always be said for jackets in this scale so it’s nice that Star-Lord isn’t restricted by his jacket. Over the jacket, Star-Lord also has the satchel we saw him wearing at the top of the movie. While it’s a good looking piece, I was a little bummed to find that it wasn’t designed in a way that you could store his other accessories in it. I think Hasbro dropped the ball a little by not making it so Star-Lord could stash his accessories in there. If nothing else, it would have meant that I wouldn’t have to constantly worry about them disappearing from my desk. Up top, Star-Lord has an excellently sculpted head. When we first meet Star-Lord, he’s wearing a rather intimidating-looking face mask. It fully covers his face and if it weren’t for the clearly human hair sticking out from the top, he’d look decidedly alien. I’ll admit, that’s one of the design issues I have with Star-Lord’s look in the movie. The mask is supposed to protect him from the dangers of space, yet the top part of his head is exposed. Yes, in the movie they showed the helmet created a little force field around his head, but I still think it’s an odd choice. While I still think it’s pretty odd, I do appreciate that the front of the mask looks a bit like a rebreather that you would see divers using. It’s little touchstones like this that help me Star Lord 06understand the purpose of the tech details on a figure. However, if you don’t like the masked head, Hasbro’s got you covered there and gives you an alternate head. Star-Lord’s heads swap out relatively easily, which is something that can’t be said for every figure I’ve had with swappable heads. The unmasked head is a bit of a tough sell for me because it really doesn’t look like Chris Pratt. I’m sure comic fans appreciate that, but it also really doesn’t look like how Star-Lord has been drawn in recent comics. He just looks like a generic white guy and that’s a bit of a bummer. For the most part, the actor likenesses on the Guardians of the Galaxy figures were spot on, but unmasked Star-Lord just doesn’t quite work. As such, my Star-Lord tends to stay masked.

Star Lord 03To bring Star-Lord in line with standard mass market figures, he’s got some great articulation. Usually, the high-end collectors’ market figures tend to sacrifice articulation in favor of aesthetics, which is not a decision I’ve ever understood. Thankfully, at least on its larger scale figures, Hasbro doesn’t do that. Star-Lord joints in the following places: ankles, knees, hips, shoulders, elbows, and wrists in addition to swivels at the mid thigh and waist, an ab crunch joint and a balljointed head. For the most part, all the joints have excellent range of motion and you can get Star-Lord into a lot of great poses. The only joints that aren’t great are his hips. Their range of motion is pretty restricted for some reason. I’ll also admit, considering how many great flight poses you can get Star-Lord in, it would have been awesome if Hasbro had dusted off the old flying stand that a few Marvel Legends had. The flight stand was a clear piece that plugged into the figure’s back and made it look like he was flying. While I know Star-Lord isn’t someone you think of when you think of a flying superhero, with as fun as the scenes he used the jet boots in the movie were, it would have been nice to have Star-Lord flying around on my desk.

Star Lord 04The paint work on Star-Lord is passable. There are a few missteps here and there, but that’s to be expected on mass market figures. Most of the figure is actually molded out of the proper color plastic, which helps. The biggest areas of concern are on Star-Lord’s jacket and the eyes on his mask. I’ll admit, I searched through a lot of Star-Lord’s (because he was kind of a peg-warmer) before I found one with eyes I thought looked good. None of them were egregiously bad, but if I have the option to check out a figure, I’ll take. The silver details on the jacket can have some coverage problem, but again, it’s not anything that ruins the figure in my opinion. Star-Lord’s colors work well together. The dark red duster looked quite sharp on screen and looks just as nice on my desk. The brown trim and gloves blend well with the shade of red used for the duster. The basic blue pants and gray shirt fit well with the idea that Star-Lord is just an average guy running around in outer space. He’s not wearing things that are overly fancy. His gear gets the job done and that’s all he needs from it.

Unlike some of the Marvel Legends figures, Star-Lord gets quite a few accessories. The lack of accessories in the line really doesn’t surprise me since some superheroes like Spider-Man and various members of the X-Men don’t really have gear, but it always makes me happy when Hasbro accessorizes the Marvel Legends figures well. The most obvious choice for accessories to give Star-Lord is his pair of element pistols. While they became your basic sci-fi laser gun in the movie, in the comics, they’re pretty cool. Star-Lord can manipulate earth, wind, fire, lightning and ice with these things and uses them quite effectively to surprise his opponents. They fit snugly in his hands but they’re not too tight that you have to worry about damaging either the figure or the accessory. If that’s all Star-Lord came with, I would have been happy, but he also has three additional movie-based accessories. He’s got a removable pair of headphones that fit either head quite well. Hasbro’s designers really did a great job with the heads because there is a subtle depression in his hair that holds the headphones steady but it’s not obvious enough that Star-Lord looks like he’s missing something if he’s not wearing the headphones. That’s some good design Star Lord 08work there. Since the figure’s overall look reminds me of the first scene from the movie, he’s also got the small silver ball that he was stealing in that opening scene. He can hold it relatively securely in his right hand so if you don’t want Star-Lord carrying both element guns, he can hold the silver ball just like he did in the movie. The final accessory is probably the least effective because it’s not really clear what it is. It’s a small orange rectangle that looks kind of like a Walkman, which is a nice nod to Star-Lord’s Awesome Mix, but at the same time, it’s really out of scale with the figure. As someone who was born in the 80s and remembers his 90s-era Walkman, I have to say that Star-Lord’s Walkman is way too small to be believable. He can hold it in his left hand but it looks positively dinky in his hand. If it weren’t for the fact that there are molded details that look like the play button and the door of a Walkman, I’d almost assume it was the Awesome Mix tape, but it’s clearly got details that wouldn’t be on a tape. If it were the tape, I could almost forgive it being that small, but it’s clearly the Walkman and that’s just the wrong size. I applaud Hasbro trying to reference that piece here, but they did such a poor job with it that I almost wish they Star Lord 07hadn’t. It just looks weird, and it’s even stranger that it’s molded out of orange plastic. That color just makes no sense aside from giving him one accessory that wasn’t grayish.

Filling out the figure’s box, there’s also a piece of Groot. Yes, to encourage toy buyers to buy all the figures of a series even if there are a couple of lame ones (Guardians of the Galaxy Iron Man, I am definitely looking at you right now), a lot of toy companies have started the practice of letting you build another larger figure from pieces included with each figure in the particular series. Making Groot the Guardians series build a figure was a no-brainer. He definitely became popular enough after the movie to entice people into buying weak figures to complete him and he is also a big enough figure that it would be cost-prohibitive to release him on his own. Star-Lord comes with Groot’s right arm. Like other Marvel Legends figures, the arm is very well detailed and while I haven’t built my own Groot because most of the Guardians series figures were kind of hard to track down, I can imagine Groot is a pretty good looking figure. The arm itself is about half Star-Lord’s height so Groot is going to be a pretty big guy. The sculptors captured Groot’s movie look very well and I do wish the Guardians figures weren’t as hard to find as they wound up being.

Star Lord 05Star-Lord is a very well executed figure. I’ll admit, when Marvel announced the Guardians of the Galaxy film, I thought for sure they were crazy. The Guardians are a C-list team at best that no one’s heard of. I’m a die-hard Marvel fan and even I didn’t know a lot about them going in. I’d always felt the reason Marvel was so successful with its first films was that they stuck to characters that people at least kind of knew about. Iron Man and Hulk may not have initially been household names, but they both had cartoons and action figures in the 90s and have been around for a while. However, the Guardians were a bunch of random folks, and the team has changed quite a few times. I figured for sure Marvel made a dumb call and that this would be their first failure. Man, was I wrong! Personally, I think casting Chris Pratt as Star-Lord was a stroke of genius and it really won me over. Star-Lord definitely felt like an Earth kid who wound up in space after being abducted by aliens and that’s what the movie needed to work. Without Star-Lord as everyone’s touchstone in this alien universe, I don’t think Guardians would have been the blockbuster it was. While Rocket and Groot wound up being more the breakout stars of Guardians, Star-Lord worked really well and I liked him enough I took the time to find a good version of his action figure. If you were reluctant to give the Guardians a chance, like I was, you really should take in the film. I think it will surprise you and they made it fun enough that I wanted to get my own Star-Lord. Heck, I think I might have gotten Star-Lord the same day I saw the movie, I was that impressed with him in the film.



Scoundrel Round-Up #1–Han Solo (Star Wars)

Yeah, I kinda figured I'd be number one. It's not cockiness if you're the best. (Image courtesy of the Star Wars Wiki)
Yeah, I kinda figured I’d be number one. It’s not cockiness if you’re the best. (Image courtesy of the Star Wars Wiki)

Well, loyal readers, we’re finally closing out this particular Scoundrel Round-Up. Remember, if you think someone is missing from the list, let us know on the message boards and if there’s enough call for it, we’ll add other people. This list is just based on my somewhat limited sci-fi knowledge. I wouldn’t mind expanding my horizons to satisfy your requests. The scoundrel at number one isn’t going to be much of a surprise, but just because he’s the obvious choice doesn’t mean he’s the wrong one. The number one scoundrel is Han Solo because he’s just so perfectly scoundrel-y.

Han Solo first entered the pop culture consciousness in 1977 in Star Wars. Fun side note, while Harrison Ford eventually won the part, he was not George Lucas’s first choice. One of the people on the short list for the part was Nick Nolte, and man, would Star Wars have been different without the charisma Harrison Ford brought to the part. We first met Han Solo in the Mos Eisley cantina, trying to scam a little extra cash out of Luke and Obi-Wan for passage to Alderaan. Right away, we get a bit of scoundrel-y goodness. Han knows he’s a good pilot, but he couldn’t resist trying to get a little extra money out of desperate client just because he could. Sure, Han needed the money since he was still trying to pay off Jabba, but it was a bit skeevy of him to make the play he did on Obi-Wan. Shortly after meeting Luke and Obi-Wan, we got to see more Han Solo scoundrelness when he was confronted by one of Jabba’s thugs trying to collect on the money he owed Jabba. While Greedo was trying to intimidate him, Han surreptitiously unholstered his blaster under the table and, I’m going to put on my angry nerd hat and just say this once, HAN SHOT FIRST! To me, that made Han a way more interesting hero because he wasn’t totally a good guy. He operated in shades of gray. Han figured Greedo was going to try and kill him to collect Jabba’s bounty on his head so rather than give him the opportunity, he shot him first. Han did at least have the decency to wait until Greedo made an actual threat and considering Greedo had his blaster trained on him during their entire chat, I think Han was well within his rights to take the shot. George Lucas’s revisionism aside, Han shooting first really made it clear he was a scoundrel and not supposed to be the pure hero. A good myth needs good people of all types and Han was someone who was a good person, but unlike Luke and Obi-Wan, he didn’t always follow all the rules. Han would sort of get Luke and Obi-Wan to their destination, finding Alderaan destroyed by the Death Star. The Millennium Falcon was boarded by Imperials when it was brought aboard the Death Star, and it was Han’s quick thinking (and modifications to his ship that served his less-than-legal lifestyle) that helped them evade Imperial detection. While Obi-Wan went to shut down the tractor beam so they could escape, Luke learned that Princess Leia was being held there. Luke was all for going to rescue her, but Han took some more convincing. Like any good scoundrel, once the money was good enough, Han was more than willing to try and save her. The plan may not have worked out, but even after they were detected, Han tried to bluff their way out of trouble by calling a shootout with the detention level guards a “slight weapons malfunction.”

You mean I'm the only one to have a real career after this movie? I'm just as surprised as you are... (Image courtesy of the Star Wars Wiki)
You mean I’m the only one to have a real career after this movie? I’m just as surprised as you are… (Image courtesy of the Star Wars Wiki)

Han’s first meeting with Princess Leia was anything but cordial and he actually spent a lot of time antagonizing her, which I find kind of amusing. Eventually, Han, Luke, Leia and Chewie would escape the Death Star, but once Han delivered Leia and the Death Star plans to the Rebels, he was on his way. Like any good scoundrel, he didn’t see a profit to be made in the Rebellion and now that he got his reward money, he wanted to go pay Jabba back and save his skin. Luke gave him a pretty massive guilt trip before leaving, and Han did come back to save Luke at the Death Star, but it was a pretty big surprise. Returning to Yavin IV, Han cemented his ties with the Rebellion, and that led him into some pretty crazy adventures. Han was present on Hoth and was considered an important part of the Rebel military. However, an encounter with a bounty hunter on Ord Mantell spooked him into deciding to try and leave to pay off Jabba again. As he was about to go, though, the Imperials attacked and Han led Leia to the Falcon since she was cut off from the ship she was supposed to escape on. Once again, Han and Leia’s interactions were somewhat strained and Han was the one who understood the tension was mostly sexual, making the moves on her while they were hiding from Imperials in an asteroid cave because the Falcon needed more repairs before it could escape into hyperspace. The Falcon was too badly damaged to escape easily, though, and Han took a page from the scoundrel playbook and came up with a crazy plan that involved him charging the Falcon right at a pair of Star Destroyers and making them think the ship jumped into hyperspace when in actuality he took advantage of a sensor blindspot and hooked himself to the back of the Star Destroyer until it dumped its garbage before jumping to lightspeed itself. After some deliberation, Han realized the only safe port was on Bespin where Lando was administering Cloud City. Unfortunately, their relationship was still somewhat strained after Han won the Falcon from him in a high stakes game of sabacc (think space-poker).

Even frozen I'm more of a badass than some science fiction characters (Image courtesy of the Star Wars Wiki)
Even frozen, I’m more of a badass than some science fiction characters (Image courtesy of the Star Wars Wiki)

For me, Cloud City is where we saw Han Solo at his most scoundrel-y. Han and company were captured by Imperials after Lando sold them out. Vader decided to use Han as his test subject for the modified carbonite freezing process. As he was being lowered into the chamber, possibly to his death, Leia yelled out “I love you.” In a move of badassery that has yet to be beaten, Han responded with “I know.” Behind the scenes stories say that was a Harrison Ford addition. He rightly didn’t think Han would respond with “I love you, too” as scripted and convinced director Irving Kershner into letting him try a take with “I know” and the rest is cinematic history. Han survived the freezing process and Boba Fett hauled him off to Jabba’s palace to collect on the impressive bounty the Hutt had placed on his head. Han spent the next while hanging out on Jabba’s wall until Luke came up with a wild (and really, if you look at it objectively, ridiculously overly complicated) plan to set him free. Back out in the world, Han rejoined with the Rebels and became a general and was placed in charge of leading a Rebel commando team tasked with taking down the shield beamed around the second Death Star. Of course, Han being Han, he didn’t initially tell any of the people who just saved his life that he was leading this mission. Still, they all joined him and the mission to Endor was complicated from the start. Luke and Leia got separated from the team and then, thanks to Chewie always thinking with his stomach, they were captured by Ewoks. Thankfully, Leia had met the Ewoks before them and, with some help from Luke and C-3P0, the Ewoks adopted them as part of their tribe and helped them fight the Imperials. Most military commanders would have ignored the possible contributions the Ewoks could make to the war effort, but Han’s tendency to think outside the box helped him realized they could be useful allies. They may not have much technology, but they knew their way around the area and they were very good at setting traps. Han and the Rebel strike team blew up the Endor bunker and collapsed the Death Star’s shields so the Rebels could destroy it and kill the Emperor.

That’s all we know of Han’s history since the canonical nature of the Expanded Universe is in flux, but again, I loved the Expanded Universe, so it’s canon to me. The Expanded Universe not only continued Han’s story beyond Return of the Jedi, but it also delved into what his life was like before joining up with the Rebels. Han was a smuggler at heart, but even before joining up with the Rebels, he tended to let his decent nature take him down into some unprofitable paths, like the time he ran afoul of the Malkite poisoners and wound up busting up a slaver ring. Any other scoundrel would have just let that slide, but Han hated slavery so much that he couldn’t let it stand. Heck, that’s how his relationship started with Chewbacca and how he wound up on the outside of the law to begin with. Chewie was an Imperial slave and Han couldn’t stand that so he freed him, along with other slaves being held there. Chewie then swore a Wookiee life debt to him for saving his life and the two became partners. In his early days associated with the Rebellion, he didn’t always stay terribly close to the Rebels. He would sometimes slip off for a while to run his own jobs on the side and considering how long Han was targeted by Jabba, it makes sense. Han still needed money. He wouldn’t act against Rebel interests, but being a freedom fighter really doesn’t pay well, so he needed some way of making money to pay off Jabba.

Following the events of Return of the Jedi, Han remained a vital part of the Rebel Alliance, but even though he was a general, his decidedly non-military nature tended to rub the Rebel High Command the wrong way. Han would resign and reaccept military commissions countless times during the intervening years. Of course, the biggest change in the Expanded Universe, which Disney decided to keep, was Han and Leia marrying. However, amusingly Leia got more in touch with her scoundrel side rather than “civilizing” Han a bit. Han did surprisingly well as a husband and father, but the death of Chewbacca did send him on a bit of a downward spiral and while spiraling, he really got back in touch with his scoundrel roots. Eventually, his mourning period would end and he rejoined the New Republic in their fight against the Yuuzhan Vong, but it was still a very rough patch for Han. However, worse things were yet to come. His oldest son, Jacen, became a very powerful Force user, but as time went on, he became corrupted by the dark side. Unfortunately for everyone involved, Jacen Solo had enough political and military backing the he essentially took over the government. His parents tried to stop him and Han and Leia were declared enemies of the state by their own son. Eventually, Jaina Solo was forced to kill her brother, but Jacen’s legacy was not over. During his time as leader of the New Republic, he hooked up with an old Jedi friend named Tenel Ka, who also happened to be the queen of a star system called Hapes, and the two had a child. Tenel Ka kept the pregnancy a secret even from Jacen, but eventually he learned that Allana was his child. Being the daughter of the most-hated man in the galaxy and of a queen whose power was tenuous because of her relationship with him who lived in a society where assassinations were a common method of political ascension, Tenel Ka decided it was necessary to hide Allana’s true parentage from the rest of the galaxy. She convinced Han and Leia to adopt their own granddaughter and raise her as their own under the guise of them adopting a child orphaned in the war their son caused. I didn’t think it was possible, but being an old man turned Han Solo into more of a scoundrel, and I find the current iteration of the character to be delightfully cantankerous.

Well, that didn't go quite as I'd planned... (Image courtesy of the Star Wars Wiki)
Well, that didn’t go quite as I’d planned… (Image courtesy of the Star Wars Wiki)

Han Solo’s character fits the scoundrel archetype perfectly. Honestly, I see a bit of Han Solo in pretty much every other character on the list. Dash’s connections are pretty obvious, but even Starbuck and Riker have some Han Solo in them. Like most scoundrels, he’s incredibly charming. You either have to be charismatic or an absolute brute to survive as a scoundrel and Han went with charisma. I think part of that is a testament to how well Harrison Ford played the character. His look is also very scoundrel-y. He may not be an outright space pirate like Corsair, but he’s still definitely got a scoundrel vibe. His clothes are simple, but that’s all he needs to get through life. Like his ship, I see them being pretty well-worn because it’s just not something that Han needs to keep up with. He’d rather be spending his credits keeping his ship in the sky instead of following the latest fashions. Of course, where it’s clear he’s a scoundrel is his code of honor. Even before joining with the Rebels, he stood up to Imperials over the issue of slavery and that’s what put him out on the fringes of society. He was drummed out the Corellian military for those actions. Considering how well he fits the scoundrel archetype, it shouldn’t be a surprise that Han Solo comes in at number one on the Scoundrel Round-Up here at Sarcastibots.

Starting a New Project

Since we released Cosmic Bootlegger last week it’s time to announce our new project! that we started work on … three months ago. It’s called
and as you can see from our handy project complete date estimator we’ve been hard at work on this project for … almost none of that time.

Project has a 25% chance of completion on or before the date represented by the blue line and a 75% chance of completion by the red line. So we're currently looking at something Marchish
Project has a 25% chance of completion on or before the date represented by the blue line and a 75% chance of completion by the red line. So we’re currently looking at something Marchish

What will Stoned in Space be about? While working on Cosmic Bootleggers I realized that my favorite part was was dodging asteroids while sneaking into systems. So we’re going to rebuild and expand that minigame stronger, faster, and with guns! (hopefully for less than $6 million.)

Now I’m sure some skintubes are asking why did we pick Stoned in Space as the name for our new project. The simple answer is we wanted to call it Asteroids Strike Back, but that, like all good game names, has been taken by a shitty Flash game, that I want to give me the 5 minutes of my life back that I spent playing it.

Scoundrel Round-Up #2–Malcolm Reynolds (Firefly)

They call me...Captain Tightpants. (Image courtesy of the Firefly Wiki)
They call me…Captain Tightpants. (Image courtesy of the Firefly Wiki)

As we close in on the Scoundrel Round-Up, I don’t think anyone will be surprised by the last few entries here. Coming in at Number Two, we have a scoundrel who may not have graced our screens for very long, but he definitely made an impression. He’s the source of more nerd-rage towards the Fox Network than letting Seth MacFarlane have total control of Sunday night (except for the half hour The Simpsons held on to) for a few years. You know who I’m talking about but if you don’t, I’ll spell it out for you. Scoundrel Number Two is Malcolm “Mal” Reynolds from Firefly.

Firefly didn’t last long enough to reveal all of Mal’s backstory, but we know enough to find that even his history fits the scoundrel archetype perfectly. We never quite learned what the war between the Browncoats and the Alliance was about, but we do know a few things. First of all, the Alliance definitely wanted to control the galaxy in a way that brought about order at the price of freedom. Secondly, we know they were willing to go to some extreme lengths to get it. (For those of you that haven’t watched Serenity, I won’t spoil it for you, but those of you that have should know what I’m talking about). Finally, we also know that the Browncoats lost and when they did, Mal was shocked. The Browncoats surrendered in Serenity Valley and it was a defining moment in the life of Malcolm Reynolds. He even named his ship Serenity after that battle. With the Browncoats’ surrender, Mal decided to head out to the frontier planets where a man could make a living without living under the thumb of the Alliance. With his old war buddy, Zoe, at his side, he bought the Serenity and started taking odd jobs for basically anyone but the Alliance in order to live a life free of their interference. We also know that Mal gradually assembled his crew and sought out like-minded individuals like Hoban Washburne (his pilot), Kaylee Frye (his mechanic), and Jayne Cobb (his muscle). Inara Sera initially started as a bit of an outlier compared to the rest of his crew, but even Inara became close with Mal, though their relationship was always somewhat playfully adversarial. Mal’s relationship with his crew is very telling. Part of what makes a good scoundrel is that they inspire loyalty from their crew, even when what they’re doing is dangerous for a wide variety of reasons. Mal’s crew trusts him implicitly and they’ve shown time and again that they’ll follow him through whatever comes their way because they know Mal will find a way to make it through. Wash even rallied the entire crew to go back and rescue Mal from Niska after Zoe bought his freedom and this was after Wash had been pissed at Mal over his close relationship with Zoe.

When we first meet Mal and his crew on the first episode of Firefly, they’re scrambling for another job. The job they had went south and so they need money. However, Mal’s code of ethics limits their options. Mal winds up getting stuck with the Alliance supplies he’s stolen and decides to pick up some passengers in hopes of making some money transporting them while en route to his one last possible buyer for his stolen supplies. That’s where we meet the rest of the people that would join up with Mal. Kaylee was in charge of finding passengers for the ship and brought in a secretive young man, a shepherd (space pastor), and an undercover Alliance agent. Surprisingly, the Alliance agent wasn’t after Mal and his crew, but rather the secretive young man named Simon Tam. Simon’s big secret was that he was smuggling another person, his sister River, along with him to protect her from the Alliance. When Simon’s cargo was revealed, Mal nearly threw him off his ship because smuggling humans so grossly offended his sense of honor. Learning the story behind the smuggled River Tam changed his mind, but it showed that there were certain lines Mal would not cross to make money. As the series progressed, we would see more of Mal’s sense of honor on display. Mal risked the wrath of a gangster named Niska after he learned the medical supplies he was hired to steal from the Alliance were actually bound for a mining town stricken with a terrible disease brought on by the chemicals the mine used. Rather than profit from the suffering of others, Mal snuck the supplies back and gave Niska his money back for the job. Of course, that didn’t satisfy Niska and he would later capture and torture Mal and Wash, but Mal was willing to risk such treatment because of his code of honor.

Mal’s crew was loyal to him, but with him loyalty was definitely a two-way street. We saw this first when Simon Tam, the newest member of his crew, confronted him about his intentions. Simon knew that Mal could make a lot of money if he just betrayed him and turned him over to the Alliance and, to be honest, Mal was pretty pissed that Simon’s actions put his crew in danger. However, Mal assured Simon that if he was ever going to shoot him, he’d have a gun in his hand and a fair chance to fight back. That speaks volumes about Mal’s character. He may not have liked Simon at that point in their relationship, but he wasn’t going to throw him to the wolves without letting him defend himself. We saw similar bonds with much of the rest of the crew. Mal and Inara always had a complicated relationship because Mal didn’t really like that she was a companion (space geisha). However, while Mal attended a party to make a contact for a possible cattle smuggling operation, he saw Inara with her client. It was clear that this client didn’t respect her and Mal confronted him about it. The client challenged Mal to a duel and while things didn’t go well for him in the fight, with Inara’s help, Mal turned the tables on him and beat him but refused to kill him. When Inara later asked Mal about why he fought that client for disrespecting her even though Mal had said far worse things about her career, his response was that he may not respect her job, but the client didn’t respect her as a human being. Even Shepherd Book benefited from Mal’s loyalty. During a hijacking attempt aboard the Serenity, Book was shot and severely wounded. The closest medical facilities were run by the Alliance and under normal circumstances, Mal never would have gone to them, but his desire to save his friend was stronger than his hatred for the Alliance and he willingly risked capture (and had to hide Simon and River in some increasingly clever ways) to save him. Finally, we have to talk about Mal’s relationship with Jayne. Jayne was definitely the most mercenary of the crew, a fact borne out by the fact that he tried to sell out Simon and River when they were in Alliance space and very nearly succeeded, only to be betrayed by the Alliance official he made his deal with. Out of pure self-interest, Jayne helped Simon and River evade capture and they thought he was a hero, but Mal knew different. Mal threatened to vent him into space and told Jayne that if he was going to shoot him in the back, at least have the courage to do it to his face. However, Mal also believed in second chances and took Jayne’s apology at his word and allowed him to stay on the Serenity. It’s hard to believe Mal ever fully trusted Jayne considering Jayne joined his crew when Mal made him a better offer while Jayne and his old crew had him at gunpoint, but Mal also knew Jayne, while a bit scummy, could be a decent man. After all, Mal was the one who saw Jayne’s reaction to the mudder kid that died protecting him and his legend. Jayne knew he was no hero and the only reason he dumped the money over the mudders was because the ship was damaged, but it turned him into a folk hero and it bothered him that some dumb kid believed the legend of Jayne so much that he was willing to die for him.

Of course, no discussion of Mal is complete without getting into his actions in the movie Serenity. If you’re a Firefly fan and haven’t seen this movie, first of all, welcome to Firefly fandom, now seriously, watch it and secondly, spoilers ahead. After the Alliance makes a concerted effort to find her by triggering some deeply-buried hypnotic suggestions, Mal and the rest of the crew learn why the Alliance is after River Tam. Their experiments made her a psychic and she gleaned information about a deep, dark secret the Alliance had: the truth about Miranda. Mal was initially unsure what to do with this information, but after the Alliance operative that was trailing them killed all their known associates (including Shepherd Book), Mal decided that he had nothing left to lose and snuck the ship through Reaver space to the coordinates the River had in her brain. There, they learned just how sinister the Alliance actually was. Miranda was an early colony and the Alliance decided to experiment on the population to make them more docile and stabilize the population’s moods. Of course, such an experiment on its own would be horrifying, considering how the Alliance could use it to pacify rebellious populations. However, the experiment went horribly wrong. Much of the population lost the will to live and just laid down and died. Unfortunately, not all the population reacted this was. The remaining people became savage and violent, giving birth to the dangerous Reavers. This experiment took place shortly before the war, meaning this was probably the Alliance’s last ditch option to prevent a war and it went horribly wrong. Armed with this information, Mal decides it’s time to pay the Alliance back and enlists the help of their ally, Mr. Universe, to broadcast the report with all this information to the universe. Of course, Mr. Universe was already being held by the unnamed Alliance operative and Mal was walking into a trap. Mal realized that it was probably a trap, though, and decided to goad the Reavers into following him and use them to distract the Alliance so they could reach Mr. Universe’s broadcasting equipment. The Reaver distraction still caused problems for Mal and his crew, though, as some ships followed them down to the planet. Mal’s crew stayed behind, risking certain death, to buy Mal enough time to broadcast the Alliance’s dirty little secret. Mal once again fought with the Alliance operative and defeated him thanks to a relatively smart trick, but Mal refused to kill the operative, instead leaving him alive but trapped to watch the information about the Alliance’s actions before the war firsthand as it was being broadcast around the universe. The end of the movie shows that the Alliance operative is still alive, but no longer associated with the Alliance and warns Mal that the Alliance may still come for him one day, but not while they’re too distracted by doing damage control regarding the Miranda incident.

Lastly, we have to examine Mal’s look as a character and again, we see some pretty obvious scoundrel elements. To oversimplify things, Firefly is basically a Western set in outer space. Mal’s look definitely draws inspiration from Westerns and he has a scoundrel/gunslinger vibe to him and that’s a great call. The long duster not only looks cool but allows for some great flourishes in scenes and it’s something that you often seen being worn by the outlaw characters in Westerns. Mal’s a good guy at heart, but his wardrobe is more in line with scoundrels.

That is the smirk of a scoundrel and of a man that knows he's a nerd god. (Image courtesy of the Firefly Wiki)
That is the smirk of a scoundrel and of a man that knows he’s a nerd god. (Image courtesy of the Firefly Wiki)

So, we close out entry number two on the Scoundrel Round-Up. I think it should probably be pretty apparent who Number One is, but you’ll have to wait to see. As it stands, though, Mal is a great representation of a scoundrel and probably more than anyone on this list probably owes his inspiration to our Number One scoundrel on this list…who will be revealed next week!